Tag Archives: policy

UC-Berkeley comes out for free speech

Progress in Berkeley: The University of California-Berkeley has created a website that unapologetically defends the traditional view of the first amendment and freedom of speech.

A statement by the university’s new Chancellor Carol Christ also says this:

We all desire safe space, where we can be ourselves and find support for our identities. You have the right at Berkeley to expect the university to keep you physically safe. But we would be providing students with a less valuable education, preparing them less well for the world after graduation, if we tried to shelter them from ideas that many find wrong, even dangerous. We must show that we can choose what to listen to, that we can cultivate our own arguments and that we can develop inner resilience, which is the surest form of safe space. These are not easy tasks, and we will offer support services for those who desire them.

This September, Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos have both been invited by student groups to speak at Berkeley. The university has the responsibility to provide safety and security for its community and guests, and we will invest the necessary resources to achieve that goal. If you choose to protest, do so peacefully. That is your right, and we will defend it with vigor. We will not tolerate violence, and we will hold anyone accountable who engages in it.

This sounds good. Let us hope she stands by her words. If you want to explore the full site, go here.

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“I am just in shock how no one actually cares about the policy any more.”

The quote above, from this article. is from a Republican lobbyist, and is in reference to the new so-called Obamacare replacement bill being pushed right now in the Senate, not because it will repeal Obamacare but because it will provide Senators a fake vote where they can make believe they repealed Obamacare..

The bottom line: The repeal-and-replace bill sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy is gaining steam because it has the appearance of gaining steam — not because of the changes it would make. “If there was an oral exam on the contents of the proposal, graded on a generous curve, only two Republicans could pass it. And one of them isn’t Lindsey Graham,” a senior GOP aide told Caitlin.

I could condemn the Republican leadership here, but the fault actually lies with the press, which is allows them to do this. The number of fake insane bills with “feel good” names in the past two decades that the press has accepted with little analysis is legion. This is only another in that long list.

If you want to find out some real details about this new fake bill, read the whole article. It provides enough information to sicken your stomach about any bill our bankrupt Congress writes.

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Egyptian leader demands Palestinians accept Israel in UN speech

While the main buzz in the American press has been President Trump’s UN speech this week, no one has noticed that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in his own UN speech called for the Palestinians to accept the existence of Israel and to co-exist with it.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Tuesday urged Palestinian Arabs to overcome their differences and be ready to co-exist with each other and with Israelis in safety and security. “I tell the Palestinian people it’s extremely important … to overcome the differences and not to lose opportunities and to be ready to accept co-existence with the other, with Israelis in safety and security,” Sisi said in a speech before the UN General Assembly, as quoted by Reuters.

Sisi also had his first pubic meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this week. Furthermore, earlier in the week the king of Bahrain endorsed an event at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles by sending his prince as a representative, while simultaneously calling for an end to the Arab boycott of Israel.

[Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center,] told The Times of Israel in a phone interview Monday that he was in Dubai on a mission for his organization when the king personally invited him to visit his palace. While the meeting took place in February, Hier said that he was ready now to discuss its contents after receiving “a clear signal” from the king that the royal meant business. In this case, the signal was that Bahraini Prince Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa attended a large event for the Weisenthal Center on Thursday, and also visited the unabashedly pro-Israeli Museum of Tolerance, also located in Los Angeles.

There have been other indications recently that the covert cooperation that has existed in recent years between Israel and some Arab nations against Iran and Islamic terrorism is about to become more public. If so, we might be on the cusp of some real positive change in the Middle East. (I realize I am being absurdly optimistic with this statement, but one can always hope.)

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Mitsubishi wins launch contract from Inmarsat

Capitalism in space: Mitsubishi has been awarded a commercial launch contract from Inmarsat.

Recent Inmarsat satellites have launched on Proton, Falcon 9, and Ariane 5 rockets operated by International Launch Services, SpaceX and Arianespace. MHI [Mitsubishi Heavy Industries] has positioned the H-2A as a secondary player in the global launch market, and the Inmarsat 6 F1 contract gives the Japanese company its second commercial telecom launch deal after the Canadian-owned Telstar 12 Vantage satellite lifted off from Tanegashima in November 2015.

Japan has made noises about shifting control of its launch industry from its space agency JAXA to the private sector. This new contract between Mitsubishi and Inmarsat suggests that they are following through with that shift. However, though no specific price was mentioned in the article, the quote below indicates that Mitsubishi will have a big hill to climb to become competitive.

“The reason why we got the launch order from Inmarsat, I think, was not, of course, the cost-competitiveness of the H-2A launch vehicle, but I think our launch record is very good — 35 consecutive successes, high reliability — and another is on-time launch,” [Ko Ogasawara, Mitsubishi vice president] said in remarks last week at Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week conference in Paris. “We keep our schedule, and I think they put a high value on that.”

Mitsubishi’s next generation rocket, the H3, is being targeted for a launch price of $50 million, half of what the H-2A charges and more competitive in today’s market.

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Federal bureaucracy prevents satellite launch

We’re here to help you! A suite of 8 private commercial cubesats that the Air Force had agreed to launch as secondary payloads on the August 26 launch of a Minotaur rocket were blocked from launch by FAA bureaucracy.

The “interagency partner” that appeared to raise objections was the Federal Aviation Administration, which issued the launch license for the mission. “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did not approve Orbital ATK’s request for a license modification to include commercial cubesats on the upcoming ORS-5 launch mission,” Guthrie said. “As a result, Orbital ATK decided not to include commercial cubesats on the launch.”

Asked if the FAA placed any conditions or restrictions on the ORS-5 mission launched on the Minotaur 4, agency spokesman Hank Price said the FAA issued Orbital ATK a license Feb. 10 to launch government payloads on the Minotaur 4 from Cape Canaveral. The launch license contains any and all conditions on the license, Price said, and the FAA does not comment on the “existence or status of launch license applications or modifications until the FAA makes a final decision regarding those requests.”

Industry sources believe the FAA never formally rejected a proposed license modification for the cubesats because it did not go through the official process, but it was informally clear that the agency would have rejected such a modification had it been formally submitted.

Spire officials are trying to figure out why there was any issue at all about commercial cubesats on this launch. “If Spire chose this launch in the place of another commercial offering, I would understand the industry’s concern about fair competition,” Barna said. “But no existing U.S. launch company or new entrant was offering a similar launch. The fundamental intent of the policy is to keep competition fair, and competition just wasn’t a factor here.”

Spire’s problems here demonstrates the difficulties smallsat companies have getting their satellites in orbit, which explains the emergence of a new smallsat rocket industry. The company’s difficulties also illustrates why the launch industry should always be opposed to giving too much regulatory power to government. In this case it really appears that the launch license was denied merely because the bureaucrats involved with approving it at the FAA simply didn’t want to bother dealing with it.

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Middlebury College endorses heckler’s veto

Another college no one should attend: Middlebury College, which saw violent protests when author Charles Murray gave a speech there, has established a new policy that will have them cancel any speaker “in cases of imminent and credible threat to the community that cannot be mitigated by revisions to the event plan.”

In other words, threaten violence against a speaker you disagree with, and you will successfully silence that speaker.

If this college believed in free speech, it would instead announce that it will immediately expel any student that threatens violence against anyone, and that it will do whatever is necessary to defend all speakers from violence. But the administration here doesn’t believe in free speech, so instead it invites violence against any unpopular speaker.

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Navy removes top management in response to recent ship collisions

The Navy has removed the two top commanders of its largest operational force in response to the four recent incidents in the Pacific, involving three collisions and the ship’s grounding.

A third man has also requested retirement in order to “to step aside to allow for new leadership.”

The important question is whether the Navy is really instituting real management changes, or is simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. We shall see.

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Oh no! Climate panel might include skeptics!

According to this Washington Post article, the Trump administration is considering naming some skeptical climate scientists to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, something that the newspaper, the global warming crowd, and some EPA employees apparently consider a horrible taboo.

[T]he inclusion of a handful of climate contrarians has caused early concern among environmental groups and some employees at the agency. “We should be able to trust that those who serve the EPA are the all-stars in their fields and committed to public service,” said Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. He said the upcoming round of appointments will test whether EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is “remotely interested” in independent scientific advice. “He already has a parade of lobbyists and advisers providing him with the perspectives from oil, gas, and chemical companies. The Science Advisory Board is a check on political influence and can help the agency determine whether the special interests are telling it straight.”

What I find really hilarious in reading the article is its description of the various skeptics, almost all of which are qualified climate scientists. The article quotes their skeptical positions as if these positions are the insane ravings of an idiot, but everything these skeptics say is accurate and well documented by research over the past century. For example, there is this quote:

Another scientist, Craig Idso, is chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, where he has written that “the modern rise in the air’s CO2 content is providing a tremendous economic benefit to global crop production.”

Yet another scientist, Richard Keen, is a meteorologist and author who traveled with the Heartland Institute to Rome in 2015 for a “prebuttal” to Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change. There, he argued that “in the past 18 years and how many months, four months, there has been no global warming.” Another candidate, Anthony Lupo, is an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Missouri. In 2014, he told a local Missouri media outlet, KOMU 8, that “I think it is rash to put the climate change completely on the blame of humans.”

Idso is correct. Crops benefit from more carbon dioxide. This is common knowledge in the agricultural community, and has been amply proven by numerous studies.

Keen is also correct. In 2015 there had been no warming for almost two decades, and that pause only ceased last year because of El Nino, and appears now to have resumed.

Lupo is also correct. The theory that human behavior is the sole cause of global warming has not been proven, and if anything, the failure of every computer model based on this theory to predict the pause in rising temperatures suggests it is wrong.

If anything, the article illustrates the ignorance of its author and the newspaper, both of whom appear completely unaware of the actual uncertainties that exist in the climate field.

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NASA’s international outreach continues

Barack Obama’s demand that NASA focus on teaching international students, especially Muslims, on how to get into space is continuing in the Trump administration.

The list of countries participating, available here, is not confined only to Muslim countries, and seems reasonable: Australia, Brazil, Israel, Jordan, Lithuania, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). At the same time, it is a reasonable question whether this should really one of NASA’s focuses.

Note one interesting detail. The European Space Agency is listed as one of these nations, but its program is presently on hold for reasons that are not explained.

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ArianeGroup’s transition to Ariane 6 rocket

Link here. It appears that this transition not only includes replacing Ariane 5 with Ariane 6, but also the phase out of Russian Soyuz rockets by 2022. This loss of business is going to hurt Russia, as the government there desperately needs cash with the drop in oil prices.

The article also noted that ArianeGroup will charge two prices for Ariane 6, depending on configuration and payload, $85 million and $130 million per launch. These prices seem high, but because they likely cover the launch of two satellites, customers will be charged half these amounts, $40 million and $65 million, which is competitive in today’s market.

Will these prices be competitive in 2020s? I have my doubts. I estimate, based on news reports, that SpaceX is charging about $40 million today for a launch with a reused first stage, and $62 million for a launch with an entirely new rocket. Give them another five years of development and I expect those prices to drop significantly, especially as they shift to entirely reused first stages for almost every launch and begin to demonstrate a routine launch cadence of more than one launch per month.

This quote below explains how ArianeGroup really intends to stay alive in the launch market:

The price targets assume that European governments — the European Space Agency, the European Commission, Eumetsat and individual EU nations — agree to guarantee the equivalent of five Ariane 62 missions per year, plus at least two missions for the light-lift Vega rocket.

In other words, ArianeGroup really doesn’t wish to compete for business. It wants to use government coercion to force European space agencies and businesses to buy its product. They might get that, but the long term result will be a weak European presence in space, as everyone else finds cheaper and more efficient ways to do things.

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Evergreen settles lawsuit with banned professors

Evergreen State College has settled the lawsuit filed by two professors who, despite being threatened with physical harm by leftist protesters, were given no support or protection by the university.

Evergreen State College has settled a tort claim against it from embattled Professor Bret Weinstein and his wife, Professor Heather Heying, for $500,000, according to an email sent to faculty Friday evening.

“They have resigned from their faculty positions at Evergreen, effective today. The college will pay them a total of $450,000 and contribute an additional $50,000 toward their attorney fees,” according to the email, sent by John Carmichael, chief of staff and secretary to the board of trustees. “In making this agreement, the college admits no liability, and rejects the allegations made in the tort claim,” Carmichael wrote.

This settlement allows the university to deny that it looked the other way while thugs were making blatant threats of violence against these teachers, but the article provides ample evidence that the university continues to lie about its behavior, and is still unwilling to change.

[Carmichael’s] memo does not address how Weinstein was cornered in May in a campus building and blocked from leaving by rowdy student protesters furious he did not support the Day of Absence, videos of the incident show. Nor does it mention how Evergreen’s then-chief of police subsequently told Weinstein his safety on campus could not be guaranteed, and that it appeared student agitators were looking for him, forcing Weinstein to hold his class in a park.

According to the tort claim, at a campus meeting to address the racial unrest, Weinstein was also scared for his personal safety, that the meeting “became heated and threatening at times. There was only one exit, and it was completely blocked by protesters.” Campus officials had also instructed university police to attend the meeting unarmed, according to the claim. “Meanwhile, protest organizers announced that chairs and food in the room were for ‘people of color only.’ When they noticed there were sufficient chairs, organizers announced that white people had to sit in the back of the room. Administrators, including President Bridges, did nothing to prevent this,” the claim added.

There’s more, all of which demonstrates that no sane parent or high school student should consider Evergreen a college option.

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The Worst Part of Losing Cassini Is That It Has No Replacement

Link here. This article is an honest review of the current lack of concrete plans by anyone to send a new probe to Saturn. While there are some tentative missions in the works, nothing is certain.

[I]f looking back on Cassini’s major discoveries at Saturn, Titan, and Enceladus have left you thirsty for more, we have some bad news: That thirst is going to go unquenched for a while. Talks of Uranus and Neptune missions are tentative at best. The best hope for Saturn now comes from NASA’s New Frontiers program, which looks for excellent medium-cost missions has spawned spacecraft including Jupiter’s Juno and Pluto’s New Horizons. This round of New Frontiers missions must launch by 2024, and there are two Enceladus proposals, a Titan proposal, and a Saturn atmospheric probe under consideration. We may hear word about those proposals by the end of the year “Hang tight, we’re going through the evaluations now and we’ll be announcing at the end of the year what some of the finalists will be,” Jim Green, NASA Planetary Science Director, said at the Cassini press conference Friday morning.

This list of possible Saturn missions sounds great, but they are all competing against each other and a number of other equally (and possibly more) interesting missions to other places. And with the federal budget out of control and mired in debt, there isn’t really a lot of money to go around.

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Big news: Free speech is allowed in Berkeley

Last night conservative Ben Shapiro was able to give a speech before about 700 people on the UC-Berkeley campus with no disruptions or violence, mostly due to a major security effort by the city and university.

Outside, as many as 1,000 people were gathered — some protesters, others onlookers — and a group of up to 50 students occupied a breezeway at the ASUC Student Union, where they’d put up a sign, “Students Against Fascism and War,” and interacted with the crowd. They exited the building calmly just before the Zellerbach event ended at 9 p.m. “There’s a sense of relief and satisfaction that the event was able to go forward without disruption, that those who chose to protest did so in largely nonviolent ways and that, overall, things went as well as could be expected,” said UC Berkeley Assistant Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Dan Mogulof, at a media briefing later that night.

UC Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennett said the event was “orderly,” attended by people who were “respectful and interested” in the speaker and that it concluded peacefully.

Only a few arrests were made, and no violence occurred.

While the success of this event shows progress compared to previous events where violent thugs rioted, it is still damning to California and Berkeley and the liberal/leftist community of Berkeley that we are all surprised that no violence occurred. Instead, the need for security illustrates the intolerance of this community and its willingness to silence dissent.

In two weeks conservatives will be holding a major event on the campus, with a whole slate of speakers. It will be another opportunity for the Berkeley community to show us how tolerant they are to free speech and the open marketplace of ideas.

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Orbital ATK begins assembly of first orbital repair satellite

Capitalism in space: Orbital ATK has begun the assembly of Mission Extension Vehicle 1, (MEV-1), designed to attach itself to commercial satellites and extend their life.

Controlled by the company’s satellite operations team, the MEV 1 uses a reliable, low-risk docking system that attaches to existing features on a customer’s satellite. The MEV-1 provides life-extending services by taking over the orbit maintenance and attitude control functions of the client’s spacecraft. The vehicle has a 15 year design life with the ability to perform numerous dockings and repositionings during its life span.

They hope to launch before the end of 2018. Meanwhile, the legal battle between Orbital ATK’s effort to build this satellite repair mission and DARPA’s effort to subsidize SSL’s own satellite repair mission continues in Congress with the introduction of two amendments favoring Orbital ATK.

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It is now bad to cheer for the USA in California

Link here. The story is about how the principal of a local high school sent an email to the families of all students telling them that they should reconsider chanting “USA!” at sports events, as such chants might offend some.

The school’s principal sent out an email to families, Wednesday and relayed the same message to students over the school’s PA system, clarifying any confusion.

She told students and parents that sometimes “We can communicate an unintended message.” She also said USA chanting is welcome, but it may be best to do it at what she says are appropriate times, like following the national anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance. School officials worry the chants could come across as intolerant and offensive to some.

You see, to these California officials, the United States is essentially an evil and racist nation whose only past achievement was to enslave minorities. To show pride in this country is to show pride in this vision, and they want to make sure their students all know this.

What a slander and lie. To me, this position not only illustrates the utter ignorance of these school officials, but their hatred of all things American. If I had a kid in this school I would now be homeschooling them.

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Wasserman Schultz’s IT guy Imran Awan funnelled data to illegal secret server

Imran Awan, Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s IT guy who is now charged with bank fraud, was initially banned when it was discovered that he was funnelling data and emails of numerous Democratic congressmen to a secret server and to Dropbox — against House rules — and then tried to hide this fact from investigators.

Now-indicted former congressional IT aide Imran Awan allegedly routed data from numerous House Democrats to a secret server. Police grew suspicious and requested a copy of the server early this year, but they were provided with an elaborate falsified image designed to hide the massive violations. The falsified image is what ultimately triggered their ban from the House network Feb. 2, according to a senior House official with direct knowledge of the investigation.

The secret server was connected to the House Democratic Caucus, an organization chaired by then-Rep. Xavier Becerra. Police informed Becerra that the server was the subject of an investigation and requested a copy of it. Authorities considered the false image they received to be interference in a criminal investigation, the senior official said.

Data was also backed up to Dropbox in huge quantities, the official said. Congressional offices are prohibited from using Dropbox, so an unofficial account was used, meaning Awan could have still had access to the data even though he was banned from the congressional network.

Awan had access to all emails and office computer files of 45 members of Congress who are listed below. Fear among members that Awan could release embarrassing information if they cooperated with prosecutors could explain why the Democrats have refused to acknowledge the cybersecurity breach publicly or criticize the suspects.

It appears that Awan might have been blackmailing these Democrats. There is also the strong possibility, though no direct evidence has as yet been found for this, that he and his co-workers were working for foreign powers in the Islamic world.

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“Taking the red pill”

Link here. The article gives us a hint that the oppressive, thug-like, brownshirt behavior coming from many on the left is actually backfiring, and backfiring in a big way.

The term “taking the red pill” derives from the movie “The Matrix,” the trippy sci-fi classic. Morpheus, the resistance leader played by Laurence Fishburne offers Neo, the movie’s hero played by Keanu Reeves, a choice: He can take the blue pill and remain in the repressive artificial world known as the Matrix where “you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.” Or he can take the red pill and tumble down the “rabbit hole” where he will come to realize that everything about his life was a lie.

The left’s intensifying war on free speech has produced a surge of red pill videos. Some take Owens’ in-your-face approach. Others are meandering, hipster confessionals delivered with the wordy earnestness of characters in a Duplass brothers movie.

Read it. It provides a lot of examples of former leftists suddenly realizing that they have little in common with the modern left.

Is this happening? I suspect it is, but it is doing so very far below the radar of the mainstream press and our bankrupt intelligentsia.

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Trump administration shuts down NIH anti-gun research

The NIH has quietly shelved all funding for gun research, most of which had been instigated under the Obama administration as a propaganda tool to promote gun control.

The article from Science is remarkable — coming from a mainstream academic source — in that it provides a fair description of the perspective of the NRA and gun-owners.

Note: Reader Kirk noted my error in originally crediting this article to Nature, when it truth it was Science that published it. Post corrected. Sorry!

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An oral history of the Cassini mission to Saturn

Link here. Those who have read my book on the building of the Hubble Space Telescope will recognize many of the same people and political maneuvers used to get the project off the ground and funded.

Note too that the idea of Cassini was first proposed in 1982, but it didn’t actually launch until 1997. Fifteen years. While today I think such a spacecraft could go from concept to launch much faster, this timeline gives us a guide on when the next Saturn orbiter might launch. At the earliest do not expect another mission to Saturn to launch before 2025.

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Obamacare collapse in Virginia

Finding out what’s in it: With the departure from Virginia of the last insurance companies because of Obamacare’s unworkable rules, in 2018 people will be unable to buy individual health insurance in more than half the state.

Should nothing change before the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s Sept. 27 deadline for insurers to participate, parts of Virginia, including the Roanoke and New River valleys, will be the only places in the U.S. without at least one insurer, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Open enrollment starts Nov. 1 for policies that take effect Jan. 1.

This year, three insurance companies offered individual policies in the Roanoke and New River valleys.

But this spring, Aetna announced that it would no longer participate in the marketplace. Last month, Anthem followed suit. And Optima Health said last week that it would no longer offer individual policies in areas of Virginia where its parent, Sentara Health, did not have hospitals and providers. Although Optima covered only a small percentage of people in western Virginia, the company had been expected to fill the void after Anthem announced its departure, meaning it would have been on track to sell 100 percent of the individual policies in the region.

Of course, the blame falls on the Republicans, who had nothing to do with writing or passing Obamacare and have tried endlessly to either get it repealed or revised but have had all these actions blocked by the Democrats and a handful of fake Republicans who really are Democrats in sheep’s clothing. Sadly, it appears that most of the Republican Party has thrown in the towel and has decided it isn’t worth the effort any longer fixing Obamacare. Instead, we shall see the entire collapse of the health insurance industry.

Too bad no one predicted this collapse, except for every single reasonable conservative in the entire country.

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Federal debt tops $20 trillion

The coming dark age: Because of the Democratic/Trump deal raising the debt limit, the federal government’s debt officially topped $20 trillion last week.

From March 16 through Sept. 7, every Daily Treasury Statement showed the total federal debt subject to the legal limit opening and closing each day at $19,808,747,000,000. That was because the previous suspension of the debt limit had expired on March 15 and the debt limit had been reset at the level the debt reached at the close of business that day–which was $19,808,772,381,624.74. The Treasury then started using what it calls “extraordinary measures” to keep the debt subject to the limit about $25 milion below the limit.

This is all a fraud. Not only do they cook the numbers to make the debt ceiling appear legal for as long as possible, the debt is actually far larger, as this doesn’t include the raids to the Social Security trust fund that Congress has routinely been making for the past few decades, and never paying back.

But hey, who cares? What is really important is that we call looters “heroes” and any cops who try to arrest them “racists!”

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Journalist and author claims police actions against looting equals “white supremacy”

Our bankrupt intelligentsia: Journalist and author Sarah Jaffe went on Twitter yesterday to claim that the police effort to catch and arrest looters in Florida is the equivalent of “white supremacy.”

When she was lambasted by numerous other Twitter users for this dumb statement she doubled down, implying (with an obscenity) that her critics were all Nazis.

This minor story illustrates two things. First, that someone as uneducated and thoughtless as this person can get published and be treated as a respected author demonstrates the intellectual bankruptcy of our modern elites. Everything to her is race and bigotry. Capitalism is evil. Anyone who disagrees with her is a racist or a Nazi. Comparing this childishness with the thought processes seen when you read Shakespeare, John Adams, or William Butler Yeats, and you will see that the future of modern western civilization does not look good.

Second, this story shows again why anyone who has any intelligence should avoid Twitter. That venue is not for thoughtful discussion. It is specifically designed to cause people to hurl insults at each other, and only serves to lower the level of our intellectual discourse. And I am not alone in this opinion.

Far more fundamental is the way Twitter intensifies and amplifies pathological social tendencies among those who act within, report on, and write about the political world. It turns politicians, political staffers, reporters, editors, pundits, and analysts into petty, vain, childish, showoffy, hostile, vindictive, dogmatic, impulsive, careless versions of their best and most professional selves. This makes Twitter horrible for our politics and equally bad for journalism. The single best thing for both politics and journalism would be for Twitter to go out of business tomorrow.

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Arianespace announces new launch contracts

Capitalism in space: Arianespace today announced it has won a new launch contract for two different satellites, bringing its launch manifest to 53.

The press release contains a lot of interesting tidbits:

  • They plan to complete 11 launches in 2017, which is slightly above their yearly average in the past six years.
  • In 2018 they presently have only 7 launches planned, the lowest number since 2013.
  • Of the 53 launches, Ariane 5 will do 17, Soyuz 27, and Vega 9, suggesting a shift away from Ariane 5, which has been the company’s mainstay.
  • The private joint partnership of Airbus and Safran, now called ArianeGroup, has taken control of the business, and has begun streamlining it.
  • Arianespace has now been relegated to only handling “customer relations” and launch operations.

Overall, it looks like this European private/government partnership is doing reasonably well in the new very competitive launch market. I still expect their business to shrink in the coming years, but I think they will be around for awhile.

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Russia’s Proton rocket today successfully launched a commercial satellite

The competition heats up: Russia today successfully placed a Spanish communications satellite into orbit using its Proton rocket.

Russia remains one launch behind SpaceX, 13 to 12, for 2017, but they have three more launches scheduled for September, while SpaceX has nothing planned. Overall I think it is going to be a neck and neck race between the American private company and Russia, the former perennial leader in launches, for the final 2017 lead.

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Why is no one buying time on Nigeria’s satellites?

Despite having four working communications and Earth observation satellites in orbit, Nigeria officials complain there is a lack of interest in using them by both private companies and international governments.

The reasons? Well, two Nigerian officials said this:

[The Director, Centre for Satellite Technology Development (CSTD), Dr Spencer Onuh, told Daily Trust in an exclusive interview. “What do you want them to do when there is a failure? Let me tell you, NigComSat 1R is not enough for this country; it is not sufficient. There must be a backup. Many TV stations and even the national TV network will be very careful to transfer their services fully to NigComSat 1R because it is just one. The stations are set up for business, and they would not want anything to disrupt their services,” Dr Onu said.

He said it was not an issue of redundancy, adding that there was a need for market expansion…. He said: “Even private companies that own satellites don’t have only one. Some of them have five to six satellites, but mostly communication satellites which spin money. The return on investment is very fast but what happens in most advanced satellite countries is that these things are given out to the private sector to manage; they are not under government management and you can see the results.”

But a NIGCOMSAT official, Abdulraheem Isah Adajah, disagreed. Adajah who is the NIGCOMSAT’s General Manager, Satellite Applications, told Daily Trust that it was not entirely true that Nigcomsat1-R was recording low patronage due to lack of backup. According to him, inferiority complex and the mentality that ‘if it is Nigerian it can’t be good’ is the main reason. He called on the Federal Executive Council to come up with a policy which would make it compulsory for government agencies to patronise Nigeria’s satellites. [emphasis mine]

Typical thinking from government types. One government official lobbies for the government to build more satellites, while the other says the law should require their use. Neither seems very interested in discussing the actual lack of market demand that might be making these satellites unprofitable.

The article quotes a number of other government officials, most of whom remind me of the two above. Only one hints at the major source of the problem (the government), by noting that bickering between different Nigerian government agencies has been a factor. For example, the government agency that provides satellite television to Nigeria no longer buys time on these satellites, claiming that they have no backup should something go wrong.

It is a good thing that Nigeria is doing this. The problem is that it is their government doing it, instead of a private industry looking for profit.

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Iran to put man in space in 8 years?

According to one Iranian aviation official, Iran plans to put a man into space within the next 8 years.

[H]ead of the Aviation Research Centre at Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, Fat’hollah Ami, says Iran’s space programme is going on smoothly and efforts are underway to send a manned spaceship into space within the next eight years.

He said the Aviation Research Centre is now focused on its main goal to send man into the space by the next eight years. “We have had serious negotiations with Russian space centres and they are expected to give us their final reply,” he said.

The key fact revealed here is Russia. Iran isn’t going to do the flying. It is trying to purchase a seat in a Soyuz capsule from the Russians. Whether Russia will sell it to them depends on many factors, including Iran’s status in world politics and how cash desperate the Russians are.

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Trump Justice Department will not prosecute Lois Lerner

Surprise, surprise! The Trump administration has decided that it will not consider prosecuting Lois Lerner for her harassment of conservative organizations when she worked for the IRS.

More and more, I think that this prediction of a Trump presidency, made in February 2016, will accurately portray most of the policies he achieves. This quote is especially clairvoyant:

The Senate and House remained strongly Republican, but they seemed to learn nothing. The promised repeal and replacement of Obamacare slipped from a Day One priority to a Day 90 priority to a “Somewhere down the road” priority. Trump also half-heartedly tried to build a wall, but then gave up, explaining, “Well, Mexico refuses to pay for it and we shouldn’t have to.” It was not long before Trump began to “grow in office,” and soon he was explaining how, “We really need these people here, these illegal people to do the dirty jobs Americans just won’t do. We need them and it would kill our economy if we stopped it.” He soon signed a comprehensive immigration law legalizing the millions of illegals already here and expanding legal immigration; there were no firm border security provisions in the bill. When confronted by a Fox News reporter at a news conference about this flip-flop, Trump responded, “That’s a very, very rude and stupid question coming from you. The voters, they understand you have to compromise and make deals and we’ve made a very strong deal. You are probably saying this because it is that time of the month and you women say crazy things then.”

He decided not to repudiate the Iran deal, claiming, “It seems to have been going very well.” The Iranians detonated a nuclear warhead in December 2017. Vladimir Putin sent his armored divisions into unoccupied Ukraine and reintegrated the country into Russia. President Trump called it, “Very disturbing, very scary, but it’s their internal business. It’s not our business, so we are staying out of it.” Trump’s 45% tariff on Chinese goods died in the House of Representatives, but only after Republicans beat back a coalition of Democrats and a few Trump-leaning Republicans.

Trump allied himself with Democrats frequently in a series of “deals” that sometimes passed, sometimes failed. For their part, the Democrats held their fire on President Trump and focused on the GOP Congress. But in the run-up to the 2018 mid-terms, the Democrats leveraged the fact that the economy was not improving and foreign policy fiascos like ISIS’ taking of all of Syria and expanding the caliphate. They turned on Donald Trump with a vengeance and re-took the Senate as well as many House seats.

While Trump does appear to be trying to rein in the out-of-control environmental movement with the federal government, and appears to be appointing good judges, when it comes to the swamp of Washington, do not expect him to drain any of it.

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Prosecutors focus on laptop contents in Democrat IT scandal

Prosecutors have provided a copy of the contents of a laptop belonging to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (that had been apparently purposely abandoned by former Democratic IT specialist Imran Awan), suggesting that they intend to use the contents as important evidence in their bank fraud case against Awan.

Imran entered a House office building the night of April 6, two months after he was banned by House authorities from touching its network, and placed the laptop, a copy of his ID, and letters to the US Attorney in a phone booth, according to a police report. There would be little reason to enter the phone booth, and it would be difficult to forget items there.

Imran also left in the phone booth a notebook that said “attorney client privilege,” which could be a reason why prosecutors gave Imran’s lawyer a copy of what could be Wasserman Schultz’s laptop. Prosecutors said they were giving him a copy under the legal process of discovery, in which defendants have a right to evidence being used against them.

…Immediately after prosecutors gave Imran a copy of the laptop, Imran’s wife, Hina Alvi, told prosecutors she would agree to return from Pakistan to face charges, seemingly indicating she has confidence that she won’t face serious punishment for theft or cyberviolations, despite authorities being in possession of massive quantities of invoices that were systematically altered to prevent the equipment from appearing in House inventories.

Overall, it appears, though I am being very optimistic here, that the prosecutors might be making a deal with the Awans in order to gather evidence on bigger fish.

Read the whole article at the link. It provides a good summary of the scandal, and shows why Wasserman Schultz and many Democrats in Congress might be very threatened by it.

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Illegal votes may have decided 2016 New Hampshire results

New data strongly suggests that illegal voters could have tipped the New Hampshire 2016 election in favor of the Democrats.

Over 6,000 voters in New Hampshire had used same-day voter registration procedures to register and vote simultaneously for president. The current New Hampshire Speaker of the House, Shawn Jasper, sought and obtained data about what happened to these 6,000 “new” New Hampshire voters who showed up on Election Day.

It seems the overwhelming majority of them can no longer be found in New Hampshire. Of those 6,000, only 1,014 have ever obtained New Hampshire driver’s licenses. Of the 5,526 voters who never obtained a New Hampshire driver’s license, a mere three percent have registered a vehicle in New Hampshire. The Public Interest Legal Foundation received information that 70 percent of the same-day registrants used out-of-state photo ID to vote in the 2016 presidential election in New Hampshire and to utilize same-day registration.

Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, also defeated incumbent U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte by only 1,017 votes.

The one bright sign here is that it appears that New Hampshire officials appear willing to address these issues, and make changes.

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