Tag Archives: Canada

Canada exits WFIRST project

Like rats fleeing a sinking ship: The Canadian government has decided not to fund that country’s contribution to NASA’s WFIRST space telescope project, presently expected to cost $3.2 billion total (already over-budget in the design phase) and set to launch sometime in the 2020s (don’t bet on it).

The Canadian instrument would have been focused on studying dark energy, the mysterious force that is theorized to cause the universe’s expansion rate to accelerate over vast distances.

I can understand the skepticism of the Canadian government. Why commit anything to a project that is already over-budget and has unreliable support in the U.S. (Trump tried to ax it, Congress restored it, for now)? The project is also so far in the future it makes more sense to spend this money on astronomy projects that could be built and used now.

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Canada’s Supreme Court rules against tribe in development dispute

In a case that appears similar to the dispute in Hawaii over the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope, Canada’s Supreme Court this week ruled against a local tribe in its more than quarter century battle to block the construction of a nearby ski resort.

The Ktunaxa Nation had opposed a resort on Crown land near their community in southeastern British Columbia, arguing that it would affect a grizzly-bear habitat and drive away the Grizzly Bear Spirit essential to their faith.

But, in a line that stunned some academic observers, seven judges of nine said that they looked on the religious-freedom claim under Section 2(a) of the Charter of Rights no differently than if it were made by non-Indigenous. They said the Ktunaxa claim fell entirely outside of the Canadian notion of freedom of religion, as established in previous Charter cases, which protects only the right to hold and manifest beliefs.

“In short, the Charter protects the freedom to worship, but does not protect the spiritual focal point of worship,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Justice Malcolm Rowe wrote for the seven judges. The court also affirmed that, while developers and government need to consult with Indigenous peoples and accommodate their concerns, the First Nations possess no veto power over development.

What I find interesting about this story is that the developer first proposed this ski resort in 1991, and has spent 26 years consulting and then fighting with the local tribes. Talk about stick-to-it-ness! Moreover, the insincerity and delaying tactics of one tribe are revealed by this quote:

It was only in 2009, the Supreme Court said, as the proposal appeared on the verge of approval, that the Ktunaxa first mentioned the Grizzly Bear Spirit and said that no accommodation was possible.

It is important to note that the land in question is privately owned by the resort, and that the tribe essentially wanted a full veto over the rights of that private owner to use their land as they wished. The Supreme Court ruled that the tribe does not have that right. Had it agreed to this demand, the court would have essentially given the tribe the power to rule over everyone else in Canada, on almost any issue the tribe wished. All they would have had to do is to come up with some religious excuse (as it appears they did here).

Hat tip Peter Arzenshek.

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Canadian Inuit officials demand halt to rocket launch

The coming dark age: Canadian Inuit officials are demanding that the launch of a European atmospheric research satellite by a converted Russian ICBM be stopped out of fear of the pollution it might cause.

The position of the rocket company is based on calculated engineering:

In a statement to CBC News, the European Space Agency insisted the fuel won’t reach Earth’s surface. “Please remember that under standard pressure, hydrazine boils at 113.5 C,” the agency said. The stage containing the fuel will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere much hotter than that, it said. “The structural parts lose their integrity and by melting the destruction of the stage occurs. The agency said that six kilometres above the ground “the propellant components have completely burnt up.”

The position of the protesters is based on fear and lack of knowledge:

The concern for Inuit is the rocket’s second stage, which contains hydrazine-based fuel and is expected to splash down in the North Water Polynya. Though it’s outside of Canada and Denmark’s international waters, it’s home to a vast array of birds and marine mammals that Inuit rely on for food.

“It’s the birthing ground of all the animals that we eat, that people in the North depend upon,” said Eva Aariak, Canada’s commissioner on the Inuit Circumpolar Council and former Nunavut premier. “I know it’s being played down in terms of the kind of effect it would have, but nobody knows. This is the most concerning part is that nobody really knows. And before people know exactly what kind of effect it can have, we will keep fighting.” [emphasis mine]

The article also interviews a pro-Inuit scientist whose primary evidence apparently comes from a youtube video.

There is no doubt that hydrazine is very toxic, which is why it is generally not used as the launch fuel for rockets. However, these protests appear based on mindless fear, almost like the protesters were primitive tribesman afraid of thunder. Ah, but maybe that is exactly what they are!

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Sierra Nevada and Canada sign agreement for using Dream Chaser

Capitalism in space: Sierra Nevada has signed an agreement with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to study ways in which Canada might utilize the company’s reusable Dream Chaser spacecraft.

This agreement is very preliminary, with no apparent specific plans announced nor any exchange of money. It is however another signal of the strong interest that foreign governments have in buying time on Dream Chaser, once it is operational.

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Large archive of Canadian ice cores melts

A large archive of Canadian ice cores has been lost, melting when the freezer they were stored in failed.

The 2 April failure left “pools of water all over the floor and steam in the room,” UA glaciologist Martin Sharp told ScienceInsider. “It was like a changing room in a swimming pool.” The melted cores represented 12.8% of the collection, which held 1408 samples taken from across the Canadian Arctic. The cores hold air bubbles, dust grains, pollen, and other evidence that can provide crucial information about past climates and environments, and inform predictions about the future.

The storage facility is normally chilled to –37°C. But the equipment failure allowed temperatures to rise to 40°C, melting tens of thousands of years of history. Among the losses: some of the oldest ice cores from Mount Logan, a 5595-meter-high mountain in northern Canada. “We only lost 15 meters [of core], but because it was from the bottom of the core, that’s 16,000 years out of the 17,700 years that was originally represented,” Sharp says.

Scientists also lost 66 meters of core from Baffin Island’s Penny Ice Cap, which accounts for 22,000 years—a quarter of the record. That leaves “a gap for the oldest part, which is really the last glaciation before the warming that brought us into the present interglacial,” Sharp says.

Considering the cost and difficulty of drilling these cores, and then safely bringing them to the facility without melting, it seems to me astonishing that the facility did not have back-up freezer capability.

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Ukraine-Canadian partnership to launch from Nova Scotia

The competition heats up: A new launch company based in Canada and using a Ukrainian-made rocket called the Cyclone-4M has chosen as its launch site a location in Nova Scotia.

The rocket appears to be a variation of the Ukrainian Tsiklon-4 rocket, and would make this company competitive and in fact more capable than India’s smaller PSLV rocket that recently put 100 smallsats into orbit.

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Robot lie detector being tested by Canada

What could possibly go wrong? Canada’s border police are currently testing a robot lie-detector that would be used to screen travelers and flag those whose answers it doesn’t like.

AVATAR is a kiosk, much like an airport check-in or grocery store self-checkout kiosk,” said San Diego State University management information systems professor Aaron Elkins. “However, this kiosk has a face on the screen that asks questions of travelers and can detect changes in physiology and behavior during the interview. The system can detect changes in the eyes, voice, gestures and posture to determine potential risk. It can even tell when you’re curling your toes.”

Here’s how it would work: Passengers would step up to the kiosk and be asked a series of questions such as, “Do you have fruits or vegetables in your luggage?” or “Are you carrying any weapons with you?” Eye-detection software and motion and pressure sensors would monitor the passengers as they answer the questions, looking for tell-tale physiological signs of lying or discomfort. The kiosk would also ask a series of innocuous questions to establish baseline measurements so people are just nervous about flying, for example, wouldn’t be unduly singled out.

Once the kiosk detected deception, they would flag those passengers for further scrutiny from human agents.

This Elkins guy fits perfectly the 1960s stereotype of the scientist who is so caught up with the coolness of his invention that he is completely oblivious to its moral and ethical short-comings. Sadly, he appears to be finding lots of governments interested in buying his product.

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A Canadian man faces jail time for merely disagreeing with two feminists on Twitter.

Fascism: A Canadian man is now threatened with six months in jail because he dared to post on Twitter his disagreement with two feminist activists.

Read the article. These feminists fit the description of fascists so closely we could put their pictures in the dictionary next to the word.

Note also that this is in Canada, which does not have a first amendment comparable to what we have here in the U.S. Then again, the first amendment here in the U.S. is increasingly being ignored by those in power, so I’m not sure what advantage it gives us at the moment.

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Fascist gays attack business for providing them services

Fascists: A Canadian jewelry provided polite service for a lesbian wedding, but was then threatened with boycotts and violence because he dared put up a sign stating his personal opposition to gay marriage.

Let’s understand what happened here. This Christian jeweler agreed to custom-make engagement rings for a lesbian couple, knowing that they were a couple, and treated them politely. But when they found out what he really believed about same-sex marriage, even though the man gave them polite service, and agreed to sell them what they asked for, the lesbian couple balked, and demanded their money back — and the mob threatened the business if they didn’t yield. Which, of course, he did.

You understand, of course, that this is not about getting equal treatment. The lesbian couple received that. This is about demonizing a point of view, and driving those who hold it out of the public square. Just so we’re clear about that.

The goal in all these cases has never been about guaranteeing that homosexuals get fair and equal treatment. No, the real goal, clearly revealed in this case, has been to destroy any opposition, verbal or otherwise, to the homosexual agenda.

Freedom for me but not for thee.

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India gets Canadian launch contract

The competition heats up: Because of the Russian situation in the Ukraine, Canada has rejected a launch contract with Russia and signed India to do the launch instead.

No word on the rocket Canda will use, but I suspect it will be India’s smaller rocket, tested and more dependable. Their geosynchronous rocket, GSLV, is still in the testing stage.

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One of John Franklin’s lost ships found?

A Canadian expedition thinks it has located one of the ships from John Franklin’s lost 1845 Arctic expedition.

The Canadian government began searching for Franklin’s ships in 2008 as part of a strategy to assert Canada’s sovereignty over the Northwest Passage, which has recently become accessible to shipping because of melting Arctic ice. Expedition sonar images from the waters of Victoria Strait, just off King William Island, clearly show the wreckage of a ship on the ocean floor.

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Two low-cost, car battery-sized Canadian space telescopes were launched successfully in Russia today

Two low-cost, car battery-sized Canadian space telescopes were launched successfully in Russia today.

The important detail here is this quote:

“BRITE-Constellation will exploit and enhance recent Canadian advances in precise attitude control that have opened up for space science the domain of very low cost, miniature spacecraft, allowing a scientific return that otherwise would have had price tags 10 to 100 times higher,” [emphasis mine]

Most nanosats and cubesats have not had the kind of precise attitude control of larger satellites, which is one of their limitations. If the technology is now maturing so that these tiny satellites can be pointed as accurately as bigger payloads, it will mean that unmanned satellites are going to get smaller very quickly. This lowers cost and increases the customer base, creating more business for launch companies.

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A Canadian disabled woman was denied entry to the United States after a customs agent cited her supposedly private medical details.

Does this make you feel safer? A Canadian disabled woman was denied entry to the United States after a customs agent cited her supposedly private medical details.

“I was turned away, I was told, because I had a hospitalization in the summer of 2012 for clinical depression,’’ said Richardson, who is a paraplegic and set up her cruise in collaboration with a March of Dimes group of about 12 others. The Weston woman was told by the U.S. agent she would have to get “medical clearance’’ and be examined by one of only three doctors in Toronto whose assessments are accepted by Homeland Security. She was given their names and told a call to her psychiatrist “would not suffice.’’

At the time, Richardson said, she was so shocked and devastated by what was going on, she wasn’t thinking about how U.S. authorities could access her supposedly private medical information.

If Homeland Security can get access to a Canadian woman’s confidential medical records, how easy do you think it is for them to get access to your Obamacare records?

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SpaceX has signed a contract with MDA to launch all three of Canada’s next generation Radarsat satellites.

The competition heats up: SpaceX has signed a contract with MDA to launch all three of Canada’s next generation Radarsat satellites.

MDA’s willingness to go with SpaceX prior to the September 5 launch of its Cassiope satellite on the Falcon 9 illustrates again the confidence they have in SpaceX. At the same time, this contract is for launches expected to occur around 2018, which is a long way away. Much can happen till then, including the possibility that SpaceX will go bust.

In other words, right now it is the successful launch of Falcon 9 that is of significance, not these new contracts. Only if those launches succeed will these contracts then become really significant.

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“This is the reason the U.S. has the right to bear arms.”

The words of a Canadian yesterday: “This is the reason the U.S. has the right to bear arms.”

The reason? The Mounties had been breaking into the homes of a town (evacuated due to flooding) and seizing firearms. When the residents found out about this they were not pleased.

Officers laid down a spike belt to stop anyone from attempting to drive past the blockade. That action sent the crowd of residents into a rage.

“What’s next? Tear gas?” shouted one resident. “It’s just like Nazi Germany, just taking orders,” shouted another. “This is the reason the U.S. has the right to bear arms,” said Charles Timpano, pointing to the group of Mounties.

Officers were ordered to fall back about an hour into the standoff in order to diffuse the situation and listen to residents’ concerns. [emphasis mine]

Obviously, the rage of the citizens had some positive effect, as it forced the police to fall back.

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Canada’s first earth observation radar satellite, Radarsat-1, went into safe mode more than a week ago and is not expected to recover.

Canada’s first earth observation radar satellite, Radarsat-1, went into safe mode more than a week ago and is not expected to recover.

Radarsat-1 was launched in 1995. Radarsat-2 was launched in 2007, so the older satellite was essentially a back-up anyway.

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“We’re just not interested in continuing to support bureaucracies and talkfests.”

Canada to the UN environmental movement: “We’re just not interested in continuing to support bureaucracies and talkfests.”

The country has pulled out of a UN program supposedly aimed at “combating desertification,” noting that

only 18% of the roughly CAD$350,000 per year that Canada contributed to the U.N. initiative is “actually spent on programming,” [Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper] told Parliament this week during question period. “The rest goes to various bureaucratic measures. … It’s not an effective way to spend taxpayers’ money.”

As is their normal approach to debate, there is a lot of wailing, gnashing of teeth, and name-calling among the environmentalists, but no substantive response to counter Harper’s point above.

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“The bear population is not in crisis as people believed.”

“The [polar] bear population is not in crisis as people believed.”

The number of bears along the western shore of Hudson Bay, believed to be among the most threatened bear subpopulations, stands at 1,013 and could be even higher, according to the results of an aerial survey released Wednesday by the Government of Nunavut. That’s 66 per cent higher than estimates by other researchers who forecasted the numbers would fall to as low as 610 because of warming temperatures that melt ice faster and ruin bears’ ability to hunt. The Hudson Bay region, which straddles Nunavut and Manitoba, is critical because it’s considered a bellwether for how polar bears are doing elsewhere in the Arctic. [emphasis mine]

The study here illustrates again the unreliability of another prediction by scientists advocating global warming. The polar bear population might be under threat, but the evidence so far doesn’t yet support that theory.

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Canada has joined the United States in raising objections to a planned $100-billion a year climate fund

The gravy train is ending: Canada has joined the United States in raising objections to a planned $100-billion a year climate fund.

I like this quote describing the U.S.’s objections:

Heading into the United Nations climate conference in Durban this week, the United States has made it clear it will not support the current proposals for the climate fund over concerns about how the money would be raised, lack of verification of how it is spent, and an unwillingness of major emerging countries to commit to legally binding emissions reduction. [emphasis mine]

Other than these minor points, everything about the fund is above board and legitimate.

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