Google Founder Building World’s Largest “Air Yacht” At Taxpayer’s Iconic NASA Hangar

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The Guardian tells us:

Google co-founder Sergey Brin is building a hi-tech airship in Silicon Valley destined to be the largest aircraft in the world, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the project.

“It’s going to be massive on a grand scale,” said one, adding that the airship is likely to be nearly 200 meters long. This would make it by far the world’s largest aircraft today, albeit smaller than the epic Hindenburg Zeppelins of the 1930s, or the American navy airship USS Macon that was once based in the very same hangars where Brin’s aircraft is now taking shape.

The sources revealed details of the airship on the condition of anonymity, citing confidentiality agreements. Brin has revealed nothing of his airship ambitions and is building the airship in a giant hangar on a Nasa airfield far from the eyes of the public.

Brin wants the gargantuan airship, funded personally by the billionaire, to be able to deliver supplies and food on humanitarian missions to remote locations. However, it will also serve as a luxurious intercontinental “air yacht” for Brin’s friends and family. One source put the project’s price tag at $100m to $150m.

Google’s use of the Moffett Field hangar at below market rates was called out by Senator Grassley (now chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee) in 2012 at the height of the Obama/Google love fest:

The Honorable Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
Administrator
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Two Independence Square
300 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20546

Dear Administrator Bolden:

I am writing you concerning Google Inc.’s (Google’s) partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its activities at Moffett Federal Airfield (Moffett Airfield) in Santa Clara County, California. My office recently received troubling allegations regarding the Google fleet of aircraft housed at Moffett Airfield.

As you know, this private airport is operated by the NASA Ames Research Center, and according to public reports, Google signed a forty year lease with NASA in 2008 for 42 acres at Moffett Airfield for $3.7 million per year.

According to information provided to my office, Google allegedly houses a variety of airliners including a Boeing 767, a Boeing 757, multiple Gulfstream G550s and helicopters.

Whistleblowers have questioned the benefit to the U.S. government from the Google fleet being housed at Moffett Airfield. A recent investigative report analyzed Google flight tracking data, which indicated only five percent of flights were science missions.

Further, many Google jets based at Moffett Airfield allegedly have flown all over the world, including Italy, the Caribbean, China and Ireland.

Additionally, my office received allegations that Google has purchased jet fuel from the government at a discounted price, a price allegedly well below the market price due to its tax treatment.

In order to gain a more complete understanding of these allegations, please respond to the following requests:

1) How did NASA arrive at the lease amount of $3.7 million per year? Does that represent a fair market rate for the lease? Which individuals at NASA and Google negotiated the lease amount?

2) As of the date of this letter, how many aircraft owned or operated by Google are present at Moffett Airfield? Provide detailed descriptions of all aircraft.

3) Why does Moffett Airfield house Google aircraft and when did this arrangement begin? Provide all contracts between Google, NASA, and/or the military related to aircraft and aircraft fuel at Moffett Airfield.

4) Please describe the agreements by which Google obtains fuel for its aircraft at Moffett Airfield and provide fueling records for each aircraft over the past five years.

5) Are any of the aircraft used to support NASA research? Provide a specific explanation regarding the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet.

6) Have any NASA officials flown on the Google aircraft? Please provide a list of each official and describe the nature and purpose of each trip in detail.

7) For each aircraft owned or operated by Google, provide all flight plans and passenger manifests for each flight originating and landing at Moffett Airfield in the last five years.

8) In the last five years, have any other aircraft owned by private companies or individuals housed aircraft at Moffett Airfield? If yes, provide a detailed description of the aircraft, the ownership of the aircraft.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to these matters. I would appreciate receiving a response by no later than May 25, 2012. Should you have any questions, please contact Brian Downey or Rob Donovan of my staff.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley

Ranking Member

@musictechsolve: Will Digital Aggregators Lead the Industry on Transparency with Spotify and Others?

The Music Managers Forum UK have criticized the “secrecy” arounds Spotify’s deals with major labels. According to Complete Music Update: The UK’s Music Managers Forum yesterday welcomed the news that Spotify had reached a new deal with Universal Music. However, the trade body criticised the continued secrecy that surrounds the deals made between the major […]

via Will Digital Aggregators Lead the Industry on Transparency with Spotify and Others? — Music Tech Solutions

@dmccabe: Senator @markwarner exploring portable benefits for gig economy workers

There is a drinking game in Austin–how many times can Uber advertising for jobs at Uber avoid using the word “employer” when describing what is clearly a job at Uber and one for which the multinational non employer employer should be treated like every other employer?  (Example:  “side hustle” or “earning opportunity” gets you a Shiner every time.)

Sen. Mark Warner is hoping to push the federal government to tackle the difficult questions about how companies like Uber and Lyft are changing the nature of work — and, more specifically, the nature of benefits.

At issue: Many benefits are traditionally tied to your full-time employer. But with the rise of on-demand economy companies that rely on contractors, a growing share of the workforce is going to miss out on benefits like health insurance and retirement savings plans.

Read the post on Axios

 

@KRSFOW: The Future of What Podcast on the Latest Department of Justice Attack on Songwriters — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

Originally posted on Artist Rights Watch: Another outstanding podcast from the Future of What with Kill Rock Stars! President Portia Sabin talking with David Lowery, Chris Castle and NMPA CEO David Israelite about the U.S. Justice Department’s flip flop on 100% licensing. Find out what “100% licensing” means and what songwriters can do about it,…

via @KRSFOW: The Future of What Podcast on the Latest Department of Justice Attack on Songwriters — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

Repost: The MTP Podcast: The Consequences of DOJ’s New Rule on 100% Licensing with David Lowery, Steve Winogradsky and Chris Castle

The Department of Justice–once again doing its best to crush small business–has appealed the BMI ruling (copy of DOJ appeal here).  Yes…she’s baaack….Remember DOJ Antitrust lawyer and ex-Googler Renata Hesse?  (aka “Defendant“)

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Hesse

Hesse’s reward for sticking the shiv into songwriters was a partnership with big bucks at the DC Office of Sullivan & Cromwell, aka the gold plated revolving door waiting room where she proudly lists her expertise in “Intellectual Property”.  She left out “Destroying Lives of People Who Can’t Fight Back”.

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And then of course there’s shiv meister David C. Kully, his bad self, now a partner at Holland & Knight who did Hesse’s dirty work and really did the day to day on fufilling Hesse’s inexplicable obsession with screwing songwriters to the wall.  Kully encouraged songwriters to leave ASCAP if they didn’t like the DOJ’s ruling on 100% licensing.

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Why is this man smiling?

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY: David Lowery, Steve Winogradsky and Chris Castle discuss the implications of the new rule by the U.S. Department of Justice re-interpreting the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees to require 100% licensing and prohibiting partial withdrawal. David Lowery is the founder of Cracker and Camper van Beethoven, leading artist rights…

via The MTP Podcast: The Consequences of DOJ’s New Rule on 100% Licensing with David Lowery, Steve Winogradsky and Chris Castle — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

 

@thetrichordist: If Only Artists and Managers Had Listened To Us : Spotify Per Stream Rates Keep Dropping

We hate to say we told ya so, but… Below is our post from September 2015. Two years ago we predicted the inevitable truth of the all you can eat Spotify subcription model. Like many of our predictionsand proposals (example; windowing titles) we’ve had to wait for the industry to catch up to us. Today, two years later, Digital Music News confirms our prediction.

Read the post on The Trichordist