Tag Archives: freedom

The ships of Hanjin six months after it went bankrupt

Real news: Six months ago the shipping company Hanjin went bankrupt, stranding its 96 container ships worldwide. This article takes a detailed look not only on what happened to those ships since, but also at the state of the entire shipping industry.

There was a time when Hanjin’s collapse in August and this follow-up story would have been major news stories, covered by all the leading mainstream press outlets. No more. Even though it indicates significant financial and economic trends that should concern anyone who is serious about being an educated citizen, the press doesn’t cover it, and the public today really doesn’t care.

Just another indicator that a new dark age is looming.

Violent rioters shut down free speech at UC-Berkeley

Jack-booted thugs: Violent protesters tonight shut down a speech by Breibart editor Milo Yiannopoulos tonight at UC-Berkeley, once home to the Free Speech movement of the 1960s.

Hundreds of protesters began throwing fireworks and pulling down metal barricades police set up to keep people from rushing into the student union building where Yiannopoulos had been scheduled to speak. Windows were smashed and fires were set outside the building on Sproul Plaza as masked protesters stormed it, and at 6 p.m., two hours before his speech was to begin, police decided to evacuate Yiannopoulos for his own safety. The protest later moved on to city streets, where storefront windows were smashed.

Berkeley police said three to four people were injured and some people, including a man who said he had hoped to see Yiannopoulos speak, were seen with their faces bloodied. There were no immediate reports of arrests.

Police said protesters threw bricks and fireworks at police officers. University police locked down all buildings and told people inside them to shelter in place, and later fired rubber pellets into the crowd of protesters who defied orders to leave the area. Police called in support from other law enforcement agencies and warned protesters that they might use tear gas.

These protesters are no different than Hitler’s brown-shirts, aimed at intimidating and hurting those they do not like. They have made it impossible for free speech to be exercised on American campuses. Worse, it is increasingly evident that the administrations at these universities are complicit in these protests by not taking sufficient action to stop them. If you are a donor to these universities, it is time you stopped giving them money. And if they depend on tax dollars, that money faucet should be shut off, immediately.

Russia proposes increased space cooperation with the U.S.

They need the money: At a science conference on Tuesday the Russian ambassador to the United States stated that his country would welcome increased space cooperation between the two countries.

“I think it would be premature for me to speculate as to whether this zone of overlapping interests will increase or decrease,” Kislyak said. “We haven’t heard a new policy yet from the United States.” He suggested, though, there may be opportunities for the countries to cooperate on NASA’s long-term plans for human Mars exploration. “That is moon exploration, which is very much on our agenda. It’s space medicine and many, many other issues,” he said. “Our programs are not identical, but there’s always been a lot of overlap that provides room for serious and significant cooperation.”

“If the U.S. government chooses programs that would be extending that kind of cooperation,” he added, “they will find us to be willing to work with you.”

As I said, they need the cash. They want to keep their space industry alive, but low oil prices combined with the corruption that has shut down their launch industry has left them very cash poor. A combined Russian/SLS/Orion project to the Moon would be very helpful for them.

ESA commits $91 million to reusable rocket engine development

The competition heats up? Despite a general lack of interest in reusability, the ESA has now committed $91 million to develop a new low cost prototype reusable rocket engine.

In an interview with SpaceNews, Airbus Safran Launchers CEO Alain Charmeau said FLPP is allocating 85 million euros ($91 million) to Prometheus to fund research and development leading to a 2020 test firing. Now that Prometheus is an ESA program, Charmeau expects more countries will get involved. “ESA will pay the contract to Airbus Safran Launchers and then Airbus Safran Launchers will cooperate with European industry, of course France and Germany, but we will have also contributions from Italy, Belgium, Sweden and probably a couple of others to a smaller extent,” Charmeau said.

This project reminds me of many NASA development projects. The agency spends the money to do a test firing, but the prototype is never used and gets abandoned as soon as the test is completed.

Things might change, however, come the 2020s. By then I think American companies will be quite successful in their effort to create reusable rockets, and that will leave Europe in the lurch competitively. Their solution at this time for combating that future competition however is not getting more competitive. Instead, as noted in the article at the link, Airbus Safran, the company building Ariane 6, wants the ESA to compel its members to use their rocket, regardless of cost.

How government wrecked the gas can

Link here. This story should not surprise you. More important however are the article’s concluding words:

Ask yourself this: If they can wreck such a normal and traditional item like this, and do it largely under the radar screen, what else have they mandatorily malfunctioned? How many other things in our daily lives have been distorted, deformed and destroyed by government regulations?

If some product annoys you in surprising ways, there’s a good chance that it is not the invisible hand at work, but rather the regulatory grip that is squeezing the life out of civilization itself.

Almost all of the petty technological annoyances we struggle with today are the result of foolish federal regulation.

Hat tip John Harman.

Almost 200 federal workers to take “civil disobedience” class

One hundred and eighty federal workers have signed up to take “civil disobedience” class on how to resist the Trump administration.

Dozens of federal workers have reportedly attended a support group for civil servants that serves as a forum for discussing opposition to the Trump administration. Some federal employees have already expressed defiance against the Trump administration following a gag order, which has since been lifted, that restricted the Environmental Protection Agency and departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services from contacting the press or posting about the administration on social media.

This will not end well for these federal workers, which in the long run will be good for the American public. These people are not qualified to work in the federal government, because they think they are there to tell us what to do, rather than work for the American taxpayer who pays their salary. They will “resist”, Trump will find out who they are, and then he will fire them.

The private weather industry moves forward

Link here. Key quote:

Early next month, aerospace start-up Spire Global of Glasgow, UK, will send a mini-satellite into space aboard an Indian government rocket. This ‘cubesat’ will join 16 others that are beaming a new type of atmospheric data back to Earth — and some scientists worry that such efforts are siphoning funding away from efforts to push forward the science of weather forecasting. Spire will begin providing observations to the US government on 30 April.

The probes track delays in radio signals from Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites as they pass through the atmosphere — a technique known as radio occultation. Researchers can use the data to create precise temperature profiles of the atmosphere to feed into weather-forecasting models — and eventually, perhaps, climate models.

Spire and its competitor GeoOptics of Pasadena, California, are participating in a pilot project announced in September by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is under pressure from the US Congress to determine whether it can cut costs by using commercial weather data. But scientists worry that such efforts are hampering the development of radio occultation. For years, they have sought federal funding for a project to advance the technique, but Spire and its competitors say they can offer high-quality data for a fraction of the price. [emphasis mine]

The quotes I have highlighted illustrate the hidebound leftist scientific opposition to introducing private enterprise into weather research. The article, published in the journal Nature, never once articulates in any way how these private efforts will hurt scientific research. What it does show is that the private effort will cost a tenth of the government effort while getting launched much faster. The money, however, will go to these private companies, and not the scientific factions that up until now have lived on the government money train.

The complaints here are the same as those I saw in NASA back about a decade ago when NASA first considered hiring private companies to provide it cargo to ISS. This is a turf war. NOAA is now being pressured by Congress to do the same: stop building big expensive weather satellites and buy the service for much less from the private sector. The scientific community sees this as a threat to its funding and is trying to stop it.

With Republicans controlling all three branches of the federal government I think this opposition will be fruitless, and we shall see the shift to private enterprise in weather data-gathering to accelerate.

SpaceX gets an eighth Iridium launch

The competition heats up: SpaceX has won a new launch contract, this time by launching both Iridium’s five satellites as well as the NASA/German Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission.

Both NASA and Iridium will save money by sharing the ride, while SpaceX gets more business.

Recovered Falcon 9 first stage prepped for launch

The competition heats up: SpaceX on Tuesday revealed that last week it has completed the standard static fire testing of the recovered Falcon 9 first stage that it plans to relaunch in March.

A March launch would mean an 11-month turnaround, which is far from optimal, but understandable for the first time. SpaceX’s founder and chief executive, Elon Musk, has acknowledged the company must do better in the future if resuable flight is to become economically viable. He says the next—and likely final—iteration of the Falcon 9 rocket will be optimized for reuse. “Block 5 is the final upgrade of the Falcon architecture,” he tweeted earlier this year. “Significantly improves performance & ease of reusability. Flies end of year.”

It now seems likely that SpaceX will fly the landed boosters it currently has, at most once or twice, before retiring them, instead of multiple times. Although the company hasn’t elaborated on the problems with the engines, booster structure, or composite materials that have shown wear and tear after their orbital launches and returns, Musk is confident that changes to the Block 5 version of the rocket will solve the problem. “I think the F9 boosters could be used almost indefinitely, so long as there is scheduled maintenance and careful inspections,” he has said.

In other words, SpaceX has had — for the first time in history — the opportunity to inspect a number of used first stage rockets, and that precious knowledge is making it possible for them to upgrade the stage design to make future stages more hardy. In fact, those future stages won’t be stages, but reusable vessels that SpaceX could even name if it wished.

Gorsuch picked by Trump for Supreme Court

President Trump tonight named Neil Gorsuch as his pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

My fear that Trump would go for the more moderate Thomas Hardiman has proven unfounded. Instead, this more conservative choice once again suggests that Trump is shifting increasingly to the right.

In fact, I think the insane and insulting attacks brought against Trump by the left have actually served to make him more conservative. As Rush Limbaugh noted today,

Would you like an illustration of what I mean by Donald Trump not being ideological and how it’s a problem? He understands he has opposition. How could he not? (chuckles) I mean, I’m sure he knows that he’s got opposition. Don’t misunderstand me, now. And I’m sure that he may have had his eyes opened about some of these people. In his mind, they’re Democrats. Liberal, conservative, that’s not in his lexicon, folks. I’m not offering this as a criticism. It’s just a truth. It’s something that, if you want to understand Trump, then there’s no better deconstructor of Trump and explainer of Trump who’s not in the inner circle than me.

All during the campaign I did my best to explain to everybody — leftists, media, conservative, Republicans, Never Trumpers — who Trump is, why Trump is, why Trump was winning, who Trump’s supporters are. And the thing that I kept saying is, “He’s not ideological.” So he knows he’s got opposition, he knows Democrats, and he’s probably had his eyes opened here. I’m sure that over the course of his life some of these people now calling him names trying to destroy him have been his friends. So his eyes are no doubt opened. I don’t doubt that.

When Trump first announced his candidacy, everything he did and said at that time fit with Limbaugh’s analysis, except that at the time I think Trump was much more middle of the road. I think he truly believed his liberal background working closely with Democrats would make them treat him decently. Instead, they have come at him guns blazing, calling him the worst sort of names, making the most vile accusations against him, and even attacking his family and his children.

The result? Trump has, as Limbaugh notes, had “his eyes opened.” He might not be a philosophical conservative, but more and more it appears that he recognizes the corrupt hate coming from the left, and is less and less inclined to give them an inch. Instead, he moves rightward. I also think this is the same pattern we are seeing nationwide among voters.

Right now the Democrats in the Senate look like they are planning to copy the strategy to try to block Trump’s Cabinet appointees used by Texas and Wisconsin Democrats in 2003 and 2011 respectively.

This is not the first time Democrats have blocked a Republican majority from proceeding by refusing to take their seats and thus denying Republicans a quorum. In 2003, 11 Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives literally fled the state for weeks in order to prevent a redistricting plan favored by Republicans. Eventually, one of them returned and the redistricting plan was passed. More recently, in 2011, Wisconsin Democrats fled to Illinois for three weeks to avoid a vote on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill because of provisions that were opposed by Wisconsin unions. However, the GOP-controlled legislature defeated the Democrats’ maneuvers by separating these bills from the budget and passing them separately.

In both cases, the Democrats not only failed to win, but their actions caused the voters to move to the right, voting in more Republicans and significantly reducing Democratic influence in both these states. With Wisconsin the result has been the shift of that state from a blue to a red state.

They say that Einstein called insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I think this nicely defines the Democratic Party these days.

A review of 2016 launches

Link here. The report essentially confirms my own conclusions that I posted several weeks ago. This new report however also looks at total payloads, something I had not done, and finds that though there was a decline in 2016 in the number of satellites launched, they expect that trend to end in 2017 with the continued growth in the smallsat industry.

Trump fires acting AG for refusing to defend his executive order on immigration

At last! President Trump this evening fired the acting attorney general because of her announcement earlier today saying that the Justice Department would not defend in court his executive order on immigration.

The Trump announcement:

The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.

Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.

It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.

Tonight, President Trump relieved Ms. Yates of her duties and subsequently named Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as Acting Attorney General until Senator Jeff Sessions is finally confirmed by the Senate, where he is being wrongly held up by Democrat senators for strictly political reasons.

For more than a quarter century I have watched Republican leaders back down the instant a Democrat whined at them. Every. single. time. This time is different. Trump is not a fearful politician. He is a businessmen, an executive, and someone who expects his employees to support his actions. My first reaction when I read Yates statement earlier today was, “Fire her!” I then laughed because I haven’t seen that common sense reaction from a Republican for decades. I have seen it now.

There is still no guarantee that Trump’s policies or actions are going to be very conservative. For example, the one person out of five listed for possible Supreme Court nominee that I have found very questionable has now risen to the top of the list. Yuch. Nonetheless, Trump seems determined to make significant and positive changes in a number of areas, from immigration to environmental policy and administration. If he only does these things, he will have accomplished much.

Update: State Department officials are putting together a memorandum that will announce their opposition to President Trump’s executive order on immigration. I wonder how long these individuals will survive working for Trump after they do this.

Iran tests ballistic missile despite UN ban

Does this make you feel safer? In direct defiance of a UN ban on such tests, Iran on Sunday completed a new test of a medium range ballistic missile.

The Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile flew 600 miles before exploding, in a failed test of a reentry vehicle, officials said. Iran defense minister Brigadier Gen. Hossein Dehqan said in September that Iran would start production of the missile.

I am very curious what Trump will do to try to rein in Iran. I suspect his options will be as limited as Obama’s were, except that he is not likely to sign any make-believe nuclear deals, as Obama did.

Next Falcon 9 launch delayed as SpaceX rearranges manifest

Because the launchpad at Kennedy is not quite ready for the planned February 3 launch of a commercial satellite, SpaceX has rearranged its launch manifest to switch that launch with the next Dragon mission to ISS, essentially delaying their next launch by two weeks.

With [launchpad] 39A still not ready to debut in its new role with SpaceX, the first mission set to launch from this pad – the Falcon 9 launch with EchoStar 23 – was pushed to the right a number of times. Although 39A is very close to being ready to conduct launches, EchoStar 23’s launch date was deemed to be too close to the mid-February target for the CRS-10 Dragon mission.

SpaceX and NASA discussed the situation on Friday night, before deciding it would be prudent to place EchoStar 23’s launch after CRS-10, allowing engineers to finalize modification and checkout work on the famous pad and simultaneously avoid a potential delay to the important Dragon mission to the Station.

The real problem here is that SpaceX had planned to have two working launchpads by this time, but doesn’t because their first pad was damaged in the September 1 Falcon 9 launchpad explosion. The consequences is that, for at least the next month, they will not be able to set a pace of a launch every two weeks.

Trump’s top five picks for Supreme Court

Link here. The author argues, that though some of these individuals have made decisions that some conservatives dislike, their general philosophical and analytical approach to their court decisions make them all strong conservative picks.

I’ve spent the better part of a week researching many of their writings and talking to stalwart constitutionalist leaders about them. All of them are clearly textualist-originalists to a degree Chief Justice Roberts never appeared to be, even when many on the right were applauding Roberts’ 2006 nomination due to his clear sense of one sort of judicial “restraint” and generally conservative political leanings.

Sure, these judges may reach differing conclusions from each other in particular cases, but these will likely be with the infrequency and integrity of, say, the occasional differences between Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Justice Antonin Scalia. What’s important is that each one of them is clear and forthright in applying the same basic method of analyzing each case — namely, by hewing closely to the facts at hand, and carefully considering those facts in light of the exact language of the statutes and/or Constitution (whichever applies) relevant to that case.

All of them do so while clearly operating from a legal-philosophical framework/understanding very much in line with the philosophies so well explained in the seminal Federalist Papers that explained how and why our Constitution was designed as it was.

If that honest decision-making process sometimes leads to individual case results that do not comport to the policy preferences of a subset of conservatives, so be it. The real safeguard for our liberties lies in that analytical process undertaken by those well steeped in a Federalist-paper worldview. The reality is that in the vast majority of cases, the right constitutional approach will lend aid to the right policy results, because the Constitution and conservative policies both tend toward limited government, maximum liberty under straightforward law, and a respect for the realms in which traditional institutions of family and faith are honored and cherished. For every policy disappointment that might result from such an approach to constitutional jurisprudence, surely 15 or 20 policy triumphs will occur. [emphasis in original]

While I agree with the author in general, his discussion of one particular candidate, Thomas Hardiman, did nothing for me. Based on what I read, Hardiman is now my least favored choice among the names Trump is considering.

Regardless, read it all. The article indicates once again that while Trump might have once been a liberal Democrat, his leanings now are increasingly in a conservative direction.

Trump “clamp down” no different than past transitions

It seems that the so-called clamp down on press releases and announcement by the Trump administration is not that unusual and is actually comparable to what was done when Obama took power.

The memo at the USDA was especially routine, despite the reports.

Similar news came out about a “gag order” for a small branch of the Department of Agriculture, which led to Buzzfeed to report “USDA Scientists Have Been Put On Lockdown Under Trump.” “Starting immediately and until further notice” the Agricultural Research Service “will not release any public-facing documents,” reads the memo obtained by Buzzfeed. The memo was rescinded Tuesday after a media firestorm.

But Trump never ordered the “lockdown.” In fact, the memo to USDA researches was sent by Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack, President Obama’s appointee. “This memo is not some sort of creative writing exercise,” Michael Young, acting deputy secretary of the Agriculture Department, told NYT. “This is almost exactly what was issued eight years ago. I just updated it a bit.”

As much as I want such a clamp down, especially for those agencies that have become badly politicized, it does appear that the only thing happening here is a bit of panic by the left, by the media (I repeat myself), and by some federal workers. Essentially, they are squealing like pigs out of fear that they will no longer have their way, and the press is picking up the oinks and running with it.

Trump threatens to “send in the Feds” to control Chicago violence

Not good: In a tweet late Tuesday President Trump threatened to send federal officials to Chicago if that city doesn’t do something to reduce its out-of-control homicide rates.

No one knows what Trump really meant, since this was merely a tweet on Twitter, but to suggest that he thinks the federal government has a place fixing local police crime is very inappropriate. Even if the federal government succeeded once in shutting down Chicago’s crime rate, it would set a bad precedent, expanding terribly the power of the federal government into very local matters.

Trump has enough problems to fix at the federal level, in his own executive branch. He should stay focused on that.

Giant networks of fake twitter users discovered

Why I don’t use Twitter: Researchers have discovered the existence of large networks of fake twitter accounts, some numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

The largest network ties together more than 350,000 accounts and further work suggests others may be even bigger. UK researchers accidentally uncovered the lurking networks while probing Twitter to see how people use it. Some of the accounts have been used to fake follower numbers, send spam and boost interest in trending topics.

What this story tells me is that almost everything you read from Twitter is not to be trusted.

Google Lunar X-Prize finalists named

The competition heats up: The five finalists for the Google Lunar X-Prize have now been set.

Five teams remain in the running: Israel’s SpaceIL, Florida-based Moon Express, an international team known as Synergy Moon, India’s Team Indus and Japan’s Hakuto.

SpaceIL plans to fly on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which recently returned to flight following a launch pad accident. Team Indus and Hakuto will share a ride on an Indian PSLV launcher. Moon Express is banking on a launch from startup Rocket Lab, which is developing a small rocket called Electron. Whether it wins the XPrize or not, Moon Express is building a business to provide lunar transportation and services, such as research and mineral extraction, Chief Executive Bob Richards said in an interview. Synergy Moon is counting on one of its partners, Mojave, Calif.-based Interorbital Systems, for its launch aboard a new rocket known as Neptune.

To win, one of these teams must fly its mission before the end of 2017.

A 1960 Soviet-era vision of the U.S.S.R. in 2017

Link here. As noted at the link:

In 1960, V. Strukova and V. Shevchenko wrote a story, illustrated by L. Smekhov, about the Soviet Union in 2017. The date was not fortuitously chosen– it marked the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution that brought the Communists to power. The authors believed that people in 2017 would be fortunate to live in a world liberated by Soviet science, where the climate could be controlled, the flow of the northern rivers could be controlled, and Alpha Centauri was a flight destination. The Moscow-based newspaper The Moscow Times described as follows Strukova and Shevchenkos’s story: “A hundred years ago, the men and women who brought Communism to the Tsarist Empire had big plans. Decades into that experiment, the U.S.S.R. was leading the world’s ‘Space Race’ and it seemed there was nothing the country couldn’t do. In 1960, the Soviet movie studio ‘Diafilm’ released a filmstrip titled ‘In the Year 2017,’ by V. Strukova and V. Shevchenko, depicting a vision of the U.S.S.R. set 57 years in the future.

While the story, with illustrations, is essentially a pro-Soviet science fiction tale written for school children, it still expresses the boundless hope for the future that filled the cultures of both the Soviet Union and the United States at that time. All dreams were possible, and given time all would come true.

This historical piece however does illustrate again the tragic but consistent failure of communism and socialist thought, wherever it has been tried. The Soviet culture of Russia dreamed big, and did accomplish much, but they were crippled by a political and economic system that guaranteed bankruptcy, leading to the collapse of that system well before its 100th anniversary.

It is a continuing tragedy that so many people today continue to believe in that system, even after so many failures.

Project Veritas videos lead to one arrest

The undercover videos released last week by Project Veritas, showing evidence that anti-Trump protesters were planning violent acts of terrorism during the Trump inauguration, have now led to one arrest.

More important, the police think the videos acted to stop much of the mayhem the protesters were planning.

A D.C. police spokesman has confirmed that a secret video recording made Dec. 18 by one of O’Keefe’s operatives led to the arrest of one man and foiled an alleged plot to spread acid at the DeploraBall for Trump supporters at the National Press Club. It was not clear whether the alleged plotters ever obtained the acid.

Law enforcement authorities said they think that the successful penetration of DisruptJ20, an umbrella organization for a number of groups that police said sought to wreak havoc at the inauguration, forced it to abandon plans to try to shut down Metro trains and block entrances into the District, according to two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation.

The police are also looking for two other men on the videos.

Trump shuts down public communications at numerous federal agencies

As part of their effort to gain control of the executive branch, the new Trump administration has ordered a range of federal agencies to cease all press releases and other forms of public communications.

New restrictions on social media use and interaction with press and lawmakers at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services, Agriculture and the Interior have sparked concerns of a President Trump-backed effort to silence dissenting views.

The Trump administration’s newly imposed communications rules vary at different agencies. At the EPA, staffers were ordered to stop issuing press releases, blog updates and social media posts, according to a memo to employees. The Agriculture Department’s research arm was reportedly told by its chief of staff to stop issuing news releases, photos and other “public-facing” documents — although the agency disavowed the order late Tuesday, saying that new guidance would replace it.

The new prohibitions come as Trump seeks to reverse many of former President Barack Obama’s policies, which requires the cooperation of a federal workforce that is broadly perceived to be hostile to him.

As is typical for an article written by a mainstream Washington news outlet, the story does whatever it can to take the side of these federal employees, all of whom work for us and for the President. They don’t have a say in this. If they don’t like Trump’s policies, then they can quit and find jobs in some leftwing Democratic political organization, not paid for by tax dollars.That is their right, just as it is Trump’s right to clamp down on their leftwing advocacy.

Or they can be fired, as will likely happen to many managers at the National Park Service, based on the following quotes from the article:

In an apparent act of defiance, the official Twitter account for Badlands National Park in South Dakota on Tuesday afternoon posted information about climate change.

And this:

The moves come after Trump was reportedly infuriated over reporting on the turnout at his inauguration, which included a viral photo comparison showing Friday’s crowd next to the one that attended Obama’s 2009 swearing-in. The tweet was retweeted by the National Park Service (NPS).

In the first case whoever runs the official Twitter National Park service account at Badlands acted in outright defiance of his employer, certain grounds for firing anywhere in the real world. In the second case the Park Service very clearly was pushing a political agenda, something that is none of their business, and also justifiable grounds for dismissal.

Then again, the management at the National Park Service has been working for the Democratic Party and its political goals for years. Firing the entire upper management there would probably be entirely appropriate, even if they didn’t do something defiant at this particular moment.

Major budget cuts and agency eliminations coming from Trump?

It appears that the first budget Trump administration is putting together will include some dramatic budget cuts and the outright elimination of many government agencies, and are based on numerous recommendations made by a variety of conservative policy proposals.

Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years. The proposed cuts hew closely to a blueprint published last year by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a think tank that has helped staff the Trump transition. Similar proposals have in the past won support from Republicans in the House and Senate, who believe they have an opportunity to truly tackle spending after years of warnings about the rising debt. Many of the specific cuts were included in the 2017 budget adopted by the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), a caucus that represents a majority of House Republicans. The RSC budget plan would reduce federal spending by $8.6 trillion over the next decade.

Read the article. I can’t quote it all here, but the cuts would dramatically weaken the Washington leftwing community’s ability to push its agenda. More important, the generally conservative make-up of Congress means that, for the first time in decades there is a real chance these cuts will happen.

Trump’s 1st NASA appointees suggest future policy

A memo released January 20 from NASA’s acting administrator accepting the job also announced the first Trump appointees to NASA. The history and policy positions of those two appointees I think once again give us a very clear indication of where NASA might be going in the coming years.

[Acting administrator Robert] Lightfoot, in the memo, said that the administration has appointed Erik Noble to serve as White House senior advisor and Greg Autry to be White House liaison. The two are the first members of the so-called “beachhead team” of administration staffers assigned to NASA, at least on a short-term basis.

Autry is an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California who has been a proponent of commercial space activities. Autry was one of eight members of the agency review team, or “landing team,” assigned to NASA by the transition office of then President-elect Trump.

Noble did not serve on the landing team, but worked on the Trump campaign as a political data analyst. Noble, who earned a Ph.D. in environmental studies from the University of Colorado, spent seven years at the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York, working on weather and climate models. [emphasis mine]

Autry, believes strongly in private space, and has also been a critic of SLS/Orion. Being placed at NASA as Trump’s first appointee strongly suggests that a Trump administration is going to accelerate the commercial space push that was begun by the Bush administration and then strongly supported by the Obama administration. It also suggests that the SLS and Orion projects are going to face a difficult future and will likely be phased out.

Noble’s appointment is more important. As a former scientist at the Goddard Institute, he is now well positioned to possibly appoint a new head to that organization, or even become its head himself. The present person in charge there, Gavin Schmidt, has increasingly become suspect as a scientist, instead appearing more as global warming political advocate. Since he took over that Institute, the climate data there has been increasingly tampered with, with past data being cooled and recent data being warmed, thus creating the impression that the Earth’s climate has been warming more than indicated by all previous research. Schmidt’s explanations for these “adjustments” (the term he uses) have never been satisfactory. He then uses the results from these “adjustments” to make annual press releases declaring each year as the “hottest” ever, though the raw data shows no such thing.

Even if Noble does not replace Schmidt, Noble appears well positioned to force Schmidt to either finally justify his data adjustments, or remove them from the data stream so that the raw data will be allowed to dominate policy decisions once again.

Anti-Trump protesters riot in DC

Fascists: Anti-Trump rotesters from the same coalition that Project Veritas taped planning violence in DC on inauguration day are now rioting and committing violence in DC on inauguration day.

The violence includes blocking roads, checkpoints, breaking windows, and setting fires, among other nasty behavior. The link provides a nice roundup, with videos.

Note that I call these protesters fascists not because the oppose Trump, but because they are willing to commit violence against him and his supporters, merely because they disagree. Note too that I myself would even support such violence, if a president started abusing the consitutional rights of citizens and begin ruling like a dictator. So far, however, no one has the right to accuse Trump of doing this, as there is zero evidence of him being anything more than a moderate liberal who appears to be shifting rightward as he ages.

One more point: These protesters are probably doing more to encourage a second Trump term than they can imagine. They are revealing their fascist nature for all to see. And I strongly believe that most Americans will be turned off by this.

Posted from lovely McCarran airport in Las Vegas, where I am stuck for an extra hour because of weather delays.

SpaceX prepares used 1st stage for February launch

The competition heats up: Even as SpaceX moves forward on an intense launch schedule, with launches planned for January 26 and February 8, it has begun preparations for a late February commercial launch that will be the first to reuse a first stage.

The first stage assigned to SES 10’s launch first flew April 8, 2016, with a Dragon supply ship on a logistics launch to the International Space Station. After detaching from the Falcon 9’s second stage, which continued into orbit, the 15-story first stage booster descended to a vertical landing on SpaceX’s offshore platform a few minutes after liftoff, making the first time the company recovered a rocket intact at sea.

The landing on SpaceX’s barge, or drone ship, last April came four months after the first-ever touchdown of a Falcon 9 first stage on land at Cape Canaveral. That vehicle is now on display outside SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

This pace is calling for a launch every two weeks. It will spectacular if SpaceX can keep that up, but such a pace is not really unprecedented. The Soviets at their height managed it at times quite successfully.

Boeing obtains available seats on Soyuz as result of Sea Launch settlement

As part of Boeing’s settlement with Russia over the break-up of their Sea Launch partnership, the company has obtained rights to several manned Soyuz seats that are available because the Russians have cut back on the number of astronauts they are flying to ISS.

In turn, Boeing is offering these seats to NASA.

[John Elbon, vice president and general manager of space exploration at Boeing] said he expects NASA to make enter into negotiations with Boeing about the 2017 and 2018 seats shortly after a Jan. 27 deadline for companies to respond to the sources sought statement, a requirement when a government agency proposes a sole-source procurement. “Assuming that goes well, I think we would sit down and, in relatively short order, negotiate the details of this kind of arrangement,” he said.

He didn’t specify how much Boeing was proposing to charge NASA for the seats. The agency announced an agreement with Roscosmos in August 2015 for six Soyuz seats in 2018 at a total cost of $490 million, or $81.7 million per seat. “It’s a good value for NASA and the taxpayer,” Elbon said of Boeing’s proposed deal with NASA. “We wouldn’t ask them to pay more than they would have been paying before.”

What is happening here is that Boeing is trying to use these Soyuz seats as a way to recoup its losses from Sea Launch. The problem is that NASA doesn’t really need the manned flights in 2017 and 2018. They might need them in 2019, should the manned capsules that SpaceX and Boeing are building get delayed, but I am not sure that this deal will allow them to be used at that time.

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