Tag Archives: bankruptcy

Scientists to pollute atmosphere to stop global warming

The coming dark age: In order to stop global warming a team of scientists plan a first test of a method designed to block sunlight by injecting aerosols (the scientific term for pollution) into the upper atmosphere.

If all goes as planned, the Harvard team will be the first in the world to move solar geoengineering out of the lab and into the stratosphere, with a project called the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx). The first phase — a US$3-million test involving two flights of a steerable balloon 20 kilometres above the southwest United States — could launch as early as the first half of 2019. Once in place, the experiment would release small plumes of calcium carbonate, each of around 100 grams, roughly equivalent to the amount found in an average bottle of off-the-shelf antacid. The balloon would then turn around to observe how the particles disperse.

The test itself is extremely modest. Dai, whose doctoral work over the past four years has involved building a tabletop device to simulate and measure chemical reactions in the stratosphere in advance of the experiment, does not stress about concerns over such research. “I’m studying a chemical substance,” she says. “It’s not like it’s a nuclear bomb.”

Nevertheless, the experiment will be the first to fly under the banner of solar geoengineering. And so it is under intense scrutiny, including from some environmental groups, who say such efforts are a dangerous distraction from addressing the only permanent solution to climate change: reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. The scientific outcome of SCoPEx doesn’t really matter, says Jim Thomas, co-executive director of the ETC Group, an environmental advocacy organization in Val-David, near Montreal, Canada, that opposes geoengineering: “This is as much an experiment in changing social norms and crossing a line as it is a science experiment.” [emphasis mine]

The number of stupid and ill-documented conclusions mentioned in this article are so many it would be hard to list them all. For one, it assumes the climate is warming in a disastrous manner, an assumption that remains entirely unproven. For another, the last paragraph in the quote above illustrates how much politics dominates this scientific field. Science has nothing to do with this experiment.

Third, the risks involved in doing this kind of geoengineering are impossible to measure. They very easily could be very negative, for us and the environment. Fourth, the only objections to this experiment quoted in the article come from activist groups who believe in global warming, but would rather impose political restrictions on freedom and property rights than do geoengineering. Skepticism of the global warming theory is merely mentioned as an aside, coming from “the occasional conspiracy theorist.”

I could go on. The worst part of this article and the scientists proposing this work is their utter refusal to consider the gigantic amounts of research that has shown the many benefits of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and warming for agriculture and plant growth. Global warming, should it happen, could have negative consequences, but the data so far is very far from conclusive.

Let me add one more side note: The same environmentalists who generally support geoengineering to halt global warming are also likely to agree with this infantile op-ed: Richard Branson and Elon Musk threaten the purity of space.

Despite all the money the US and Russia have spent attempting to show who has the biggest balls, space remains pure. But, while Nasa re-engages and fuels up for another go, so-called space pioneers and entrepreneurs are already selling seats.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want space to be commercialised, owner [sic] by Richard Branson or Elon Musk. For me, this would ruin something very special.

I’d suggest you read it all, but I would fear your level of education and ability to think will be seriously damaged.

For these anti-human environmentalists, manipulating the Earth’s atmosphere, based on weak scientific theories, is perfectly okay. Having humans and private enterprise in space, however, is evil and must be prevented at all costs.

The empty-headed lack of thought and ignorance required to come to these conclusions, simultaneously, boggles my mind.

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Investigators uncover extensive corruption in Roscosmos

An investigation of Roscosmos by Russian prosecutors has revealed extensive violations of law, all of which occurred in only the last year and a half.

The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has detected systemic legal violations in the work of State Space Corporation, Roscosmos, between 2017 and the first half of 2018. In total, 1,700 violations had been revealed, Official Spokesman Alexander Kurennoy said, adding that 16 criminal cases had been launched.

“During the period between 2017 and the first six months of 2018, documents on the activities conducted by the previous management of Roscosmos had been reviewed. Systemic violations of the law had been detected, particularly regarding the state’s defense procurement, with research and development work having been conducted improperly. This also concerns the area linked to state-of-the-art engineering, and where work on registering patents on intellectual property is carried out, they had been often disrupted. This includes the deadline of defense missions, where evidence of poor-quality products being supplied had been revealed,” he told reporters.

Furthermore, prosecutors had revealed violations of procurement legislation, namely when it comes to pricing and import substitution. “Also, the situation in the rocket and space industry in general was deemed unsatisfactory since the corporation hadn’t enacted the required controls for the appropriate expenditure of budget funds by all of the enterprises’ branches,” Kurennoy stressed.

I expect this situation in Russia will get far worse, as the corruption is a feature, not a bug, in their government-run centralized aerospace industry.

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Hundreds gather at Flat-Earth conference

The coming dark age: Hundreds of believers in the idea that the Earth is flat and not a sphere have gathered for a conference in Colorado this week.

“Was there ever any debate when you were in first grade and you were learning about cosmology? Was there anyone who disputed it ever in your whole life but now?” said Dorothy Novak, a flat-Earth believer.

As science — and common sense — have proven, the world is not flat. However, flat-Earth believers say otherwise. “Look with your own eyes. Go out to the beach on a cloudy day. Are the clouds curved?” asked Novak.

About 800 are expected to attend. More important, their conference is getting good press, as indicated by this article itself.

Anyone who has read my writings at any depth know that I honor the concept of skepticism as the first premise of all science, and even of our civilization. However, one mustn’t have so open a mind that all your brains fall out. For so many people to advocate something that has been demonstrated in innumerable ways — including sending humans around the Moon — to be obviously false, says much about the sad state of our civilization.

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Google wants to monitor our movements, moods, and children

Another reason to dump Google: Google has been issued patents outlining its plans to establish monitors throughout each customer’s home, monitoring movements, moods, activities, and even their children, with the ability to even control behavior.

But there’s even more. According to The Atlantic:

A second patent proposes a smart-home system that would help run the household, using sensors and cameras to restrict kids’ behavior. Parents could program a device to note if it overhears ‘foul language’ from children, scan internet usage for mature or objectionable content, or use ‘occupancy sensors’ to determine if certain areas of the house are accessed while they’re gone— for example, the liquor cabinet. The system could be set to ‘change a smart lighting system color to red and flash the lights’ as a warning to children or even power off lights and devices if they’re grounded.

The language of these patents makes it clear that Google is acutely aware of the powers of inference it has already, even without cameras, by augmenting speakers to recognize the noises you make as you move around the house. The auditory inferences are startling: Google’s smart-home system can infer ‘if a household member is working’ from ‘an audio signature of keyboard clicking, a desk chair moving, and/or papers shuffling.’ Google can make inferences on your mood based on whether it hears raised voices or crying, on when you’re in the kitchen based on the sound of the fridge door opening, on your dental hygiene based on ‘the sounds and/or images of teeth brushing.’

The key aspect of this is that, at least right now, Google cannot force its way into your home unless you agree to let it. That any free American is not sickened by this invasion of privacy and is even considering allowing it into their home illustrates how different a country we are from only a half century ago. In my youth, for any company to publicly consider these actions would have guaranteed its bankruptcy, within weeks. No one would want anything to do with it.

No longer. Too many Americans are now sheep, wedded to their technology to a point of foolishness.

Update: I realized it will help to add that I have managed to eliminate almost all use of Google in my computer work now for more than a decade. For browser searches I use either Startpage or DuckDuckGo. For awhile I was using gmail as a backup email source, in case my main isp went down, but I dumped it about four years ago. With both Google and gmail I then wiped my history so as to reduce the odds of Google retaining it (something I can’t guarantee as Google has already been caught retaining data it does not own).

The only areas I am still using any Google resources is with youtube and Google Maps, and with both I am constantly looking for alternatives. We should all be doing the same. If anything the competition will force Google to reconsider some of its more odious policies.

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Date set for first unmanned launch of manned Dragon

Capitalism in space: NASA announced today that SpaceX has set January 7, 2019 as the launch date for its first unmanned test flight of its manned Dragon capsule.

SpaceX is targeting Jan. 7 for launch of its first Crew Dragon commercial ferry ship on an unpiloted test flight to the International Space Station, NASA announced Wednesday, a major milestone in the agency’s drive to end its sole reliance on Russian Soyuz crew ships for carrying astronauts to orbit.

If the shakedown flight goes smoothly — and if a NASA safety probe unveiled Tuesday doesn’t turn up any show stoppers — SpaceX could be ready to launch the first piloted Crew Dragon atop a Falcon 9 rocket in the June timeframe, carrying veteran NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the space station. [emphasis mine]

As I said during a taping today for my appearance on WCCO radio tomorrow at 11:10 am (Central), the only thing standing in the way of SpaceX getting its manned capsule off the ground is NASA. June is a long time from now, and the agency, egged on by corrupt politicians, could easily find ways to delay that first manned launch in that time. Nor would I put it past the corrupt Washington in-crowd, led by Senator Richard Shelby (R- Alabama), having no interest in the national interest, to do what they can to sabotage that flight. What they care about is diverting tax dollars to either their own pockets or to the pockets of their allies (which also helps bring them pay-offs campaign contributions as well).

Still, it is encouraging that SpaceX is pushing forward, and that there appear to be strong elements in NASA supporting them. Keep your fingers crossed.

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New cost figures for Space Force

A budget analysis by a Washington think tank has proposed a new range of cost figures for a Defense Department unit devoted to space operations.

Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, unveiled a highly anticipated report on Monday, detailing cost estimates for standing up a Space Force as a separate military branch. Harrison made headlines in September when he criticized Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson’s estimate — $13 billion over five years to establish a new service and a space command — as overinflated.

Harrison estimated it would cost the Pentagon an additional $1.5 billion to $2.7 billion over five years to stand up a new service, based on the assumption that more than 96 percent of the cost would be covered from existing budget accounts within DoD. Harrison’s numbers, however, are hard to compare directly with the Air Force secretary’s because they do not include costly items that Wilson put into her proposal, such as a Space Command and additional programs and people she argued would be needed to fight rising space rivals China and Russia.

Harrison laid out cost numbers for three options — a Space Corps, a Space Force Lite and a Space Force Heavy. The total annual budget of the new service would range from $11.3 billion to $21.5 billion under the three options. None includes the National Reconnaissance Office whose size and budget are classified.

These options are a much more realistic analysis of the costs for a military reorganization of its space operations. For example, most of the money for these options is already being spent, with the cheapest option including $11 billion of its $11.3 billion cost figure from present allocations.

I however now ask: Why are we spending $11 billion for offices in the Pentagon, with staffing exceeding 27,000? From what I can gather, these budget numbers do not appear to include the cost for any actual military satellite launches. It seems to me this should be doable with far fewer people, especially if the Pentagon is hiring private companies to build the satellites themselves.

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NASA suggests retirement of SLS when BFR and New Glenn fly

Capitalism in space: During an interview at a November 1st conference, a NASA official mentioned that if SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) and Blue Origin’s New Glenn begin flying successfully the agency will seriously consider retiring SLS.

“I think our view is that if those commercial capabilities come online, we will eventually retire the government system, and just move to a buying launch capacity on those [rockets],” Stephen Jurczyk, NASA’s associate administrator, told Business Insider at The Economist Space Summit on November 1.

However, NASA may soon find itself in a strange position, since the two private launch systems may beat SLS back to the moon – and one might be the first to send people to Mars.

I have been saying that this should happen since almost the first day this website was started in 2011. To quote from a September 14, 2011 post:

To be really blunt, this new rocket, like all its predecessors, will never fly either. It costs too much, will take too long to build, and will certainly be canceled by a future administration before it is finished. It is therefore a complete waste of money, and any Congress that approves it will demonstrate how utterly insincere they are about controlling spending.

It appears that I was wrong with this prediction on one count. SLS might actually fly a few times, but only to allow its supporters in Congress and NASA to justify that support. When the private rockets come on line in the early 2020s, cheaper, faster, and better designed (with re-usability), NASA and Congress will then finally say that these rockets are better and that SLS will die, and they will also both make believe they were saying that from the very beginning.

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Defense offers much lower $5 billion Space Force cost

The deputy defense secretary yesterday said that the cost for creating a Space Force should be around $5 billion, not $13 billion as proposed by the Air Force.

The cost to create President Trump’s Space Force could be lower than $5 billion and certainly will be in the single-digit billions, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said at a briefing Thursday, pushing back against Air Force estimates that put the price tag at $13 billion or more.

Shanahan, the lead Pentagon official working on the Space Force, expressed confidence the project would come to fruition — even though Democrats taking over the House have opposed it and the White House has broadly ordered the Pentagon to cut costs.

It appears that he is proposing that the military avoid the creation of a full-fledged new branch of the military and simply reorganize its space bureaucracy into a single office. This would not require Congressional approval, and is also what the military has been considering for the last few years.

Five billion however for an office still seems an ungodly amount of money to me. But then, this is how corrupt Washington functions.

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Airbus to deliver the first Orion service module to NASA this week

My heart be still! Airbus will deliver this week the first Orion service module to NASA.

Airbus will deliver the first European Service Module (ESM) for NASA’s Orion spacecraft from its aerospace site in Bremen, Germany on 5 November 2018. An Antonov cargo aircraft will fly the ESM to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. This is the result of four years of development and construction, and represents the achievement of a key milestone in the project. ESA selected Airbus as the prime contractor for the development and manufacturing of the first ESM in November 2014.

Four years to simply build a single manned capsule’s service module. At this pace we might be able to colonize Mars and the Moon in about 200 years, maybe!

Note however that NASA only has funding to build 1.5 of these European service modules. It is possible that Congress has allocated additional funds, but if so, I missed it.

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Trump moves forward on Space Force; commercial space reorganization

In a speech by Mike Pence yesterday the Trump administration outlined its continuing plans to moves forward with a new military branch focused on space as well as a reorganization of the bureaucracies that regulate commercial space into a single Commerce Department agency.

Pence said the National Space Council and National Security Council will review space operational authorities “to ensure that our warfighters have the freedom and flexibility they need to deter and defeat any threat to our security in the rapidly evolving battlefield of space.” A lack of centralized leadership and accountability threatened U.S. ability to “advance our national security in space,” Pence said. “The time has come to stop studying the problem and start fixing it.”

The Trump administration in August announced an ambitious plan to usher in a new “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the military by 2020. Such a change, which the Defense Department has estimated would cost $13 billion in the first five years, must first be approved by Congress. Pence said at an earlier Washington Post forum that China and Russia have established similar space forces. “This is what our competitors are already doing. And the president is determined to make sure that America leads in space, as well, from a military standpoint,” he said.

…The proposed bill would also create the Bureau of Space Commerce under the U.S. Department of Commerce to liaise with industry representatives and organizations, according to a copy provided to Reuters. It also calls for $10 million per year for five years starting in 2020 to fund the commerce arm.

I am traveling up to Phoenix as I write this to be a talking head on a Science channel television show, so I haven’t yet reviewed carefully this proposal. Based on the quote above, the cost for the Space Force is absurd. This is an office, not a military force. At $13 billion it looks more like gold-plated pork.

Meanwhile, the proposed Commerce agency makes sense only if it truly replaces other bureaucracies. I am not yet sure that will happen.

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More fake papers accepted by sociology/gender/racism journals

In what has become almost a regular event, several honest academics (who call by the way identify themselves as “leftwing”) have once again successfully gotten published seven bogus papers in journals centered on gender, feminist, race, and ethnic studies.

Once they had a grasp on what was already being published, they quickly wrote 20 bogus papers. Seven of those were accepted for publication by various journals and several others were pending rewrites and probably would have been accepted if the authors hadn’t been forced to call off the experiment early. For comparison purposes, seven papers is the average number you would need to publish over seven years in order to secure tenure at most universities. The authors estimate at least 10 of the 20 would have been accepted given more time. And they could have kept churning these out and had one or two new papers accepted for publication every month, for as long as they wanted to continue.

They key point here is that the papers themselves were written not as an attempt to expand knowledge but as pure sophistry. Each one started with an absurd premise and then used the contours of social justice thought, what the authors call “grievance studies,” to make the premise seem plausible.

It is worth reading their full report. To show how corrupt these fields have become, one of those accepted papers simply took a chapter of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and reshaped it slightly using feminist jargon. As the project’s authors found. the point of these publications has nothing to do with knowledge,

This is the primary point of the project: What we just described is not knowledge production; it’s sophistry. That is, it’s a forgery of knowledge that should not be mistaken for the real thing. The biggest difference between us and the scholarship we are studying by emulation is that we know we made things up. [emphasis in original]

Below the fold is a short video the three scholars produced to explain their work, what it accomplished, and their own conclusions, which strongly condemn the entire field of ethnic, race, and gender studies.

The real problem however is not what these scholars learned and demonstrated. That these fields are corrupt and infused with leftist political ideology that makes all worthwhile research impossible has been proven for decades. In 1996 physicist Alan Sokol did exactly the same thing, getting a top sociology journal to publish a fake paper purposely filled with the obtuse leftist jargon that these journals prize.

The real problem is that nothing changes. These journals continue to publish this crap and the departments and fake professors who produce it continue to be funded. In fact, since Sokal’s hoax in 1996 their funding and power has grown, not shrunk, despite repeated similar stories in the past two decades demonstrating their willingness to publish fake papers, as long as those papers advocate political leftist garbage that works to destroy the search for truth that is the hallmark of western civilization.

The journals that accepted the seven papers above should all be shut down, today. The schools that fund the departments that publish in those journals should be closed, today. The professors who teach in those departments should be fired, today. None of them contribute anything worthwhile to our society or to academic scholarship, and in fact they are fueling the racial hatred and intolerance that is now pervading American intellectual society.

Unfortunately, I have no faith that any of that will happen. Instead, I expect their corrupt bigoted leftist effort to continue to grow, permeating more aspects of modern intellectual life, with the resulting hate they engender causing a growth in violence and oppression.
» Read more

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Democrats have abandoned the presumption of innocence

Link here. As I’ve said numerous times in the past year, they’re coming for you next. As carefully documented in the article, no longer does the Democratic Party believe that everyone should be innocent until proven guilty. Now their standard is everyone who opposes their agenda is automatically guilty of any crime any Democratic Party supporter lodges against them.

Any accusation must be accepted, no matter how flimsy, unprovable, or blatantly partisan. If a Democrat says you are guilty of any crime, your career must be ruined and you must be hounded from public life.

Meanwhile, if a Democrat such as Keith Ellison in Minnesota, presently running for that state’s attorney general, is creditably accused of abusing his girlfriend, with good documentary evidence to back up the accusation, we must ignore it completely. All Democrats are always innocent, and any attempt to make them accountable for anything they do is unacceptable.

If we the public accept this standard, the American experiment in democracy is dead. The Democrats will have an endless and unchallengeable veto on everything.

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Republican Congress boosts NIH spending, rejecting Trump proposed cuts

Failure theater: The Republicans in Congress have given the NIH a significant boost in spending, rejecting both Trump’s proposed cuts and reorganization proposals.

Congress has approved a $2 billion raise, to $39.1 billion, for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a 2019 spending bill approved by House of Representatives and Senate negotiators last night.

As expected, the 5% boost matches the Senate’s proposed spending level and surpasses a $1.25 billion increase in a draft bill passed by the House. President Donald Trump’s administration had requested $34.8 billion for the fiscal year that begins 1 October. This is the fourth year in a row that NIH has received a substantial increase, after more than a decade of flat budgets.

Trump had also proposed shifting three Health & Human Service agencies into NIH. Congress ignored this.

This illustrates the bankrupt nature of the Republicans in Congress. Don’t believe them when they argue they want to limit government. They are lying. They pass tax cuts to make you happy and vote for them, then turn around and pour money we don’t have at their Washington friends.

This also illustrates the bankrupt nature of the American voter. We gobble up tax cuts, either ignore or celebrate Congress’s out-of-control spending, and then vote for the elected officials who do this.

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ISS airleak an accidental drill hole on ground

The airleak last week on ISS in the orbital module of a Soyuz capsule was not caused by a micrometeorite but by an accidental drill hole made by a technician on the ground who then, rather than reporting it, sealed it and covered it up..

“The hole was made on the ground. The person responsible for the act of negligence has been identified,” the source told the news agency.

Another source said a worker apparently accidentally drilled the hole, but instead of reporting it, simply sealed it. The sealant held for at least the two months the Soyuz spacecraft spent in orbit, before finally drying up and being pushed out of the hole by air pressure.

According to a Moskovsky Komsomolets report, the hole was located near the toilet and covered by decorative fabric. The Russian crew members used an epoxy-based sealant with metallic additives to plug both the hole and a fracture in the outer hull of the Soyuz located behind it, the newspaper said.

Well, if anything is going to put an end to the resistance to using privately built American manned capsule, this should do it. This is also going to do a great deal of harm to the Russian desire to sell tourist seats on their Soyuz.

Posted from Heber, Arizona.

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Trump cancels federal employee pay raise

President Trump today used his power under federal law to cancel this year’s scheduled federal employee pay raise of 2.1% as well as a 25% increase for “localities”.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders, Trump wrote that he’d decided “across-the-board” pay raises as well as locality pay raises for civilian federal workers in 2019 would be frozen. “I have determined that for 2019, both across‑the‑board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero,” he wrote. “These alternative pay plan decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well‑qualified Federal workforce,” Trump added.

In the letter, Trump said a 25.7-percent pay raise for localities, as well as a 2.1-percent pay increase for across-the-board pay, both scheduled for January 2019, would add billions to the federal deficit. Specifically, he pointed to the scheduled locality pay raise as costing $25 billion. “We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” Trump wrote in the letter.

This is what has made Trump different than every president since Reagan. He is willing to do things that shake up the status quo that are also falsely considered risky by the Washington political class. This will not hurt him politically in the least, despite what you will hear the pundits on the bankrupt mainstream media say. If anything, it will strongly help him and his political allies, as the American taxpaying public has been for many years disgusted with the overpaid federal workforce that has an amazing ability to regularly screw up any job they are given.

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The corruption centered on Mueller and Comey

President Trump might have his ethical issues, but at this point the questions surrounding him don’t hold a candle to the corruption revealed in two stories in the past two days about former FBI director James Comey and Special Council Robert Mueller.

The first story describes in enormous detail the flat-out whitewash that Comey and the FBI did in its investigation of the classified Clinton emails that had been found on an unclassified laptop owned by former Democratic congressman and convicted child molester Anthony Weiner. That whitewash included outright lies by Comey before Comgress.
» Read more

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Trump administration goes all in for LOP-G

The swamp wins! In a speech today Vice President Mike Pence made it clear that the Trump administration is giving its full endorsement to the construction of the Lunar Orbiting Platform-Gateway (LOP-G), as well as SLS and Orion. These big boondoggles, which will trap us in lunar orbit while the Chinese set up lunar bases and take possession of the surface and its resources, are going forward, with both the president’s support as well as Congress’s.

Providing further evidence that the Trump administration has bought into these projects, in his introduction of Pence NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine gave a big public endorsement to the executive secretary of the National Space Council, Scott Pace, a man who has been a big supporter of these projects of the bureaucracy. Pace believes we need these projects, despite the fact that they have been under construction for two decades, have cost an ungodly amount, and have literally flown nowhere.

Pence also said that they intend to have the space force a reality by 2020, and also hinted that the Trump administration is making a careful review on the future of ISS.

Overall, the speech was a big endorsement for government space, in every way, with the private sector designed not to lead as free Americans following their personal dreams but to follow, servants of the desires of the government and its wishes.

If you want to listen to about 30 minutes of pro-government promotion, I expect it will be posted here at some point.

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Three Russian space officials arrested for fraud

Russian investigators have arrested three officials from RKK Energia, the division in Roscosmos that builds and operates the Russian manned program, accusing them of fraud.

No further details were provided. This could indicate real fraud. It could also be the Russian way of cleaning house so new more politically favored players can be moved into position.

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Roscosmos in the news!

Three news stories from Russia, two from today and one from last week, provide us a flavor of the kind of space stories that come out of Russia almost daily, either making big promises of future great achievements, or making blustery excuses for the failure of those big promises to come true.

In the first the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, rationalizes the failure of Russia to compete successfully with SpaceX.
» Read more

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Warren: Federal government must have more control over large corporations

They’re coming for you next: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) this week proposed a new law that would give the federal government more control and power over large corporations.

The bill would create a new bureaucracy, would require all corporations with more than $1 billion in annual revenue to get that bureaucracy’s permission to operate, and require that 40% of their corporate boards be elected by employees.

To translate this into plain language, this is simply a power grab by Democrat Warren, which of course is par for the course for any Democrat. Give them the power to run things, and everything will be perfect! We can see what they mean simply by looking at the past fascist efforts of socialists in Venezuela, the Soviet Union, East Germany, North Korea, and every other socialist paradise where all power was centralized into the hands of ideologues like Warren.

Don’t you want the same here for America?

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State Department claims orbiting Russian satellite is a military threat

At a conference yesterday a State Department official claimed that an orbiting Russian satellite is behavior in a manner that suggests an unstated military purpose.

Russia has described the satellite in question as a “space apparatus inspector,” Yleem Poblete, assistant secretary for arms control, verification and compliance at the U.S. State Department, said at a conference on disarmament in Geneva yesterday. “But its behavior on orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational-awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection-satellite activities. We are concerned with what appears to be very abnormal behavior by a declared ‘space apparatus inspector,”’ Poblete said.

“We don’t know for certain what it is, and there is no way to verify it,” she added. “But Russian intentions with respect to this satellite are unclear and are obviously a very troubling development — particularly when considered in concert with statements by Russia’s Space Force commander, who highlighted that ‘assimilate[ing] new prototypes of weapons [into] Space Forces’ military units’ is a ‘main task facing the Aerospace Forces space troops.'”

If you read the whole speech, you will discover that much of this is somewhat overstated, and that it is simply part of the Trump administration’s aggressive lobbying in favor of creating a Space Force. I don’t deny that this satellite could be testing technologies that could have military uses. I can also recognize it when a government official is trying to use the press to advocate for more funding. At no point does Poblete describe in detail the behavior that makes them think this satellite is doing things “inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational-awareness capabilities.” In fact, if it is making unusual orbital changes that is very consistent with these purposes since any satellite designed to make orbital inspections of other facilities would need that capability.

In fact, I bet it isn’t the satellite’s activity that concerns them, but its vague description. The Russians really haven’t told us what it is. While this is surely a concern, this speech’s purpose is to lobby for the Space Force, not pressure the Russians to provide more information.

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Trump revokes Brennan’s security clearance

As threatened last week, President Trump today revoked the security clearance for former CIA director and anti-Trump CNN talking head John Brennan.

President Trump on Wednesday revoked the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, citing his “erratic conduct and behavior.” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, reading a statement from the president, said Mr. Brennan “leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official” to make false charges against the administration.

Mr. Trump’s statement began, “As the head of the executive branch and commander-in-chief, I have a unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information, including by controlling access to it. Today in fulfilling that responsibility, I’ve decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.”

The president said Mr. Brennan’s actions have “exceeded the limits of any professional courtesy.”

I’m not sure what difference this will make, as it seems a large percentage of the people who work for the CIA are as partisan as Brennan, will gladly leak any information to him that might harm Trump, and know that they likely face no consequences because the law seemingly does not apply to those allied with the Democrats.

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NASA rubberstamps Russian engines in Atlas 5 for manned flights

Surprise surprise! NASA has certified the Russian engines used in the Atlas 5 as safe for manned flights.

NASA had been claiming that, because it cannot observe every detail in how Russia builds the engines, it cannot certify them as safe for manned flight. This is, and has been, crap. The Atlas 5, with this engine, has been one of the most reliable rockets ever built.

In truth, what NASA’s bureaucracy was really doing was using these Russian engines as a wedge to slow down Boeing’s first manned flight, mainly because the commercial crew program is threatening NASA past monopoly on U.S. manned flight. Once privately built rockets and manned spacecraft fly, people are suddenly going to realize we don’t really need NASA.

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Japanese officials arrested, JAXA raided, in bribery scandal

Japanese officials have been arrested and offices at the space agency JAXA raided in a bribery scandal that also involves Japan’s education ministry.

It appears an official in the education ministry was bribing people, including one individual at JAXA, with meals and liquor in order to gain an advantage in contract bidding.

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Federal agents steal $29K from innocent man

Theft by government: Federal agents confiscated $29K cash from a man, who has never been charged with any crime, while he was proceeding through security at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

Yuba City resident Josh Gingerich buys and flips trucks. A recent buying trip to do that cost him a bag of cash which was seized by a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) drug interdiction task force at O’Hare Airport. “A little over 29 grand,” the amount taken said Gingerich who was not arrested and did not break any laws. “No marijuana, no drugs.”

He believes an airport TSA agent saw the money in his backpack and tipped off the DEA. “They take you down to a dingy basement room,” said Gingerich. “No cameras…no nothing.”

Gingerich said he was set up by the officers who he says claimed to smell marijuana on a plastic bag filled with dirty laundry in his backpack. He said officers dumped the clothes, filled the bag with cash, then brought it to the drug dog. “They can just do what they want,” said Gingerich.

There might have been a marijuana smell there, but if so they never used that evidence to charge the man with a crime, only to steal his money.

The Constitution, specifically the Fifth Amendment in the Bill of Rights, is blatantly clear about this: “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” You can’t get clearer. The entire civil forfeiture process is unconstitutional, illegal, and should end, now. It should especially end because of this quote from the story:

Last March, the U.S. Justice Department Inspector General released a report saying from 2007–2016, the DEA seized $3.2 billion with zero convictions tied to this money.

In other words, the DEA stole more than $3 billion from Americans, none of whom were ever found guilty of any crimes. This is theft by government, and must end.

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NASA wants to delay WFIRST to pay for Webb overruns

In testimony to Congress yesterday NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said that the agency wants to delay the Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope to pay for the new cost overruns of the James Webb Space Telescope.

Bridenstine said during the hearing that no decisions had been made on how to cover those additional JWST costs. “By the 2020 timeframe is when we’re going to need to have additional funds. So between now and then we’re going to have to make determinations,” he said. “Right now that process is underway.”

He said those decisions would consider the guidance from decadal surveys and a desire to maintain a balanced portfolio of programs. He specifically assured one member, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), that the extra funding would not come out of human spaceflight programs, particularly the Space Launch System. “This is relevant to the Science Mission Directorate exclusively, and that’s where, at this point, we’ve had discussions about what are the options going forward,” Bridenstine said.

Committee members used the two-and-a-half-hour hearing to express their frustrations with this latest delay, noting that the original concept for the mission [Webb] called for it to cost $500 million and launch in 2007, versus a current lifecycle cost of $9.6 billion and launch in 2021. “This is 19 times the original cost and a delay of 14 years,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the committee. “It doesn’t get much worse than that.” [emphasis mine]

Only yesterday I speculated that the cuts to WFIRST were related to Webb. It turns out I was right.

I have highlighted above one detail revealed at the hearing. I have always though Webb’s initial budget was $1 billion with a launch date of 2011. It appears it was less, by half, and it was supposed to launch four years sooner. Makes this boondoggle even more of an embarrassment for NASA and the astrophysics community. And for the astrophysics community it is also a disaster, because Webb’s overruns for the past two decades essentially wiped out what had been a very vibrant space astronomy program at NASA.

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Venezuela to remove 5 zeros from currency due to 1 million % inflation

The joys of collectivism! The socialist Venezuelan government has decided to remove 5 zeros, not 3, from its currency in order to battle a yearly inflation rate of 1 million percent.

Not surprisingly, the country’s dictator, President Nicolas Maduro, claims the country’s problems are not because of socialist policies but because of the evil United States:

The government has said it is the victim of an “economic war” led by opposition leaders with the help of Washington, which last year levied several rounds of sanctions against Maduro’s administration and a group of top officials.

Meanwhile,

Venezuela’s minimum wage is now about the equivalent of $1 a month, which has left citizens across the country unable to eat properly or obtain basic medical care – fueling an exodus of Venezuelans seeking to escape the economic crisis.

As Margaret Thatcher so accurately noted when speaking of socialism, communism, and all other collectivist ideologies, “Sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.”

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The federal black hole of lost nuclear bomb material

Link here. Key quote:

Unlike civilian stocks, which are closely monitored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and openly regulated – with reports of thefts or disappearances sent to an international agency in Vienna — the handling of military stocks tended by the Department of Energy is much less transparent.

The Energy Department, which declined comment for this story, doesn’t talk about instances of lost and stolen nuclear material produced for the military. It also has been less willing than the commission to punish its contractors when they lose track of such material, several incidents suggest.

As much as six tons of nuclear material is recorded as missing and unaccounted. Worse,

Regarding transfers to academic researchers, government agencies, or commercial firms within the United States, the Energy Department’s inspector general concluded in 2009 –the most recent public accounting – that at least a pound of plutonium and 45 pounds of highly-enriched uranium loaned from military stocks had been officially listed until 2004 as securely stored, when in fact it was missing.

The most important point made by the article is that the federal government imposes no consequences on anyone in the government who screws up in this matter. In fact, the article cites examples where the incompetent were given awards afterward. Meanwhile, this same federal government has punished private contractors very severely for similar mishaps.

This really is par for the course. The federal government today is terribly run, and those in charge routinely get away with being incompetent, and often get bonuses for being so. If we had any sense, we’d shut it down, firing everyone. We could quickly hire new people and get things done better.

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California’s coming crash

Link here. Money quote:

Economist Herbert Stein once said: “If something can’t go on forever, it won’t.” California, on its current trajectory and with its new Socialist-inspired leadership, cannot go on forever. There simply isn’t enough money. The state will ultimately fail because the math says it has to.

Or as the article’s author also notes, “California’s aspiring new Socialists have already run out of other people’s money.” Worse, they don’t even know it, and plan to spend even more money they don’t have on more pie-in-the-sky communist fantasies.

California today reminds me of Venezuela ten years ago, when things started to go sour but no one there wanted to admit it. It also reminds me of the Soviet Union under Brezhnev in the 1970s. The collapse is coming, but the insane culture and leadership in California continues to do the same failed thing, over and over, expecting a different result. Instead, everything is going to crash. My big fear is that they will take everyone else down with them.

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Billions to replace or decommission thousands of wind turbines

The unintended consequences of good intentions: The tens of thousands of wind turbines installed in the last two decades are wearing out, and no one has the billions it will cost to either replace them or decommission them.

The life span of a wind turbine, power companies say, is between 20 and 25 years. But in Europe, with a much longer history of wind power generation, the life of a turbine appears to be somewhat less. “We don’t know with certainty the life spans of current turbines,” said Lisa Linowes, executive director of WindAction Group, a nonprofit which studies landowner rights and the impact of the wind energy industry. Its funding, according to its website, comes from environmentalists, energy experts and public donations and not the fossil fuel industry.

Linowes said most of the wind turbines operating within the United States have been put in place within the past 10 years. In Texas, most have become operational since 2005. “So we’re coming in on 10 years of life and we’re seeing blades need to be replaced, cells need to be replaced, so it’s unlikely they’re going to get 20 years out of these turbines,” she said.

Estimates put the tear-down cost of a single modern wind turbine, which can rise from 250 to 500 feet above the ground, at $200,000. With more than 50,000 wind turbines spinning in the United States, decommissioning costs are estimated at around $10 billion.

In Texas, there are approximately 12,000 turbines operational in the state. Decommissioning these turbines could cost as much as $2.3 billion. Which means landowners and counties in Texas could be on the hook for tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars if officials determine non-functional wind turbines need to be removed.

Or if that proves to be too costly, as seems likely, some areas of the state could become post-apocalyptic wastelands steepled with teetering and fallen wind turbines, locked in a rigor mortis of obsolescence.

The key here is that wind power is simply not profitable. The turbines were built almost exclusively because of giant federal subsidies — increased significantly during the Obama administration — that are expected to cost taxpayers almost $24 billion from 2016 to 2020.

Those subsidies might disappear under the Trump administration, but even if they don’t, they aren’t there to remove turbines but to build them. The companies that built the turbines aren’t making enough to pay for their replacement.

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