Monthly Archives: November 2013

Two Baptist chaplains are suing the Veterans Administration for demanding they stop naming “Jesus” in their prayers.

Freedom in Modern America: Two Baptist chaplains are suing the Veterans Administration for demanding they stop naming “Jesus” in their prayers.

Two Baptist chaplains said they were forced out of a Veterans Affairs chaplain training program after they refused orders to stop quoting the Bible and to stop praying in the name of Jesus. When the men objected to those demands they were subjected to ridicule and harassment that led to one of the chaplains leaving the program and the other being ejected, according to a federal lawsuit filed Friday.

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India’s Mars Orbiter Mission experienced its first technical problem during an engine burn today.

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission experienced its first technical problem during an engine burn today.

As scientists tried to increase the speed of the satellite as it orbited Earth Monday, the flow of fuel to the craft’s main engine stopped. Backup thruster engines kicked in to keep the speed up and help raise the spacecraft’s orbit, but the satellite’s incremental velocity dipped, the Indian Space Research Organisation said.

The spacecraft was unable to reach the desired orbiting height of 100,000 kilometers. The satellite is currently orbiting at just over 78,000 km above Earth and scientists have now altered the mission plan to include an additional engine firing Tuesday to help it reach the correct height and incremental velocity of 130 meters a second.

Engineers seem confident that the spacecraft’s back up systems will be able to pick up the slack.

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New Mexico is being sued by the ACLU over a third case of an intrusive medical probe, this time without a warrant.

New Mexico is being sued by the ACLU over a third case of an intrusive medical probe, this time without a warrant.

The ACLU is representing a New Mexico woman in her fifties who was subjected by federal agents to a two-handed (!) vaginal and anal examination, an involuntary X-ray and CAT scan, and was forced to defecate in front of strangers. The woman was suspected of being in possession of drugs, on the basis of a drug-dog alert at the Juarez/El Paso border-crossing. No drugs were found. The federal agents — it’s not clear what agency they were with — did not obtain a warrant. The doctors at University Medical Center in El Paso performed the procedures without the victim’s consent, including the CT scan, which subjects people to a high dose of potentially harmful radiation. [emphasis mine]

As I said earlier today, more victims of this abuse are going to be found.

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It appears that the police in Deming, New Mexico have done forced medical procedures on more than one person.

It appears that the police in Deming, New Mexico have done forced medical procedures on more than one person.

Armed with what police said was probable cause and a search warrant, officers took Young to the Gila Medical Center in Silver City, N.M. The name of the hospital may sound familiar because it’s the exact same hospital Eckert was taken for the invasive hunt for drugs in his body that lasted more than 12 hours. Young was then reportedly subjected to X-rays and an anal exam. They found no drugs. Young, just like Eckert, says he did not consent to any of the procedures, which were performed in a county not covered by the search warrant obtained by police.

I suspect that more victims of this type of police abuse are going to be found.

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During a five hour EVA that had lots of difficulties, two Russian cosmonauts took the Olympic torch on a spacewalk

During a five hour EVA yesterday that had lots of minor technical difficulties, two Russian cosmonauts took the Olympic torch on a spacewalk.

Most of the press is focusing on the PR stunt with the Olympic torch, but I think these issues are more interesting:

Working around the Service Module, Kotov and Ryazanski worked on cables at the RK21 site before attempting to fold up the panels on the hardware into its original configuration. The EVA tasks were mainly related to the preparations on the Urthecast pointing platform for installation of the HD camera in December. However, only the removal of the launch restraint from VRM EVA workstation and the disconnection of the RK-21 experiment were completed. The duo struggled with the relocation of the Yakor foot restraint – which they opted to take back to the airlock instead – while also failing to fold and lock RK-21 experiment antenna panels. While the spacewalkers managed to take a large quantity of photos for engineers on the ground to examine, the spacewalk was concluded after the failure to fold up the RK-21 panels, resulting in outstanding tasks for the next EVA.

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The Obamacare website is a deadly security hole for anyone that uses it.

The Obamacare website is a deadly security hole for anyone that uses it.

On his blog, professional software tester Ben Simo began tinkering with HealthCare.gov shortly after it launched and uncovered security holes almost immediately. At first, the site processed an application that he had begun filling out but did not submit​—​meaning the site took the personal information he had entered and forwarded it to a state agency without his authorization. Next, he tried changing the email address associated with his HealthCare.gov account. With most websites, when you change your email, they send a notice of the change to your old address, so that if your account has been compromised by a hacker who changes the email, you’ll be alerted. Instead, HealthCare.gov sent an email to Simo’s new address about the change​—​a redundant step that provides no security for users. When doing another bit of routine maintenance on his HealthCare.gov account, Simo found that the site was sending information about his username via unsecure HTTP protocols, rather than the encrypted HTTPS. As anyone even passingly acquainted with shopping on the Internet would realize, this is, as Simo put it, “a huge security flaw” because HTTP information can be intercepted by anyone who cares to look for it.

This single paragraph describes just a few of the security problems at the website, which essentially puts your private information in the hands of numerous third parties who really shouldn’t have it.

Now, tell me again: Who wrote this law? Who shut the government down to make sure it would go into effect on time? Who created this failure of a webpage? And who will you vote for next November?

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Only 22% of those who are uninsured are interested in signing up for Obamacare.

Finding out what’s in it: Only 22% of those who are uninsured are interested in signing up for Obamacare.

And that number has plummeted in the last month from 44%. It seems that having seen what Obamacare is like, the uninsured are fleeing in terror.

As I have noted before, Obamacare was sold as a way to get everyone health insurance. In the end, it is likely going to destroy the health insurance industry so that no one has it.

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Virgin Galactic has signed a deal with NBC to televise the first commercial flight of SpaceShipTwo.

Virgin Galactic has signed a deal with NBC to televise the first commercial flight of SpaceShipTwo.

I note that with this announcement Virgin Galactic has backed off from its previous schedule for launching this flight this year. They now say it will happen in 2014.

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The UC Berkeley student government has banned the term “illegal immigrant.”

Modern American freedom: The UC Berkeley student government has banned the term “illegal immigrant.”

And what happens if someone ignores this ban? Will they send them to a concentration camp?

Considering the overwhelming support for the ban (with only one abstention), I wouldn’t be surprised if that is exactly what these students would like to do. And I expect them to try in the coming years as they move into positions of power.

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Even as President Obama issued a weak-kneed apology for his lie about keeping your health plan, he made a whole bunch of new lies.

The lies keep coming: Even as President Obama issued a weak-kneed apology for his lie about keeping your health plan, he added a whole bunch of new lies and misstatements.

Update: Meanwhile, even today the White House official website still claims “if you like your insurance plan, your doctor, or both, you will be able to keep them.”

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The House committee investigating the IRS scandal issued a new subpoena yesterday.

The House committee investigating the IRS scandal issued a new subpoena yesterday.

In reading the article, it is very clear to me that the Democrats and the Obama administration are stonewalling the House committee, and that the so-called bi-partisan report being prepared in the Senate is likely to be a whitewash.

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A Texas-based company has printed the first 3D-printed metal pistol, a 45 caliber Model 1911.

A Texas-based company has printed the first 3D-printed metal pistol, a 45 caliber Model 1911.

Video below the fold. The gun clearly functions, though I noticed that in the video they never loaded more three rounds in a magazine, and that the gun seems to cycle weakly. I suspect that they had some feeding problems when they tried to fire a full loaded five round magazine.

Nonetheless, this achievement further illustrates that 3D printing is about to become a major method of manufacture.
» Read more

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Successfully growing crops in the desert using salt water and solar power.

Successfully growing crops in the desert using salt water and solar power.

The heart of the SFP concept is a specially designed greenhouse. At one end, salt water is trickled over a gridlike curtain so that the prevailing wind blows the resulting cool, moist air over the plants inside. This cooling effect allowed the Qatar facility to grow three crops per year, even in the scorching summer. At the other end of the greenhouse is a network of pipes with cold seawater running through them. Some of the moisture in the air condenses on the pipes and is collected, providing a source of fresh water.

One of the surprising side effects of such a seawater greenhouse, seen during early experiments, is that cool moist air leaking out of it encourages other plants to grow spontaneously outside. The Qatar plant took advantage of that effect to grow crops around the greenhouse, including barley and salad rocket (arugula), as well as useful desert plants. The pilot plant accentuated this exterior cooling with more “evaporative hedges” that reduced air temperatures by up to 10°C. “It was surprising how little encouragement the external crops needed,” says SFP chief Joakim Hauge.

The technology development here is wonderful, but it is unclear from the article whether these crops would be competitive on the open market with ordinary farm crops. The cost for this operation is not outlined.

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Engineers successfully completed Mangalyaan’s second engine burn yesterday, raising its orbit to just under 25,000 miles.

Engineers successfully completed Mangalyaan’s second engine burn yesterday, raising its orbit to just under 25,000 miles.

Each one of these burns demonstrates the reliability of the spacecraft.

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India’s Mangalyaan Mars probe has successfully completed its first orbital engine burn.

India’s Mangalyaan Mars probe has successfully completed its first orbital engine burn.

Not only was the burn successful, it demonstrated that the probe’s thrusters work as planned, which means it is almost certainly not going to be stranded in Earth orbit and will at least get to Mars.

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The number of candidate exoplanets found by Kepler has now risen to 3,500.

Worlds without end: The number of candidate exoplanets found by Kepler has now risen to 3,500.

According to this new analysis, researchers estimate about 70% of stars are host to at least one planet, making planets a common cosmic occurrence. There are now 1,750 candidates that are super-Earth-size or smaller, and 1,788 are Neptune-size or larger. Only 167 of the 3,538 candidates are confirmed to be planets, but Kepler has a good track record: the vast majority of these are probably real.

Two dozen of these candidates are in the habitable zone, ten of which are thought to be close to Earth-sized.

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Hubble spots an asteroid spout six comet-like tails.

Hubble spots an asteroid spout six comet-like tails.

Astronomers viewing our solar system’s asteroid belt with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have seen for the first time an asteroid with six comet-like tails of dust radiating from it like spokes on a wheel. Unlike all other known asteroids, which appear simply as tiny points of light, this asteroid, designated P/2013 P5, resembles a rotating lawn sprinkler. Astronomers are puzzled over the asteroid’s unusual appearance.

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