By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
The Air Force, which has always touted Boeing's air-launched cruise missiles as an effective means of carrying nuclear warheads, has a much smaller inventory with perhaps 150 non-nuclear missiles left. They cost $1.5 million apiece. There are many more nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, but their use would require retrofitting them, removing the nuke warheads, and attaching non-nuclear devices, at an additional expense of about $500,000 per missile.
The Stealth fighter shot down near Belgrade cost $45 million when it was built a decade ago. It would cost more to replace it, but there are no plans to make more. There are 57 Stealths in operation. Before the Stealth was shot down over Belgrade, one crashed last May at an air show in Maryland.
Neither the Pentagon nor NATO will say how many "smart" bombs have been dropped from fighters or bombers. These bombs, which all have some sort of guidance system sometimes traveling along a laser beam to the target, honing in on a heat signature, or even following their own built-in radar can run anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000. ("Dumb" or gravity bombs haven't been used since the Gulf War, and prior to that in Vietnam.) The smart-bomb inventory is thought to be in the range of 10,000 to 20,000.
Finally, the costs of key aircraft in use over Kosovo include: the F-16 ($20 million apiece); the F-15 ($40 million apiece); and the A-10 "Warthog" anti-tank fighter ($15 million).
Struggle on the Web
Milosevic cops shut down Radio B92, Yugoslavia's sole remaining independent news outfit, on Friday. Station director Sasa Mirkovic was dismissed, and the station was boarded up. Defiant to the end, Mirkovic flashed this message across the station's Web site: "Struggle continues. We shall never surrender. Radio B92, Belgrade, Serbia. . . . Keep the Faith."
For a perspective beyond that of the mainstream U.S. media, check out www.commondreams.org., a progressive Web site that runs liberal to left news and analysis and offers a good selection of sources on the region.
Death & Tax Cuts
How GOP Plan Threatens the Social Net
Battered and split though they may be, right-wing Republicans in Congress continue to push plans for a tax cut partly as a means of paring welfare spending even further. It works like this: Under the GOP budget resolutions passed before Congress departed for the Easter break, most of the projected budget surplus will be translated into into tax cuts: an election-year gimmick both parties want to see happen.
With the Republican plan, these tax cuts start small, then grow as the surplus swells, rising to $636 billion over the five years beginning in 2005. So far so good. But there is a catch. By 2007, the cost of the cuts exceeds the surplus. You might think that would spell the end of the tax cuts, but not for the Republicans. When that happens, the cost of the cuts is to be covered by gutting so-called discretionary funding including such things as the WIC program, which provides food and care for pregnant women and infants; Head Start, which gives poor children a jump on education; veterans' programs; and general funds for running the government, to mention just a few. All the targeted programs are likely to be cut back by as much as 12 percent. If they are not cut, the Republicans will begin creating the kinds of catastrophic budget deficits they successfully ran against in the 1980s.
Avast Immovable Object
Following is an actual radio transcript released by the Chief of Naval Operations on October 10, 1995, and posted recently on Commander Hackworth's Defending America e-mail newsletter:
"Station #1: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.
"Station #2: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to South to avoid a collision.
"Station #1: This is the Captain of a U.S. Navy ship. I say again, divert your course.
"Station #2: No. I say again, you divert your course.
"Station #1: This is the aircraft carrier Enterprise, we are a large warship of the U.S. Navy. Divert your course now!