Category Archives: Points of Information

Using fish to study bone loss in weightlessness

A Japanese experiment on ISS, comparing the development of fish in weightlessness with those on the ground, has provided` scientists more information about bone density loss in weightlessness.

Akira Kudo at Tokyo Institute of Technology, together with scientists across Japan, have shown that medaka fish reared on the International Space Station for 56 days experienced increased osteoclast activity – bone cells involved in the re-absorption of bone tissue – likely leading to a subsequent reduction of bone density. They also found several genes that were upregulated in the fish during the space mission. The team generated fish with osteoclasts that emit a fluorescent signal. They sent 24 fish into space as juveniles, and monitored their development for 56 days under microgravity. The results were compared with a fish control group kept on Earth.

Kudo and his team found that bone mineral density in the pharyngeal bone (the jaw bone at the back of the throat) and the teeth of the fish reduced significantly, with decreased calcification by day 56 compared with the control group. This thinning of bone was accompanied by an increase in the volume and activity of osteoclasts. The team conducted whole transcriptome analysis of the fish jaws, and uncovered two strongly upregulated genes (fkbp5 and ddit4), together with 15 other mitochondria-related genes whose expression was also enhanced. Reduced movement under microgravity also has an influence. The fish began to exhibit unusual behavior towards the latter stages of their stay in space, showing motionless at day 47.

What the data mostly confirms is that long-term weightlessness is a bad thing for the development of bones, and not just in humans. Whether scientists can use these results to counter these harmful effects is not clear, however.


66% of all surface climate data is adjusted

The uncertainty of science: An analysis of the surface global weather data, dubbed GHCN and used by NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Sciences (GISS) to demonstrate the climate has been warming for the past century, has found that 66% of that data is adjusted or estimated and is not based on the actual raw data.

Overall, from 1880 to the present, approximately 66% of the temperature data in the adjusted GHCN temperature data consists of estimated values produced by adjustment models, while 34% of the data are raw values retained from direct measurements. The rural split is 60% estimated, 40% retained. The non-rural split is 68% estimated, 32% retained. Total non-rural measurements outpace rural measurements by a factor of 3x.

The estimates produced by NOAA for the GHNC data introduce a warming trend of approximately a quarter degree C per century. Those estimates are produced at a slightly higher rate for non-rural stations than rural stations over most of the record. During the first 60 years of the record measurements were estimated at a rate of about 75%, with the rate gradually dropping to 40% in the early 1990s, followed by a brief spike in the rate before resuming the drop to its present level.

Approximately 7% of the raw data is discarded. If this data were included as-is in the final record it would likely introduce a warming component from 1880 to 1950, followed by a cooling component from 1951 to the present.

As I have noted previously, all the adjustments cool the past and warm the present, a pattern that is just not realistic in the real world, and could only exist if the people doing the adjustment are either not recognizing their biases or are consciously manipulating the data to prove those biases.

Either way, the surface temperature data as released by GISS is simply not trustworthy for determining the changes in the Earth’s climate over the past few centuries.

First rocket arrives at Vostochny

The competition heats up: The Russians have now delivered to Vostochny the first Soyuz rocket for launch from that spaceport.

The launch is still planned for December, though no one would be surprised if it got delayed.

One minor but interesting thing to note at the link above. The pictures of the train and the containers holding the rocket sections were taken by none other than Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian deputy prime minister whom Putin himself has placed in charge of the construction of Vostochny. This is as if Obama put Biden in charge of NASA’s SLS program, and Biden himself took pictures of some construction event for the news media.

Opportunity marathons on

As the rover prepares for winter, scientists hope to continue Opportunity’s survey of Marathon Valley, an east-west cut through the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

Overall the rover`s condition appears better than should be expected, considering it is now more than a decade past its expected expiration date and has been having memory problems for the past year.

Boehner steps down

Good news: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) today announced that he will resign as speaker as of the end of October.

I’ve already seen a number of stories suggesting that Boehner’s second-in-command, Kevin McCarthy (R-California), is the likely replacement. McCarthy would not be much different than Boehner, except that he will know that the conservative wing of the Republican Party was able to force out his predecessor for not supporting conservative objectives. I expect we will thus see the House leadership develop a little more spine in future conflicts with the Democrats.

This is all part of a long term process. Every election that increases the number of conservatives in Congress increases their ability to achieve their goals. Nor is this unusual. I saw the same thing in the 1960s. At the time the public wanted Congress to pass very leftwing legislation. Congress wasn’t willing to do it. It took a decade, until the late 1970s, before Congress had followed the public’s lead and become as liberal as the public.

There is always a lag. I expect the conservative momentum to continue to accelerate in the coming years.

Rosetta data reveals how a comet evaporates

Newly released Rosetta data has shown, for at least one area on the surface of Comet 67P/C-G, the process by which the surface ice is replaced by water ice from below as the comet rotates and sunlight causes the surface ice to evaporate away.

The data suggest that water ice on and a few centimetres below the surface ‘sublimates’ when illuminated by sunlight, turning it into gas that then flows away from the comet. Then, as the comet rotates and the same region falls into darkness, the surface rapidly cools again. However, the underlying layers remain warm owing to the sunlight they received in the previous hours, and, as a result, subsurface water ice keeps sublimating and finding its way to the surface through the comet’s porous interior.

But as soon as this ‘underground’ water vapour reaches the cold surface, it freezes again, blanketing that patch of comet surface with a thin layer of fresh ice. Eventually, as the Sun rises again over this part of the surface on the next comet day, the molecules in the newly formed ice layer are the first to sublimate and flow away from the comet, restarting the cycle.

They discovered this process when they noticed surface ice evaporating in this region during the comet’s 6-hour day and then getting resurfaced with ice during the comet’s 6-hour night.

Meanwhile, Rosetta is about to move as much as 1500 kilometers away from the comet for several weeks so that its scientists can study its coma more broadly.

Aerojet is considering increasing its $2 billion offer to buy ULA

The competition heats up: A news report today suggests that Aeroject Rocketdyne is considering increasing its $2 billion bid to buy ULA, thus forcing that company to use its rocket engines rather than Blue Origin’s.

The article contains a lot of information that helps explain the background behind Aerojet Rocketdyne’s offer as well as ULA’s recent switch to Blue Origin. For one thing, ULA apparently dumped Aeroject because the company refused to invest any of its own money in developing a new rocket engine.

Last summer, Aerojet’s board also rejected ULA’s request that Aerojet invest $300 million to accelerate work on the AR-1 engine it is developing as an alternative to the Russian RD-180 engine that powers ULA’s Atlas V rocket, the sources said. … Aerojet’s refusal to invest more in the AR-1 engine ultimately drove ULA to opt for the BE-4 engine being developed by privately held Blue Origin, which is owned by founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos, the sources said.

More significant, it appears that the Rocketdyne portion of the company is owned by the Russians!

An Aerojet takeover of ULA would also require Russia to give its regulatory approval and transfer a technology license for use of the RD-180 engines, according to two of the sources. Russia refused to transfer the license to Aerojet when it bought Rocketdyne from Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp (UTX.N) unit in 2013, forcing Pratt to retain control of a small company that brokers RD-180 sales, and could be more reluctant to do so now, the sources said.

While the quote above is somewhat confusing, it certainly suggests that, with Congress banning the use of Russian-built engines in American rockets, using Aerojet Rocketdyne engines by ULA has become problematic.

In related more bad news for Aeroject Rocketdyne, the company has just agreed to pay Orbital ATK $50 million in connection with last year’s Antares launch failure. In addition, they will take back the Russian-built engines they refurshed and sold to Orbital. The agreement also ends the company’s part in Antares.

China debuts another new rocket

The competition heats up: China successfully completed the first launch of another new rocket today, putting three technology satellites into orbit with its solid-fueled Long March 11 rocket.

The Long March-11 (Chang Zhwng-11) is a small solid-fueled quick-reaction launch vehicle developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT). It’s goal is to provide an easy to operate quick-reaction launch vehicle, that can remain in storage for long period and to provide a reliably launch on short notice. Very little is known about the rocket, with only one badly taken photo available on the internet. However, LM-11 is known to be a solid-fueled launch vehicle equipped with a liquid-fueled trim stage.

Moreover, the three satellites the rocket put in orbit are cubesats designed to test formation flying technologies. This puts China in the forefront of the effort to make these tiny satellites capable of doing what larger satellites now do, thus making possible the eventual replacement of those more costly larger satellites.

Obamacare causes health insurance deductibles to skyrocket

Finding out what’s in it: Health insurance deductibles have gone up seven times faster than the rate of inflation since Obamacare became law.

According to a new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust, the increase brings the average deductible that workers must pay for their health insurance plans to $1,077; more than triple what it was a decade ago. As reported in the L.A. Times, “That is seven times faster than wages have risen in the same period.”

Kaiser Family Foundation president Drew Altman said, “It’s a quiet revolution. When deductibles are rising seven times faster than wages … it means that people can’t pay their rent. … They can’t buy their gas. They can’t eat.” As a comparison, “workers’ wages increased 1.9% between April 2014 and April 2015, according to federal data analyzed by the report’s authors.” The news is also bad for family plans as, the “average family plan cost workers $4,955, up 3% from last year.”.

Obviously this is the fault of the Republicans campaigning for president. Their opposition to Obama and the Democrats is certainly the reason why Obamacare continues to be such a unmitigated disaster for Americans.

Milky Way’s central black hole is getting active

The uncertainty of science: Sagittarius A* (pronounced A-Star), the Milky Way’s supermassive central black hole, has shown signs of increased activity in recent months.

The new study reveals that Sagittarius A* (Sgr A* for short) has been producing one bright X-ray flare about every ten days. However, within the past year, there has been a ten-fold increase in the rate of bright flares from Sgr A*, at about one every day. This increase happened soon after the close approach to Sgr A* by a mysterious object called G2.

“For several years, we’ve been tracking the X-ray emission from Sgr A*. This includes also the close passage of this dusty object” said Gabriele Ponti of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany. “A year or so ago, we thought it had absolutely no effect on Sgr A*, but our new data raise the possibility that that might not be the case.”

G2 was first thought to be a cloud that would be ripped apart as it passed close to Sgr A*, causing an outburst of activity. When it wasn’t ripped apart and there was no immediate increase in activity astronomers concluded that G2 was a star surrounded by dust which was generally unaffected by its close fly-by of the black hole.

The timing of this new activity now is puzzling. It comes much later than it should have if it was caused by G2, but astronomers don’t have any other explanation for it. It might be because of G2’s fly-by, or maybe the activity is just the natural variability of this poorly understand object. Either way it illustrates how little we really know about the behavior of giant black holes.

Legal costs to university from Mauna Kea protests squeezing education budgets

Mounting legal costs forced on the University of Hawaii to fight the TNT protests has now begun taking funds from education programs.

The budget line that is paying the legal costs is normally used to pay for unexpected maintenance and education costs. Now it is instead paying lawyers.

Boeing reveals landing sites for Starliner

The competition heats up: Boeing has revealed the prime landing sites for its manned Starliner capsule.

Boeing is still finalizing a list of five candidate landing sites in the Western United States, but the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah will initially be the prime return locations, said Chris Ferguson, deputy manager of the CST-100 Starliner program. The capsules will parachute to airbag-cushioned landings after each mission, beginning with the CST-100’s first test flights in 2017.

The article also outlines the overall status of Starliner, including what sounds to me like some scheduling and design concerns:

Boeing is taking a different approach to development of its human-rated spacecraft than SpaceX, which has already completed a pad abort test and plans an in-flight abort demo in late 2016. SpaceX is testing as it goes, while Boeing is doing more design work up front. “A lot of focus is on ensuring, at this phase, that we’ve got full rigor in all our processes and all of our designs, really trying to buy down the risk that something could come up downstream to perturbate either our design or our schedule,” Mulholland said.

Boeing plans no such in-flight escape test, and Mulholland said it can prove out the CST-100 abort system through wind tunnel analyses. “That’s our philosophy — to make sure we don’t run a test just to go run a test,” Mulholland said. “We make sure we fully understand all the requirements that we need to certify to, and we pick the best approach.”

Mulholland said the sequence of test flights in 2017 is tight, but Boeing’s schedule has margin to achieve the start of operational missions by the end of that year. Managers decided to move the pad abort test from early 2017 to August, a change that Mulholland said created more margin in the schedule leading to the first crew flight. [emphasis mine]

The lack of an in-flight test of the abort system is worrisome. This sounds just like NASA and Boeing in the shuttle era when they repeatedly made overconfident claims about the shuttle’s reliability and safety that were completely unrealistic, based not on tests but on computer simulations. The tight schedule also is a concern, especially because of the corporate culture of Boeing, which has a history of using these contracts to squeeze money from the government while putting a low priority on actually building anything.

I fear that might be what is happening here, especially since Boeing, unlike SpaceX, refused to build much of anything prior to the announcement of its Starliner contract. The company does not like to take any risks at all.

GAO criticizes the staff and budget request of FAA’s commercial space office

A GAO report has concluded that the FAA has not provided sufficient justification for its 2016 requested budget and staff increases for its Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST).

AST requested an additional $1.5 million more plus an increase of its staff by 13 to handle what it expects to be an increase in commercial launches. However,

The GAO report cautioned about using predictions of launches as a reason for hiring additional staff because, in recent years, “the actual number of launches during those years was much lower than what FAA projected.” In one example, the FAA projected it would license more than 40 launches and reentries in 2014, but the actual number was about 20.

The report also revealed a split among companies in the commercial launch business about the importance of increasing AST’s budget. While industry organizations like the Commercial Spaceflight Federation have expressed their support for the proposed budget increase, only three of the nine companies surveyed by the GAO believed the office has insufficient resources to deal with its workload. Three other companies thought the office has sufficient resources, and the remaining three expressed no opinion. The report did not identify which companies held those opinions, but did list the nine companies contacted by the GAO: Blue Origin, Boeing, Masten Space Systems, Orbital ATK, SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, Virgin Galactic, Vulcan Aerospace and XCOR Aerospace.

The second paragraph in the quote above suggests that a majority of the private companies that AST would regulate are not enthused about giving that government agency more resources or abilities. To me, I suspect that the phrase “We’re here to help you!” and what it usually signifies about the government has something to do with that lack of enthusiasm.

ULA and Orbital ATK ink new rocket motor contract

The competition heats up: ULA has signed a new contract with Orbital ATK to provide solid rocket motors for its Atlas 5 and Vulcan rockets.

This deal is another nail in the coffin of Aerojet Rocketdyne, as it strongly suggests that the corporate leadership at ULA is very uninterested in doing any business with that rocket engine builder. Recently they have been taking their business every where but to Aerojet.

Researchers push for access to confidential government records of the public

What could possibly go wrong? Researchers in a number of fields want access to the vast amount of private government data that is routinely gathered from the public.

In the past few years, administrative data have been used to investigate issues ranging from the side effects of vaccines2 to the lasting impact of a child’s neighbourhood on his or her ability to earn and prosper as an adult3. Proponents say that these rich information sources could greatly improve how governments measure the effectiveness of social programmes such as providing stipends to help families move to more resource-rich neighbourhoods.

But there is also concern that the rush to use these data could pose new threats to citizens’ privacy. “The types of protections that we’re used to thinking about have been based on the twin pillars of anonymity and informed consent, and neither of those hold in this new world,” says Julia Lane, an economist at New York University. In 2013, for instance, researchers showed that they could uncover the identities of supposedly anonymous participants in a genetic study simply by cross-referencing their data with publicly available genealogical information.

Read it all. It is terrifying to me how governments worldwide increasingly consider this private data their property to use as they wish. For example:

In the United States, the Census Bureau has been expanding its network of Research Data Centers, which currently includes 19 sites around the country at which researchers with the appropriate permissions can access confidential data from the bureau itself, as well as from other agencies. “We’re trying to explore all the available ways that we can expand access to these rich data sets,” says Ron Jarmin, the bureau’s assistant director for research and methodology.

I ask: What business is it of the Census Bureau to do this? The information they gather was originally intended solely to determine Congressional districts. Moreover, who gave them the right to release the confidential data to anyone? Have they asked anyone for this permission?

Mangalyaan in great shape

The competition heats up: With their Mangalyaan Mars orbiter about to celebrate the completion of its first year in Mars orbit, Indian scientists noted this week that the spacecraft is in great shape and can function for years to come.

They have a large reserve of fuel on board and there are no known technical issues.

Iran nuclear deal allows Iran to increase funding to terrorists

Surprise, surprise: The Iran nuclear deal has allowed Iran to immediately send more cash to the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah.

Since the deal was signed, Iran has significantly increased its financial support for two of the largest terror groups in the region that have become political players, Hamas and Hezbollah. In the years before the deal was signed, the crippling sanctions limited this support, which had significantly diminished along with Iran’s economy. But Tehran’s belief that tens, or hundreds, of billions of dollars will flow into the country in the coming years as a result of sanctions relief has led to a decision to boost the cash flow to these terror organizations.

This support, for example, has enabled Hezbollah to obtain highly developed new armaments, including advanced technologies that many militaries around the world would envy. Al-Rai, a Kuwaiti newspaper, reported Saturday that Hezbollah has received all the advanced weaponry that Syria has obtained from the Russians. The report cited a security source involved in the fighting in Zabadani, on the Syria-Lebanon border, where Hezbollah is fighting the al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State, and other groups. It is evidently the growing Iranian financial support that is enabling the Lebanese Shiite militia to purchase advanced weapons, including ones that were hitherto outside of its reach.

There is more. Read it all. As Ted Cruz had correctly noted, Obama’s Iran deal would make his administration the world’s biggest financial supporter of terrorism. This article proves that statement 100% correct.

Long March 6 launch a success

The competition heats up: The first launch of China’s smallsat rocket Long March 6 was a success on Saturday, putting 20 satellites into orbit.

This rocket is part of a new family of Chinese rockets, modularly designed so that can be reconfigured depending on payload or mission. The big launch however will be next year, when they attempt the first test flight of the largest member of this family.

Changes on the surface of Comet 67P/C-G

In a science paper now accepted for publication, the Rosetta science team have described changes that have occurred on the surface of Comet 67P/C-G from May through July of this year as the comet moved closer to the Sun and activity increased.

The changes were seen in a smooth area dubbed Imhotep.

First evidence for a new, roughly round feature in Imhotep was seen in an image taken with Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 3 June. Subsequent images later in June showed this feature growing in size, and being joined by a second round feature. By 2 July, they had reached diameters of roughly 220 m and 140 m, respectively, and another new feature began to appear.

By the time of the last image used in this study, taken on 11 July, these three features had merged into one larger region and yet another two features had appeared.

Be sure to click on the link to see the images. The changes look like a surface layer is slowing evaporating away.

More data tampering at NOAA

The uncertainty of science: An analysis of the 2015 climate data released by NOAA suggests that they continue to adjust the data on a yearly basis to cool the past and warm the present so as to create the false illusion of global warming,.

More here. There is no justification for these adjustments. None. Worse, the NOAA scientists don’t even bother to try to explain the changes, even the changes to past data from 2014 to 2015.

The most damning aspect is that the adjustments only shift things in one direction — increasing the illusion that the climate is warming. This strongly suggests that these changes are political and not scientific, and that there is fraud and corruption at NOAA.

Why I am not impressed with Fiorina’s impressive words

During Wednesday’s Republican debate Carly Fiorina made a very strong and powerful condemnation of Planned Parenthood, based on what she described was contained in the very ugly undercover videos of that organization and its officials. You can watch her full statement here, but the key lines are these:

As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.

Not surprisingly, there has been a kerfuffle on the web between the left and the right on whether Fiorina was accurately describing what was on the videos. Many liberal news sites have noted, quite accurately, that none of those videos show exactly what Fiorina describes, while this story tries to fact check both her words and the liberal challenges to her, concluding that in essence the tapes did show something akin to what Fiorina described, but not exactly.

This debate however misses the point. Yes, Fiorina was getting the essense right. The videos do show a despicable organization whose officials are quite willing to harvest the body parts of newly born babies for profit. But this is not what I found significant about Fiorina’s statement.

When I watched this clip from the debate, my first thought was that it clearly demonstrated that Fiorina herself had not personally watched the tapes. In one breath she challenges Obama and Clinton to watch them, while in the very next breath she describes something that isn’t actually on the tapes, as she describes it, demonstrating that she has formed her opinions of these videos from hearsay or from a very superficial quick scan of them. While I agree with her about Planned Parenthood and what these videos prove about that organization, I found her statement very revealing. It told me that her knowledge on this subject is superficial with her opinions formed from hearsay evidence.

I found myself at that moment very unimpressed with Fiorina as a candidate. She might have the right principles, but her willingness to base her opinions on incomplete information and then demand that others agree with her I found very disappointing. The candidate the Republicans choose has got to be someone who is rock solid, with no sloppiness about his or her approach to the facts. With this one soundbite, however, Fiorina demonstrated to me that she is not rock solid, and can be sloppy. This is not a candidate I want running for President.

China to launch new rocket today

The competition heats up: With the expected first launch of China’s new Long March 6 rocket today, this report nicely outlines the status of the country’s rocket program.

Like Russia’s Angara and SpaceX’s Falcon, the new generation of Long March rockets are modular and use the same rocket engine. This has reduced cost and allows for faster assembly. The launch today is the maiden flight of the smaller member of this family. The key launch will be that of the larger Long March 5, scheduled for next year. Capable of putting 25 tons in orbit (five more than Proton), this is the rocket they plan to use to launch the modules for their full-sized space station.

Global warming advocates call for the prosecution of scientists who disagree with them

Fascists: Twenty global warming scientists have written a public letter to President Obama demanding he prosecute those who challenge their claim that humans are causing the climate to warm.

We appreciate that you are making aggressive and imaginative use of the limited tools available to you in the face of a recalcitrant Congress. One additional tool – recently proposed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse – is a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change.

The very fact that these global warming scientists find it necessary to demand their opponents be prosecuted proves that their claims are invalid. If they had the facts on their side, there would be no need for them to call for the government to prosecute and possibly imprison those who disagree with them. They could simply cite the facts, using a willing press to spread the news, and the opposition of this small minority of skeptics would make little difference. The public would pay the skeptics no mind.

The public however is not stupid and has been following this story with great interest. They might not be convinced that the skeptics are right, but the public is also very doubtful about the claims of the global warming advocates. Instead, the public is aware that the science of the climate is very uncertain, and that more facts are required before they will be convinced about anything.

What this letter does prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that many important members of the global warming community are downright fascists, and do not believe in freedom and the first amendment.

Audit finds Obama administration complicent in the Obamacare website fraud and cost overruns

Finding out what’s in it: A federal audit has found that the Obama administration looked the other way, and in some cases even helped, while the contractors hired to create the Obamacare website committed significant fraud and negligence.

The investigation focused on nearly two dozen contracts considered to be most important to the operation of the website, which was supposed to create a marketplace that serves as a one-stop shop for health insurance. Instead, it’s had a multitude of problems that have been well-documented in the media. The deals to develop this federal insurance marketplace went mostly to eight politically connected companies that raked in north of $600 million, the IG’s report says. “As of March 31, 2014, CMS had identified 62 contracts that it had awarded to 35 different contractors to develop, implement, and operate the Federal marketplace,” the report states.

That means there are a lot of taxpayer dollars floating around for this cause. You’d think the government would select its finest employees to oversee the deals. Instead, CMS violated federal rules by assigning unqualified employees to oversee contracts worth more than $10 million, according to the audit. In one case an unqualified agency employee, who didn’t even have lower-level certification to supervise contracts over $25,000, oversaw a $130 million deal for more than a year. In a separate case documented by the IG, an unauthorized CMS worker allowed an eye-popping $28 million cost overrun that wasn’t even identified until the agency finally assigned a more knowledgeable staffer to take over the deal.

These atrocious examples are probably not the half of it because CMS couldn’t even provide investigators with routine documents that should have been readily available. That means there’s no telling the true magnitude of the damage. As for accountability, there appears to be none as is often the case in government. The Obama officials—former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and former CMS head Marilyn Tavenner—in charge of this boondoggle are both gone and it’s highly unlikely either will face any consequences.

Hey, what’s a little graft and embezzlement of tax dollars among friends? Besides, they are Democrats, and we always forgive Democrats for their corrupt practices. More important, it is never their fault. Bush and Reagan and that evil right wing conspiracy is obviously to blame.

ExoMars delayed three months to fix technical problem

The European Space Agency has decided to delay the launch of its ExoMars orbiter from January until March 2016 in order to remove two leaking sensors that might cause problems with the mission’s test lander.

The sensors are not critical to the lander demonstrator, and they are not going to replace them.

Saudia Arabia condemns 17-year-old to crucification for protesting government

The religion of peace: Saudia Arabia has condemned a 17-year-old boy to death by crucification for participating in anti-government protests.

Ali was initially held at a juvenile offenders facility, where he was denied access to lawyers. Evidence indicates that he was tortured and forced to sign a document which was tantamount to a confession. The signed document formed the basis of the case against him and he was convicted of the alleged offences by the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC). However, the trials failed to meet international standards. Ali and his family have strongly denied the charges against him, but, after the final appeal – which was held in secret and without Ali’s knowledge – was dismissed, there are few legal options remaining to oppose the sentence originally handed down on 27 May 2014. It is feared that Ali could be executed in a matter of days.

The case against Ali appears to be based on his familial connection to Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a 53-year old critic of the Saudi regime and a prominent religious leader in the Kingdom, who is his uncle. Mr Al Nimr was sentenced to death by crucifixion on charges including ‘insulting the King’ and delivering religious sermons that ‘disrupt national unity’. This week, it emerged that the authorities plan to execute Ali’s uncle on Thursday (17 September) sparking fears that his nephew will also be killed.

The article also notes that these arrests are not unique and are instead part of a larger crack-down in Saudia Arabia on any dissent, no matter how mild. It also illustrates the savagery and barbarism of Islam and the countries in the Middle East that practice it. Any civilized person with any sense of justice should be outraged by it.

Students win lawsuit against university speech restrictions

Victory for free speech: Students at Dixie State University in Utah have won their lawsuit against the university’s attempt to outlaw their freedom of speech.

Students whose flyers were censored by Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, won their First Amendment lawsuit Thursday—on Constitution Day—when a settlement was reached restoring students’ rights to free speech. Three students filed the lawsuit after their flyers, with unflattering depictions of President Obama, former President George W. Bush, and Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, were banned by the university. Dixie State claimed no flyers that “mock” or “disparage” individuals were allowed.

As part of Thursday’s settlement, Dixie State agreed to revise campus policies to meet First Amendment standards. These include the university’s unconstitutional flyer approval process, posting policies, club event policies, and “free speech zone” policy. The university also must pay $50,000 in damages and attorney’s fees and provide training to administrators on the campus’ new speech policies. [Emphasis mine]

The broad speech rules set by the university were so vague that they literally could ban any speech they didn’t like, which they then did. This is the typical behavior of a fascist. I am also sure that they would be offended by my characterization of them as fascists, and would try to shut me up for doing so. Also the behavior of a fascist.

Read it all. The story demonstrates again that if people are willing to stand up against this leftwing state religion, they can win.

Worker fired because lesbian was bothered by his Christianity.

Fascists: A factory worker in Ohio has lost his job merely because he talked about his Christian faith with a lesbian and she complained to management.

Rouston had spent the past 13 years as a material handler for Middletown, Ohio-based Precision Strip, and he was well known for sharing his Christian faith with everyone at the company. So it was not unusual that he did so in the form of a message to a new employee, who happened to be lesbian. Rouston and this particular colleague got into a discussion – outside work hours over Facebook – about whether Christians hate homosexuals, and in an attempt to demonstrate that Christians do not hate homosexuals, Rouston – who lives in nearby Monroe, Ohio – recommended that she see the film Audacity, which was actually produced for the purpose of addressing that very issue.

And that’s where Rouston’s trouble started, leading all the way up to his termination for making her “uncomfortable”: Routson was told that he was terminated not because of his faith, but for making his co-workers “uncomfortable.”

In other words, he was told by his boss that, because this was what the lesbian wanted, he was forbidden when not at work from discussing his religion with anyone. When he didn’t obey this absurd demand, he was fired. Do you think the company would have fired the lesbian if she had started advocating homosexual politics off work and a Christian complained? Not a chance.

Once again, we need to note that at no point did anyone prevent the homosexual person from practicing their lifestyle. All the Christian wanted was the freedom to express his opinion, as guaranteed by the first amendment. In today’s American, controlled by the leftwing state religion, such freedom unfortunately no longer exists.

Hawaii arranges to schedule next TMT protest

The Hawaiian government, after allowing the protesters of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) to live for months on Mauna Kea in defiance of an emergency order closing the mountain, has agreed to give the protesters advance warning when TMT plans to restart construction so they can get there to block it.

The short article spins things to favor the protest and to hide the fact that the state is acting as their supporter. Similar media spin here. Because of this, the protesters have decided there is no need for them to continue their 24 hour vigil on the mountain. They left without removing their structures, and the state has said it will likely not remove them. How convenient!

As I’ve said earlier, it is time that the TMT seriously consider other sites for this telescope. Hawaii doesn’t want them.

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