FAA moves to regulate and thus destroy drone use

We’re here to help you: The FAA is considering a new rule to require a pilot’s license in order to operate a private drone, even drones more akin to model airplanes.

The proposed rules would require that a drone owner would have to get certified as a pilot, “certification that can cost $10,000 and demand many hours flying aircraft that control nothing like a little drone.”

“Knowing the proper flap setting on a short runway approach for a Cessna 172 doesn’t do any good for a DJI Phantom [an inexpensive and popular commercial drone],” said Matt Waite, a University of Nebraska professor and founder of the Drone Journalism Lab. “A lot of people out there already running businesses in conflict with FAA policy, who don’t have pilot licenses, are probably looking at this like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.'”

Gee, here we have a new industry that is growing and prosperous, with many people coming up with creative ideas for using drones that none of its inventors ever dreamed of, and the government wants to step in and control it, regulating it to a point where it can’t even exist legally. Isn’t that nice of them?

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

Court demands documents linked to IRS scandal

Working for the Democratic Party: After years of stonewalling, the Treasury Department has now been ordered by a federal court to release about 2,500 documents connected to the IRS’s illegal release to the Obama administration of the personal tax information of its opponents.

Some time in the next month these documents will become public knowledge. Considering the effort the Obama administration has made to keep them secret, I expect we shall then discover that the IRS was routinely and illegally feeding the Democrats the private tax records of their Republican opponents. Since the documents will also likely name names, we will also find out who among the Democrats demanded this illegal information, who in the IRS gave it to them, and who took that information and used it illegally.

Obamacare and amnesty: working together to screw Americans

Finding out what’s in it: Because of the way Obamacare is written, it provides employees an incentive to hire illegal immigrants — temporarily and illegally given amnesty by Obama — instead of legal Americans.

Under the president’s new amnesty, businesses will have a $3,000-per-employee incentive to hire illegal immigrants over native-born workers because of a quirk of Obamacare. President Obama’s temporary amnesty, which lasts three years, declares up to 5 million illegal immigrants to be lawfully in the country and eligible for work permits, but it still deems them ineligible for public benefits such as buying insurance on Obamacare’s health exchanges. Under the Affordable Care Act, that means businesses who hire them won’t have to pay a penalty for not providing them health coverage — making them $3,000 more attractive than a similar native-born worker, whom the business by law would have to cover.

Just remember: Obama and the Democrats care! Though what they care about is maybe something more Americans should ask themselves.

Billion-dollar-plus NASA medical research contract under dispute

A bidding dispute has forced NASA to again put up for bid a $1.5 billion contract for space medicine.

The dispute has to do with two dueling contractors, Wyle and SAIC, both of whom want the big bucks.

After Wyle won the Human Health and Performance contract in March 2013, SAIC filed a protest with the GAO, ultimately prompting NASA to reopen the competition.

When NASA reawarded the contract in August 2013, it chose SAIC. The following month, the McLean, Virginia-based firm — which had announced plans the previous summer to split into two companies — rebranded itself as Leidos and spun off its $4 billion government information technology and technical services unit as a publicly traded firm that kept the name SAIC and was slated to get the Human Health and Performance contract.

But Wyle filed its own protest with GAO in September 2013, arguing that NASA should discount SAIC’s lower bid — at $975 million, nearly 10 percent lower than Wyle’s — because it was submitted when the unit was still part of a much larger company with deeper pockets. This time, the GAO sided with Wyle.

The article says practically nothing about what all this money buys me, the taxpayer. And it is an awful lot of money. Is it for medical research on ISS? Is it for monitoring the health of the astronauts? Is it for biological research? What is it for exactly? I honestly can’t imagine how this kind of research or medical monitoring on ISS can cost this much. My skeptical nature has me wondering if this contract might instead be a bit inflated, much like SLS and Orion, in order to funnel pork to congressional districts to employ as many voters as possible.

First 3D part manufactured in space

Astronauts on ISS have used a 3D printer, shipped to the station on the last Dragon flight, to print the first item ever manufactured in space.

“Everything worked exactly as planned, maybe a little better than planned,” Kemmer told NBC News. He said only two calibration passes were needed in advance of the first honest-to-goodness print job, which finished up at 4:28 p.m. ET Monday and was pulled out of the box early Tuesday. “It’s not only the first part printed in space, it’s really the first object truly manufactured off planet Earth,” Kemmer said. “Where there was not an object before, we essentially ‘teleported’ an object by sending the bits and having it made on the printer. It’s a big milestone, not only for NASA and Made In Space, but for humanity as a whole.”

The part made was a faceplate for the printer itself. This printer is a demonstration project, launched to test the engineering and to see how 3D printing operates in weightlessness. Eventually the goal is to have most of the spare parts on a interplanetary vehicle manufactured in space in this manner, using a supply of standard material, called feedstock, that would be much cheaper to ship from Earth.

Looking down a comet’s neck

Looking down Comet 67P/C-G's neck

Because all the focus in past two weeks has been on the attempt to land Philae on the surface of Comet 67P/C-G, no one has been paying much attention to the images that Rosetta has continued to produce. On the right however is a humdinger, released on November 17. The image looks into the neck or saddle of the comet, from the side. The giant boulder Cheops can be seen in the saddle, with a jet visible against the black sky above it.

What I like about this image is that I can imagine hiking up the sandy slope to this narrow saddle, where I could stand next to Cheops and look out at that jet. For the explorer in all of us this sure wets the appetite for the future. If only people could go and do that now!

Italy’s legislature rejects additional funding for space

The Italian legislature has refused to add an additional $250 million to the budget of its space program, money requested to help pay the country’s share in the development of Arianespace’s next generation commercial rocket, Ariane 6.

The money was also needed for several other ESA space projects. Not having it puts a question mark on Italy’s future in space. The article also illustrates how the committee nature of Europe’s cooperative space effort makes it almost impossible for it to compete in the commercial market.

Carnegie Mellon unveils its Google X-Prize lunar rover

The lunar rover that one of the competitors wants to use to win the Google Lunar X-prize was unveiled on Monday.

The rover was built by students as part of a college school project. Whether it ever flies is entirely unknown. The effort, however, has helped train a new generation of space engineers.

Cygnus on Falcon 9?

The heat of competition: Industry rumors now suggest that Orbital Sciences’s first choice for launching its next ISS freighter Cygnus is SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

The articles offers this explanation for why Orbital is favoring its chief competitor:

While flying on a competitor’s launch vehicle might be viewed as awkward, the decision could boil down to one simple determining factor – cost. It has been estimated that a flight on a F9 would set a customer back $62 million. By comparison, United Launch Alliance’s (ULA ) Atlas V 401 launch vehicle, a booster with similar capabilities to the F9, costs an estimated $100 million per mission. Moreover, SpaceX has a proven track record with the Falcon 9.

All true, but I can think of two more reasons SpaceX is the top choice.
» Read more

Antarctic ice sheet thicker than expected

The uncertainty of science: New measurements of the Antarctic ice sheets using an unmanned underwater drone have found them to be much thicker than expected.

Risky robotic exploration of the vast expanse of sea ice around Antarctica has revealed it to be far thicker in many places than previously measured. “The conventional picture of Antarctic sea ice being a thin veneer over the ocean is probably only true for some portion of it,” says Ted Maksym, an ice researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts (WHOI). “We need to do a better job of surveying the overall ice cover.”

Previous observations of the thickness of Antarctic sea ice produced a mean draught — the depth between the waterline and the bottom of the ice sheet — of around 1 metre; the new work gives a mean draught of over 3 metres. And a previous maximum recorded ice-sheet thickness of 10 metres has now been increased to 16 metres.

Near the end of the article there is also this:

The more data scientists can gather about Antarctic sea ice, the more they can unpick why climate models struggle to accurately predict its extent. Although researchers have been generally successful at modelling the huge declines in Arctic sea ice, the extent of Antarctic sea ice has actually increased in recent years, contrary to the predictions of models.

Actually, the Antarctic sea ice has grown to record size in recent years, and the Arctic sea ice has significantly recovered in the past two years, all contrary to all climate models.

“But the science is settled,” whines a certain unnamed politician. “This can’t be true! Zimmerman must be a racist for writing it!”

Obama proclaims he will fail to do what every President has failed to do since Carter and the right goes crazy.

I was reading Newt Gingrich”s commentary blasting Obama for his immigration amnesty announcement and was struck by this paragraph:

[Under Obama’s directive] there will be one group, estimated at 4 million or so, who are eligible for the new work authorization program. But at the same time, there will be no resources directed at enforcing immigration law against the other 7 million people here illegally as long as they do not fall into a few narrow categories, according to the President’s Office of Legislative Affairs. And indeed, a “senior administration official” told Roll Call that the administration “will order immigration agents to prioritize deportations of criminals and recent arrivals — and let people who are not on that priority list go free.”

I read this and realized that what Obama is doing, or not doing, depending on your point of view, is exactly what every President since Carter has done or failed to do. For the right to blast him for this unconstitutional behavior is fine, but we mustn’t forget that Republican presidents have been just as corrupt and as unconstitutional. Since the 1970s the executive branch of our federal government has simply failed to enforce the immigration laws that exist, in exactly the way Obama outlined it, and the result has been the arrival of millions of illegal immigrants inside the United States.

All Obama has done is admit to this failure, and draped it in the mantle of his approval. Past presidents had instead made believe they were doing their constitutional duty, even as they quietly allowed immigration officials to cease enforcing the law. Why else are so many illegals here?

It is this failure, by Presidents of both parties, that ipitomizes the corruption and failure of the federal government on all issues. From the budget to immigration to healthcare to pushing for wasted funding for SLS, our federal government is a pile of garbage that is choking the life out of American society, on all levels. It is for this reason that I heartily and without fear routinely support the election of untried and sometimes foolish sounding tea party candidates: they can’t possibliy be worse than what we already have and — because of their passion for smaller government — are far more likely to be much better.

Emails reveal press willingness to be manipulated by the Obama administration

Transparency! Freedom of Information emails obtained from the Obama administration in connection with the Justice Department’s effort to allow guns to leave the U.S. for Mexico illegally, dubbed Fast-and-Furious, show the administration’s aggressive effort to manipulate the press and squelch any reporters willing to report the scandal honestly.

Key quote: “Any way we can fix Fox?” The emails also show that White House officials trying to silence reporting by Sharyl Attkisson, then working for CBS.

I am less outraged by the jackbooted behavior of the Obama administraton here than the wimpy willingness of the so-called independent press to follow the administration’s orders. The very effort of White House officials to silence journalists was a story in itself, and any good press person should jump at the chance to reveal this behavior to everyone. Instead, top editors at the major networks apparently got down on their knees to lick the boots of these White House officials.

It amazes me that anyone believes anything aired by these mainstream media news organizations. They have become a joke.

More here, including this juicy quote: “There are very few things that are actually as dishonest, wicked and corrupt as conservatives think they are. But CBS News is one of them.”

Sheriff tases and arrests homeschooling family because their house is messy

We’re here to help you! Lacking a warrant, police officers forced their way into the home of a homeschooling family, tased the parents, and then arrested them.

The reason? A child protection caseworker had visited the house a few days previously and had found it to be “messy.” When the caseworker returned with the sheriff and his deputy, without a warrant, the parents refused them entry.

As Jason [the father] turned to go back inside, Glidden [the deputy] sprayed him with pepper spray—first at the back of his head and then directly in his face. Glidden also sprayed Laura [the mother], who fell to the floor. Glidden then turned to Jason, who was still standing, and shot him in the back with his Taser. As Jason fell, Laura closed the front door. Glidden triggered the Taser three more times through the closed door.

Sheriff White joined Glidden on the front porch. Together they forced open the door and found Laura and Jason lying on the floor. Glidden sprayed Laura in the face a second time while White sprayed Jason and tried to turn him over onto his stomach. Laura shouted to the officers that Jason had been taken to the emergency room earlier in the week for chest pains. White nevertheless continued attempting to turn Jason over and sprayed him a third time when he was unsuccessful. The officers also sprayed the Hagans’ dog with chemical agent and threatened to shoot it if it didn’t stop barking.

Finally, the officers handcuffed and arrested Laura and Jason and charged them with resisting arrest and child endangerment.

The charges were dismissed because of the lack of warrant, and the family is now suing. The article does not say whether they are suing the state or the officers themselves. I hope they are suing the officers, as there should be some direct consequnces for this kind of fascist behavior.

Images of Falcon 9 first stage fins and landing platform

The heat of competition: Elon Musk today tweeted images of the floating landing platform and new fins to be tested on SpaceX’s next Falcon 9 attempt to safely land the first stage vertically.

The launch is presently scheduled for December 16. Imagine the excitment if that first stage successful lands on that platform.

What the Middle East conflict looks like from inside Israel

As I am in Israel this week visiting family, I have had an opportunity to get a feel for the political and cultural atmosphere of the Middle East. Granted, this “feel” is very superficial and subjective, but it is nonetheless instructive, as I am viewing the situation not as a resident but as an outsider who always favors freedom and justice in any political conflict.

Anyway, my sense of the situation here comes from two immediate sources, one cultural and the second personal. First the cultural.
» Read more

Even if you liked your plan, Obamacare will pick a plan for you

Finiding out what’s in it: In order to prevent Obamacare enrolless from experiencing the rate hikes expected when they automatically renew their 2014 plans for 2015, the Obama administration is proposing that it instead choose cheaper plans for those that automatically renew, even if that new plan will change the available doctors and hospitals in their network.

So, you decide that the plan you had in 2014 was worth keeping in 2015 and thus allow that plan to automatically renew rather than spend another week trying to struggle through the badly designed and hack-prone Obamacare website. When you visit your doctor however you then discover that you actually didn’t renew that plan, the Obama administration picked a different plan for you, and your doctor is no longer a participant in your plan. You have to change doctors!

Isn’t wonderful how much the Obama administration cares?

IRS finds lost Lerner emails

Surprise! IRS has found 30,000 Lois Lerner emails they had previously said were lost forever.

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of “disaster recovery tapes” that were used to back up the IRS email system. “They just said it took them several weeks and some forensic effort to get these emails off these tapes,” a congressional aide told the Washington Examiner.

The IRS, in a statement provided to the Examiner, said the agency and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is fully cooperating with the investigation. “As Commissioner Koskinen has stated, the IRS welcomes TIGTA’s independent review and expert forensic analysis.” The IRS statement said. “Commissioner Koskinen has said for some time he would be pleased if additional Lois Lerner emails from this time frame could be found.”

What happened here is that lower level officials have decided they are not going to take the rap for Lerner or Obama. They realized that if they did not cooperate with Congress they would be legally at risk and could be charged with aiding the cover-up. They decided Obama is certainly not worth it. I also think recent news about Obama lying abut Obamacae and the election results helped them make this decision.

All in all, the public is beginning to realize that the emperor has no clothes. Obama might not realize it, but his power to accomplish anything is fading rapidly.

Another business forced to close by gays

Facists: Swamped by hate mail and threats from the gay community for refusing to photograph a same-sex marriage, a San Francisco couple has closed their business.

According to the SF Gate, husband and wife team Nang and Chris Mai of “Urloved”  were “flooded with hate calls, e-mails and accusations that inaccurately depict our business,” after the couple referred a gay couple to a photographer who would “share their personal beliefs” and “would provide them with the best service for their special day.” For that, “one of the men, who asked to not be named,” (real profile in courage, he) took to Facebook to bash the company and encourage others to harass the Mais. The post read: “Great shots but this company denied me and my fiance, a same-sex couple, from their services. Stand up and say something about it,” according to a Nov. 4 post. 

What is important to recognize here is that the couple tried to recommend someone else whom they thought could do a better job then them. They honestly explained that becaue they did not believe in same-sex marriages, they would not produce the best photos, and rather than do a bad job, they offered an alternative for the couple that would be better for them.

The response? Destroy them!

Accidental freon release inside ISS

While doing maintenance to the air-conditioning system on the Russian portion of ISS two Russian astronauts accidently vented freon into the station’s atmosphere.

“Cosmonauts Samokutyaev and Serova performed steps to release pressure in the Russian segment’s air conditioner system by venting khladon gas (Freon 218) overboard. However, several of the quick disconnects that were actuated during the procedure exhibited leaks. As a result, the Khladon was vented into the cabin instead. The quantity released was approximately 100 g, which results in a density of 117 mg/m3 over the volume of ISS, which was below the stated ISS zero risk flight rule limit of 150 mg/m3. As part of nominal air scrubbing process, the Russian Air Purification System and the USOS Trace Contaminant Control System (TCCS) will remove residual Khladon from the atmosphere,” the NASA blog said.

Obama’s attempt to impose amnesty: a bluff?

This article suggests that Obama’ attempt to impose immigration amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants is much less of a threat to the Constitution than implied by his own words and by the passionate response of many partisan conservatives.

[W]hile Barack Obama will no doubt argue about the fierce urgency of now, the plan has a rather large gap between his speech tonight and the actual action Obama promises to take. Section 2 is titled in bold font, You Cannot Apply For Several Months. The start of the program is nebulously given as “early 2015,” which could mean anything from January 2 to, say, June 29th. Why not start now if Obama is so tired of waiting? One has to wonder whether this is a bluff of sorts, intended to scare House Republicans into passing the Senate bill in the waning days of the lame-duck session. If Obama’s willing to wait “several months” to take action, why not just wait and at least attempt negotiation with incoming Republican leadership? [Emphasis in original]

The article, as well as this one, also note the problems faced by any illegals who try to apply under this Obama effort. They will expose themselves using a program of doubtful legality likely to be terminated by the next president or by the Republican Congress coming to power in January.

What Obama is attempting to do is certainly damaging to the rule of law, but I think it will turn out to be far more damaging to him and to the Democrats who try to defend him for doing it. As I noted earlier, Obama is now known by all to be a liar and a fraud. Supporting him in doing lawless acts as well can not be poilitically helpful for Democrats.

MAVEN in safe mode

A timing conflict between two computers on board MAVEN has put the Mars probe into safe mode.

The issue seems relatively minor and something that engineers should resolve without difficulty. Even so, I refuse to use the bureaucratic term “glitch” to describe it, as the article does, as this term is often employed by government employees to disguise much more serious problems. Journalists shouldn’t help them do this.

1 2 3 383