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What's $12 million between friends?

In a recent article from the Albuquerque Journal, Tamar Stieber says: "A pittance, if the friends happen to be the U.S. Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

"The laboratory, part of the DOE's national nuclear weapons complex, acknowledges it has lost track of about $12 million worth of property_mostly scientific equipment but also things like computers, copiers and electronic components.

"Officials say most of the missing equipment is somewhere on lab property_43 square miles of it_they're just not sure where. And the lab's own "wall-to-wall" inventory still hasn't solved the mystery.

"They also point out that compared to the lab's $1 billion inventory, the missing equipment is statistically 'insignificant'."

Oh, That $32 Billion Amplifier! Cooleemee, North Carolina.

"Roger Spillman paid $75 for what he thought was a radio amplifier at a salvage auction. He never got it to work and never got a refund.

"There may be some consolation in knowing the device would have survived a nuclear blast, however.

"Turns out the device is a $363,735 piece of military hardware, part of a planned global communications system designed to survive nuclear war, according the Winston-Salem Journal in a January 1994 article.

"The Air Force showed up with a court order in December and reclaimed the device. It only learned about the missing amplifier when Spillman, unable to get it to work with his radio, turned to a local ham-radio operator, who called the amplifier's manufacturer, Raytheon Corp., for an instruction manual. Raytheon employees asked for the serial number, then called the Air Force.

"Air Force Special Investigations found out that Raytheon sent two Extremely High Frequency (EHF) Amplifiers to the Milstar program at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, California in December 1992.

"Several Air Force officials couldn't explain how such a sensitive piece of equipment could be missing for nearly a year, how it ended up in the freight salvage yard or how it came to be sold.

"The new pale-green amplifier is part of the $32 billion Milstar system designed to send and receive military messages throughout the nation's nuclear arsenal even while under nuclear attack, the paper reported."



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