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Senior Bush to vote for Clinton

Why am I not surprised? Former President George H.W. Bush, the first Bush president, announced today that he plans to vote for Hillary Clinton for president.

Bush, 92, had intended to stay silent on the White House race between Clinton and Donald Trump, a sign in and of itself of his distaste for the GOP nominee. But his preference for the wife of his own successor, President Bill Clinton, nonetheless became known to a wider audience thanks to Kathleen Hartington Kennedy Townsend, the former Maryland lieutenant governor and daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy. On Monday, Townsend posted a picture on her Facebook page shaking hands next to the former president and this caption: “The President told me he’s voting for Hillary!!”

All the Bushes have been closet Democrats since day one. All this does is confirm this fact for every Republican conservative nationwide. It will also allows Trump to cut them out of the power game should he win the presidency. I should also note that the Bushes are closely tied in with the congressional Republican leadership that has failed to fulfill any of their election promises since 2010, and have instead stabbed the voters who gave them a majority in the back, repeatedly. All this now becomes obvious.

India army suffers largest terrorist attack in decade

Guess who: On Sunday seventeen India soldiers were killed by terrorists thought to come from a Islamic terror group based in Pakistan.

The Director General of Military Operations, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, said the terrorists were foreigners and there are clear signs of the role of the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed, whose chief Masood Azhar is based in Pakistan. The group had been involved in the attack on Pathankot air base in January during which 7 army-men were killed.

An analysis of the situation can be read here.

The powerless GOP

Obama is imposing an unprecedented number of new regulations in his final months in office, and the Republican leadership says it is helpless to do anything about it.

Data compiled by the Heritage Foundation found that the Obama administration issued 184 major rules during its first six years. The conservative organization, citing regulators’ estimates, says those could come with a price tag of almost $80 billion a year. The American Action Forum, which dubs itself as a “center-right” think tank, concludes that since Jan. 1 of this year, the administration has picked up the pace, finalizing 60 new rules and proposing 60 more at a potential cost of $16.5 billion next year alone.

Republican lawmakers and independent experts expect more to come. But Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas told Roll Call that his party cannot do much because “the framers of the Constitution didn’t give us a lot of tools that didn’t involve a presidential signature to overturn them.” [emphasis mine]

Excuse me, Senator Cornyn, but the framers of the Constitution gave Congress all the power. All you have to do is read the Constitution, a document only 16 pages long (excluding amendments), to find out. One would think a sitting Senator might do that once in awhile.

The problem is that Congress for decades has abdicated its responsibilities to the bureaucratic wing of the executive branch, and in the recent years the Republican leadership has further chickened out when voters demanded that they take some of those responsibilities back. The Republicans could very easily shut the whole shebang down, which might finally force some compromise from the Democrats. Until they do, however, expect no compromise from the left, which keeps getting exactly what it wants.

Saturn’s wonderful rings

Saturn's rings, and the small moons that shape them

Cool image time! The image on the right, reduced to fit here, is a recent Cassini image, taken July 2, 2016, that shows the rings as well as the moon Pan nestled within the ring’s narrow gap

Pan (17 miles or 28 kilometers across, left of center) holds open the Encke gap and shapes the ever-changing ringlets within the gap (some of which can be seen here). In addition to raising waves in the A and B rings, other moons help shape the F ring, the outer edge of the A ring and open the Keeler gap. This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 8 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on July 2, 2016.

The image also highlights the incredible and quite magical beauty of Saturn’s rings, which remain to me one of the solar system’s most amazing wonders.

Feds mistakenly grant citizenship to more than 800 potentially dangerous immigrants

Does this make you feel safer? The federal government has mistakenly granted citizenship to more than 800 immigrants who for many reasons are considered security risks.

The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general found that the immigrants used different names or birthdates to apply for citizenship with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and such discrepancies weren’t caught because their fingerprints were missing from government databases. DHS said in an emailed statement that an initial review of these cases suggest that some of the individuals may have ultimately qualified for citizenship, and that the lack of digital fingerprint records does not necessarily mean they committed fraud.

The report does not identify any of the immigrants by name, but Inspector General John Roth’s auditors said they were all from “special interest countries” — those that present a national security concern for the United States — or neighboring countries with high rates of immigration fraud. The report did not identify those countries.

As I’ve noted many times, the federal government is not only bankrupt, it is today totally incapable of doing any job right. We should stop depending on it for anything. And we should certainly shut the faucet of tax dollars we are presently pouring into it. The discussion should not be what is the right tax scheme is for providing funds to the federal government, but how quickly can we shut as many of its corrupt and incompetent agencies down and fire as many of its corrupt workers as possible.

NY/NJ bomber arrested in shootout

Mohammed

The FBI today arrested in a shoot-out an Afghanistan-born suspect in the bombings this weekend in both Manhattan and New Jersey.

A bar owner in Linden, New Jersey called police around 11am Monday morning, after finding 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami sleeping in the entryway of his business. When police arrived on the scene, Rahami brandished a weapon and started shooting at the cops – injuring two. Officers eventually shot Rahami in the right shoulder and he was taken from the scene in an ambulance, handcuffed to a stretcher.

Police released Rahami’s picture Monday morning, saying he was wanted for questioning in connection to the Saturday bombings in New York City and Seaside Park, New Jersey, as well as the foiled bombing of the Elizabeth, New Jersey train station on Sunday. Law enforcement say it was fingerprints left behind on an unexploded pressure cooker bomb in Manhattan that led them to Rahami. Twenty-nine people were injured when another bomb placed a few blocks away was detonated Saturday night.

Now that Rahami is in custody, investigators are now looking into whether he acted alone or was perhaps working with or for a larger terror network.

There are several facts about this weekend’s bombings, which can also be applied to this weekend’s knife attacks by an Islamic radical in Minnesota, that are instructive. First, everyone’s first and immediate assumption, including myself, was that they were planned and carried out by Islamic terrorists. I didn’t publish anything to say so, because I do not like to speculate. I do admit, however, to the same human biases as everyone else. Second, that assumption turned out to a reasonable assumption, since it, not surprisingly, turned out to be correct. Three, even before the suspect was identified, ISIS and Islamic supporters worldwide were celebrating the bombings and boldly announcing that more such attacks will be forthcoming.

The point here is that we need to recognize that we are at war. The Islamic world wishes to conquer and destroy the western world, and if we do not begin to realize this soon, we will find ourselves soon conquered by them. And if you think I am over-reacting, watch this video at this link.Or this video here.

I am sure they will be those quislings who will argue that it is our fault this situation exists, but the bottom line remains: Do we wish to live as in a society that believes in freedom, science, justice, and equal rights, or do we wish to be conquered by a medieval power-centered ideology that oppresses its population while giving as much power as possible to its rulers?

The choice is ours.

What is happening with Stratolaunch?

Doug Messier at his website Parabolic Arc today asks some pertinent questions about Stratolaunch and their seeming inability to settle on the rocket that will be launched from the giant plane they are building.

After going through SpaceX and Orbital ATK, the company talked to anyone and everyone with a rocket engine or an idea for one. They must have hit pay dirt with someone. [emphasis in original]

As Messier notes, both SpaceX and Orbital ATK have, in that order, made and then broke their partnership with Stratolaunch. Both companies were supposed to build that rocket, but for unknown reasons decided soon after that they couldn’t do this job. Stratolaunch has since been looking for a third company to build that rocket, but apparently has not found it. This information strongly suggests that the rocket companies found some fundamental engineering or management problems at Stratolaunch that scared them off. These same issues are also making it difficult for Stratolaunch to find a third rocket company.

Federal agencies question establishment of SpaceX spaceport and three liquefied natural gas plants in Brownsville

Two federal agencies are questioning the safety of establishing three liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants near SpaceX’s new spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is reviewing the applications for the LNG export terminals, which plan to take natural gas from the Eagle Ford south of San Antonio, liquefy it and export the LNG to overseas customers.

The Federal Aviation Administration hosted an Aug. 18 meeting to discuss space launch activities near the proposed LNG facilities, according to a FERC filing released on Thursday. During the meeting, FAA officials discussed their role and regulations regarding commercial space launches, as well as the agency’s licensing and public safety requirements prior to the launch of any future mission.

While it makes perfect sense to keep a rocket launchpad safely away from large amounts of liquefied natural gas, I found the article’s concluding paragraphs to be most revealing:

Meanwhile, environmentalists, who were critical of the SpaceX project and oppose the LNG plants, said the launch site is too close to the proposed export terminals. “This announcement should be a wake-up call and warning that putting LNG terminals within six miles of the SpaceX launch site is a bad idea,” Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club Chair Jim Chapman told the Business Journal. “Furthermore, Annova LNG wants to put its facility within the SpaceX launch closure area. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that idea won’t fly.” [emphasis mine]

Note how the environmentalists are essentially against everything. They really aren’t opposed to having these two facilities being placed too close to each other, what they really want is that nothing gets built at all. Most instructive.

Scientists make guess about origins of Pluto’s nitrogen sea

Garbage in, garbage out: Scientists have written a computer model that supposedly tells them how Pluto’s thick heart-shaped glacier packed ocean of nitrogen and carbon monoxide formed.

[T]o find out how the glaciers formed in the first place, scientists created models that simulated atmospheric circulation on the dwarf planet for the last 50,000 years (a mere 200 orbits around the sun for Pluto). At the beginning of the simulations, the researchers gave Pluto a planet-wide veneer of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and methane ices a few millimeters thick; then, the planet’s surface and atmosphere evolved as the icy orb passed through orbit after orbit. If Pluto were a completely smooth sphere, it would have either a permanent swath of nitrogen ice at the equator or seasonal snow caps at its poles. But that’s not what the planet looks like today. When researchers added realistic topography to the model, including the 4-kilometer-deep Sputnik Planum and two other large craters, the basin gradually trapped Pluto’s nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and much of its methane, the researchers report online today in Nature.

While the computer model here can help planetary scientists better understand how Pluto might have evolved, to use it to draw any conclusions about Pluto’s geological history is absurd. Scientist have no idea what Pluto was like 50,000 years ago. Heck, we don’t even know what half the planet looks like now.

Vandenberg wildfire spreads

The wildfire at Vandenberg Air Force Base that caused the cancellation of Sunday’s Atlas 5 launch has spread and remains out of control.

Zaniboni said the fire is burning north to northwest toward two launch pads — Space Launch Complex-4, the SpaceX launch site, and SLC-3, where base officials scrubbed Sunday’s launch of an Atlas 5 rocket carrying the WorldView 4 satellite. Although the fire did not pose an immediate threat to SLC-3 at the time, Col. Paul Nosek said it required the base to redeploy firefighters from stand-by at the launch site.

A detailed look at the Russian elections today

Link here. The analysis is detailed and thoughtful, and gives some perspective about the state of power and control by the present leaders in Russia.

Four parties are expected to secure again their representation in the Duma: the ruling United Russia (UR), the Liberal-Democratic Russian party (LDPR), led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Just Russia, led by Sergei Mironov, and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), led by Gennadi Zyuganov.[1] In contrast, the democratic opposition has fewer chances of being represented. The opposition Russian Democratic Party (“Yabloko”) and People’s Party of Freedom (RPR-PARNAS), cofounded by murdered opposition politician Boris Nemtsov (October 9, 1959-February 27, 2015), will contest the elections separately – a suicidal tactic that mathematically further reduces their already slim chances to enter the Duma and further reduces the credibility of Russian liberalism. The democratic opposition is represented in the elections by yet another independent nominee -Maria Baronova, running with the support of Open Russia movement, founded by former oil tycoon-turned-activist Mikhail Khodorkovsky, residing out of Russia after his release from long term jail.

Bottom line: Putin will remain in power, no matter what happens in today’s elections. Nonetheless, the article is worth reading because it gives some sense of what might happen after Putin.

Russian government going broke

The Russian government, faced with low oil prices, a weak ruble, and a big budget, has been depleting its cash reserves and could run out of money within a year.

The government’s reserve fund is designed to cover shortfalls in the national budget at times of low oil and gas revenues.

Russia’s 2016 budget is based on the assumption the country would be able to sell its oil for $50 per barrel. But the average oil price in the first eight months of the year was less than $43 per barrel. Oil now makes up just 37% of all government revenues, compared to roughly 50% just two years ago.

When their reserve funds run out, they will then dip into another fund reserved for pensions and investment projects. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Kind of like the approach the big Democratically controlled U.S. cities like New York have used to continue to spend money they didn’t have.

It is interesting to compare Russia and China these days, especially considering the state of both of their space programs. Despite the fact that many say that China’s success is hollow, they have still been able to fund and build what is now a very vibrant and new manned and planetary space effort. Russia however cannot build anything new, and is now faced with reducing its ISS crew complement because it can’t afford to launch the supplies required for three people.

It will be very interesting to watch this story in Russia unfold.

Suspicious climate data manipulation at NASA

The uncertainty of modern climate science isn’t merely because of the overall complexity of the data and the climate. Though there are numerous factors that contribute to the long term fluctuations of the climate that we do not yet completely understand or can quantify with any precision (the sun, dust, soot, volcanoes, carbon dioxide increase, to name just a few), there is a more tragic uncertainty that global warming scientists at NASA and NOAA have added to the mix, one that is entirely unjustified and harmful to the field of science and the questions that it is trying to answer.

In the case of this post, that tragic uncertainty has to do with sea level rise and the “adjustments,” without explanation, that NASA is making to its sea level data. Below is a graph taken from the link, showing the changes that have been made to published data from 1982 in order to eliminate a long period of almost no sea level rise from the mid 1950s through 1980.
» Read more

House votes ease rules for firing VA employees

The House today voted 310-116 to make it easier to fire or punish employees of the Veterans Administration.

Rep. Mark Takano (Calif.), the VA committee’s ranking Democrat, led an unsuccessful floor fight to soften the misconduct provisions, as the Republican majority defeated every substantive amendment. In the end, with Miller citing support from 18 prominent veteran groups, 69 Democrats joined the united Republican front to pass the bill convincingly.

It would shorten the process to fire, demote or hear the appeal of rank-and-file VA employees, from an average of more than a year to no more than 77 days. It also would end involvement of the Merit Systems Protection Board in such actions for VA senior executives; give the VA secretary authority to recoup bonuses and relocation expenses from employees who misbehave, or to reduce pensions of senior executives convicted of felonies that influenced their performance reports. Additionally whistleblowers would get new protections from reprisals and the bill would mandate strict accountability to supervisors or colleagues who would reprise against them, the VA committee explained.

This bill should become the model for changing the rules for all federal employees. Right now it is so difficult to clean house of corrupt or incompetent federal employees that there are even circumstances where they actually commit crimes and steal federal money and still hold onto their jobs.

Read the reviews for Hillary Clinton’s new book! Really!

It doesn’t matter who you support in the upcoming presidential election. You have to read the customer reviews on Amazon for Hillary Clinton’s new book. They are really hilarious, and do a nice job of poking big holes in the bloated pompousness of all politicians. Here is just one example:

I was going to read this book…..I really was. But just as I got started, I found myself under sniper fire, passed out, and fell and hit my head. After that I got double vision and had to wear glasses that were so damn thick I couldn’t even see to read. Then I had an allergic reaction to something and started coughing so hard I spit out what looked like a couple of lizard’s eyeballs, my limbs locked up, and I passed out and fell down again, waking up only to find out I had been diagnosed with pneumonia 2 days earlier. Somehow I managed to power through it all, but it’s a good thing I was able to make a small fortune on this random small trade in the commodities market (cattle futures or some such thing) and then, miracle of all miracles, a few banks offered me a few million to just talk to their employees for a few minutes – and all that really helped out because I swear I was dead broke and couldn’t figure out how I was gonna come up with the 6 bucks to pay for this book, let alone pay the $1,500 for my health insurance this month. I still want to read it, but, honestly, what difference at this point does it make? I hear it sucks anyway.

Then there is this: “”I bought the audio-book version and all I could hear was coughing.”

If you want a few more good laughs take a look. Quite entertaining.

New NASA authorization bill introduced in Senate

A new NASA authorization bill was introduced in the Senate on September 15, calling for NASA to rethink its asteroid redirect mission as well as begin the process of shifting the operation of ISS from government to private enterprise.

Among [the bill’s policy provisions] is language regarding ARM, a mission that involves sending a robotic spacecraft to retrieve a boulder from a near Earth asteroid and place it in lunar orbit to be visited by astronauts. “It is the sense of Congress that the technological and scientific goals of the Asteroid Robotic Redirect Mission may not be commensurate with the cost,” the bill states, referring to the robotic portion of ARM. Alternative missions, it says, “may provide a more cost effective and scientifically beneficial means to demonstrate the technologies needed for a human mission to Mars.” The bill directs NASA to evaluate alternative mission concepts to compare their scientific, technical and commercial benefits, as well as their costs, with ARM. That study would be due to Congress 180 days after the bill’s enactment.

The bill also addresses planning for the eventual end of the ISS in the 2020s, stating that there is a need for an “orderly transition” from the current NASA-led management of the station to “a regime where NASA is one of many customers of a low Earth orbit commercial human space flight enterprise.” That provision would require NASA to assess its needs for continued research in low Earth orbit after the ISS is retired, the existing and projected commercial capabilities to meet those needs, and steps NASA can take to stimulate both the supply of commercial facilities and demand for their use. The bill also calls on NASA to study an extension of the ISS “through at least 2028” to identify the technical issues, scientific benefits, and costs of such an extension.

The authorization also endorses SLS and Orion, which isn’t surprising considering that most of the Senators proposing this authorization come from states with big contracts for that boondoggle.

In recent years authorization bills have not meant that much. While they express the desires of some members of Congress, which does influence policy, their specifics are usually ignored in subsequent years. Nonetheless, the new focus here on private space suggests that the advantages of competition and private enterprise is finally beginning to leak into the tiny little brains of our elected officials. That they are still pushing SLS and Orion, however, shows that the leak is still tiny, and somewhat limited.

Give it time, however. Give it time. When private companies have begun regular launches of their big rockets, well before SLS completes its first manned flight, these legislators should finally realize what most people already know, that SLS and Orion is a complete waste of money.

NOAA signs first contract for private weather satellites

The competition heats up: NOAA this week signed its first contracts, totaling just over a million dollars, with two different private cubesat companies.

The small deals—$695,000 to GeoOptics and $370,000 to Spire—come as part of NOAA’s Commercial Weather Data Pilot. The deals will allow the agency to evaluate the quality of the firms’ data for forecasts and warnings, and could be the first step in a broader embrace of commercial satellites. Until now, NOAA has gathered data by building and launching its own expensive weather satellites rather than buying data from private companies.

…Plagued by cost overruns on its own satellites, NOAA has been pressured by Congress to explore commercial weather satellites, which included a mandate for the commercial weather pilot in its 2016 appropriations.

There is no reason NOAA cannot shift from being the maker of satellites to being a customer buying weather data from private satellites, much as NASA has been shifting from being a builder of rockets and spaceships to being a buyer of privately built rockets and spaceships. The shift will create competition and innovation while saving the taxpayer a lot of money.

New Zealand government okays commercial launches by Rocket Lab

The competition heats up: The New Zealand government has signed an interim contract authorizing commercial launches by the private company Rocket Lab, pending passage of permanent authorizing legislation next year.

Rocket Lab, which operates a private satellite launch site on the Mahia Peninsula between Napier and Gisborne, intends to start launch operations later this year, Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce said in a statement. The contract is an interim measure, preceding the Outer Space and High Altitude Activities Bill which will be introduced to Parliament this month to provide a regulatory regime for space launches from New Zealand.

The government wants the bill passed into law by mid-2017, Joyce said. In June, New Zealand signed the Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA) with the United States government, which allows commercial entities, including Rocket Lab, to import launch technology and satellites from the US.

Thirty ton meteorite excavated in Argentina

In what is one of the largest asteroid chunks ever found on Earth, an excavation team from a local astronomy club this week excavated a thirty ton iron-nickel meteorite from the ground.

Dubbed Gancedo after a nearby town, it isn’t a record-holder, but it sure is big. What I found interesting from the article, however, is this:

Gancedo’s fall to Earth occurred between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago. Locals knew of the fall for centuries, even making iron tools from meteorites found in the strewnfield. In the 16th century, the Spanish became interested in stories of a piece of iron that fell from the sky, and in 1774 don Bartolomé Francsico de Maguna led an expedition that came across a mass of iron, referred to as Mesón de Fierro (“Table of Iron” in Spanish). Another 1,400-pound fragment from Campo del Cielo named Otumpa now resides at the British Museum in London. With more than 100 tons of meteorite recovered, Campo del Cielo is the top producer in terms of pure meteorite mass worldwide.

The Campo del Cielo strewnfield extends over an ellipse 3 km wide by 19 km long over an area northwest of Buenos Aires, and meteorites found here have a polycrystalline coarse octahedrite composition characteristic of iron-nickel meteorites. They are also unusually pure even among iron-nickel meteorites, consisting of 93% iron. Most of the remaining 7% is nickel, and less than 1% are trace elements.

The evidence here is that a very dense asteroid, weighing a minimum of 100 tons but probably several times that, smashed into the Earth about five thousand years ago. Yet, all life on Earth was not wiped out, as is repeatedly suggested might happen whenever a similarly sized asteroid zips close past the Earth. In fact, there is no evidence this impact had any significant global environmental effects.

Remember this the next time another asteroid of similar size zips past the Earth and the media doom-sayers begin to sing their siren song again.

Russia postpones September 23 manned Soyuz launch

For unexplained “technical reasons” Russia has postponed the manned launch of three astronauts to ISS on Friday, September 23.

“Roscosmos decided to postpone launch of the spacecraft Soyuz MS-02, scheduled for September 23, 2016, due to technical reasons after control testing at the Baikonur space center [in Kazakhstan],” the statement said.

Atlas 5 launch scrubbed

ULA scrubbed its Atlas 5 commercial launch today after detecting “a small ground side LH2 leak.”

Friday’s launch was proceeding to the final minutes of the countdown, prior to a decision to standdown due to a small ground side LH2 leak resulting in an ice ball forming on an umbilical. ULA CEO Tory Bruno noted this was outside of ULA’s historic experience, thus resulting in a scrub – for at least 24 hours – to resolve.

Later, a ULA source noted the next attempt would be Sunday, in order to allow time to replace a Fill and Drain (F&D) valve that was deemed to be the problem during Friday’s attempt.

I must say I am intrigued by the language used by Bruno here, especially coming so soon after SpaceX’s somewhat unprecedented launchpad explosion September 1st.

News media pushes the idea of President Obama demanding and releasing Donald Trump’s tax returns, without his permission

The death of freedom and the rule of law: A Politico reporter — having researched the law and found that under very special circumstances a president has the authority to demand from the IRS the confidential tax records of any American citizen and then release them to the public without that citizen’s permission — made sure to let White House spokesman Josh Earnest know about those provisions.

Earnest response was amazingly non-committal. “I’ve not heard of this potential option. I think it is rather unlikely that the president would order something like that.”

In reading the story at the link, it seems to me that Earnest had no idea the law allowed the President to do this. However, the Politico reporter had done his research very well, and outlined that research in great detail, describing in chapter-and-verse how it would be legal for a President to abuse his power in just this way.

Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code provides: “Upon written request by the President, signed by him personally, the [Treasury] Secretary shall furnish to the President, or to such employee or employees of the White House Office as the President may designate by name in such request, a return or return information with respect to any taxpayer named in such request.”

Another passage in the law says returns obtained that way should not be further disclosed “without personal written direction of the President,” suggesting that with such an instruction the returns could be made public by the government.

I don’t know what is worse, the fact that Earnest doesn’t seem horrified by the suggestion, or the fact that it was a reporter who suggested it. Either way, my impression here is that the reporter’s goal was not to catch the Obama administration in an abuse of power but to educate the White House so that they would be aware of this wonderful method for using the law to destroy their political opponents.

Think about it. The reporter here seems to be actually advocating that a President abuse his power and obtain and release a citizen’s confidential tax returns, without the citizen’s permission, entirely for the sole purpose of political gain. Considering the IRS’s track record under the Obama administration, where the IRS clearly acted as a tool of the Democratic Party and harassed its political opponents, it would not surprise me now if this proposal eventually gets acted upon by this or future presidents.

I weep for America and the death of freedom.

Are thousands of Kurds abandoning Islam?

The article, published by a Kurdish news source, describes what appears to be a growing disenchantment with Islam in that region as a result of the violence and destruction of the Islamic State.

Many Muslims are confronted by the violent extremism of the Islamic State (ISIS) and wonder how to reconcile their personal beliefs with the actions of the extremist group. The Kurdish population is approximately 94% nominally Muslim. Recently, however, there have been many reports of Kurds leaving Islam or converting to other religions. The Zoroastrian movement claims to have as many as 100,000 followers in Iraqi Kurdistan. Christian organizations assert that thousands in the region have been seeking out Christianity as they reject ISIS’ interpretation of Islam. There are also reports of growing numbers of atheists and agnostics.

This quote however by an ordinary citizen I think is more significant:

[Sanger Najim, a young man living in Erbil] points the finger of blame at religious leaders for the rise of extremism and growing number of people turning away from Islam. “We don’t have [a] response when people from [the] West [are] telling us that Islam is cruel, Islam is Daesh. We don’t have a response for this. Why? The Mullahs never tell us what real Islam is. They are just reading us some history facts. They are just telling us some history… from old times. They are not able to link it with present society… They have to link Quran with the real life.”

He is horrified by the actions of the Islamic State, but cannot get a satisfactory answer about why this is not Islam from his own Islamic Mullahs.

Obama meets with health insurance execs in effort to save Obamacare

Finding out what’s in it: Realizing that the next open enrollment period under Obamacare will begin only a week before the election and will present voters with skyrocketing insurance premiums, higher deductables, and fewer choices, Obama met with health insurance execs on Monday to plead for their support.

The two largest insurance carriers, Aetna and UnitedHealth, did not attend, Both have already abandoned most of the Obamacare marketplaces.

The article has a lot of blather about the public relations steps the Obama administration is taking to shore up Obamacare, along with encouraging quotes from some insurance executives. This quote from the article, however, touches on reality, a reality that it appears Obama might finally be discovering. Or to paraphrase Nancy Pelosi’s words, he is finally finding out what’s in it.

But six years after passage of Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the litany of woes afflicting the Obamacare marketplaces is formidable. Enrollment has plateaued at half of what was projected. Three major insurers have largely quit, citing big losses. Double-digit rate hikes are the norm for plans across the country. And roughly one in five Americans may find just one insurer selling plans in their area when they shop for 2017 coverage.

UN Secretary-General declares climate change debate ‘over’

The certainty of politics: In a newspaper interview on Thursday UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared, without doubt, that the scientific debate on human-caused global warming “is over”.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that his greatest achievement at the helm of the world’s biggest international organization was last year’s climate change accord in Paris, and he expressed open frustration that Republicans in the U.S. continue to obstruct President Obama and to politicize the subject. “The debate on science and the debate on politics as far as climate change is concerned is over,” Mr. Ban told The Washington Times in an exclusive interview. “Still, the Republican Party, they are not convinced.

“There should be no political consideration on this,” he said. “There should be no room for politics to get involved.” [emphasis mine]

I am so glad that this politician, not a scientist, knows so much about the climate field that he can dictate the future research of scientists. I am so glad that this politician, not a scientist, thinks he has the ability to tell skeptics to shut up. And I am so glad that this politician, not a scientist, can demand that skeptics shut up because he wants to keep politics out of science. (Note the irony and hypocrisy here.)

I find it most interesting that whenever anyone raises questions about the theory of human-caused global warming, the response by its advocates is almost never to discuss the actual data, but to tell the questioners to shut up, and to insist the debate is settled, even though the very existence of those questioners proves it is not.

Rosetta’s last days

The Rosetta team has released a detailed description of what will be happening in the last two weeks of the spacecraft’s mission, leading up to its landing on the comet’s surface on September 30.

Their description of the difficulty of planning maneuvers based on the complex asymmetrical gravitational field of the two-lobed comet nucleus is especially interesting.

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