Monthly Archives: May 2013

The IRS has told a House investigation that almost 90 IRS agents were involved in harassment scandal.

The IRS has told a House investigation that almost 90 IRS agents were involved in harassment scandal.

If I was Obama and had anything at all to do with this policy, I would be very very nervous. With this many IRS agents involved it will be impossible to control this scandal. Someone is going to spill the beans and tell us who established this harassment policy, and it certainly wasn’t some “low level rogue agents”, as Lois Lerner first claimed.

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Scientists think they have developed a chestnut tree resistant to the blight that can be re-introduced into American forests.

Scientists think they may have developed a chestnut tree resistant to the blight so that three can be re-introduced into American forests.

In the early 2000s, they were first able to genetically engineer a chestnut embryo; the related paper was published in 2006 — the same year the first transgenic chestnut was planeted outside of the lab. Following that they developed a line of chestnuts called Darling 4, which seems to be a bit less resistant to the blight than Chinese chestnuts, but still much better than a regular American chestnut. Last summer, they planted one of those trees at the New York Botanical Garden, not far from where the blight was first discovered.

But they wanted even higher levels of resistance yet, and now they think they might have done it: a transgenic line of chestnuts, more resistant to the blight than even the Chinese trees. The team, lead by then-graduate student Amelia Bo Zhang, published their results in Trangenic Research in March. Earlier this month, they planted these trees at the Lafayette Road Experiment Station — the first American chestnuts on this Earth that are highly resistant to the blight.

Humans using science to do what humans do best.

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The IRS has refused to meet the deadline for answering questions put to it by the Senate Finance Committee concerning its harassment of conservatives.

Above the law: The IRS has refused to meet the deadline for answering questions put to it by the Senate Finance Committee concerning its harassment of conservatives.

The questions were focused on trying to find out exactly who established the IRS’s policy in this scandal. If Obama was as outraged as he claims about this, and had nothing to do with it, he should have been very willing to make the IRS respond to this quickly. That they are instead stonewalling once again tells us that they, and Obama, do not really want the public to know who conceived the harassment policy. I wonder why.

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“Their collective experiences at a minimum could spread skepticism about the fairness of a powerful agency that should be above reproach and at worst could point to a secret political vendetta within the government against conservatives.”

“Their collective experiences at a minimum could spread skepticism about the fairness of a powerful agency that should be above reproach and at worst could point to a secret political vendetta within the government against conservatives.”

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A new study suggests a link between CFCs, the ozone hole, and climate change.

The uncertainty of science: A new study suggests a link between CFCs, the ozone hole, and climate change.

“Most conventional theories expect that global temperatures will continue to increase as CO2 levels continue to rise, as they have done since 1850. What’s striking is that since 2002, global temperatures have actually declined – matching a decline in CFCs in the atmosphere,” Professor Lu said. “My calculations of CFC greenhouse effect show that there was global warming by about 0.6 °C from 1950 to 2002, but the earth has actually cooled since 2002. The cooling trend is set to continue for the next 50-70 years as the amount of CFCs in the atmosphere continues to decline.”

The data is interesting, though hardly as conclusive Lu claims. It does illustrate again how incredibly complex climate science is, and how many factors influence it that we can’t yet completely quantify.

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An attorney for the Obama Justice Department is warning Americans they could be prosecuted if they use social media to criticize Muslims.

Working for Islam: An attorney for the Obama Justice Department is warning Americans they could be prosecuted if they use social media to criticize Muslims.

In other words, Muslims can commit murders and terrorists acts, but don’t you dare say anything bad about them or else the Obama administration will come after you. And based on the IRS scandal, they are very much willing to do it.

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Radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2, flying past the Earth today, show that it has its own moon.

Radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2, flying past the Earth today, show that it has its own moon.

When astronomers analyzed radar readings to create their first maps of 1998 QE2, the big asteroid that’s due to sail past Earth on Friday, they were surprised to find that it has a moon twice as big as an ocean liner. 1998 QE2 itself is way bigger: The latest readings from NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif., are consistent with earlier estimates that the asteroid is about 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers wide). But the moon is hefty as well. Astronomers estimate its diameter at 2,000 feet (600 meters).

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The Tortoise and the Hare

The tortoise and the hare.

Smith looks at the published construction and flight timelines for the government’s Space Launch System and the private company Golden Spike, and finds something I’ve been noting for several years, there is a new space race going on. And I think private space will win it.

Another perspective — the one I have — is that this creates a new Space Race.

In the starting gate at High Bay 3 is the SLS, a program larded by Congressional pork, dubbed the Senate Launch System by its critics. Many observers believe that it will one day fall to innate political and bureaucratic flaws, as did Constellation before it.

In the other starting gate at High Bay 1 is Golden Spike — all talk so far, but the pieces seem to be falling into place to make the company a viable lunar option. Add to the mix the May 23 teleconference discussing the NASA agreement that allows Bigelow Aerospace to ally NewSpace companies into a possible commercial cislunar program. The report hasn’t been released yet, but it’s logical to assume that Golden Spike is one of those companies.

As with all space programs — government or commercial, crewed or unmanned — these timelines should be viewed with the greatest of skepticism.

But we’re starting to see all the pieces fall into place for the great Space Race of the 21st Century. To the victor goes access to the Final Frontier.

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Based both on computer models and satellite data a team of scientists has concluded that the increase carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making arid regions greener.

Based both on computer models and satellite data a team of scientists has concluded that the increase carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making arid regions greener.

This study illustrates one possibility that is always ignored in the climate debates — that there is a really good chance that the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere will be beneficial.

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One of the IRS agents who signed letters harassing conservatives was recently promoted.

One of the IRS agents who signed letters harassing conservatives was recently promoted.

Through 2012, then-Exempt Organization Specialist Stephen Seok signed many of the intimidating letters sent to conservative nonprofits. For example, this January 2012 letter sent to the Richmond Tea Party demanded the date, time and location of all group events, as well as copies of all handouts provided at the events, and the names and credentials of all organizers. Seok also demanded the names of all speakers and the contents of the speeches they made.

According to WXIX-TV/Fox 19 in Cincinnati, Seok is no longer an exempt organization specialist. He has since been promoted to “supervisor IRS agent.”

Remember, don’t listen to what Obama says, watch what he actually does. Expressions of outrage mean nothing if he rewards the agents involved.

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Data collected by a radiation sensor inside Curiosity during its journey to Mars suggest that it will be possible to build ships with sufficient shielding to protect humans on such a voyage.

Data collected by a radiation sensor inside Curiosity during its journey to Mars suggest that it will be possible to build ships with sufficient shielding to protect humans on such a voyage.

Zeitlin and his colleagues analysed the radiation recorded by a small detector on board the craft that was active during most of the 253-day cruise to Mars. Although the craft was not uniformly protected from exposure to Galactic cosmic rays and charged particles from the Sun, the MSL’s shielding on average approximated that of human space-flight missions. ….

At NASA Langley, Thibeault and her colleagues are testing new types of shielding that consist of hydrogenated materials. Hydrogen offers protection because it breaks apart heavy charged particles without creating secondary particles that add to the radiation dose, she notes. One of the materials under investigation, hydrogen-filled boron nitride nanotubes, looks particularly promising because it is robust and lightweight enough to double as both the skin of a spacecraft and its shield. Using separate materials to build and shield a craft would add too much weight to a Mars-bound mission, Thibeault notes.

Thibeault says that she is heartened by the new study because she had feared that the radiation dose might be considerably higher. The results suggest “that this is a problem we can solve”, she adds.

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Tests have now shown that at least one bead from an Egyptian tomb was made from a meteorite.

Tests have now shown that at least one bead of jewelry from an Egyptian tomb was made from a meteorite.

The tube-shaped bead is one of nine found in 1911 in a cemetery at Gerzeh, around 70 kilometres south of Cairo. The cache dates from around 3,300 BC, making the beads the oldest known iron artefacts in Egypt.

An early study found that the iron in the beads had a high nickel content — a signature of iron meteorites — and led to the suggestion that it was of celestial origin2. But scholars argued in the 1980s that accidental early smelting efforts could have led to nickel-enriched iron3, while a more recent analysis of oxidised material on the surface of the beads showed low nickel content4.

To settle the argument, Diane Johnson, a meteorite scientist at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK, and her colleagues used scanning electron microscopy and computed tomography to analyze one of the beads on loan from the Manchester Museum, UK. The researchers weren’t able to cut the precious artefact open, but they found areas where the weathered material on the surface of the bead had fallen away, providing what Johnson describes as “little windows” to the preserved metal beneath.

The nickel content of this original metal was high — 30% — suggesting that it did indeed come from a meteorite. To confirm the result, the team observed a distinctive crystallographic structure called a Widmanstätten pattern. It is only found in iron meteorites, which cooled extremely slowly inside their parent asteroids as the Solar System was forming.

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College students gladly sign a big thank you card to the IRS for specifically targeting conservatives for harassment.

Future fascists: College students gladly sign a big thank you card to the IRS for specifically targeting conservatives for harassment. With video.

I repeat: The problem here isn’t that the IRS was researching and challenging organizations that wanted tax exempt status. The problem is that the IRS chose to only challenge (and harass) conservative organizations. The partisan and political nature of the agency’s actions is unacceptable in a civilized society. This video suggests that we no longer live in one.

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After warning repeatedly last year that the sequester would damage the economy, NBC now says “Nevermind.”

Doing the work of the Democratic Party: After warning repeatedly last year that the sequester would damage the economy, NBC now says “Nevermind.”

It wasn’t just NBC. I can’t count the number of news sources and politicians that screamed “We’re all gonna die!” because sequestration was going to cut the federal budget a mere few percent. I said it then and I say it now: They were lying.

That news organizations participated in this lie however was particularly shameful. It didn’t take much research or thought to realize that these were lies. For NBC and other mainstream news organizations to not do that research tells us a great deal about how unreliable they are.

And by the way, remember the long lines threatened at the airports due to sequestration? We had those for about one day, and then things returned to normal. More evidence that it was all lying crap coming from this administration, forced upon travelers to make some dishonest political points, which were further aided and abetted by a lapdog press.

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The asteroid is coming! The asteroid is coming!

The asteroid is coming! The asteroid is coming!

The fly-by of the large asteroid 1998 QE2 tomorrow at about 5 pm (Eastern) is causing a lot of hype. It is interesting, but hardly the big news event NASA and others want to make it. The scientists will like it because they get another close look at an asteroid. Others are using it to hype up the threat of asteroids, though that threat is not changed in any way by this fly-by.

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Cassini has found hints of activity coming from the Saturn moon Dione.

Cassini has found hints of activity coming from the Saturn moon Dione.

The spacecraft’s magnetometer has detected a faint particle stream coming from the moon, and images showed evidence for a possible liquid or slushy layer under its rock-hard ice crust. Other Cassini images have also revealed ancient, inactive fractures at Dione similar to those seen at Enceladus that currently spray water ice and organic particles.

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Like your health insurance? You may be losing it.

Like your health insurance? You may be losing it because of Obamacare.

I like this quote best:

“You’re going to be forcibly upgraded,” said Bob Laszewski, a health care industry consultant. “It’s like showing up at the airline counter and being told, ‘You have no choice, $300 please. You’re getting a first-class ticket, why are you complaining?'”

Sadly, I don’t think it will be this good. Many will decide the first class plan is simply unaffordable, and will instead opt out, paying the IRS fine instead. The result, fewer people having health insurance.

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Not only can the very fast rotation of neutron stars sometimes speed up suddenly, scientists have now discovered that their rotation can suddenly slow as well.

Not only can the very fast rotation of neutron stars sometimes speed up suddenly, scientists have now discovered that their rotation can suddenly slow as well.

The neutron star, 1E 2259+586, is located about 10,000 light-years away toward the constellation Cassiopeia. It is one of about two dozen neutron stars called magnetars, which have very powerful magnetic fields and occasionally produce high-energy explosions or pulses. Observations of X-ray pulses from 1E 2259+586 from July 2011 through mid-April 2012 indicated the magnetar’s rotation was gradually slowing from once every seven seconds, or about eight revolutions per minute. On April 28, 2012, data showed the spin rate had decreased abruptly, by 2.2 millionths of a second, and the magnetar was spinning down at a faster rate.

Astronomers had a theory which explained the sudden increase in a neutron star’s rotation. They don’t have one yet for why this star slowed.

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Planetary Resources today announced a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign for its space telescope Arkyd.

Planetary Resources today announced a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign for its space telescope Arkyd.

Forgive me if I am less than enthusiastic about this. Supposedly Planetary Resources had big money backing from a lot of wealthy people, including some Silicon Valley Google billionaires. Why then do they need this campaign? It makes me suspect that the company is an emperor with no clothes.

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Japan has decided to develop its first new rocket in two decades and use the private-sector to reduce costs.

The competition heats up: Japan has decided to develop its first new rocket in two decades and use the private-sector to reduce costs.

The article is very vague about how Japan will shift design and construction to the private sector. They need to do this, however, if they want to compete, as their space agency has been very inefficient at accomplishing anything cheaply or quickly.

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The five year conviction of a former police officer for gun possession because he was moving with his guns from Maine to Texas thru New Jersey and was subjected to a warrantless search of his vehicle has been upheld by the court.

Another example of why you should avoid New Jersey: The five year conviction of a former police officer for gun possession because he was moving with his guns from Maine to Texas thru New Jersey and was subjected to a warrantless search of his vehicle has been upheld by the court.

A jury acquitted him of the charges for possession of the “assault firearms” and handgun possession but convicted him in absentia of illegal possession of hollow-point bullets, shotguns, rifles and a high-capacity magazine. He was apprehended in Texas and extradited to New Jersey.

“What I don’t understand is I am a citizen without a criminal history who has served this country not only in the military but as a volunteer to my community and as a police officer, not even making hardly any income at all, and I would have given my life to protect another person and for this country,” Reininger said in a statement. “How can I be convicted for exercising my right? When does it become a crime for exercising one’s right?”

The three-judge appellate panel insisted New Jersey’s gun control laws do not violate the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, citing the Supreme Court’s recent Heller decision. “The Second Amendment does not create ‘a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever purpose,'” Judge Ronald B. Graves wrote for the panel. “Furthermore, the Second Amendment does not preclude the state from regulating the manner in which accessories must be transported.”

The court also upheld the warrantless search of Reininger’s vehicle.

All he was doing was peaceably traveling through New Jersey on his way home. Vile. Very vile.

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