National briefs: White House tech apparel

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WASHINGTON —  Last week, the White House made news by announcing it had appointed Mikey Dickerson, a former Google engineer, to head up the new U.S. Digital Service, a corps of technologists tasked with helping the federal government redeem its tech projects in much the same way that Mr. Dickerson swooped in and helped save HealthCare.gov last fall. The White House today posted a video of Mr. Dickerson’s employee on-boarding process and in the nearly five minute clip the White House makes much of Mr. Dickerson’s appearance.

Mr. Dickerson, it seems, has not abandoned his rumpled, plaid, short-sleeved style simply because he’ll be working in the Executive Office of the President of the United States of America.

Attracting coders and designers into federal employees is key not only to what the Obama administration is trying to do with the U.S. Digital Service, but the 18F pod of technologists housed at General Services Administration and its Presidential Innovation Fellows.

And with the video, the White House is attempting to signal that government will change — not the technologists it hires.  Mr. Dickerson, in blue-button down, yellow tie and blazer, shoots back: “This is literally only because you’re here, Mr. President.”

Gulfstream safety 

WASHINGTON — Gulfstream jet pilots received notice from the company that a safety device designed to prevent accidents like the one that killed sports-franchise mogul Lewis Katz, 72, can be foiled in some circumstances.

The system is supposed to keep pilots from setting engines for takeoff power if control panels on the wings and tail are locked, Gulfstream told operators in an Aug. 18 letter obtained by Bloomberg News. Instead, it may be possible to add thrust “if proper unlock procedures are not followed,” it said.

The letter helps explain why Mr. Katz’s Gulfstream IV reached a speed of 190 miles (306 kilometers) an hour on the ground without lifting off as it tried to depart Bedford, Massachusetts, on May 31.

Gulfstream, a General Dynamics Corp. unit, has more than 2,000 aircraft in operation and all the company’s models have the gust-lock except for the G650, which uses different technology, he said.

In the Katz crash, there was no evidence the cockpit crew attempted to check whether the control surfaces were working after starting the engines and taxiing to the runway, according to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board’s review of the crash-proof flight data recorder.

Mr. Katz’s jet rolled down the 7,011-foot (2,136-meter) runway before sliding into a field, where it slammed into a gully and burst into flames. Katz and six others died.

The NTSB isn’t commenting on the accident beyond its previous statements and updates, Keith Holloway, a spokesman, said Tuesday.

The Gulfstream notice reminded pilots to ensure they have switched off the gust-lock before starting the engines and to always check the flight controls before takeoff. The notice didn’t specifically reference the Katz crash.

Sullivan wins primary

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A Republican former state attorney general, Dan Sullivan, defeated two challengers in Tuesday’s primary election here, including a candidate supported by the Tea Party, and will face Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, in November in a closely watched race that could determine which party controls the Senate.

Mr. Sullivan, 49, was backed by national political groups that ran ads attacking Begich and mostly ignoring the other contenders in the primary race: Joe Miller, a Tea Party favorite who came in second, and the state’s lieutenant governor, Mead Treadwell, who came in a distant third.

With most of the votes counted, Mr. Sullivan had about 40 percent of the ballots cast, to 32 percent for Mr. Miller and 25 percent for Treadwell, who conceded a few hours after the polls closed. 

Court issues order

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a last-minute order putting a hold on same-sex marriages in Virginia less than a day before officials there were to begin providing marriage licenses to gay couples.

The move comes a month after the federal appeals court that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage refused to delay the effects of its ruling.

Legal experts have predicted that the Supreme Court will take up the issue of same-sex marriage in its next term, which begins in October.


-- Compiled from news services

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