Pushback: Professor blacklisted by North Texas U wins in Federal court

North Texas University: where censorship and blacklisting is celebrated

Bring a gun to a knife fight: Today’s blacklist story follows up on the case of professor Timothy Jackson, who was dismissed in 2021 by the University of North Texas (UNT) as the editor of a history of music journal he had founded because he and his student editors had organized an issue dedicated to disproving the anti-white and racist accusations of a different professor against a well known musical figure.

From his lawyer’s most recent press release:

The Journal of Schenkerian Studies is dedicated to a late 19th/early 20th-century Austrian-Jewish music theorist, Heinrich Schenker, and his systematic, graphic methods of music analysis. In July 2020, Timothy Jackson defended Schenker in the pages of the Journal from an attack by Hunter College Professor Philip Ewell. Professor Ewell labeled Schenker a “racist” and, indeed, the entire tradition of Western classical music as “systemically racist.” This dispute would have remained a typical academic tempest in a teapot, but the University of North Texas swiftly condemned Jackson’s defense of Schenker and classical music. At UNT, defending classical music and its theory against charges of “racism” is a “thought crime.”

Graduate students quickly condemned Professor Jackson for “racist actions” and various other derelictions that they claimed hurt their feelings. Calls for Professor Jackson to be fired quickly escalated, and the vast majority of Jackson’s fellow faculty members jumped on the bandwagon. Sixteen of them signed a graduate student petition calling for his ouster and for censorship of the Journal. Discovery revealed that at least one did so without even reading or understanding what the petition said.

Officials at the university subsequently removed Jackson as editor of the journal, apparently because he had freely expressed his first amendment rights to dissent publicly from Ewell’s false accusations against Schenker. As I noted in 2021,
» Read more

SpaceX shows off a Raptor-2 engine during local Texas parade

During the annual Founders Day parade in McGregor, Texas, SpaceX participated by including on its float a Raptor-2 engine, used by Starship and Superheavy.

Outside of an unannounced display of an engine in town one day, SpaceX, known for it’s secrecy, hasn’t had a public showing like this before. Residents waved as the engine passed by while SpaceX employees and their families waved and tossed candy from the trailer hauling the engine.

McGregor, whose population is only 6,000, is the location of SpaceX’s engine facility, where it builds and tests its rocket engines. Very clearly this parade proves this evil capitalist company is doing harm to these poor rural Texans and the environment that surrounds them. The hate that emanates from these citizens is truly overwhelming!

Hat tip to Robert Pratt of Pratt on Texas.

FAA and FCC now competing for the honor of regulating commercial space more

Two stories today illustrate again the growing appetite of federal alphabet agencies to grab more power, even if that power is not included in their statutory authority.

First, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed new rules governing the de-orbiting of the upper stages of rockets by commercial launch companies.

The FAA is proposing a new rule requiring commercial space companies to dispose of their rocket upper stages to limit the creation of more space debris. Five disposal methods are allowed: a controlled or uncontrolled deorbit within certain time limits, putting the stage into a less congested orbit or sending it into an Earth-escape orbit, or retrieving it. A 90-day public comment period will begin once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register.

Though this “appears to implement the updated U.S. Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices issued in 2019,” it upgrades it from a “practice” that the government requests companies to follow to a “rule” they must follow. It also expands the power of the FAA to regulate commercial rocket companies, setting a new precedent of control that I guarantee with time will expand further.

Not to be outdone in this power grab, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) added its own new satellite rules to the satellite licenses of two constellations run by the companies Iceye and Planet. The rules however have nothing to do with regulating the use of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is the FCC’s sole purpose according to the law that created it:
» Read more

Chinese pseudo-company experiences launch failure

The Chinese pseudo-company Galactic Energy last night experienced the first launch failure of its solid-fueled Cere-1 rocket, launching from the Jiuquan spaceport in the northwest of China.

No details about the failure were released, including where in China the rocket crashed. The rocket has four stages, and is derived from Chinese missile technology. This was its tenth launch, and first failure.

Like all of China’s pseudo-companies, Galactic Energy obtains investment capital and then competes for government or commercial contracts. It is not a real company in that the government has closely supervised and controlled it (especially because of its dependence on missile designs), and can take it over at any time.

Environmentalists appeal dismissal of their lawsuit against the FAA and SpaceX

The two environmentalist groups and Indian tribe that sued to get SpaceX’s Boca Chica spaceport shut down have now appealed the dismissal of their case by a Texas judge.

Two environmental groups and an Indigenous tribe on Wednesday will present appeals in their lawsuit over the repeated closures of a border beach to allow neighboring SpaceX to conduct test flights and other activity. The Sierra Club, Save RGV, and the Carrizo Comecrudo Nation of Texas are scheduled to present oral arguments before the 13th Court of Appeals on Wednesday morning in Edinburg.

Last summer, the groups filed a lawsuit accusing the state of not upholding the Texas Open Beaches Act, but a district court judge in Brownsville ruled against their lawsuit, saying they couldn’t sue the Texas General Land Office or Cameron County, where the popular beach and SpaceX are located. The Texas Constitution grants the public rights to all public beaches. At issue, however, is whether private groups have a constitutional right to sue.

Though I am not surprised that the lawsuit was dismissed because these groups have no standing, this the first I had heard of that dismissal. I suspect their appeal will fail as well, especially as the hearing is being held in the state courts, which are generally very sympathetic to SpaceX and the economic rebirth it has brought to south Texas.

The emerging long term ramifications of the Ukraine War

With the war in the Ukraine now in the second half of its second year, with no clear outcome on the horizon, I thought it might be a good time to step back and look at what Russia’s invasion has wrought, not just on Russia and the Ukraine, but on the rest of the world, now and possibly into the long term future.

My goal in this essay is to look at the forest, not the trees, and to do so in very broad strokes, based on my experience as a historian who has taken this approach in all my histories.

First however it is necessary to give a short update on the war itself. In my previous two updates in April and July I concluded that the war was devolving into a stalemate, much like the ugly trench warfare of World War I. Nothing has changed that conclusion in the two months since July, a fact that is starkly illustrated by the two maps below, originally created by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and modified and annotated by me to highlight the most significant take-aways.
» Read more

SpaceX sues to get Justice’s discrimination suit thrown out on constitutional grounds

SpaceX on September 15, 2023 filed suit in Texas to get the Justice Department’s August 24th discrimination suit — which claims that the company discriminates against illegal aliens because it obeys State Department security regulations forbidding such hiring — thrown out on constitutional grounds.

From the complaint [pdf]:

But aside from being factually and legally insupportable, the government’s proceedings are unconstitutional for at least four reasons: (1) the administrative law judge (ALJ) adjudicating the government’s complaint was unconstitutionally appointed; (2) the ALJ is unconstitutionally insulated from Presidential authority because she is protected by two layers of for-cause removal protections; (3) the ALJ is unconstitutionally purporting to adjudicate SpaceX’s rights in an administrative proceeding rather than in federal court; and (4) the ALJ is unconstitutionally denying SpaceX its Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial.

The suit specific names two of these administrative judges, as well as attorney general Merrick Garland, as defendents. It also outlines in detail how SpaceX follows the State Department’s law protecting U.S. technology scrupulously, while hiring the most talented people of all races, including non-citizens after getting State Department permission. Even so, the company’s complaint focuses on the unconstitutionality of the Justice Department’s administrative attack, demanding its dismissal for these reasons alone.

As I noted when the Justice Department’s lawsuit was first announced,

This suit is utter garbage and puts SpaceX between a rock and a hard place. I guarantee if SpaceX had hired any illegal or refugee who was not yet a legal citizen, Biden’s State Department would have immediately sued it for violating other laws relating to ITAR (the export control laws mentioned) which try to prevent the theft of technology by foreign powers.

That SpaceX has chosen to fight this lawsuit first on constitutional grounds suggests the company has fundamentally come to the same conclusion. Musk has decided to fight back hard against Biden’s effort to squash him both politically and legally.

The American Geophysical Union shows off its ignorance of the scientific method

Recently a climate scientist caused an uproar among scientists and peer-review journals when he admitted in an op-ed that the only way he could get his climate paper published in the journal Nature was to fake his results in order to fit them to the narrative that human-caused global warming is causing all our environmental problems.

In my paper, we didn’t bother to study the influence of these other obviously relevant factors. Did I know that including them would make for a more realistic and useful analysis? I did. But I also knew that it would detract from the clean narrative centered on the negative impact of climate change and thus decrease the odds that the paper would pass muster with Nature’s editors and reviewers.

While that op-ed brutally exposed the political biases at Nature that make it impossible to get honest research published, it only told a part of the story. Nature is only one journal, and if it was the only place this corruption of science was occurring, the problem would be manageable.

In truth it is only one example of a far more widespread problem, because it is now practically impossible for any skeptic of global warming to get his or her work published in almost any scientific journal. Worse, most of the major science organizations worldwide no longer simply favor pro-global warming climate research, they act aggressively to promote only one kind of result, to the point that the things they publish sometimes are little different than Soviet propaganda.

The American Geophysical Union, where science is no longer practiced
The American Geophysical Union, where
science is no longer practiced

As a prime example, I want to focus today on the American Geophysical Union (AGU), an scientific organization initially formed as an umbrella group to help American scientists publish and publicize their research on the study of the Earth, its interior, and its nature as a planet. To do so the AGU publishes a wide range of peer-review journals, all intended as fair-minded outlets for new research.

Sadly, in the past two decades the AG abandoned that primary function. For example, it has made its global-warming biases clear for several decades, essentially telling every climate scientist worldwide that if you submit any paper that raises any questions about global warming, it will be rejected outright.

More recently however the AGU has become even more up front and public about its close-minded approval of the as-yet unproven theory that humans are causing the climate to heat up. » Read more

Federal government continues to block the return of Varda’s commercial capsule, carrying drugs to treat HIV

Even as the FAA continues to block Varda from returning its capsule back to Earth, the Air Force has now joined in to block its landing at its Utah Test and Training Range, the same location NASA will use on September 24 to drop the return capsule from OSIRIS-REx, carrying material from an asteroid.

Varda originally planned to bring back a capsule containing crystals of ritonavir, a drug used to treat HIV, in mid-July. After announcing that had been delayed [due to the FAA’s refusal to issue a landing license in July], the company was looking at September 5 and 7, a source told TechCrunch. This information was confirmed by USAF.

The company declined to comment, but posted on X that the “spacecraft is healthy across all systems” and that they are continuing to collaborate with regulators to bring the capsule back to Earth. They added that the spacecraft can survive for up to a year on-orbit.

“Sept. 5 and 7 were their primary targets,” a spokesperson for the USAF said in an emailed statement. “The request to use the Utah Test and Training Range for the landing location was not granted at this time due to the overall safety, risk and impact analysis. In a separate process, the FAA has not granted a reentry license. All organizations continue working to explore recovery options.”

The spokesperson further said that Varda “is working on presenting alternate plans,” but would not elaborate further whether that meant seeking an alternate landing site. A spokesperson for the FAA told TechCrunch that Varda’s application was denied on September 6 because the company “did not demonstrate compliance with the regulatory requirements.”

“On September 8, Varda formally requested that the FAA reconsider its decision. The request for reconsideration is pending,” the spokesperson said.

The actions of these agencies is unconscionable and a outright abuse of power. There is no rational reason for the FAA to continue to deny Varda the right to bring its capsule back to Earth. Its claims of environmental impact are bogus, especially since capsules and spacecraft have been returning to Earth like this for more than three-quarters of a century. Nor is there any reason for the Air Force to have blocked the return now. Its claim of issues of “safety, risk, and impact” is utter garbage, especially since it is allowing a NASA capsule to land in this exact same facility in only days, and that capsule is carrying material from an asteroid.

One might question why Varda apparently flew its capsule prior to getting these landing approvals, but it did exactly the right thing, for two reasons. First, if it waited for approvals before flying, it would have no leverage on these power-hungry federal agencies and it likely would still be on the ground, going bankrupt (think of Virgin Orbit in the United Kingdom). This by the way is the same tactic used by SpaceX. You don’t wait on them, you put them under the gun by moving forward as fast as possible.

Second, this situation helps highlight the power grab by these agencies. While the FAA has some concerns relating to conflicts with airplane traffic, that should simply be a matter of coordination and involve no great delay. Similarly, landing on an Air Force base is merely scheduling. Since when did government agencies have the power to block a landing beyond those points? They don’t, not legally, morally, or practically.

Though I am sure most workers at the FAA and Air Force are likely trying to do their best to help
Varda, the structure of such regulatory agencies always encourages the power-hungry to grab power. The result has been endless mission creep, to the point where today no space activity can happen without some government agency sticking its nose in to demand control.

Russian investigators pin down cause of Luna-25 failure

Though the investigation is not yet complete, reports out of Russia indicate that the cause of the failure of Luna-25 during an engine burn while in orbit around the Moon has been identified.

The article at the link provides the details, which involve problems with two “BIUS-L accelerometers” during the flight, which for reasons not yet understood were switching from the primary to the secondary randomly during the journey to the Moon, apparently because of some failure.

However, ahead of the fateful lunar orbit correction on August 19, both accelerometers worked correctly, but once the maneuver started, one set failed again, while the flight control system never switched to data from the second set. As a result, onboard computers were not receiving data about critical parameters required for properly completing the orbit correction, such as orientation of the spacecraft in space, velocity and altitude.

If confirmed, this crash scenario would likely implicate deficiencies in the development or testing of the flight control system and its software rather than any mechanical problem of the propulsion system, which was implied in the initial statement about the incident. [emphasis mine]

The highlighted sentence says it all. The serious quality control problems that have hampered Russia’s space efforts remain, and in fact appear systemic throughout its entire aerospace industry. In fact, this failure of a planetary probe helps explain the many difficulties Russia has been having in its war in the Ukraine, attributable to these same issues.

China launches military reconnaissance satellite

China today successfully launched a classified military reconnaissance satellite, using its Long March 2D rocket lifting off from its Xichang spaceport in the south of China.

No word on where the rocket’s lower stages crashed in China. All the stages use hypergolic fuels, which are extremely toxic.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race:

65 SpaceX
43 China
13 Russia
7 Rocket Lab
7 India

American private enterprise still leads China in successful launches 76 to 43, and the entire world combined 76 to 69. SpaceX by itself now trails the rest of the world combined (excluding American companies) 65 to 69.

FAA confirms: No Starship/Superheavy launch license until Interior approves

The Kafkaesque Interior Department strikcs again!
The Kafkaesque Interior Department
strikcs again!

They’re coming for you next: In an email today, the FAA confirmed what I had reported yesterday, that though it hopes to issue a launch license for the next orbital test flight of SpaceX’s Starship/Superheavy rocket by the end of October, no license will be issued until Fish & Wildlife in the Interior Department agrees.

Before it is authorized to conduct a second Starship/Super Heavy launch, SpaceX must obtain a modified license from the FAA that addresses all safety, environmental, and other regulatory requirements. As part of that license application determination process, the FAA will review new environmental information, including changes related to the launch pad, as well as other proposed vehicle and flight modifications.

The FAA will complete a Written Reevaluation (WR) to the 2022 Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) evaluating the new environmental information, including Endangered Species Act consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If the FAA determines through the WR process that the contents of the PEA do not remain valid in light of the changes proposed for Flight 2, additional environmental review will be required. Accordingly, the FAA has not authorized SpaceX’s proposed Flight 2. [emphasis mine]

Tragically, my April prediction is coming true. This launch is almost certainly not going to occur before November, and will almost certainly be delayed until next year.

Note again that until the Biden administration, SpaceX was not required to get a detailed environmental reassessement after every Boca Chica test launch. Fish & Wildlife was not involved, as it shouldn’t be. SpaceX made its engineering investigation, the FAA reviewed it quickly, and the company launched again, at a pace of almost one test launch a month, with almost every launch resulting in a crash landing or an explosion.

Under the Biden administration the rules suddenly changed. Now, all launches are environmental concerns, even though we have empirical data for more than seventy years at Cape Canaveral that rocket launches not only do no harm to wildlife, they allow it to thrive because the spaceport creates large zones where nothing can be developed.

In other words, the Biden administration is playing a raw and cruel political game, designed to kill Starship/Superheavy. And it is succeeding, because it will be impossible to develop this rocket on time for its investors and NASA at a pace of only one test launch per year.

Today’s blacklisted American finally wins his four-decade-long fight against the federal government

So Kafkaesque even Kafka would be astonished
So Kafkaesque even Kafka would be astonished

Bring a gun to a knife fight: In 1982 Sidney Longwell bought a federal oil and gas lease from the Interior Department, with the intention of making money from the oil he extracted from Montana’s Lewis and Clark National Forest. Such leases were not unusual up until then, and in this case was obtained in a perfectly legal manner.

It was not to be, at least for the next four decades, as the Interior Department under five different Presidents repeatedly changed the rules and made arbitary decisions in an effort to somehow illegally cancel that lease. The story, as described by his non-profit law firm, Mountain States Legal Foundation, is quite ugly.

Sidney Longwell first bought his federal oil and gas lease in 1982. But after years of back-and-forth, the Clinton Administration suspended his lease indefinitely in 1993, placing it in regulatory limbo. A decade of fruitless bureaucratic review followed. Finally, in 2013, and with help from Mountain States Legal Foundation, he took the DOI to court, where the agency was forced to address Sidney’s lease. When pressed in 2016 for a decision, the DOI canceled the lease! So, Mountain States and Sidney sued them again.
» Read more

Germany signs Artemis Accords

Germany today finally signed the Artemis Accords, becoming the 29th nation to do so. More important, its signing puts most of Europe within the accords, as well as all of the major players in space except for China and Russia.

The full list of signatories to the Artemis Accords is now as follows: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, the Ukraine, and the United States.

We now can essentially see the alliance that will compete with China, Russia, and the handful of third world leftist nations such as Venezuela and South Africa. Though there are some nations on this list that have not flown in space and have a very weak infrastructure for space (Nigeria, Romania, and Ecuador for example), most of the signatories have major aerospace industries with a strong space component. More important, while the Biden administration has been deemphasizing the original conception of the accords, aimed at strengthening property rights in space, the members of the alliance are still mostly capitalist countries, with legal systems that support individual rights.

On the other side are nations that have traditionally or are now pushing for communism and strong authoritarian rule.

Thus, we can now see the rough outline of the political competition that will exist as the solar system is explored and colonized in the coming centuries.

Russia launches 3 astronauts to ISS

Russia today used its Soyuz-2 rocket to launch three astronauts to ISS, one American and two Russians, lifting off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

At posting the Soyuz capsule had still not docked with ISS, but should do so shortly.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race:

64 SpaceX
42 China
13 Russia
7 Rocket Lab
7 India

American private enterprise still leads China in successful launches 75 to 42, and the entire world combined 75 to 68. SpaceX by itself still trails the rest of the world combined (excluding American companies) 64 to 68.

One of two major law firms sued for running segregated training programs backs down

Gadsden Flag - a symbol of unbowing defiance to oppression
Gadsden Flag – a symbol of unbowing defiance to oppression

Bring a gun to a knife fight: Shortly after the Supreme Court ruled in June that racial quotas and affirmative action in college admissions was unconstitutional, the non-profit legal firm the American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAFER) sued two different major law firms, Perkins Coie in Dallas and Morrison & Foerster in Miami, accusing both of illegal discrimination in their segregrated Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training programs that specifically excluded whites and asians.

Perkins Coie, founded in Seattle, offers “diversity fellowships” that provide stipends of $15,000 to $25,000 and paid positions as summer associates, a position that at major law firms can lead to full-time jobs with six-figure salaries. Applicants must belong to “a group historically underrepresented in the legal profession, including students of color, students who identify as LGBTQ+, and students with disabilities,” according to Perkins Coie, which employs more than 1,200 lawyers in the United States and Asia.

Morrison & Foerster, a corporate law firm founded in San Francisco that has more than 1,000 lawyers worldwide, has a similar program that is open to applicants who are Black, Hispanic, Native American or members of the LGBT community. The fellowship consists of a paid summer-associate position and a $50,000 stipend.

Now, only eight days after the lawsuit was filed, one of these law firms, Morrison & Foerster, has backed down, at least superficially, by eliminating in its applications any mention of race or sexual orientation.
» Read more

23 Indian companies bid for ownership of ISRO’s SSLV rocket

In the Modi government’s push to transition its aerospace industry from one controlled by its space agency ISRO to one that is controlled by no one and is instead a competitive commercial market owned by private companies, it had recently proposed transferring ownership of ISRO’s SSLV rocket to a private company, and requested applications from private companies interested in doing so.

It now appears that twenty-three Indian companies have entered their names in the hat.

Chairman of Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) Pawan K Goenka said that they are keen to see how the private sector uses the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) technology. “There has been a tremendous response, 23 companies have (so far) shown interest in applying for this technology. Of course only one of them will get it,” he said.

IN-SPACe, an autonomous nodal agency under the Department of Space (DOS), formed in 2020 to promote, enable, authorise and supervise non-government entities (NGEs) to undertake space activities, had in July floated an Expression of Interest (EoI) for transfer of technology (ToT) of SSLV with the last date to respond to it being September 25.

“Technology transfer is something we are working on very aggressively, because we really want to see how ISRO’s technology is leveraged by private sector. A lot is happening in that area and the biggest one is of course SSLV technology transfer, where we are transferring the launch vehicle lock, stock, and barrel completely to the private sector,” Goenka said.

As there is still several weeks left before the deadline, it is possible other companies will submit offers. Whichever company gets the rocket will immediately become a significant player in the global launch market, able to offer a very cost effective rocket for commercial launches. It will certainly be able to match Rocket Lab right off the bat.

German govenment blocks Chinese takeover of startup satellite company

The German govenment today blocked the completion of a stock deal that would have transferred almost complete ownership of the startup satellite company KLEO Connect to a Chinese firm.

The cabinet agreed a decision by the economy ministry not to let Shanghai Spacecom Satellite Technology, which already has 53% of the company, acquire the 45% minority stake of German company EightyLeo, according to the sources.

KLEO Connect wants to establish a network of more than 300 small, low earth orbit satellites to be fully operational by 2028 along with the ground infrastructure to provide global communications services – similar to SpaceX with its project Starlink. [emphasis mine]

It appears this decision might be a bit late, considering that this Chinese pseudo-company, undoubtably working under the supervision of the Chinese communists, already owns a majority stake. That lateness however appears to be part of the German government’s decision in the last year to toughen its stance on China.

Starship/Superheavy 2nd test launch likely delayed until next year by federal bureaucracy and White House

Starship stacked on Superheavy, September 5, 2023
Starship stacked on Superheavy, September 5, 2023,
when Elon Musk said it was ready for launch

They’re coming for you next: While answering questions from reporters at a conference yesterday on when SpaceX might get its next Starship/Superheavy launch license, FAA acting chief Polly Trottenberg said she hoped that license will be awarded by October, but then slipped in one minor additional detail that had not previously mentioned or required:

SpaceX would still need a separate environmental approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before a launch. Trottenberg did not say how long that might take.

Not surprisingly, the story from Reuters buries this detail, spinning the story to make it seem that the FAA is eager to help SpaceX launch. Similarly, this NasaSpaceFlight.com story (a space news outlet which has also tried to spin things to make the delays appear the fault of SpaceX) fails to even mention this detail.

SpaceX is now destacking Starship from Superheavy (live stream here).

I predicted in the spring that intransigence from the federal bureaucracy, controlled by the Biden administration, would likely delay this launch well past August, and likely into next year. I also said I would be thrilled if my cynical prediction turned out to be wrong.

Sadly, it looks like that prediction will be correct, and in fact might have actually been conservative. » Read more

Pushback: The momentum builds against the Marxist American Library Association

Emily Drabinski, now president of the ALA, proudly Marxist and queer
Emily Drabinski, president of the ALA and proudly
Marxist and queer

Bring a gun to a knife fight: Back in July I reported how the library commission of Montana had decided to withdraw its support from and membership in the American Library Association (ALA), not only because of the Marxist agenda being pushed by its new president, Emily Drabinski, but because of the ALA’s aggressive effort to insert pornography in school libraries.

At the time I wrote this:

[I]f more local library organizations followed through as Montana has, the ALA might finally feel the pinch and rethink its policies. Or if it didn’t, it would justify these libraries leaving its fold, as it does not represent them.

Since then there has been a rising flood of other states moving to break free from the ALA. In July, almost immediately after the decision in Montana, the secretary of state of Missouri, who oversees the Missouri State library, withdrew from the ALA, citing the organization’s public effort — pushed under Drabinski’s leadership — to block a “faith-based publisher from holding story hours in libraries.”
» Read more

Real pushback: Defiance from all sides to New Mexico’s unlawful suspension of the 2nd amendment

Michelle Lujan Grisham

When New Mexico’s Democratic Party governor Michelle Lujan Grisham suddenly declared on September 8, 2023 that she was unilaterally suspending the second amendment by outlawing for 30 days the right to carry firearms by any citizens in Albuquerque and its surrounding Bernalillo county, no one should have been surprised.

All Grisham was doing was following the many precedents set during the COVID epidemic, where nationwide governors routinely made unilateral and unlawful declarations violating the Constitutional rights of citizens, with no pushback at all. Grisham was merely following those precedents. To her, it was now okay for a governor to routinely declare a “health emergency” for any reason under the sun (in this case the violent shooting death of an innocent eleven-year-old boy), and declare any law she didn’t like to be null and void.

Grisham was simply demonstrating forcefully the worst lessons learned from the COVID panic. It taught power-hungry politicians that they could get away with any abuse of power they conceived, as long as they dressed that power grab as part of some sort of “health emergency.”

You see, power is very habit-forming, and when you find you suffer no pain for abusing it it is then very easy to abuse it again, and again and again.

The response to Grisham’s unlawful abuse of power however suggested strongly that things are no longer going to follow the script of the COVID panic, when the public meekly went along. Instead, the uproar in the past three days has been astonishing, not so much from the ordinary citizens defying the ban, but from politicians and pundits from across the entire political spectrum.
» Read more

The actual truth behind the so-called “hidden figures” of the early space race

It is Monday, and thus the news in the morning is somewhat slim. With this in mind I offer my readers some worthwhile history, a long review dubbed “The Portrayal of Early Manned Spaceflight in Hidden Figures: A Critique. The actual review is available here [pdf].

The review uses primary source material, the actual words of the engineers and managers who worked next to black mathematician Katherine Johnson at NASA in the 1960s (both new and old writings and interviews), assessing the historical accuracy of Margot Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures, which essentially claimed that Johnson was a central figure making possible the entire American effort land on the Moon, and whose credit was purposely squelched because she was black, and a woman.

Not surprisingly, you will find that claim to be absurdly false. Not only was Johnson only one of many who did the work, she was treated then fairly and with respect. If anything, her place at NASA was proof that the agency was a forceful part of the civil rights movement, working to give qualified people of all races a fair chance.

Thus, the effort of modern leftist revisionists, led by Barack Obama when he gave Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, to smear America and NASA in the 1960s as racist and bigoted in supposedly suppressing Johnson’s participation is not only unfair, it is an outright lie. If anything, her magnification to star status by today’s politicians, historians, and the entertainment industry has acted to discredit the work done by the many others who worked side-by-side with her, as co-workers.

If you’ve got the time, read the critique. It will not only teach you something about the behind the scenes effort that made the lunar landing possible, it will help you recognize the bigoted dishonesty that is so rampant in today’s intellectual and political culture.

Hat tip to reader Chris Dorsey for letting me know of this review.

Two launches today, one by ULA and one by China

Today there were two successful launches. First China launched a remote sensing satellite using its Long March 6 rocket that lifted off from its Taiyuan spaceport in the south of China.

No word on where the rocket’s lower stages and four strap-on boosters crashed inside China.

Shortly thereafter, ULA used its Atlas-5 rocket to place a reconnaissance satellite into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), lifting off from Cape Canaveral.

For ULA, this was only its second launch in 2023. The leaders in the 2023 launch race are now as follows, with China’s total corrected:

63 SpaceX
42 China
12 Russia
7 Rocket Lab
7 India

In the national rankings, American private enterprise now leads China in successful launches 73 to 42. It also now leads the entire world combined, 73 to 67, while SpaceX by itself now trails the rest of the world (excluding American companies) only 63 to 67.

CORRECTION: Hat tip to reader John Foley (see his comment below), who noted that China’s total appeared to be one short. I went back and discovered I had missed a March 22, 2023 launch of a Kuaizhou 1A rocket from the Jiujian spaceport, placing four weather satellites in orbit. I have now added that launch to China’s total, and corrected the other numbers.

Today’s blacklisted American: Law professor fired and escorted by police off campus for being conservative

Law professor Scott Gerber
Law professor Scott Gerber

They’re coming for you next: In an ugly act of outright thuggery, Ohio Northern University (ONU) recently fired tenured law professor Scott Gerber, without any standard due process as required by its own procedures, and did so by having the campus police arrive unannouced in his classroom to escort him off campus.

As Gerber recounts, “Around 1 p.m on Friday, April 14, Ohio Northern University campus security officers entered my classroom with my students present and escorted me to the dean’s office. Armed town police followed me down the hall. My students appeared shocked and frightened. I know I was.”

Gerber was not given any concrete reasons after being told that he was being banned from campus, other than his lack of “collegiality.” He was directed to sign a separation agreement.

The reason for Gerber’s firing however appears quite obvious if you want to look. The university did not like his uncompromising and public opposition to ONU’s racist Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies, which focus solely on favoring minorities in hiring and admissions while working to eliminate and remove any opposition to those racist policies. As he wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal:
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Good news? FAA issues own report on April Starship/Superheavy launch

The FAA today closed out its own investigation into the April test launch failure of SpaceX’s Starship/Superheavy rocket, stating that it found “63 corrective actions SpaceX must take” before another launch license will be issued.

Corrective actions include redesigns of vehicle hardware to prevent leaks and fires, redesign of the launch pad to increase its robustness, incorporation of additional reviews in the design process, additional analysis and testing of safety critical systems and components including the Autonomous Flight Safety System, and the application of additional change control practices.

It is not clear how many of these corrections have already been completed by SpaceX. The FAA made it clear however that it does not yet consider its requirements to have been met.

The closure of the mishap investigation does not signal an immediate resumption of Starship launches at Boca Chica. SpaceX must implement all corrective actions that impact public safety and apply for and receive a license modification from the FAA that addresses all safety, environmental and other applicable regulatory requirements prior to the next Starship launch.

The timeline suggests FAA is demanding additional actions from SpaceX. The company submitted its own investigation report to the FAA on August 16th. The FAA then spent almost a month reviewing it, during which it almost certainly decided some of SpaceX’s corrections were insufficient. It has now followed up with its own report, listing additional actions required.

Remember, no one at the FAA is qualified or even in a position to do a real investigation. They are simply acting as a chess kibitzer on the sidelines, making annoying commentary based on less information than held by the players of the game (in this case SpaceX). Unlike a chess kibitzer, however, the FAA controls the board, and can force SpaceX to do its recommended moves, or declare the game forfeited by SpaceX.

If the FAA has required additional actions, we will find out in the next few days when SpaceX destacks Starship/Superheavy and rolls both back into the assembly building. It is also possible we instead shall have a few weeks of back-and-forth negotiations by phone, zoom, paper, and face-to-face meetings, whereby SpaceX engineers will be desperately trying to make FAA paper-pushers understand some of their engineering work which will eventually result in an agreement by the FAA to let SpaceX launch.

Remember, none of this kind of regulatory interference and investigation took place between SpaceX and the FAA during the Trump administration when SpaceX was flying a Starship suborbital test flight almost monthly. The heavy boot of regulation arrived soon after Biden. The two are closely linked.

GAO blasts NASA for purposely failing to control the budget of its SLS rocket

In a new report [pdf] released yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) strongly blasted NASA’s non-budgeting process for financing the costs for this SLS rocket, which appear specifically designed to allow those costs to rise uncontrollably.

This one sentence from the report says it all:

NASA does not plan to measure production costs to monitor the affordability of the SLS program.

That non-plan is actually in direct defiance of four different reports by both the GAO and NASA’s inspector general over the past decade, all of which found that NASA was not using standard budgeting practices with SLS and which all demanded it do so forthwith. As this new report notes in reviewing this history, in every case NASA failed to follow these recommendations, and instead created budgetary methods designed to instead obscure the program’s cost.

This report notes that NASA continues to do so.
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Senate approves Biden’s FCC nominee, giving him a Democrat majority on FCC

FCC: now controlled by Democrats
The FCC, now controlled by the
power-hungry Democratic Party

Failure theater: The Senate yesterday voted 55 to 43 to approve Biden’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) nominee, Anna Gomez, thus giving the Democrats a 4 to 3 majority on the Commission.

This was Biden’s second nominee to the commission, with the first withdrawn when it was clear the Senate opposed the nominee.

Biden tried again in May with the nomination of Gomez, a State Department digital policy official who was previously deputy assistant secretary at the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) from 2009 to 2023. A lawyer, Gomez was vice president of government affairs at Sprint Nextel from 2006 to 2009 and before that spent about 12 years at the FCC in several roles.

Gomez got through the confirmation process with relative ease, though most Republicans voted against her. Both parties seem to expect the FCC to reinstate net neutrality rules now that Democrats will have a majority.

Imposing net neutrality is essentially socialism/communism for the internet. It will squash competition, cost a fortune, and eventually be used as well to squelch dissent online (which translates into silencing conservatives).

From the perspective of space, the majority on the FCC is likely very bad news as well, for several reasons. » Read more

Judge to blacklisting Maine governor: The lawsuit against your COVID jab mandate will continue

Democrat Janet Mills, a proud dictator

A federal district court judge ruled last week that a lawsuit by seven former health employees in Maine can continue, dismissing the absurd argument by Maine’s Democrat governor, Janet Mills, that even though these employees were illegally denied a religious exemption and got fired for not getting the COVID jab, the harm they have endured no longer exists because Mills eventually stopped enforcing her mandate and will repeal it later this month.

The lawsuit in question — Alicia Lowe, et al., v. Janet Mills, et al. — alleges that the State of Maine violated healthcare workers’ First Amendment rights by refusing to allow a religious exemption to the vaccine mandate. The healthcare workers argue that healthcare facilities should have offered reasonable accommodations for employees who objected to the COVID-19 shots for religious reasons.

Because of Mills’ vaccine mandate, which specifically barred any religious exemption, healthcare facilities were unable to offer a testing option for employees. As a result of this, several healthcare workers were fired after requesting a religious exemption to the mandate. Some of those workers have now filed a lawsuit against both members of the state government and their employers.

You can read the judge’s ruling here [pdf]. » Read more

China’s Long March 4C rocket launches classified remote sensing satellite

China’s three-stage Long March 4C rocket today (early morning on September 7th in China) successfully placed a classified remote sensing satellite into orbit, lifting off from China’s Jiuquan spaceport in the Gobi Desert.

This launch occurred prior to Japan’s H-2A launch, but I am only catching up with it now. As always, China’s state run press released little information, including where the first and second stages crashed inside China. All three stages of the Long March 4C use very toxic hypergolic fuels, so if those stages landed near habitable areas, there will be significant risk to bystanders.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race:

62 SpaceX
40 China
12 Russia
7 Rocket Lab
7 India

In the national rankings, American private enterprise still leads China in successful launches 71 to 40. It also still leads the entire world combined, 71 to 65, while SpaceX by itself now trails the rest of the world (excluding American companies) only 62 to 65.

Japan successfully launches XCRISM X-ray space telescope and SLIM lunar lander

SLIM's landing zone
Map showing SLIM landing zone on the Moon.
Click for interactive map.

Japan today (September 7th in Japan) successfully used its H-2A rocket to place both the XCRISM X-ray space telescope and SLIM lunar lander into orbit.

As of posting XCRISM has been successfully deployed. SLIM has not, as it needs to wait until after a second burn of the rocket’s upper stage about 40 minutes later. The map to the right shows SLIM’s landing target on the Moon, where it will attempt a precision landing within a zone about 300 feet across.

This was Japan’s second launch this year, so it does not get included in the leader board for the 2023 launch race:

62 SpaceX
39 China
12 Russia
7 Rocket Lab
7 India

In the national rankings, American private enterprise still leads China in successful launches 71 to 39. It also still leads the entire world combined, 71 to 64, while SpaceX by itself now trails the rest of the world (excluding American companies) only 62 to 64.

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