Tag Archives: oppression

NASA awards Lockheed Martin long term Orion contract

The never-ending boondoggle: NASA today awarded Lockheed Martin a long term contract to build as many as twelve future Orion capsules.

OPOC is an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract that includes a commitment to order a minimum of six and a maximum of 12 Orion spacecraft, with an ordering period through Sept. 30, 2030. Production and operations of the spacecraft for six to 12 missions will establish a core set of capabilities, stabilize the production process, and demonstrate reusability of spacecraft components.

“This contract secures Orion production through the next decade, demonstrating NASA’s commitment to establishing a sustainable presence at the Moon to bring back new knowledge and prepare for sending astronauts to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Orion is a highly-capable, state-of-the-art spacecraft, designed specifically for deep space missions with astronauts, and an integral part of NASA’s infrastructure for Artemis missions and future exploration of the solar system.” [emphasis mine]

I honestly don’t know how NASA can commit to building these Orion capsules, when Congress has yet to fund them. I guess NASA has decided that Congress and elections are irrelevant, that they — as our anointed rulers in Washington — can make these decisions unilaterally, at their own whim.

One quote in the press release really stood out to me:

“As the only vehicle capable of deep space exploration, the Orion spacecraft is critical to America’s continued leadership,” said Rep. Brian Babin [R-Texas].

What a crock. Orion is pork, period. It is simple too small for any deep space mission, no matter what lies NASA tries to tell us. It will get us nowhere.

All this contract does is justify the existence of the Johnson Space Center, which really has no purpose since the retirement of the shuttle and the decision to fly future astronauts on privately built spacecraft. Having Orion to “manage” will convince people that the workers at Johnson are doing something, when really almost everything of importance will be done by Lockheed Martin.

This contract is also another component in NASA’s political strategy to get as many players in the space business committed to both Artemis and Gateway. Pretty soon they will have everyone on board, with big tax dollar bribes.

Meanwhile, what they are building won’t accomplish anything, and will strand us in lunar orbit for decades, while other countries land and learn how to build bases on other worlds.

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Climate forum disrupted by screaming protesters

They’re coming for you next: A climate forum set up by the Republican club at Georgetown University College was so disrupted by screaming protesters that the police had to clear the room.

At the start of “Climate Forum: A Rebuttal,” protestors packed the room and, beginning with the introduction of the first speaker, shouted talking points, various obscenities, and hostile chants.

Despite campus free speech policies announced clearly by the hosts at the start of the event, the harassment continued. Amid the frequent disruptions, a protester dressed as a clown intermittently honked a horn.

The College Republicans called campus police, who tried to remove those interrupting the event, but the students refused to comply. They argued with the officers, refused to show the officers their student IDs, and declared the room an “open forum.”

Eventually, police had to clear the room entirely in an attempt to gain control of the situation. The hallway flooded with protestors — as well as students who appeared genuinely interested in listening to the panelists. Numerous campus administrators and even more officers arrived as the event remained postponed.

The panel finally restarted after police had blocked all but one doorway and refused entrance to anyone with signs. But some hecklers made it through, including one protester who had to be escorted out, but not before ensuring all attendees they are “on the wrong side of history.”

Note also that prior to the event and before they had heard anything, the Georgetown Democratic club condemned the forum,

Let us summarize what this event has taught us:

1. Those who believe in global warming are so close-minded that they are entirely unwilling to listen to another perspective.

2. Those who believe in global warming are so close-minded that they are determined to prevent anyone else from hearing another perspective.

3. Those who believe in global warming are so close-minded that they are determined to prevent anyone with a different perspective from speaking.

4. Those who believe in global warming are even willing to commit acts of violence to enforce numbers 2 and 3 above.

5. Law enforcement and the college administration at Georgetown are terrified of these protesters, and are unwilling to do anything to enforce the law and prevent those protesters from doing numbers 2, 3, and 4.

None of these lessons are very hopeful, because eventually this behavior will routinely lead to violence and possible death. In fact, it already has nearly done so in a number of places, such as the shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice in Washington in 2017, and the routine violence in Portland whenever conservatives try to publicly demonstrate.

And it is why we got Trump, because unlike the police and administrators at Georgetown, Trump does not bow to this kind of childish and close-minded behavior. He fights back.

Finally, in what way do these protesters think they are going to persuade anyone to their perspective, with this kind of behavior?

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Boeing pushing to kill Gateway for more SLS funds?

Turf war! According to Eric Berger at Ars Technica today, the House hearings yesterday about Gateway and the Trump effort to complete a manned mission to the Moon by 2024 suggest that Boeing is lobbying to kill both Gateway as well as NASA’s effort to use multiple commercial rockets, in order to get its SLS rocket more funding.

Essentially, Boeing is getting almost no contracts in connection to Gateway. Furthermore, the much cheaper commercial rockets are a serious competitive threat to its SLS rocket. However, if Gateway was dropped and the money instead committed to building a more powerful upper stage for SLS, which is Boeing’s baby, the money would go to them. Moreover, doing this would make it unnecessary for NASA to use other commercial rockets, since SLS could do it all.

Berger’s analysis seems right on target. While Gateway is a bad idea, what Boeing proposes instead would be no better. As Berger notes,

What was surprising is that [lawmakers] at the hearing also appeared to be swayed by [Boeing’s] view that bypassing commercial rockets and the Gateway would lead to a simpler and faster lunar mission. “I believe there is value in developing commercial capabilities,” [one lawmaker] said toward the end of the hearing. However, she added, “I am concerned that the decisions are not being driven by what is most efficient or effective and what is most cost efficient.”

This is an interesting viewpoint given that commercial rockets cost $100 to $200 million, at most, versus the $1 billion to $2 billion cost of a single SLS rocket—not including the hundreds of millions of dollars, at a minimum, the agency would have to invest in Exploration Upper Stage development contracts with Boeing. Moreover, one of the commercial rockets—the Falcon Heavy—already exists and has flown three successful missions. Other boosters, including Blue Origin’s powerful New Glenn rocket, should be ready to fly in two or three years. An SLS rocket with the better upper stage almost certainly wouldn’t be ready by 2024, and NASA knows this.

“At this point, there is no path by which the Exploration Upper Stage will be ready for Artemis 3 in 2024,” the NASA administration source told Ars. “Hence, it is not in the critical path (for the Moon landing).”

This lobbying effort provides us a perfect illustration of the overall incompetence and corruption that permeates our government in Washington. No one there appears the slightest bit interested in serving the national interest. Instead, the focus is on how they can get politicians to give them money.

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Senate appropriations bill slams new commercial space regulations

In releasing its report yesterday on the Senate’s appropriations bill for transportation and housing, the Senate appropriations committee has demanded the FAA’s review and revise its proposed new regulations for commercial space, intended originally to streamline the red-tape but instead increased it. From their report:

Prior to drafting the rulemaking, the FAA convened an Aviation Rulemaking Committee [ARC] consisting of both traditional and emerging commercial space companies. However, the draft rule does not include relevant language approved by a majority of ARC members, and as a result, the proposed rule fails to implement a streamlined and performance based approach to regulating an industry whose continued growth and innovation is critical to national security and civilian space exploration. The draft rule creates unnecessary barriers to entry for new companies, may prevent many operators from achieving or maintaining flight rates and cost efficiencies to support new space applications and markets, and fails to address the application of the regulations to future space port locations. The Committee encourages the FAA to reconvene the Streamlined Launch and Reentry Licensing Requirements ARC and consider a supplemental NPRM prior to issuing a final rule in order to meet an artificial deadline. [emphasis mine]

It appears the FAA has agreed to review the regulations, as demanded.

I found it amusing that the entire appropriations bill is dubbed THUD, for “Transportation/Housing and Urban Development”. Though this acronym choice had nothing to do with the FAA’s space regulation debacle, it certainly seems most appropriate.

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Progress on Dragon parachute tests

It appears that SpaceX’s parachute testing for its Dragon manned capsule is finally satisfying the concerns of NASA and its safety panel, based on a Sept 17 NASA blog post.

In fact, SpaceX’s success has even forced NASA “to reevaluate its own [parachute] standards and certification processes.”

The article at the link also notes quite correctly NASA’s tendency to miss the forest for the trees, which is why it has forced SpaceX to do so much additional parachute testing, even though the company apparently had a solid understanding of its parachutes a long time ago.

[T]he space agency has been focused on parachutes and COPVs [the tank issues that caused the 2016 launchpad explosion] for years. This is primarily a result of NASA’s notoriously reactive approach to safety: SpaceX suffered two COPV-related Falcon 9 failures in 2015 and 2016 and has experienced an unknown number (likely 1-3) of anomalies during Crew Dragon parachute testing.

As a result, NASA has focused extensively on these two stand-out concerns. To an extent, this is reasonable – if you know things have a tendency to fail, you’re going to want to make sure that they don’t. However, prioritizing reactive safety measures at the cost of proactive safety would be a major risk, akin to getting in a car crash because you didn’t use a turn signal and then prioritizing turn signal use so much that you forget to look both ways before making turns. Sure, you will probably never get in the same crash, but you are raising the risk of new kinds of accidents if you overcorrect your attention distribution.

Either way, it increasingly appears that a manned Dragon mission might finally be getting close to launch.

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Yang: Private car ownership must end

They’re coming for you next: In a climate forum at Georgetown University today, Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang proposed the government eliminate the private ownership of cars, and replace it with a “constant roving fleet of electric cars that you would just order up.”

Of course, this fascist Democrat doesn’t mention that, according to his own climate plan it would be the government creating and operating that fleet of cars.

Just imagine having to depend on the DMV for your actual transportation. Right now it is generally bad enough, especially in the Democratic-controlled big urban cities, to just get your driver’s license renewed. Won’t it be just wonderful when you have to call them to provide you your car?

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House hearing, and budget, raises doubts about 2024 Moon landing

Two events yesterday increased the likelihood that the Trump administration’s effort to complete a manned Moon landing by 2024 will not happen.

First, at hearings yesterday before the House Science, Space, and Technology (SS&T) Committee, not only did a top NASA official express skepticism about the 2024 date, several key Democratic lawmakers added their own skepticism about the entire project.

Then, the Democratically-controlled House released a draft continuing resolution which included none of the extra $1.6 billion requested by the Trump administration for the 2024 Moon mission.

At the first link there is much discussion about the issues of Gateway, of using commercial launchers instead of SLS, of funding, and of the endless delays for SLS, of the management problems at SLS/Orion/Gateway. All these issues illustrate the hodgepodge and very disorganized project design that has represented SLS/Orion/Gateway from the beginning. SLS/Orion was mandated by Congress, with no clear mission. Gateway was tacked on later by NASA and the big space contractors building SLS (Boeing) and Orion (Lockheed Martin), with lobbying help from other international space agencies who want a piece of the Gateway action. None of it ever had a clear over-arching goal or concept related to the actual exploration of space. All of it was really only designed to justify pork spending in congressional districts.

As much as the Trump administration wants it, I do not see a path for its 2024 Moon landing. Congress, as presently structured, will not fund it, and SLS and Gateway are simply not the projects designed to make it happen.

The confusion at the hearings over Gateway also suggests that if this project gets going, it will only serve to drive a nail into the coffin of all American manned exploration, as run by our federal government. Too many vested interests are fighting over this boondoggle. In the end I think they will rip it apart and then reshape it into a Frankenstein monster.

The only hope for a real American vibrant manned space effort in the near future still appears to me to reside in the private sector’s own manned projects, which right now means SpaceX and its Starship.

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IG had recommended criminal prosecution of Comey

The law is only for little people: In testimony today before Congress, Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz revealed that he had recommended criminal prosecution earlier this year against former FBI director James Comey.

The Justice Department however declined to follow through, essentially letting Comey off the hook.

In the past few weeks there have been many rumors about more criminal referrals by Horowitz in connection with his investigation into the illegal use of the FISA court by the FBI and Obama Justice Department to initiate spying operations on Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. The conservative press has made much of those rumors.

To my mind, the rumors mean squat, just as Horowitz’s recommendation here against Comey. Until these corrupt officials are actually indicted, the IG can say whatever he wants, but nothing has been accomplished, and future federal employees will know that they can attempt a coup against legally elected lawmakers and face no consequences.

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Has the leftist smear machine begun to crack?

Several stories in the past week suggest that cracks might finally be appearing in the leftist/Democratic/media smear machine that since 2008 has used lies and slanders to destroy the reputations of its opponents.

What makes the first five stories above different from everything I have seen in the past two decades, since Bill Clinton’s perjury and impeachment in the late 1990s, is the willingness of people on both the right and left, within the entertainment community, to come out publicly and condemn the leftwing blacklisting efforts that have normally been supported blindly and in mass by those same communities.

In the past the support for such blacklisting threats against conservative entertainers would have been monolithic, and any conservatives in Hollywood would have been silent, out of fear they own careers would have been destroyed.

Now we not only have a number of conservative entertainers fearlessly blasting this fascist blacklisting, they are being joined by many liberal entertainer icons.

The last story is similar, but instead of the entertainment community the story involves a rebellion by a Democratic politician. Since Bill Clinton’s presidency I have practically never seen a Democratic politician resist this blacklist culture. Yang might be the very first. And I say that despite the fact that I definitely oppose his politics.

We are also seeing some of the same thing with this week’s New York Times slander of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. While the right has justly blasted the newspaper for its partisan lying and incompetence, so have some liberal outlets.

It could be that the leftist smear machine has finally gone too far, and has become so vile and despicable that even many ardent leftists can no longer tolerate it.

Then again, I am a forever optimistic person, and sometimes see hope where none exists. These might merely be the exceptions that prove the rule. Only time will tell us whether this is a new positive trend, or a minor blip in left’s never-ending quest to persecute its opponents.

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The Democratic/Media smear machine

This past weekend we got to once again see the workings of the Democratic/Media smear machine, designed to not only destroy the reputation of anyone who opposes them, but to give that machine justification for removing all such individuals from any position of power.

All without any evidence. None.

First the New York Times published a new unsubstantiated smear against Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh. The allegations were made by a Democratic Party operative who had acted as one of Bill Clinton’s lawyers, and who claimed to have seen the incident.

Then Democratic politicians pile on, demanding the impeachment of Kavanaugh. They do this despite the fact that there are absolutely no other confirmed witnesses to that Democratic operative’s accusations. Nor is there any record anywhere or evidence that the vile incident ever happened.

Then, when the damage has already been done, and this new Big Lie has been properly spread throughout the world, the New York Times finally corrects its initial report, adding two significant details that discredits the report entirely. First, the so-called victim had refused to be interviewed for the report, and second, according to her friends, has no recollection of the incident itself.

None of these corrections will matter. From now on Democrats, and their willing allies in the press, will repeatedly use this new smear as evidence that Kavanaugh is a bad person who must be removed from office.

This is the same pattern we have seen them use repeatedly for the past decade. First they make unsubstantiated accusations of racism (the Tea Party, some children from Kentucky), of murder (Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown), of encouraging violence (Sarah Palin), of treason (Trump), of sexual deviancy (Kavanaugh and Roy Moore), and then when those accusations are unequivocally proven to be lies and smears, ignore this fundamental evidence to continue spreading the lies and the slanders.

Yet, when it came time to vote in 2018, the American public shrugged its shoulders, ignored this vile behavior, and rewarded these Democrats with more power in Congress. It seems that a very large percentage of the American public — maybe even a majority — approves of this smear machine, likes what it is doing, and wants to use it to make sure all opposition to the Democratic Party is destroyed, by any means necessary.

Bad times are coming, unless something changes in the 2020 election.

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Township shuts fire company because one member spoke to Proud Boys

They’re coming for you next: A local Pennsylvania township has shut down an entire voluntary fire company because it refused to blacklist a member who also happened to have expressed interest in joining the Proud Boys organization.

Officials in Haverford Township, in Delaware County, were informed on Aug. 12 that a volunteer with the Bon Air Fire Company was affiliated with “an organization described as an extremist group,” the township’s manager David Burman wrote in a statement released Thursday.

The township immediately launched an investigation, which included interviewing the volunteer, who admitted he was involved with the Proud Boys, Burman said. The volunteer revealed he had attended social gatherings hosted by the group and had passed two of the group’s four initiation steps, “which includes hazing.”

Burman’s statement quoted the group’s “self-proclaimed basic tenet,” posted on their website, that they are “Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.” The proclamation belongs to the Proud Boys, who “are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which designates them as a hate group. Women and transgender men are not allowed in the group.

While the volunteer “indicated that he had attempted to distance himself from the group in recent months” Burman and a police official met with Bon Air Fire Company officials on Aug. 14 to address “the seriousness of this matter and urged the fire company to address it.”

Burman said he was informed the next day that the volunteer had offered his resignation, but the Bon Air Fire Company chief had refused to accept it. A week later, Burman said he received an email that said the fire company’s board had “found no basis for terminating the volunteer’s membership.”

First, the accusations of bigotry by the Southern Poverty Law Center are pure slander and libel. There is no evidence of this. The Proud Boys are admittedly a male-only organization, but so what? This isn’t proof of bigotry, no matter what the modern idiotic political correct leftist interpretation claims. And the organization’s proud favoring of western civilization over other cultures, such as Islam, actually has strong empirical proof, for anyone who has read any history at all. These slanders are part of Obama’s legacy of hate, whereby liberals now have the freedom to label anyone who disagrees with them bigots and hate-mongers, without any evidence.

I applaud the fire company for standing up for the freedom of speech of one of its members. I wish that there would be an outpouring of support for them in this locality in Pennsylvania. They should be honored for defending freedom, and telling the local petty dictators on the township’s government to go to hell.

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Democrats at climate forum: Ban everything!

Fascists: When asked by CNN interviewers during that network’s seven hour pro-Democratic climate forum yesterday what they would do to prevent global warming, it appears that the primary solution by every Democratic presidential candidate was to ban things.

Democrats appearing at CNN’s marathon 7-hour global warming forum have a plan to solve a changing climate: Ban everything!

Over the course of the television extravaganza, Democrats’ leading 2020 presidential candidates floated a variety of proposals to cut Americans’ energy use and, ostensibly, to stop the climate from changing. Among them: Bans on plastic straws, red meat, incandescent lightbulbs, gas-powered cars, nuclear energy, off-shore drilling, fracking, natural gas exports, coal plants, and even “carbon” itself.

The article goes on to detail each candidate’s banning proposals, all of which were similar, mindless, and based on an incredible level of ignorance about the climate and science. Bernie Sanders however probably gave us the most revealing and honest glimpse into all their mindsets with his suggestion that human life itself was the problem.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) went the furthest, saying we should try to minimize human life itself to help the environment. Sanders said he’d use taxpayer money to help fund 3rd world population control programs: “The answer has everything to do with the fact that women in the United States of America, by the way, have a right to control their own bodies and make reproductive decisions. And the Mexico City agreement, which denies American aid to those organizations around the world that allow women to have abortions or even get involved in birth control to me is totally absurd.” [emphasis mine]

No one should be surprised by this. Every socialist/communist/totalitarian movement in the past has always led inevitably to the killing of millions. For them, their ideas are much more important than people, and should those people get in the way, well then, they must be removed, by force and by gas chambers if necessary.

Be prepared. Should one of these power-hungry leftists win the White House they will be coming for you next.

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San Fran government declares NRA (and its members) terrorists

They’re coming for you next: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, all Democrats, yesterday voted unanimously to declare the National Rifle Association a domestic terrorist organization.

[The resolution blames the] NRA … for causing gun violence. “The National Rifle Association musters its considerable wealth and organizational strength to promote gun ownership and incite gun owners to acts of violence,” the resolution reads. The resolution also claims that the NRA “spreads propaganda,” “promotes extremist positions,” and has “through its advocacy has armed those individuals who would and have committed acts of terrorism.”

In addition to calling the NRA a domestic terrorist organization, the Board of Supervisors called on the city and county of San Francisco to “take every reasonable step to limit … entities who do business with the City and County of San Francisco from doing business” with the NRA.

You can read the resolution here [pdf]. Its aim is to blacklist this legal organization made of about five million Americans. It also aims to forbid any legal agreements between any businesses in San Francisco and the NRA, as well as encourage all other city, state, and federal governments to do the same.

Ah, blacklists! I remember them well. There was once a time that Democrats considered blacklists to be the font of all evil, and proof that anyone who suggested them was a fascist. Now that the left proposes such things they stand for justice and righteousness.

Nor is this the only example. Recently several Hollywood television actors called for the publication of all attendees to a Trump fundraiser in Beverly Hills, so that they could make a list of people to blacklist. Fortunately, a lot of other Hollywood stars balked, criticizing the idea.

Nonetheless, this is where the leftist Democratic Party is headed. Either you agree with them, or you must be squelched, in every way possible.

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China withdraws extradition bill that sparked Hong Kong protests

The Hong Kong government today announced that it is withdrawing the extradition bill demanded by China that sparked Hong Kong protests.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said Wednesday that the government would withdraw a contentious extradition bill that ignited months of protests in the city, moving to quell the worst political crisis since the former British colony returned to Chinese control 22 years ago.

The move eliminates a major objection among protesters, but it was unclear if it would be enough to bring an end to intensifying demonstrations, which are now driven by multiple grievances with the government.

“Incidents over these past two months have shocked and saddened Hong Kong people,” she said in an eight-minute televised statement broadcast shortly before 6 p.m. “We are all very anxious about Hong Kong, our home. We all hope to find a way out of the current impasse and unsettling times.”

Her decision comes as the protests near their three-month mark and show little sign of abating, roiling a city known for its orderliness and hurting its economy.

The article suggests that the protests will still go on, that the “genie is out of the bottle.” I am not so sure.

Regardless, what this means is that, as of now, China is admitting that its effort to eliminate Hong Kong’s democratic systems and fold it completely into the communist power structure of the mainland has failed. This does not mean that China will stop trying, merely that they will now pause in this effort.

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The end of the Thirty Meter Telescope?

The arriving dark age: It appears that the protests in Hawaii that are preventing the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope might end up killing the telescope completely.

The problem is twofold. First, the Democratic-controlled government in Hawaii is willing to let the protesters run the show, essentially allowing a mob to defy the legal rulings of the courts:

The Native Hawaiian protesters blocking the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on the summit of Mauna Kea appear to have settled in for the long haul. After 2 months of protests, their encampment on the Mauna Kea access road has shops, a cafeteria, and meeting spaces. “It’s like a small village,” says Sarah Bosman, an astronomer from University College London who visited in July. “There are signs up all over the island. It was a bit overwhelming really.”

Second, there is opposition to the alternate backup site in the Grand Canary Islands, both from local environmental groups and from within the consortium that is financing the telescope’s construction.

Astronomers say that the 2250-meter-high site, about half as high as Mauna Kea, is inferior for observations. Canada, one of six TMT partners—which also include Japan, China, India, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of California—is especially reluctant to make the move and could withdraw from the $1.4 billion project, which can ill afford to lose funding. Finally, an environmental group on La Palma called Ben Magec is determined to fight the TMT in court and has succeeded in delaying its building permit. It says the conservation area that the TMT wants to build on contains archaeological artifacts. “They’re willing to fight tooth and nail to stop TMT,” says Thayne Currie, an astronomer at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

We now live in a culture that is opposed to new knowledge. It is also a culture that prefers mob rule, giving power to the loudest and possibly most violent protesters, while treating the law as a mere inconvenience to be abandoned at the slightest whim of those mobs.

If this doesn’t define a dark age, I’m not sure what does.

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UK Tories purge 21 who opposed party today

The Conservative Party in Great Britain today expelled 21 members who voted against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to exit the European Union, deal or no deal.

[The expulsion plan was announced] just hours after lawmakers in Britain passed legislation designed to stop Johnson from taking the UK out of the European Union without a formal deal. The House of Commons earlier Tuesday passed a bill allowing members of Parliament to introduce legislation forcing Johnson to ask for a three-month extension from the EU if a deal is not made by Oct. 31, the Brexit deadline.

The bill passed in a 328 to 301 vote, with 21 members of the governing Conservative Party defecting and joining the opposition party, The Guardian reported.

Johnson has also announced that he will call for general elections, to decide if his party should remain in power. At the moment it appears he does not have a majority in parliament to rule.

At the same time, Johnson has soared in the polls for his hardline exit strategy, and it also appears this strategy is garnering him international political support.

If Johnson wins in the elections, he will have succeeded in purging his party of the equivalent of what conservatives in the U.S. call RINOs, fake conservatives who mouth the right thing but don’t really mean it and when push comes to shove always betray the people who voted for them. This will put Johnson in a very strong political position for doing what he was chosen to do, uphold the choice of the electorate when they voted to leave the European Union.

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SpaceX issues explanation for nonresponse in potential satellite collision issue

SpaceX today issued an explanation for why it had not responded when ESA officials had asked them to change the orbit of one of its Starlink smallsats to protect against a possible collision with ESA’s Aeolus spacecraft.

SpaceX, in a statement Sept. 3, said it was aware of a potential conjunction Aug. 28 and communicated with ESA. At that time, though, the threat of a potential collision was only about 1 in 50,000, below the threshold where a maneuver was warranted. When refined data from the U.S. Air Force increased the probability to within 1 in 1,000, “a bug in our on-call paging system prevented the Starlink operator from seeing the follow on correspondence on this probability increase,” a company spokesperson told SpaceNews.

“SpaceX is still investigating the issue and will implement corrective actions,” the spokesperson said of the glitch. “However, had the Starlink operator seen the correspondence, we would have coordinated with ESA to determine best approach with their continuing with their maneuver or our performing a maneuver.”

This incident increasingly strikes me as a tempest in a teapot created by ESA for any number of reasons, including their overall dislike of SpaceX (for generally making all government-run space programs look foolish). There is also this quote from an ESA official in the article above:

“The case just showed that, in the absence of traffic rules and communication protocols, collision avoidance has to rely on the pragmatism of the involved operators,” Krag said. “This is done today by exchange of emails. Such a process is not viable any longer with the increase of space traffic.” He said that, if the Space Safety initiative is funded, ESA would like to demonstrate automated maneuver coordination by 2023. [emphasis mine]

I can just see ESA officials drooling with eager anticipation the coming of more “traffic rules and communication protocols,” partly inspired by this fake crisis they just created. Imposing more rules and getting increased funding is what they do best, since it certainly isn’t exploring space with creative and efficient innovation.

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Boris Johnson loses one-vote majority in House of Commons

In the continuing political battle in the British parliament over the decision by the voters to leave the European Union and prime minister Boris Johnson’s effort to abide by that decision quickly, a member of his Tory Party defected from that party today in a public stunt.

Boris Johnson has seen his one-vote Commons majority vanish before his eyes, as a statement by the prime minister to parliament was undermined by the very public defection of the Conservative MP Phillip Lee to the Liberal Democrats.

The stunt, in which the pro-remain Bracknell MP walked across the chamber to the Lib Dem benches flanked by two of his new colleagues, happened as Johnson updated the Commons on last month’s G7 summit, a statement devoted mainly to Brexit.

At the start of a crucial day in the Commons, Johnson condemned a backbench plan aimed at delaying Brexit to avert a no-deal departure, calling it a “surrender bill”. Jeremy Corbyn responded by criticising the PM’s language. MPs will vote on Tuesday evening on whether to take control of the order paper to allow the passage of the bill. Johnson has promised to seek a general election if they do so.

It is very clear that Great Britain has the same political problem as the United States: an entrenched elitist power structure that doesn’t wish to abide by the popular will, and is willing to do almost anything to maintain its power, even if that means corrupting or even destroying the democratic institutions that have made western civilization possible.

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The modern academic view of the future

Samsung has just released a new report, dubbed Samsung KX50: The Future in Focus, where the company asked “Six of Britain’s leading academics and futurists” to give their prediction of what the world will be like fifty years hence.

According to the report [pdf], people will be living mostly in very dense urban environments consisting of giant, self-sufficient skyscrapers that grow their own food, huge underground complexes, and even undersea colonies. Travel will be by self-driving pods that can double as hotel rooms on long trips, with travel possible between places like Britain and Scandinavia by aquatic highways. Alongside these will be autonomous air taxis that use rivers as commuter routes, hyperloops, and hypersonic airliners.

Not that there will be much traveling. For environmental reasons, most food will be grown close to home, if not in the home itself. Manufacturing will be equally local thanks to 3D printing. And, thanks to automation and artificial intelligence, most people will work in their self-cleaning homes with most of their professional and personal interactions with others conducted through means of full-feedback holographs.

That means that most people will live very sedentary lives, but they’ll also be monitored by biosensors throughout the day as virtual digital companions assess their health, help doctors to prescribe treatments to keep them at peak fitness, dispense health advice, and even custom tailor diets and medicines. [emphasis mine]

The last paragraph immediately stood out to me. These academics saw no moral or ethical problem with such monitoring and supervision. Nor it appears were they aware of the political ramifications of such technology.

Similarly, the report also envisioned “TV and movies beamed directly to your brain via optoelectronic devices” and “Living forever with our memories uploaded to the Cloud.” And from introduction in the report [pdf] itself:

One of the first things that struck me, reading their submissions, was how much consensus there seems to be between all our futurologists, on matters such as direct brain-to-internet connection being a very real possibility before 2069.

The essays in the report itself confirmed this impression. The predictions of all these academics are all focused on imposing their hot-button leftist agenda, including preventing global warming, allowing gender fluidity, pushing environmental activism, and eliminating of meat as food (to name a few), and doing so by the use of technology that is implanted directly into each human being. The world they envision will have every human a pawn in their interconnected robotic-controlled society, with brain implants eliminating our ability to think independently because we are now part of a kind of hive mind.

Samsung then asked British citizens to rank these predictions by what they would most like to see come true. Self-cleaning robotic homes was by far the most popular prediction at 63%, with “Body implants that monitor our health and translate any language” coming in second at 44%.

This poll however was rigged, as it did not ask anyone if they opposed some predictions. I wonder what response Samsung would have gotten had they asked that question.

Nonetheless, the number of people enthused by the idea of monitoring by body implants make me fear for the future. Today young people are addicted to their smart phones and that hive mind. They see nothing wrong with Google monitoring their lives and even acting to control them. I fear that when more convenient but invasive monitoring and control become technologically possible, future generations will be quick to accept it, while they simultaneously lose their individuality and ability to create uniquely.

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Police ramp up violence against Hong Kong protesters today

This weekend’s Hong Kong protests against China’s rule resulted in increased violence by the police against the protesters.

In the evening, clashes between police and demonstrators broke the peaceful rhythm in the afternoon rallies, repeating the pattern of past weekend protests. Police deployed water cannon trucks several times, unleashing blue-dyed water that would make it easier for police to identify frontline protesters. Police chased down protesters and beat them up with batons, injuring multiple people in the head. One person was injured in the left eye, reportedly by a police-fired projectile.

On Hennessy Road, where many protesters had gathered, police fired multiple rounds of tear gas and sponge grenades. Police also confirmed that they fired two live rounds near Victoria Park. There were no reported injuries in the area. It is unclear why police decided to deploy their service weapons at the time.

Toward midnight, violence spread into subway stations in Kowloon district. At the Prince Edward metro station and several other stations in Kowloon, police charged into the station and into train cars, deploying pepper spray and beating their batons. Officers arrested at least a dozen individuals. Several unarmed passengers were seen bleeding from injuries.

More details at the link. It appears that the protests were peaceful for most of the day, until the police decided to move in and try to shut them down.

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ISS partners okay Trump changes to Gateway

The various international nations that partner on ISS and wish to partner on NASA’s Gateway project issued a statement this week saying that they approve the changes imposed on that lunar space station by the Trump administration, all of which significantly delay their participation.

In an Aug. 28 statement, members of the station’s Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB), which includes the five space agencies involved in the ISS, said the Gateway is “a critical next step” in human space exploration and that they plan to contribute modules or other elements for the facility in lunar orbit.

“Looking to exploration activities beyond LEO, the MCB members reaffirmed their continued intention to cooperate on a human outpost in the lunar vicinity – Gateway,” the document, a summary of the board’s Aug. 6 meeting, stated. “Within a broader open architecture for human exploration, the MCB acknowledged the Gateway as a critical next step.”

The board offered a similar endorsement of the Gateway at a March 5 meeting. The statement from that meeting included a diagram of one Gateway configuration, with contributions from Canada, Europe, Japan and Russia, as well as the United States, identified.

Three weeks after that meeting, though, Vice President Mike Pence announced at a meeting of the National Space Council that the U.S. would speed up its lunar exploration timeline, seeking to land astronauts on the moon by 2024, rather than prior plans for a 2028 landing. NASA subsequently said that it would initially pursue a minimal Gateway needed for that 2024 landing, deferring full-fledged development of the Gateway for a second phase intended to enable “sustainable” lunar exploration in the second half of the 2020s. [emphasis mine]

The “minimal Gateway” that the Trump administration is presently pursuing is structured to shift focus from a space station in lunar orbit to landing on the Moon. This means that many of the later components of Gateway, to be built or used by these international partners, will be significantly delayed, or even made unnecessary.

So, why did these space agencies all endorse the new plan that circumscribed their participation? They have no choice. Without NASA’s SLS, they have no way to get to the Moon. And without Gateway, SLS has no reason to exist. These government space agencies need SLS (as ephemeral as SLS might be) because it is the only free government launch option available to them. They hope, by endorsing what the Trump administration has done, to convince it to go along with the complete Gateway project, including the continued funding of SLS, thus creating a gigantic international boondoggle (paid for mostly by the U.S.) that will justify all their manned space programs.

This is another reason to dump SLS. Wouldn’t it be better for the U.S. to have its private commercial space launch industry sell its goods to these leeches, rather than have them living off our taxpayers’ dime? We will gain nothing from them with Gateway, as it is presently structured, while they feed off of us. If instead they needed to buy launch services from private rockets, the profits would accrue to U.S. companies and citizens, and help encourage competition and more innovation.

If we instead buy into this international boondoggle, we will spend a lot of money for very little space exploration, even as we make the bureaucrats at six government space agencies (including NASA) very happy.

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Hong Kong arrests three prominent protest leaders

In a sign that China has no intention of compromising with the protesters in Hong Kong, authorities there today arrested three of the most high-profile leaders of the protest movement.

Two were active in protests in 2014.

Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, who rose to eminence as the student leaders of pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014, were detained Friday, ahead of what is expected to be a tense weekend in the city. Authorities banned a march planned for Saturday, and warned they would use force and possibly arrest those who defy the order.

Police said Wong and Chow face charges of participating in an unauthorized assembly and inciting others to participate in an unapproved assembly, while Wong faces an additional charge of organizing an unapproved assembly, in relation to a June 21 protest at police headquarters. Both were released on bail Friday. …

The sweep came ahead of a sensitive political anniversary in the semiautonomous Chinese territory. This Saturday marks five years since Beijing announced an electoral-reform plan that denied Hong Kong free elections — a decision that triggered 79 days of pro-democracy protests.

More here, including information about other arrests in addition to the three above.

I’m not sure China’s actions here are going to prevent demonstrations tomorrow. For example,

The bespectacled Wong, who was 17 when he became the face of the student-led civil disobedience movement in 2014 that blocked major roads for 79 days, has not been a prominent figure in the latest protests, which have no identifiable leaders.

The same thing applies to the others who were arrested. There doesn’t appear to be anyone in particular running these protests, which means arresting a few scapegoats and banning further demonstrations will probably not work. We shall find out this weekend.

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Space Command to launch today

The military today will initiate a new military office dubbed the Space Command, thereby consolidating its space operations into one office.

U.S. Air Force Gen. John Raymond will serve as the first head of Space Command (SPACECOM). At launch, Raymond will lead 87 active units handling operations such as missile warning, satellite surveillance, space control and space support, Gen. Joseph Dunford said at a meeting of the National Space Council earlier this month.

The rest of the linked article is focused on the politics of Trump’s desire to turn this command into a new branch of the military, a Space Force, while facing opposition in Congress and the Pentagon. The goal however from the beginning was to end the scattershot nature of the military’s space bureaucracy, and it appears, on the surface, that the Space Command has done this.

Whether things stand as they are however is doubtful. Creating a new military branch is a wonderful opportunity for Washington power-brokers to find ways to spend money. For example, some estimates have said that the new Space Force could cost $1 to $2 billion more. You think these thieves and crooks in Washington will be able to resist that?

Of course, there really is no reason for this new agency to cost so much extra. In fact, the Space Command as created now probably adds nothing to the budget, and in fact probably has the chance to save money. And it even makes the military’s space operations more robust and efficient.

I therefore expect the powers-that-be in Washington to move to change that.

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Comey skips free

The law is only for little people: Despite a damning Justice Deparment inspector general report that concluded that James Comey had violated the law and broke FBI rules by leaking classified information when he was FBI director, the Justice Department has decided not to prosecute him.

“We conclude that Comey’s retention, handling, and dissemination of certain Memos violated Department and FBI policies, and his FBI Employment Agreement,” reads DOJ watchdog head Michael Horowitz’s report.

The watchdog office said Comey broke FBI rules by giving a memo containing unclassified information to his friend Daniel Richman with instructions to share the contents with a reporter. The office also said Comey failed to notify the FBI after he was fired that he had retained some of the memos in a safe at home. Comey wrote a series of memos about conversations with President Trump he said unnerved him. Comey has stated he wanted to make a record of the interactions because he was concerned President Trump might later lie about them.

Attorney General William Barr will not prosecute the fired FBI director over his wrongdoings.

We are no longer a nation of laws, but of corrupt power and banana republic backroom deals. By aligning himself with the Democratic Party, Comey has obtained that get-out-of-jail card that all Democrats hold. No matter what laws they break, no one in Washington will ever prosecute them, especially if they are in positions of power and are popular commentators on mainstream liberal press outlets like CNN.

Be a Republican, or a conservative, or even an ordinary citizen, however, and be prepared for the entire legal book to be thrown at you instantly, should you even jaywalk.

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NASA Inspector General to Congress: Free Europa Clipper from SLS

In a letter to Congress on August 27, 2019, NASA’s inspector general has called for Congress to immediately abandon the legal requirement it imposed on Europa Clipper to fly on NASA’s SLS rocket, thereby allowing NASA to choose any commercial rocket to launch the spacecraft.

The letter [pdf] is amazingly blunt.

[W]e write to highlight an issue at NASA that we believe requires immediate action by Congress. Language in NASA’s appropriation legislation requires the Agency to launch a satellite to Europa, a moon of Jupiter, in 2023 on the yet-to-be-completed Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. However, because of developmental delays and, more significantly, NASA’s plans to use the first three SLS rockets produced for its Artemis lunar program, an SLS will not be available until 2025 at the earliest. Consequently, if completed on its projected schedule, the approximately $3 billion dollar Europa spacecraft (known as “Europa Clipper”) will need to be stored for at least 2 years at a cost of $3 to $5 million per month until an SLS becomes available. NASA recently added $250 million in Headquarters-held reserves to the project to address these storage and related personnel costs.

Congress could reduce risks to both the Europa mission and Artemis program while potentially saving taxpayers up to $1 billion by providing NASA the flexibility in forthcoming fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations legislation to determine the most cost effective and timely vehicle to launch the Europa Clipper mission in 2023 or whenever the satellite is completed.

As blunt as the letter is, the wording above is also very careful to hide the fact that the $1 billion savings will come, not from avoiding the launch delay, but from buying a private commercial launch vehicle (estimated launch cost about $100 million) versus using SLS (estimated launch cost of $1 billion to $4 billion).

Will Congress take this advice? It should, though I am pessimistic. Our Congress has not shown much interest in doing the smart thing when it comes to SLS for about a decade. Why should things change now?

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Hong Kong police fire water cannons, gunshot, against protesters

The first gunshot and use of water cannons by Hong Kong police occurred today against protests opposed to increased Chinese rule over that former British colony.

Earlier Sunday, after thousands of people marched peacefully in pouring rain, a group of hardcore protesters erected makeshift roadblocks and threw bricks and Molotov cocktails at riot police. After firing tear gas in an attempt to dispers the crowds, police drove water cannon vehicles onto the streets for the first time during the protests, unfurling signs warning demonstrators they would deploy the jets if they did not leave. The jets were later fired down from the moving trucks down a road towards a crowd of protesters who ran away.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

There is also no additional information about the gunshot, though it appears it caused no injuries.

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August 22, 2019 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast

Embedded below the fold in two parts. As John Batchelor would say, I was especially “grumpy” in the first segment, blasting our dysfunctional and very corrupt federal government for its dishonest misuse of taxpayer money, designed specifically to create failure rather than achieve anything.
» Read more

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Global warming scientist Michael Mann loses Canadian lawsuit

Global warming scientist Michael Mann has lost a Canadian libel lawsuit he had filed against a skeptical scientist who had said that Mann “belongs in the state pen, not Penn State.”

More details here. The court also ruled that Mann must pay the defendant’s court costs. The key quote that proves Mann’s scientific work is either incompetent or fraudulent is this:

Dr Mann lost his case because he refused to show in open court his R2 regression numbers (the ‘working out’) behind the world-famous ‘hockey stick’ graph.

Mann is most well known for his hockey stick graph that eliminated any evidence of the well-documented Medieval Warming Period and thus made it appear global warming only began with the industrial age.

Many good scientists have questioned this graph, including Canadian scientist Dr. Tim Ball, the victorious defendant in this case. The court had demanded that to prove Ball’s statement was libel, Mann had to show everyone the legitimate scientific methods he used to create the graph. Mann refused to do so, and so the court ruled against him.

I should add that a number of different scientists have analyzed Mann’s hockey stick graph and have found that, based on the information in Mann’s own published papers, they could plug the data in and with his methods create any graph they wanted, essentially demonstrating that what Mann did was junk.

Does this prove human-caused global warming isn’t happening? No, it doesn’t. What it does demonstrate once again is that another one of the icons of that theory is either a fraud or incompetent, and that his work is not worth the electrons used to publish it. In the case of Mann, the evidence of his political biases and corrupt science practices has been evident for years, first exposed in his emails in the climategate emails. There, he actually worked to destroy the careers of any scientist who questioned his work, rather than debate the facts with them.

He tried to do the same this time with Dr. Ball, and has been soundly slapped down.

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