Tag Archives: oppression

Announcement: Capitalism in Space:
Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry

This post will remain at the top of the page for the next week. Scroll down for updates.

After much delay and discussion, my policy paper for the Center for a New American Security, Capitalism in Space: Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry, has finally been published.

You can download the pdf here or at the Center here. Please feel free to distribute this widely. If you visit other websites please pass it on to them. This should be read by as many people as possible, especially since the space policy of the Trump administration remains at present undecided. This policy paper will help them work out a wise policy, with the paper’s key data point contained in this table:

SLS vs Commercial space

I document my numbers very carefully. The result illustrates clearly how much a failure the government model has been and continues to be. We have spent a lot of money since the 1970s on NASA and space, and have generally gotten very little for that investment, as demonstrated by the comparison between the accomplishments of private and government space in the past two decades. Going forward it is going to be very difficult for SLS/Orion to compete with the heavy lift rockets coming from SpaceX and Blue Origin.

My concluding words:

A close look at these recommendations will reveal one common thread. Each is focused on shifting power and regulatory authority away from the federal government and increasing the freedom of American companies to act as they see fit to meet the demands of the market. The key word that defines this common thread is freedom, a fundamental principle that has been aspired to since the nation’s founding.

Political leaders from both parties have made the concept a central core tenet of American policy. Democrat John Kennedy stated that his commitment to go to the Moon was a “stand for freedom” in the Cold War. Republican Ronald Reagan proposed “Freedom” as the name for the new space station, and viewed it as a platform for promoting private enterprise in space.

Freedom is actually a very simple idea. Give people and companies the freedom to act, in a competitive environment that encourages intelligent and wise action, and they will respond intelligently and wisely.

The United States’ history proves that freedom can work. It is time to prove it again, in space.

Anyway, read the whole paper. I make a number of recommendations that I hope both Congress and the Trump administration will consider seriously. If they do, the United States will lead the world in the exploration and colonization of the solar system, and we will do it quickly and for a reasonable amount of money.

More importantly, we will be doing it under the banner of freedom.

University removes weight scale from gym because TRIGGER

The coming dark age: Carleton University in Canada has decided to remove the weight scale in their gym because someone complained it “triggered” them.

Several students were completely onboard with the decision. Per the Charlatan, one student named Samar El-Faki said it was a good call that accommodated people with eating disorders. “Scales are very triggering,” she said. “I think people are being insensitive because they simply don’t understand. They think eating disorders are a choice when they are actually a serious illness.”

But she was in the minority, as many other students criticized the college for pandering to special snowflakes. “Next it will be the mirrors,” wrote another student on Facebook.

This is essentially the heckler’s veto. One person complains that they don’t like something, and the university bows to that one person’s wishes, banning something that everyone else uses and needs. More important, the whiner had a very easy solution that would not have required removal of the scale: Don’t step on the damned scale and it won’t bother you! That they didn’t take that route illustrates that power and intimidation was their real game.

I should add that even though the university is considering bringing the scale back because of the criticism it has faced for removing it, that its officials were willing to bow so easily to this heckler’s veto suggests this is not a good university to send your kids.

But, then, what university today is a good place? They all seem infested with these fascists who have the support and aid of the administrations in power.

New York dumps literacy tests for teachers

The coming dark age: In the name of political correctness and ethnic diversity, New York has decided to eliminate literacy tests for its teachers.

It seems that about one third fewer black and hispanic applicants passed the test.

“We want high standards, without a doubt. Not every given test is going to get us there,” Pace University professor Leslie Soodak told the AP. Soodak was a member of the task force that advocated abandoning literacy tests for teachers.

“Having a white workforce really doesn’t match our student body anymore,” Soodak added. [emphasis mine]

Having an uneducated workforce that can’t read, that’s okay however.

Congress micromanages rocket development at ULA

Corrupt Congress: Even though ULA favors Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine for its Vulcan rocket, various elected officials in Alabama are pushing the company to use Aeroject Rocketdyne’s AR-4 engine instead.

At the end of February, two US representatives, Mike Rogers of Alabama [Republican] and Mac Thornberry of Texas [Republican], decided to push a little harder. On February 28, they sent a letter to Lisa Disbrow, the acting secretary of the US Air Force, and James MacStravic, who is performing the duties of the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics. In addition to reiterating a desire that ULA continue to fly a second rocket, the Delta IV Heavy, the letter urges the Pentagon officials to be skeptical about the BE-4 engine.

“The United States Government (USG) must have a hands-on, decision-making role… in any decision made by United Launch Alliance to down-select engines on its proposed Vulcan space launch system, especially where one of the technologies is unproven at the required size and power,” the letter states. “If ULA plans on requesting hundreds of millions of dollars from the USG for development of its launch vehicle and associated infrastructure, then it is not only appropriate but required that the USG have a significant role in the decision-making concerning the vehicle.” The letter then goes on to say the Air Force should not give any additional funding to ULA, other than for current launch vehicles, until the company provides “full access, oversight of, and approval rights over decision-making” in its choice of contractors for the engines on Vulcan.

The article also mentions porkmaster Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), who also favors Aerojet Rocketdyne because they say they will build it in Alabama. Note also that these elected officials are not only trying to pick the winner in the private competition between these two rocket engines, they also want to force ULA to keep using the Delta rocket, even though it is very expensive and not competitive with the newer rockets being developed by other companies. And their only reason for doing so is because they provide jobs for their districts.

This one story illustrates perfectly the corruption that permeates both parties in Congress. While it is more likely that Democrats will play this pork game, there are plenty of corrupt Republicans who play it as well. These petty dictators all think they have the right to interfere in the private efforts of Americans, whether it involves building a new rocket or buying health insurance. And all we get from this is a poorer nation and a bankrupt federal government.

Meet the fascist professors at Middlebury College

Following the violent protests at Middlebury College in Vermont that injured a professor during a speaking event by author Charles Murray last week, two professors issued a “statement of principles” in favor of free speech and expressing opposition to such violence. The following, only an excerpt, gives a flavor of the whole statement:

Exposure to controversial points of view does not constitute violence.

Students have the right to challenge and to protest non-disruptively the views of their professors and guest speakers.

A protest that prevents campus speakers from communicating with their audience is a coercive act.

No group of professors or students has the right to act as final arbiter of the opinions that students may entertain.

No group of professors or students has the right to determine for the entire community that a question is closed for discussion.

The purpose of college is not to make faculty or students comfortable in their opinions and prejudices.

So far 79 professors at Middlebury College have put their names to this document. What is interesting, however, is a list of those professors who have not signed this basic statement in favor of free speech. An academic at a different college took a close look at the signatories, and found not surprisingly that no teachers from certain departments had signed. Before you click to see, I am willing to bet you can guess many of the departments and their teachers who oppose the idea of free speech. There are surprises however:
» Read more

Rand Paul introduces his Obamacare replacement

Competing crap: Senator Rand Paul, who opposes the Obamacare replacement introduced by the Republican leadership, introduced his own bill today to replace Obamacare.

I’ve looked at the summary [pdf] of his bill, and it contains most of the same problems contained in the Republican leadership’s proposal. Neither repeals Obamacare really, since both keep the ability of everyone to wait until they are sick before they buy health insurance, thereby guaranteeing that every health insurance company will go bankrupt.

We need Congress to repeal Obamacare, clean and simple. The tinkering by Congress in this business has only caused problems. The more tinkering they do, the more problems they will cause. They need to get out, now.

Local Vermont voters dump mayor who pushed accepting refugees

What a surprise! A town mayor in Vermont who had advocated accepting a hundred unvetted Middle East refugees has lost his re-election bid.

It appears this guy, who had been mayor for about a decade and had twice defeated his opponent in earlier elections, had pushed his plan without consulting anyone else in the government. In this election he got trounced.

Anti-Trump protesters who threatened violence during inauguration get off scott free

The three protesters who were filmed planning violence during the Trump inauguration by undercover agents of Project Veritas have all pleaded guilty and gotten off with no jail time.

An anti-Trump protester pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy for his role in plotting to shut down an inaugural ball by setting off stink bombs and sprinklers. Scott Ryan Charney, 34, was sentenced to community service after agreeing to plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit assault after he was caught on videotape discussing the scheme by Project Veritas.

Charney was the third of three members of the D.C. Anti-Fascist Coalition charged with conspiracy after being captured on hidden-camera video at the Comet Ping Pong pizza parlor in Washington, D.C. Paul “Luke” Kuhn and Colin B. Dunn were sentenced Thursday to community service but no jail time after entering guilty pleas in D.C. Superior Court on unlawful conspiracy to commit an offense.

This is par for the course. Leftwing and Democratic protesters can do whatever they want, including planning and even committing life-threatening violence, and receive no punishment. Rightwing and Republican protesters can sneeze in the wrong direction and end up spending years and their life savings trying to avoid heavy prison sentences or the destruction of their lives.

Republican leadership endorses Obamacare

Yesterday the Republican leadership in Congress unveiled their proposed replacement for Obamacare.

This is not a repeal. It proudly keeps many of the Obamacare provisions that have made health insurance unprofitable, which is why Obamacare and the entire health insurance industry is going bankrupt. First, the Republican proposal keeps the Obamacare requirement that forces insurance companies to accept applicants with pre-existing conditions at no extra charge. Insurance cannot work under this condition. Second, the plan forces insurance companies to cover the children of customers until they are 26.

Several articles today outline the stupidity of this new plan:

From the first article above:

The first thing to understand about the GOP healthcare bill is that it is not merely Obamacare-lite or a bad “replacement” bill. It doesn’t repeal the core of Obamacare in the first place. In fact, the few parts that it repeals or tweaks within a few years will actually intensify the death spiral of Obamacare when mixed with the core regulatory structure, exacerbated by the subsidies that they do keep. And this time, the GOP will own it politically. All of it.

As I say, this is downright stupid. By trying to “fix” this horrible law, all the Republican leadership accomplishes is to poison themselves with it, something Republicans have so far been able to avoid.

The Republicans shouldn’t be passing a different version of Obamacare, they should be trying to repeal it entirely. If the Democrats continue to obstruct, they will then have to face the voters in 2018 in an election that does not favor them to begin with.

Russia puts four engineers on trial for Proton launch failure

Russia has begun the criminal trial of four engineers for their part in the launch failure of a Proton rocket six years ago, in December 2010.

According to the office of Russia’s federal Prosecutor General, employees at RKK Energia used a wrong formula during the fueling of the company’s Block DM-03 upper stage, which received 1,582 kilograms of extra liquid oxygen above the maximum allowable limit. The prosecutors allege that the department head at RKK Energia Stanislav Balakin, the unit head Aleksandr Martynov and his deputy Sergei Lomtev, while being responsible for the development of operational documentation for Block DM-03, failed to ensure that their subordinate engineer Yuri Bolshigin had completed the on-time adjustment of the computation formula controlling the operation of the fueling system.

This is not the right way to encourage good work in Russian aerospace factories. Sure, these guys screwed up, but you don’t put them on trial, you fire them and hire better people. Making them scapegoats in this way is only going to scare away the best people, who won’t want to join a high-risk industry where, if they make a mistake, they might find themselves in prison.

North Korea test fires four ballistic missiles

Does this make you feel safe? North Korea today test fired four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan.

North Korea on Monday launched four ballistic missiles, three of which fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, the Japanese government said. There were no immediate reports of damage to ships or aircraft in the area, Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said at a news conference in Tokyo, calling the latest missile launch a “grave threat to national security.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe separately told reporters that the missiles traveled around 1,000 km. He later said at a Diet session that the remaining missile also fell near the EEZ.

It is very unclear whether these missile tests were a success, since we really don’t know what kind of missiles they were. If short or medium range, they went the right distance. If longer range, the distance traveled (600 miles or 1000 kilometers) suggests the missiles did not travel as far as they should.

Democrats make no gains in special elections

Despite their screaming and protesting since the election of Donald Trump, the Democratic Party’s effort to win elections continues to falter.

The Democrat resistance may be generating a lot of noise in Washington, D.C., but so far in 2017, it has shown little impact on elections in the states. Even with hefty financial investments and high profile Democrats lending star power to state-level candidates, Republicans won control of every district they previously held across multiple states that Democrats have won in the last three or more presidential elections, including as recently as yesterday in Connecticut.

Read the whole thing. Essentially, the protests and wild mindless opposition to Trump by Democrats nationwide has failed to persuade anyone who voted for Trump or the Republicans to switch their votes. In fact, the failed Democratic election effort, which included significant campaign spending in some very small local elections, suggests that the voters have been turned off by their almost hateful opposition. Not only did vulnerable Republicans win their special elections, they appear to have generally done so comfortably.

TSA to make pat-downs more “intimate”

Does this make you feel safer? TSA has decided to make the pat-downs they give to travelers more thorough and invasive.

Bloomberg reported that airport employees have already been notified at some locations that they need to employ a “more rigorous” and “thorough” screening. The screenings will reportedly include “more intimate contact” than before. The new measure also applies to airline pilots and flight attendants. [emphasis mine]

In other words, they are ordering their thugs at the airports to commit sexual assault each time they do a pat-down. Not only is this unconstitutional, it is downright criminal. Be prepared to hear about a a sex scandal when TSA employees abuse this power.

Cuts to NOAA, EPA, and the environmental bureaucracy

Two articles today outline some of the proposed cuts the Trump administration is considering for the EPA and NOAA and their generally bloated and politicized administrative bureaucracies.

The first article focuses on the proposed cuts to the EPA, which would reduce the overall budget to that agency by about 25%.

The Trump administration wants to cut spending by EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) by more than 40% from roughly $510 million to $290 million, according to sources that have seen preliminary directives from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The cuts target scientific work in fields including climate change, air and water quality, and chemical safety. EPA’s $50 million external grant program for environmental scientists at universities would disappear altogether. Such erasures represent just part of a larger plan to shrink EPA’s budget by 25% to $6.1 billion, and cut its workforce by 20% to 12,400 employees, in the 2018 fiscal year that begins 1 October.

The second article focuses on proposed cuts aimed at NOAA and within the Commerce Department, with cuts in specific departments ranging from 5% to 26%, with an overall cut to NOAA of 17%.
» Read more

44 days for first round of hearings on TMT

Stonewalling: Hawaiian officials have just completed the first round of hearings for deciding whether to issue a new construction permit for building the Thirty Meter Telescope, and those hearings stretched out for 44 days and cost nearly $225K.

Will that allow for a new permit? Don’t bet on it.

The hearings officer will recommend whether the state land board should grant a construction permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope. If there are exceptions filed to the hearings officer’s recommendations, the land board will hear arguments before issuing a written decision.

In other words, the state will allow the telescope’s opponents to force another set of hearings that could likely last as long.

As I’ve said before, it is time to tell Hawaii to go to hell. The state, run by Democrats, is obviously taking sides in opposition to the telescope, though they are trying to hide that fact. If the consortium wants to build this telescope on time, they need to find a place interested in having them. Let Hawaii keep its barren and empty mountain, even if it means the state will be poorer and less connected with the cutting edge of science.

Fascist protesters attack professor and speaker at Vermont college

Brownshirts: While leaving a speaking event at Middlebury College in Vermont, both political scientist Charles Murray and the college professor escorting him were attacked by protesters, causing injuries to the professor.

As Stanger, Murray and a college administrator left McCullough Student Center last evening following the event, they were “physically and violently confronted by a group of protestors,” according to Bill Burger, the college’s vice president for communications and marketing. Burger said college public safety officers managed to get Stanger and Murray into the administrator’s car.

“The protestors then violently set upon the car, rocking it, pounding on it, jumping on and try to prevent it from leaving campus,” he said. “At one point a large traffic sign was thrown in front of the car. Public Safety officers were able, finally, to clear the way to allow the vehicle to leave campus. “During this confrontation outside McCullough, one of the demonstrators pulled Prof. Stanger’s hair and twisted her neck,” Burger continued. “She was attended to at Porter Hospital later and (on Friday) is wearing a neck brace.”

I am willing to bet that these protesters would heartily agree with you if you proposed throwing all conservatives in prison camps.

College Republicans at Berkeley-UC continue to be threatened

Fascists: One day after a Berkeley student was filmed destroying property belonging to the College Republicans group at Berkeley-UC, the campus was plastered with posters calling its members “baby fascists”.

The posters included pictures of six members of the College Republicans group.

The college today issued a condemnation of the harassment, but as yet has not done anything about the students who have been doing the harassment, even though they have been videotaped in the act and have apparently been identified.

The Berkeley campus, much like most of urban California, has begun to resemble the Soviet Union. You better not dare to express any dissent against the liberal, Democratic Party agenda, or else you face harassment, violence, and outright hatred.

Police arrest former journalist for bomb threats against Jewish centers

The police today arrested a former journalist, fired for making up quotes, for making some of the recent bomb threats nationwide against Jewish community centers.

Juan Thompson, 31, of St. Louis, was arrested in connection with the menacing messages sent by phone or email to Jewish organizations from coast to coast, authorities said. He invoked his girlfriend’s name in making four of the bomb threats, the FBI said in court papers. “Thompson appears to have made some of the … threats as part of a sustained campaign to harass and intimidate” the former girlfriend, according to an FBI complaint.

While this arrest is a good thing, it appears that there were others who made other bomb threats against Jewish sites in the past year or so that still remain at large.

The tampering of climate data at NOAA and NASA

data tampering at NASA

Last week there was the another Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. One presentation there by several important climate skeptics outlined in detail the data tampering that has been going on at an increasingly outrageous manner at both NOAA and NASA in recent years. The slides presented by Tony Heller (available here [pdf]), many of which I have highlighted previously here at Behind the Black, are especially educational and damning.

To the right is just one of Heller’s slides, the one that I find the most damning of all. It shows how the surface data issued by NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS), the two green lines, does not match the satellite data at all. While the satellite data shows no warming this entire century, the GISS data shows steady rising in the surface data. Other slides by Heller show that this rise comes solely from data adjustments and the extrapolation of imagined temperature data in places where no data exists, neither of which has been explained in any manner by the scientists at GISS.

What is most damning however is the change Heller documents between GISS’s November 2016 and December 2016 data sets. For reasons that are simply unjustified by any scientific measure, GISS somehow found it necessary to adjust its entire data set upward in one month about 0.03 of a degree. The only reason I can find for such a change in such a short period of time is a desire by the scientists at GISS to create the illusion that the climate is warming, and warming fast. They don’t have any real data to show this, so they make it up.

Make sure you look at all of Heller’s slides [pdf]. It is also definitely worthwhile to spend the time to watch the entire CPAC presentation, available at the first link above.

Heading Home

Today we completed our last caving trip in Belize. I and many of the expedition’s participants head home tomorrow.

Because our cave trips take so much time, I have not had time to post anything these last few days. I will try to post tomorrow during my return home, but expect full posting to resume on Thursday.

Also, though I will comment then in greater length about SpaceX’s announcement on Monday that they plan on sending two tourists around the Moon by 2018, I want to note here that this announcement is clearly Elon Musk’s response to the effort by NASA to delay the launch of commercial crew because of so-called safety issues so that SLS/Orion might fly first. Musk is telling the world that NASA’s safety concerns are crap (to which I generally agree) and he intends to prove this with his own lunar manned mission.

India’s government a barrier to private space

Even as India and its space agency show themselves to increasingly be a major player in the worldwide aerospace market, it appears that India’s governmental policy on private satellite communications is acting as a barrier that blocks the growth of a commercial space industry.

India’s current satcom policy, first rolled out in 1997 and then updated in 2000, is clearly outdated. A senior ISRO official who attended the ORF event (but declined to be identified) pointed out that all the existing satcom policy says is Indian satellite companies will be given preference over foreign multinational companies. “How does this preference play out? If the department of space is worried about national security concerns, they should lay down clear guidelines for security compliance by foreign satellites. The existing policy doesn’t talk about this, which inevitably leaves it to ISRO, DoS and Antrix’s discretion,” the official told The Wire.

And this discretion has held up multiple applications for satellite manufacturing and foreign direct investment over the last decade. Hughes’ Krishna is particularly frustrated over this. “If a company submits an application for satellite broadband services in India, irrespective of where the satellites will be made, it needs a specific timeline on when it will hear back from ISRO or the DoS. Will it be two years, three years or five years? It is difficult to line up future investments if speedy clearance is not given,” Krishna said.

Essentially, India’s Department of Space (DoS) and its space agency ISRO control all licensing, and have been using that power to delay or deny the issuing of any private satellite licenses, since such efforts are in competition with these government agencies.

The situation here is very similar to what existed in the U.S. with NASA for most of the last half of the 20th century. The agency did not want private launch companies competing with its own manned programs, and diligently worked to block their efforts. If you wanted to be part of manned space, you did what NASA told you to do and you built what they told you to build. It wasn’t until the rise of the commercial space programs to launch cargo to ISS that NASA’s grip on manned space was finally broken.

India now faces the same problem. ISRO has done an excellent job, as NASA did in its early years, in getting India’s space industry started. It now needs to back off, stop running things and simply be a customer of these competing private companies, letting freedom do the job instead of government dictate. The question now is whether the Indian government will allow this to happen. There are many vested interests there that will resist.

“This is how socialism always ends.”

The people of Venezuala are literally starving to death under socialist rule.

The South American country of Venezuela, infamously known for its wide reaching socialist policies that have left the country devastated, has reached a point where its citizens are losing almost 20 pounds due to their lack of food.

A 2016 study from La Encuesta Condiciones de Vida (Encovi) – in English, The 2016 Living Conditions Survey — conducted a survey of 6,500 families found that a little over 32 percent of Venezuelan households eat only once or twice everyday. 93.3 percent said their income does not support their costs for food, and thus they have resorted to cheaper foods such as vegetables. Namely potatoes.

Due to this, almost 75 percent of the Venezuelan population has lost an average of 19 pounds.

As the author at the link very correctly notes, this is how things always end with socialist, communist, and collective policies. Always. Without fail.

High School band to exclude whites in its music selection

Bigots: The band directors of a Minnesota high school band have decided to only buy music from “composers of color” this year, purposely excluding anyone who happened to be white.

The band directors at Spring Lake, outside of St. Paul, Minnesota, have pledged to include at least one piece by a female composer and one by a composer of color in each concert, for each of the school’s bands. “We made a commitment this year to only buy music from composers of color,” says Brian Lukkasson, one of the directors.

Because we all know that one can’t write good music if your skin color is the wrong shade.

I should add that this NPR report sees nothing wrong with this policy, even though it probably violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (pushed through by Republicans and opposed by southern Democrats) as well as numerous other civil rights laws and regulations passed since. In other words, bigotry is fine as long as the people being oppressed are people you think should be.

UC-Berkeley and Google looking for amateur images of upcoming August eclipse

In the hope of producing a long movie of the August eclipse that will cross the entire continental United States, the University of California-Berkeley and Google have teamed up to put together a project that will gather images taken by amateurs.

The Eclipse Megamovie Project is seeking more than a thousand amateur astronomers and avid photographers to record the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse and upload their photos to be stitched together into a movie documenting the path of totality from landfall in Oregon until the moon’s shadow slips over the Atlantic Ocean off South Carolina.

While no one on the ground will see the total eclipse for more than 2 minutes and 40 seconds, depending on how close they are to the center of the path of totality, the images collected by the Megamovie’s volunteer team will be turned into a 90-minute eclipse movie unlike anything seen before. Even an airplane flying along the path of totality can only capture at most a four- to five-minute movie, since the moon’s shadow moves along the ground at up to 1,500 miles per hour. The last time anyone tried to stitch together eclipse images like this may have been in the 1800s via hand-drawn sketches, without the benefit of today’s modern digital technology.

While I think this is a great idea, I must state my reservations about UC-Berkeley. This university is hostile to free speech, and actually encourages violence against conservatives who either attend the university or come to speak there. To work with it on this project would be a kind of endorsement of that behavior.

ULA lets the press see part of SLS

Link here. The upper stage of SLS is undergoing its final testing in Michoud prior to shipment to Florida, and ULA had a press event to show it off.

“This is the first piece of integrated flight hardware for the SLS system to be shipped down to the Cape in preparation for our very first launch,” said Jerry Cook, Deputy SLS Program Manager for NASA. Cook noted that the ICPS test article is currently undergoing stress and load tests at Marshall.

The completion of the ICPS is yet another landmark in SLS’ development, though some contend it’s still a drawing-board vehicle. John Shannon, Boeing’s Vice President and General Manager of the SLS Program, disagrees. “The SLS has, in various forms, been called a paper rocket […] and, if I think you look to your right, you’ll see that absolutely is not true,” stated Shannon. “If you had the opportunity to go to the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where we’re putting the bigger core stage together, you would also see that it is not true because we are putting hardware together as we speak.”

This upper stage engine is a brand new design and has never flown before, and the rocket it is part of has yet to be assembled. Yet NASA is considering flying humans on it during its first test flight, even as it harasses SpaceX and Boeing about using the Falcon 9 and Atlas 5 rockets, both proven repeatedly in operational flights, for their manned ISS missions.

The article also gives an update on the situation at Michoud since it was hit by a tornado on February 8. It appears that the facility is operating again, but not fully.

India’s space agency wants to build a space station

The decline begins: The head of India’s space agency ISRO yesterday advocated that his country build its own space station.

The spacesuit is ready. A survival capsule is on the way. ISRO has everything to send astronauts into space and develop a space station, all that’s left is for the government to give the money and policy clearance, said ISRO chief AS Kiran Kumar here on Monday. “We have the capability to create a space station, but you (government) have to give us the money and time to make this happen,” Kumar told reporters on the sidelines of 34th foundation day celebration of the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT). “If the government and country decides… we are ready. You need to provide us funding, policy clearance,” he said, adding that space mission is low priority for the government “because one doesn’t see any immediate use of this in country’s development and growth”.

Kumar’s comments came in the backdrop of Chinese media reacting to ISRO’s recent record launch of 104 satellites at one go. An editorial in a Chinese newspaper pointed out that “there is no Indian astronaut in space and the country’s plan to establish a space station has not started”. [emphasis mine]

Rather than focus on development that could increase India’s competitiveness in the profitable launch market, such as improving its rockets either by making them reusable or able to launch more frequently, Kumar instead wants to spend his government’s money and build a space station. He doesn’t really outline what he intends to accomplish with this station, other than demonstrate that India can match China. His focus instead is creating an infrastructure for pork and jobs for ISRO. The station will not bring in profits, which would be more useful to the country and its nascent private space industry.

This is what government agencies routinely do. They might start out functioning like an innovative private company trying to attract customers, but the lure of coerced government money always takes precedence in the end, and the agency shifts its focus to building pork-laden empires funded by tax dollars.

Another nationwide wave of bomb theats against Jewish facilities

For the fourth time in 2017 simultaneous bomb threats have been called against numerous Jewish community centers across the United States.

On Feb. 20, 11 Jewish community centers received called-in bomb threats, which were ultimately determined to be hoaxes. Our centers have in place security protocols to ensure the safety of their program participants and facility visitors. All JCCs have now received the all-clear from local law enforcement and resumed regular operations, with a heightened level of security…

The author of the article notes quite correctly,

The press release notes a total of 69 threats have been made against 54 Jewish centers in 27 states since the beginning of the year. I wrote about a previous wave of “telephone terrorism” in January. All of these incidents have turned out to be hoaxes but it’s important to note that many of the centers include schools with young children, leaving parents concerned about the safety of their kids.

Essentially, these bomb threats are hate crimes but because they are being committed against Jews our elite intellectual community has no outrage about them and does not care. In fact, if you speculate that these threats might be an effort of Islamic terrorists only then will that elite intellectual community be outraged, not at the terrorists but at you, for daring to express “Islamophobia.”

China suspends coal purchases from North Korea

Finally! In an apparent response to North Korea’s recent ballistic missile test China has suspended its coal purchases from North Korea through the end of this year.

China will suspend all imports of coal from North Korea until the end of the year, the Commerce Ministry announced Saturday, in a surprise move that would cut off a major financial lifeline for Pyongyang and significantly enhance the effectiveness of U.N. sanctions. Coal is North Korea’s largest export item, and also China’s greatest point of leverage over the regime.

The ministry said the ban would come into force Sunday and be effective until Dec. 31. China said the move was designed to implement November’s United Nations Security Council resolution that tightened sanctions against the regime in the wake of its last nuclear test.

While there are doubts this will change policy in North Korea, it does indicate that China is finally losing patience with that rogue state and its threatening behavior. And since China is one of the few countries that does any trade with North Korea, it is probably one of the few countries that can influence it in any way.

Tilleson starts State Department purge

Cleaning house: The Trump administration carried out major lay-offs in the staffing at high levels of the State Department on Thursday.

Much of seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told today that their services were no longer needed. These staffers in particular are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered. Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy.

In addition, it appears that the new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also pulling the fangs from many other State Department managers, many of whom have indicated a partisan hostility to the Trump administration.

There are clear signals being sent that many key foreign policy portfolios will be controlled directly by the White House, rather than through the professional diplomats. Not a single State Department official was included in the White House meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week.

Good. It is important that federal employees of all stripes learn that a new administration has been elected by the American people, and it is there job to do what that administration wants, not what they want.

The consequences of leftwing censorship

Two stories today illustrate the consequences, both good and bad, of the left’s effort to stifle free speech on campuses:

The first story describes how a California law banning any university interaction with four states that have passed anti-transgender bathroom laws (laws that prevent men who are making believe they are women from entering women’s bathrooms) has prevented three California debate teams from attending the nationals.

This week the nation’s top debate coaches released their recognition of the top collegiate policy debate teams. This exceptional group of sixteen teams receives pre-bids to the National Debate Tournament at the end of March and will have strong potential toward winning the national title in debate at the tournament to be held at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Two of the nation’s top teams that made this elite selection are from Berkeley, a campus recently racked by violent demands for the suppression of free speech. Incredibly, Berkeley’s teams and one other team from California who made the cut, will not attend the National Debate Tournament. That is because the state of California has banned all university related personnel from traveling to four states around the nation: Kansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi, on the specious grounds that these states have all passed “anti-LGBT legislation.” All debate teams from California state schools are practically banned from attending the national debate tournaments being held in the state of Kansas in March.

In other words, the intolerance by California to all alternative points of view has succeeded in literally shutting down all debate. As the author notes,
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