January 31, 2011

Have We Entered a Period of Global Cooling?

Global warming conference participant says reduced sunspot activity may cause extreme cold fatalities and mass starvation. At the Heartland Institute’s International Conference on Climate Change on May 17, Professor Don Easterbrook of Western Washington University warned that the climate is headed for a period of cooling. He told the Chicago gathering of hundreds of scientists and policy professionals that there are three possibilities of cooling, examples of which we’ve seen within the last 200 years. “I think that there’s three possibilities that we’re headed for,” Easterbrook said. “One is cooling similar to 1945-1977 — about a half degree. Not really all that bad. Perhaps something similar to the cold period of 1880-1915, to perhaps the Dalton Minimum, which would be even colder.”  

The Dalton Minimum, named after the English meteorologist John Dalton, was a period of low solar activity lasting from about 1790 to 1830 that resulted in a two-degree drop in global temperature. Easterbrook explained that any significant drop — from a half-degree to two degrees — would have a much worse impact on human civilization than global warming.“Impacts of global cooling are unfortunately worse than they are for global warming,” Easterbrook said. “The good news is that global warming is over for several decades. The bad news is that its going to be worse than global warming would have been because twice as many people are killed by extreme cold than extreme heat. We’ll have a decrease in food production. It’s already happening in various parts of the world.”

- Scientist: Global Cooling is the Real Crisis, Business & Media Institute, May 17, 2010

Midwest, Plains Brace for Massive Winter Storm

January 31, 2011

AP – Transportation officials lined up snow plows and utilities prepared for the worst as a blizzard crept towards the Midwest Monday. Forecasters said the storm could drop up to an inch of freezing rain and warned of high winds, whiteout conditions and snow drifts that might reach 10 feet in parts of the region.

The National Weather Service said the storm was expected to march from the Rockies through much of the Plains and Midwest, hitting the area particularly hard on Tuesday and Wednesday, before making its way to the East Coast. Bitterly cold temperatures are forecast in the wake of the storm.

Early Monday, freezing drizzle made roads slick in northwest Missouri, causing cars to slide off highways in Buchanan County and prompting authorities to cancel classes at public and private schools in the area. Freezing rain and fog led to some flight delays Sunday at the airport in Rapid City, South Dakota.

At Edele and Mertz Hardware just a few blocks from the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis, patrons were lined up at 7 a.m. waiting for the store to open. Snow shovels were big sellers, but worker Steve Edele said ice melt and salt were flying out the door.
"'Freaking out' is a great way of putting it," Edele said. "The icing — that's what scares people."
Chicago and Milwaukee are expected to be particularly hard-hit as the week progresses. The weather service issued a blizzard watch for Tuesday and Wednesday for southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northwest Indiana and forecasters said snowfall totals could reach up to 2 feet in some areas.

The weather service said the heavy snowfall combined with high winds could create whiteout conditions, particularly on Tuesday night into Wednesday, making driving extremely dangerous in some areas. Snow drifts of 5 feet to 10 feet are possible. The service said winds on Tuesday could reach up to 60 mph in open areas and near Lake Michigan.

Once the storm has moved through, the weather service said wind chills as cold as 40 degrees below zero could hit parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and other parts of the Midwest.

In St. Louis and throughout Missouri, residents were bracing for the worst, with forecasters calling for a particularly hazardous and potentially deadly mix: The storm was expected to hit in full force Tuesday with up to an inch of ice, followed by 3-4 inches of sleet, then perhaps a half-foot of snow or more.

If that wasn't bad enough, low temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday night were expected to reach zero or worse, and winds could howl at up to 40 mph.

After burying the Midwest, the storm was expected to sweep into the Northeast, parts of which are already on track for record snowfall this winter. In New Hampshire, where pedestrians have been forced to walk in the street in some places because of piled-up snow, crews rushed to remove it before a new foot or so fell on the state.

By Monday morning, much of the Midwest was still mostly dry with some scattered reports of freezing drizzle and relatively light snowfall. Nevertheless, several schools closed or were shutting down early based on the forecast.

The St. Louis-based utility company Ameren opened its emergency operations center amid worries that the weight of the ice and snow could duplicate a severe crisis in 2006, when an ice storm downed thousands of trees and power lines. Parts of southeast Missouri were left without electricity for more than a week.

Ameren officials say they're not waiting for the storm to hit. The utility has six 53-foot "Storm Trailers" that can be dispatched to trouble spots. The 53-foot trailers are stocked with wire, poles, and hardware to repair damaged lines and facilities.

The Missouri Department of Transportation had 400 workers and 200 vehicles at the ready in the St. Louis area, with plans to get the interstates and major thoroughfares cleared first.

Heavy Snow Hampers Evening Rush in DC Metro Area

Power Outages Throughout Area; Over 300,000 Homes without Power; People Stuck in Traffic for 5-6 Hours; Multiple Collisions and Stranded/Abandoned Vehicles

January 26, 2011

NBC Washington - Heavy rain quickly turned to heavy snow this afternoon, making a mess of the evening rush hour throughout the region, according to NBC Washington chief meteorologist Doug Kammerer.

"Thundersleet" and "thundersnow" were reported across northern Virginia at about 3:30 p.m., as the cold air began mixing with the moisture. There were early reports of up to 4 inches of snow in Round Hill, Va., by 4 p.m., and snow has since covered the ground in the D.C. region. NBC Washington's Pat Collins measured an unofficial 6 inches of snow in Germantown, Md., before 7 p.m.

Winter storm warnings have been issued for the Washington area until 4 a.m. Thursday. Click here for the latest alerts.

Federal government employees were told to leave two hours early in anticipation of the storm.

Raw Video: Slip Slidin' on Foxhall Road

Raw Video: Wheels Spinning on River Road

Many of those who didn't get out early may still be stuck in traffic. Many area roadways are like parking lots this evening, and because the streets are so crowded, trucks and plows don't have much room to maneuver and clear the snow. Motorists have complained of commutes of several hours.

David Gregory, host of "Meet the Press," left his car at the studio in northwest D.C. and jogged home in the storm. He said traffic on Nebraska and Foxhall and other streets near American University was at a standstill.

Metro said it would beging pulling buses off the streets at 9:30 p.m. because of the treacherous driving conditions. Most other local bus services planed to start to pull their buses off the streets at 9 p.m., including Alexandria’s DASH, Arlington’s ART, Fairfax Connector, DC Circulator, PRTC, Fairfax City CUE, and Montgomery County’s RIDE ON.

Power outages, of course, have been reported in the area. Just before 7 p.m., Pepco President Thomas Graham reported about 27,000 customers without power in Montgomery County, 1,000 in Prince George's County and 7,200 in D.C.

Dominion Energy said more than 46,000 customers are without power Wednesday night, mostly in northern Virginia, the Associated Press reported.

This is a two-part storm; the first part was an area of low pressure that developed off the Atlantic seaboard, according to NBC Washington meteorologist Tom Kierein. It combined with an upper level disturbance that moved across the area, strengthening rapidly and drawing in some cold air, changing rain to heavy, wet snow. The snow should move out of the area by midnight.

The change came suddenly, with rain changing to snow falling at a pace up to 3 inches per hour in some places. Visibility also presented a problem as it decreased to less than 1/4 of a mile.

The snow piled up quickly -- especially during the evening rush. Some areas west of the I-95 corridor could get 6-10 inches of snow. Areas south and east of the I-95 corridor will likely receive 1-6 inches of wet snow.

Then the storm will head north and east and continue to spread snow.

Wet snow fell around the region Wednesday morning before turning to cold rain.

This system will affect areas from Washington all the way to New England today, tonight and into tomorrow. So travel along the Northeast Corridor will be difficult and many flights will be canceled and delayed as the afternoon and evening progress.

Not Again! Another Snowstorm Hits East Coast

January 26, 2011

Associated Press — Schools closed, governments sent workers home early and planes were grounded Wednesday in an all-too-familiar routine along the East Coast as another snowstorm swept over a region already beaten down by a winter not even half over.
"I fell three times trying to get off the steps," commuter Elliott Self said after leaving an elevated train in Philadelphia. "I just want the snow to stop. I want the sun again. I want to feel just a little bit of warmth."
Millions of people got that oh-no-not-again feeling as the wet and sloppy storm engulfed the Northeast, where snowbanks in some places were already so high that drivers couldn't see around corners. Thousands of residents lost power as heavy snow toppled power lines.

Classes were called off and commutes were snarled from Tennessee to New England as cars and buses slipped and slid on highways. The New York area's three major airports, among the nation's busiest, saw more than 1,000 flights canceled. Pedestrians struggled across icy patches that were on their way to becoming deep drifts.

In Pennsylvania, residents hunkered down as a one-two punch of a winter storm brought snow, sleet and then more snow, which forecasters said could total a foot in some areas. Philadelphia declared a snow emergency as of Wednesday evening, ordering cars removed from emergency routes. Northwest, in Hatfield Township, Pa., residents were scared by thunder claps and blinding lightning in a rare thundersnow, a thunderstorm with heavy snow instead of rain.

Eight to 12 inches of snow was forecast for New York City, which had already seen 36 inches of snow this season in comparison with the full-winter average of 21 inches. New Jersey also was looking at up to a foot of snow, and high winds were expected before the storm moves out early Thursday.

Rain drenched the nation's capital for most of the day and changed to sleet before it started snowing in earnest at midafternoon. Washington was expected to get up to 10 inches of snow.

The snow and icy roads created hazardous conditions for President Barack Obama as he returned to the White House on Wednesday after a post-State of the Union trip to Manitowoc, Wis. The wintry weather grounded Marine One, the helicopter that typically transports Obama to and from the military base where Air Force One lands. Instead, Obama was met at the plane by his motorcade, which spent an hour weaving through rush hour traffic already slowed by the storm. It normally takes the president's motorcade about 20 minutes to travel between the base and the White House.

In suburban Silver Spring, Md., nurse Tiffany Horairy said as she waited for a bus that she was getting tired of the constant pecking of minor or moderate storms.
"I'd rather get something like last year, with all the snow at once," she said.
Officials urged residents in Washington and Maryland to stay off the roads as snow, thunder and lightning pounded the Mid-Atlantic region. In D.C., Metro transit officials pulled buses off the roads as conditions deteriorated. Firefighters warned the heavy snow was bringing down power lines and causing outages.

Since Dec. 14, snow has fallen eight times on the New York region — or an average of about once every five days. That includes the blizzard that dropped 20 inches on the city and paralyzed travel after Christmas.

Some places are running out of room to stash plowed snow.

Portsmouth, N.H., hauls its snow out to Peirce Island, but it was nearly full, with a huge mountain of the stuff.
"We probably have a five-story snow dump right now," said Portsmouth public works director David Allen. "It's time to get a lift up on it and we could probably do a ski run."
For days, forecasters had been predicting rain, freezing rain or deep snow along the East Coast, but they weren't quite sure who would get what. That unpredictability continued playing out as the storm swept from middle Appalachia into the Northeast.

In New Jersey, state workers were sent home early and schools closed as the storm brought more snow than anticipated Wednesday morning. A second band of snow began falling in the evening. The NJ Transit agency allowed customers to use bus tickets for rail travel, and vice versa, to get home any way they could.

In suburban Philadelphia's Phoenixville, a delayed decision to call off classes angered parents when dozens of students got stranded at school. Eighty-seven buses had to be redirected to take students back home.

Parents and teachers in Tennessee were concerned about yet another day off from school Wednesday. Angela Wilburn, who teaches eighth grade at McMurray Middle School in Nashville, said students had missed eight days so far this year, pushing back her teaching schedule and making it difficult to keep kids focused. She was worried about a writing test scheduled for February.
"The writing assessment counts toward No Child Left Behind," she said. "It affects the whole school."
New York City declared a weather emergency for the second time since the Dec. 26 storm, which trapped hundreds of buses and ambulances and caused a political crisis for the mayor. An emergency declaration means any car blocking roads or impeding snowplows can be towed at the owner's expense.

In the suburbs, a pickup truck plowing a snow-covered parking lot struck and killed a Long Island woman Wednesday afternoon, police said.

In Kentucky, where several inches of snow fell, a man who lost control of his pickup truck on an ice-covered road and got out of it was hit and killed by another truck that lost control on the same patch.

Numerous vehicles were disabled or abandoned across northern Delaware, and dozens of crashes were reported.


John Wheeler, Former Pentagon Official, Was Beaten to Death

John Wheeler Investigation: Former Pentagon Official Was Beaten to Death

Many other details of killing remain a mystery

January 29, 2011

The News Journal - Homicide victim John P. Wheeler III, a former Pentagon official and presidential aide whose body was discovered Dec. 31 in a Wilmington landfill, was beaten to death in an assault, the Delaware Medical Examiner's Office announced Friday.

The official cause of Wheeler's death was "blunt-force trauma," agency spokesman Karl Kanefsky said about a case that has drawn worldwide media coverage. Kanefsky would not say which part of Wheeler's body sustained the lethal blows.

Police reiterated Friday that the case remains under investigation but acknowledge they cannot fill in critical gaps in the mystery and don't have any suspects.

Within hours of the grisly midmorning discovery, state pathologists had ruled that the 66-year-old New Castle resident was a homicide victim, but until Friday authorities had been mum on the cause of his death -- an unusual posture in Delaware, where such information is usually released promptly.

The four-week delay has helped fuel rampant speculation that Wheeler, a defense consultant and expert on chemical and biological weapons, was poisoned by enemies -- a theory that persisted in part because he was seen stumbling around Wilmington in the days before he died and officials said they were awaiting the results of toxicology tests.

Hal G. Brown, deputy director of the Medical Examiner's Office, said he did not know what medications or chemicals, if any, were in Wheeler's system, but said the death certificate makes it clear that toxicology "didn't play a role" in Wheeler's death.

Brown said blunt-force trauma describes the result of being struck with an object or a body part such as a fist. Brown added that Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Adrienne Sekula-Perlman, who handled Wheeler's autopsy, met with police and prosecutors Friday about her conclusions.

Newark police are the lead agency on a multiforce investigation because the garbage truck that dumped Wheeler's body at Wilmington's Cherry Island Landfill was emptying debris it had collected at trash bins in Newark. The FBI is also assisting with the probe.

Lt. Mark Farrall, a Newark police spokesman, was mum Friday on the official word that Wheeler was killed in an assault.
"I can't comment on his injuries," Farrall said.
Farrall said detectives still do not know how Wheeler got to Newark or ended up in the trash bin.

"We're still attempting to determine how he made his way to Newark and who is responsible for his murder," Farrall said. "How he got the injuries, I just don't know."

Jason Miller, spokesman for Attorney General Beau Biden, said the office could not comment on the "ongoing investigation."

Wheeler, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, led fundraising efforts in the 1980s to construct the Vietnam War memorial and served as an adviser to the last three Republican presidents -- Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Most recently, he worked part time for the MITRE Corp., which provides systems engineering and information technology services to the government about issues such as aviation defense and intelligence.

Wheeler is believed to have been on a train from Washington, D.C., to Wilmington on Dec. 28, Newark police said. A cabdriver interviewed by The News Journal, however, said he picked up Wheeler at the train station Dec. 29.

Video and witness accounts of Wheeler's behavior in the 48 hours before his body was found show him disoriented, carrying one of his dress shoes and looking in vain for his car in a Wilmington parking garage blocks from where his vehicle was.

On Dec. 30, Wheeler was captured on surveillance video at the Nemours building at 10th and Orange streets in downtown Wilmington, where he asked for train fare at the Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz law firm.

The last image of him that day was leaving the Nemours building and walking southeast on 11th Street, past and through the Hotel du Pont valet parking area. He continued southeast and crossed Market Street and was last seen in camera view at 8:42 p.m. walking toward the East Side, a low-income neighborhood known as a hot spot for crime.

Thirteen hours later, an employee at the landfill saw his body being dumped into a sea of trash.

Retired Army Col. Doug Thormblom, a former roommate of Wheeler's at West Point, said the autopsy results indicate his old friend was a victim of a mugging gone awry but that many unanswered questions remain -- such as why he was so disoriented in the days before he was killed, whether any drugs or chemical agents were in his system and how he got from Wilmington to Newark, about 13 miles away.

"I'm glad there was no direct poisoning that caused his death, but his disorientation still hasn't been explained," said Thormblom, who thinks Wheeler suffered a stroke or some other kind of physical or mental breakdown.

Thormblom also called on law enforcement to reveal more details about an investigation that has captured the public's imagination.

"If it was a simple mugging, why aren't they saying so and calling on citizens to report if they saw two guys picking somebody up?" he asked. "What are they holding back? What do they hope to accomplish by being so mysterious?"

John Wheeler's Family Offers $25,000 Reward for Tips in His Death

January 31, 2011

The News Journal - Expressing gratitude to law enforcement but also frustration with a lack of information, the family of John P. Wheeler III on Sunday offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Wheeler’s killer.

Wheeler, 66, a New Castle resident who was an adviser to several presidents, was found dead on Dec. 31 at a Wilmington landfill. His death was ruled a homicide.

The Delaware Medical Examiner’s Office said Friday Wheeler had been beaten and listed the cause of death as blunt-force trauma.

The announcement of the reward came through attorney Colm F. Connolly, a former U.S. attorney for Delaware, whom the family hired to represent them and act as a go-between with law enforcement.

John P. Wheeler III and his wife, Katherine Klyce, are shown in 2008. Wheeler's family is hoping a $25,000 reward will help someone come forward with details surrounding his mysterious death.

John P. Wheeler III and his wife, Katherine Klyce, are shown in 2008. Wheeler's family is hoping a $25,000 reward will help someone come forward with details surrounding his mysterious death.

Speaking exclusively to The News Journal on Sunday, Connolly said Wheeler’s death is as much a mystery to the family as it is to the public. He said Wheeler’s family is despondent over his death and “desperate” for information.

Connolly released a short statement from the family expressing appreciation for the “outpouring of sympathy and concern” they have received over the past few weeks “and for the efforts of law enforcement authorities to uncover the circumstances surrounding Jack’s death.”

“We have suffered a heartbreaking loss, and not knowing how Jack died amplifies the devastation we feel. Our hope in offering this reward is to encourage anyone who may have helpful information to come forward so that justice can be served,” the statement concluded.

Connolly also produced a copy of a flier publicizing the reward that he said Newark police will be handing out and posting in areas they believe “will be most likely to produce leads.”

Connolly said the family coordinated and timed its offer of a reward with Newark police in order to best assist the investigation. However, Connolly said, the family feels isolated and out of the loop when it comes to the investigation.

“The authorities are not sharing information with them at this point,” Connolly said.

‘Family was in the dark’

As a former prosecutor -- who most notably won a conviction against Thomas Capano for the murder of Anne Marie Fahey -- Connolly said he understands the need for police and prosecutors to keep some matters secret so as not to compromise the investigation. But, he said, there is some information that can safely be shared with the family of a victim, something he said he often did as a prosecutor, which is not being shared right now.

“We were very disappointed and frustrated on Friday to learn from the media that the Medical Examiner’s Office had issued a report and had determined what the cause of death was,” Connolly said. “The family was in the dark about that and had hoped we would hear before any public dissemination of that information.”

Connolly said Wheeler’s family is cooperating fully with authorities and is doing whatever it can to assist in the investigation. He said they hope putting up $25,000 of their own money will lead to a tip that brings the investigation to a close “with answers.”

Delaware Crime Stoppers also is offering a $1,000 reward for information about Wheeler’s death.

Filling in the timeline

Connolly also provided a few details from the family that further fill in the timeline of Wheeler’s final days that has been provided by authorities.

Wheeler was in New York City on Dec. 26, where he and his wife also have a residence, and from there headed to Washington, where he worked as a part-time consultant for the MITRE Corp., which provides systems engineering and information technology services to the government.

Connolly said he is not sure what Wheeler was doing in Washington on that date, but believed it was likely related to his job or the many civic causes he was associated with.

Connolly said Wheeler then took a train from Washington to Wilmington on Dec. 28. A Wilmington cabdriver reported picking up Wheeler [see next story] at Wilmington’s Amtrak station the morning of Dec. 29 [the day after his arrival by train in Wilmington].

Note: Investigators reported that several low-powered smoke-bomb-type devices were set off in a house under construction across from Wheeler’s New Castle home late on Dec. 28, causing minor damage.That house had been the target of several lawsuits filed by Wheeler and his wife, alleging code violations, and fire officials said they had wanted to talk to Wheeler as part of their investigation.
“Police have not shared any information about that incident or suggested that there is any link between that arson and his death,” Connolly said.

The family last heard from him in an e-mail the morning of Dec. 29. Connolly said Wheeler’s last message caused no alarm and did not betray any of the apparent disorientation witnesses described later that day and that could be seen on a surveillance video of Wheeler taken Dec. 29 at a downtown parking garage.

Connolly said he had seen the video from the parking garage adjacent to the New Castle County Courthouse, and is aware of the reports of Wheeler’s disorientation but could not comment further. He said the family has no definitive answer why Wheeler was behaving the way he was in the video. Connolly dismissed one national media commentator’s observation that Wheeler was “drunk,” stating that Wheeler did not drink.

A parking attendant who saw Wheeler around 6:40 p.m. Dec. 29, without a coat and carrying one shoe, said Wheeler claimed to have been robbed of his briefcase and that he was looking for his car -- which, it turned out, was parked at a different garage. Connolly said Wheeler did sometimes carry a briefcase.

Seeking confirmation

The last known sighting of Wheeler was on Dec. 30 at 8:42 p.m. on a surveillance video taken at the Nemours Building at 10th and Orange Streets, where Wheeler is seen walking on 11th Street toward the city’s East Side.

Wheeler’s body was found about 10 a.m. Dec. 31. when it fell out of a Waste Management refuse truck at the Cherry Island Landfill. The truck was assigned to a route in Newark and began collections at 4:20 a.m.

The surveillance videos of Wheeler at the Nemours Building have not been released and Connolly said the family would like to see those videos to verify that the person seen in the recordings is in fact Wheeler.

Police said Wheeler is seen on the recordings wearing a hooded sweatshirt, but Connolly said Wheeler’s family never saw him wear a hooded sweatshirt.

Connolly said a Washington-area attorney who had been acting as a go-between for Wheeler’s family and Delaware law enforcement reached out to him earlier this month to take over that job because of Connolly’s familiarity with Delaware.

Connolly is in private practice with law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, which has offices in the Nemours Building. Connolly said it is possible Wheeler was looking for him on Dec. 30, but he said he has no reason to believe that was the case. Connolly said he had not been hired by Wheeler or Wheeler’s family at that time and had no appointment to meet with Wheeler on that day. Connolly said he had met Wheeler only once before, in the spring of 2009.

Connolly confirmed that Wheeler’s family had previously done business with a different law firm in the Nemours Building -- Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz -- whose offices Wheeler visited on Dec. 30, and where Wheeler reportedly asked for train fare before abruptly departing.

One of Wheeler's Last Rides

Wilmington cabbie thought it was an uneventful trip - until he recognized his customer's face in the news

January 23, 2011

The News Journal - In some ways, he was different from the power brokers and politicians who routinely hop into taxis outside Wilmington’s Amtrak station.

He was casually dressed, wearing only a sport coat and slacks despite the cold.

He also was more chatty.

“He told me to take him to the Hotel du Pont,” Spence said. “But I don’t think he was staying there because he told me he wouldn’t stay there. So I don’t know whether he was just going there to eat or meet somebody.”

The fare turned out to be 66-year-old John P. Wheeler III, the former Pentagon official who was found dead Dec. 31 at Wilmington’s Cherry Island Landfill. Police said his body was dumped there after it was picked up from a garbage bin in Newark.

In the days immediately after the body was found, officers questioned cabdrivers to see if they saw or transported Wheeler. They asked downtown businesses for surveillance video and talked to residents of homeless shelters for clues in the death of a man who spent his career in and out of government as an aide to three presidents and a driving force behind the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.

Spence, who gave an exclusive interview to The News Journal, is one of the few to publicly describe an encounter with Wheeler. He also may have been one of the last to speak with him.

What's known is that Wheeler wandered around for at least three days. Other witnesses and surveillance videos portrayed Wheeler as disoriented and confused.

But not Spence, who remembers him as calm, relaxed and lucid.

He picked up Wheeler at the train station -- where politicians disembark a short distance from the homeless and drug addicts who gather near the Sunday Breakfast Mission -- and took him to the Hotel du Pont. The fare came to about $9, but Wheeler's tip brought it to $12.

Not bad for a 0.8-mile trip, said Spence, whose Seacoast cab was parked on South French Street when Wheeler popped into the back seat at about 8:48 a.m.

"He was different because most of the people that we pick up at the train station around that time of day are usually suited down," said Spence, 61, of Philadelphia. "He wasn't suited down. He was just relaxed. We don't get too many people like that, dressed casually."
Wheeler sat where most single passengers sit -- the passenger-side back seat.
"If I have a passenger who looks like he might be crooked, I would definitely prefer that he sits over there," Spence said with a laugh.

Business was slow the morning Wheeler got into Spence's cab, as most business days are between holidays.

"When we get into a holiday week, the business starts to get very slow because a lot of the businessmen, they take off early and that [week] was coming into New Year's Day, New Year's Eve," Spence said. "It was like driving on a Saturday or Sunday."

The slow pace sharpened his memory about the day, he said.

Spence drove Wheeler along Walnut Street -- the most common route cabbies take to the hotel. When they neared 10th Street, Wheeler started talking.

"He mentioned how Hotel du Pont wasn't worth the money," Spence said.

Spence made his way up 10th Street and turned right onto Orange Street. When they reached the southeast corner of 11th and Orange streets, Wheeler got out.

Spence jotted down the time they arrived and the fare into a spiral notebook before returning to the train station.

Just a normal drive

Spence, who usually starts his days at about 5:30 a.m., said he sometimes waits up to five hours for a fare. He's seen a number of dignitaries, including Gov. Jack Markell and Vice President Joe Biden, at the Wilmington Amtrak station, one of the busiest commuter stops on the East Coast. They're friendly and often greet people, he said. But Spence has never given them a ride.

"Are you kidding?" Spence said. "[Biden's] got about seven cars."

Spence thought nothing of the drive to the Hotel du Pont until that weekend, when he saw Wheeler's picture.

"When I first saw his picture, I was 99 percent sure," it was the same person, Spence said. "And when I think about it even more, I definitely know it was him."

Spence called different police departments, who referred him to other agencies until he spoke to Newark police, the lead investigating agency in Wheeler's death.

Taxi driver Roland H. Spence waits outside the Wilmington Train Station last week. Spence said he picked up John P. Wheeler III at the station and brought him to Hotel du Pont on Dec. 29 – two days before he was found dead.

Sunday Breakfast Mission resident Joe Cook, 63, says he only knows Wheeler from the news, but the train station is a hub for homeless people because they go there to ask for money.
Sunday Breakfast Mission resident Joe Cook, 63, says he only knows Wheeler from the news, but the train station is a hub for homeless people because they go there to ask for money. (The News Journal/SUCHAT PEDERSON)

Wilmington Police Warned Not to Go Overboard on John Wheeler Investigation

January 8, 2011

The News Journal - At least two Wilmington City Council members said Friday that the investigation into the death of former Pentagon official John P. Wheeler III -- though important -- should not take priority over any other homicide investigation in the city...

The cause of Wheeler's death has not been released. Jay Lynch, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Social Services, declined to say if the body had been released, but an employee of Krienen-Griffith Funeral Home in New Castle said it had the body. Newark police declined to comment on the results of the autopsy.

Wilmington City Councilman Kevin Kelley on Friday cautioned Wilmington police not to go overboard in investigating Wheeler's death.

"I don't want any more resources dedicated to this than we do any other homicide," Kelley said, adding that about half of the city's record 27 homicides from 2010 remain unsolved.

Kelley said he wants police to find the person responsible for Wheeler's death, but not at the expense of other investigation.Councilwoman Loretta Walsh, who heads the city's Public Safety Committee, agreed, saying Kelley's comments were "absolutely appropriate." She noted that the FBI is assisting Newark police.

"The city is secondary, so we should not make ourselves out to be a bigger deal than we are," she said.

Wilmington Police Chief Michael J. Szczerba confirmed that two investigators have been assigned to the case, but said that is no more or less than have been assigned to other homicide investigations. And he said the detectives still have their usual caseloads and are not working the case exclusively.
"We understand what our responsibilities are and we are committed to carry out our duty to bring each and every case to justice as quick as possible. And that's what we are doing here," he said.
Szczerba did not know what percentage of their time was dedicated to this case. Szczerba also said the city has made arrests in about 60 percent of last year's homicides.

Wheeler's body was found about 10 a.m. on New Year's Eve in the Cherry Island Landfill when it tumbled out of a trash truck that had made rounds in the Newark area. That has led police to believe Wheeler's body was dumped in one of 10 trash bins on that truck's route.

Wheeler was an adviser to several U.S. presidents, led fundraising efforts in the 1980s to construct the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington and most recently worked part time for The MITRE Corp., which provides systems engineering and information technology services to the government.

If evidence emerges that the slaying occurred in the city, Wilmington would become the lead agency.

"We're following through," Szczerba said. "We do not know where this case is going to lead. Right now, we are assisting. Newark has the lead, but ... at any point, that could change."

Police have not said how Wheeler could have ended up in Newark.

On Friday, Newark police reported new surveillance video captures of another 15 minutes of Wheeler's final hours, showing him exiting doors on the 11th Street side of the Nemours building Dec. 30. Wheeler then begins to walk southeast on 11th Street, past and through the Hotel du Pont valet parking area. He continues southeast and crosses Market Street and is last seen in camera view at 8:42 p.m. walking on the west sidewalk of 11th Street, toward the East Side.

Wheeler is wearing dark pants and a dark blue hooded sweatshirt with the hood worn over his head.

His body was found about 13 hours later.

Wilmington detectives questioned cabdrivers working near the Wilmington train station, including City Cab Taxi driver Athel Scott, who said he was taken to Wilmington police headquarters Wednesday for questioning. Scott said police told him his phone number was found in Wheeler's cell phone.
"I don't know who the guy is," Scott said, adding that he passes out his business card, which has his cell-phone number on it, to many people.
Attorney Art Schulcz, a longtime friend of Wheeler and a classmate at West Point, said Wheeler's Blackberry is important because he always had it with him and was constantly e-mailing with it and wouldn't have given it up without a fight. Scott said he'd seen Wheeler around the train station, but insisted he didn't know him and that he did not give him a ride.

"I never gave him no ride," he said. "I know that."

While investigators interviewed him, Scott said, other officers searched his home. They also questioned his wife.

"She's mad," he said. "Why are they wanting to make my life a living hell?"

The cabbie said he was concerned by the police questioning and search.

"It looks like they want to pin me into something," Scott said. "I'm not a troublemaker. I don't get into trouble."

Other cabdrivers said plainclothes detectives have been knocking on their car windows, flashing their badges and showing photos of Wheeler.

Saferide Taxi driver Moussa Sangare said a detective asked him Wednesday if he had given anyone a ride from New Castle to Newark.

"I've never been to New Castle to pick up somebody these days," Sangare said, adding that he'd never seen Wheeler.

City detectives also visited the Sunday Breakfast Mission, said Pastor Dave Jones, the men's program director at the Poplar Street homeless shelter in Wilmington.

"They asked me if Mr. Wheeler had stayed here as an overnight shelter guest," Jones said, adding that two detectives were there Tuesday. Jones said they checked the log from Dec. 27 to Dec. 31, but did not find that Wheeler stayed there. "The information they needed from here, we could give them a pretty sure answer: He has not been here."

Bill Perkins, director of Friendship House ministry, was not aware of police visiting any of the 14 homeless shelters the group operates.


Dave Jones said no one saw Wheeler at the Sunday Breakfast Mission.

Dave Jones said no one saw Wheeler at the Sunday Breakfast Mission.

Wheeler Inquired at City Law Firm

Ex-Pentagon official appeared disoriented

January 11, 2011

The News Journal - In the final hours of his life, John P. Wheeler visited the 10th-floor offices of the Connolly Bove Lodge and Hutch law firm in the Nemours Building looking to speak with the managing partner, an attorney at the firm said Monday.

The former Pentagon official was in downtown Wilmington the afternoon of Dec. 30, looking to borrow train fare to travel north, the attorney said.

When a receptionist went to find someone to speak with Wheeler, he was gone...

Body of U.S. Military Expert John P. Wheeler III Found in Delaware Landfill (Updated 2/3/2011)

The body of military expert John P. Wheeler III, 66, who served in three Republican administrations, was found Friday morning around 10 a.m., December 31, after a landfill worker saw his body slide from an emptying trash truck at the Cherry Island landfill in Wilmington, Delaware. Delaware police concluded that his body was placed in one of 10 possible commercial dumpsters within a four-block radius in Newark, Delaware. Police believe he was killed, but they haven't said how or why. His death has been ruled a homicide.

On Monday, January 3, at Wheeler's home in New Castle, Delaware, yellow police evidence tape was stretched across two wooden chairs in the kitchen, where boot prints were found and several wooden floorboards were missing. A woman who lives next door to the duplex refused to talk about the case, saying she had been asked not to comment. She did not provide details.

Wheeler and his wife, Katherine Klyce, also have a
condo in New York City. A doorman at the condominium building said he hadn’t seen Klyce in two weeks, and a package for her had been at the front desk for days. Wheeler had twins, a son and daughter, by his first wife. Klyce has two daughters from a previous marriage.

Investigators don’t know how long Wheeler might have been missing or where and when he was last seen. He had not been reported missing because the family was out of town for the holidays.

Phoebe Dill, a friend and neighbor of Wheeler and his wife in New Castle, Delaware, said she last saw Wheeler on Christmas Eve, December 24, when her husband, Robert, drove him to the train station.
“He was going to New York with his wife’s Christmas present,” she said.
Dill said she assumed Wheeler then took a train directly to Washington, near his consulting job at Mitre Corporation, a defense contractor in McLean, Va.

Richard Radez, a longtime friend who, like Wheeler, graduated from West Point and Harvard Business School, said he exchanged e-mails with Wheeler on Christmas day, December 25. On the day after, December 26, Wheeler sent Radez an e-mail expressing concern that the nation wasn’t sufficiently prepared for cyber warfare.
“This was something that had preoccupied him over the last couple of years,” Radez said.
Wheeler emailed friends a photo, shot from the window of his Manhattan condo, of the city’s recent snowstorm on December 26.

According to Ron Roark, Wheeler's neighbor in New Castle (who claims to have only met the former Army officer once in the seven months of his own residency in the neighborhood--and saw him rarely, as John and Katherine were gone more than they were home), there was strange activity at Wheeler's home prior to his body being found. Wheeler was alleged to have been in Washington and not due to board Amtrak until December 28, but Roark says that someone had obviously been in the Wheeler home four days surrounding Christmas, as an unusually loud television could be heard on constantly, although the residence occupants did not appear to be there.

"It was so loud we could hear it through the walls and we found that strange."
After working at Mitre, Wheeler took a train from Washington to Wilmington on December 28. That night, police said, smoke-bomb devices were set off in an unfinished New Castle home across from Wheeler’s that belongs to a couple with whom he was long embroiled in a court battle over the dimensions of the house.

Known as a “constant emailer,” Wheeler’s Blackberry went dead a little after 5 p.m. on December 28. Police recovered it on that day in the neighbor's house when investing the smoke bombs. Police questioned a cab driver whose number was found in Wheeler's cell phone. The cab driver, Scott, says he didn't give him a ride and doesn't know who he is.
"I never got a call from the man. I don't know him," he said, referring to Wheeler. "He's never been in my cab. I don't know how my number got in his cellphone," Scott says he told police.

The family last heard from Wheeler in an e-mail the morning of December 29. According to Wheeler’s friend Colm F. Connolly, Wheeler’s last e-mail message caused no alarm and did not betray any of the apparent disorientation.

A Wilmington cabdriver reported picking up Wheeler at Wilmington’s Amtrak station that morning.

According to the cabdriver Roland H. Spence, Wheeler was casually dressed, wearing only a sport coat and slacks despite the cold. He also was more chatty than the power brokers and politicians who routinely hop into taxis outside Wilmington’s Amtrak station.

“He told me to take him to the Hotel du Pont,” Spence said. “But I don’t think he was staying there because he told me he wouldn’t stay there. So I don’t know whether he was just going there to eat or meet somebody.”
In the days immediately after the body was found, officers questioned cabdrivers to see if they saw or transported Wheeler. Spence is one of the few to publicly describe an encounter with Wheeler. He also may have been one of the last to speak with him.

What's known is that Wheeler wandered around for at least three days. Other witnesses and surveillance videos portrayed Wheeler as disoriented and confused.

But not Spence, who remembers him as calm, relaxed and lucid.

He picked up Wheeler at the train station -- where politicians disembark a short distance from the homeless and drug addicts who gather near the Sunday Breakfast Mission -- and took him to the Hotel du Pont. The fare came to about $9, but Wheeler's tip brought it to $12.

Not bad for a 0.8-mile trip, said Spence, whose Seacoast cab was parked on South French Street when Wheeler popped into the back seat at about 8:48 a.m.

"He was different because most of the people that we pick up at the train station around that time of day are usually suited down," said Spence, 61, of Philadelphia. "He wasn't suited down. He was just relaxed. We don't get too many people like that, dressed casually."
On Wednesday, December 29, the day before Wheeler was last seen alive and two nights before his body was found, Wheeler turned up at a pharmacy in New Castle at 6:00 p.m. and asked the pharmacist for a ride to Wilmington. The pharmacist, who had filled Wheeler's prescriptions in the past, said that Wheeler looked "different" and "a little upset." He said he offered to call a cab, but Wheeler refused and left.

About 30 minutes later, Wheeler entered the parking garage attached to the New Castle County Courthouse in downtown Wilmington, about seven miles from the pharmacy. How he got there has not been explained.

Around 6:40 p.m on December 29, a confused and disoriented Wheeler approached a parking garage attendant at the New Castle County courthouse. He was wearing a black suit with no tie and only one shoe. He carried his damaged right shoe, a tasseled burgundy loafer, and had no overcoat even though there was snow on the ground. He told the attendant that he wanted to get warm before he paid for parking, but Wheeler's car wasn't parked there. He also told her he had been robbed of his briefcase, and repeatedly said he wasn't drunk.

The parking garage attendant, Goldsborough, said Wheeler told her he had been driven from the train station by his brother, had been robbed, and was recovering from the recent death of his mother. He declined Goldsborough's offer to contact police. Dill, Wheeler's neighbor, said that the limp was not new, and that Wheeler's brother and mother "both died some years ago."
While looking for his car, Wheeler encountered two departing courthouse employees who declined to be quoted by name, saying they feared losing their jobs. They said that they encountered Wheeler about 7:30 p.m., that he was having trouble locating his vehicle, and that he wondered aloud whether he was in the right garage. Wheeler said he didn't have his garage ticket because his wallet and briefcase had been stolen.

When asked if he needed money, he told the workers that he had $120. He also declined their offer to call police. All said they wished they had called police anyway. “We feel that we should have done something more,” one woman said. All three people who encountered Wheeler described him as clean and neat. His responses to their questions, they said, seemed labored but lucid.
On December 30 at 3:30 p.m., Wheeler, having somehow swapped the dirtied suit jacket he was seen wearing the night before for a navy-blue sweatshirt with the hood pulled up over his head, was seen near an intersection about four blocks from the office of attorney Bayard Marin, who was representing Wheeler and his wife in the property dispute.
Marin said he last spoke with his client on December 27, and did not know what he may have been doing in Wilmington three days later. Wheeler was suing to block Frank and Regina Marini from continuing to build a new house across the street from his duplex. The Marini house, taller than others in neighborhood, obstructed Wheeler's view of a park and the Delaware River. Wheeler argued that the Marini house did not comply with construction standards for new homes in the historic district. A Delaware Chancery Court judge denied Wheeler's application for a temporary restraining order on December 13. The Marinis said in a statement they offered "heartfelt sympathies" to the families of Wheeler and his wife. Police have given no indication whether they believe the property dispute had anything to do with Wheeler's death.
Police initially had said that Wheeler was last seen around midafternoon, December 30, near 10th and Orange Streets. They later disclosed that surveillance video showed him inside the Nemours Building as late as 8:30 p.m, less than 14 hours before his body was dumped with a load of trash at the landfill. Wheeler appeared disoriented as he wandered inside the downtown Wilmington office building, but he refused help from several people who approached him.

Where Wheeler spent the night is not known, although he reportedly said he was staying at a nearby hotel. Officials at the nearby Hotel du Pont declined comment. He was last seen on December 30, walking southeast on 11th from the Nemours Building across the Hotel du Pont valet parking area, crossing Market St., and heading for the city's East Side.

Sometime between then and the next morning, Wheeler turned up dead in a dumpster in Newark, about 15 miles away. Police believe he had been in one of 10 bins collected beginning at 4:20 a.m. His body was spotted as the collection truck dumped its load about 10 a.m. at the Cherry Island Landfill in Wilmington.

Retired Col. Doug Thornblom, the freshman year roommate of Wheeler at West Point, said it would have taken more than one person to pick up his body and toss it into a dumpster.

"Jack was a big guy. He was about 225 pounds," Thornblom of Jacksonville, Florida, told CNN in an interview. "I don't think one person could've lifted him the 5 or 6 feet off the ground, literally dead weight, and put him in a dumpster; and I don't think Jack could've crawled in there, not that he would've wanted to."

"The whole way his murder evolved is peculiar. He was out of contact for roughly 3-4 days. Apparently his briefcase, wallet and iPhone weren't with him at the time of his murder. Why would anyone hold him up or murder him brutally and then go to the trouble of lifting his body up and dumping it into a dumpster when he had nothing on him? That part does make us wonder a little bit," Thornblom said.

Asked whether something Wheeler did could have made him a target, Thornblom speculated that it's "a low probability but I certainly wouldn't discount that... He was into a lot of government business and contracts. The whole cyber-security thing is very controversial and of course our enemies oppose us strengthening our defenses in that regard."

Thornblom had high praise for his late classmate. He describes him as "star man," who finished in the top 5% of the academy all four years of school, and "an all-around good guy" who was also a bit of a prankster. "He helped so many people because he was so smart, if folks were having problems with academics," he said.

After Thornblom started the Class of 1966 discussion forum, Wheeler participated and spoke his mind bluntly about a number of subjects. He was a proponent of defense issues and tough cyber-security. "It sounds trite to say, but he was a true patriot," said Thornblom.

Police found his car at an Amtrak station where Wheeler often caught the train to Washington. It had been parked there since December 13 (it wasn't unusual for Wheeler to leave the car there for long periods of time).

How was former Pentagon official John P. Wheeler III killed? If police know, they aren't saying. According to DelawareOnline:

Two full weeks after Wheeler's body was spotted tumbling out of a trash hauler into a Wilmington landfill on New Year's Eve, police and the state Medical Examiner's Office remain uncharacteristically silent. Though officials immediately labeled his death a "homicide," they have refused to provide the cause, nor will they say whether they're sure how Wheeler died.

Hal G. Brown, deputy director of the Delaware Office of the Medical Examiner, said his agency is awaiting the results of toxicology and further forensic studies, which could take weeks. Toxicology testing is routine in all Delaware autopsies, even when the cause of death is known. Brown said he realizes the silence has led many to entertain such scenarios, but stressed that Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Adrienne Sekula-Perlman, who is handling the case, needs time to complete her work.

"I can understand where those concerns lie, but I have checked six or eight times to see if anything can be released ... and she's not saying a word," Brown said. "She ruled it a homicide that day. I don't know what caused her to make that ruling, but it's obviously something she found."
Wheeler’s friends and long-time associates are beginning to quietly wonder whether something much more common and tragic for a Vietnam vet like Wheeler is partly to blame for his disorientation: the culmination of a long history of mental-health issues that have plagued him most of his adult life. According to The Daily Beast:
Friends say Wheeler has acknowledged having bipolar disorder as well as Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism that sometimes caused him to misread social cues and situations. He also told friends that he sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that he was convinced that some of his problems were related to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

While Wheeler was never a combat soldier, (he was a member of the general staff at the U.S. Army’s headquarters in Long Binh, Vietnam from 1969 to 1970), friends say that someone as sensitive as Wheeler may have been particularly vulnerable to a war zone’s after-effects. “I think some of his problems were genetic but were exacerbated by his wartime service,” one friend said.

In recent years, Wheeler’s behavior became increasingly unpredictable. Emails and postings from Wheeler could be charming, insightful, and analytical, or hurtful, baffling, and irritating. One longtime friend said that about a year ago, he started blocking all of Wheeler’s emails as spam because he seemed so out of control. “I just couldn’t take it anymore” the friend says. When he got the call that Wheeler had died, he says, “My first thought was that it was a suicide.”

Some friends say it’s possible that Wheeler’s death was an act of passion, that he was capable of making someone mad enough to kill him. Others believe it was most likely a random act. But close friends who knew about his medical history believe Wheeler’s history of mental illness may help explain reports of his bizarre behavior during the last days of his life as well as the failure of a man known as a great networker to contact friends or the police for help.

Because he graduated near the top of his class at West Point( (Wheeler was the son of a decorated Army officer, and followed in his father’s footsteps to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point), Wheeler had the ability to defer deployment while he went to Harvard business school. After that, a friend helped him get a general staff job, working on computers for a year, at the Army’s headquarters in Vietnam, which was followed by a Pentagon assignment to research chemical and biological weapons. When some of his closest friends at West Point died on the battlefield in Vietnam, Wheeler found himself wracked by survivor’s guilt, and never really got over it, those close to him say. Wheeler told friends that those haunting memories motivated him to throw himself into the movement to create the Vietnam veterans memorial. He ended up the target of most of the critics who demanded a more traditional design than Maya Lin’s poignant long black wall engraved with the names of the dead, partly because he took such a high profile in the debate and was not a combat veteran.

While friends say Wheeler considered his work on the Vietnam memorial to be his greatest contribution, they also say his decision to re-immerse himself in the war’s legacy resurrected many of his personal demons.

What many don’t know about Wheeler’s career is that many of these years were marred by periods of erratic, obsessive and manic behavior, as well as periods of depression and unpredictable mood swings. For a year after the war, the troubled Wheeler sought solitude at a Tennessee monastery, and later enrolled in an Episcopalian seminary based in Virginia. Once he rejoined the secular world, he tended to throw himself into causes or become transfixed by certain issues and pursue them relentlessly and aggressively. “He could be tremendously mercurial,” one former co-worker said. “He could be the most caring, compassionate, sensitive individual, and other times, he would be completely erratic, fly into fits of rage, and be completely unreasonable. You never knew from day to day which one he would be.” Another friend went further. “He could make people feel homicidal toward him.”

As a result, his causes both benefitted and suffered from his attention, particularly when he crossed the line between persistence and obsession, persuasion and attack. These tendencies caused some friends to cut off contact with Wheeler out of exasperation. He was temporarily banned from posting on his West Point Class of ’66 online bulletin board because his comments were so contentious that others were avoiding the site, friends say.

Wheeler retired from the military in 1971. His military career included serving in the office of the Secretary of Defense and writing a manual on the effectiveness of biological and chemical weapons, which recommended that the United States not use biological weapons. He was a special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force under President George W. Bush. He recently worked as a consultant for The Mitre Corporation, a nonprofit based in Bedford, Mass., and McLean, Virginia. The MITRE Corp. has provided computer and information technology to the FAA and the U.S. Air Force since the late 1950's. MITRE is a federally-funded research and development center (FFRDC) for the Dept. of Defense, the FAA, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. On March 5, 2009, Mitre was awarded one of two FFRDCs supporting the Department of Homeland Security as the operator of the Systems Engineering and Development Institute (SEDI).

Vietnam Veteran's Memorial champion John Wheeler homicide, Examiner, January 4, 2011
Body of U.S. Military Expert Found in Delaware Landfill, Associated Press, January 4, 2011
Police: Ex-Pentagon Official Confused Before Death, Associated Press, January 5, 2011
Bizarre final days and hours of John P. Wheeler III, The Philadelphia Enquirer, January 6, 2011
John Wheeler's Cell Phone Found in House Being Built (Video), ABC Nightline, January 7, 2011
Wheeler's cell phone discovered, taxi driver says (CNN, January 8, 2011)
John P. Wheeler's murder and Defense Department secret cyber war ops (January 13, 2011)
Vietnam Demons & John Wheeler (January 14, 2011)
Delaware police mum about cause of former Pentagon official John Wheeler's death (January 15, 2011)
One of Wheeler's Last Rides (The News Journal, January 23, 2011)
John Wheeler's Family Offers $25,000 Reward for Tips in His Death (The News Journal, January 31, 2011)
John Wheeler Investigation: Former Pentagon Official Was Beaten to Death (The News Journal, January 31, 2011)

Mitre Won’t Say What Wheeler Was Doing There

Retired Lt. Gen. McInerney on Fox News: It ‘had to be a professional hit job.’

January 6, 2011

Cryptome.org - Via: Washington Post:
Wheeler had been working since March 2009 as a consultant at the nonprofit Mitre Corp. in McLean, company spokeswoman Jennifer J. Shearman said. She said the company does information technology work for several federal agencies, including the Defense and Homeland Security departments, but she did not know what type of work Wheeler did.
What was he doing at Mitre?

A four page bio on John P Wheeler III is currently available at Second Line of Defense (excerpt below):

John Wheeler is a defense consultant. He served as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C. from 2005-2008, when he became the Special Assistant to the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Logistics and Environment. His mission was to carry out tasks and monitor programs in support of goals as directed, and support the Air Force Secretariat with data gathering, team organization, liaison, analysis and/or options for action. Principal tasks included standing up Cyberspace Forces and placing Precision Strike technology and Real Time Streaming Video targeting links into the hands of groundfighters in combat.

Mr. Wheeler graduated from West Point in 1966, serving as a staff officer in Vietnam, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Staff before leaving active service in 1971. While on active duty, he authored the first Biological and Chemical Joint Munitions Effectiveness Manual and the analysis supporting the President’s decision that the U.S. will not use biologicals. He was also on the Red Integrated Strategic Operational Plan Team to test the Single Integrated Operational Plan. His career combines federal service and starting up, growing and turning around companies and charities. He was Secretary, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, on the team that worked major insider trader investigations, and consultant to the acting Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics regarding tankers and other issues...

Grasping the growing vulnerability of our weapon systems to Cyber intrusions, he worked tirelessly to drive the activation of Air Force Cyber Command. His visionary efforts were instrumental in the creation of the Cyber Research Center at the Air Force Institute of Technology; the first two graduates of the United States Air Force Academy to enter the Air Force Institute of Technology Cyber Master’s Program; the stand-up of the Air Force Cyber School; and an increased emphasis on Air Force recruitment efforts for officers and enlisted for Cyber careers.

His seasoned experience and knowledge proved invaluable as he helped formulate advice on initiatives such as Joint Basing, Recapitalization, ROVER precision strike data for Army and Marine troops, Acquisition, and a myriad of legislative initiatives facing the Air Force.

His day-to-day interactions with the Office of the Secretary of Defense enhanced relations and ensured streamlined timely responses. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Mr. Wheeler in the dedication of service to his Country reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Cashless Society: ‘Facebook Nation’ Unveils Its New Currency

Cashless Society: ‘Facebook Nation’ Unveils Its New Currency

January 31, 2011

21st Century Wire - The 21st century has certainly witnessed a progression towards a ‘cashless society’, but social networking giant Facebook is taking things a step further, throwing its hat into the ring with the introduction of a new compulsory monetary policy that will initially govern its share of the multi-billion dollar online games industry.

Imagine a virtual world where all goods and services are to be offered, bought and paid for by a new virtual-local form of electron currency. Facebook will be piloting such a scheme forits multimillion dollar online games market. As of July 2011, every social game developer on Facebook will have to offer the social network’s “virtual currency credits”.

According to a recent news release from Marketing Week,

“Over the next five months developers will have to implement credits as a payment method within their games”.
The games industry already accounts for 70% of the virtual goods transactions on the site.

According to Facebook, the social networking corporation is not insisting that their new online currency will be the only payment method available to users and, in exchange for their cooperation, game developers will be offered incentives if they use Facebook dollars exclusively. Compensation for compliance will apparently include early access to product features and premium promotion on their site, including promotion on the games dashboard and, of course, premium ‘smart’ ad targeting.

What appears on the surface to be a simple online marketing tool to help consolidate a niche market share on the world’s largest social network, has in fact much more far and reaching consequences for hundreds of millions of users. What Facebook have effectively achieved here is nothing short of a huge “game changer” in terms of envisioning a world without cash.

Foreshadowing of things to come

In 2011, it is a social reality that most people you know, in one way or another, are citizens of the Facebook Nation. The corporation’s success in capturing a near global monopoly of membership to their online platform has now given it the ability to dictate an economic mandate to both producers and consumers; in effect, controlling both the upper and lower loops of their virtual economy.

This is an incredible position of power, but one which should come as no surprise to any economic student of monopolies. A severe lack of choice in the world of online communities has unwittingly (or not) positioned Facebook in the rolls of banker, retailer and governor. It is certainly a trend worth noting at this stage, and one which may one day have real consequences for its members and their various cyber passions.

By issuing its own form of “virtual currency credits”, it is essentially creating its own money supply that may one day be the defacto currency for all transactions for goods and services that fall within the borders of the social network. This puts Facebook into a position of exception economic leverage.

With any new form of ‘national’ currency--in this case, it’s the Facebook National currency--also comes the possibility of fluctuation in currency exchange rates. With this centralisation of power also comes the ability and means to control and even inflate the value of its currency in terms of supply and demand. This can also reflect itself in the value of all goods and services whereby the paying online community would have no choice but to comply to any new user monetary policy decrees or changes in value imposed on producers and users. One only has to look at their recent announcement to realise that this is indeed already the case.

A Brave New World: the cashless society

As the virtual community and virtual economy begin to replace the real ones, trends forecasters and futurists can begin to imagine a world where morning newspapers are replaced by online news, local markets are replaced by online supermarkets, community fundraising events are replaced by web fundraisers, fun fairs are replaced with online games, and greasy spoon cafés are replaced by internet cafés.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, in so many ways--that day has already arrived. Welcome to the virtual world. As we spend more and more of our time interfacing with this new world, we will invariably be performing many more monetary transaction there too.

Aside from the obvious differences in a cashless society--a world where no notes and coins are ever physically held by the owner, there are also a number of other not so nice realities which citizens will be forced to accept. Chief among these are legitimate concerns that a cashless society would make “retailer resistance”--aka choosing independent shops, buying direct, or supporting local markets over mega supermarkets and national retail chain stores--nearly impossible.

In addition to retailer resistance, cash ensures some level of anonymity on the part of its owner. Not so in cashless world, as electronic currency and transactions are and will always be recorded, track, analysed and, in some cases, suspended.

With the introduction of a cashless society, citizens are also likely to lose their identities associated with national currencies like American Dollars or British Sterling. But as they lose one identity, they will most certainly gain another. In this way, Facebook has taken the lead in supplying a monetary identity to its client citizens in the form of its ‘virtual currency credits’.

Perhaps one day we may also see ‘Apple Credits’ or ‘Nokia Kroner’ as mobile device transactions creep further and further into our economic routine. Either way you slice it, it is an incredible amount of power and influence which an elite clique of corporations now have over large sections of the global population.

As we have seen with the online games developers and their customers, resisting the Facebook marketplace is no longer an option, as it has already defined policy within the boundaries of its massive virtual community--even mandating what form of money can be used within the Facebook Nation.

The decree is simple and clear, “if you are not in, you are out.”