White House helicopters under review: Obama
President Barack Obama never had a helicopter, which he says might explain why he is perfectly happy with the current White House fleet and does not need a more costly one. At the conclusion of a fiscal meeting at the White House on Monday, Obama faced questions from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, including his former presidential rival, Sen John McCain.
McCain bemoaned cost overruns in military procurement. The new fleet of 28 Marine One helicopters being built by Lockheed Martin Corp., now over budget at $11.2 billion, will cost more than Air Force One.
Obama said the helicopter he has now seems adequate, adding that he never had a helicopter before, and "maybe I've been deprived and I didn't know it."
Obama said he already has talked to Defense Secretary Robert Gates about reviewing the program and its ballooning costs. "It is an example of the procurement process gone amok, and we're going to have to fix it," Obama said.
The U.S. Navy, in charge of overseeing the helicopter program, reported to Congress in January that its price tag had nearly doubled. That notification triggered a formal process mandating that the program be re-certified as a national security requirement by senior Pentagon leaders.
The Navy waited almost a year before formally disclosing the information to lawmakers as it sought to find ways to keep the program within budget. Those efforts failed.
Gates already has warned of tough cuts in the budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, as the Pentagon faces the pressure of paying for two wars during a recession.
Lockheed Martin spokesman Troy Scully said in a statement, "We are committed to the program's success and are confident we can deliver the required number of helicopters compliant with the specifications that emerge from the ongoing review." A Navy spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment Monday night.
The helicopter, which will be outfitted with communications equipment, anti-missile defenses and hardened hulls, is dubbed Marine One whenever the president is on board. The aircraft is expected to be similar to Air Force One, unlike the 30-year-old helicopters they would replace.
Two Indo-Canadian academics, working on research to advance the betterment of mankind, have been honoured with one of the country's most prestigious awards, the Order of Canada. Their names were in the list published by the office of the governor-general of Canada Mary Simon. Both have been invested (as the bestowal of the awards is described) into the Order as a Member. They are professors Ajay Agrawal and Parminder Raina.
The world's richest person, Elon Musk, has not tweeted in about 10 days and it can't go unnoticed. The 51-year-old business tycoon has 100 million followers on the microblogging site, which he is planning to buy. Since April, he has been making headlines for the $44 billion deal and his comments and concerns about the presence of a large number of fake accounts on Twitter.
The Taliban's reclusive supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada joined a large gathering of nationwide religious leaders in Kabul on Friday, the state news agency said, adding he would give a speech. The Taliban's state-run Bakhtar News Agency confirmed the reclusive leader, who is based in the southern city of Kandahar, was attending the meeting of more than 3,000 male participants from around the country, aimed at discussing issues of national unity.
As the country prepares to celebrate the 155th anniversary of the formation of the Canadian Confederation, Canada Day, the traditional centre of festivities, Parliament Hill in Ottawa, will be off limits as protesters linked to the Freedom Convoy begin gathering in the capital for the long weekend. Various events have been listed by protesters including a march to Parliament Hill on Friday.
A Bulgarian woman dubbed the "Crypto Queen" afteIgnatovahe raised billions of dollars in a fraudulent virtual currency scheme was placed on the FBI's 10 most wanted list Thursday. The Federal Bureau of Investigation put up a $100,000 reward for Ruja Ignatova, who disappeared in Greece in October 2017 around the time US authorities filed a sealed indictment and warrant for her arrest.