Jeff Bezos, of both Amazon and Blue Origin, may ruminate about moving a lot of industry off the planet, but the United Launch Alliance, that joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, has a concrete plan to do so. ULA is working on an idea to have 1,000 people operating in Earth-moon space by 2045, less than 30 years away. The vision is based on three space vehicles that will rely on rocket fuel refined from lunar and asteroid water.
Thursday, June 30, 2016
Hillary Clinton was in California recently where she pronounced herself “sympathetic” to the concerns of people who have flocked to Donald Trump to support his drive for the presidency. However, she also suggested that the blue collar, white voters are dumb and maybe a little bigoted by also suggesting that Trump’s message is based on “misogyny, racism and xenophobia” which they ought not to listen to.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Sen Elizabeth Warren, perhaps realizing that she has no future in higher political office and getting discontented in the Senate, has sent a tweet applying for a new job. “Looking for a Defense Against the Dark Arts prof, @jk_Rowling? Where do I apply? Trump, Death Eaters - I got this!” Warren has some teaching experience at Harvard Law. Whether or not she is part of the American wizarding world any more than she is part Cherokee is unknown at this time. Her shot at Donald Trump being a Death Eater could be seen as sadly typical of the coarsening of American political discourse. Trump will no doubt tweet right back that Warren is the American version of the mad, bad, and dangerous to know Bellatrix Lestrange, who lusted after Lord Voldemort and tortured Hermione Granger.
Democrats are wondering what Bernie Sanders is up to. He has said (maybe) that he will vote for Hillary Clinton and will work to defeat Donald Trump. But he will not officially endorse the presumed Democratic presidential nominee nor will he officially drop out of the race himself. Sanders, according to the Huffington Post, is darkly hinting at some political mayhem to take place at the Democratic National Convention over details in the party platform. Since that platform calls for the prosecution of climate change “deniers” in violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution, political observers wonder what more he might want.
When most people think about the Middle East, they think of terrorism, religious fanaticism, and tyrants. The United Arab Emirates, a moderate oil-rich country, is seeking to change that image to a much older version of the Arab world when it was a center of science, mathematics, and culture. Back during the Middle Ages, when Europe was considered a backwater, Arab scholars were pioneering astronomy. The UAE is looking toward space again with its homegrown mission to Mars. Tellingly, as Scientific America points out, the deputy project manager and science lead for the UAE’s Mars shot is a woman named Sarah Amiri. She also leads the Emirates’ science council that advises the government on science and technology policy.
How Americans reacted to the Benghazi Report, which excoriated the State Department and by extension then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for ignoring the deteriorating security situation in Libya, for fatally delaying a rescue mission, and lying about the cause of the massacre, depends on where one is at. The New York Times claims that she was “unscathed” by the report. Clinton herself declared that it was time to “move on” from the disaster that took the lives of American Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Thus, Clinton supporters are claiming that their candidate was vindicated while everyone else who read the report concluded that it proved how incompetent she is when handling foreign crises.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Eric Berger at Ars Technica took the occasion of the launch of China’s Long March 7 rocket to posit a nightmare scenario for American space policy planners. What if China were to steal away the United States’ status as the leader in space exploration by aiming to the Moon instead of Mars. The Chinese have announced that they would like to build a space station in low Earth orbit in the 2020s followed by landing astronauts on the moon starting about 2030. Meanwhile, NASA is still struggling to embark on its Journey to Mars without adequate funding and without a firm plan of how to get to the Red Planet.
NASA has successfully completed the final test of the five-segmented solid rocket booster that will help lift the Space Launch System, with the first flight test scheduled for late 2018. The test, which fired the SRB at Orbital ATK's test facilities in Promontory, Utah, lasted for the entire length of booster fire during a launch. The SRB is similar to the ones used for the space shuttle and two of them would provide 75 percent of the lift of an SLS launch.
Donald Trump delivered a speech in Monessen, Pennsylvania in which he opened his mind on his approach to the issue of trade, how he will deal with it as president, and how he will use it as a candidate against Hillary Clinton. Not surprisingly, Trump expressed the belief that the United States got a bad deal in forming trade agreements such as NAFTA and allowing China to join the World Trade Organization. The dumping of subsidized goods and currency manipulation have combined to devastate American manufacturing and destroy American jobs.
During a rally in Ohio, Hillary Clinton trotted out Sen. Elizabeth Warren to whip up the crowd with dripping red meat about how evil Donald Trump is and how fantastic the Democratic candidate by contrast is. A couple of takeaways can be derived from the spectacle.
The House Select Committee on Benghazi will shortly release its report on the massacre that took place at the diplomatic annex there that claimed the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. The conclusions of the report are damning for the State Department and by extension then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Monday, June 27, 2016
As NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover continues its slow but steady trek across the Red Planet’s landscape, space agency scientists are pondering the best way to use the robot to search for water. The one consideration that is causing NASA to consider the matter carefully is the desire not to introduce microbes that might be lurking in the rover to an environment where they might thrive.
The Supreme Court 5 to 3 decision striking down laws in Texas regulating abortion was not surprising. The laws were allegedly geared toward protecting women’s health. Abortion clinics were required to maintain hospital-level standards for out-patient surgery, and doctors who performed abortions had to have admitting privileges at close by hospitals. These standards were impossible for most abortion clinics to meet and thus many would have had to close down had the laws remained in effect. The plaintiffs successfully argued that the laws placed an “undue restriction” on a woman’s right to abortion and thus were unconstitutional under the precedent set by Roe v. Wade.
The following describes the political situation that adheres in Westeros at the end of the current season of “Game of Thrones” and thus contains certain spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.
Roland Emmerich’s latest epic film, a sequel to 1996’s smash hit “Independence Day,” may have caused some disappointment, but the global disaster movie director is not slowing down. His next project, “Moonfall,” postulates the moon falling out of its orbit and headed for a collision with Earth. Only a motley crew of misfits will be able to stop the ultimate global catastrophe.
Donald Trump has threatened to deny Ted Cruz and John Kasich speaking slots at the Republican National Convention unless they endorse him. However, because Cruz won the majority in at least eight states during the primaries, he can just have his name entered in nomination, thus ensuring a speaking slot. What he has to say will largely depend on Trump.
Sunday, June 26, 2016
When Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind such companies as SpaceX and Tesla, first proposed the Hyperloop, he envisioned a passenger service between Los Angeles and San Francisco that would take just 35 minutes. By contrast, a car trip between the two cities takes six hours. However, the state government of California is wedding to building a bullet train, often delayed, with skyrocketing costs, instead. The first hyperloop of any length may well be based in Russia.
The recent vote by the British people to remove Great Britain from the European Union under the Brexit referendum has stirred the passions of secessionists the world over. Other European countries, chafing under the dictates of Brussels, may follow Britain out the door. Then, as the Texas Tribune reports, there is the matter of Texas. Texas, a deep red state, has been at odds with the federal government even before President Barack Obama. Obama’s decidedly hostile attitude toward the Lone Star State and the oil and gas industry and his immigration policies has caused a few people in Texas to wonder whether it might be time for secession and the declaration of a republic again. Former Gov. Rick Perry once joked about breaking Texas away from the Union.
When President Barack Obama, after seven years of humming and hawing, decided to withhold his permission for TransCanada to build the Keystone XL Pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to refineries and ports in southeast Texas, the environmental movement scored a major victory. The environmentalists regard all fossil fuels as evil and have a willing ally in the president, who is very keen to develop renewable energy such as wind and solar. The decision may well be a major defeat for American taxpayers as TransCanada has just slapped the United States with a $15 billion lawsuit.
Saturday, June 25, 2016
“Launch on Need,” a 2010 novel by Daniel Guiteras, is a hidden gem that needs to be more widely read. The premise of the space alternate history novel is that during the flight of Columbia STS-107, NASA engineers took the idea of a foam strike damaging the shuttle orbiter more seriously than they did in real life. NASA orders an unscheduled spacewalk, the result being that the space agency discovers the horrible truth. If Columbia tries to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere, the shuttle, and her crew would be doomed. So NASA orders an all but impossible rescue mission, using the space shuttle Atlantis.
Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, a Texas Republican, is pretty sure he knows what needs to be done to the Democrats who seized the House floor a few days ago for an old fashioned 1960s-style sit in. If he were still operating as “the Hammer” he would have ethics charges filed against them. The current speaker, Paul Ryan, would be well within his rights to do so. Rep John Lewis and company broke the House rules and made a joke of decorum, all in pursuit of abolishing the 2nd Amendment and the due process clause of the 5th Amendment of the Constitution. They need to be punished least the precedence be set that could plunge the House into chaos at any time when a group of members is not getting their way.
Friday, June 24, 2016
People on both sides of the Brexit issue are scratching their heads wondering why the British people voted to leave the European Union when the polling suggested that they would vote to remain. Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, was quick to give President Barack Obama the credit for putting the referendum over the top.
One of the common reactions of mass shooting atrocities such as the one that happened at the Pulse in Orlando is the desire to make sure that insane people such as Omar Mateen do not have access to firearms. Another proposal that always crops up consists of prohibitions on guns that are designated as “assault weapons”, a misnomer because the name is usually given to rifles for their cosmetic appearance rather than any enhanced capability.
Having tackled the problem of reforming health care reform, the House Republicans have turned their attention to tax reform. Rep. Ken Brady, the current chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, has rolled out the details of a tax bill that might pass should the GOP win the presidency and retain control of the House and the Senate.
Proving once again that 2016 is a tumultuous year, the British people declared their independence from the European Union in the Brexit referendum. Prime Minister David Cameron, who supported staying in the EU, immediately tendered his resignation. The change of leadership at Number 10 will be only the first of the aftereffects of the decision.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
One of the slams against people who oppose Obamacare, orwellianly named the “Affordable Care Act” is that they have not come up with an alternative. As the National Review reports, House Speaker Paul Ryan has developed that alternative.
President Barack Obama is not a happy man now that the Supreme Court, by a four to four ruling, decided to let a lower court ruling that he lacked the authority to make four million illegal aliens legal. The president, stymied by Congress in his effort to provide amnesty to illegal immigrants, had decided to make four million illegal aliens legal and provide them work permits with a stroke of a pen. The illegals consisted of parents of children who were born in the United States and illegals who had been brought across the border as children.
When the International Space Station, first proposed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, reaches the end of its operational life in 2024, the question will arise what comes next for low Earth orbit activities. A number of proposals have emerged for building a commercial space station, such as the one to be constructed with inflatable modules proposed by Bigelow Aerospace. According to Geek Wire, a former NASA space station manager named Mike Suffredini suggests building a commercial module that would attach to the ISS. When the space station ends, the module will serve as the basis of a commercial space station.
A group of House Democrats, led by the venerable civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, took to the House floor and staged a good old fashion 1960s-style sit-in. They demanded that the House conduct a vote for some form of gun control, though a particular bill is not pending. Since the concept now being touted by the left involves denying due process to people on the terrorist watch list and the no-fly list by denying them their 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, the action constituted the very first anti-civil rights sit-in that has occurred in history. Politico reported that Speaker Paul Ryan has declared the House in recess until July 5th in hopes that the whole thing burns itself out. Also, a “spontaneous” demonstration erupted on the Capitol steps in support of the sit in.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
The tragicomedy surrounding the expulsion of the ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft from Austin, the liberal enclave in red state Texas, proceeds apace. Drunk driving has shot up since the two companies lost a deregulation referendum and were forced to leave the capital of the Lone Star State. With thousands of drivers and tens of thousands of riders who once depended on ride-sharing services in a lurch, a group called Arcade City has tried to fill the void with a person to person site to link up drivers and riders who then negotiate a fare. Of course, according to a Monday story on KVUE, the Austin city government, and the police are on the case.
J.K. Rowling has posted a long winded, but primarily interesting analysis of the Brexit controversy that is currently convulsing Great Britain. She is, not surprisingly, firmly in the “remain” camp of people who want the UK to stay in the European Union. She does take the “remain” faction to task for not selling their position with an optimistic enough story. As a master of the storytelling craft, she should know. Her analysis goes sideways when she touches on the subject of Donald Trump, whom she calls a fascist in all but name. Rowling is rather wide of the mark as many critics of the mercurial real estate tycoon are.
The day after Hillary Clinton wagged her finger at Donald Trump and suggested that he would be too dangerous to be allowed to manage the American economy, Trump responded by using the rhetorical equivalent of bashing her over the head with a chair. His speech, delivered in New York City on nation-wide cable TV, may not be studied next to Cicero’s oration against Cataline. But the speech, read from a teleprompter, was the modern equivalent in its scope and intent.
The Washington Times reported that Sen Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, a stated that Americans are buying the AR-15 to “do bad things” suggesting that the popular semiautomatic rifle’s primary purpose is to murder people. She also falsely stated that Omar Mateen used an AR-15 to commit murder and mayhem at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. In fact, Mateen used a Sig Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle, a similar firearm. Finally, the senator suggested that the AR-15 is the equivalent of a fully automatic AK-47. The AR-15 is a semiautomatic, meaning that it fires a single bullet for each squeeze of the trigger and not many bullets at a time.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the Democratic National Committee computer files have been hacked by Russian intelligence services, either civilian or military, with a view of influencing the 2016 elections. The Russians have acquired a great deal of sensitive internal information, especially about Hillary Clinton. Added to what Russian intelligence doubtless knows about Clinton from the hack of her unsecured email service, it has to have an unprecedented amount of information about the former secretary of state, a woman who would become president of the United States.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
A recent article “Why Not the Moon?” is a well written argument for why humans should return to the lunar surface, covering the scientific, commercial, and political reasons for such an effort. The most eyebrow-raising fact surrounding the article is that it was published in the Daily Kos, a far left political blog.Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?
According to the UK Telegraph, the European Space Agency took the occasion of the return of three crew members from the International Space Station, including British astronaut Major Tim Peake, to announce the idea of creating a four-person space base between Earth and the moon. Presumably such a facility would be located at one of the Lagrange points where the gravities of the two celestial bodies cancel one another out. The base could be deployed within a decade if the member states of the ESA fund the thing. Major Peake immediately volunteered for the crew of the base.
Recently, at a Donald Trump rally in Los Vegas, a disturbed 19-year-old named Michael Steven Sandford tried to take a weapon from a police officer and use it to shoot the presidential candidate dead. The idea had a certain cleverness because it would have meant that Sandford would not have had to take a firearm through layers of security to get at Trump. The idea was, however, quite insane, not only in regards to its likelihood of success but from the attempt to change the political process through deadly violence.
When, inevitably, four “common sense” gun control measures went down in flames on the floor of the Senate, Sen. Chris Murphy, whose filibuster forced the votes to begin with, decided to react with a typical lack of grace. According to the Washington Post. He accused Republicans of wanting to sell weapons to ISIS. American gun owners, who were the actual targets of the legislation, are not going to be too happy with the comparison.
Is someone plotting to dump Donald Trump in favor of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan? Hot Air reports that an outfit called Opinion Access is polling a Ryan vs. Clinton race. Such an effort suggest that someone is afraid that Trump is the nominee that he would blow it and lose by a landslide. Trump has certainly not covered himself with glory in the weeks since Ted Cruz conceded. However, in most polls he is just six points behind Clinton, a testimony to how unpopular and dysfunctional the presumed Democratic nominee. Also, by giving Corey Lewandowski the royal order of the boot at campaign manager, Team Trump has signed that it realizes it is in trouble and is seeking to put the campaign under adult supervision.
Monday, June 20, 2016
When Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the transcript of the 911 call that Omar Mateen made from the inside of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando would have all mentions of terms like “ISIS”, “jihad”, “Islam”, and “Allah” redacted, more than a few eyebrows rose across the country. The consensus opinion was that the Obama administration was so anxious not to view the massacre as terrorism that it would censor a document that clearly demonstrated otherwise. Fortunately, as Hot Air reported, saner heads have prevailed, and the unredacted transcript has been released.
Sunday, June 19, Blue Origin launched its New Shepard rocket ship into the clear blue skies over Texas. The crew capsule separated from the launch vehicle and ascended to a height of 100 kilometers. The launch vehicle descended back to Earth and touched down using its engines. The crew capsule tested an emergency situation in which one of the parachutes failed to deploy. It too landed, firing retro rockets at the last minute. The spacecraft displayed a wobble that likely would have been hard for any passengers who might have been inside of it, but the landing was survivable.
Bill and Hillary Clinton, as in common with most on the left, trade on the notion of how friendly they are to ethnic minorities and, conversely, how sexist, racist, homophobic, and bigoted their Republican opponents allegedly are. But a new book by Dolly Kyle, a childhood friend of Bill Clinton’s who grew up to be one of his many mistresses, presents a far uglier portrait of the Clintons dating back from their days in Arkansas. It seems that both said things back in the 1970s and 1980s that would be career killing for any other public official.
The whole humans vs. robots to explore space controversy would seem to have been settled in favor of both by the famous British Astronomical Society of about 12 years ago. However, as Ars Technica pointed out on Sunday, none other than Chris Kraft, the venerable NASA flight director from the Apollo program, has raised the question again, providing a twist by throwing in the Moon vs. Mars issue into the mix.
One of the things that Hillary Clinton could do to appease the far left of her party would be to select one of their number as her vice presidential running mate. If that person is not Bernie Sanders, the far left would be perfectly happy with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. However, as Politico reports, Clinton is not likely to select the firebrand senator with pretensions to Native American ancestry. Politico notes that one constituency that Clinton values far more than actual voters, Wall Street, has warned her that she can have Warren as a running mate or their campaign contributions, but not both.
Sunday, June 19, 2016
Now that Marco Rubio has decided that he would like to remain in the Senate, after all, the Democrats who would like to replace him have decided to express their extreme displeasure. Rep. Patrick Murphy called him one of the “most homophobic senators in this country.” Rep. Alan Greyson has declared himself to be “unafraid” of the “attack puppy” meaning Rubio. However, the Senate race is likely to turn on the terrorists vs. guns issues. Murphy went on to decry Rubio for being allegedly in the pocket of the National Rifle Association.
The New York Times reported that an archivist has stumbled across a file of letters from a Kenyan student named Barack Obama Sr. at the Schomburg Center for Research for Black Culture in Harlem. The letters have been offered to be read by the man’s more famous son and namesake, who happens to be president of the United States, but he has thus far declined the offer. Perhaps Barack Obama Jr. will read the letters when he leaves office. The reluctance is illuminating considering the history of the man whose college career at the University of Hawaii and his affair with a fellow student, Ann Dunham, changed the course of world history.
Saturday, June 18, 2016
The Hill newspaper reports that the Hillary Clinton campaign and Bernie Sanders supporters are getting ready for a dust-up over Middle East policy. The Sanders camp would like to see decidedly anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian language inserted into the Democratic platform. Clinton is skittish about this move, believing that it might alienate Jewish voters whom she needs to be elected president.
At a rally in the Woodlands, a community north of Houston, Texas, Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of plotting to turn the United States into a larger scale version of Venezuela. The accusation represents the second part of Trump’s political strategy, along with the issue of terrorism and guns. When he sticks to that approach and not goes off on tangents about Hispanic judges, Trump becomes a potent candidate.
A Passion for Glory is a screenplay depicting the early life of a Roman soldier and statesman named Caius Julius Caesar and the love story involving his first wife, Cornelia. Most people with a passing familiarity with Roman history know how Caesar conquered Gaul, crossed the Rubicon, and was eventually assassinated. Most do not know how, when still a teenager, Caesar defied the most powerful leader in the Roman Republic, a man named Sulla who had already demonstrated his capacity for murder, to keep from divorcing his wife. Nor do they know of his early battles, his capture by pirates, and how his marriage ended in tragedy. The screenplay, which remains unproduced, will have some familiar characters. Besides Caesar, historical figures such as Pompey and Cicero make appearances. Some characters are of the author’s imagination. The story is true, with details embellished for dramatic effect, of the rise of one of the most famous men in history and of the woman he loved long before he bestrode the world, as Shakespeare said, like a colossus.
Donald Trump, addressing a rally in the Woodlands, a community north of Houston, Texas, was not coy when the subject turned to the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando by an Islamist terrorist. He referred to Omar Mateen as a “son of a b----“ and suggested that had some of the club patrons had concealed carry firearms, the atrocity would have had a different ending, a dead terrorist and a lot less dead and maimed innocents. Trump declined to mention his flirtation with allowing the government to restrict gun purchases for some on terror watch lists. Instead, he took pains to tout his endorsement by the National Rifle Association.
Friday, June 17, 2016
Reports are starting to trickle up that a lot of Republican heavy hitters are getting ready to dump Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention next month. An anti-Trumper is already head of the rules committee, which might vote to unbind the delegates. No longer being obligated to vote for Trump on the first ballot, the delegates will be free to vote for someone else.
No better illustration of how the two sides of the gun debate live in separate realities exists than how Gail Collins, the New York Times columnist, and David French, who writes for the National Review, approach a pressing question. Could people with concealed carry firearms have stopped the massacre that took place at the Pulse in Orlando?
Recently, a group of Democratic state attorneys general caused a stir by threatening to prosecute oil companies and certain conservative think tanks for what they called “climate change denial.” The theory is that since the “science is settled” concerning whether not human-caused climate change is happening, these organizations could be sued for fraud, just as cigarette companies were sued for denying that smoking caused cancer and other diseases. Now, according to the Washington Times, a group of Republican state attorneys general have released a letter suggesting that climate change “alarmists” could be prosecuted under the same legal precedence.
Thursday, according to Real Clear Politics, Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas took to the floor of the Senate and called down the thunder on Democrats for pushing for gun control in the wake of the massacre in Orlando when an Islamist terrorist murdered dozens of people at a gay night club. Democrats, from President Barack Obama on down, have taken the opportunity, as they have after previous mass shootings, to call for “common sense” gun laws. Republicans, including Cruz, have pushed back, claiming that gun laws constitute a violation of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution and is a distraction for the real problem, Islamist terrorism.
A few weeks ago it looked like that the legal battle between CBS and Paramount and the group of “Star Trek” fans producing a film set before the events of the classic series entitled “Axanar” would have a happy Hollywood ending. But, The Hollywood Reporter suggests that the lawsuit is definitely still on. J.J. Abrams had stated that the two plaintiffs were willing to settle and allow the fan film to proceed thanks to pressure from Justin Lin, the director of the upcoming sanctioned Trek film.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Recently, the idea of an American return to the moon received a push in Congress, with the upcoming NASA spending bill mandating the cancellation of the asteroid redirect mission and a refocusing of the space agency’s efforts toward lunar surface operations in advance of the Journey to Mars. Now, the scientific community has weighed in, in the person of Clive R. Neal, a professor of geology at the University of Notre Dame. Professor Neal took to the pages of the latest issue Scientific America to advocate for a return to the moon.
An American politician has proposed that if a person is investigated by the FBI under suspicion of terrorism and the Bureau finds nothing that it can use to arrest him or her, that he or she should lose their civil rights for five years. He tweeted, “Due process is what’s killing us right now.”
Ever since the EM drive entered the news about a year or so ago, it has sparked considerable controversy. The device is alleged to work by using microwaves that produce, in some fashion as yet unknown to science, thrust. Many scientists suggest that the EM drive is impossible as it violates known physics. However, a number of tests conducted in Great Britain, Germany, China, and at NASA’s Eagleworks at the Johnson Spaceflight Center have resulted in thrust that cannot, as yet, be explained by experimental error. Wednesday, the International Business Times reported that a Finnish scientist has published an article in a peer-reviewed science journal with a possible explanation as to how the drive works.
While the political world continues to be roiled by the atrocity in Orlando and the travails of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Sen Ted Cruz met with a group of conservative heavy hitters to plot the former presidential candidate’s future in the Virginia home of Brent Bozell on Tuesday according to the Hill. The dinner meeting was said to be secret, though the identity of many of the attendees and the agenda had been leaked to the media. The meeting was held looking ahead to the 2020 presidential race and what Cruz’s role in it will be.
Tuesday, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn took to the Senate floor and began a nearly 15-hour filibuster to advocate his solution to the massacre committed by Omar Mateen, an ISIS-inspired terrorist, at a gay nightclub called the Pulse in Orlando, Florida. His solution involves denying firearms to anyone who is on a terrorist watch list, such as the no-fly list. He was joined by a number of other Senate Democrats and, oddly Donald Trump, who vowed to use his Art of the Deal superpowers to talk to the NRA about the idea.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
New Space sat down with the Apollo program recently in the form of Amazon.com and Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos and Apollo 11 command module pilot Michael Collins. They were interviewed as part of the John H. Glenn Lectures at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The two men, coming from two distinct eras of space flight, had decidedly different views of what NASA should be up to.
Xinhua reported on Tuesday that the next Chinese expedition to the moon, the Chang’e 4, will not only land on the far side of the moon but will land on the lunar South Pole. The lunar lander will touch down on the side of the Aitken Basin that faces away from the Earth. There, the Chang’e 4 will not only be able to prospect for water ice deposits thought to reside in permanently shadowed craters in the region but will serve as a platform for radio astronomy blocked from the electromagnetic emissions from Earth. A relay satellite will be placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrange 2 point where the gravities of Earth and moon cancel one another out.
Donald Trump, while addressing a rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, openly wondered why President Barack Obama is angrier at him than at the terrorist who shot up a Gay nightclub in Orlando. The media snorted that Trump is implying that the president has sympathy with the terrorists. The accusation is untrue. The president likely hates ISIS, if for nothing else for the political headaches that the Islamic State is causing him. But he really hates and fears Donald Trump as an existential threat to his legacy. The feeling of ire is not personal. The president would feel the same way toward Ted Cruz, or even Jeb Bush if one of them the presumptive nominee.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Atrocities such as happened at The Pulse in Orlando are often caused by a single villain, in this case, an Islamist terrorist named Omar Mateen. However, the same atrocities create heroes as well, people who through quick thinking and courage can keep the slaughter from becoming even worse than it ultimately turned out to be. One such hero was Imran Yousef, a bouncer at the Pulse, a Marine combat veteran of Afghanistan and a Hindi.
President Barack Obama offered a bizarre defense against Donald Trump, who has needled him for his reluctance to label the enemy in the War on Terror “radical Islam” according to Politico. The president’s position is that naming the enemy for what it is will not defeat the enemy. His critics suggest that his refusal to name the enemy illustrates his lack of seriousness in defeating it. He regards radical Islam as the threat that must not be named.
What does the horrific massacre perpetrated by an ISIS-inspired terrorist at a gay nightclub in Orlando have to do with NASA’s recent space cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates? Most people would reply, nothing whatsoever. However, Danny Bednar, a Canadian Ph.D. candidate who lectures on space exploration and geopolitics, found such a connection in a Monday op-ed in the aerospace newspaper Space News. To put it succinctly, since, as is common throughout the Islamic world, the UAE discriminates against LGBT people, cooperating with that country in space exploration may not be entirely appropriate, especially in the light of the atrocity in Orlando committed by an Islamist-inspired terrorist.
No atrocity is so heinous that it does not bring out the best in many people. Such was the case the day after a man named Omar Mateen showed up at a gay nightclub in Orlando called the Pulse and murdered almost 50 people and wounded over 50 more before being killed by police in turn. Employees at an Orlando Chick-fil-a showed up to their store on Sunday and made the well-known chain’s chicken sandwiches and brewed gallons of sweet tea. Then they took the food and drink to a nearby blood bank and handed out the food and drink to people who were waiting in line to give blood in response to the massacre. The blood donors, waiting in the high summer Florida heat, were much appreciative of the refreshment.
Monday, June 13, 2016
The Mars Curiosity rover, which landed on the Red Planet in August 2012, has been so wildly successful that NASA would like to repeat the feat with a similar robotic probe called Mars 2020. Mars 2020 will land in a different location and will have a different suite of instruments. One added feature that the space agency is considering is a robotic helicopter drone that can fly through the Martian atmosphere independently.
Much like the rise of Donald Trump and, to some degree, Bernie Sanders represents an uprising of the American people against political elites, the apparent up swell of support by the British people for Brexit is a revolt against the same kinds of elites in the UK. As writer Peter Hitchens notes, “Labour doesn’t love the poor. It loves the London elite. The Tories don’t love the country. They love only money.” Thus, the two principal political parties in Great Britain find themselves at odds with their own people on the question of whether or not the UK should stay in the European Union.
Calls for more draconian gun control measures after a mass shooting have become a standard ritual coming from some portions of the political class. President Barack Obama did not disappoint in his White House address after the Orlando massacre. “This massacre is, therefore, a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub." The president did mention that the mass shooting was an act of terrorism. He judiciously avoided the use of words such as “Islamist”, “Islamic” or any other reference to the motives of Omar Matane, who shot his way into a gay nightclub called the Pulse and shot to death as many as 50 people and wounded over 50 more, taking hostages before being killed by a police SWAT unit.
Sunday, June 12, 2016
Having strengthened space cooperation with the State of Israel, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates “to cooperate in aeronautics research, and the exploration and use of airspace and outer space for peaceful purposes, working together in the peaceful use of outer space for the benefit of humanity.”
It looks like, barring an unforeseen event – of which there have been plenty this election cycle – either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. The question arises, how does one influence the space policy of the next administration?
In the George Orwell novel, “1984,” the main character, Winston Smith, has a job at the Ministry of Truth that involved rewriting history to fit the agenda of “Big Brother” the shadowy dictator of the tyrannical state of Oceana. Previous announcements of production targets are adjusted to match actual levels achieved. The identity of which enemy Ocean is fighting, East Asia or Euroasia, is changed according to shifting geopolitics of the horrific world described in the 1948 book. Now, we see, Hillary Clinton, candidate for president of the United States, is engaging in a little Ministry of Truth history adjustment.
In the early morning hours, according to press accounts, a lone gunman entered the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, a gay hangout, with a long gun, a pistol, and something described as an explosive device. The terrorist, as local police describe him, killed as many as 20 people and took another 30 to 40 as hostages. The rest of the bar patrons managed to get out safely. Several hours later, the police SWAT team breached the building, rescuing the hostages and killing the gunman. 42 people have been taken to local hospitals.
Saturday, June 11, 2016
Mitt Romney, proving that he may lack a sense of shame, tore into some of the Republican presidential candidates for losing to Donald Trump. Ted Cruz got some heat for not attacking Trump soon enough. John Kasich also came in for some scorn for staying in the race long past his expiration date, thus dividing the anti-Trump vote in the later stages of the campaign. Even Jeb Bush got some grief for not using enough of his super PAC money to take down Trump early enough to knock him out of the race.
Patheos does not generally delve into space policy issues, it describing itself as a nondenominational media site that delves into commentary and news from both a religious and nonreligious perspective. However, it has uncovered an NASA-funded research project that has aroused the ire of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. The space agency has given a group called Center for Theological Inquiry a $1.1 million grant to study how the discovery of alien life would affect Christianity. The atheist group, more famous for coming down on local governments for allowing Christmas decorations on government property, is pretty sure that NASA is violating the First Amendment by funding religious studies.
In 2016 both President Barack Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren warmly support Hillary Clinton’s quest for the presidency. The Donald Trump campaign is reminding one and all that it was not always thus. The Trump people have dredged up some old video from both that suggests disdain for the would-be first female president of the United States.
Friday, June 10, 2016
According to USA Today, Donald Trump delivered a speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition that once again avoided the free-wheeling style he prefers at his campaign rallies. The address stuck to a teleprompter provided script that was one part touting of his governing agenda (immigration, trade, and so on) and one part full-throated attack on Hillary Clinton for her various felonies and Barack Obama for endorsing her.
SpaceX’s Elon Musk is waiting for a space conference in Mexico in a few months before unburdening himself of his long-term plans for Mars. But, he gave out a few hints to the Washington Post.
Charles Krauthammer muses about Donald Trump, the presumed Republican nominee for president, and bemoans the fact that he is the manifestly weakest candidate to put up against the morally and legally compromised Hillary Clinton. The bill of particulars is familiar to experienced Trump watchers, from his infatuation with conspiracy theories to his tendency to say alarming things. He is the one candidate that Clinton can entertain the hope of beating. Krauthammer also notes how Republican movers and shakers ranging from House Speaker Paul Ryan to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are moving to support Trump in the hopes of guiding, advising, and even educating the mercurial real estate tycoon. Everything depends on Trump’s willingness to learn and take good advice. Besides executing a coup at the Republican National Convention, Republicans have no other alternative.
Actor/Director Mel Gibson, while putting the finishing touches on his upcoming World War II drama, “Hacksaw Ridge,” is planning a sequel to one of his more successful and controversial films, “The Passion of the Christ.” The sequel, to be written by Gibson’s “Braveheart” writer Randall Wallace, will focus on the resurrection of Jesus Christ as described in the Bible. “Passion” focused on the crucifixion of the man whom billions of Christians regard as the son of God. The movie featured explicit scenes of violence and dialogue in period languages. Some critics claimed that the film had anti-Semitic scenes, something that most filmgoers did not recognize.
Thursday, June 09, 2016
One can call it an example of what President Barack Obama giveth he can also taketh away. The same day that the president officially endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, his official spokesperson Josh Earnest admitted that the FBI is conducting a “criminal investigation.” Moreover, Earnest went on to say that the endorsement was not to be considered a signal to the Bureau to go easy on Clinton. Ms. Clinton has been downplaying the investigation as a “security review.
A return to the moon is back on the American agenda. As the Christian Science Monitor reminded us on Thursday, Congress is moving to reverse President Obama’s decision not to return to the moon and instead engage in the asteroid redirect mission. The government is also working out procedures to authorize private expeditions to the moon, starting with Moon Express. The happiest man on the planet because of this turn of events is Newt Gingrich, who endured ridicule for proposing a moon base during the 2012 campaign. The unhappiest woman on the planet for the same reason is Lori Garver, the former Deputy Administrator of NASA and one of the architects of the Obama space policy that eschewed returning to the moon to start with.
President Barack Obama has officially endorsed Hillary Clinton to be his successor to be the president of the United States. On the one hand, he had to do it. Clinton is the presumptive nominee. On the other hand, Obama has opened himself up to lots of embarrassment if the FBI decides to hand the Justice Department a criminal referral surrounding the email server affair. Obama has the choice, in that case, of either authorizing the indictment of a woman he publically wished to be president or of squashing the indictment in a blatant political move. Either way, Donald Trump must be rubbing his hands with glee.
President Barack Obama has a big problem in the form of a septuagenarian socialist from Vermont named Bernie Sanders. He has to persuade him that the gig is up, and it’s time to quit and get behind the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. Obama was able to handle this task with deftness when Clinton was the defeated candidate and he the triumphal nominee. He dangled the prospect of having an office in his administration, secretary of state as it turned out, and the opportunity to run again in eight years. Neither inducement is going to work with Sanders.
Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, advisor and potential running mate to Donald Trump, writer, and filmmaker, recently touted a bill being offered by Sen Roger Wicker, R-Miss called the Eureka Act. The bill seeks to establish a system of cash prizes that will be awarded for treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. The award system will supplement that current government funding of research projects for finding a cure for the crippling and deadly disease.
Deadline Hollywood reports that the team that created the 1995 hit film “Apollo 13” is getting back together to develop a movie version of Neal Stephenson’s epic science fiction novel “Seveneves.” Ron Howard will direct, Brian Grazer will produce, and Bill Broyles will write.
My review of the novel from last year. In Neal Stephenson's 'Seveneves' a hard rain falls after the moon blows up
Wednesday, June 08, 2016
Hillary Clinton celebrated her status as the first presumptive woman nominee of a major American political party in a speech in Brooklyn and set up two themes for the general election campaign. Her rationale for being elected president will be based on two pillars. She will be the first woman president of the United States. Donald Trump is evil and racist and therefore must not become president. Whether the two campaign themes can be sustained in the long-term remains to be seen.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden ventured to Israel recently and touted how he would like to see the Jewish state become a partner in the American space agency’s Journey to Mars program. On one level, the proposal makes a lot of sense. Israel is one of America’s traditional allies. An Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, died on board the space shuttle Columbia when it broke apart in the skies over Texas February 1, 2003. Israel is increasingly becoming a technological powerhouse, developing a high-tech sector that rivals anything that Silicon Valley has produced. An Israeli team is a front runner in the Google Lunar X Prize, with a launch contract for a moon lander.
Tuesday, June 07, 2016
With about a month before the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump’s campaign seems to have been thrown into chaos because of his off-putting remarks about the Mexican heritage of a judge involved in the Trump University case. Some Republican movers and shakers are rethinking their support of the mercurial real estate tycoon, with two senators un-endorsing him. So the question arises, is it too late to avoid a Trump driven disaster in November?
When the House included language in the FY2017 NASA funding bill cancelling the Asteroid Redirect Mission and ordering the space agency to reorient back toward the lunar surface, doubtlessly the Obama administration thought it could attack the move as a partisan, Republican attack on the White House’s space policy. But, Tuesday, Eric Berger wrote in Ars Technica that the policy shift has bi-partisan support. To put it succinctly, both Republicans and Democrats have measured the asteroid then Mars approach of President Obama and have found it wanting. Thus, the House is pushing for a back to the moon program that will be more sustainable and can be done in the relative near term.
It’s a matter of almost religious faith on the left that conservatives are “science deniers.” Conservatives are skeptics of human-caused global warming, for example. Bill Maher, the HBO far left ranter, makes use of this meme frequently on his Friday night show. He repeated this trope recently, but unfortunately did so in front of an actual scientist, Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson often has irritated people with tweets that sometimes makes Donald Trump’s seem reasonable. On this occasion, the celebrity astrophysicist called out Maher to his face.
It is no secret that asteroid mining has passed from science fiction to something that both NASA and private industry are dreaming about as a killer app to opening up the high frontier of space. According to Space.com, a company called Made in Space, with a $100,000 study contract from the space agency, is looking for a way to seize asteroids and turn them into spacecraft that would fly to mining stations, say in cis-lunar space or perhaps in Mars orbit. They would be stripped of resources that would then be used for space manufacturing.
Monday, June 06, 2016
When one thinks about the burgeoning commercial space sector, one does not automatically think of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a landlocked country bordered by Germany, France, and Belgium. The country does have a vibrant industrial and financial sector and is so prosperous that it was the second richest nation in the world on a per capita basis in 2011. In any case, the government of Luxembourg is making a big play in a new business that just a few years ago was relegated to science fiction: asteroid mining.
Scott Adams is most famous as the purveyor of “Dilbert,” the comic strip starring the nebbish engineer by the same name that lampoons corporate goofiness. More recently, Adams has dipped his toe into discussing politics. He pronounced Donald Trump a master persuader, something that anyone, no matter what their view is of the mercurial real estate tycoon, should agree on. However, the violent reaction to this assessment on social media has persuaded Adams that he must endorse Hillary Clinton is order to stay alive.
It’s no secret that former Speaker Newt Gingrich would like to have a position in a Trump administration, perhaps as vice president. So, Sunday, eyebrows rose in political circles when Gingrich called Donald Trump out for his attacks on a judge handling the Trump University case, suggesting that his “Mexican” heritage was a conflict of interest. Gingrich called the attack a “mistake” and that it was “inexcusable.”
Hillary Clinton had lots of fun with Donald Trump’s temperament last week, even suggesting that as president he would get the United States in a war should some country get under his “extremely thin skin.” However, an upcoming book by a former Secret Service agent who had been stationed at the door of the Oval Office suggests that compared to Ms. Clinton, Trump is a veritable Shao Lin monk.
Sunday, June 05, 2016
When SpaceX’s Elon Musk announced that he expected to land a Red Dragon on Mars in 2018, people took notice. NASA scrambled to form a partnership in the venture, recognizing an opportunity when it saw one. Then Musk dropped the bombshell that he also expects to put a human being on the Martian surface by 2025. No one laughed at the idea that a private company, especially one that hasn’t even put a person in low Earth orbit yet, could manage a feat that nobody in the history of space exploration has been able to do. There is a method to Musk’s madness.
Just over a month ago, Sen. Ted Cruz was plotting to make the Republican National Convention a contested one, denying Donald Trump a victory on the first ballot and then taking the nomination away from him on the second of third. Now, it is Sen. Bernie Sanders who is plotting to contest the Democratic National Convention in an attempt to wrest the nomination away from Hillary Clinton. How did this change of fortunes take place?
Saturday, June 04, 2016
One of the more searing images of the riot that took place after the Donald Trump rally in San Jose, California was that of a young woman, wearing a Trump rally, being egged and cursed at by a mob of angry men waving Mexican flags. If any image would serve as a recruiting tool for the Trump for President Campaign, this was it.
Most obituaries of Muhammed Ali are going to mention his many victories in the ring and his tendency toward braggadocio that was so pronounced as to make Donald Trump seem the soul of humility by comparison. Most will also mention his battle not to be drafted to fight in the Vietnam War in the 1960s (“No Viet Cong ever called me an N-----“) However, Ali’s greatest victory was in Iraq, during the runup to the first Gulf War.
Friday, June 03, 2016
Donald Trump has been rightly lampooned for his fascination with conspiracy theories, from the idea the Barack Obama was born in Kenya to the even more bizarre idea that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was somehow involved in the Kennedy assassination. But, as it turns out, Hillary Clinton is not immune to conspiracy mongering as well. She believes that aliens have already visited Earth and that the government has covered it up. Vanity Fair suggests that this belief is being encouraged by John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman and former advisor to President Barack Obama.
California has been the origin of a great many strange and sometimes frightening ideas. One of the worst was a bill that was working its way through that state’s legislature that would make doubting the concept of human-caused climate change illegal, punishable by criminal sanctions. Fortunately, the California state Senate decided not to take up the legislation, even though it had passed the environmental and judiciary committees. The bill could be taken up at a later date, however.
After Donald Trump delivered a speech in San Jose, California, a mob of protestors set upon his supporters as they left the rally venue. A dozen or so people were assaulted, and one woman was pelted with eggs. Incredibly, the mayor of San Jose, a Hillary Clinton supporter named Sam Liccardo, blamed Trump for the riot. The San Jose police are reported to have stood by and done nothing for 90 minutes before moving in to break up the violence and make arrests.
As the Washington Times reported, Hillary Clinton stepped up to the podium and read from the teleprompter a prepared speech suggesting that Donald Trump would be too dangerous to be allowed access to the nuclear codes. The speech, which might have been given by one of Trump’s Republican opponents during the primary season, was on point, rich with months of opposition research and Trump’s own erratic positions, delivered with robotic sarcasm, fell flat for one reason. Clinton herself, as Trump and her other Republican opponents pointed out, has been a disaster where it comes to foreign policy.
Thursday, June 02, 2016
When Donald Trump declared that something “fishy' had happened surrounding the 1993 death of Vince Foster, the Clinton White House aide, the sight of eye-rolling in response was ubiquitous. Why, people asked, was Trump dredging up that hoary old conspiracy theory? Everybody knows that Foster was depressed and killed himself. Ken Starr concluded suicide was the cause of his death.
The return to the moon, longed for and anticipated since Apollo 17 left the lunar surface in December 1972, may be at last be coming together. Paul Spudis, a lunar geologist who frequently writes on space policy issues, posted a Wednesday analysis that looks at recent developments in detail. The piece is well worth the read.
President Barack Obama has made no secret of his desire to take an active role in the general election campaign. For one thing, campaigning is the one activity that he is good at. For another thing, Obama is keen not to see his presidency repudiated by seeing Donald Trump elected to replace him. The president made a bizarre speech in which he ridiculed the idea that he had presided over a bloated government that had run roughshod over American citizens and warned that if the Republicans got back into the White House, disaster would ensue. But Trump served the president notice that if he does enter the campaign, he will receive the full force of the mercurial real estate tycoon’s fury.
Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, attended the Recode Conference where he opened his mind about his vision for Mars exploration. He had previously announced his intention to send a robotic probe to the Martian surface called Red Dragon in 2018. But that mission is just the start of an ambitious program that will see the first human being launched to the Red Planet in 2024 “if all goes well.” If the announcement becomes reality, Musk will see the first astronaut landing on Mars by 2025, about ten years before NASA plans for boots on the Martian ground.
Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Greta Van Susteren, the former defense lawyer who does a news and commentary show on Fox News, tweeted some annoyance Wednesday that NASA has been slow to release some of the photos taken of the surface of Pluto taken last summer. “Why did they wait until NOW to release these? pics taken in 2015 and we pay their salaries in tax dollars.” The statement is somewhat understandable for someone who is more accustom to reporting on criminal justice news than she is on space and science issues. However, the Internet has erupted in derision at the FNC host’s ignorance of the realities of low bandwidth transmissions across the gulf of billions of miles.
What a difference a month makes. A month ago, the Ted Cruz campaign still had real hopes of denying Donald Trump the Republican nomination in a contested convention. But Trump’s decisive win in the Indiana Primary put the kibosh on that scheme. Trump is now headed for a coronation and Cruz has to figure out what he wants to do in the Senate – decidedly hostile territory for him – until he tries again in 2020.
SpaceX’s Elon Musk wants to settle Mars. To be sure, Musk’s rival, Jeff Bezos, CEO of both Blue Origin and Amazon.com, thinks that is pretty cool too. But he has just as an ambitious vision for the future. He would like to move all heavy industry into space, according to Recode. The Earth would be rezoned for residential and light commercial use.
Now that Donald Trump is the presumed Republican nominee, political pundits, many of them the same people who did not give the mercurial real estate tycoon and reality show star much of a chance in the primaries, are wondering can he win in November? Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics answers that Trump can become the 45th president of the United States. Trump and Hillary Clinton are neck and neck in the polls, with some showing Trump slightly ahead, and some showing Clinton slightly ahead.
As Moon Daily reported, when the first Apollo mineral samples were examined, scientists conclude that the moon was drier than the most arid desert on Earth. However, using modern technology, researchers have found that the samples contained water after all. Using extrapolation they have concluded that the moon may have 1,000 trillion tons of water trapped in minerals in the form of hydroxyl, a molecule with one hydrogen and one oxygen atom or OH.