As ISIS barbarians burn priceless books at the Mosul Library and smash apart statues that are thousands of years old at the Mosul Museum of Antiquities, the Obama administration boasted that the march on that city would begin in the spring. Now, as Hot Air reported on Saturday, the liberation of Iraq’s second largest city has been postponed indefinitely. The search is on for who leaked the spring offensive plan and why now it is not going to happen.
Saturday, February 28, 2015
A Friday story in Phys.org highlighted some research going on at Cornell University concerning the possibility of life in the methane seas of Titan, a moon of Saturn. The question of whether or not there could be life on Titan was put into a computer model. The answer was, there could be life on Titan but not, as that old line of dialogue from “Star Trek” say, as we know it.
The IRS Inspector General’s office admitted to the House Oversight Committee that backup tapes of Lois Lerner’s emails that IRS Commissioner John Koskinen had said were irretrievably lost have been found, according to a Thursday story in the Washington Times. Indeed it took only 15 days of work to track them down in a backup facility, The IRS Deputy IG has told Congress that a criminal investigation is under way into a possible cover-up.
Friday, February 27, 2015
Craig Ferguson, the Scottish American comedian and actor who hosted “The Late Late Show” for many years, has been “walking the Earth” doing standup comedy all across America and making the occasional YouTube video. A considerable amount of speculation has occurred about what his next gig might be. For a time, it looked like the gig was going to be a prime time talk show though that eventually fell through. Deadline Hollywood reported on Friday that Ferguson is returning to scripted comedy, with the lead role on “The King of 7B.”
Leonard Nimoy, the 83 year old actor best known for his portrayal of the logical alien from the planet Vulcan, Mr. Spock in television’s “Star Trek,” died at his home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles, according to the New York Times. The cause of death was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease brought one by years of smoking. Nimoy had quit smoking nearly 30 years ago.
Some of Nimoy's books:
The Alliance for Space Development, consisting of a number of space advocacy groups such as the National Space Society, the Space Frontier Foundation, and the Mars Society, was formed as a result of a closed-door meeting recently. The news was received with puzzlement in some quarters and outright scorn in others. However, Space News reported Thursday that the ASD has hit the ground running and is pushing for a number of legislative items and other initiatives designed to further the cause of space development and settlement.
Some weeks after delivering what many pundits believe was a “disastrous” speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit, former governor, former vice presidential candidate, and still the current most powerful female politician on the planet Sarah Palin took to the podium at CPAC on Thursday and hit it out of the park. Most of her speech concerned veterans’ issues, both heartfelt and filled with policy suggestions. She also took some swings against the Obama administration’s ISIS policy. The media, typically, reacted with irritation.
The episode of “The Big Bang Theory” that ran on Thursday, “The Intimacy Acceleration,” had three separate stories packed into a half hour, including commercials. Howard and Bernadette find, to their horror, that the airline has lost Ms. Wolowitz’s ashes in transit. Sheldon and Penny conduct a strange social experiment with one another. The rest of the friends visit a crime solving room complete with a “zombie.”
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Tuesday night’s episode of ‘Justified,” the series about an old-school deputy marshal in Harlan County, Kentucky, was an eventful one that involved, among other things, a shootout that ended with the death of a dumb as a stump henchman named “Choo Choo.” However, the meat of “Alive Day” concerned the tragic heroine of both the current and the previous seasons, Ava Crowder, who may be about to suffer the consequences of betrayal. Her fate, telegraphed as dire, will be the fault of both the hero, laconic Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens, and the villain, slow talking and violence-prone Boyd Crowder
“The Americans” is often a disturbing TV series in that it depicts intimately the efforts of a pair of deep-cover Soviet agents living in 1980s America to subvert and, eventually, destroy the United States during the end game of the Cold War. Wednesday night’s episode, “Salang Pass,” upped the creepiness ante by having Philip, one of the KGB spies, employ pedophilia as spycraft. It doesn’t help matters that he recognizes how utterly creepy his mission has turned out to be, but is using every bit of his training to seduce a 15-year old girl anyway.
According to a Thursday story in the Washington Examiner, the Obama Administration is moving to impose gun control in a rather oblique manner. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives will propose a ban of 5.56 M885 ammo, popular with target shooters and hunters who use the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. The BATFE will do this by reclassifying the ammo as “armor piercing,” which is prohibited by law. The idea is that the ammo would pose a threat to police officers who wear bullet-proof vests
According to a Wednesday story in Salon, Pat Robertson, a televangelist and former presidential candidate, took to the airwaves on his “700 Club” and choose to inveigh against NASA in general and the exploration of Mars in specific. He seems to have it on good authority that God would not choose to create life on any other world but the Earth. His supposition is in the distinct minority among mainstream theologians though perhaps not of fundamentalist Christians like Robertson.
As the ion drive propelled Dawn, NASA’s asteroid explorer, makes its final approach to the dwarf planet Ceres, scientists are in high excitement due to the detection of not just one, but two bright dots inside an impact basin. Io9, in a Wednesday story, posits theories that the dots are either evidence of volcanism or else are impact craters that have exposed ice deposits beneath a layer of dust. But as the Planetary Society noted, no one knows for sure.
For Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor who is the father of Obamacare, it looks like it may be a case of Nemesis following hubris. First, the Hill reported on Tuesday that the state of Vermont has caught Gruber padding his billable hours for a study of how to bring single payer government run health care to that state. Next, the state of Massachusetts, where Gruber helped to bring forth Romneycare, has fired him from the board that oversees that state’s health care exchange.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
When actress Patricia Arquette took the opportunity of her Oscar acceptance speech to inveigh for pay equality between men and women, she got two different types of reactions. The right rolled its collective eyes at another Hollywood liberal giving a political rant. The left, surprisingly, slammed Arquette for exercising “rich, white woman privilege” and neglecting even more aggrieved victim groups such as ethnic minorities and gays. However, according to a Tuesday story in Time Magazine, Hillary Clinton emerged from her undisclosed location to praise Arquette. Her reaction was curious, considering Clinton’s record on pay equity.
When Rudy Giuliani suggested that President Barack Obama does not love America, much of the reaction consisted of outrage and consternation. However, according to a Wednesday story on Hot Air, Giuliani has a lot of company. A YouGov poll concluded that 35 percent of Americans believe that the president of the United States does not love the country he was elected twice to govern. Only 47 percent of respondents replied that Obama does love the United States.
Ever since the Europa mission had been given the official nod of approval by NASA, scientists have been giddy with excitement at the prospect of exploring a new world where life might reside. The likely model for the mission is the Europa Clipper, which will orbit Jupiter and fly by the moon multiple times. According to a Tuesday story in the New Scientist, researchers are mulling over how to use the Europa Clipper to search for life.
The Washington Post noted on Tuesday that the recent hearings concerning the future of space exploration and commercial space held by Sen. Ted Cruz’s Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness highlighted a persistent conflict ongoing in space circles. The question of where to next send humans into space, Mars on back to the moon has proven to be a vexing one. Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin was in the Mars corner. Former NASA official and possible future NASA administrator Scott Pace championed the moon.
While attention has been focused on a multi-billion dollar mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, NASA is planning a number of new planetary missions. Most are grouped under the Discovery Program, small-scale missions with a cap of $450 million, and the New Frontier Program, which has a cap of $1 billion, according to a Tuesday story in Spaceflight Now. Meanwhile, Space News reports that the space agency is zeroing in on a Mars orbiter for 2022 that will feature new technology demonstrations, as well as a remote sensing mission.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Congress waited until it had returned from the President’s Day break to send President Obama the Keystone XL Pipeline approval bill. As Hot Air noted on Tuesday, the president did not take long to use his veto pen. Congress will now try to override the veto and then, failing that, start attaching the approval language to other legislation. Considering the president’s stubbornness on this and other issues, success is far from assured.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas conducted his first hearing as chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness on Tuesday. He and several other senators, including ranking Commerce Committee member Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, questioned two panels of witnesses on a variety of space topics, ranging from sending humans to Mars to how best to enable commercial space operations going forward.
When a person is brought into the emergency room, having suffered a heart attack or stroke, one of the first things the trauma team will do is to administer clot busting drugs. The idea is that in cases where a clot has caused the trauma, blood flow has to be reestablished as quickly as possible to minimize the damage. Minutes and even seconds count between the patient having a speedy recovery or else spending months in rehab and possibly having permanent impairment. Gizmag reported on Monday that some new research being conducted at Houston Methodist Research Institute has the potential to speed up the blood clot busting, helping stroke and heart attack patients to recover faster.
Monday, February 23, 2015
The Associated Press reported on Monday that a deal between the United States and Iran on the latter country’s nuclear bomb program has started to take shape. Iran will agree to restrictions on its enrichment of bomb-grade uranium for ten years. After that time, Iran will be free to enrich as much uranium as it can manage and, it is left unsaid but it is certainly true, build a nuclear bomb. The Obama administration wanted to delay Iran’s nuclear program by 20 years. Iran wanted a period of less than ten years. The deal constitutes a kind of compromise.
The Google Lunar XPrize announced on Monday that two competitors for the $20 million purse for the first private group to land a rover on the lunar surface and do a number of predetermined tasks have teamed up to share a ride to the moon. Astrobotic, a group in Pittsburgh, PA, and HAKUTO, a Japanese team, will use the same Falcon 9 launch vehicle to deliver their rovers to the lunar surface. At that point, it will be a race to see which rover will travel 500 meters and return high definition images and video.
President Obama’s pick for the replacement for Eric Holder as Attorney General is Loretta Lynch, the current United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Senate Republicans have become decidedly cool to the idea of confirming her. Indeed, Monday Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and an opponent of most Obama policies, announced on Monday that he would oppose her confirmation.
Are Mars missions a scam? That seems to be the conclusion of a Monday article in Buzzfeed, which examines the Mars One effort as well as the NASA space exploration plan that envisions humans landing on Mars in the 2030s. The headline comes from a statement by John Logsdon, considered the dean of space historians, referring to the Mars One project and not necessarily anyone else’s, either NASA’s or the dreams of a Mars colony expressed by SpaceX’s Elon Musk.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
SpaceRef reported on Sunday about a poll of American adults conducted by Monmouth University on public attitudes toward NASA and the space program. The results are somewhat contradictory. While comfortable majorities (56 percent) see the benefits of space exploration, 50 percent of respondents balk at further spending to explore deep space beyond low-Earth orbit to destinations such as the Moon, Mars, and asteroids as opposed to 42 percent who do. However, there might be an explanation for this dichotomy based on previous polling data.
For a while it looked like Borderlands Books, an iconic science fiction bookstore in San Francisco, was going to become a victim of that city’s desire to give every employee a “living wage” by fiat. The store, like a number of all small businesses, simply could not pay its employees $15 an hour and remain open. However, thanks to a creative crowdfunding scheme that allowed patrons to buy sponsorships of the store, Borderlands has gotten a reprieve. It will stay open at least another year Io9 reported on Sunday.
To say that the course of America’s space program has an uncertain future is to put the matter mildly Ever since President Obama officially announced the end of his predecessor’s Constellation space exploration program and doubled down on commercializing space travel to low Earth orbit, NASA has been the focus of controversy and acrimony.
The NASA budget that the president proposed is more or less status quo, though it does dole out a little money to start planning a mission to Europa. The White House does not seem willing to address the problems besetting America’s space program, which more than one observer has called “adrift.”
However, four recent developments related to space may point the way to a change in direction for America’s space efforts.
Hard on the heels of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani expressing doubts about President Obama’s love of the United States, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential Republican presidential candidate, has said that he doesn’t know whether or not Obama is a Christian, according to a Saturday story in the Washington Post. The Washington Examiner’s Byron York suggests that this ignorance is understandable. A lot of Americans are confused as to what religious faith the president adheres to or whether he even has one. Polling data has indicated this from the very moment the president burst onto the national stage.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
The Associated Press reported on Saturday that the Obama administration has hit upon a strategy to counter what it sees as a threat from the Middle East that will soon come to the United States to shake the foundations of the government. Is ISIS prepared to launch terrorist attacks in the homeland? Is Iran plotting to detonate a nuclear bomb in an American city? Both of these things are possible, but the oncoming threat that has the White House remaining awake at night is the prospect of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu making a speech about Iran before a joint session of Congress.
The federal government has been offering unsolicited advice on what people should eat for decades. Some of that advice, as the New York Times recently noted, has been based on faulty science, much to the detriment of Americans’ health. That debacle has not stopped the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) from issuing a set of recommendations to Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on how to drastically transform how Americans eat, according to a Friday story in the Washington Free Beacon.
Climate change scientists who adhere to the theory of global warming have been strident in their insistence that the Earth is warming and that humans are causing it is “settled science.” However, after revelations have come to light that NASA had been “adjusting” the raw data from ground-based temperature stations to suggest more warming than the data indicate, the veracity of global warming has been placed in doubt. Now, according to a Friday story in the Daily Caller, the practice will be the subject of a Congressional investigation.
More proof that Obamacare is a monster that has been set loose to devour the lives of Americans came to light Friday, according to the National Journal. One of the features of the health care reform law consists of subsidies for people who buy individual insurance under the Obamacare exchanges. The Department of Health and Human Services sends a form every year to such people that allows them to calculate what level of subsidies they are entitled too in order to help file taxes. Unfortunately, some 800,000 people have just found out that the form they were given by DHHS had wrong information.
Friday, February 20, 2015
By all accounts, Rudy Giuliani is getting Sarah Palin levels of outrage for his statement that President Barack Obama does not love America, according to a Friday story in Hot Air. But as Fox News reports, the former mayor of New York is not backing down. He repeated the assertion Thursday night on “The Kelly File,” where he also stated, accurately because the president said so, that Obama does not believe in American exceptionalism.
Set an alternate universe where Obama really does love America: Dreams of Barry's Stepfather
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, will hold his first hearings on "U.S. Human Exploration Goals and Commercial Space Competitiveness” next week, according to a Thursday story In Space Policy Online. Among the eclectic group of former astronauts, business leaders, and academics that will constitute the witness list will be Apollo moonwalker Buzz Aldrin. The hearings will also serve as an opportunity for Cruz to flesh out his views on the future of the American space program.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York and 2008 presidential candidate, raised some eyebrows when he spoke at a private function attended by Republican businessmen and conservative pundits. He informed them that President Barack Obama does love America, according to a Wednesday story in Politico. The next day, when being interviewed on “Fox and Friends,” Giuliani choose to revise and extend his remarks.
President Obama addressed a conference Wednesday on the subject of “violent extremists,” which he included, at least by context, the ISIS terrorist army, according to CNN. He declared “We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.” His purpose was to rob ISIS of its religious legitimacy, even though some experts maintain that ISIS is Islamic, albeit of a violent, fundamentalist sort.
In the West, scientists often lament the disconnect between public perception vs. scientific truth on a variety of issues, ranging from evolution to vaccinations, according to a recent poll cited by National Geographic. That problem is nothing compared to what exists in the Islamic world. S case in point was explored by a Wednesday story in Al Arabiya about a Saudi cleric who denied the concept of a sun-centered solar system.
The federal court ruling that placed a temporary halt to President Obama’s plans to grant amnesty to four million illegal aliens by executive fiat has emboldened Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, according to a Wednesday story in the Washington Times. Cruz suggested that even administration moves to prepare for the mass amnesty in anticipation of an eventual favorable outcome in the courts is in violation of the ruling. In Cruz’s view, the Department of Homeland Security must stop spending money forthwith toward such efforts.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
New research involving the delivery of anti-inflammatory drugs to arterial walls clogged with atherosclerotic plaques could greatly reduce the incidence of a wide variety of serious conditions, including heart attacks, strokes, and kidney diseases, according to a Wednesday story in Yahoo News. The drugs would be delivered via thousands of plastic nanoparticles that be preprogrammed to attach themselves to plaque lined walls. The nanoparticles would, in the fullness of time, biodegrade and be absorbed by the human body.
The good news, from the point of view of Republicans, according to a Wednesday story by Reuters, Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, leads in a new poll for a race to fill the Senate seat Barbara Boxer is vacating. 49 percent of California voters would be inclined to vote for Rice.[The bad news is that Rice has expressed disinterest in seeking elected office. Still, the unexpected poll numbers would give anyone pause.
Does the moon contain fossils of billions of years old organisms from Earth? That theory has been laid out in recent research at the Imperial College of London, reported in a Monday story in Air and Space Magazine by Dr. Paul Spudis, a lunar and planetary geologist. The implications for science and future lunar exploration are profound
As Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida contemplates a run for the presidency, some Florida politicians are eyeing his senate seat. Unlike other states, such as Texas, Rubio would not be able to run for both the presidency and the Senate. Since he is up for reelection in the Senate in 2016, a Rubio for President Campaign would leave his seat open. That fact is why Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a Democrat and head of the Democratic National Committee, is contemplating a run for Rubio’s seat, according to a Tuesday story in Politico.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
The Mythbusters, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, a few years ago turned their imagination and special effects skills to a crucial scene in the James Cameron movie “Titanic.” They sought to answer two questions. Could Rose have survived in the frigid North Atlantic air, with wet clothes while perched precariously on that board in time to be rescued? Could Jack have been able to join her on that board and thus survive to extend their shipboard romance to the shore and provide New York society with a juicy scandal?
With atrocities committed by ISIS terrorists mounting, the latest being the mass beheading of Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya, a debate has started over how to deal ultimately with the terrorist army. According to a Monday story in Breitbart, a State Department spokesperson claimed that “We can’t kill out way” to victory over ISIS. However, a lengthy analysis of ISIS, its motives, and how to defeat it in the Atlantic suggest that is exactly how the terrorist army can be defeated.
According to a Tuesday story by the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in South Texas has slapped a temporary injunction against President Obama’s executive amnesty order that would have given five million illegal aliens what amounts to legal status. The order stops the part of the order that would have freed illegal immigrant children from deportation due to go into effect on Wednesday. The other part of the order that would free parents of American citizens and legal residents was scheduled to go into effect May 19.
Monday, February 16, 2015
In a Monday piece in the aerospace industry newsletter, “Space News,” Jonathon Goff, the president of Altius Space Machines, offered a defense of the much maligned Asteroid Redirect Mission. Goff is one of the few people outside of NASA to defend ARM, a concept that has come under increasing attack in the scientific community and Congress. He freely admitted that his company is conducting a study contract for “Option B,” which would involve retrieving a boulder from a larger asteroid and placing it in lunar orbit.
Sarah Palin showed up at the 40th Anniversary of Saturday Night Live celebration on Sunday and, as she tends to do without much effort, caused outrage and consternation. Palin had been invited because she appeared on an episode during the 2008 campaign and did a riff with Alex Baldwin, who pretended to be under the impression that she was Tina Fey. Fey had been brought back to lampoon Palin and, in the process, help to establish the dark legend of the former governor and current most powerful female politician on the planet as a psycho bimbo.
Mars One, the Dutch nonprofit enterprise that proposes to start a Mars colony sometime in the early 2020s, announced on Monday the names of the 100 potential astronauts, culled from an initial group of more than 200,000 applicants. The “Mars 100,” as the group is called, consists of 50 men and 50 women from across the Earth, “namely 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa, and 7 from Oceania.’ The plan is to break this group into four-person teams to train in earnest for the task of setting up a Mars colony.
According to a Sunday story in the Washington Times, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, has a new cause. He proposes to save the A-10 Warthog from budget cutters in Obama’s Defense Department. As the new chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain is just the person to save the aged, but deadly close support plane from the scrap heap. He is being aided in this campaign by newly elected Rep. Martha McSally, R-Arizona, a former Air Force Colonel, and A-10 pilot.
In her eagerness to take a shot or two at Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a current favorite candidate for president of the United States, New York Times columnist Gail Collins suggested that he had time travel powers. Walker, according to Collins, caused teacher layoffs to happen in 2010 with budget cuts he enacted in 2011, its face a violation of causality. According to a Monday story in Hot Air, the paper of record was forced to quietly offer a retraction. As the late Gilda Radner was given to say on Saturday Night Live, “Never mind.”
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Shirley MacLaine, besides being an actress for the past six decades, has been a purveyor of new age beliefs including reincarnation. According to a Friday story on the CBS news channel in Los Angeles, she has created a firestorm of controversy with claims in her latest book, “What If…” that victims of the Nazi Holocaust brought their suffering on themselves for sins committed in their past lives. She also stated the Stephen Hawking, whom she claims as a friend, gave himself ALS to “free his mind” to pursue scientific discovery.
One of the more vexing questions surrounding the death penalty, besides whether to have one or not, has been how to put down people convicted of capital crimes in the least painful and most decorative way possible. The favored method in recent years has been lethal injections, the theory being that the condemned is simply put to sleep from which there is no waking. But a number of problems surrounding lethal injection, including “botched” execution and a shortage of lethal drugs, has moved the Utah Legislature to mull bringing back the tried and true method of death by firing squad, according to a Friday story by the Associated Press.
The quick passage of the 2015 NASA Authorization Bill in the House has already come under heated criticism from certain commercial space advocates, not only for its continued support for the heavy-lift Space Launch System, but for its support for space exploration beyond low Earth orbit in general. Stephen C. Smith, a space blogger and commercial space advocate, was especially caustic in his criticism in a Saturday post. This is turn set up a twitter exchange between Richard Garriott, a computer game magnate and private space traveler and Jeff Foust, a reporter for Space News.
Saturday, February 14, 2015
A movie opened Friday that combines sex and violence and features at least one well-dressed, well-mannered protagonist with an adventurous streak. We are referring, of course, to “The Kingsman; The Secret Service,” a spy spoof starring Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson. The movie combines sly social commentary along with kinetic action and operatic ultra-violence.
A lot of people are enthusiastic about the idea that aliens are clandestinely visiting Earth in UFOs and that the government is covering up this fact. Only one such person has been chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, and now an adviser to the nascent Hillary Clinton for president campaign. According to a Friday story in Yahoo News, John Podesta has expressed regret that he has not been able to reveal the truth, which is out there, about UFOs.
Elon Musk has taken on quite a number of projects with a goal of changing the world while making lots of money doing so. He proposes to revolutionize space travel through his commercial launch company, SpaceX. His more earthly endeavors have included electric cars (though with competition from Apple), home solar power, a transportation system called the Hyperloop, a space based Internet and, most recently, a battery that can power a house. Now, according to a Friday story in Business Insider, Musk will open his mind on his views on “sustainability” was well as Mars colonization in book form.
Friday, February 13, 2015
Israel and their supporters used to bemoan the fact that the Jewish state is the one area in the Middle East that lacked oil and gas resources. That fact began to change thanks to the discovery of natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean just offshore of the Jewish state. Now, according to a Friday story in Real Clear Energy, Israel may have struck oil in the Golan Heights, a region that it captured from Syria during the Six-Day War. Israel is on its way to becoming the next Middle East oil and gas exporting country.
Former Alaska governor, former vice presidential candidate, and despite recent media attacks, most powerful female politician on the planet Sarah Palin addressed the North American Prospect Expo in Houston, according to a Thursday story in Forbes. Not surprisingly, she touted the production of oil and gas as an engine to jump-start the sputtering American economy. She savaged President Obama for standing in the way of that fossil fuel renaissance through his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and to drilling in ANWR in her beloved Alaska. The crowd ate it up and gave her a standing ovation.
According to a Thursday story in the Washington Free Beacon, the Obama administration spends roughly $39 billion a year promoting solar energy, despite the fact that it comprises only .6 percent of the power generation in the United States. The money include “grants, subsidizing tax credits, guaranteeing loans, bailing out failed solar energy boondoggles and otherwise underwriting every idea under the sun to make solar energy cheaper and more popular,” according to a report just issued by the Taxpayer’s Protection Alliance.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
As Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker rocketed to the top of many polls in the Republican nomination contest for the 2016 presidential election, he has assumed the melancholy burden of the front runner. He is being targeted, mainly by liberal Democrats. For example, former Vermont governor and 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean suggested that Walker was little less than knowledgeable for having dropped out of college in his senior year to take a job at the American Red Cross, according to a Thursday story in Hot Air.
The IRS is rightly regarded as the most feared federal agency in existence. It has been given broad powers to do what is necessary, even employing what many would call police-state tactics, to compel American citizens to comply with the tax laws. No greater example of this practice can be found than the tax agency’s power to seize the bank accounts of taxpayers without having evidence of wrongdoing. Fortunately, according to a Wednesday story in the Associated Press, the IRS has promised to stop doing that under pressure from Congressional Republicans.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
The death of Kayla Mueller at the hands of her ISIS captors has seared the conscience of Americans more keenly than other murders of Western hostages, even those who were decapitated or burned alive in YouTube. Fox News reported on Tuesday that Mueller and a number of other hostages might have been rescued alive had not been for the dithering of the Obama administration. The White House delayed a rescue mission for seven weeks after American intelligence had located the building where Mueller and the other hostages were held and had a pretty good idea of what kind of security was in place
To be sure Sen. Elizabeth Warren is not running for president, but according to a Wednesday story in the Washington Examiner, a poll reports that she would beat Hillary Clinton in both Iowa and New Hampshire. “The poll of 400 conducted Jan. 30 to Feb. 5 put Warren ahead of Clinton in Iowa, 31 percent to 24 percent. In New Hampshire, her lead is 30 percent to 27 percent” The poll was sponsored by a group called Ready for Warren, which is trying to draft the firebrand liberal from Massachusetts. The group hopes that the results of the poll will motivate Warren to change her mind and offer herself up as a left-wing alternative to Clinton.
While all eyes are turned toward Europa, the ice-bound moon of Jupiter, as the next target of space exploration among the Outer Planets, NASA is also looking at Saturn’s moon Titan. Gizmodo reported on Tuesday that the space agency has released details of a concept that would use a submarine to explore the methane and ethane oceans that exist on Titan. Such a submarine would be the first to explore an ocean on another world, although one without a drop of water.
CNN reported on Tuesday that Jon Stewart has announced his intention to leave “The Daily Show,” a job he has held since 1999. The reaction to the news has been somewhat mixed. Though Stewart has been popular with left-leaning millennials with his snarky observations on the media and of politics, many of his targets, mainly on the conservative side, are happy to see him go.
NBC News reported on Tuesday that the disgraced anchorman and managing editor of the NBC Nightly News Brian Williams has been suspended for six months without pay for making up stories about being in a helicopter that was shot down during the Iraq War. The news has led to speculation about what actually going on at the network and what Williams’ future in journalism might be, if any. The affair has proven to be a black eye at NBC News that it will have difficulty recovering from.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
One of the great aspects of memoirs of former presidential staffers is how they sometimes provide insights into what goes on in the White House and the mindset of particular presidents and his people. David Axelrod, one of President Obama’s best-known consiglieres, has just published his memoirs. According to a Tuesday story in Time Magazine, in 2008 Axelrod revealed that then-candidate Obama lied about his true position on same-sex marriage.
Kayla Jean Mueller, American woman, and every inch a humanitarian, is indeed dead, as multiple news organizations, including Hot Air, reported on Tuesday. Her family received convincing evidence, apparently including photographs, that she met her end among the barbarians who had kept her for over a year. The circumstances and manner of her death have not been revealed.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the House Science Committee is mulling a 2015 NASA Authorization Bill that alters considerably some of the priorities presented by President Obama’s budget request for the space agency. The main difference is that the bill slashes the president’s request for commercial crew from $1.2 billion to $800 million. The bill also demands that NASA present a road map of intermediate missions on the way to a Mars mission in the 2030s, strongly hinting that a cis-lunar space mission and a Mars flyby be among them. The bill demands an evaluation of the asteroid redirect mission, a project that remains controversial in both Congress and the scientific community.
President Obama recently sat down for a wide-ranging interview for Vox, which was published Monday. The president opened his mind about what he perceives to be his approach to foreign policy. The portion of the interview that is raising eyebrows and dropping jaws around the world involves what he thinks happened in Paris recently when Islamists terrorists murdered much of the staff of a satirical magazine called Charlie Hebdo and some customers and staff at a Jewish Deli. “It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you've got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”
Monday, February 09, 2015
According to a Monday story in the Hollywood Reporter, Lionsgate is close to an agreement for the North American distribution rights to “Hacksaw Ridge,” a World War II epic starring Andrew Garfield and directed by Mel Gibson. The movie, which tells the story of Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector in American military history to receive the Medal of Honor, will be the first movie that Gibson has directed since “Apocalypto” nine years ago. ‘Hacksaw Ridge” was co-written by Randall Wallace, who wrote Gibson’s “Braveheart.”
According to a Sunday story in Politico, Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” Host Chuck Todd departed from the usual questions about ISIS, Iranian nuclear weapons, and Vladimir Putin to ask a question that was weighing on his mind. Would Kerry consider running for president in 2016?
The astonishing measles outbreak fueled primarily by the refusal of many hip, rich, liberal parents living on the west coast to vaccinate their children, has proven to be vexing, to say the least. USA Today reports that another old disease once the scourge of childhood, the mumps, has started an outbreak in Idaho and has spread west to Washington State. Both of these utterly preventable diseases are at best unpleasant, and at worst can be debilitating and even fatal.
Sunday, February 08, 2015
A Sunday post at the Powerline Blog repeats a story that has been reported in multiple media venues that temperature data that has been collected at ground-based sensor sites have been systematically “adjusted.” The adjustments make temperatures in decades past appear to be cooler than the raw data suggests, and more recent temperatures appear to be warmer. Thus, the adjusted temperature data would tend to support the notion that human-caused global warming is taking place where the raw data does not support that finding.
When the top brass at NBC finally decides to throw Brian Williams under the bus, it will also be burdened with the task of finding a replacement for the anchor desk at the NBC Nightly News. If it follows the model that evening newscasts have adhered to since the 1950s, the network will try to choose some older white guy with the air of authority. To be sure Katie Couric is said to be circling the job, but ever since the hash she made at the anchor desk at the CBS Evening News, no one is taking that prospect seriously.
Brian Williams, serial fabulist and the soon to be former NBC News anchorman, has taken a “temporary leave of absence” from the anchor desk at NBC Nightly News, according to a Saturday story in the Hollywood Reporter. According to Breitbart, he is contemplating using his time off to “clear the air” on the David Letterman Show, ironically one of the venues where he most conspicuously told the whopper about being shot down over Iraq. If he does so, he might be able to try an insanity defense of a sort if the science of false memories applies in his case.
As Borderlands Books, an iconic science fiction oriented bookstore in San Francisco noted on its website, the past few years have not been kind to brick and mortar bookstores. Between the economic malaise starting in 2008 and the rise of ebooks read on handheld devices, the sales of actual paper books have declined considerably. But, the last straw was the decision by San Francisco to raise the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour. Borderlands cannot continue to stay in business under such conditions and, for this reason, must close. According to a Friday story in the Washington Free Beacon, many of the bookstore’s former customers are angry about this fact being pointed out.
Saturday, February 07, 2015
Does Russian President Vladimir Putin have Asperger’s Syndrome? According to a Thursday report on Fox News, the Pentagon seems to think so. Not surprisingly, the Russian government disputes this conclusion, suggesting that it is “stupid” and unworthy of comment. However, Mark Lawrence Schrad, an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University, a Russia expert, and the father of a child with Asperger’s stated that he is “struck by how thoroughly the report and those who give it credence both demean people with Asperger’s and show a complete ignorance of Russian history and current affairs.
Last August, NASA’s Eagleworks, an advanced space propulsion lab located at the Johnson Spaceflight Center south of Houston, created a great deal of excitement when it announced that it had tested a prototype of something called a Cannae Drive. Using microwaves, the device seemed to exert a minute but measurable degree of thrust when mounted on a pendulum in a vacuum chamber. On Friday, NextBigFuture provided an update on the experiments on an engine that uses no fuel and seems to violate Newtonian physics.
Navy ships of the future are going to have the kind of advanced weaponry that was once considered the sole province of science fiction. The Navy has learned quite a lot from the laser cannon mounted on the USS Ponce, currently deployed in the Persian Gulf. In the meantime, according to a Friday story in the Washington Post, a prototype of the first electromagnet rail gun was unveiled publicly for the first time at the Navy’s Future Force Science and Technology Expo at the Washington Convention Center.
Friday, February 06, 2015
As Fox News reported, Thursday night’s episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” entitled “The Troll Manifestation,” was groundbreaking for a number of reasons. First, Amy Farah Fowler was revealed to be an author of science fiction romance stories. Second, Sheldon Cooper seems to have grown as a human being and has discovered the benefits of collaboration and credit sharing, at least with his friend Leonard. But, the big reveal was that a certain famous, celebrity physicist moonlights as an Internet troll.
Ann Louise Bardach, an author of several books on Cuba, recently published an oped that has raised quite a few eyebrows. She slammed Cuban Americans as being “privileged" immigrants, Republicans as being hypocritical for being in favor of “amnesty” for Cuban refugees and not for other Latin American immigrants, and Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both Cuban Americans, Republicans, and opponents of normalizing relations with Cuba, for being inauthentic Hispanics. Ted Cruz’s communications director Amanda Carpenter took umbrage in a Friday letter to the editor of the Times.
Brian Williams’ travails over his fantasy story of being shot down over Iraq continues apace. Most of his fellow journalists are somewhat reluctant to come down hard on him for lying about his experiences during Operation Iraqi Freedom, mainly because they have a personal relationship with the NBC News anchor and regard him as a friend. A case in point, according to a Thursday story in Politico, is Dan Rather.
Thursday, February 05, 2015
President Obama addressed the subject of religious-based violence, such as practiced by ISIS, at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday. While the president roundly condemned the atrocities committed by denizens of the Islamic State, he also choose to lecture Christians about Christianity’s violent past. He said, "Unless we get on our high horse and think that this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
With Congressional Republicans mounting the 56th assault against Obamacare, now with the help of a GOP-controlled Senate, some are looking for an alternative health care reform measure to replace it with once it is gone. Adding to the impetus to find a way to enact true health care reform that might actually work, the prospect of the Supreme Court striking down subsidies for Obamacare customers in states with no state-run exchanges looms large. Without those subsidies, the Affordable Care Act collapses. With that in mind, Sen. Orion Hatch, Sen. Richard Burr, and Rep. Fred Upton have laid out a post-Obamacare health care reform proposal in Thursday’s USA Today.
According to a Wednesday story in Hot Air, David Axelrod describes in his forthcoming memoirs how then-senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tried to ease out her rival, John Edwards, from the 2008 race. In return for dropping out and endorsing her, Clinton promised that Edwards would become Attorney General in her administration. Since Edwards had carried on an adulterous affair while his wife was dying of cancer, even fathering a child with his mistress, the alternate universe in which Edwards agreed to the deal would have been entertaining.
NBC News’ Brian Williams used to tell one and all who would listen the story of how he was shot down in a helicopter with a camera crew over Iraq in 2003. According to Williams, he and company made a hard landing and came under the protection of a nearby American Army unit. It was an exciting story that he repeated often over the 12 or so years hence, on Letterman and, most recently, Jan 30 during the broadcast of a tribute to a retired soldier at a New York Rangers hockey game, according to Wednesday story in Stars and Stripes.
Wednesday, February 04, 2015
The Washington Examiner reported on Wednesday that dozens of House Democrats may decide to be elsewhere when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of Congress on the subject of Iran. Indeed, the White House has not yet committed to having Vice President Joe Biden attend. However, Hot Air suggests that the Democrats may be lurching into the mother of all political blunders if they decide to boycott Netanyahu.
Even though funding for a mission to Europa included in President Obama’s 2016 NASA budget request is only $30 million, as opposed to $100 million in 2015, its inclusion represents a commitment to fly such a mission in the early to mid-2020s. NASASpaceFlight.com indicated on Monday that planning for such a mission has already begun. The main contender is a concept called Europa Clipper, a probe that would not orbit Europa, but rather orbit Jupiter and fly by the moon multiple times.
ISIS murdering captured Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh by setting him on fire and burning him alive was barbaric even by the standards of the terrorist army that has ravaged the Middle East in the past year. Beheadings were clearly not working for the terrorists any longer, so ISIS instead went for a public burning, putting the atrocity out on video for all to see. The terrorists may have made a mistake, however. King Abdullah of Jordan has vowed revenge, according to a Tuesday story in the Washington Examiner. He is quoting Clint Eastwood while so doing.
Tuesday, February 03, 2015
Strangely, vaccination has become an issue in the 2016 presidential election. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky allowed his libertarian instincts to override his medical training by suggesting that vaccinations could lead to mental disabilities, something not admitted to in medical science, according to a Tuesday story on NBC News. He suggested that vaccinations should be voluntary on the theory that parents have absolute autonomy over their children.
When the Outer Space Treaty which, among other things, forbade claims of national sovereignty on other worlds was signed and ratified by the United States in 1967, little thought was given to the idea of private property rights. Now, with companies like Moon Express and Bigelow Aerospace contemplating private lunar operations, that question has become a concern. According to Reuters on Tuesday, the FAA may have discovered a way to enforce private property rights on the moon without, it is hoped, violating the Outer Space Treaty.
Addendum: Paul Spudis has some thoughts.
This issue leads us to the consideration about the presence and role of the U.S. federal government in space. I have contended previously that a strong federal presence in space is necessary to ensure that our rights are established and that our values be protected and promoted. In the hypothetical context mentioned above (Bigelow vs. China), a single American company facing a determined nation-state is not likely to prevail in a manner favorable to the interests of free market capitalism. Legal recourse on Earth would be limited (more likely, non-existent) and it is also unlikely that the United States would go to war over the infringement of some corporate plot of land on the Moon – at least during the early stages of commercial space. However, if the federal government establishes a presence, it gives notice to the world of our national interests there. Such a presence makes the infringement of property and access rights of American corporations both less likely to occur in the first place – and more easily resolved if such a situation arose.
Thus far, the reaction to President Obama’s 2016 NASA budget proposal has been tepid, at best, on Capitol Hill. The reaction of Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, which oversees the space agency, was typical. According to a Monday story in Florida Today, Smith said, "The president has delivered a budget request that does not adequately support the programs that will take us farther into our solar system to destinations like Mars." He said that despite the fact that the president’s proposal spends a $500 million more than in FY2015.
No more relentless foe of Obamacare exists than Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. He, after all, instigated the fight in the fall of 2013 that led to a government shutdown over an attempt to defund the health care reform law. Now, a year and some months later, Cruz is going after Obamacare again, filing a full repeal bill in the Senate. As Hot Air noted on Monday, this bill has a pretty good chance of reaching President Obama’s desk, unlike the 50 or so other repeal measures that died in the Senate, thanks to Harry Reid.
Monday, February 02, 2015
Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska, former vice presidential candidate, and still the most powerful female politician on the planet, has placed her influence behind a movement to call a new constitutional convention, according to a Monday story in the Washington Examiner. The purpose would be to pass amendments that would restrain President Obama’s strategy of governing through executive degrees. The idea of a constitutional convention is part of Article V of the Constitution, allowing the states to propose new amendments.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that the NASA portion of the president’s 2016 budget proposal is basically status quo though it does provide further funding for a mission to Europa. A Europa probe is near and dear to the new chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NASA, Rep. John Culberson. However, the $18.5 billion dollar budget proposal also funds the asteroid redirect mission, which has come under increasing fire from both Congress and the scientific community.
Addendum: Eric Berger has some analysis.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stepped in it, according to the Washington Examiner on Monday, when he seemed to be somewhat agnostic concerning whether or not parents should vaccinate their children against deadly diseases. He later walked back those remarks, suggesting that the deadlier the disease, the more vaccinations against them should be required. However, as Hot Air reported, he seemed to be sympathetic to parents who believe that there is a link between autism and vaccinations. That theory has been thoroughly discredited, based as it was on a paper in Lancet that was since withdrawn when it was shown to be based on fraudulent research.
Sunday, February 01, 2015
The sure sign that someone is running for president is whether he or she is raising money and hiring staff in advance of the big announcement. In that vein, according to a Sunday article in the Houston Chronicle. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas is all but certain to run for president. He is raising and spending money through his Pac and is hiring heavy hitter political talent. ”Entering 2015, Cruz’ PAC had $131,000 on hand and his fundraising committee had $227,000. His Senate campaign account had not yet filed its end-of-year report.”
My experience of the space shuttle Columbia disaster took place in my den on an otherwise lazy Saturday afternoon. The TV was tuned to the news, which was going to broadcast the landing of the shuttle mission STS 107.