Tag Archives: politics

Short circuit caused launch failure of Japanese mini-rocket

Japanese engineers now believe that the cause of the failure of that country’s test launch of a mini-rocket on January 15 was because of the failure of wiring insulation.

The agency said it believes the cladding of electric cables was damaged by the vibration and heat of nearby metal parts, leading the cables to directly touch the metal parts. As a result, a short circuit occurred and a data transmission device lost power, it said.

It is remarkable how much the language of this story reminds me of Soviet era press releases. Everything about it is designed to obscure the problem so that it will be difficult for outsiders to understand what happened.

From what I gather, the cables were not properly secured so that during launch they rubbed violently against some nearby sharp metal parts, which then cut the insulation and caused the short circuit. That they were not properly secured, a basic engineering requirement for any rocket, and that this announcement is written to obscure this fact, suggests once again that Japan’s space agency has some serious quality control problems that it is still not facing.

Countdown begins on India’s record-setting launch of 104 satellites

The competition heats up: ISRO has begun the countdown for Wednesday’s launch of India’s PSLV rocket, carrying a record-setting 104 satellites.

he Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle would be carrying a 714 kilogram main satellite for earth observation and 103 smaller “nano satellites” which would weigh a combined 664 kilograms. Nearly all of the nano satellites are from other countries, including Israel, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and 96 from United States, said the state-run ISRO.

If successful, India will set a world record as the first country to launch the most satellites in one go, surpassing Russia which launched 39 satellites in a single mission in June 2014.

Obviously, all these different satellites got a cut-rate launch deal by sharing the launch, which helps make their launch affordable. The disadvantage here is that they do not have much flexibility in choosing their orbits, which is why there is also a market now for small rockets aimed at launching single smallsats, such as Rocket Lab’s Electron.

X-37B about to land?

Because of sudden Air Force preparations of the old space shuttle runway at Cape Canaveral it is now believed that the X-37B spacecraft presently in orbit for the past 21 months is about to come home.

The spacecraft has not yet landed, but recent orbital changes spotted by amateurs as well as runway preparations at the Cape all point to an end to the mission.

In preparation for landing at Kennedy, teams practiced landing drills and post-landing safing operations as well as emergency drills at the SLF [Shuttle Landing Facility] last week.

The X-37B landing also helps explain the until now curious delay to SpaceX’s launch of the SpX-10 resupply mission for the International Space Station which had originally been scheduled for the 14th as well – the opening day of the X-37B’s landing attempts at Kennedy. When the SpaceX mission was delayed, it was stated that range assets necessary for the return to launch site landing of the Falcon 9 core stage were not available from 14-17 February, while all other range assets necessary for launch were available during that window.

While the secretive nature of the mission precludes any exact knowledge of the ground track the X-37B will take, a descending node reentry over large portions of the United States is the likely option given the landing window for the restricted air space in and around the Kennedy Space Center.

If the X-37B lands this week, it will have completed the fourth such mission from the Air Force’s known fleet of two spacecraft. One did flights 1 and 3, while the other did flights 2 and 4.

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.

NSF voids punishment of scientists who committed plagiarism and data fabrication

An inspector general report has found that the National Science Foundation has routinely cancelled or reduced the punishments of scientists who had committed either plagiarism or data fabrication, allowing them to continue to get grants and advise the government.

The inspector general for the National Science Foundation identified at least 23 instances of plagiarism in proposals, NSF-funded research, and agency publications in 2015 and 2016. It found at least eight instances of data manipulation and fabrication in those years. NSF officials disregarded recommended sanctions against some of the scientists and academics implicated in those findings. Though many were temporarily barred from receiving additional federal funding, nearly all will be eligible for taxpayer support and official roles in NSF-funded research in the future.

In one investigation that concluded in Nov. 2015, the IG found that an NSF-supported researcher had “knowingly plagiarized text into five NSF proposals.”

“These actions were a significant departure from the standards of the research community, and therefore constituted research misconduct,” according to a report on the investigation’s findings.

No wonder the public has become very skeptical of government science. Worse, by turning a blind eye to this bad behavior the National Science Foundation ends up giving a black eye to all science.

Japan to try another launch of low-cost mini-rocket

The competition heats up: Japan has decided, following a January launch failure, to try another launch attempt in 2017 of a test of low-cost mini-rocket.

Participating businesses will likely bear the brunt of the 300 million yen to 500 million yen ($2.64 million to $4.4 million) launch cost, though the government will likely allocate funds as well. JAXA aims to have the rocket finished by autumn. It will soon plan out how to procure needed parts and build the vehicle in time for a 2017 launch, then submit the plan to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. The ministry will secure a launch site accordingly, and a safety and inspections committee of its space division will review the plan.

January’s rocket was a three-stage version of the existing two-stage SS-520, modified to carry a miniature satellite. Off-the-shelf consumer product technology was incorporated to keep costs down. The rocket blasted off successfully. But during the first stage of the launch sequence, transmission of such critical data as its temperature and position ceased. The agency aborted the second stage, letting the vehicle fall into the ocean.

This second attempt, and the speed in which they appear to be gearing up to launch it, suggests that Japan might finally be recognizing that it has been failing badly in its efforts to participate in the new commercial launch market, and needs to energize its launch industry if it wants to participate in the exploration of the solar system.

Orbital ATK prepares Cape Canaveral launchpad for July Minotaur launch

The competition heats up: Orbital ATK crews on Sunday practiced stacking stages on a Cape Canaveral launchpad in preparation for a July Minotaur 4 launch of an Air Force surveillance satellite.

Teams this weekend stacked three inert Peacekeeper missiles stages on a launch stand similar to those that will make up the Minotaur IV rocket’s first three stages. Two more Orion 38 stages will fill out the rocket. On Sunday, the first three stages standing more than 50 feet tall were surrounded by puffy white covers that will keep the right temperature during the launch campaign’s summer heat.

Plans called for the mobile gantry to be rolled back on rails to its launch position before the stages are taken down on Monday.

Orbital ATK has been prevented from expanding its Minotaur 4 market beyond military launches because the rocket uses these available but now unused Peacekeeper missiles and is thus very inexpensive. Their competitors have been their influence in Congress to forbid their use commercially.

American citizen detained and forced by Customs to unlock his JPL secure phone

Unacceptable: An American citizen, with a legal passport and already part of the TSA security program designed to expedite his passage through customs, was detained at the border and forced to unlock his secure JPL phone so that Customs could access its contents.

Bikkannavar says he arrived into Houston early Tuesday morning, and was detained by CBP after his passport was scanned. A CBP officer escorted Bikkannavar to a back room, and told him to wait for additional instructions. About five other travelers who had seemingly been affected by the ban were already in the room, asleep on cots that were provided for them.

About 40 minutes went by before an officer appeared and called Bikkannavar’s name. “He takes me into an interview room and sort of explains that I’m entering the country and they need to search my possessions to make sure I’m not bringing in anything dangerous,” he says. The CBP officer started asking questions about where Bikkannavar was coming from, where he lives, and his title at work. It’s all information the officer should have had since Bikkannavar is enrolled in Global Entry. “I asked a question, ‘Why was I chosen?’ And he wouldn’t tell me,” he says.

The officer also presented Bikkannavar with a document titled “Inspection of Electronic Devices” and explained that CBP had authority to search his phone. Bikkannavar did not want to hand over the device, because it was given to him by JPL and is technically NASA property. He even showed the officer the JPL barcode on the back of phone. Nonetheless, CBP asked for the phone and the access PIN. “I was cautiously telling him I wasn’t allowed to give it out, because I didn’t want to seem like I was not cooperating,” says Bikkannavar. “I told him I’m not really allowed to give the passcode; I have to protect access. But he insisted they had the authority to search it.”

Even more puzzling: The Customs agents had no interest in Bikkannavar’s carry-ons. It was almost as if they simply wished to humiliate and harass an American citizen, while also accessing his private data (which in this case actually didn’t belong to him).

Trump’s effort to regain control of the borders is perfectly legitimate, especially from countries that are hotbeds of Islamic terrorism. That policy however must not include the abuse of power by border agents. This event, if true, is unacceptable. I can think of no justifiable reason for Customs agents to need to access the private phone of this citizen, especially because he clearly was a legal American and had already obtained government security clearance in several different ways. The agents who did this should be fired.

“For the first time in my adult life, I was outside of the liberal bubble and looking in.”

The story: A gay liberal reporter does a balanced story on gay conservative Milo Yiannopoulos for the leftwing gay magazine Out and discovers how hateful and close-minded the leftwing community is that he has been a member of for years. The full quote is this:

I realized that, for the first time in my adult life, I was outside of the liberal bubble and looking in. What I saw was ugly, lock step, incurious and mean-spirited.

Still, I returned to the bar a few nights later — I don’t give up easily — and hit it off with a stranger. As so many conversations do these days, ours turned to politics. I told him that I’m against Trump’s wall but in favor of strengthening our borders. He called me a Nazi and walked away. I felt awful — but not so awful that I would keep opinions to myself.

And I began to realize that maybe my opinions just didn’t fit in with the liberal status quo, which seems to mean that you must absolutely hate Trump, his supporters and everything they believe. If you dare not to protest or boycott Trump, you are a traitor.

If you dare to question liberal stances or make an effort toward understanding why conservatives think the way they do, you are a traitor.

It can seem like liberals are actually against free speech if it fails to conform with the way they think. And I don’t want to be a part of that club anymore.

Read the whole article. It illustrates how the left’s intransigence is convincing no one, and is alienating many others.

Also, anyone who has lived in urban liberal communities like New York or Washington (as I have) and has conservative opinions, or even simply wishes to think about the issues and express an independent opinion about them, knows exactly what this man has learned. The liberal world is a close-minded world, unwilling to hear other opinions and increasingly filled with hate for anyone who disagrees with them.

Black Lives Matter co-founder advocates black supremacy and genocide of whites

Apparently the co-founder of the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter has repeatedly advocated black supremacy and the genocide of whites.

One example at the link:

“[I]nfact, white skin is sub-humxn. [sic]” The post goes on to present a genetics-based argument centered on melanin and enzyme. “white ppl are recessive genetic defects. this is factual,” the post reads towards the end. “white ppl need white supremacy as a mechanism to protect their survival as a people because all they can do is produce themselves. black ppl simply through their dominant genes can literally wipe out the white race if we had the power to.”

Read the whole thing, including the comments that support this person’s position. The worse thing is that, despite the fact that this is not unusual rhetoric from the various black activists groups and that it doesn’t take much research to learn this, too many people refuse to recognize it. These people are not only violent and filled with hate, they are gathering together and gaining power. Nor does it take much thought to guess what they’d like to do with that power.

The problem is that you have to think about it.

UK commits £10 million to space development

The competition heats up: The United Kingdom’s space agency yesterday announced that it is making available £10 million in grants for projects that develop and improve the country’s launch capabilities.

Organisations expected to bid for a share of the funding are likely to be joint enterprises of launch vehicle operators and potential launch sites. The funding must be used to develop spaceflight capabilities, such as building spaceport infrastructure or adapting launch vehicle technology for use in the UK. The aim is to establish a commercial spaceflight market to capture a share of the emerging global market from 2020.

The government also announced today that it is preparing legislation to develop a safe and competitive regulatory environment for spaceflight. This work goes hand-in-hand with government’s work internationally to achieve the technical, trade and policy agreements necessary for UK based launch services and developing interest from launch customers and operators from around the world.

It is interesting to me that the UK’s effort to prepare a better regulatory environment for private space is happening parallel to the similar recently-announced regulartory efforts in Luxembourg, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates, just to name a few. It seems that the nations that wish to compete in the new colonial movement in space are all discovering that the Outer Space Treaty is a problem, and they are all searching for ways to legally bypass it, without abandoning it.

Trump to the Moon!

Two stories in the past two days strongly suggest that the Trump administration is planning a two-pronged space policy approach, with the long-term goal of shifting most of space to private operations.

From the first link:

The more ambitious administration vision could include new moon landings that “see private American astronauts, on private space ships, circling the Moon by 2020; and private lunar landers staking out de facto ‘property rights’ for American on the Moon, by 2020 as well,” according to a summary of an “agency action plan” that the transition drew up for NASA late last month. Such missions would be selected through an “internal competition” between what the summary calls Old Space, or NASA’s traditional contractors, and New Space characterized by SpaceX and Blue Origin. But the summary also suggests a strong predilection toward New Space. “We have to be seen giving ‘Old Space’ a fair and balanced shot at proving they are better and cheaper than commercial,” it says.

Another thrust of the new space effort would be to privatize low-Earth orbit, where most satellites and the International Space Station operate — or a “seamless low-risk transition from government-owned and operated stations to privately-owned and operated stations.” “This may be the biggest and most public privatization effort America has ever conducted,” it says.

Essentially, they are going to do exactly what I suggested back in late December, give SLS/Orion a short-term realistic goal of going to the Moon. This is what it was originally designed for, and it is the only technology presently available that has even the slightest chance of meeting the three year deadline outlined above. More important, this will give Congress something in the negotiations, as SLS/Orion has been Congress’s baby — pushed and funded by Congress over the objections of the previous administration and without a clear mission to go anywhere — in order to keep the money stream flowing to the big “Old Space” companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Obama tried to simply cancel its predecessor, Constellation, and that did not sit well with Congress. Trump however understands negotiation and how to play the game. In order to eventually eliminate SLS Trump is going to provide Congress some short term excitement and some viable long term alternatives.

The long term alternatives will be private enterprise. Even as they send SLS/Orion on its grand finale to the Moon, the Trump administration will accelerate the restructuring of NASA to make the agency less of a design and construction operation and more a mere customer of private space. All non-military Earth orbital operations will be shifted to the private sector over time, so that once SLS/Orion has achieved that goal of completing a lunar mission there will be a strong enough private space sector to replace it, allowing Congress to let it go the way of Apollo and the space shuttle.

Lockheed Martin screwup delays delivery of Air Force GPS satellites

Our government in action! Incompetence by a Lockheed Martin subcontractor will delay the delivery of 32 new Air Force GPS satellites and will likely cost the government millions.

Lockheed has a contract to build the first 10 of the satellites designed to provide a more accurate version of the Global Positioning System used for everything from the military’s targeting of terrorists to turn-by-turn directions for civilians’ smartphones. The program’s latest setback may affect a pending Air Force decision on whether to open the final 22 satellites to competition from Lockheed rivals Boeing Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp. “This was an avoidable situation and raised significant concerns with Lockheed Martin subcontractor management/oversight and Harris program management,” Teague said in a Dec. 21 message to congressional staff obtained by Bloomberg News.

The parts in question are ceramic capacitors that have bedeviled the satellite project. They take higher-voltage power from the satellite’s power system and reduce it to a voltage required for a particular subsystem. Last year, the Air Force and contractors discovered that Harris hadn’t conducted tests on the components, including how long they would operate without failing, that should have been completed in 2010.

Now, the Air Force says it found that Harris spent June to October of last year doing follow-up testing on the wrong parts instead of samples of the suspect capacitors installed on the first three satellites. Harris “immediately notified Lockheed and the government” after a post-test inspection, Teague said in his message.

So, the subcontractor first failed to do the required tests, then it did the tests on the wrong parts. Sounds like the kind of quality control problems we have seen recently in Russia and Japan.

The worst part? The contract is a cost-plus contract, which means the government has to absorb the additional costs for fixing the screw-up, not Lockheed Martin or its subcontractor.

Iran tests short range missile

Does this make you feel safer? Iran today launched a short range Mersad surface-to-air missile on a 35 mile test flight.

The launch took place on the same launchpad where earlier in the week they had placed and then removed an orbital Safir rocket, designed to put satellites into orbit. Why they removed it and launched the short range missile instead remains unknown

EPA employees protest Trump pick for agency head

The law is such an inconvenient thing: In direct violation of the Hatch Act about 30 EPA employees joined a Sierra Club protest of Trump’s pick to head the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

In Chicago, around 30 employees of the EPA’s regional office there joined a protest organized by the Sierra Club environmental group and the American Federation of Government Employees to protest Pruitt’s nomination.

Doug Eriksen, a spokesman for Trump’s transition team at the EPA, downplayed the Chicago protest, saying “employees have a right to take action on their private time.”

When I worked for the FAA it was made very clear to me that the Hatch Act made it illegal for any government employee to participate in partisan political activities. Your freedom to vote the way you wished was not denied, nor was your general freedom of speech, but it was considered a clear conflict of interest to engage in political activities, especially activities that might put you in conflict with the policies of the President and his administration, your boss. These EPA employees are violating that law.

I suspect the reason the Trump administration is not very bothered by this is because they intend to cut the staffing at the EPA significantly, which means many of these people will be gone anyway. No need to get into a legal battle with them.Trump will propose slashing the EPA’s budget, the Republican Congress should gladly go along, and these partisan Democratic Party operatives with this government agency will be gone.

Trump jokes about “destroying” Texas politician

Uh-oh: In a conversation with a Texas sheriff about that state’s civil forfeiture laws — in which the state’s sheriff’s can rake in a lot of cash by stealing citizen’s property — the sheriff complained about a state senator who was trying to abolish the law, and Trump responded, “”Do you want to give his name? We’ll destroy his career.”

You can see the video of the joke here.

As noted at the first link above, Trump is clearly joking. Nonetheless, this is not something anyone with Trump’s power should joke about. It is similar to a joke Obama cracked early in his administration about using the IRS to squelch his opponents. The leftist press dismissed it, but that was exactly what Obama eventually did, weaponize the IRS as a tool to attack his political opponents.

I might support some of Trump’s policies, but this statement I find disgusting. There are plenty of lawbreakers (such as the rioters in Berkeley) that Trump would be justified in attacking and “destroying.” A legally elected legislator proposing reasonable changes to law is not one of them. It is this kind of behavior that fueled my doubts about Trump from the start. Worse, it is this kind of behavior that gives ammunition to violent rioters like those in Berkeley. As Trump might tweet, “Very bad!”

Orbital ATK sues DARPA over its satellite repair program

Orbital ATK has filed a lawsuit against the Defense Department’s DARPA division over its satellite repair program that is apparently going to award a contract to a Canadian company to develop a system for using robots to repair orbiting satellites.

Orbital argues that the federal program, called the Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites, would unfairly compete with its own privately funded effort, a system called the Mission Extension Vehicle 1, backed by at least $200 million from investors. The company has set up at a production facility in Northern Virginia, with a launch planned for next year.

DARPA wants to build out a government-funded program of its own, and is close to awarding a contract to a company that Orbital views as a competitor. In a contract announcement briefly posted on the agency’s website, DARPA said it is awarding a $15 million contract to Space Systems/Loral (SSL), a U.S. subsidiary of Canadian aerospace firm MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates. DARPA spokesman Jared B. Adams said the contract award was posted in error and elements of the deal are still being worked on.

In its lawsuit, Orbital alleges that the contract violates federal policy against creating government space programs that compete with existing commercial ones. “The U.S. National Space Policy explicitly directs government agencies to avoid funding activities that are already in development in the commercial marketplace,” the company said in a statement. “Orbital ATK will continue to pursue all available options to oppose DARPA from moving forward with this illegal and wasteful use of U.S. taxpayer dollars.”

DARPA normally pushes projects that no one is doing, either because the work is too experimental or can’t yet make a profit. In this case however it appears that this is not the case. Worse (from a political perspective), they are awarding the contract to a non-American company. I would not be surprised if Congress soon steps in and shuts this particular DARPA project down.

Democrats in Pima County vote to appeal World View court decision

The Pima County Board of Supervisors in Arizona has voted 3-2 on a party-line vote to appeal a judge’s decision that canceled the county’s deal with the space tourism balloon company World View because it violated state law.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to appeal a Superior Court decision which concluded the county violated state law when it signed an agreement and lease with World View, a space exploration company located near the Tucson International Airport.

The vote was along party lines, with the three Democrats voting for the appeal and the two Republicans voting against it.

The court ruled the county did not comply with a law which requires the county to appraise the property, hold a public auction, and negotiate a fair rental price before it agreed to build a $15 million complex for the company.

It seems to me that — rather than fight this in court — the smart thing to do here is to work out a new agreement that does not violate the law, something that the county was able to do with its lease agreements with Vector Space Systems. This apparently was what the Republicans on the board were proposing. Instead, the Democrats have chosen to fight, even though that will delay things further and is likely to fail in court anyway.

UC-Berkeley student newspaper publishes essays praising riots

The voice of leftist fascism: The University of California-Berkeley student newspaper The Daily Californian today published a set of essays praising the rioters that destroyed property, attacked opponents, and silenced the exercise of free speech at the university last week.

Read it all. The essayists justify their actions under the outright lie that Milo Yiannopoulos supports genocide. (He does not and never has.) One writer even suggests that because she believes in this lie, without providing any evidence, she should have the right to kill her opponents.

There really isn’t much to say. In Berkeley California today you risk your life if you try to speak your mind freely. These fascists run the university, have the support of the university administration as well as the elected city government, all Democrats, and will use that position of power to violently attack anyone that challenges them. This place no longer participates in the American vision of freedom and liberty. In fact, it functions in direct violation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Based on these events, and the university’s response to them, I think it perfectly reasonable to cut off all of its federal funding. We did far more when faced with this kind of fascist behavior by the Soviet Union in eastern Europe. We should do no less, if not far more, when we see such oppression raise its head here in the United States.

The fascist and violent intentions of the left

Link here. The article takes a look at what a variety of anti-Trump organizations, tied to the various protests in recent weeks, say they intent to do in their opposition to Trump. And what they intend is not peaceful or a recognition that a lawful election was held and Trump won. No, their intention is the overthrow of the American government. One example:

A website called Ungovernable 2017 helped coordinate DisruptJ20’s DC efforts with anti-Trump protests around the country. Some groups endorsed a pledge to never give Trump the “chance to govern.”

“As we resist, we will create new governing institutions, new economic relationships, and new ways of being human,” the pledge reads. The pledge was endorsed by a number of left-wing figures including: the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, a black nationalist organization with chapters in eight cities across the country; activist and 2008 Green Party vice presidential nominee Rosa Clemente; and Lamis Deek, lawyer and a New York board member for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

I link these violent protest groups in with the entire left and the Democratic Party, since it is apparent that the Democrats have almost identical goals. None of them appear willing to accept the election results. All now require that all elections end as they want them to, and will work to overturn any election defeat with violence and total opposition.

In other words, they are behaving exactly the same as the fascists from the 1930s.

Milo Yiannopoulos plans to return to UC-Berkeley

Good for him: On Saturday Milo Yiannopoulos announced that he is planning to return to UC-Berkeley to give the speech that got shut down last week by leftwing fascist thugs.

I suspect that the university and the Democratically-controlled governments of California and Berkeley will work to try to stop him, but I give him credit for refusing to back down to bullies.

Update: Meanwhile, the members of the Republican club that had invited Yiannopoulos initially find that they are being harassed and threatened in the week since the riots.

Members of the student group that invited alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos to UC Berkeley say they have been physically assaulted and targeted online in the days since Wednesday’s fiery protests. “We’re probably the most harassed group on campus right now,” said Naweed Tahmas, a member of the Berkeley College Republicans. He noted that the club needed a security detail for a meeting last Thursday, a sign that tensions between the group and the area’s liberal-leaning majority may have hit an apex.“I’ve been spit on, my friends have been punched … our pictures have been posted online,” Tahmas said. “I’ve been followed when I was walking back from campus. Some guy came up to us and said, ‘I’ll catch you in the shadows.’ That sounded like a threat to us.”

In addition, there have been threats to publish publicly a list of people who had expressed interest in the club, with the intent to intimidate those people for daring to have a dissenting opinion.

All in all, Berkeley seems to me to have become an outright fascist state, aimed at oppressing all opposition to leftist dogma. Note also that the link describing this story repeats the outright lie that Yiannopoulos supports “racist, transphobic and misogynistic views,” so in a sense it is joining in on the oppression and intimidation.

NanoRacks and Boeing to build private airlock on ISS

The competition heats up: NASA has signed an agreement with NanoRacks and Boeing to build private commercial airlock to attach to ISS in 2019 and be used for commercial operations.

Commercial opportunities through Airlock begin with cubesat and small satellite deployment from station and include a full range of additional services to meet customer needs from NASA and the growing commercial sector. Currently, cubesats and small satellites are deployed through the government-operated Japanese Kibo Airlock. Additionally, the crew on board may now assemble payloads typically flown in soft-stowage ISS Cargo Transfer Bags into larger items that currently cannot be handled by the existing Kibo Airlock. “We are very pleased to have Boeing joining with us to develop the Airlock Module,” says NanoRacks CEO Jeffrey Manber. “This is a huge step for NASA and the U.S. space program, to leverage the commercial marketplace for low-Earth orbit, on Space Station and beyond, and NanoRacks is proud to be taking the lead in this prestigious venture.”

Beyond station, the Airlock could at some future time, be detached and placed onto another on-orbit platform.

This is part of the overall transition at NASA from government-built and -run to privately-built and -run.

Democratic party leaders endorse obstruction as political tool

In a Politico article today about the political state of the Democratic Party, it appears both party leaders and the base are increasingly leaning to a “a take-no-prisoners posture” aimed at a continued and total opposition to all Trump policies.

Leading Democratic strategists warn that the first signs will appear in midterm elections, in which the primary electorate will demand more than just marching outside the White House or grabbing a bullhorn at an arrivals lounge. They’ll be expecting something close to 100 percent rejection of Trump’s agenda — making the coming years complicated for members of Congress, who have to vote on it, rather than the governors and mayors who get to assume a more offensive posture.

Essentially, it appears that the Democratic Party is coalescing around a strategy similar to that used in Wisconsin against conservative Republican Governor Scott Walker, a strategy based on no compromise and no negotiation and included legislative boycotts, demonstrations, protests and occupations inside the statehouse.

In Wisconsin that political strategy was a total and utter failure. Not only did the Democrats fail to stop any of Walker’s policy initiatives, their actions apparently helped shift that state into Trump’s hands in the November Presidential election. I suspect it will result in the same utter failure in the 2018 midterm elections, which do not favor the Democrats anyway.

It is especially amusing to note the political experts the Politico quotes for its analysis. Mark Longabaugh was a senior strategist for Sanders, who lost. Jason Kander ran for a Senate seat in Missouri in 2016. He lost. Anne Caprara ran a PAC that strongly campaigned for Hillary Clinton, who lost. She also held important strategy positions in the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2010 to 2014, a time period when the Democrats lost control of the Senate. Margie Omero has been a very visible pollster on television who consistently predicted that Hillary Clinton was almost certain to win the election. As we all know, Clinton lost.

And there’s Bob Shrum, who is given the most quotes, and says in support of the obstructionist strategy,

“This is a grass-roots reaction at a level of intensity that I haven’t seen in the Democratic Party since Vietnam,” said Shrum. “It even exceeds the reaction to Iraq, which was more a slow simmer than this kind of explosive reaction.”

Bob Shrum is also known as the man who has backed nine presidential Democratic candidates during the past three decades, all of whom lost. His record is so bad that it is known in Washington as the Shrum curse. The streak continued hilariously in the November election, when he announced just after Labor Day that the election was over and that Hillary Clinton was now certain to win. His curse immediately kicked in, as that was the exact moment her polls started to drop. And as with all of Shrum’s other political picks, she lost in the election.

As I noted last week, Einstein’s definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This is more evidence that the Democrats are following this mental path.

Obamacare numbers continue to tank

We are still finding out what’s in it: Enrollment numbers in Obamacare for 2017 turn out to be far worse than any prediction, resulting in more insurance companies considering an exit.

[T]he nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted last year that 15 million Americans would enroll in Obamacare plans through the various marketplaces in 2017 (down from an initial expectation of approximately 21 million when the law first passed. The Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services lowered their 2017 expectations to 13.8 million. But the federal exchange totals are hundreds of thousands of consumers off-pace from last year, which was already sufficiently lackluster as to trigger an exodus of several major insurers. …Charles Gaba, a pro-Obamacare tracker of ACA signups, …estimated that to stay on track with the HHS projections, the federal exchange would need to tally roughly 10.6 million enrollees. The actual number was just 9.2 million.

The whole shebang is collapsing, regardless of what the Republicans in Congress do. Read the article, however, because it also provides some interesting analysis of what Congress is considering.

Whistleblower exposes climate data manipulation at NOAA

The corruption of climate science: A retired award-winning climate scientist has revealed that the publication of a NOAA paper that claimed the pause in global warming since 1998 did not exist was rushed into publication so that it would appear just prior to the Paris climate conference in 2015.

Worse, the paper’s authors disregarded NOAA’s rules for peer review, destroyed their raw data so that no one could check their results, and purposely threw out data that raised questions about their conclusions.

NOAA’s 2015 ‘Pausebuster’ paper was based on two new temperature sets of data – one containing measurements of temperatures at the planet’s surface on land, the other at the surface of the seas. Both datasets were flawed. This newspaper has learnt that NOAA has now decided that the sea dataset will have to be replaced and substantially revised just 18 months after it was issued, because it used unreliable methods which overstated the speed of warming. The revised data will show both lower temperatures and a slower rate in the recent warming trend.

The land temperature dataset used by the study was afflicted by devastating bugs in its software that rendered its findings ‘unstable’. The paper relied on a preliminary, ‘alpha’ version of the data which was never approved or verified. A final, approved version has still not been issued.

None of the data on which the paper was based was properly ‘archived’ – a mandatory requirement meant to ensure that raw data and the software used to process it is accessible to other scientists, so they can verify NOAA results.

Read the whole article. It is remarkably detailed for a modern newspaper story, delving carefully into the kind of details that must be looked at to truly understand the corruption of science that has taken place in government agencies like NOAA and NASA.

Does this story prove that human-caused global warming is not happening? Of course not. What it does show is that there is fraud going on, and that much of the science press releases issued by these agencies cannot be trusted.

Anti-Trump protesters block ambulance with critically-ill patient

How nice: Anti-Trump protesters blocking a highway in Connecticut today refused to move aside to let an ambulance carrying a critically-ill patient pass by.

Roughly 200 demonstrators marched to Route 34 around 5 p.m. carrying a banner emblazoned with the words “No Ban No Wall New Haven,” they blocked traffic on the highway the ambulance was taking. The protesters “obstructed an ambulance carrying a critically ill patient,” the state police report read, according to the New Haven Independent. “Due to this delay, ambulance personnel were required to perform an emergency medical procedure in the ambulance instead of at the hospital.”

One protester in particular who stood in the ambulance’s path refused to move when asked by police to do so. “The officers tried to guide him out of the way. He pushed an officer trying to get back,” Shift Commander Lt. Sam Brown told the Independent, noting that the man was brought to the ground and arrested.

Man wearing Trump hat assaulted at Berkeley today

Fascists: A UC-Berkeley student wearing a Trump hat was attacked by two men today on the college campus.

The student—who was wearing one of Trump’s token Make America Great Again hats at the time of the exchange—was later identified as Jack Palkovic, a member of Berkeley’s College Republicans chapter who helped organize Wednesday night’s events. CBS reports that two unidentified men emerged from the vehicle, yanked the Trump hat from Palkovic’s head, and began to beat him until bystanders eventually intervened.

Although the two men attempted to flee the scene, police officers were able to prevent their escape, and placed both men in custody.

Charges against the attackers are being filed.

A side note: Today my wife and I were driving about town doing errands, and we passed an anti-Trump demonstration that reminded me remarkably of the tea party demonstrations I participated in in 2010-2011. The demonstrators had homemade signs, were smiling and enthusiastic, and doing nothing illegal. While I disagree with them politically, I celebrate their willingness to express publicly their political opinions most whole-heartedly.

There is one difference between these peaceful anti-Trump demonstrators and the tea party demonstrators that is important however. The former have rarely shown horror at the kinds of violence seen this week on college campuses and perpetrated in their name. They might mouth distaste for the violence, and might never do it themselves, but they have no outrage about it and if asked usually express some satisfaction that those bad conservatives or the bad people who support Trump got silenced. Too often, they celebrate the violence, even if they won’t do it themselves.

Among every tea party protester I have ever met (and I have met a lot of them), such behavior was always considered absolutely unacceptable. The idea of committing violence against their opposition was horrifying to them.

This distinction is important. It points us to the source of our modern political problems.

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