Tag Archives: journalism

Pan Am Boeing 707 – 1965 Emergency Landing

An evening pause: This television news report about a 1965 near disaster where a Pan American passenger jet’s engine and wing fall off and the captain brings everything down safely is fascinating to watch, partly because of the live action footage taken by one passenger, but also at how television news has evolved since then, for the worse. This 1965 report has no shots a newsperson standing in front of the camera telling us what happened, as is typical today. Instead, the filming focuses on the events and the witnesses themselves, and lets them tell the story in as straight-forward a manner as possible.

Hat tip Mike Nelson.

Heart risks from secondhand smoke completely bogus

The uncertainty of science: New more carefully done research now proves that secondhand smoke from smoking does almost nothing to increase the risk of heart disease.

In the early 2000s, as jurisdictions across the country fought over expanding smoking bans to bars and restaurants, anti-smoking advocates seized on the Helena study and related research showing that secondhand smoke exposure can affect coronary functions to promote fear of secondhand smoke. Groups across the country stated that “even half an hour of secondhand smoke exposure causes heart damage similar to that of habitual smokers.” Not to be outdone, the Association for Nonsmokers in Minnesota wrote in a press release that just 30 seconds of exposure could “make coronary artery function of non-smokers indistinguishable from smokers.” The message to nonsmokers was clear: The briefest exposure to secondhand smoke can kill you.

A decade later, comprehensive smoking bans have proliferated globally. And now that the evidence has had time to accumulate, it’s also become clear that the extravagant promises made by anti-smoking groups—that implementing bans would bring about extraordinary improvements in cardiac health—never materialized. Newer, better studies with much larger sample sizes have found little to no correlation between smoking bans and short-term incidence of heart attacks, and certainly nothing remotely close to the 60 percent reduction that was claimed in Helena. The updated science debunks the alarmist fantasies that were used to sell smoking bans to the public, allowing for a more sober analysis suggesting that current restrictions on smoking are extreme from a risk-reduction standpoint.

As almost always happens, the people pushing for the ban really weren’t that interested in protecting people’s health. They might have thought so, but in reality what they were really interested in was exerting their power over others, banning smoking and telling everyone else how to live their lives.

Read the whole article. It is very damning, and illustrates again why it is very important to not pass laws quickly based on some preliminary scientific results. Care must be taken, and patience is required. The science is never clear right from the beginning, especially on complex issues like climate and the health effects involving large numbers of people.

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.

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.

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.

Utah climate scientists whine about possible NASA cuts

The squealing of pigs: In the kind of journalistic pro-government spending propaganda that I despise, the Salt Lake Tribune today published this article giving climate scientists in their local area a platform to lobby the public in favor of their NASA funding.

The article provides a quick quote from a Trump campaign official noting their strong hostility to the politicization of climate research, and then spends the rest of the article allowing scientist after scientist to condemn that position and to defend that spending, repeatedly implying that should the NASA cuts go through, the research will end and even possibly that access to the data from NASA climate satellites will be denied to the public and to the scientists. At no time does the article provide any thoughtful information to explain that Trump administration perspective, which is based on some reasonable and very justifiable concerns.

I note this article as a warning. Expect more of this very bad journalism. Most of the press are blindly liberal and Democratic Party partisans. They are going to work blindly with the climate community to help them defend their funding, without the slightest effort at objective reporting. The public should be aware of this, and see this political lobbying for what it is.

The real margin of error for polls

In my daily scanning of the news, looking for stories that are both educational as well as entertaining, I came across this particular post: “WATCH – This Viral Video Perfectly Illustrates Why Americans Don’t Trust the Lamestream Media”.

The title is typical click-bait, hinting at something truly revealing that nine times out of ten turns out to be immensely disappointing. This time, however, I found that the post revealed a lie about political polls, almost as an aside, that is simply never noted.

The video itself is entertaining. It shows one particularly bad performance by a MSNBC political reporter, where in only about five minutes he used NBC polls to make a string of predictions about the presidential election, every single one of which turned out to be spectacularly wrong. I’ve embedded the video below the fold for your enjoyment.

What the post however noted that I found revealing was something else:

After all, these were NBC polls that Kornacki cited time and time again. Polls that showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump in places like North Carolina, Georgia, and Ohio. The polls were terribly off-base. In some cases, the NBC numbers showed Clinton with a double-digit lead in states that she went on to lose. In other words, the polls were not by any means scientific, fair, or truthful.

Does the phrase “margin of error” ring a bell? Typically, it is between three and four percent, in order to be deemed usable, anyway. But NBC’s margin of error in Pennsylvania was 11 percent. [emphasis mine]

In the past decade or so political polls have routinely included what they call their “margin of error,” which generally for most polls ranges, as noted above, about three to four percent. This number is, and has always been a lie, however, as shown by the highlighted text. The real margin of error is the difference between what the poll predicted and what the actual results were. And for all of these NBC polls, the margin of error was not 3 to 4 percent, but anywhere from 11 to 30 percent!

In other words, these polls were worthless. Worse, they suggest some intentional manipulation, as they all made their error in only one direction (against Trump and for Clinton), much like the tampered global temperature data that we see coming from NASA and NOAA. It could be that there is confirmation bias going on here, producing results these liberal news outlets wish, but I do not think so. NBC, and its sister station MSNBC, have repeatedly in the past five years committed some egregious journalist frauds, all of which designed to make conservatives and Republicans look bad and to promote the interests of the Democratic Party. The network has made no moves to correct the problems. Nor has it fired anyone.

I think it very reasonable to suspect intentional fraud here, specifically aimed at helping the Democrats.

More important, this story illustrates why we should all laugh uproariously the next time we see a mainstream media journalist note pompously that the poll he or she is citing has a margin of error of 3%. He or she either doesn’t know what they are talking about, or they know very well and think you are too stupid to notice.
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Why we have Trump

Link here. The post provides an excellent selection of some of the more memorable and egregious performances by the arrogant press, insulting and attacking and making fun of the tea party protesters. As the author notes,

Dear Media. Psst. Pay deadly-close attention here, for this is nearly the whole game that lost it for you:

1) pols made statements about a new policy to help it pass.
2) policy passed.
3) public discovered the policy was not as described. In a really bad way.
4) pols laughed at the public for believing them in the first place.
5) public learned its lesson, and acted accordingly.

Media: remember who was cheerleading and protecting the politicians who were enacting ACA? Remember who was vilifying those making good faith arguments against it? Defaming them as racists? It was you. And we all remember being lied to by you, too.

When you weren’t simply mocking us.

And this is how you got Trump.

The post ends with a few links to just a few of the Obama administration’s worst power grabs and fascist attacks on citizens, including the Gibson guitar raid and the IRS harassment, both of which the mainstream press either ignored or worked to embargo so that no one would know they happened.

The science lobby looks at Trump’s pick for Health Secretary

Link here. The Nature article clearly takes a partisan and opposition view of Trump’s pick, Congressman Tom Price (R-Georgia). Nonetheless, it does give good insight into Price himself. I especially like this quote, used by Nature to imply that Price is somehow hostile to science:

But Price’s stance on biomedical research issues is harder to parse. He has taken few public positions on science, but has consistently pushed to cut overall federal spending. Last year, he voted against a bill that would overhaul FDA regulations and provide US$8.75 billion in mandatory funding to the NIH over five years.

Price also opposes President Barack Obama’s proposed $755-million Cancer Moonshot, which seeks to double the pace of cancer research over the next decade. “We’re all in favour of increasing funding for cancer research,” Price told STAT News in January. “The problem that the administration has is that they always want to add funding on, they never want to decrease funding somewhere else. That’s what needs to happen.” [emphasis mine]

There was once a time where Price’s approach would have been considered plain common sense. In today’s mad leftwing world however the idea that resources are not unlimited and that people have to make careful choices is considered evil and anti-science.

Expect these kinds of attacks to continue nonstop throughout the entire Trump administration, especially if that administration and Congress continue to push for a bit of restraint on budget issues. This is what happened during Reagan’s first term in the 1980s. The result was that eventually Reagan was never able to trim costs or eliminate any federal agencies, as the attacks caused many of his more radical cabinet picks to resign and the Republicans in Congress to eventually back down.

Today, however, things are different in one major way. Then, there was no alternative to the liberal press. Today, there are such alternatives. Moreover, the bias of the liberal press today is much more evident. Many more people recognize it, and do not take their howls of indignation as seriously. If Trump and the Republicans have some courage and do not back down, they can win this battle. All it will take is some courage. We shall see if they have it.

The worst fake news stories in the past few decades

And these faked stories are all from the mainstream leftwing press, CBS, NBC, New York Times, Rolling Stone, Washington Post, New Republic, and MSNBC.

The NBC corporation is an especially bad player here. Worse, their behavior has been specifically aimed at fueling a race war. In one case, they claimed that the Tea Party movement was made up of white racists and thus dangerous to blacks, and to prove it they showed an image of the rifle slung over the back of a Tea Party protester. The trouble was that they specifically framed the image to hide the fact that the protester was black. Then NBC deliberately edited the recording of George Zimmerman’s conversation with 911 to make him sound racist. It was a lie, as were all these stories.

What makes NBC the worst is that they have made no effort to fix the problem. They not only haven’t punished or fired anyone, they keep doing it again and again.

For this network or any of these mainstream leftist outlets to now complain about “fake news” is the height of absurdity. What they are really doing is trying to discredit alternative news sources that have actually been reporting the news better than them. They don’t like the competition, both financially and politically.

A list of potential Trump cabinet picks

Link here.

As is usual, the bankrupt press didn’t do this work before the election, when it might have helped voters make their decisions. I tried to dig out some of this beforehand, and was somewhat successful, but I wish I could have seen lists like this prior to election day.

The list is interesting in that it includes an incredible range of political positions. For example, the three names touted for Secretary of State, John Bolton, Senator Bob Corker, and Newt Gingrich, cover the full political range. Bolton would be a solid conservative hawk, as would Gingrich. Corker however was instrumental in making Obama’s bad Iran nuclear deal possible, and would end up more or less continuing Obama’s foreign policy at State. All three, however, have previously been mentioned as possible choices, so as of this moment we still do not know where Trump will be going in this area.

I see the same political range in other positions as well. Even though the list leans heavily to the right, until Trump announces some appointments, we will not really know the direction his administration will take.

Jury rules against Rolling Stone in gang rape story

A jury today declared Rolling Stone magazine guilty of defamation in its retracted and debunked University of Virginia gang rape story.

The 10 member jury concluded that the Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was responsible for defamation, with actual malice, in the case brought by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. administrator who oversaw sexual violence cases at the time of the article’s publication. The jury also found the magazine and its publisher responsible for defaming Eramo.

The $7.5 million lawsuit centered on Erdely’s 9,000-word article titled “A Rape on Campus.” The article appeared online in late Nov. 2014 and on newsstands in the magazine’s December 2014 issue. The story opened with a graphic depiction of a fraternity gang rape that went viral online and sent shock waves across the U-Va. campus community. But within days of the article’s publication, key elements of the account fell apart under scrutiny. The magazine eventually retracted the story in April 2015.

The magazine and the reporter had a leftwing feminist agenda, centered on confirming the false leftwing narrative that rapes were rampant on college campuses and that oppressive anti-female male-dominated administrations were doing nothing about it. This narrative is entirely false, a lie created to provide a platform for the left to gain power. The magazine though bought into it, publishing a vicious story that was a complete lie and that defamed a lot of innocent people. As a result it now faces the strong possibility that this decision will bring about its bankruptcy, a bankruptcy well deserved.

Clinton put State Department up for sale

New emails reveal that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton used her position as Secretary of State to pass out favors in exchange for donations to her foundation.

The facts are very welled documented here. Hillary Clinton wasn’t interested in acting as Secretary of State. She was interested in garnering cash donations for herself and Bill Clinton, and used her position of power to hand out favors for those donations.

But don’t worry! Our valiant press is on the ball, screaming about petty miscues by Donald Trump that mean nothing, are taken badly out of context, and are largely irrelevant to the kind of President he might be. That the Democrat running against him is a proven liar, law-breaker, and incredibly corrupt is just not important to them. All that matters is that she is a Democrat, and part of their team!

Which by the way should give us all a bit of a pause to consider how dishonest, illegal, and corrupt the entire elite culture of the U.S. has likely become. As I said, Clinton is part of their team.

“News Media Now Giving Trump the ‘Full Palin.’”

Working for the Democratic Party: The expected full-media assault on the Republican Party candidate has begun. As the author at the link notes,

There have been few conservatives who have been more critical of Trump since the start of this insane campaign than me, and he deserves every bit of condemnation he has gotten for needlessly mishandling the Khan situation. However, there is also no doubt that the media became obsessed with the story because they want Trump to lose, got a bit freaked out about his very temporary convention bounce, and smelled blood.

Hillary, while she is less likely to be stupid enough to so publicly take on the parents of a fallen war hero, would also never have been lured by the media into the conflict to the extent Trump was. If she had somehow stepped in it, the news media would have let it go far sooner than they did for Trump (for instance, how many voters are even aware of the controversy over her basically calling some family members of Benghazi victims liars?).

This story has seemed to open the floodgates now on Trump in much the same way that the infamous Katie Couric interview did with regards to Sarah Palin in 2008. Now, everything Trump says seems to be instant fodder for the media’s intensified “gaffe watch.”

It is very important to recognize one more additional fact: Any Republican candidate would have been treated this way by the now openly partisan and decidedly bankrupt mainstream media. The question now is whether the low-information public has finally become aware of this game.

More Junk Science and Journalism

I can’t stand it. I just can’t stand it. It keeps happening and I just can’t stand it.

Yesterday there was this absurd short news piece posted on the website of the so-called journal Science, “Apollo astronauts much more likely to die from heart disease”. describing a research paper published by one of Nature’s side journals, Scientific Reports. Before I even looked at the story I said to myself, “How can they possibly come to that conclusion considering the tiny number of humans who have ever traveled beyond Earth orbit? The sample will simply be too small to allow for any such finding.”

Then I looked at the article and found my instincts confirmed. As Steve Milloy noted on his very aptly named website, Junk Science,

Yes, the result is based on a total of three (3) cases of heart disease deaths of out seven (7) Apollo astronauts. Past the vanishingly small sample size and even smaller number of cases, heart disease is a natural disease of aging and the Apollo lunar astronauts were 10 years older than the other comparison groups.

To put it more bluntly, this was a garbage piece of very bad science. While it was somewhat embarrassing for a Nature journal to publish it, it was far more disgraceful for the journal Science to highlight it. I, however, don’t have to join these two peer-review journals and participate in their stupidity, and thus I made no mention of the story on Behind the Black, because it is my policy to not waste much time on bad science, unless I think that bad science is going to have bad repercussions.

Well the bad repercussions have arrived. Since yesterday, the following so-called news organizations have run with this story, without the slightest indication that they have faintest understanding of science, statistics, or plain common sense:
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The pro-Clinton mainstream media, challenged by one guy with a camera

The video I have posted below the fold, posted at this link, was taken outside the convention after Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton.

[O]nce Bernie Sanders endorsed Secretary Clinton via a rules change request throwing all delegate votes to Hillary, the vast majority of movement democrats left the arena. Immediately following the roll call vote, the DNC quickly moved to bar any pro-Sanders signage from the venue. Anyone holding Sanders signs was warned they were subject to forced removal and loss of convention credentials. Outside the arena the Bernie Sanders supporters gathered to voice their protest to the strong arm tactics. [emphasis in original]

The video shows a pro-Clinton (and former Sanders) delegate talking to the press about how wrong the Sanders protesters are. As he talks he is challenged by one of those protesters, who loudly disagrees with him.

What the video shows clearly is that the mainstream press is only interested in recording and interviewing the pro-Clinton guy. In fact, when the guy taking this video begins to note loudly this obvious bias to everyone (beginning at around 1:50), the press suddenly realizes how biased they look and some make a half-hearted effort to make believe they are interested in talking to the Sanders protester.

What I find most significant about this video, and quite entertaining, is how it demonstrates how completely useless today’s mainstream press is, and how that press is increasingly losing all influence because the general public has access to many other lone guys with a camera, videotaping events and showing us what is really happening.

In other words, don’t depend on just television news for your information. You will not only be uninformed, you will be misinformed.

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A good summary of the Wikileaks DNC emails

Link here. This Reddit post essential lists several dozen links to specific DNC emails at the Wikileaks site, all illustrating some pretty unsavory behavior by Democratic Party officials and politicians as well as a number of so-called journalists.

Many of these stories are simply the ordinary dirty business of politics, laid bare to see. Others though reveal the significant levels of corruption that permeate the Democratic Party, levels I think that far worse than anything one could find among the Republicans, bad as that party’s leadership happens to be.

Above all, the emails that document the close teamwork between the press and the Democratic Party are probably the most important. It is not that this is surprising. The emails merely prove it beyond a shadow of doubt. MSNBC and its head Phil Griffin especially are revealed to be nothing more than Democratic operatives, working closely with the DNC to push its agenda.

The American Revolution, as reported by modern reporters

To better understand how the teaching of American history is being distorted by modern leftist historians, one need only read this description of the beginnings of the American Revolution, written as it almost certainly would be by today’s ignorant and leftwing anti-American journalists:

Boston – National Guard units seeking to confiscate a cache of recently banned assault weapons were ambushed by elements of a Para-military extremist faction. Military and law enforcement sources estimate that 72 were killed and more than 200 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.

Speaking after the clash, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage declared that the extremist faction, which was made up of local citizens, has links to the radical right-wing tax protest movement.

Read it all. It will sound sadly very familiar.

Space reporter banned from space news website

Petty fascism: Doug Messier, who runs the excellent space news website Parabolic Arc, which I link to periodically, has been banned from posting comments on another generally excellent space news website, NASASpaceflight.com

To quote his website:

I just got banned from the NasaSpaceflight forums with this little message from little Andy.

“Sorry parabolicarc, you are banned from using this forum! Please use your own site to post what your “sources” are telling you. Too many people are sick of you using this site to spread rumors. Andy.

This ban is not set to expire.”

Doug is also the reporter with whom I and many other commenters at Behind the Black had a long, passioned but intelligent debate about global warming. As much as I might disagree with him on that subject, I find it baffling that any space website would ban him from commenting, especially since his reporting on space has been impeccably accurate and hard-hitting.

In a sense, this ban is just another example of how too many Americans can no longer deal with debate and opposing points of view. Very sad. Doug of course is always welcome to comment here, even when he strongly disagrees with what I’ve written.

California moves to criminalize journalism

Fascists: Democrats in the California legislature are pushing a bill that would criminalize undercover videos of healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood.

Hey, who says we need a first amendment or a Bill of Rights? We instead have elected Democrats to protect us, including the guy who introduced this bill and who has received $13,500 in campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood. Why should we worry?

Elon Musk sends a tweet and the world listens

The competition heats up: Yesterday Elon Musk sent out a tweet that simply repeated something his company has been saying now for several months — but with one slight additional detail — and the press went gaga.

What Musk said was that SpaceX hopes to reuse one of its used Falcon 9 first stages by September or October. Previously they had merely said they were aiming to do it before the end of the year. Since SES has offered one of its satellites for the job, and since it has had for months two such satellites scheduled for launch by SpaceX in September and October, this announcement by Musk is not really much of a surprise. Yet, the tweet was enough for all of the following mainstream news sources to gin up news-breaking headlines:

I am not really complaining. What I am really noting is how serious the world now takes what Musk and SpaceX are doing. They say they plan to do something new and revolutionary, and people sit up and take notice. And the reasons are twofold. First, everything they have said they were going to do, they have done. Musk’s announcement has to be taken seriously. Second, Musk owns SpaceX, and does not really need anyone’s permission to do this. He isn’t in a negotiation with numerous other players, as has been the case with NASA and its projects for the past half century. We know that if he wants to try something, the only things that could stop him are lack of capital and lack of good engineering, neither of which are an obstacle in this case.

So, be prepared for the first relaunch of a rocket’s first stage sometime this fall. And don’t be surprised if that isn’t the only new thing SpaceX accomplishes at the time.

House proposes killing Commerce Department

In a just released budget resolution, the House budget committee has proposed eliminating the Department of Commerce in an effort to cut costs.

The biggest potential shift from the status quo would be breaking up the $9 billion commerce department. DOC is one of the least-known, and most unloved, of all federal agencies. But it nonetheless oversees a huge scientific portfolio that includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Census Bureau. Under the heading “options worthy of consideration,” the budget committee suggests moving NOAA to the Department of Interior, placing NIST within NSF, and assigning the Census Bureau, including the massive decennial census, to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Another commerce agency, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, would become an independent agency.

The obvious goal would be to eliminate the expensive upper management positions at Commerce and thus reduce cost. Such changes however are going to face opposition in the privileged science community. While that community has been unable to sustain the growth of its funding in the past decade, it has successfully prevented the elimination of any program or any significant reduction in the science budgets. We shall see if that record will hold in the coming years, with the electorate appearing to steadily shift more and more to the right.

The article, by Science reporter Jeffrey Mervis, also included this wonderful example of yellow journalism:

The proposed budget resolution talks repeatedly of the need to reduce spending and, in particular, curb the clichéd “waste, fraud, and abuse” that is allegedly rampant across the federal government by killing duplicative or unnecessary programs. [emphasis mine]

I’ve noted Mervis’s agenda-driven writing in the past. In the sentence above he illustrates his unreliability as a reporter. For any educated journalist to consider waste and fraud in the federal government to be “alleged” is to be a person either with his head in the sand or having so strong a bias that he is intentionally misreporting the facts. Sadly, in the case of Mervis and many in today’s so-called elite intellectual community, I think it is both.

Russian officials decide to broadcast launches

The return of the Soviet Union! After experimenting with the online broadcast yesterday of the Soyuz manned launch, Russian officials announced today that they will continue these broadcasts on future launches.

The launch from Baikonur was for the first time broadcast via the Luch (Ray) satellite retransmission system. More than 1,000 people have watched the live broadcast.

The Luch system is designed to solve the problems of relaying information of monitoring and control of low-orbit spacecraft, manned space systems, including the Russian segment of the International Space Station, and to serve in controlling launch vehicle flights using an alternative technology. The Luch is a series of geosynchronous Russian relay satellites, used to transmit live TV images, communications and other telemetry from the Soviet/Russian space station Mir, the Russian Orbital Segment of the International Space Station and other orbital spacecraft to the Earth, in a manner similar to that of the US Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. “One of the main spheres we intend to develop is our functions of mobile communications and data retransmission, including for the broadcast of launches as the most interesting events for the promotion of space exploration,” Komarov said. According to the Roscosmos chief, the Gonets company will be engaged in the development of this sphere. [emphasis mine]

Wow! A thousand people watched the launch! Isn’t that amazing!

In other words, either they didn’t make it easy for the public to find the broadcast online, or they didn’t make it public at all and the 1,000 viewers were merely government apparatchiks. It is clear from the article that they are still working to get their communication satellite network back into operation — which crumbled in the 1980s and 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union — but if they can broadcast to 1000 people they can broadcast to far more than that. Hopefully after this first effort they will broaden its access for future launches, though I wonder if that will happen. All of Russian aerospace is now government-controlled, and the natural inclination of government bureaucrats is to squelch information so that people don’t see bad things happen.

Mainstream media outlet notices possible news!

Last week President Obama signed the revisions to the Commercial Act that is being touted as allowing Americans property rights in space.

I have been following the news coverage of this event, and even though there have been many articles incorrectly pushing the above spin, only today was there a news story that finally noticed that these touted property rights would violate the Outer Space treaty.

The content of the second link above, though it notices the possible violations to the Outer Space treaty, is also still a pitiful example of journalism. It is very clear from reading the article that no one involved in writing it (the article’s byline is CBC News) ever read the newly passed law. I have, and found that nowhere in it does it actually grant Americans property rights in space. What it does do is demand that the executive branch support that idea and write a number of reports and studies to demonstrate that support.

The goal I think of this new law is to begin the political process towards the U.S. eventually pulling out of the Outer Space treaty. Congress is essentially stating that it doesn’t agree with the language of that United Nations treaty, and it wants the U.S. government to begin the process of either getting it changed, or preparing to pull out. (The treaty does provide language allowing nations to pull out. You give one year’s notice, and then do so.)

It would be nice if journalists who write about this subject did the simple and easy research necessary for reporting it intelligently.

Until they do, however, I guess people will just have to come here (written with a grin).

Republican claims of media bias supported by facts

Republican claims of media bias against conservatives is supported by new research that finds almost all journalists are Democratic and even donate money to Democrats.

[S]elf-proclaimed Democratic journalists outnumber Republicans by 4-to-1, according to research by Lars Willnat and David Weaver, professors of journalism at Indiana University. They found 28 percent of journalists call themselves Democrats, while just 7 percent call themselves Republicans — though both numbers are down from the 1970s. Those identifying as independent have grown.

Among Washington correspondents, the ones who dominate national political coverage, it’s even more skewed, said Tim Groseclose, author of “Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind.” More than 90 percent of D.C. journalists vote Democratic, with an even higher number giving to Democrats or liberal-leaning political action committees, the author said.

Having been a journalist for years, I can tell you that these numbers are accurate. And the increasing numbers of journalists who claim to be independent are in large number merely hardcore liberals who wish deniability if asked where they loyaties lie.

French television weatherman fired for doubting global warming

The coming dark age: A leading French television weatherman has been fired because he published a book expressing skepticism about global warming.

He said he was inspired to write the book after France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met with TV meteorologists and asked them to highlight climate change issues in their broadcasts. “I was horrified by this speech,” Verdier told French magazine Les Inrockuptibles last month. In his book, Verdier accuses state-funded climate change scientists of having been “manipulated” and “politicised”, even accusing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of publishing deliberately misleading data

In other words, he dared to expose the political roots of global warming that has nothing to do with science, and was thus immediately fired.

Philomena Cunk’s Moments of Wonder: Time

An evening pause: This hilarious parody of BBC science documentaries, which are not much different than many American PBS science documentaries, captures perfectly the typical empty-headed interviewers that I myself have sometimes had to deal with during too many of my television and radio appearances. They are not only often ignorant of some basic science, they are also ignorant of their own ignorance. They think they know a lot, and thus are easily confused and defensive when suddenly confronted with that ignorance.

I especially like her description of “the famous Greenwich Marillion line.”

Hat tip to Danae.

The Space Show website upgrade is 70% funded

With 8 days left in its campaign to raise $10 grand so that the Space Show can upgrade its website and make its archives searchable, the campaign is 70% funded.

As a regularly guest on David Livingston’s excellent show, I ask all my readers to consider donating to this campaign. For the past decade and a half The Space Show has probably provided the best and most complete coverage of the aerospace industry. The success of this campaign will allow the show to continue while also making the wealth of information buried in its archives more easily available to everyone.

Ecologists try to control reporting of their presentations

At its annual conference last week, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) demanded that audience members not tweet about presentations unless given permission by the speaker.

The request to gain consent from speakers before tweeting about their presentations rankled many. In a blog post, Terry Wheeler, an entomologist at McGill University in Quebec, Canada, said that ESA was “taking a step backward” from its open social-media policy of past years. But Liza Lester, a communications officer at ESA, says that the society supports tweeting at conferences and did not intend to change its stance. “It was a misunderstanding,” she says.

Writing on the Lyman Entomological Museum blog, Wheeler says that the Twitter restriction caused a lot of frustration among ESA meeting attendees and long-distance observers, who wondered why there was such a lull in social-media chatter. He notes that the last-minute announcement differs from the code of conduct printed in the conference programme, which says that attendees cannot take photographs of slides or posters without permission and that they should avoid posting online “detailed information from presentations.” Those restrictions, he writes, seem reasonable. But the policy in the programme made no mention of requiring permission to live-tweet.

For members of this science organization the restrictions might rankle, but as fellow scientists they will feel some compulsion to obey. However, science conferences like this normally encourage journalists to attend, and if so, such restrictions are garbage. If I was there as a journalist, I would tweet, photograph, and post reports on my webpage to my heart’s content, ignoring these absurd and unenforceable rules.

The Space Show modernization crowd-funding campaign

For more than a decade David Livingston has been producing and hosting The Space Show, the aerospace industry’s most important outlet for telling the public what is happening in space.

Now David is starting a crowd-funding campaign to finance a major update to The Space Show archives, in order to make them fully searchable and thus accessible to historians and researchers. As he notes,

Our archives as of this morning contain 2, 524 interview programs. These interviews tell the story of the space industry as many guests were there when it started, when we went to the Moon, and even before SpaceX was started. But as it stands, nobody can search our archives for information, program content, breaking news, etc. The closest one can come to a search is the GuestSearch tool on our current website, but searches are not interactive and about two-thirds of our programs have no key words so a search using the GuestSearch tool is not very useful Space Show archives are a treasure of information and history. By making them fully searchable and of archival quality, everyone benefits, even the casual Space Show listener.

As a space historian, I think David’s effort here is essential. The data hidden in the Space Show archives is invaluable, describing the beginning of the commercial space industry better than any other source. Making it searchable would make this history available to future generations that otherwise would never see it.

Check out the campaign as well as the Space Show support site and contribute. Not only can you help future space historians you will help keep the Space Show on the air.

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