Sen #Ted Cruz, R-#Texas has been in the wilderness as far as the Republican Party establishment is concerned thanks to his pointed non-endorsement of #Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention. Cruz has stated, among other things, that he is not in the habit of endorsing someone who attacked his wife and slandered his father. No doubt Trump’s volatile nature where it comes to his personality and his politics entered into the decision as well. Now, according to some press reports, some Texas Democrats are wondering if they can knock Cruz out of the Senate in 2018 when he is up for reelection.
Sunday, July 31, 2016
Rohini Sethi is an unlikely victim of the war on campus free speech that had been raging across the United States for the past few years. She is a Chemical Engineering student of Indian extraction, thus qualifying as a “woman of color” in the liberal vernacular. She is a vice president of the Student #Government Association at the University of Houston, a large commuter college in the Southeast Texas city. She is being persecuted by a mob for daring to post on her Facebook page, “Forget about #BlackLivesMatter; more like all lives matter.” She posted this statement as a reaction to the mass killing of several Dallas police officers.
Four years after President Barack Obama ridiculed Mitt Romney for suggesting that #Russia is a threat to world peace, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has become a threat to world peace. From the Rape of the Crimea to the imperialist adventures in the Ukraine and Syria, Putin has proven quite serious about restoring the glory and horror of the Soviet Empire. The Russian leader is now casting a covetous eye on the Baltic States and Poland, with NATO scrambling to counter him. Unfortunately, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump seems to be prepared to deal with Putin nor, in the case of Trump, understand what a threat he is.
As the general election campaign begins, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are fighting over a key voting bloc that may decide the election, displaced working class people. Trump is promising to bring manufacturing #Jobs back from where they have been outsourced overseas, by renegotiating what he considers bad trade deals, corporate tax cuts, and punitive measures against corporations that outsource. Many of Clinton’s policies, from the war on Coal to hiking the minimum wage to punitive tax increases on “the wealthy” seem designed to destroy jobs. Both candidates promise a massive infrastructure rebuilding program that will stimulate job creation. But science journalist Alan Boyle points out that both Trump and Clinton are missing the point. The real threat to jobs is coming from automation, robots and artificial intelligence.
Saturday, July 30, 2016
Under the classic Marxist theory, history is making an inexorable progression from feudalism to capitalism to socialism and, at last, to communism. Venezuela seems to have turned that theory on its head. The government has decreed that everyone can be drafted to work 60 days in the fields or even more “as needed” as a way to alleviate the chronic shortages of food that is gripping that socialist country. The decree means that #Venezuela has brought back feudal serfdom, but with the state as the lord of the manor and everyone as the peasants, even middle-class white collar workers. The next stage will be to bring back Roman-style slavery.
Apollo moonwalker Buzz Aldrin visited Israel recently to spread the gospel of sending people to the planet Mars. While he was there, he paid tribute to SpaceIl, the Israeli competitor that aims to put a rover on the moon as part of the Google Lunar XPrize. Thus a living embodiment of NASA’s most glorious mission praised an example of the new era of private #Space exploration in the most unlikely of countries to be reaching for the moon.
When the trailer for “The Great Wall,” the latest movie directed by Zhang Yimou, was released, quite a few eyebrows rose around the world. The film, like many of Zhang’s work, seems to be set in Ancient China. However, Matt Damon stars in the movie, and it is said to involve a battle between Chinese and Western soldiers against a horde of demons lurking north of the Great Wall. Also, a group of people on Twitter, especially Taiwanese American actress Constance Wu, are pretty sure that the movie is racist.
Friday, July 29, 2016
Kid’s coloring books featuring presidential candidates are not new. About a year or so ago, Ted Cruz got one that featured his championing of conservative values and constitutional principles. So it is only natural that Hillary Clinton would get her own coloring book. But, as the Washington Examiner notes, the pictures show the Democratic presidential candidate in a series of situations derived from fantasy, science fiction, and history.
Link to the online coloring book.
One of the enduring mysteries surrounding the rise and continued popularity of Donald Trump, at least from the point of view of liberal Democrats, is how that can be when he is such a racist, sexist, homophobe who crushes the little guy beneath his heel. The bill of particulars against Trump is well known. He’s called certain women who have irritated him “pigs” and worse. He has implied that Hispanic illegal immigrants are criminals and rapists. To call his business practices shady is to put the matter mildly. No one knows where the homophobia charge comes from. Trump was probably for same-sex marriage before Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were and in any case follows what Ted Cruz called “New York values” where it comes to LGBT people.
#Hillary Clinton, having achieved her lifelong dream of being nominated as a candidate for president of the United States by the #Democratic Party, delivered an acceptance speech that sounded like your mother yelling at you for something you didn’t do. The address consisted of a series of clichés, applauds lines, and catch phrases strung together at random, with a little bit of biography and the usual laundry list of far left promises, which to the ordinary ear sounded like threats. The audience reaction was mixed, with Sanders partisans yelling invective and her supporters trying to drown them out.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Deadline #Hollywood reports that the first trailer of Mel Gibson’s upcoming World War II film “Hacksaw Ridge” has been released. The movie tells the true story of Desmond Doss, a pacifist, and contentious objector, who nevertheless enlisted in the United States Army to serve in World War II to serve as a combat medic. He is the first contentious objector to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving the lives of 75 men at the Battle of Okinawa.
While his name was being dragged through the mire at the Democratic National Convention as a threat to national security, Donald Trump, the #Republican presidential candidate, was participating in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” forum, misnamed because the questions were screened. One query asked Trump what role NASA should play in “making America great again.” He artfully dodged the question by repeating the almost universal sentiment that NASA is “wonderful” and that America has “always led the world in #Space exploration.” He did not repeat his already expressed opinion that the Journey to Mars has to wait until all the potholes are filled.
"No man is a villain in his own story,” goes the old saying. In understanding the speech President Barack #Obama made at the Democratic National Convention, you have to turn that statement on its head with, “Obama is always the hero in his own story.” The speech contained a promiscuous use of the singular first person pronoun, “I” and “me” with the occasional plural version “we.” The speech was delivered from a parallel universe where the last eight years consisted of a brilliant presidency in which every policy had been a stunning success. Obamacare was not the domestic policy disaster that it is for too many Americans. The Iran nuclear weapons deal was not the modern day Munich that has placed world peace in peril.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
During a press conference during the third day of the Democratic National Convention, Republican presidential nominee #Donald Trump decided to have a little fun at #Hillary Clinton’s expense. He stated, “Russia, if you're listening I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” He was referring to emails that Clinton had deleted from her unsecured server that she called "personal."
#Space News reported that more details have emerged about NASA’s cooperation with the SpaceX Red Dragon mission to Mars, courtesy of Jim Reuter, deputy associate administrator for programs in NASA’s space technology mission directorate. The support arrangement will come in the form of a Space Act agreement that will not involve any money changing hands between the space agency and SpaceX. However, NASA will spend $32 million over four years in personnel costs providing technical support for the project.
#Space News reported that the Defense Innovation Advisory Board, whose mission is to transfer some of Silicon Valley’s culture of innovation to the Defense Department, has added two new members. They are Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com and the launch company Blue Origin and media personality and celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The inclusion of Tyson has raised some eyebrows.
In the early morning hours a pair of ISIS terrorists stormed into a church near the Normandy city of Rouen, took the priest, Father Jacques Hamel, two nuns, and some elderly parishioners as hostage. They made the octogenarian priest kneel and slit his throat. After they had conducted an Islamic ritual around the altar, they tried to make good their escape by using the nuns and the parishioners as human shields. They were shot to death by police. Thus the latest outrage of World War III was conducted to its bloody conclusion.
Former President Bill Clinton took to the podium of the Democratic National Convention and, in his sweet as molasses southern voice, attempted to tell the love story of Bill and Hillary. “In the spring of 1971, I met a girl.” Erich Segal could not have written a sparer but a more poignant line. The difference between Hillary Rodham and Jennifer Cavilleri is that the real life would be president of the United States was likely the most earnest, annoying woman ever to live in the 1970s.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
One of the greatest cliffhangers ever executed in episodic television happened at the end of season six of “The Walking Dead” when our intrepid heroes were captured by Negan and his gang. Negan, to teach a lesson about the cost of resisting him, brings down a barbed wire covered bat on one of our heroes’ head. But which one? We’ll have to tune into the first episode of season seven to find out.
A lot of bandwidth has been occupied about the harassment that Leslie Jones, one of the actresses who appeared in the all-female “Ghostbusters.” Indeed, the story has been used as a distraction from the news about how the movie tanked at the box office as audiences stayed away in droves. The spectacle was an object lesson in what happens when a film eschews the need to be entertaining for being a vehicle in the culture wars.
The chanting and acrimony that featured the first day of the 2016 Democratic Convention segued to the usual speech making, with the usual dissemination, hypocrisy, and class warfare. Sen. Corey Booker shouted a lot against rugged individualism. Michelle Obama slyly wrapped partisanship in motherhood, making the crowd forget how much she really loathes and despises Hillary Clinton. Sen. Elizabeth Warren gave a low octane of upon the themes of “you didn’t build that” and “that Donald Trump really is evil.” No attempt was made to appeal to Trump voters or independents. The speeches were all directed to the party faithful.
Monday, July 25, 2016
The 2016 Democratic National Convention has already become historic in one aspect. It is the first such affair in which attendees expressed the idea that the party’s nominee should be thrown in jail. Indeed, Bernie Sanders supporters have already taken up the chant, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” first heard at the Republican convention. Not even Bernie Sanders could calm his supporters. When he addressed a rally and expressed the wish that Hillary Clinton should be elected, he was greeted by loud, enthusiastic boos.
Miriam Kramer, in the pages of Mashable, published a piece with the provocative title of “Sorry, Donald Trump. It doesn’t matter if the U.S. is ‘first’ in space.” The actual content of the article is a little more complicated than that and contains a number of misconceptions, strawmen, and errors in fact.
One of the most bizarre accusations made by Donald Trump was that somehow Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, was involved in the President John Kennedy assassination. The theory is based on an old photo published in the National Enquirer of Lee Harvey Oswald and a Hispanic looking man that Trump says could have been the senior Cruz. Now, thanks to the Democratic National Committee emails leaked by WikiLeaks, Luis Miranda, the DNC communications director, seemed to agree with the theory and expanded it to include Watergate and the Reagan-era wars in Central America.
Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, is pretty sure that Russia’s Vladimir Putin is behind the email hack at the Democratic National Committee. According to the conspiracy theory, Putin sent the intelligence to WikiLeaks that the Democratic National Committee was plotting against Sen. Bernie Sanders to ensure Clinton’s nomination. Why would the president of Russia want to do this? To ensure the election of Donald Trump. Trump has expressed admiration for Putin as well as skepticism of NATO, the alliance that has kept Russia at bay in Europe since the late 1940s.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Debbie Wasserman Schultz has tendered her resignation as chair of the Democratic National Committee, effective Thursday when the Democratic National Convention is to be concluded. Donna Brazile, an old retainer of Bill and Hillary Clinton, will take over that post through the election, pending a party vote during the convention.
Recently, at Comic-Con in San Diego, the first trailer for the upcoming “Wonder Woman” movie, starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot as the title character, was aired and then released for the general public. The movie is going to be the original story of the iconic superheroine, but with a few differences from the comic book source material.
The fallout from the WikiLeaks revelation of the hacked Democratic National Committee email files proceeds apace. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the DNC, has been dumped from the list of speakers at the Democratic National Convention. The leaked emails revealed a systematic effort at the DNC to undermine the candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the venerable but popular socialist from Vermont, to ensure that nomination of Hillary Clinton. The national committees of political parties are supposed to be neutral during the primary process, trusting in the voters to decide on the best candidate to be nominated by a party for president of the United States.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia seems to have stumbled just a little coming out of the gate as Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate. The far left of the Democratic Party, as expected, have excoriated him as being too centrist. However, the fact that as lieutenant governor and then governor of Virginia he accepted $201,600 in gifts from various friends, business associates, and political allies. At the time, an officeholder in Virginia could take unlimited gifts as long as they were disclosed. Kaine seems to have followed the law at the time, and no evidence exists of a quid pro quo. However, to use the common political phrase, he has an appearance of impropriety.
The Democratic Party has scrambled to insert a paragraph into its 2016 party platform praising NASA and its space exploration programs. A previous draft of the platform contained no mention of the space agency. No explanation has been given for the sudden inclusion, however some speculation is warranted.
Throughout the campaign, Bernie Sanders and his supporters have claimed that the Democratic National Committee had it in for the venerable socialist from Vermont and was tilted toward Hillary Clinton. The DNC and the Clinton Campaign have vigorously denied the allegation, but now WikiLeaks has released some emails hacked from the DNC that suggests otherwise, just in time for the Democratic National Convention.
Friday, July 22, 2016
Hillary Clinton has chosen Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia to be her vice presidential running mate. The media is describing Kaine as the “safe choice” and in some respects this assessment is correct. But it is an option that seems calculated to drive the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party to fury.
If anyone wondered why Ted Cruz declined to endorse Donald Trump, Trump removed all doubt in a speech to volunteers in Cleveland the day after the convention. He spent at least ten minutes laying into Cruz and relitigating the Heidi Cruz insult and the accusation that Cruz’s dad was somehow involved with the JFK assassination. The performance even had some of Trump’s supporters agog on social media.
Somewhat overshadowed by Donald Trump’s acceptance speech, the remarks made by Pete Thiel were well worth the listen, not just for what he said but for what he is. Thiel stated, toward the end of his speech, he said, “I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all I am proud to be an American.” The crowd of hardcore, Trump loving Republicans went wild with delight. The sound of liberals’ heads exploding across the country was deafening.
If the late, great Ronald Reagan spoke of “morning in America,” Donald Trump spoke darkly, on the last day of the Republican National Convention, of “Midnight in America.” By delivering a dire speech about a country misgoverned by its elites, beleaguered by terrorists abroad, and ravaged by rampant crime, a bad economy, illegal immigrants, and bad trade deals at home, he perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the United States in the summer of 2016.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Eileen Collins’ address before the Republican National Committee lasted four minutes and concerned her thoughts on restoring American leadership in space. Implicit in her remarks is the idea that the space program needs to become, using the Donald Trump campaign slogan, “great again.” Space reporter Eric Berger takes Collins to task in Ars Technica, suggesting that the vibrant commercial sector has already made America “great” in space. He also accuses her of pining for the days of Apollo, a curious slam considering how successful the moon landing program was.
If anyone thought that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas was cowed by the boos he experienced the night before and the physical threats against his wife for his refusing to endorse Donald Trump, they might want to think again. Cruz met with the Texas delegation and expanded on the nonendorsement. He said that he declined to be a “servile puppy dog” to the man who had attacked his wife and father.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas strode out to the stage of the Republican National Convention to a standing ovation. He gave a heartfelt address, mentioning the searing story of a little girl whose police officer father was killed, and offered a defense of the United States Constitution and conservative principles. But Cruz left the stage to the din of boos from many of the delegates. The problem was not what Cruz said, but what he did not mention. He declined to specifically endorse Donald Trump. The reaction of the crowd was so violent that Cruz’s wife, Heidi, had to be escorted from the arena under guard.
One of the more anticipated speeches that took place on the third night of the Republican National Convention was delivered by Colonel Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a space shuttle mission. Her remarks followed a short video that celebrated the American spirit of exploration and innovation on the occasion of the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
One of the most haunting facts about the Apollo program to land men on the moon, as Scientific America noted a while back, is that the last three planned lunar missions, Apollo 18, Apollo 19, and Apollo 20 were canceled, even though the hardware to fly them had been built. The reasons for this cancellation included the desire to save money and equipment for the Skylab program and also the sense that further missions to the moon risked another accident such as Apollo 13, with potentially fatal consequences.
On night two of the Republican National Convention, the highlight consisted of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie making the case against Hillary Clinton while Donald Trump Jr. made the case for his father, now the official Republican nominee for president. The night did not contain any distractions such as the plagiarism charge against Melania Trump.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Everyone who was of age on July 20, 1969, remembers where they were when men landed on the Moon. I was on a family vacation in Panama City Beach, Florida on that day. My family, along with another family with whom we had been friendly for years, crowded into a single beach-side motel room with one of the only working TVs to watch the first moonwalk.
The Obama administration’s approach to developing green, renewable energy has been to provide subsidies to companies selling solar, wind, and other environmentally benign sources. It is also clamping down on the regulation of fossil fuels, especially coal, to provide disincentives for using such sources. The White House would like to impose a carbon tax, but thus far Congress has stymied that approach.
The theme of the first night of the Republican National Convention was “Making America Safe Again.” The night featured speeches from people like Rudy Giuliani “the rock of 9/11”, Marcus Luttrell, the former Navy SEAL whose adventures were dramatized in the film “Lone Survivor” and Pat Smith, whose son Sean was killed in Benghazi and who blames Hillary Clinton for it. The climax of the night was delivered by Melania Trump, who would be the first lady should Donald Trump be elected president of the United States.
While the Democratic Party Platform contained no mention of NASA or America’s space efforts, the Republican Platform contained two paragraphs. Under “Building the Future: Technology” the platform offered praise for NASA’s partnerships with commercial companies such as SpaceX and Boeing that has “reduced the cost of space access and extended America’s space leadership.” The platform stated that “we must sustain our preeminence in space by launching more scientific missions, guaranteeing unfettered access, and ensuring that our space-related industries remain a source of scientific leadership and education.”
Speaking of Democratic activists, NASA Watch's Keith Cowing is spreading disinformation. Commercial space partnerships was a concept developed by George W. Bush, not Obama. And Newt Gingrich has been a big commercial space fan since the 1990s.
Monday, July 18, 2016
According to AFP, the Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology on Taiwan is building a $47 million, 3.7 metric ton lunar lander on behalf of NASA. The vehicle is designed to carry a rover called Resource Prospector which would roll about the lunar surface searching out deposits of oxygen, hydrogen, and water. The Resource Prospector mission is still being formulated but is envisioned to be a joint project with several national space agencies and commercial companies. The lunar lander is the first vehicle of its type to be built in Taiwan.
The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the rebooted “Ghostbusters,” which replaced the all-male cast with an all-female cast, made $46 million domestically in its first weekend. The earnings would be respectable if not for the fact that the CGI-heavy film cost $146 million to make. Considering that marketing a summer blockbuster can cost upwards to $150 million, the first weekend numbers do not look promising.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 lifted off from a launch pad in Florida, carrying a Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station. A few minutes later, the first stage of the Falcon 9 touched down at a prepared landing pad a few miles of the launch pad. The first event has been a common occurrence for decades. The second was just the fifth and the second on land for the Falcon 9 first stage. Therein is how the economics of space travel is starting to change.
From terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando, not to mention Paris and Nice, to mass police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the world seems to be spiraling out of control. The Donald Trump campaign has come to realize that the chaos afflicting the world will play neatly into its hands, as Byron York noted in the Washington Times. Trump is already calling himself “the law and order” candidate and has added “make American safe again” to his original slogan “make America great again.”
Sunday, July 17, 2016
Add Lori Garver to the list of people who are unhappy that former shuttle commander Eileen Collins is slated to speak at the Republican National Convention. Garver, who is the former Deputy Administrator of NASA, tweeted, “Shocked Eileen is supporting this anti-science misogynist. Sorry her legacy is now co-opted by self-interested men.” Garver, whose tenure at the space agency was fraught with controversy, allowed these words to go out on social media apparently unaware of the irony.
Addendum: Many thanks to the great Professor Glenn Reynolds for posting this on Instapundit.
While Bernie Sanders has offered a lukewarm endorsement of Hillary Clinton, removing the last barrier to her march to the Democratic nomination, his supporters have not been appeased. Evidence suggests that they would like to hold veto power over who she picks as a vice presidential running mate. A number of prominent Democratic names are said to be unacceptable to Sanders supporters and might spark trouble at the Democratic National Convention.
Hillary Clinton wants to, in effect, pass a constitutional amendment that would amend the First Amendment and restrict free speech, overturning the Supreme Court’s “Citizen United” decision that lifted prohibitions on spending by independent organizations. The decision struck down campaign finance laws that the federal government passed against political speech by restraining the amount of money that could be spent on it.
Saturday, July 16, 2016
In a development that ought to be of concern to the United States and her allies, Russia and China have started to forge a space exploration alliance, according to a recent article in Forbes. Joint missions to the Moon and Mars are under discussion between Moscow and Beijing.
As usual President Barack Obama was surprised and blindsided by the attempted military coup in Turkey. Also, as usual, he backed the wrong side where the interests of the United States are concerned. The elected president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is an Islamist, who has been playing footsie with ISIS, allowing fighters to flow into the Islamic State and smuggled oil out of It. He has aspirations to recreate the Ottoman Empire to a certain extent, which means that he would like Syria’s Assad out of power and the long-term Kurdish insurgency crushed. The units of the military that launched the failed coup were seeking to restore the secular republic that had served Turkey so well since Kemal Ataturk and would likely have been more forthright in cutting off ISIS and helping the West crush the Islamic State.
Friday, July 15, 2016
When Team Trump chose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to be Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate, the theory was that Pence would provide reassurance to the conservative wing of the Republican Party. He may lack the charisma of Newt Gingrich or the street brawler quality of Chris Christie, but Pence is a solid conservative not given to saying or doing alarming things. However, Jesse Ventura, former Navy frogman, the former wrestler, former action star, former governor of Minnesota, and current conspiracy nut is pretty sure that Trump has signed his death warrant by choosing Pence, a solid establishment figure, albeit conservative.
Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a space shuttle mission, is among the eclectic list of people that includes politicians, sports stars, celebrities, and Trump family members slated to address the Republican National Convention. Collins was the pilot for STS-63 Discovery, the first space shuttle to rendezvous with the Russian space station Mir in 1995. She also piloted STS-84 Atlantis that docked with Mir in 1997. Collins commanded STS-93 Columbia that deployed the Chandra X-Ray Observatory in 1999. Finally, she commanded STS-114 Discovery in 2005, which delivered supplies to the International Space Station, the first shuttle flight after the Columbia disaster.
The latest terrorist outrage in Nice has driven the dust-up over race in the United States, brought on by shootings of two African American men by white police officers followed by the mass murder of five white cops by an African American sniper in Dallas. President Barack Obama, reaching back to his community organizer roots, held an “honest dialogue” about race at the White House that included police officers, Black Lives Matter activists, and elected officials and was broadcast on ABC television. The dialogue got a little too honest for the president’s taste when Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick called the president out for his tendency, in Patrick’s view, of being too quick to blame the police when shootings of African Americans occur.
As the Bastille Day celebrations died down in Nice, the resort town in the south of France, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a 25 ton truck a mile through a crowd of people, killing 84, including 10 children and two Americans, and maiming uncounted others, before stopped by local police in a hail of gunfire. People were sent flying or were crushed beneath the wheels of the truck. Dismembered bodies were left behind in the vehicle’s wake.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Eric Berger has published an account in Ars Technica about how President Jimmy Carter saved the space shuttle program. The article is well worth reading for its detail. In essence, around 1978 the space shuttle program had undergone a crisis with technical challenges surrounding its heat-resistant tiles and its reusable rocket engines and cost overruns. President Carter was not all that enthused about human space flight, to begin with, adhering to the since discredited notion that robotic space probes were adequate for exploring the universe. His vice president, Walter Mondale, was a vehement foe of human space flight programs, maintaining that money spent on them were better used for social programs.
J.K. Rowling has insisted that the stage play, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2” will not find its way to the big screen. However, Warner Brothers may have other ideas. The big media company has filed for Cursed Child trademark in the U.K. The move has fueled speculation that, in the fullness of time, the further magical adventures of Harry Potter and his son will find its way to the big screen. The play takes place 19 years after the events of the original novels and finds Harry as an overworked bureaucrat at the Ministry of Magic, with a wife and three children, including one, Albus, who suffers from the family legacy.
According to a story in the Washington Examiner, House Republicans, led by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, are taking aim at a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s energy policy, consisting of lavish subsidies for utility-scale solar power stations. Gohmert’s National Resources Committee is primarily concerned about the Ivanpah plant in California near the Nevada border. The facility has experienced a number of technical problems since it opened in 2014, including catching on fire at one point. The solar plant has also been criticized by environmentalists for impacting fragile desert ecosystems and killing migratory birds who fly into its concentrated solar rays.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas convened a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness on the subject of “NASA at a Crossroads: Reasserting American Leadership in Space Exploration.” The theme of the hearing was of the necessity to stay the course on NASA’s space exploration program, called the Journey to Mars. In his opening statement, Cruz decried the cancellation of both the space shuttle program and the Constellation space exploration program, the latter of which would have returned American astronauts to the moon by the end of the current decade.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Via a report by Leonard David, a Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics researcher named Martin Elvis sounds the alarm of how an unfriendly power – the Chinese for example – could seize control of an important piece of lunar real estate. They could do it legally by exploiting provisions of the Outer Space Treaty, which technically prohibits claims of national sovereignty on other worlds.
Hillary Clinton stood up before an audience in Springfield, Illinois and imagined what Donald Trump would do to his enemies if he had the IRS or even the military at his beck and call. Taken in context, the accusation was shameless in a manner that rarely happens in American politics. Possibly Clinton and her battalion of spinmeisters fixers, and speech writers are unaware of how the Obama administration loosed the IRS on the tea party, using the tax agency to harass the president’s political opponents.
It has been a while since Stephen Colbert has had even a smidgeon of influence, having changed the hip perch at Comedy Central for the more mainstream and high profile position as host of The Late Show. Colbert has had lots of trouble appealing to a broader audience than the stoner, slacker millennials who used to hang on his every snark. The network has been desperately trying to retool The Late Show with Stephen Colbert before they suffer the humiliation of letting him out of his contract in favor of someone funnier, say Craig Ferguson. So, recently, Colbert did something that he rarely does. He went off on an epic rant against Hillary Clinton.
Foreign Policy Magazine recently took note of the most searched phrases on China’s most popular search engine, Baidu, as a way to explore Chinese attitudes and stereotypes about Americans. The results range from how the Chinese imagine the – er – endowments of American men to the ready availability of guns in the United States. The most intriguing phrase that Chinese people search is “Why hasn’t America been back to the moon?”
A new round of state polls present bad news for Hillary Clinton and a measure of hope for Donald Trump. Quinnipiac University showed Trump ahead in Florida and Pennsylvania and tied with Clinton in Ohio. Mitt Romney lost all three states in 2012 but had he won them he would have edged out Barack Obama in the Electoral College and thus would have been elected president. If Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are thrown into the mix, Trump pulls slightly ahead in Ohio.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Those who have been reading the tea leaves of Donald Trump’s veepstakes noticed a tweet by CNN’s Brian Stelter, which read, “"Fox News Channel has mutually agreed to suspend its contributor agreement" with Newt Gingrich "effective immediately." Story TK.” Despite the fact that as of this writing Trump will be attending a rally with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, another possibility to be his running mate, the news has set social media ablaze. The official word from Fox is the suspension is the result of the “possibility” that Gingrich will be selected as Trump's running mate. However, no reason would exist for the suspension because the conflict of interest only kicks in when Gingrich is offered the role, and he accepts it.
The end to one of the most unlikely presidential campaigns in history came during a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire when Bernie Sanders officially surrendered to Hillary Clinton, bending the knee and offering his fealty. Sanders officially endorsed the presumed presidential nominee and promised to support her in her effort to deny Donald Trump the presidency.
Moon Express, a private company that is seeking to land on the lunar surface to explore and mine Earth’s nearest neighbor for its resources, announced that it would be taking over launch complexes 17 and 18 at Cape Canaveral to develop and test its lunar landers. The company licensed the facilities as part of an agreement with the United States Air Force’s 45th Wing.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appears to have damaged her credibility due to ruminations about a possible Donald Trump presidency. She made it clear during an interview that she viewed the election of Trump as a disaster and even joked that were her husband still alive, they would seriously contemplate moving to New Zealand.
Lawyers representing the relatives of four Americans who have been killed and one wounded in Israel and the West Bank have filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Facebook. The suit contends that the social media company has provided content services for the terrorist group Hamas, including intelligence on Israeli military movement and road closures, notices for demonstrations, and instructions on how to commit terrorist acts. The suit was filed in a New York State district court using the Anti-Terrorism Act that allows victims of overseas terrorist acts to sue responsible parties in American courts.
Monday, July 11, 2016
While Hillary Clinton promised to double down on Obamacare and even add a “public option” Donald Trump addressed an example of a government-run health care system, run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has gone horribly wrong. At a speech in Virginia Beach, Trump promised that he would form a commission to root out the corruption and dysfunction in the veterans’ health care system that would inform a legislative package of reform. He also reiterated a promise to allow veterans a “private option” to seek out treatment for service related injuries from private doctors and other health care providers. Trump promised to use all his legal authority to ferret out the corruption and root it out, including the use of executive orders.
The night that NASA’s Juno space probe entered orbit around Jupiter, the mission’s principal investigator, Scott Bolton, declared, “We just did the hardest thing NASA’s ever done.” The statement can be put down to exuberance caused by successfully getting Juno into its intended orbit, which includes periodic dips into a zone of intense radiation around Jupiter. However, the question arises, what about the moon landings?
The Washington Free Beacon is reporting that the Obama Administration has chosen to ignore a report from German Intelligence that Iran is developing missile and nuclear bomb technology in violation of the nuclear weapons agreement that the Islamic Republic signed with the White House. The party line being offered by the administration is that the Iranian government continues to adhere to the agreement. Any questions concerning the German report that states otherwise is being referred to the Berlin government.
If Hillary Clinton thought she was home free because she is not going to be indicted for the crimes she has allegedly committed surrounding the unsecured email server, she would need to think again according to a piece in the Hill. Pressure is mounting for her top aides such as Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan to be denied security clearances because of their involvement in the scandal. Some in Congress would like Clinton herself to be denied a security clearance unless or until she is elected president, which would prevent her from receiving the kind of briefings usually given to major presidential candidates. The State Department has reopened its own investigation into the email service affair.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
President Barack Obama raised some eyebrows when he stated that the motives of Micah X. Johnson, the Dallas police shooter, were “hard to untangle.” However, Johnson declared to police, just before they blew him up with a robot delivered bomb, that he hated white people and wanted to kill them, especially white police officers. Obama also said that he didn’t think the country is divided as it was in 1968, the last year that saw so much civil unrest. The statements suggest a president who is in deep denial about the country he was elected twice to govern.
Bernie Sanders is not going to be president, either as a Democrat or as a Green Party candidate, should he decide he is feeling vengeful. But his influence, for good or ill, is being felt in the creation of the Democratic Party Platform. The platform will call for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. It does not call for universal health care, which Sanders favors, but does require significantly increased spending for Medicare and community hospitals while offering Obamacare to illegal aliens. Sanders lost on trade as the platform will not include a plank opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which he and, incidentally, Donald Trump opposes.
Saturday, July 09, 2016
One of the little-reported aspects of the massacre in Dallas is that the shooter, Micah X Johnson, was taken out by a robot which delivered an explosive device to essentially blow him up. Sadly this act did not occur before he shot 12 police officers, five of them fatally. However, the use of a remote control robot to kill a criminal seems to have been unprecedented. On the other hand, the United States has been assassinating terrorists with aerial drones for over a decade.
In a strange twist to an already twisty election year, Jill Stein, the presumptive nominee of the Green Party has offered to step aside if Bernie Sanders will just say the word and decide to run as a third party candidate himself. Sanders has not yet conceded the Democratic nomination, though rumor has it that he intends to publicly endorse Hillary Clinton at an event in the near future. In the meantime, Sanders has been negotiating to put his stamp on the Democratic Party Platform.
Friday, July 08, 2016
The news, reported in Space.com, that Saturn’s moon Titan has the chemicals that could lead to the development of life but not, as they used to say on “Star Trek," as we know it has placed the strange, methane shrouded world to the top of the list for further exploration. While methane is most abundant on Titan, both as a gas in its atmosphere and is liquid in streams, lakes, and seas, the chemical in question is hydrogen cyanide, made up of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Hydrogen cyanide is the precursor for amino acids and nucleic acids that are the building blocks of life.
The producers of the upcoming movie, “Star Trek: Beyond”, thought they were inclusive when they decided to depict Lt. Sulu as gay. The decision meshes with the imperative of being inclusive to typically marginalized groups and also was a nod to the fact that George Takei, who played the character in the original “Star Trek” series, came out as gay in 2005. The 1960s series tackled a number of social issues, depicting the first onscreen interracial kiss between Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura, for example.
Donald Trump went up to Capitol Hill to meet with Republican lawmakers. Among other things, he met privately with his former rival for the presidency Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. What the two men talked about is not entirely clear, except we know Trump asked Cruz to speak at the Republican National Convention and Cruz cordially accepted. A formal endorsement of Trump by Cruz was apparently not a condition for the speaking slot.
The known facts about the massacre in Dallas are thus: At the end of a peaceful protest in Dallas, Texas against a pair of police-involved shootings of African American men by white cops in Baton Rouge and Minnesota a group of snipers opened fire from concealed, elevated positions. The snipers shot 11 police officers, killing five. One civilian was wounded. One suspect, a male, is dead after a gun battle with police. Three suspects are in custody, including a woman. The identities of the fallen officers and the suspects have not been released. No word is available about the exact motives of the shooters, except that they deliberately targeted police officers. The Dallas massacre constitutes the worst one time deliberate killing of cops in American history and the worst one-time mass death of police since 9/11.
Thursday, July 07, 2016
One of the barriers to the growth of solar energy is its relatively high cost compared to fossil fuels, especially natural gas. However, according to a recent article in Fortune, that is going to change in the next 25 or so years. A study conducted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports that the cost of solar is due to plummet as the cost of installing solar panels in both utility-scale plants and rooftops will drop by 60 percent, an average of 4 cents a kilowatt hour, by 2040. That cost makes solar cheaper than natural gas or coal in some areas.
In many ways, India is still two countries. There is the modern India that has a prosperous middle class with high-tech industry and even its own space program. Then there is the impoverished India, where people live in remote villages much as they have for thousands of years, mainly as subsistence farmers or workers on large plantations. The one thing that could bring as many as 300 million Indians into the 21st century is access to electricity. With electric power come lighting and modern appliances.
Floating solar panels have made inroads in Japan and Brazil, among other places. Now a proposal published in Environment 360 suggests that “floatovoltaic” platforms could be deployed in depleted reservoirs in the American southwest, such as Lake Meade and Lake Powell along the Colorado River. Such stations would not only generate a great deal of renewable energy but would help shield those bodies of water from evaporation, a growing concern as a result of the persistent drought.
Someone posed the scenario to Donald Trump, would he actually serve as president if he were actually to win. Every other person who has ever run for president would have said, unequivocally yes. After all, the whole point of running for president is to get the power to run the United States and to make the sorts of changes that one thinks would be of benefit. The beautiful house, the place in the country, the jet, and all the other perks are not a bad incentive either. But Trump, being Trump and thus prone to saying alarming things, decided to be coy, according to the New York Times. “I’ll let you know how I feel about it after it happens,” he said.
Nature Magazine recently published a wide-ranging interview with John Holdren, President Barack Obama’s science advisor. Holdren made an admission about one of the reasons that the Obama administration canceled the NASA Constellation space exploration program. While he claimed that the report of the second Augustine Commission stated that the program was “unexecutable” Holdren ignored the fact that the same report offered two alternatives for conducting deep space exploration, called Moon First and Flexible Path. Subsequent studies by Next-Gen Space and MIT lend support to the lunar alternative The real reason that the Obama administration canceled Constellation was to free up more money for planetary science, robotic space exploration, and – most importantly – Earth observation.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Republican National Convention may become an open convention after all. At least 18 members of the Rules Committee are for a so-called “conscience clause” that will allow delegates to vote for the candidate of their choice and not necessarily the one they are pledged to, according to RNC member Randy Evans of Georgia, a Donald Trump supporter. Another 15 are leaning toward voting for the clause. An anti-Trump member of the committee suggests that 30 members are in favor but will not say so publicaly. If 28 members of the Rules Committee for a conscience clause, the matter will be put before the delegates. The question would need 1237 votes to pass.
As the Democratic Party continues to craft its platform, NASA Watch’s Keith Cowing noticed a conspicuous omission. Apparently, no mention exists about NASA or civilian space policy. Cowing puts this down to the idea that space is a “niche issue.” On the other hand, sections exist supporting statehood for Washington D.C. and closing Guantanamo, two matters that have not been in the news as of late.
Wednesday, July 06, 2016
The Washington Examiner is reporting that Senate Democrats have voted to block two pieces of immigration reform legislation advanced by Republicans One was entitled the “Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act” that would deny federal grants to local governments that refused to detain illegal immigrants at the request of Homeland Security. The other was the “Stop Illegal Reentry Act” that would require mandatory sentences to illegal immigrants who are deported, reenter the United States, and commit an aggravated felony. The second bill was also called “Kate’s Law” after Kate Steinle” who was murdered a year ago by an illegal immigrant who had been deported multiple times and was being shielded by San Francisco, a sanctuary city. The second bill was introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz and was heavily promoted by Fox News personality, Bill O’Reilly.
Most people are understandably outraged at FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to recommend a criminal indictment of Hillary Clinton. However, Roget Simon at PJ Media suggests that the development is the worst possible news for Democrats and their hopes of retaining the White House.
The Tax Foundation has offered an analysis of the tax simplification plan proposed by the House Republicans. The study finds that the program, which would allow most people to fill out their taxes on a postcard, would lose revenue, but would have great benefit to the economic health of the United States.
Tuesday, July 05, 2016
One of the weirdest and in some ways most annoying conspiracy theories floating around is the idea that the government faked the moon landings. The theory has been debunked so thoroughly and by so many people, most famously the Mythbusters, that one should hardly be bothered revisiting it. However, Vivian Kubrick, the daughter of the famed film director Stanley Kubrick, weighed in on the matter on the occasion of NASA’s Juno’s arrival to orbit around Jupiter. Ms. Kubrick’s involvement stems from the idea advanced by some conspiracy theorists that her father was in charge of the fakery. After all, he made one of the greatest space films of all time, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, so doing a fake moon landing should have been easy (though truth to tell, it would have been impossible using 1960s video technology.)
Energy shortages such as occurred in the 1970s have been consigned to history, thanks to the fracking boom and other technological developments in oil and gas production. Renewable energy technology, particularly solar power, has improved steadily but has not yet cracked above a small fraction of electricity generation in the United States. A recent article in ZME Science suggests that an old technology may be about to create a revolution in nuclear energy that will change the world. The technology in question is molten salts reactors.
FBI Director James Comey addressed a group of reporters and the nation on the matter of Hillary Clinton’s unsecured email server. He concluded that Hillary Clinton had mishandled classified information on that server, some of which was classified when they were received or transmitted. He also found that while there was no direct evidence that the email server had been hacked by foreign actors, that by the very nature that the device had no security, such hacking would not have left any traces. These acts suggest that Hillary Clinton had violated the law.
The Hillary Clinton campaign has been loudly accusing Donald Trump of anti-Semitism for tweeting out a graphic of the Democratic candidate enclosed in a Star of David. However, the presumed Democratic nominee has an anti-Semitism problem of her own in the person of long term Clinton retainer Max Blumenthal. Blumenthal took the occasion of the death of Elie Wiesel to smear the Holocaust survivor, author, and activist.
After a nearly five-year, 1.74 billion mile voyage, NASA’s Juno spacecraft slipped into an elliptical orbit around Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system on the 4th of July. The space probe’s current orbit takes 53 days, part of it far outside the orbits of most of Jupiter’s moons, part deep into its radiation belt at a distance of just over 2,600 miles.
Monday, July 04, 2016
The New York Times reports that a new name has entered the Donald Trump veepstakes. The presumed Republican presidential candidate will meet Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. Ernst checks off a number of boxes that would serve Trump in good stead were she to be picked as his running mate. She is obviously a woman, a demographic that Trump needs to improve his standing with. She is young, at 46, which would help balance Trump’s advanced age of 70. She was a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa National Guard and served in Iraq. She is a tea party favorite, another demographic that Trump could stand to improve his popularity with.
The Vine Report revealed that Season 3 of “Halt and Catch Fire” is going to premiere on August 23 with two back to back episodes before settling into its regular schedule on August 30. The series, which is set during the computer revolution of the 1980s, will move the action from Texas to Silicon Valley where two of the characters attempt to elevate their nascent software company to the next level.
As Benjamin Netanyahu flies to Entebbe, Uganda to start a five-day trip to Africa, he will doubtless find the journey to be bittersweet. 40 years ago his brother Jonathon led a force of Israeli commandos to the airport of that African town, a flight of almost 2,500 miles, to liberate a plane full of Israeli hostages. The hostages had been hijacked in midair by a team of Palestinian and German Baader-Meinhof terrorists and taken to the Ugandan airport where they were made the unwilling guests of the mad, bad, and dangerous to know dictator Idi Amin. The older Netanyahu’s force liberated all but four of the hostages, killed the terrorists, and brought them back safely to Israel. Jonathon Netanyahu was killed during the operation that astonished the world and took place, ironically, on America’s bicentennial.
Sunday, July 03, 2016
One of the great questions of the long War on Terror is who offers the greater danger to Americans, terrorists who shoot up gay night clubs and chop people up for not knowing the Koran or TSA agents who reportedly beat up disabled women. For Hannah Cohen and her mother Shirley, the answer was decidedly the latter.
Hillary Clinton spent her Saturday afternoon on the 4th of July weekend spending three and a half hours being grilled by FBI agents about her role in the matter of the unsecured email server. She claimed that she did so “voluntarily” though one cannot imagine how one volunteers to be deposed in a case that might involve criminal prosecution and a lengthy jail sentence.
Saturday, July 02, 2016
Most Americans will celebrate the 4th of July weekend by eating barbecue, enjoying fireworks, or even seeing a patriotic movie. Hillary Clinton gets to be deposed by FBI agents in the matter of her unsecured email service. Even if things do not transpire as they do on TV (“Ms. Clinton, you revealed the nation's secrets to Vladimir Putin, the Chinese, and the Iranians, didn’t you? Didn’t you?!” “No, that’s a lie!”) the session is bound not to be very comfortable.
Showing how bizarre Election 2016 has become, PPP has offered the results of a poll that ask do you prefer President Hillary Clinton, President Donald Trump, or for the world to be wiped out by a giant meteor strike? 13 percent of the respondents opted for the meteor strike. Red State bemoaned the fact that other catastrophes were not included, such as the Zombie Apocalypse, which would have been even more popular. After all, who would not prefer a choice between Rick and Nagin to a choice between Hillary and Donald?
Friday, July 01, 2016
It looks like J.K. Rowling is in trouble with the racial grievance crowd again. Previously the Harry Potter author elicited yelps of outrage when she described the nature of Native American magic. Now, with her description of the origins of the American version of Hogwarts, Ilvermorny, the social justice warriors are on the war path again (no pun intended.)
As the news that Team Trump is finally starting to vet potential vice presidential running mates has come out, two names have risen to the top, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Both men have their strengths and weaknesses.
When John Adams once ruminated that Independence Day, which America celebrates on the 4th of July, should be celebrated with “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations” he could not have imagined slipping some patriotic movie into the DVD player and enjoying a show along with the barbecue. But at least two films suggest themselves as the perfect 4th of July entertainment.
July 4, if all goes well, will be an occasion for celebration at NASA as the Juno spacecraft, after a nearly five-year voyage, will go into orbit around Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. Juno will spend its time in a zone of intense radiation, against which it has been armored, in an effort to ferret out Jupiter’s secrets. By so doing, NASA hopes to gain insights into the origin of the solar system as well as gaining more knowledge of the gas giant, comprised mostly of hydrogen and helium with trace elements of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur.
The world only knows that recently Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton had a private conversation in a parked private plane at the Phoenix airport because a local ABC affiliate found out about it. Lynch assured one and all that the conversation was “primarily” about grandchildren. Few if any people believe that and the White House has been handed another headache. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Clinton, who is running for president, is also under investigation for her use of a private email server to store top secret messages. Lynch meeting with Clinton was, at best, highly inappropriate, at worst a criminal offense.