Shutdown D+14Default D-3, & Monday’s Quick Read


1.  Shutdown, Pay Our Military Act (POMA), and contracting. Editor Lindy Kyzer helps unravel the confusing knot: “A Congressional Research Service report outlines DoD operations during the government shutdown, noting that certain civilian and contractor personnel would be continue to be paid on time as a result of POMA. The report openly admits that the status for contractors in confusing, noting ‘While some new contract obligations to support ‘excepted’ activities could be signed, monies could not be disbursed while other new contracts would be delayed.’”

2.  Forecast – more and more clouds. In 2014, expect more of the same. Contributor Tranette Ledford explains, “As more companies move into cloud-based software and applications, hiring managers are stepping up the hunt for candidates with experience in cloud-based services. The most common job ads placed over the last few months include software, network and systems engineers, Java developers and websphere cloud computing engineers. But the demand will follow for marketing managers, sales representatives and management and research analysts who also understand cloud computing.”


1.  Tuesday, Iran nuclear talks in Geneva commence. Reuters’ reports, “Iranian Foreign Minister and chief nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif voiced hope Tehran and world powers can agree in talks this week on a road map towards resolving their nuclear stand-off . . . . Rouhani’s election in June to succeed conservative hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has raised hopes of a negotiated solution to a decade-old dispute over the program that could otherwise trigger a new war in the volatile Middle East.” Aljazeera.Com reports, “US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the window for diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program is “cracking open” ahead of new negotiations between Iran and the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany.” Finally, AP deep-dives into the realm of possibilities.

2.  Taliban vow to fight on. Mullah Omar warns on Afghan-U.S. security deal. AP reports from Kabul, “The secretive leader of the Afghan Taliban pledged on Monday that his followers will keep fighting if the government in Kabul signs a crucial security deal with the United States. Mullah Mohammad Omar also called on his fighters to intensify their insurgent campaign against Afghan and NATO forces, and urged all Afghans to boycott next year’s elections . . . . Violence across Afghanistan has spiked as insurgents try to retake territory ahead of the full NATO pullout at the end of 2014. The Taliban, whose weapon of choice is roadside bombings and suicide attacks, have been blamed for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties.” However, Pakistani religious leaders vow to facilitate peace with the Taliban: “Maulana Fazul-ur-Rehman, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) chief met for the second time with president Hamid Karzai in ARG presidential palace on Sunday. JUI-F chief, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman during his meeting with president Hamid Karzai vowed to sincerely cooperate with the government of Afghanistan in a bid to help accelerate the stalled peace process with the anti-government militant groups.” American Forces Press reports progress between Kerry and Karzai.

3.  In Syria, rebel in-fighting as al-Qaeda encourages unity. Aljazeera.Com reports, “Clashes between rival rebel factions left at least 44 fighters dead in battles to control neighbourhoods in the city of Aleppo . . . . The three days of fighting was between al-Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and a rival group formerly known as Ghurabaa al-Sham. . . . the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, urged fighters in Syria to ‘rise above organisational loyalties and party partisanship’ to unite and set up an Islamic state.” In northern Syria, car bomb kills 12 in rebel-held territories.


1.  Northrop Grumman’s Aerial Refueling Drone. DefenseMediaNetwork.Com’s Eric Tegler reports, “Later this fall, the U.S. Navy and its industry partner, Northrop Grumman, hope to demonstrate that an unmanned aircraft borrowing extant systems can pull up behind a tanker, deploy its aerial refueling probe, and successfully plug into a drogue-style basket – by itself. The autonomous aerial refueling (AAR) demonstration is part of the larger UCAS-D demonstration that made history in July when the unmanned X-47B made two successful arrested landings on the USS George H.W. Bush.”

2.  DoD to BAE – Stop Work. Vision Systems International gets the nod. AviationWeek.Com’s Amy Butler reports, “The Pentagon is scrapping plans to demonstrate two competing advanced helmet designs for the F-35, opting instead to proceed with upgrades to correct deficiencies in the original helmet made by Vision Systems International (VSI). The F-35 Joint Program Office issued a stop-work order to BAE, an alternate helmet developer, on Oct. 10. Plans to conduct a flight demonstration of the two have been dashed, resulting in a cost avoidance of $45 million to continue maturing and testing the alternate design, according to a statement from the F-35 office.”


1.   Shutdown and Quantum Physics. Wired.Com’s Robert McMillan reports, “When Google and NASA announced plans to boot up an honest-to-goodness quantum computer at NASA’s Ames Research Center, it seemed like the beginning of something very big. . . . But then came the government shutdown, which has shuttered everything from Yosemite National Park to, yes, the NASA Ames Research Center. As it turns out, Google just barely dodged a bullet. The NASA team booted up their D-Wave Two just days before the federal government shutdown would have put a complete stop to the project. But with NASA and Ames almost completely shut down, it’s not exactly clear what’s happening with the machine.”

2.  Get ready for long winter naps. Who can sleep when you have to get up to grab another remote? Wired.Com’s Roberto Baldwin checks the best universal remotes on the market: “Unfortunately, as the home viewing experience has become fragmented with cable boxes, audio receivers, set-top streamers, and videogame consoles, the coffee table has also become a minefield of remotes. Take back control and toss them in a drawer. All you need is one. The goal here is to fuse all that functionality into a single remote with a simple layout everyone can master — not just the tech savvy. If your home theater requires a five-minute preamble on how to watch a Blu-ray or play a videogame, you’ve failed.”

3.  Overseas Roaming: Read a minute, save a bundle. Time reports, “One major carrier is shaking up the international roaming status quo: T-Mobile. The company has announced that starting October 31, Simple Choice individual and business customers will be able to enjoy unlimited texts and data while roaming internationally to one of the over 100 countries in the plant at no added charge. Voice calls, meanwhile, will be charged a flat rate of 20 cents. T-Mobile’s new pricing is absolutely unreal once you take a look at what its competitors charge – one international trip could literally lead to a $1,000 phone bill.”

4.  Hacking the NSA? Say it isn’t so. Forbes.Com reports that “the NSA’s baby is an irresistible target for anyone who might think it could be used to keep an eye on them. Round up the usual suspects, Chinese, Russian, Middle-eastern, and that weird kid from the math club.”


1.   American Arrogance Run Wild. As our nation toys with the global economy, China (surprise!) calls for a new world order. The Daily Telegraph reports, “The looming prospect of a US default on debt prompted China to call for the world to ‘de-Americanise, amid warnings of a new global recession. In China, Xinhua, the official government news agency, said that as American politicians continued to flounder over a deal to break the impasse, ‘it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanised world’. The jibe came as Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund chief, raised the spectre of a repeat of the 2008 financial crash as hopes dwindled for a resolution of the crisis over the debt ceiling and partial government shutdown.” Think they’re kidding? Reuters reports, “World top bankers warn of dire consequences if U.S. defaults.”


1.  “Lost in Space – and on Earth.” WaPo’s David Ignatius with his feet on the ground argues, “The only aggressive space program these days, not surprisingly, is China’s. The Chinese plan to launch this year a lunar rover, called Chang’e 3, that would be the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the moon’s surface in 37 years. The Chinese are planning a manned mission to the moon sometime after 2020 and, subsequently, to Mars. The United States has abandoned that dream.”

2.  Impeachment by another name? TheDailyBeast.Com contributor Lloyd Green argues, “The dance over the debt ceiling and the fight over the government shutdown are nothing less than impeachment on the cheap: a chance to negate the will of the majority by ostensibly placating the letter of the law. Unable to win the last two presidential elections or to persuade a Supreme Court majority that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional, House Republicans have arrived at a point where default and closure are the next best things. This combustible brew of race, class, and economic anxieties bubbles all too closely to the surface.”

3.  A GOP victory, in the end. Peter Beinart of TheDailyBeast.Com argues, “It’s not just that Obama looks likely to accept the sequester cuts as the basis for future budget negotiations. It’s that while he’s been trying to reopen the government and prevent a debt default, his chances of passing any significant progressive legislation have receded. Despite overwhelming public support, gun control is dead. Comprehensive immigration reform, once considered the politically easy part of Obama’s second term agenda, looks unlikely. And the other items Obama trumpeted in this year’s state of the union address—climate change legislation, infrastructure investment, universal preschool, voting rights protections, a boost to the minimum wage—have been largely forgotten.”


1.  All tied up.

2.  Hat in hand.

3.  Lost in space. 

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Ed Ledford enjoys the most challenging, complex, and high stakes communications requirements. His portfolio includes everything from policy and strategy to poetry. A native of Asheville, N.C., and retired Army Aviator, Ed’s currently writing speeches in D.C. and working other writing projects from his office in Rockville, MD. He loves baseball and enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring anything. Follow Ed on Twitter @ECLedford.