Monday, August 31, 2015

Did George W. Bush really consider a nuclear strike on Afghanistan after 9/11?

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing a story in the German newspaper Der Spiegel, reported on Saturday that President George W. Bush considered responding to the 9/11 attacks with a nuclear strike against Afghanistan. “Michael Steiner, who served as a political advisor to then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, told the German daily that the nuclear option was one of the possibilities examined after the attacks.” Neither Der Spiegel nor Haaretz revealed how seriously the nuclear option was considered. Nor was it revealed how an official working for a German government that was not altogether friendly with the United States would know this piece of information.

Decision Points by George W. Bush

I am scheduled to appear on The Space Show this Sunday, 3PM to 4:30 PM Eastern to talk about by new book Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon? That means you have a week to get the book (available in paperback and for the Amazon Kindle) and read it. There will be a quiz.
Dr. Ben Carson is tied with Donald Trump in Iowa

One of the great questions that have haunted political observers is whither Donald Trump? Will he fade at last, with people tiring of his blustery reality show that constitutes his run for the presidency? Or will Trump go all the way, to the Republican nomination and even, further, to the presidency? One indication that it may be the former was announced Monday by the Monmouth University Poll that showed Trump tied with Dr. Ben Carson in Iowa with both garnering 23 percent of the vote.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

NASA mulls the Enceladus Life Finder mission to an icy moon of Saturn

Among the candidates for the next Discovery-class mission, NASA is mulling a probe called the Enceladus Life Finder, according to a Monday story in If selected, the ELF would launch in 2021. When it arrives in the Saturn system, the ELF would fly through the geysers of ice that spew from inside the surface of Enceladus, one of the moons of the ringed planet, and sample the material for signs of life.

The Jets of Enceladus (A journal from the first manned mission to the Saturnian System)

How Barack Obama Sparked the European Refugee Crisis
Kayne West announces for president in 2020 and Donald Trump is unhappy about it

To add some more spice to an already bizarre political season Politico noted on Monday that Kayne West, singer and public nuisance, received an award from the hands of Taylor Swift at the Video Music Awards and, among other things, announced for president in 2020. Few people are taking the rambling announcement seriously. However, Donald Trump, who is really running for president, tweeted, “Kanye is as qualified at being president as Jorge Ramos is as being a credible journalist.” That statement may be one of the truer ones that the Donald has made during his career.

College Dropout

Sunday, August 30, 2015

'Star Trek: Renegades' beams onto YouTube

As Film Industry Network reported on Sunday, the pilot episode of Star Trek: Renegades is now available for view. The hour and a half film, produced by a group of fans along with Star Trek veterans from both in front of and behind the camera, can be best described as the product of a torrid one night stand between Star Trek and Firefly. This of it as The Dirty Dozen in space, The result is an uneven film that has beautiful special effects and an intriguing concept, but with a script that could use a little polishing and acting from some of the supporting cast that was somewhat less than up to snuff.

Star Trek: Renegades (Original Soundtrack)

Space Weather Affects Human Health but Also Sparks Strange Cults
Bernie Sanders, wanting the bad parts of Sweden, closes in on Hillary Clinton

Politico noted on Saturday that a new poll conducted by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg shows that Bernie Sanders has come within striking distance of Hillary Clinton in Iowa. Clinton is at just 37 percent with Sanders at 30 percent. Vice President Joe Biden, who has not yet entered the race, is at 14 percent. As the Clinton campaign continues to spiral in a death spiral, Democrats are faced with the real possibility of a repeat of the 1972 election when the establishment favorite, then Sen. Edmund Muskie, was defeated for the Democratic nomination by then Sen. George McGovern, who went on to a 49 state defeat at the hands of then-President Richard Nixon.

Rick Steves Scandinavia

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Now Hillary Clinton says Republicans are Nazis for wanting to deport illegals

As Real Clear Politics reported on Friday, Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and current presidential candidate, seems to be on a role. The day after she suggested that the Republicans were a branch of ISIS for wanting to defund Planned Parenthood, she stood up in front of an audience in Minneapolis and declared that Republicans, who favor deporting illegal aliens, were, in effect, Nazis? Why did Clinton openly flout Godwin’s law, that states that the first person who brings up Hitler, the Nazis, or Nazism in an argument has lost. Some theories suggest themselves.

The Queen: The Epic Ambition of Hillary and the Coming of a Second "Clinton Era"/P>

Next destination proposed for NASA's New Horizons, a frozen rock 2014 MU69

NASA’s New Horizons space probe excited the attention of the world with its spectacular images of Pluto and its system of moons, including Charon, last July. It had uncovered worlds that had hitherto been specks of light, seen only through telescopes. The space agency announced Friday that New Horizons is not done with its voyage of exploration. NASA has selected the next target, a Kuiper belt world a billion miles beyond Pluto.

At the Edge of the Solar System: Icy New Worlds Unveiled (Springer Praxis Books)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Marco Rubio proposes to get tough with China

As Politico noted on Friday, the Republican presidential candidates have become pretty united in taking a dim view of China and its policies. The recent stock market crash in the most populist country in the world has caused Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, to publish a piece in the Wall Street Journal outlining what he would do about China, which he sees as both an opportunity and a challenge. Rubio’s opinions are worth noting because even if he is not elected president, he might be on the short list for becoming secretary of state in a Republican administration.

Dealing with China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower

Hillary Clinton comparison of Republicans to terrorists backfires

Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state, and current presidential candidate, is not a happy woman. She is beset by multiple scandals, one of which, having to do with a private email server she stored classified information on. She is under investigation by the FBI, with many observers wondering when the indictments are going to be handed down. The Democratic Party is currently casting about for a new candidate and seems to have settled on Vice President Joe Biden, of all people. So, Hillary has decided to attempt the tried and true political gambit of trying to change the subject. According to CNN, Clinton compared the Republican presidential candidates to terrorists.

HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton

Buzz Aldrin Space Institute formed to plan the settlement of Mars

The Florida Institute of Technology announced on Thursday the formation of the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute which will be dedicated to planning a program that would lead to the first Mars settlement by 2039, the 70th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing. Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon and a long-term advocate of Mars settlement, will serve as a research professor of aeronautics and a faculty advisor for the Institute that bears his name.

Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What Ben Carson thinks of NASA

One of the big surprises of the current presidential election cycle, besides the rise of Donald Trump and the collapse of Hillary Clinton, is the relative strength of Dr. Ben Carson in the polls, as Newsmax noted on Tuesday. The soft spoken former neurosurgeon is, at least in demeanor, the polar opposite of Trump. So, since Carson is now a credible choice for president or even vice president, space enthusiasts will want to know, what are his views on NASA and space exploration?

One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future

Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?

Speaker John Boehner thinks Ted Cruz is a 'jackass' and says so

The Daily Caller reported on Thursday that House Speaker John Boehner referred to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a presidential candidate, as a “jackass.” He said that in front of several witnesses at a fundraiser in Steamboat Springs. It is doubtful that the speaker meant that observation for public consumption. However, several of the attendees were irked by Boehner’s impoliteness and, therefore, leaked it to the media.

A Bar Owner's Son: John Boehner: THE AMERICAN DREAM, unauthorized biography

Russia's lunar program hit by budget cuts and faces cancellation

Just a few months after bravely announcing a goal of landing a Russian cosmonaut on the moon, the project has become wracked with budget cuts and may face cancellation, according to a Tuesday story in NDTV. Nevertheless, the moon remains a goal of the Russia space program, hampered by a series of launch failures and starved of funding reported that Russia will embark on an eight day ground simulation of a lunar circumnavigation mission with an all-female crew. Russia has already conducted simulations of long duration Mars expeditions.

The Race: The Complete True Story of How America Beat Russia to the Moon

As Russia's economy goes into free fall, Putin may be on his way out

The Fiscal Times reported on Wednesday that Vladimir Putin’s Russia faces a grim, economic future, largely the result of falling oil prices. The ruble has collapsed, and the Russian economy is in free fall. Even though Putin remains popular with the Russian people, many of the oligarchs that some Kremlin watchers have dubbed “Politburo 2.0” blame him for Russia’s troubles. Forbes recently suggested that moves are in motion to slowly remove Putin from power.

Putin's Russia: How It Rose, How It Is Maintained, and How It Might End

Obama administration admits that solar, wind subsidies can end

Recently, as the Associated Press reported, President Barack Obama touted the benefits of solar and wind power at a green energy conference in Los Vegas, Nevada hosted by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. The Obama administration has poured tens of billions of dollars into subsidies for green energy, the theory being that it will start to supplant fossil fuels and thus combat global warming. But, the Washington Examiner reported on Thursday that Obama administration officials and outside experts are saying that solar and wind have become cost competitive enough so that the subsidies can be brought to an end.

Solyndra and the Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program: House Hearings on Stimulus Funding for Solar Energy Company

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

British idea for a suborbital flight might have started a space program in 1951

Tuesday, the BBC reported on a hitherto little-known proposal in the early 1950s to use a modified V2 rocket to put a Briton into space in a suborbital flight similar to that taken by American astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom a decade later, The thing could have been done technically. Unfortunately, Great Britain’s economy was all but ruined by the Second World War. What government funding that was available was being used for aviation and nuclear technology development. Britain was also in the process of creating a welfare state, which left little for a space program.

Children of Apollo: The Space Race Gambit

Children of Apollo: The Hard Road to the Stars

Children of Apollo: The First Woman on the Moon

Space Environment Science – How Space Weather Affects All of Us
Ted Cruz shows Donald Trump how to handle tough questions from Megyn Kelly

The great feud between Donald Trump, the real estate tycoon and media personality who is running for president, and Megyn Kelly, the Fox News host, has already entertained and shocked the American people. Trump is still seething that Kelly asked him about his tendency to rhetorically abuse women he doesn’t like, and he proved her point by abusing the Fox News interviewer by calling her a “bimbo” and other names. Tuesday, Kelly had another presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on her show. She asked him whether he was willing to deport American citizen children of illegal aliens along with their parents, according to Fox News Insider. Cruz’s reaction was a little bit different than Trump’s.

Illegals: The Unacceptable Cost of America's Failure to Control Its Borders

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Donald Trump and Fox News go to war with one another

Forget about the war in Afghanistan or the war against ISIS. The bloodiest war of modern times is being fought on social media and in the actual media. In one corner is Fox News, the premier cable news network in the United States, reviled by liberals, celebrated by conservatives. In the other corner is Donald Trump, the real estate tycoon, media personality, and presidential candidate admired by some for his take no prisoners rhetoric, despised by others for his crude, ungentlemanly behavior. As the Daily Beast reported on Tuesday, the war broke out when Trump greeted the return of Fox News’ superstar Megyn Kelly from vacation with caustic tweets, calling her a “bimbo” who “has no clue.”

You Are the Message

United Nations Security Council discusses massacre of gays by ISIS

According to the International Business Times, the United Nations Security Council, at the behest of the UN ambassadors from the United States and Chile, held a meeting about LGBT rights. Much to its credit, the Security Council did not direct its attention to cake bakers or florists who refuse to cater same sex weddings. Instead, the Security Council heard testimony on the systematic massacre of gay people by ISIS in the territory it controls in Syria and Iraq.

ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror

Barack Obama gives his 'blessing' for a Joe Biden for president run

In a sure sign that Vice President Joe Biden is contemplating a run for the presidency, CNN reported on Tuesday that President Barack Obama gave him his “blessing” if he should choose to have a go at it. This is short of an actual endorsement, though that might come later. Even so, the fact that the president will not stand in the way of a third Biden run for the presidency is seen as a slap in the face for Hillary Clinton, whose presidential run has become mired in legal scandal and a number of missteps on the campaign trial.

Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics

NASA mulls missions to Uranus and Neptune, using the Space Launch System

According to a Monday story in Astronomy Magazine, NASA is contemplating sending flagship sized space probes to the so-called “ice giants” of Uranus and Neptune. These would be probes that would orbit the two outer planets, similar to how Galileo orbited Jupiter and how Cassini currently orbits Saturn. The only time previously NASA has had a close encounter with either of these worlds was when Voyager 2 flew by Uranus in 1986 and then Neptune in 1989. Each of these missions would happen after the Europa Clipper, a flagship-class mission scheduled for the mid-2020s.

Uranus: The Ice Planet (Our Solar System)

Neptune: The Stormy Planet (Our Solar System)

Monday, August 24, 2015

As calls for funding NASA commercial crew grow, Richard Shelby is the man to buy

As summer starts to give way to fall and the end of the current fiscal year draws nigh, demands that NASA’s commercial crew program be fully funded are being heard with greater frequency and urgency. Astronaut Scott Kelly took time off from his year-long sojourn on the International Space Station to entreat Congress to pony up. IO9 was a little more caustic, stating “Dammit, Congress: Just Buy NASA its Own Space Taxi, Already.” Monday, Slate became the latest media outlet to take up the cause.

Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?

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XCOR Lynx rocket plane to begin flight tests in six to nine months

Virgin Galactic is still recovering from the catastrophic loss of its SpaceShipTwo spacecraft, which killed one of its crew. The company is going ahead with a new business of launching small satellites while it forges ahead with its main business line of taking the well-heeled and adventurous on suborbital jaunts starting on a date yet to be determined. In the meantime, as the Midland Reporter-Telegram noted on Sunday, Virgin Galactic’s main competitor, XCOR, anticipates the first test flights of its space tourism rocket plane, the Lynx 1, in six to nine months.

Space: The Free-Market Frontier

Obama now argues that Iranian nuclear weapons deal makes war easier

The main argument that the Obama administration is using to justify the Iranian nuclear agreement is that it is the only alternative to war. The argument has been hotly disputed by opponents of the deal, who point out other alternatives, such as clamping down further on economic sanctions. Now, Politico reported on Monday that the White House is taking a seemingly contradictory track in arguing for the deal. If the Iranian nuclear weapons deal is approved and implemented, a war would become easier to wage.

Anticipating a Nuclear Iran: Challenges for U.S. Security

How Donald Trump tried to take a widow's house to build a limo park

Donald Trump, the mercurial businessman, media personality, and presidential candidate, has been gaining lots of traction with a populist message. He is presenting himself as the champion of the downtrodden middle and working class against the oppression of big government. As CBS News reported, Trump even went after hedge fund managers, a favorite target of the left, on Face the Nation on Sunday. However, the Donald has not been as attentive to the needs of the little people where it comes to expanding his real estate empire.

The Grasping Hand: "Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Are you ready for a Joe Biden/Elizabeth Warren ticket for 2016?

In a sure sign that he is mulling a third race for the presidency, Vice President Joe Biden had Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. over to his mansion at the Naval Observatory for a secret meeting on Saturday, according to CNN. No one is talking about what was discussed at the meeting, but one can guess.

Biden Time: Crazy Uncle Joe in His Own Words

A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren

Cruz and Christie take shots at Jimmy Carter, remembering a failed presidency

Politico noted on Saturday that both Ted Cruz and Chris Christie took shots at former President Jimmy Carter within days of his having revealed that his cancer had spread to his brain. The inevitable yelps of outrage followed at the seeming indecency of attacking a man in the winter of his life, doing battle with a potentially fatal disease. However, both men, who are running for the office that the American people booting Carter from, are not talking about the old man, a humanitarian who built homes for poor people and fought to eradicate third world diseases. They are talking about the failed president who presided over economic malaise at home and foreign policy disaster abroad.

The Real Jimmy Carter: How Our Worst Ex-President Undermines American Foreign Policy, Coddles Dictators and Created the Party of Clinton and Kerry

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Conservatives provide a reality check on Donald Trump's mass deportation plan

Ever since Donald Trump, the mercurial businessman, media personality, and presidential candidate, proposed his immigration policy, centering on the mass deportation of up to 11 million human beings, reaction among conservatives has been decidedly mixed. Ann Coulter, for whom illegal immigration is the alpha and the omega of public policy, exalted that Trump could perform abortions in the White House, and she would not care. But Charles Krauthammer, writing in the National Review on Thursday, and George Will, in his latest column published Saturday, provided reality checks.

Adios, America

War in Space Is Close: How It’ll Change Warfare
Obama allies claim IAEA Iran self inspection document an Israeli forgery

The Washington Free Beacon reported on Friday that Obama administration allies in the media and elsewhere are pushing a conspiracy theory that a document showing a side deal between the IAEA and Iran allowing the latter to inspect one of its nuclear sites is an Israeli forgery. Neither the White House nor the International Atomic Energy Agency disputes the veracity of the document that was the basis of an AP story on the subject. Nevertheless, the claim is part of an increasingly ugly push to support the Iran nuclear weapons deal that includes anti-Semitic claims against Jewish lawmakers such as Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York of having “dual loyalties” between the United States and the State of Israel.

The Case Against the Iran Deal: How Can We Now Stop Iran from Getting Nukes?

Friday, August 21, 2015

A nine-year-old boy scout wants to know what Ted Cruz will do about NASA

As Roll Call reported on Thursday, Paul Byrd, a nine-year-old boy scout, wanted to ask Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas a question about what the presidential candidate would do about NASA should he become president. Sadly, he did not get called on, but Cruz, as chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees NASA, has had some rather detailed views about the future of the space program, at least in comparison to the other presidential candidates. In short, he would like to spend more on space exploration and less on what he considers “distractions” such as global warming. He has also expressed concern about the continued reliance America has on Russia for access to the International Space Station.

Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?

Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space

NASA shoots a boy band into space, and there was much rejoicing.

Bernie Sanders fans think Black Lives Matter is a plot to stop their candidate

By all accounts, particularly one in the New York Times on Thursday, the venerable socialist running for the Democratic nomination for president, Bernie Sanders, is on a roll. He is packing in big, enthusiastic crowds, receptive to his rant about revolution. However, the fly in the ointment, as it were, seems to be a group of what should have been Sanders’ soul mates, Black Lives Matter. Ever since a group of protesters disrupted a Sanders event in Washington, some of Sanders’ fan base have wondered, according to Buzz Feed, if their man is the target of a shadowing conspiracy.

Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals

Keytruda, the cancer drug that may save Jimmy Carter's life

The New York Times reported Thursday that former President Jimmy Carter has announced that the cancer that turned up in his liver has spread to his brain. Just a year ago, this diagnosis would have meant that very soon the nation would be in mourning for another ex-president, with the public funeral and the retrospectives that would struggle to say something positive about Carter controversial presidency. However, as the Houston Chronicle notes, former President Carter, age 90, will be the beneficiary of a new, cutting-edge drug that will not cure his cancer, but will make it manageable as a chronic disease.

A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

'The Astronaut Wives Club' began with triteness and ended in ugliness

The Astronauts Wives Club, the summer series from ABC that depicted the race to the moon as a kind of “Desperate Housewives of NASA” ended its run Thursday with the episode dealing with the Apollo moon landing and the epic adventure of Apollo 13. What began with soap opera triteness ended in a dash of ugliness. The episode sought to remind the viewer that not everyone regarded the moon landings with awe and wonder. Some reacted to the greatest technological feat in the history of humankind with rage.

The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story

Mischief at Michoud

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Will Ted Cruz save the Republican establishment from Donald Trump?

The conventional wisdom is that the Republican establishment will support one of their own, Jeb Bush or Scott Walker, to take the Republican nomination and deny it to the conservative, tea party candidates such as Ted Cruz or Rand Paul. But that plan, which worked in 2012 with Mitt Romney, has fallen apart this time around due to the fact that neither Bush nor Walker are getting any enthusiasm from the voters. In the meantime, Donald Trump is rampaging across the campaign trail, upending the apple cart, and saying alarming thing. Thursday, Scott McKay at the American Spectator offered an astonishing scenario. The Republican establishment turns to Ted Cruz to save them and the election from Trump.

Think Big: Make It Happen in Business and Life

A Time for Truth CD: Reigniting the Promise of America

Ben Carson proposes using armed drones, troops to patrol southern border

Coming hot on the heels of Donald Trump’s proposal to address illegal immigration, which consists of building the border fence and deporting all 13 million illegals, Ben Carson, the soft-spoken former physician, did him one better, according to a Wednesday story on CNN. Carson ventured to the southern border between Mexico and Arizona and suggested that armed drones be used deter illegal immigrants and drug smugglers from crossing.

One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

Agreement to allow Iran to inspect its own nuclear site cast doubt on Obama deal

The controversy surrounding the Iranian nuclear weapons deal took a sharp turn toward the surreal on Wednesday according to the Associated Press. The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency will allow Iran to use its own inspectors to ensure that the Parchin nuclear site is not being used to build nuclear weapons. Even though the side deal is the equivalent of allowing the drug cartel to police itself, Democrats and the State Department expressed confidence that the deal was still sound and would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, according to the Washington Examiner. Opponents, however, are increasingly confident that the revelations mean that a resolution of disapproval will pass both houses of Congress though not enough to sustain a presidential veto.

The Case Against the Iran Deal: How Can We Now Stop Iran from Getting Nukes?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New Horizons is not the end, but the beginning of space exploration

Sometimes something happens that makes Earthly concerns such as the mendacity of politicians or the evil of terrorists and tyrants relatively unimportant. Such was the case recently when NASA’s New Horizons passed by Pluto and its system of moons over three billion miles away at the edge of the Solar System. Before New Horizons, Pluto was just a dot in the sky, a realm as unknown as any place in the universe. After New Horizons, the former ninth planet is a fully realized world.

Dreams of Other Worlds: The Amazing Story of Unmanned Space Exploration

Former Rep. Louis Stokes, the man who saved the space station, dies at age 90

The Associated Press noted the passing of former Rep. Louis Stokes at the age of 90 in a Wednesday story. Since Stokes was an African American Democrat first elected in 1968, most of the accolades touch on his effect on the civil rights struggle and his lifelong fight against racism. However, as George Abbey, former NASA Director of the Johnson Spaceflight Center and current Fellow in Space Policy at the Baker Institute of Rice University pointed out on his Facebook Page, Stokes can be rightly be said to be the man who saved the International Space Station and perhaps human space flight in America.

You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photographs from the International Space Station

Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?