Tag Archives: politics

TSA bans bikini woman for ‘unusual contour’ around buttocks

A woman in a wheelchair — whom the TSA had previously interrogated for an hour then denied her entry when she arrived at the airport in a bikini — was later refused entrance when she arrived fully clothed because of an “unusual contour” around her buttocks. Key quote:

Banovac offered to strip for the agents to prove that she’s not hiding anything. However, since TSA agents aren’t allowed to fully undress a passenger, they had no choice but to deny her access to her flight.

Does one get the feeling that the TSA agents are out to get this woman because she makes them look like fools?

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University of Virginia resists releasing climate documents

Another whitewash? The University of Virginia is resisting releasing a variety of climate documents being requested under the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Key quote:

In response to a previous FOIA request, U.Va. denied these records existed. However, during Cuccinelli’s pre-investigation under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (“FATA”), a 2007 law passed unanimously by Virginia’s legislature, which clearly covers the work of taxpayer-funded academics, U.Va. stunningly dropped this stance.

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Peer-reviewed journal article a “Fraud”

Back in 1998 a peer-reviewed paper in the medical journal, Lancet, claimed that the childhood vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella vaccine could be linked to autism and other health problems. The consequence was that thousands of parents withheld vaccinations from their children, resulting in an outburst of measles that almost certainly did actual harm to many children.

This paper has now been shown to be an outright fraud.

This story raises two thoughts. First, it demonstrates clearly that just because a research paper is published in a “peer-reviewed” science journal is no guarantee that the paper will be honest, reliable, or factually accurate. As good scientists like to say, “Extraordinary results require extraordinary evidence.” Both the press and public need to be constantly skeptical about all research, regardless of where it is published.

Secondly, the reaction of the journal, Lancet, to this whole affair suggests strongly that this particular journal is even more unreliable than most. To quote:

The Lancet withdrew the article in January of last year after concluding that “several elements” of the paper were incorrect. But the journal didn’t describe any of the discrepancies as fraud.

The journal’s reaction is similar to what we saw with the climategate emails, an effort to whitewash the situation while refusing to face the problem bluntly and fix it. If the article was as fraudulent as the Wall Street Journal article above suggests, it raises serious questions about the editorial policies at Lancet. That the editors there seem uninterested in addressing these concerns acts to discredit their publication entirely. And until they deal with this issue properly, I would look very skeptically on anything they publish.

(Note that this is not the first time Lancet has published research of questionable reliability. See this story for another example.)

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Charles Bolden has come out of hiding

Today NASA administrator Charles Bolden spoke at the AIAA meeting in Orlando. According to Florida Today, he said two things of interest:

  • He is proud of the achievements of the shuttle program and is sad the program is ending.
  • He believes flying three more shuttle missions would be safe.

Considering that his administration has done nothing to save the program, and in fact has almost seemed eager to shut it down at times, his sadness seems incredibly insincere and self-serving.

As for his second comment about the shuttle’s safety, I wonder how he knows this, especially since his own engineers are currently struggling to pin down the root cause of the external tank cracks that have delayed the last flight of Discovery, and appear to be a chronic problem that needs to be fixed before any shuttle can once again fly.

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Opportunity at Santa Maria Crater, as seen from space

The image below was taken by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on New Year’s Eve. It shows the rover Opportunity on the rim of stadium-sized Santa Maria Crater, where scientists plan to spend the next two months exploring the crater.

Opportunity has truly been an astonishing success for NASA’s planetary science program. The rover has operated on the Martian surface since 2004, almost seven years beyond its original mission length. It is presently about halfway on its long journey to the much larger Endeavour Crater (14 miles in diameter), still several miles away.

Opportunity at Santa Maria

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Arianespace Needs Aid To Avoid Loss in 2010

Another government-operated business that is losing money: Arianespace is requesting financial aid from the member nations of the European Space Agency to avoid a loss in 2010. This despite the fact that “the current request comes at a time when Arianespace might be expected to be in prime financial health.”

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Naked bodies and a new Messiah

If anyone had any doubt that the global warming movement is undergoing a serious collapse, this so-called news article from Spiegal Online, entitled “Naked bodies and a new Messiah: Green groups are trying to sex up climate change,” probably lays that doubt to rest. Key quote:

Environmentalists and scientists are concerned about the massive drop in public interest in the topic over the last year. Now they are looking for new strategies to turn the tide. They’re searching for so-called “mind bombs” — highly emotional images that reduce a complex problem down to one core message.

Sadly, the article never asks the fundamental question: What do “mind bombs” have to do with facts, data, and proving your theories are correct in the real world?

The answer of course is obvious: Nothing.
» Read more

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US, Germany developing secret spy satellites

According to Wikileaks cables, the United States and Germany plan to develop a secret constellation of spy satellites. Though Germany denies the story, their denial is somewhat puzzling:

German Aerospace Center spokesman Andreas Schuetz said that such a project for a high-resolution optical satellite has been in discussion for the past two years under the name HIROS. “HIROS is neither a spy satellite, nor a secret project,” Schuetz said. He insisted that the project was to be used only for government purposes, “for example crisis management during natural catastrophes and for scientific uses.”

He refused to give any further details, saying the plan was still in the project stage and could not be discussed.

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The 97% “Consensus” is only 75 Self-Selected Climatologists

The 97% “Consensus” is only 75 Self-Selected Climatologists. Key quote:

Close examination of the source of the claimed 97% consensus reveals that it comes from a non-peer reviewed article describing an online poll in which a total of only 79 climate scientists chose to participate. Of the 79 self-selected climate scientists, 75 agreed with the notion of AGW [anthropogenic global warming]. Thus, we find climate scientists once again using dubious statistical techniques to deceive the public that there is a 97% scientific consensus on man-made global warming; fortunately they clearly aren’t buying it.

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“The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated,”

A Charlottesville man was arrested for protesting airport security searches. Key quote, written on his chest and abdomen:

“Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated.”

I wonder if liberal Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein needs someone to explain what this quote means.

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