Thursday, September 8, 2011

Investigations: F-35 Wings to Last Just Five Years

Yet another setback for the massively expensive F-35 warplane - the most costly military program in history (full operating cost: an estimated $1 trillion). Already beset by delays, cost overruns and performance questions, two of the three models of the $100-million-plus planes have been found to have a major structural defect. The result is their wings have an operational life of only five years, according to this Wired report. That's a lot less than the expected 25 years.

Earlier reports had questioned the F-35's key attribute - its supposed stealthiness. This Wired story cites a study that found the jet is "demonstrably not a true stealth aircraft" and can't operate against Russia's latest air defence systems. An aviation expert said the F-35's stealthiness is undermined by its "very conventional-airplane-shaped lumps and bumps around its underside, not to mention the hideous wart that covers the gun on the F-35A."

Investigations: Suits to Target Rampant Medical Ghost-writing

CBC Radio explores the widespread practice of "medical ghost-writing" in this interesting report (available in audio or text form). That's when doctors and scientists put their name on papers that were actually written and researched with funds from pharmaceutical companies, whose contributions aren't acknowledged. The result: side-effects from medications can be downplayed - or omitted altogether, according to the report. Now, two lawyers are preparing to fight back with lawsuits alleging fraud.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Investigations: Texas Officials Covered up Radioactive Drinking Water

State officials in Texas covered up elevated levels of radioactivity in drinking water for years, even though it violated federal standards, according to this five-part investigation by KHOU-TV News. Even so-called "safe" levels of radiation in drinking water actually lead to cancer, the series reports.

That's also a common issue in Canada. There, the government's ceiling on radioactive material in drinking water is set at a level that leads to 511 lifetime cancers per million people - or 17,000 lifetime cancers for Canada's 33 million people, according to this story I did on the fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in The Georgia Straight.