Tag Archives: oppression

NASA opens safety review of Boeing and SpaceX

Turf war! Prompted by Elon Musk’s single hit of marijuana during a podcast interview, NASA has begun a detailed safety review of both SpaceX and Boeing.

[William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration,] said the review would focus not on the technical details of developing rockets and spacecraft but rather the companies’ safety culture — encompassing the number of hours employees work, drug policies, leadership and management styles, whether employees’ safety concerns are taken seriously, and more.

“Is the culture reflective of an environment that builds quality spacecraft,” Gerstenmaier said. The review would be led by NASA’s Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, which has conducted similar probes inside NASA. Gerstenmaier said the process would be “pretty invasive,” involving hundreds of interviews with employees at every level of the companies and at multiple work locations.

This is a power-play, pure and simple. NASA might claim it cares about safety, but its track record suggests instead that its real motive is to prove to SpaceX that it is in charge, not SpaceX. It rankles NASA’s bureaucracy that they cannot call the shots at SpaceX, and have found themselves embarrassed by its success, compared to the agency’s continuing failures with SLS. Moreover, considering the space shuttle’s unsafe history, NASA’s safety track record and the workplace culture that produced that history is nothing to brag about.

These “invasive” interviews are guaranteed to find workplace issues that NASA will then use as a hammer to take further control SpaceX’s operations, making it less innovative, more expensive, and more bureaucratic. And I see no one in the Trump administration, including Trump, very interested in reining NASA in on these matters.

Share

Corruption at Vostochny included more than 140 criminal cases

A report from Russia today outlined the total amount of corruption so far uncovered by investigators at Russia’s new spaceport in Vostochny.

“Since 2014, more than 140 criminal cases have been opened, and the damage was assessed at 10 bln rubles,” Kurennoy said in an interview with the Efir Internet channel of the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office. According to the spokesman, 50 individuals have been sentenced, and this year sentences for 27 people were announced.

The prosecutors have revealed 17,000 law violations during the construction since 2014. More than 1,000 people have been held accountable, including officials. Among the violations were delayed construction, multibillion embezzlement of state funds and the administration’s negligence.

Despite four years of investigation they still found 78 new law violations involving 140 companies in 2018.

It appears Russia does not know how to do capitalism properly. It doesn’t simply require a company to be privately owned. It also requires that new companies be allowed to compete, and that old companies can go out of business. Russia it appears did not understand these latter points. After the fall of the Soviet Union many individuals formed private companies from former government agencies and organizations, but then they divided up the market into territories and teamed up with the government to block any new entries.

The result of this corrupt system was rampant corruption, where the companies in power could do anything, with no incentive to produce good product.

Unfortunately, Russia’s answer to this has been for the government to take over the companies again.This will not solve their problem, merely shift the corruption from the companies to the government. Meanwhile, the quality of their aerospace products will continue to decline, resulting in the continued loss of international market share.

Share

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.

Share

Man attacked in Tucson for wearing MAGA hat

They’re coming for you next: A man was attacked and suffered a broken ankle in Tucson last week because he was wearing a pro-Trump MAGA hat.

Sparks says he was downtown last week wearing the iconic red hat and encouraging his fellow Tucsonans to vote Republican, when he was suddenly attacked from behind. “I felt a very strong grasp on my hat, and it pulled me back and grabbed a lot of hair,” Sparks told the outlet (video below). “The assailant had jumped onto my ankle from behind. And so I — not knowing yet my ankle was broken into four pieces — I turned around to grab and take the hat back. My hands latched onto the hat.”

At that point, he said, they both fell to the ground, his ankle shattered. “Then I heard the words Hitler, Nazi and Trump,” said Sparks. “He was shouting things like that.”

This is obviously Trump’s fault. And Maxine Waters should be proud at the willingness of this Democrat to follow her advice!

Share

Fox reporter threatened, chased from bar

They’re coming for you next: A Fox news reporter was threatened and then chased from a Brooklyn bar this week, merely because one patron discovered where she works.

Timpf was confronted by a woman, who, after hearing she worked at Fox News, became enraged and began shouting at her in a threatening manner.

“This girl started going nuts on me, screaming at me to get out of the bar. I found her very threatening,” Timpf said of the woman, whom she had never met before. She said she tried to move to another section of the large bar but the young woman followed her while continuing to scream.

The woman, who was visibly intoxicated at the time, was surrounded by a large group of men and women who all stood by and laughed as she harassed Timpf and followed her around the bar. After realizing no one in the group would defend her in what might become a violent situation, Timpf was forced to flee the bar.

“It was super uncomfortable and I didn’t want things to get physical,” she said. [emphasis mine]

It is the audience that counts. One person was bullying this reporter, and everyone else “stood by and laughed.”

Bad times are coming. You will not be defended should you be attacked physically because of your conservative political beliefs. Be prepared.

Share

The endorsement of election theft

The coming dark age: Voter recounts in three close elections in Florida and Arizona, all won initially by Republicans, now suggest there is significant misconduct going on to favor the Democratic candidates in order to change the results.

Are the local Democrats in Arizona and Florida trying to steal these elections? Maybe. The evidence sure looks that way, based on past behavior. For one thing, in practically every close election requiring a recount in the past two decades the recount somehow always finds more votes for Democrats, sometimes in very suspicious circumstances. Moreover, practically every voter fraud case investigated in the past few years has also appeared to be fraud in favor of the Democrats. While I am sure I could do some digging and find a case or two that was done to favor the Republicans, that would be the exception that proves the rule.

The problem here is not that the Democrats are doing this, but that it has been obvious for the past decade that this party has become very corrupt and power-hungry, and needs a major house-cleaning. Unfortunately, in the election that just passed, the voters across America did not do this. Instead, if anything they gave the Democrats an endorsement, electing them to more seats in the House and not defeating them soundly in the Senate. They also gave them more power at the statewide level, including more governorships.

The result? Americans have essentially told the Democrats they can continue their bad behavior, and in fact are free to expand it as much as they want.

I expect the results of these elections in Florida and Arizona to become Democratic wins. Nor will this be the end. Americans decided it was all right to forgive political corruption, including the most disgusting smear campaign I have seen since the McCarthy era in the 1950s.

Share

Leftist San Fran shuts down Airbnb business

They’re coming for you next: The leftist government of San Francisco has forced the shut down of a chain of Airbnb rentals owned by a couple for violating the city’s many laws.

A San Francisco couple has been fined $2.25 million and ordered to not engage in listing their real estate properties on sites like Airbnb until 2025 for repeated violations of the city’s short term rental laws, the city attorney announced Monday.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said landlords Darren and Valerie Lee have been running “an illicit hotel chain” during San Francisco’s housing crisis rather than lawfully renting the units to residential tenants.

Though it clearly appears the couple had violated San Francisco laws, the real question is the immoral nature of the laws.

[W]hat should really be on trial here are not the Herreras but the laws that San Francisco has put in place to stifle the gig economy. The Herrera family owns those apartment buildings and they pay the taxes, are responsible for all the maintenance and took the risk of investing in the properties. Clearly, there is a market for short-term rentals because if there weren’t they wouldn’t be able to remain profitable. Why is the city telling them how they must rent out their property?

The public doesn’t benefit from these laws, providing the owners keep the properties up to code and safe to inhabit. The only beneficiaries are the major hotel chains who charge outrageous prices for rooms and lobby politicians heavily (as well as donating generously to their campaigns) to try to squeeze out the gig economy. If the Herrera family has any hope of prevailing here it should come by way of a challenge to these short-term rental laws and the chance to expose the influence of the hotel lobby that drives them.

This is what you get when you allow government too much power: Corruption, favoritism, and oppression. I have in recent years made it my business to avoid California at all costs. This story reinforces that position.

Share

Leftist mob at home of Tucker Carlson: “You are not safe!”

They’re coming for you next: A leftist mob tonight gathered in front of the private home of Fox anchor Tucker Carlson, making threats against him and his family.

They chanted, “We know where you sleep at night!” Then,

Tonight, we remind you that you are not safe either. …Racist scumbag, leave town,” the group chants.

It is revealing how the left repeatedly demands that everyone but them tone down the rhetoric.

Share

How a monolithic leftist academia poisons America

The coming dark age: To understand how dominant and monolithic the left’s control over America’s modern academic community, one need only to take a scan at this series of research articles being assembled regularly by the website Campus Reform:

Except for SMU, every single one of these colleges is a public institution, funded in great part by tax dollars. Yet, instead of being a vehicle for educating the young about the principles of western civilization which has made them and our wealthy society possible, they have become propaganda machines for the Democratic Party and the leftist socialist/communist utopia dreams that have always led to bankruptcy, poverty, starvation, and societal collapse.

So, have any of the legislatures from the states where these colleges are located done anything about this? Obviously, leftist states like Oregon are likely to applaud the fact that leftist teachers control their colleges, but what about Texas, Georgia, Missouri, Florida? The simple fact is that while we might sometimes have had conservative state legislatures, none of them have had the courage for the past five decades to demand better from these colleges.

Worse, Campus Reform only began this series about two weeks ago. I expect in the coming months they will find that almost every college nationwide is dominated in the same way.

The result is that we have bankrupt intellectual community in the United States. It sees only one right answer to all our problems (government and socialism), and it cannot think deeply about any subject since it has never been challenged to do so. And when it is challenged with alternative ideas or even facts, it acts like a four-year-old having a temper tantrum, running to Twitter to issue short, emotional, insulting attacks at those who dare disagree with its rigid beliefs. Smear tactics become standard operating procedures, and civilized discourse impossible.

And in that atmosphere thugs end up getting elected to office, wielding power for all the wrong reasons.

Unless some effort is made to change this, the political and intellectual culture of the United States is only going to decline further. Unfortunately, I do not see such a major effort happening. For one, there are not very many people in power who wish to do it. Second, it will take great courage and fortitude to stand up to the future temper tantrums that such an effort will produce. In my entire life, I have never seen anyone willing to do it.

Share

Freedom dying

The results of yesterday’s election, when taken in the context of the stories below, confirm for me the sad belief that freedom in the United States is steadily dying. Freedom might return, but for the next few decades I think we are headed for oppressive times. Be prepared.

The stories are only a sampling, and are cited because of what they show: In every case they describe attacks against individuals defending freedom of speech and diversity of thought, and all the attacks come from the students, the future of our society.

The election yesterday further demonstrates the bad future we are facing, not so much that the Democrats won the House after two years of repeated and insane smear campaigns against anyone who opposed them, but because a very very large percentage of the population has decided to support them in that behavior. As I like to say, it’s the audience that counts. The audience here is increasingly oppressive, intolerant, and eager to exercise power to impose its will.

That audience yesterday decided to give power to those who are equally intolerant, and like to wield that power to impose their will.

I could also cite many personal experiences, in just the past few months. The key is that I as a conservative know that if I express my opinions among friends, I will likely lose those friends, and get ostracized. I must choose my words carefully. My liberal friends however feel no such fear, and routinely spout their political views, always assuming that everyone agrees with them.

Meanwhile, I am also gathering that my willingness to express my political views professionally here on my own website has had a negative effect on the website. In recent months certain space aggregate sites no longer link to Behind the Black. Others have even told me that they will block all emails or communications from me.

None of this will stop me from expressing my point of view. It is my curse. I must say what I believe. However, be warned. Bad times are coming. Be prepared.

Share

China still struggling to find scientists to run FAST radio telescope

China is still finding it difficult to hire the scientists necessary to run its FAST radio telescope, the largest single dish radio telescope in the world.

And why is that?

For job candidates, the major stumbling blocks often are financial incentives and research independence, researchers told the South China Morning Post. The telescope’s remote location also may give candidates pause.

George Smoot, a Hong Kong University of Science and Technology professor who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2006, said candidates interested in working in a more developed setting might think twice about spending a lot of time in an area known for its traditional rural villages.

“Another issue is how much the Chinese Academy of Sciences will influence and direct activities there,” Smoot said. “It is an issue to people unless they have some straight link.” [emphasis mine]

It must always be remembered that nothing in China is done without the government’s approval. For western astronomers, used to having a great deal of independence, this fact makes working there somewhat unappealing.

Share

Hawaii Supreme Court rules in favor of TMT

Hawaii’s Supreme Court today upheld by a 4-1 vote the construction permits of the consortium building the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea.

In its own press release, the TMT consortium said that it “will move forward with fulfilling the numerous conditions and requirements of [the state’s permit] prior to the start of any construction.”

The comments by one of the the telescope’s opponents at the first link are revealing.

Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the main leaders against the telescope, said she’s doesn’t know what their next steps will be, but she’s not hopeful that more legal wrangling will help. “The court is the last bastion in democracy,” she said. “The only other option is to take to the streets. If we lose the integrity of the court, then you’re losing normal law and order, and the only other option is people have to rise up.” [emphasis mine]

Let me translate: We didn’t get our way, so we’re now going to throw another tantrum! Expect more protests and attempts to block construction. Expect the Hawaiian government, dominated almost entirely by Democrats, to fold to those protests. Expect more delays. For example, do you really think the permit process was really done?

State Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairwoman Suzanne Case said the next steps involve telescope builders submitting construction plans. The department will review the plans before issuing permission to proceed.

This was all done almost a decade earlier, and was exactly what the Supreme Court ruled on. To bring it up now suggests the state government is still quietly looking for loopholes to stop the construction, even though the public supports construction and the protesters are a decided minority.

Share

The radical and ugly left reveals itself again

They’re coming for you next: At a campaign event yesterday for Marsha Blackburn, the Republican senatorial candidate for Tennessee, leftist protesters once again revealed their ugliness and dependence on smear tactics, and they did so in mere seconds.

Blackburn called for a moment of silence to mourn for the innocent people who had been killed by a anti-Semite in Pittsburgh on Saturday. Less than two seconds into that moment, a protester shouted “Marsha Blackburn is a white supremacist!” Watch below. It only lasts a minute.

This smear makes no sense. Not only is there zero evidence that Blackburn is a “white supremacist,” the slander occurs even as she is mourning the murder of Jews, something no white supremacist would do. How stupid do these leftist protesters really think people are? This isn’t going to convince anyone, and if anything, it reveals the bigoted hate-filled mentality of this protester.

It also offends the sensibility every ordinary person nationwide who watches this, both conservative or liberal. No decent person would spit on the graves of the murdered Jews as this leftist protester does. And the protester is doing this in support of the Democratic candidate in an effort to defeat the Republican.

If you are undecided on who to vote for this coming election, just remember this moment. Every Democratic Party win, anywhere, will be an endorsement of this kind of behavior.

Share

Utah man arrested for mailing poison to Republicans

A sign that even liberals are subject to the law: A Utah man has been arrested for mailing letters with material containing the poison ricin to Republicans, including Trump.

Utah resident William Clyde Allen, 39, “knowingly threatened to use a biological agent and toxin, specifically ricin, as a weapon,” according to a statement from the Justice Department and the US Attorney’s Office in the western state.

In addition to Trump, Allen’s targets included Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, along with the FBI and CIA directors and commanders of the Air Force and Navy. Allen was arrested on October 5 shortly after the Pentagon intercepted suspicious mail. He pleaded not guilty.

This arrest happened six days ago. The poisoned letters and the arrest have attracted little or no press coverage. I had known about the letters, but not the arrest. I only learned about it today because of the coverage relating to the mailed bomb threats to Democrats.

Both events are vile. If we had a legitimate press, instead of one that works for the Democratic Party, both would have received equal coverage. Civilized people should find both equally unacceptable. It appears the press and the left (I repeat myself) are not bothered by anything like this, if it happens to conservatives.

Share

First suspect arrested in pipe bomb mailings

The FBI has arrested its first suspect in the pipe bomb mailings the past two weeks against Democratic politicians and activists.

Not much information has been released as yet about the man that I can believe. I have seen two reports that contradicted each other by saying he belonged to opposite political parties.

It is a sad testament of the low state of today’s American culture that ordinary political debate now uses these terrorist acts to score points. There are bad extremists on both sides. Only when politicians use them for their own political gain does the situation worsen.

And from what I see, the politicians that appear to be doing this the most are those on the left. Most shameful.

Share

First ULA Vulcan launch delayed a year to 2021

The first ULA Vulcan launch has been delayed a year to 2021.

In an interview [at a recent conference, John Elbon, chief operating officer of ULA,] said the shift in the first launch to April 2021 is linked to the requirements of the LSA award from the Air Force. “As the procurement schedule was laid out, the Air Force schedule changed, and we synced up with that,” he said, adding that the company was moving ahead with more aggressive internal schedules for Vulcan’s development.

“While ULA was on schedule from a technical standpoint to meet 2020 target, once we reviewed the Air Force’s timeline in the LSA proposals & incorporated [additional] requirements into our plan, we aligned #VulcanCentaur launch dates to meet the Air Force schedule,” the company tweeted.

The LSA awards were Air Force subsidies ranging from $500 to $1 billion given to ULA, Northrop Grumman, and Blue Origin last week to support development of their new rockets. And just as Blue Origin was forced to immediately delay its first New Glenn launch after obtaining this award, so has ULA.

In other words, gaining big development money from the Air Force forced both companies to delay their launch to meet the Air Force’s demands, something that SpaceX apparently decided not to do.

We shall see in the coming years which approach works best for making the most money. I favor SpaceX.

Share

Suspicious packages mailed to Democrats

The hate grows: Several suspicious packages, mailed to important Democrats, have been intercepted and are now being investigated by FBI.

The packages were mailed in manila envelopes with bubble wrap interior. The packages were affixed with computer-printed address labels and six Forever stamps. All packages had a return address of “DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ” [sic] in Florida. Packages identified to date were addressed to:

  • George Soros
  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
  • Former President Barack Obama
  • Former CIA Director John Brennan, care of CNN
  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder

The package addressed to former Attorney General Holder did not reach its intended destination, but was rerouted to the return address in Florida.

The FBI also notes that additional packages may have been mailed as well.

Now that Democrats are being threatened with violence, the press — and the Democrats — are going to go nuts about the lack of civility in our society, having ignored and sometimes even encouraged the same kind of incivility and violence against conservatives for the past two years. No matter. Actions like this against anyone are vile and criminal, and should be condemned and stopped at every opportunity. One cannot have a civilized society where people are threatened with violence merely for expressing dissenting views.

Share

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.

Share

Palestinian Authority arrests Palestinian-American for property sale to Jews

The true Middle East bigots: The Palestinian Authority has arrested a Palestinian-American for aiding in the property sale of a house in Jerusalem to a Jewish organization that provides housing to orthodox Israelis.

“The 55-year-old man, who is a US citizen, is being interrogated by the Palestinians security agencies in Ramallah for his role in the sale of an Arab-owned house in the Old City of Jerusalem to a Jewish organization,” the sources told The Jerusalem Post. They said the man was suspected of acting as a “solicitor” between the owner of the house and the Jewish organization that bought the house.

A senior PA security official in Ramallah refused to comment on the arrest of the US citizen.

The Post has obtained a copy of the man’s US passport, but due to the sensitivity of the case has chosen not to publish his name.

US government officials said they were aware of the arrest and expressed concern that he would be treated fairly. They said the State Department was in touch with the PA regarding the arrest.

Last week, the Palestinian Islamic religious authorities in east Jerusalem reaffirmed a fatwa (religious decree) prohibiting Palestinians from selling their houses and lands to Israelis. Some Palestinians have called for imposing the death penalty on those who violate the ban. [emphasis mine]

1. If any American tried to outlaw the sale of a piece of property to anyone, solely because of their religion, we would call them a bigot.

2. This property is in Jerusalem, which is entirely under Israeli jurisdiction. That Islamic leaders are trying to impose their bigoted views on that country, despite its own laws forbidding religious discrimination, tells us all we need to know about Islam.

3. The arrested man might live in Israel, or in the West Bank, but he is also a U.S. citizen, and I suspect the Trump administration will not take kindly to this.

4. Finally, expect the Israeli authorities to step in. Already they have arrested three Palestinians for organizing a kangaroo court aimed at punishing everyone involved in the property sale.

Last week, Palestinian activists in east Jerusalem summoned Atari [the supposed Palestinian buyer] and a representative of the Joudeh family [the sellers of the property] for what some Palestinians described as a kangaroo court in an attempt to find out who sold the house to Ateret Cohanim [the Jewish organization]. A video of the “court” hearing that was later posted on Facebook has gone viral, with many Palestinians calling for the “execution” of those involved in the transaction for “high treason.”

On Thursday, the Israel Police arrested three east Jerusalem residents on suspicion of incitement for their role in organizing the “court” hearing and threatening Atari. The three are: Abdullah Alqam, Fadi Mtur and Kamal Abu Kweider. The three were arrested hours before the second “court” session was scheduled to convene on Thursday evening.

This whole story could get hot, as it reveals the bigoted and discriminatory behavior of the Palestinians, something I have written about previously. It also is occurring during a Trump administration that has decided to no longer look the other way when it comes to Palestinian corruption or injustice.

Share

Russia: Next Soyuz manned flight likely not delayed

According to Roscosmos officials, they will likely not have to delay the next manned Soyuz launch, as they have three unmanned Soyuz launches on their schedule beforehand.

“The Soyuz rocket will be launched only after the inquiry has identified the causes of the emergency and measures have been taken to prevent such situations in the future. Under the existing rules there must be at least one unmanned launch before the flight of a manned spacecraft. We have plans for at least three launches (before the next manned mission due in early December) from the Kourou space site, the launch of an unmanned spacecraft and of an unmanned spacecraft Progress. The confirmations will be more than enough to put the next crew in space,” Krikalyov said.

Makes sense.

The real question isn’t whether they will identify the specific problem that caused last week’s Soyuz launch failure (which I have every confidence they will), but whether they will identify and fix the underlying culture that is allowing these failures to occur with greater frequency. I don’t think they can, since that culture is caused by the very way they have organized their space program, as a single giant corporation controlled by the government. Without the natural process of competition, the culture of Russia’s aerospace industry has nothing to force it to do good work.

Share

Treasury employee arrested for revealing confidential bank info to press

Working for the Democratic Party: An anti-Trump Treasury employee was arrested today for revealing confidential bank info to press.

Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, 40, a senior official at the department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), is accused of illegally giving a reporter bank reports documenting several suspicious financial transactions, known as Suspicious Activity Reports (“SARs”), from October 2017 to the present. The financial transactions involved Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, campaign official Richard Gates, accused Russian agent Maria Butina and the Russian Embassy, federal law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

An unidentified, higher-ranking Treasury colleague was cited in court papers as a co-conspirator with Edwards, but was not charged. That person, identified only as an “associate director” at FinCEN to whom Edwards reported, exchanged more than 300 messages with a reporter via an encrypted messaging application. [emphasis mine]

I wonder why this higher-ranking has not been arrested and charged as well.

The article also includes details about other anti-Trump officials now in trouble, including the former security director for the Senate Intelligence Committee, who pleaded guilty in connection with his leaking of national security information to the press, as well as recent revelations about the “leak strategy” of anti-FBI officials.

Share

Mini-drones for the military

A new drone design for the military would allow vehicles to carry four miniature helicopter camera drones, capable of flying two at a time.

The Black Hornet drone feels like a movie prop. Roughly the size and weight of a sparrow, the robotic scout helicopter has already seen use with British special forces. At the 2018 Association of the United States Army exposition in Washington, D.C., Black Hornet-maker FLIR showed off the latest way to carry the drone into combat: a miniature hanger for four drones, roughly the size of a large breadbox. It’s called the Vehicle Reconnaissance System.

Like a description from a lost G.I. Joe catalog, the VRS fits four helicopters into chambers known as cassettes. The box containing cartridges full of robots can be mounted on vehicles, including people-transporting machines and also uncrewed ground vehicles. That’s right, this is a box full of robots that can go on a robot and launch more robots. It’s quite the exhibit of remote warfare.

The goal is to provide the soldier in the vehicle a way to gain information about nearby enemy positions from the air, in real time.

What is intriguing, and somewhat scary about this, is that it prefigures a time when many tiny drones will be instantly deployable, but with killing capabilities, not simply camera.

Share

Another Zimmerman op-ed: Congress Needs To Stop Pouring Money Into NASA’s Contractor Black Hole

The Federalist yesterday published an op-ed by myself, focused entirely on the disaster that is big government space, both here and in Russia: Congress Needs To Stop Pouring Money Into NASA’s Contractor Black Hole. Key section, beginning with my description of SLS:

That’s approximately $40 billion over 20 years to launch a single manned mission, in an Apollo-style capsule on a Saturn-type rocket, reusing (supposedly to save money) already built shuttle engines and upgraded shuttle solid rocket boosters. I repeat: It will take NASA more than 20 years and $40 billion to fly one manned mission on SLS. And that’s not including the almost $18 billion NASA will spend to build the Orion capsule that will fly on that mission. Does no one in Congress and in the Trump administration see anything wrong here?

The story gets worse. In September, NASA released what it has dubbed its “National Space Exploration Campaign Report,” a 21-page document outlining the agency’s plans for deep space exploration through 2030, using SLS and Orion as well as a new NASA boondoggle to be built in lunar orbit, dubbed the Gateway. To label this road map a joke would be an insult to comedians everywhere. It lays out deadlines and budgets that are so vague and ambiguous that the project could take a half century, cost a trillion, and still have never launched.
Lawmakers Need to Wise Up to This Black Hole

The worse part of this sad story is that it appears Congress and the Trump administration are buying into it, pushed partly by heavy lobbying by the big space companies — Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman — that hope to get the contracts to build it. It must be understood, however, that the companies advocating Gateway and all future big space projects using SLS and Orion don’t really care if anything ever actually gets built. Like SLS and Orion, what they really want is endless appropriations and cost-plus contracts that will funnel money to them endlessly, even as the launch dates of their projects recede forever into the future.

Nor are Congress and the bureaucracies in NASA and the executive branch interested in accomplishing anything. All Congress wants is to be able to claim they brought jobs to their districts and states, even if those jobs never accomplish anything at all and waste the taxpayers’ money. The bureaucrats merely want to perpetuate their jobs, building empires in fancy Washington offices while attending lots of conferences on the taxpayers’s dime.

None of them care about the national interest. Their goal is to line their pockets, regardless of the harm it does the United States. This must change. If Trump truly wants to empty the swamp, he has to stop funding such boondoggles. This does not mean that Americans should cede the future exploration of space to China and others, but we can clearly do this in a better and smarter way.

Read it all.

Share

The Facebook political purge

Link here. The article provides a list of almost 200 of the over 800 political pages that Facebook purged from their site on October 11.

A quick scan of those pages undeniably suggests they are almost all conservative or religious. Some might have been spam distributors, but many were clearly not, especially those with followers of one million and more.

It is Facebook’s right to decide who gets to use their platform. It is everyone else’s right to decide whether they wish to support Facebook. This is another one of many reasons to dump them, and go elsewhere.

This action also confirms my decision to refuse to use Facebook. I don’t deal with unethical companies or organizations (even if it costs me money). And what makes Facebook unethical here is their dishonesty. They claim to be non-partisan, that they are not a Democratic Party leftist operation. Meanwhile, they continually prove by their actions, such as this, that they are lying and that their agenda is to help get Democrats elected and to further leftist policy, while squelching the speech of their opponents.

Life is too valuable for me to make deals with the devil. If it means I will have 30 pieces of silver less in my bank, I think that is a very good deal.

Share

Zimmerman op-ed: Bring on more Kavanaughs!

Today the website American Greatness posted an op-ed by yours truly, entitled Bring on More Kavanaughs! Key quote:

Now is the time to look these bullies in the eyes, and tell them that we will not be intimidated, that we will stand for what we believe, and we will not bow to their smears and slanders and screaming protesters who know nothing of us, care nothing for us, and are increasingly willing to harm us and our children because we reject their oppressive and overbearing demands.

Check it out. It has nothing to do with space, but everything to do with having and keeping a civilization that can make the exploration of space possible.

Share

Audit of SLS predicts more cost overruns and delays

Ever get a feeling of deja vu? A report by NASA’s inspector general yesterday slammed NASA and Boeing for their management of the SLS program, noting that the first unmanned launch will likely be delayed further and the cost for the program will go up another $4 billion.

The much-anticipated premiere of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket will likely see yet another push to the right, this time beyond mid-2020, as the program faces billions in cost overruns, according to a scathing audit released Wednesday by the agency’s Office of Inspector General.

Originally slated to launch from Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39B in December 2017, a 322-foot-tall version of the rocket known as SLS Block 1 will likely still be unprepared for a liftoff on the uncrewed Exploration Mission-1 by June 2020, auditors said. Even if teams could technically meet that deadline, NASA would need to offer Boeing, the contractor building the first two core stages, an infusion of $1.2 billion: $800 million to secure first stage delivery to KSC by December 2019 and an additional $400 million to make sure EM-1 launches by June 2020.

“Consequently, in light of the Project’s development delays, we have concluded NASA will be unable to meet its EM-1 launch window currently scheduled between December 2019 and June 2020,” a portion of the 50-page report reads.

The report [pdf] states that Boeing’s budget will have to double to $8 billion to meet these demands. In truth, SLS has cost the taxpayers a lot more than that, probably in the range in excess of $30 billion, if you add up all the yearly appropriations from Congress specifically applied to this rocket project and extend them through the first manned launch, now probably not taking place prior to 2024. (See my policy paper, Capitalism in Space, to see the breakdown.)

If this audit is correct, and I see no reason not to believe it, it will have taken the modern NASA more than twenty years to build and launch a single manned capsule, with a total cost of over $60 billion.

SpaceX built Falcon 1, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon cargo, and Dragon manned in about half that time, for a cost of about $2 billion. Falcon Heavy alone cost $500 million, and took only seven years.

From whom would you buy the product?

Share

UAE passes a space law

The new colonial movement: The United Arab Emuirates Cabinet has passed a space law, supposedly designed to encourage the development of their space sector.

I say “supposedly” because of this:

“Although the details of the new law are not yet publicly available, I believe it has tremendous potential and am excited by the UAE’s incorporation of educational guidelines into the legal framework,” said Sunil Thacker, senior partner at the STA law firm.

It is even unclear whether this lawyer has seen the language. He is quoted extensively, raving about the wonders this new law will bring, but states no specifics. In the top-down sheik-run UAE, he has no other choice.

Share

IAU names two craters in honor of 50th anniversary Apollo 8 mission

Earthrise

The International Astronautical Union has named two craters “8 Homeward” and “Anders’ Earthrise,” both visible in astronaut Bill Anders iconic Earthrise image, in honor of the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission to the Moon.

The Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union has today officially approved the naming of two craters on the Moon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission. The names are Anders’ Earthrise and 8 Homeward.

The newly named craters are visible in the foreground of the iconic Earthrise colour photograph taken by astronaut William Anders. It depicts the moment that our shiny blue Earth came back into view as the spacecraft emerged out of the dark from behind the grey and barren Moon. This is arguably the most famous picture taken by Apollo 8. It became iconic and has been credited with starting the environmental movement.

The image is to the right, with the two craters indicated. I have rotated the image so that the horizon is on the right, since is how Anders took it. As I noted in Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8 (now available as both an ebook and audiobook),

Bill Anders’ photograph of earthrise, taken on December 24, 1968, possibly one of the most reprinted photographs ever taken. The way it is usually reproduced, however, with the Moon’s horizon at the bottom, is not how Bill Anders took it.

Instead, the way it is shown on the cover of Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8 is the way he framed it, with the Moon’s horizon on the right. This is also how it is framed at Bill Anders’s home, which also was the first time I had ever seen it oriented that way. When I asked Anders why it was framed that way, he answered, “That’s how I took it.”

To Anders, floating in zero gravity, the earth wasn’t rising from behind an horizon line (which is how a human living on a planet’s surface would perceive it). Instead, floating in a space capsule seventy miles above the moon, Anders saw himself circling the moon’s equator. The lunar horizon therefore appeared vertical to him, and the earth moved right to left as it came out from behind the moon.

In 1968 the IAU had refused to accept some of the astronauts’ naming choices. This honor now somewhat corrects that injustice.

UPDATE: One more historical note: On Saturday there will be a 50th Reunion Dinner for the Apollo 8 astronauts at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I will be attending, so today is a travel day.

Share

Democratic doxxer threatened to also release the health data of the children of Republicans

They’re coming for you next: The Democratic congressional aide who has been arrested for releasing private information of at least three Republican elected officials also threatened to release the health information and social security numbers of their children if anyone turned him in.

Jackson Cosko, who recently worked for Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, was arrested for allegedly posting the personal information (or “doxxing”) of a number of senators including Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah on Wikipedia — with information such as their home addresses and phone numbers. Graham, Lee and Hatch’s information was published on Thursday.

According to a sworn statement by Capitol Police Captain Jason Bell, a witness Tuesday saw Cosko at a computer in a senator’s office, where he used to work, a day after two other unnamed senators’ information had been put on Wikipedia. Cosko worked for other Democratic senators including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and former Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. While earlier reports identified Cosko as an intern for Jackson Lee, his lawyer said that he was working as a fellow in her office, paid by an outside institution.

Sources familiar with the case tell Fox News Cosko was in Sen. Hassan’s office, where he was caught using a login he was not authorized to use. Cosko earlier was let go by Senator Hassan’s office. A spokesman for Hassan says she “strongly denounces the alleged actions.”

According to Bell’s statement, Cosko is alleged to have been confronted by the staffer and then walked out. Hours later the witness received an email from “livefreeorpwn@gmail.com” saying: “If you tell anyone I will leak it all. Emails signal conversations gmails. Senators children’s health information and socials.”

While his actions have been disavowed by the Democratic lawmakers for whom he worked, his actions reveal once again the fascist and hateful culture that presently permeates the entire left. They are willing to do you real harm, and if that doesn’t make you shut up and stop opposing them, they will go after your children.

Don’t believe me? You still think this is only a rare exception? Then read this letter from the wife of Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky):

Paul wrote Wednesday that she and her family had “experienced violence and threats of violence at a horrifying level” over the past 18 months. “I now keep a loaded gun by my bed,” she said. “Our security systems have had to be expanded. I have never felt this way in my life.”

For decades the Democrats have allowed this kind of behavior to go unpunished. It is now getting out of their control. Bad things are coming. If you don’t tow the leftist line, get ready. Be prepared. You will need to defend not only yourself, but all your loved ones.

Share

“Kill Kavanaugh” now tops Twitter feeds

They’re coming for you next: “Kill Kavanaugh” now tops Twitter search feeds, requiring only the typing of a “k” to get it near the top of any search, with “ki” placing at the very top of the search list.

Although many current tweets on the hashtag are critical of both the hashtag and Twitter’s double standards, earlier tweets use the hashtag unironically and uncritically. Several of these tweets have not been removed by Twitter, and the accounts that tweeted them do not appear to have been punished by Twitter in any way, despite the fact that some users say they have reported them.

It can be argued that some — but not all — of these tweets are metaphorical, calling for the nomination to be “killed” rather than the person, in the same way that a piece of legislation might be metaphorically “killed.” But refusing to take action against those tweets would still be an example of Twitter’s double standards: the platform has in the past permanently banned free speech maximalist users when they employed similar metaphors, using the least charitable interpretation of their remarks. This is the website that has silenced James Woods for tweeting a meme about soy boys that Jack Dorsey and his San Francisco menagerie argue could “impact an election.”

Twitter in general is a sewer of vicious hate and childish emotions, but that its management is willing to tolerate this kind of behavior from the left indicates they really support it.

The left, and the Democrats, are out for full and unopposed power, and they are willing to destroy anyone they perceive as getting in their way. Unfortunately, they have quislings like Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) helping them. The man would have built the gas chambers for the NAZIS if they had asked him.

Share
1 2 3 160