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[Science] Second docking adapter for commercial crew vehicles installed on International Space Station The International Space Station is now more than ready for crew-carrying spacecraft flown by commercial companies to pay it a visit: The second planned International Dock Adapter (IDA) was installed on the Space Station during a spacewalk by NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan earlier today. The dock adapter, actually IDA-3 since the first […] Published:8/21/2019 2:25:04 PM
[Science] Watch live as NASA astronauts spacewalk to install a new automated docking ring on the ISS NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan are setting out today to perform the installation of a new International Docking Adapter (IDA) on the International Space Station that will provide another way for futuer crew craft flown by commercial providers to bring astronauts to the orbital research platform. This is the second IDA to be […] Published:8/21/2019 6:52:41 AM
[Artemis program] NASA Skeptics Plan $2 Billion Prize for Whoever Can Land Humans on Moon Supporters of the plan argue it will be a lot cheaper than NASA's own lunar project. Published:8/20/2019 11:57:41 AM
[Markets] Comet's Fiery Death Caught On Video As It Plunges Into Sun; Conspiracy Theorist Warn Of Planet Nibiru

The NASA/ESA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft recorded the moment a comet slammed into the Sun, according to Space Weather astronomer Tony Phillips.

Phillips recorded the anomaly in the center of the solar system last week. He described the situation as follows: "a dirty snowball dived right into the Sun."

A video titled "Comet's Death Dive Into Sun Snapped by SOHO Spacecraft" was uploaded onto YouTube by Space.com on Friday. The short video shows the comet in the bottom right of the screen traveling towards the round disk in the middle of the screen, otherwise known as the Sun, slams into the Sun's surface around the 18-second mark. On top of the Sun is Venus, and left of center is Mars.

Phillips said the comet is likely connected to a Kreutz sungrazer, which is a group of sungrazer comets that orbit 50,000 kilometers from the Sun's surface. The comet is named after astronomer Heinrich Kreutz, who studied sungrazing comets in the 1880s and early 1890s. Kreutz theorized these comets are fragments from a single comet which had broken up 800 years ago.

This isn't the first time an event of its kind was recorded this summer. Citizen scientists on June 20 spotted two comets, one a Kreutz sungrazer and the other a Meyer sunskirter approaching the Sun. They used data from SOHO and NASA Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft to observe the comets.

Space.com said the Sungrazer Project had discovered more than half of all known comets. Discoveries of new comets can aid scientist to study comet orbits, comet composition, and comet evolution.

According to VladTime, conspiracy theorists said that "Nibiru became the cause of the abnormal attraction of comets to the Sun [Russian to English translation by Google]."

"Conspiracy theorists insist that the prototype of the Nibiru magnetic field lies in the "invisible" spectra for earth technology. The absence of a detection method exacerbates the situation, because a group of comets Kreutz Sungrazers will destroy the solar system. The SOHO picture confirms the hypothesis of scientists from the center of the solar system, and comets appear like mushrooms after rain," VladTime said.

"Continuing its movement, the comet goes directly to the Sun, where it is charged through the solar atmosphere, and ultimately collapses. Astrophysicists say that on average, the Sun receives 23 thousand ct of energy from the explosion of one comet. If we take into account that the comets are a group, then the Sun receives a "nuclear" supply of energy resources, experts say. Scientists are not 100% guided in the mechanisms of the appearance of energy from the "death of comets", and claim the presence of a hidden source for the explosion. At the same time, it is possible that it is not the Sun that is charged from comets, but Nibiru hidden in it," VladTime said.

VladTime suggests the "SOHO information and hypotheses of conspiracy theorist are very unstable and require observation. Scientists do not believe in the existence of Nibiru, and deny its influence on the cosmos."

And as far as what we can find, there's no concrete scientific explanation of why these comets are all of the sudden gravitating towards the Sun. As for now, conspiracy theorist explanations run wild.

Published:8/18/2019 1:37:43 PM
[Science] NASA and SpaceX practice Crew Dragon evacuation procedure with astronaut recovery vessel NASA and SpaceX continue their joint preparations for the eventually astronaut crew missions that SpaceX will fly for the agency, with a test of the emergency evacuation procedure for SpaceX’s GO Searcher seaborne ship. The ship is intended to be used to recover spacecraft and astronauts in an actual mission scenario, and the rehearsals this […] Published:8/17/2019 12:33:02 PM
[Space] Northrop Grumman to build its OmegA rocket at NASA’s VAB as first commercial tenant NASA is celebrating alongside Northrop Grumman at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, as the latter becomes the first commercial partner to make use of the Vehicle Assembly Building on-site at the base. The VAB, as its more commonly known, is a cavernous building that’s used to build and test rockets ahead of rolling them out […] Published:8/16/2019 12:25:56 PM
[Markets] What Does It Take To Win A Currency War

Submitted by Steve Englander, Head, Global G10 FX Research and North America Macro Strategy at Standard Chartered Bank

  • Currency wars are likely to be won by the countries that can afford the consequences

  • DM economies are likely to have an advantage over EM

  • In DM, inflation rates are lower, bond issuance is domestic, and bond yields are less likely to back up

  • If both the Fed and Treasury want to weaken the USD, we think they are likely to succeed …

  • … except if the consequent risk-off response generates buying of USD along with other safe havens

Riding the horse is easy, affording the stable is hard

Most analysis of currency wars begins and ends with the view that the country that depreciates the most wins. We argue here that the likely winner is the country that can best handle the consequences of depreciation. A wealthy economy with a current account deficit, low inflation, a flat Phillips curve, room to cut policy rates, long-term rates that track policy rates down, and local currency-denominated debt is at an advantage in winning a currency war, in our view. Keeping in mind that ‘victory’ in a currency war is a sustained weaker currency, our conclusions are:

  • Developed-market (DM) economies in general have an advantage over emerging-market (EM) economies in dealing with the consequences of currency weakness
  • The US would likely have an advantage over other DM economies if it aggressively pursued currency depreciation, but not under all circumstances
  • The USD, JPY, CHF and possibly EUR are safe-haven currencies; a currency war that led to risk selling would likely cause them to strengthen
  • Currency weakness is often associated with poor outcomes in EM, making it harder for EM policy makers to commit fully to aggressive easing
  • EM currencies tend to fall in a strongly risk-off environment, but this is hardly a currency war victory because EM asset markets and economies are damaged

Domestic markets are more forgiving when DM currencies depreciate

DM investors tolerate easing better than EM

We define winning a currency war as successfully weakening one’s currency to induce a pick-up in net exports, without significant negative inflation or domestic asset-market consequences. Developed economies have an advantage because their bond markets generally respond favourably to monetary easing, even when the currency weakens.

In EM countries, easing at the short end does not always translate into lower long-term yields (Figure 1). EM rates do not always back up on easing, but this risk creates a headwind to aggressive easing. Winning a currency war that pushes inflation to unacceptable levels, drives up long-term rates, damages business confidence, disturbs financial markets and financial institutions, or leads to undesired capital outflows is a pyrrhic victory.

DM economies do not face the issues of long-term credibility that many EM economies face. Long-term DM yields rarely go in the opposite direction to short-term yields in response to policy moves, even when the currency drops. EM countries face the risk that policy easing and currency weakness will backfire if long-term yields rise. On 7 August, New Zealand and India cut policy rates more than expected; New Zealand’s 10Y yields fell and India’s 10Y yields rose.

We think this phenomenon makes it more difficult for EM countries to maintain weak currencies than for DM countries. As a result, we think that currency wars are broadly a long EM, short DM currency trade unless risk sells off sharply. Like polo, the issue is not whether you can ride the horse, but whether you can afford the upkeep.

Below-target inflation makes it easier to deal with currency weakness

The credibility of currency wars is enhanced if inflation is below target, so that the weaker exchange rate helps inflation move closer to the target rather than away from it. In the G20, no DM country currently has inflation above 2.25% y/y. In EM, Asia has the biggest concentration of low-inflation EM economies (Figure 2), with Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia below 2.25% and the Philippines,

China, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Vietnam above 2.25%. Few economies face major inflation constraints at present, but encouraging depreciation is less risky when inflation is approaching the target from below and is unlikely to significantly breach it.

Food and energy are relatively small percentages of the DM consumption basket. Rising prices of commodities that are largely priced in global markets do not create social tensions because the impact on living standards is relatively modest. In the US, food and energy make up 11% of the consumption basket and have about a 20% weight in the CPI.

Countries where prices of essentials are closely tied to the exchange rate and where these essentials are a large share of consumption are more vulnerable to depreciation. If domestic food and energy prices are largely driven by world markets, driving the exchange rate down sharply deals a major blow to living standards. In Brazil, food and energy together represent 30% of the CPI. In Vietnam, food and beverages alone are almost 40% of the CPI.

Borrowing abroad makes currency depreciation risky

We think it is less risky to engage in a currency war if domestic debt is almost entirely in local currency. The boost to trade competitiveness from currency depreciation quickly turns sour if depreciation leads to corporate or sovereign debt repayment problems or financial-sector stress. Few DM economies issue in foreign currencies, while many EM economies do. This may limit some EM countries to currency skirmishes, where they try to prevent appreciation or encourage modest depreciation rather than engaging in all-out war to weaken their currencies.

In principle, countries with current account deficits should have an easier time weakening their currencies, particularly if intervention is unsterilised. The logic is that if a country already has a current account deficit and is trying to reduce or eliminate the capital account surplus, it will be hard for the currency to move anywhere but down.

A current account deficit is often accompanied by high interest rates that may make capital flows sticky. However, the combination of a deficit and low rates could be a powerful factor driving both the current and capital accounts into deficit – provided that other factors, such as safe-haven flows, are neutral. The drop in the exchange rate is the mechanism by which the current account-capital account identity is maintained. Along the same lines, if potential capital outflows are hampered by regulation, liberalisation of the capital account would quickly depreciate the currency, but could also have spillover effects on domestic assets.

Safe-haven status is a similar consideration. If the currency war is taking place during, or contributing to, a risk-off episode, safe-haven currencies may find that intervention has limited success in deterring or offsetting capital inflows. The US might find it easier to weaken the USD if investor sentiment were more robust and there was less safe-haven buying of US Treasuries. Again, while easing rates and providing ample liquidity – essentially unsterilised intervention – could mitigate the risk-negative consequences, this is not certain against a backdrop of trade tensions.

Do you want to be a central bank or an asset manager?

Some reserve managers oversee large FX reserve portfolios (Figure 4). The Swiss National Bank’s (SNB’s) interventions have made it one of the world’s biggest asset managers, with reserves approaching 110% of GDP. If the reserve portfolio is more than 40% of GDP, a 10% capital gain or loss on the portfolio due to currency shifts can represent a big percentage of annual growth. Moreover, after intervention, reserve managers are stuck with a portfolio of foreign currencies that no private portfolio manager would have selected (see US can intervene, but what would it buy?). When the reserve portfolio increases in size, so does the potential for conflict between the portfolio management and monetary policy management roles.

Is it worth winning a currency war?

In the best of circumstances, a weaker currency enables a country’s producers to sell more to the rest of the world, at the cost of the country’s consumers being able to afford a smaller consumption basket. If a currency drops 10%, the country’s producers will likely gain market share, but its consumers will have lower purchasing power abroad. The narrow case for currency weakness is that it may generate employment for workers who would otherwise be unemployed.
In the US, two-year growth in employment of manufacturing production workers has not exceeded 2.25% since 1985, well before trade with China was an issue (Figure 3). Increasing that growth rate to 3.25% over an extended period would require generating an additional 90,000 production worker jobs a year beyond the peak of the last the 35 years. This is only 7,500 workers per month more on a non-farm payroll basis than otherwise, about one-sixth the standard error of m/m employment growth.

US may have a small currency-war advantage within G10

The US has lots of room to ease compared to others

We think DM policy makers could succeed in broadly weakening their currencies against EM currencies. Within G10, we believe the US has significant advantages, although they are not absolute. The US has low inflation and can force short- and long-end rates down further than other G10 economies without hitting zero-bound constraints; however, Barkis (the Fed) must be willing (see The why and how of a potential Fed FX intervention). The FX intervention literature emphasises that intervention signals central bank objectives. Not participating in Treasury intervention would be a negative signal to markets and other central banks, unless there were a simultaneous easing of policy rates and increase in liquidity.

A risk-off currency war weakens small G10 and EM

The US’ problem is that the USD is in the top tier of safe havens: not quite the JPY and CHF, but ahead of other G10 and EM currencies. So a currency war that raises risk-off tensions would limit broad USD weakness. The USD’s liquidity and reserve status may also make foreigners more willing to hold it, even at lower rates.

Negative-rate currencies may depreciate faster on easing

The European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of Japan (BoJ) already have rates in negative territory and may find it harder to cut rates significantly. Sterilised intervention would mean selling the EUR or JPY for foreign currency and selling an equivalent amount of domestic assets to offset the liquidity injection from the intervention. The outcome would be a shift in the composition of the BoJ or ECB monetary base to holding more foreign assets and fewer domestic assets. Sterilised intervention could be surprisingly effective, as foreign investors may be reluctant to hold more negative-yielding EUR or JPY assets without a hefty discount.

Unsterilised intervention would entail flooding the FX market with newly printed money to buy foreign currencies. The ECB or BoJ balance sheet would have more foreign assets, foreigners would have fewer domestic assets and more EUR or JPY assets, and the overall supply of EUR or JPY in asset markets would be higher. Such an intervention may work very well to weaken the EUR or JPY, but poorly in terms of the impact on domestic financial markets and the financial system if it makes rates more negative. Fiscal stimulus makes more sense, but there are institutional and policy barriers to this in both countries.

Japanese equity markets are typically very responsive to up-and-down moves in the trade-weighted JPY (Figure 5). This is another way currency weakness could have positive effects for Japan. Euro-area, US, Swiss and Norwegian equity markets also generally respond positively, but the US and euro-area equity-market response is somewhat more variable. We think most of the equity impact would be via valuation effects on corporate profits rather than higher export volumes. Commodity-currency equity prices show less consistent effects from currency depreciation – possibly because their exchange rates and equity prices often respond to common commodity-price shocks. We suspect that the EM equity price response resembles that of DM commodity currencies more than G3 currencies.

The ECB is unlikely to initiate a currency war due to the risk of US retaliation and the soft EUR. USD-JPY is already under downward pressure as a consequence of low US rates and broad risk-off sentiment. Under G20 rules, it would be hard for the BoJ to justify intervening on the basis of rate differentials narrowing and supporting the JPY. There is a reasonable case that central banks of safe-haven currencies should intervene counter-cyclically, but this would likely provoke heavy US criticism and possibly countermeasures. Most likely, the Japanese authorities would stop short of intervention but intervene verbally as long as USD-JPY were falling gradually. A sharp drop towards and past the 100 level for USD-JPY could prompt limited intervention aimed at smoothing, but this could fail if investors see US opposition limiting Japan’s ability to respond.

The Bank of England (BoE) and Bank of Canada (BoC) are not far off their inflation targets – they could act resolutely in pushing rates down, but may have to deal with inflation consequences down the road. Fiscal stimulus, accompanied by central bank balance-sheet expansion, makes more sense than targeting the currency. With Swiss reserves having risen to almost 110% of GDP in Q1-2019 from less than 10% in 2008, it is unclear how much more appetite for intervention the SNB has.

Of the remaining G10 countries, Norway and Sweden have already-weak currencies, plenty of fiscal room, and inflation close to target. Australia and New Zealand have been encouraging their currencies weaker for some time, but also have plenty of fiscal room.

Published:8/13/2019 2:10:18 PM
[Markets] To Avoid A Collapse Means Restoring Glass-Steagall (Without The Green New Deal)

Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

With the recent discussion of the collapse of the western system of banking (and neo-liberal ‘post-truth’ values more generally) a serious overview of the post-WWII stripping down of nation states is in order. Over the past couple of weeks, various figures like France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and American Senator Elizabeth Warren have called for a re-organization of the banking system with Le Maire saying on July 13 that the Bretton Woods “has reached its limits”, and Warren stating on July 22 that “the country’s economic foundation is fragile. A single shock could bring it all down.” It is no secret that the western nations sit atop the largest financial bubble in human history with global derivatives estimated at $550 trillion to $1.2 quadrillion.

As refreshing as it is to hear such candid admissions of the system’s failure from high level political figures, when asked what they wish will replace this bankrupt order, neither Le Maire nor Warren have any desire to work with the Russia-China Belt and Road alliance and are unfortunately on record supporting policies cooked up by the very same oligarchs they appear to despise in the form of the Green New Deal. In spite of what many of its progressive proponents would wish, such a global green reform would not only impose Malthusian depopulation upon nation states globally were it accepted, but would establish a the supranational authority of a technocratic managerial elite as enforcers of a “de-carbonization agenda”.

Due to the rampant lack of comprehension of how this crisis was created such that such idiotic proposals as “green new deals” are now seriously being suggested as remedies to our current ills, a bit of history is in order.

Some necessary background

“The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.”

– Franklin Delano Roosevelt, first Inaugural Address 1933

Knowing that the “money changers” had only been able to create the great bubbles of the 1920s via their access to the deposits of the commercial banks, Franklin Roosevelt made the core of his battle against the abuses of Wall Street centre around a 1933 legislation entitled “Glass-Steagall”, named after the two federally elected officials who led the reform with FDR. This was a bill which forced the absolute separation of productive from speculative banking, guaranteeing via the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) only those commercial banking assets associated with the productive economy, but forcing any speculative losses arising from investment banking to be suffered by the gambler. The striking success of this law inspired other countries around the world to establish similar bank separation. Alongside principles of capital budgeting, public credit, parity pricing and a commitment to scientific and technological development, a dynamic had been created that would express the greatest hope for the world, and the greatest fear for the financial empire occupying the City of London and Wall Street.

The death of John F. Kennedy ushered in a new age of pessimism and cultural irrationalism from which our society has never recovered. The destruction of a long term vision as exemplified by the space program, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the New Deal projects had resulted in a tendency within the population to increasingly look upon present pleasures as the only reality, and future goods as the mystical expression of the sum of present pleasures. In this new philosophical setting, so alien in previous epochs, money was permitted to act as a power unto itself for short term gains instead of serving the investments into the real productive wealth of society. With this new paradigm shift into the “now”, a new economic model was adopted to replace the industrial economic model which had proven itself in the years preceding and following World War II.

The name for this system was “post-industrial monetarism”. This would be a system ushered in by Richard Nixon’s announcement of the destruction of the fixed-exchange rate Bretton Woods system and its replacement by the “floating rate” system of post 1971 fame. During that same fateful year of 1971, another ominous event took place: the formation of the Rothschild Inter-Alpha Group of banks under the umbrella of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which today controls upwards of 70% of the global financial system. The stated intention of this Group would be found in the 1983 speech by Lord Jacob Rothschild: “two broad types of giant institutions, the worldwide financial service company and the international commercial bank with a global trading competence, may converge to form the ultimate, all-powerful, many-headed financial conglomerate.”

This policy demanded the destruction of the sovereign nation-state system and the imposition of a new feudal structure of world governance through the age-old scheme of controlling the money system on the one side, and playing on the vices of credulous fools who, by allowing their nations to be ruled by the belief that hedonistic market forces govern the world, would seal their own children’s doom.

All the while, geopolitical structures foreign to the United States constitutional traditions were imposed by nests of Oxford-trained Rhodes Scholars and Fabians who converted America into a global “dumb giant” enforcing a neo colonial program under a “Anglo-US Special Relationship”. The Dulles brothers, McGeorge Bundy, Kissinger, and Bush all represent names that advanced this British directed plan throughout the 20th century.

The Big Bang

The great “liberalization” of world commerce began with a series of waves through the 1970s, and moved into high gear with the interest rate hikes of Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker in 1980-82, the effects of which both annihilated much of the small and medium sized entrepreneurs, opened the speculative gates into the “Savings and Loan” debacle and also helped cartelize mineral, food, and financial institutions into ever greater behemoths. Volcker himself described this process as the “controlled disintegration of the US economy” upon becoming Fed Chairman in 1978. The raising of interest rates to 20-21% not only shut down the life blood of much of the US economic base, but also threw the third world into greater debt slavery, as nations now had to pay usurious interest on US loans.

In 1986, the City of London announced the beginning of a new era of economic irrationalism with Margaret Thatcher’s “Big Bang” deregulation. This wave of liberalization took the world by storm as it swept aside the separation of commercial, deposit and investment banking which had been the post-world war cornerstone in ensuring that the will of private finance would never again hold more sway than the power of sovereign nation-states.

After decades of chipping away at the structure of regulation that FDR’s bold intervention into history had built, the “Big Bang” set a precedent for similar financial de-regulation into the “Universal Banking” model in other parts of the western world.

The Derivative Time Bomb is Set

In September 1987, the 20 year foray into speculation resulted in a 23% collapse of the Dow Jones on October 19, 1987. Within hours of this crash, international emergency meetings had been convened with former JP Morgan tool Alan Greenspan introducing a “solution” which would have the future echoes of hyperinflation and fascism written all over it.

“Creative financial instruments” was the Orwellian name given to the new financial asset popularized by Greenspan, but otherwise known as “derivatives”. New supercomputing technologies were increasingly used in this new venture, not as the support for higher nation building practices, and space exploration programs as their NASA origins intended, but would rather become perverted to accommodate the creation of new complex formulas which could associate values to price differentials on securities and insured debts that could then be “hedged” on those very spot and futures markets made possible via the destruction of the Bretton Woods system in 1971. So while an exponentially self-generating monster was created that could end nowhere but in a meltdown, “market confidence” rallied back in force with the new flux of easy money. The physical potential to sustain human life continued to plummet.

NAFTA, the Euro and the End of History

It is no coincidence that within this period, another deadly treaty was passed called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). With this Agreement made law, protective programs that had kept North American factories in the U.S and Canada were struck down, allowing for the export of the lifeblood of highly skilled industrial workforce to Mexico where skills were low, technologies lower, and salaries lower still. With a stripping of its productive assets, North America became increasingly reliant on exporting cheap resources and services for its means of existence. Again, the physically productive powers of society would collapse, yet monetary profits in the ephemeral “now” would skyrocket. This was replicated in Europe with the creation of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 establishing the Euro by 1994 while the “liberalization” process of Perestroika replicated this agenda in the former Soviet Union. While some personalities gave this agenda the name “End of History” and others “the New World Order”, the effect was the same.

Universal Banking, NAFTA, Euro integration and the creation of the derivative economy in a space of just several years would induce a cartelization of finance through newly legalized mergers and acquisitions at a rate never before seen. The multitude of financial institutions that had existed in the early 1980s were absorbed into each other at great speed through the 1990s in true “survival of the fittest” fashion. No matter what level of regulation were attempted under this new structure, the degree of conflict of interest, and private political power was uncontrollable, as evidenced in the United States, by the shutdown of any attempt by Securities and Exchange Commission head Brooksley Born to fight the derivative cancer at its early stages.

By 1999 a politically castrated Bill Clinton found himself signing into law a treaty authored by then Treasury Secretary Larry Summers known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which would be the final nail in the coffin for the Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banking in the United States. The new age of unregulated trading and creation of over-the-counter derivatives caused these strange financial instruments to grow from $60 trillion in 2000 to $600 trillion by 2008.

The 2000-2008 Frenzy

With Glass-Steagall now removed, legitimate capital such as pension funds could be used to start a hedge to end all hedges. Billions were now poured into mortgage-backed securities (MBS), a market which had been artificially plunged to record-breaking interest rate lows of 1-2% for over a year by the US Federal Reserve making borrowing easy, and the returns on the investments into the MBSs obscene. The obscenity swelled as the values of the houses skyrocketed far beyond the real values to the tune of one hundred thousand dollar homes selling for 5-6 times that price within the span of several years. As long as no one assumed this growth was ab-normal, and the unpayable nature of the capital underlying the leveraged assets locked up in the now infamous “sub-primes” and other illegitimate debt obligations was ignored, then profits were supposed to just continue infinitely. Anyone who questioned this logic was considered a heretic by the latter-day priesthood.

The stunning “success” of securitizing housing debts immediately induced a wave of sovereign wealth funds to come into prominence applying the same model that had been used in the case of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDO) to the debts of entire nations. The securitizing of bundled packages of sovereign debts that could then be infinitely leveraged on the de-regulated world markets would no longer be considered an act of national treason, but the key to easy money.

Conclusion

This is the system which died in 2008. Contrary to popular belief, nothing was actually resolved. For all the talk of an “FDR revival” under Obama, speculation wasn’t actually regulated under the Dodd-Frank Act or the Volker Rule of 2010. No productive credit was created to grow the real economy under a national mission as was the case in 1933-1938. Banks were not broken up while derivatives GREW by 40% with the new bubble concentrated in the corporate/household debt sector now collapsing. During this time, nation states continued to be stripped, as austerity was rammed down the throats of nations.

It should be no surprise that in the midst of this despair, a creative alliance was consolidated in defense of the interests of sovereign nation states and humanity at large led by the leadership of Russia and China.

This leadership took the form of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative which has grown to embrace over 130 countries today and looking more and more like an Asian-led version of the New Deal of the 1930s. Indeed, China’s capacity to unleash long term credit for thousands of international long term infrastructure projects was made possible by the fact that it was the only country on the globe which had not given up the principles of bank separation which were destroyed in every other nation. Very few western figures stood up to this self-induced destruction over the decades, but one notable exception here worth mentioning is the figure of the late American economist Lyndon LaRouche (1922-2019) who not only resisted this process for over four decades, but fought alongside the Schiller Institute to promote New Silk Road as early as 1996.

With the 2016 Brexit and election of President Trump, a new wave of nationalist spirit has become a fire which the technocrats have lost their capacity to snuff out. Increasingly, the idea that nation states have a power over the private banking system has become revived and discussion for reforming the now dead Trans-Atlantic system is increasingly shaped not by the calls for a “New World Order” as Sir Kissinger would have liked, but rather for a New Silk Road and a true New Deal. The Eurasian nations are already firmly committed to this new system, and if the west is to qualify morally to take part in this new epoch, then the first step will be a return to a Glass-Steagall.

Published:8/10/2019 2:24:14 AM
[Markets] NASA Circling DC-8 Jet Around San Andreas Fault Sparks Conspiracy Theories

NASA appears to have flown a Douglas DC-8 observation plane, packed with scientific equipment, over the San Andreas fault, a tectonic boundary that extends 745 miles through California.

The plane was spotted flying extremely low to the ground over Altadena and Southern California on July 22, several weeks after California's Searles Valley was struck with a magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 within 24 hours around July 4/5.

NASA spokeswoman, Kate Squires, told CBS Los Angeles (CBSLA) that the plane was conducting a mission to study the effects of fire smoke on air quality. However, conspiracy theory-websites don't buy the government's explanation of why the aircraft was zig-zagging over the faultline.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the plane, with call sign NASA817, took off from Palmdale Regional Airport, an airport in Palmdale, California, before flying 2,000 miles over Central California and Nevada and then landing at Boise Airport, Idaho.

The Metro reported Californians were startled by the plane because it was flying at such a low altitude.

"It was scary, a little bit. You didn't know if was going to land," CBSLA reporter Jasmine Viel, who was commuting when the plane flew over her, said.

"Everyone kind of stopped in their cars, looking up. It was big and loud."

Conspiracy websites point to the planes flight path, appears to have followed some parts of the San Andreas fault.

Secureteam10's Tyler Glockner suggested in a video that the plane was monitoring seismic activity across the fault. Glockner said the government could be gearing up for the next big earthquake.

"A registered NASA aircraft was noticed doing zig-zag flying patterns near and over the San Andreas fault line," he said in the clip.

"It's almost as if it is scanning the ground as if to try and get more data about what is happening underneath. What is going on? Is something occurring? What do they know, are they gearing up for something? Do they know the Big One is coming?"

Conspiracy site allnewspipeline.com said the plane's activity suggests NASA and the US government are hiding something from the public.

One Twitter user the plane is "possibly scanning for data and information about the new supervolcano that is slowly forming in Southern California."

And possibly the US government is preparing for a nuclear disaster in Southern California because if the next big earthquake strikes, there are currently five nuclear reactors right along the fault.

A Natural News investigation into the geolocation of nuclear power facilities in California reveals that five nuclear facilities were built in close proximity to the San Andreas fault line, with some constructed right in the middle of earthquake zones that have up to a 50% chance of a severe earthquake every 30 years.

One nuclear power plant – the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant which produces 2,160 megawatts — was constructed on the coast, making it extremely vulnerable to the very same kind of ocean water surge that destroyed the Fukushima-Daiichi facility which suffered a 2011 meltdown in Japan.

So what exactly is the US government preparing for in Southern California? Is it the next big earthquake that could spark a nuclear disaster?

Published:8/7/2019 10:40:57 PM
[Markets] The Genocidal Roots Of The Green New Deal: Limits To Growth & The Unchaining Of Prometheus

Authored by Matthew Ehret via Oriental Review,

Prince Charles has just given the world 18 months to save the world. Over the past years, the prince and his father (among other inbred aristocrats of Europe) have taken an incredible interest in the safety of the earth from the pollution emitting machines who greedily consume and reproduce without any consideration for Mother Gaia. In recent months this green transformation of the globe has taken the form of the “Green New Deal” promoted in the U.S. by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders. A children’s campaign endorsed by pope Francis and led by Greta Thunberg has spread across Europe and America while a Billionaires Club under the guidance of Al Gore, and George Soros is funding a Sunrise Movement to fight global warming.

Is this passion to save the planet from humanity genuine? Do these oligarchs and billionaires really care so much that their support for a Green New Deal is as benevolent as the media portrays... or is something darker at play? To answer these questions, we will have to first quickly review what the Green New Deal IS, then where it came from and then finally what its architects have stated they wish to accomplish with its implementation.

What is it?

As the name implies, the Green New Deal is a sweeping policy agenda which takes its name from the original New Deal of 1932 enacted under the leadership of President Franklin Roosevelt. The New Deal was originally a program for bank reform, and mass infrastructure building in order to heal America from the deep wounds caused by 4 years of Great Depression. While the Green New Deal of 2019 proposes to dramatically overhaul the rules of finance and infrastructure planning, its similarities to the original end there.

Roosevelt’s New Deal was driven by projects which increased the productive powers of labor of the nation as a whole by investments into hydroelectric projects, transportation corridors, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and thousands of other infrastructure projects. The Green New Deal on the other hand seeks to lower American productive powers of labor and living standards by investments into zero growth green infrastructure. Of course if that were explicitly stated, no one would drink the Kool-Aid.

As presidents Putin and Trump have both emphasized at various times not only has it never been proven that human-made CO2 drives climate variations, but it has also come to light that since 1998, the warming trend dominant since 1977  has been on an strange “pause”. While CO2 output steadly rose from 1938-1977, it was accompanied by a total cooling causing scientists in 1977 to sound the alarm that we were on the verge of an ice age. This fact reflects the embarrassing reality that CO2 tends to follow climate variations rather than precede them, indicating that this greenhouse gas is actually being effected by the warming of the earth most likely driven by space-based causes as Putin has referred repeatedly. Even more surprising to some, recently published NASA studies have shown that the world’s biomass has increased by 10% in recent years due in large measure to the industrial growth policies of China and India. Plants have, after all, been observed to grow much better when fed by increased levels of carbon dioxide.

Where did it come from?

So how could so many respectable scientists, journals and politicians have possibly assumed a fallacy to be so true that an overhaul of the entire global society is being proposed? This obviously didn’t arise over night, but the current pressure to transform our entire world to the undisputed “reality” of man-made global warming finds its true origins in the Malthusian revival of 1968-1972.

In this short interval of time, a vacuum left by the assassinations of pro-development leaders such as John F. Kennedy, Enrico Mattei, Charles de Gaulle, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy was filled by establishment hacks and cowards. These tools ushered in a paradigm shift towards “conservationism” and rejected the industrial growth ethic that defined western civilization up until that point.

This Malthusian Revival answered the challenge put forth by Eugenics Society president and UNESCO founder Julian Huxley who wrote in 1946:

 “Political unification in some sort of world government will be required… Even though… any radical eugenic policy will be for many years politically and psychologically impossible, it will be important for UNESCO to see that the eugenic problem is examined with the greatest care, and that the public mind is informed of the issues at stake so that much that now is unthinkable may at least become thinkable.” 

Of course, just one year after the world had come to realize the horrors of Nazi eugenics, Huxley and his associates among the Anglo-American elite who financed Hitler had a big job to clean up the image of eugenics and re-package it under another name.

The Club of Rome and 1001 Nature Trust

In 1968, an organization was formed known as the Club of Rome led by two misanthropes named Aurelio Peccei and Sir Alexander King. The organization quickly set up branches across the Anglo-Saxon world with members ranging from select ideologues from the political, business, and scientific community who all agreed that society’s best form of governance was a scientific dictatorship. Sir Alexander wrote: 

“In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill….All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then, is humanity itself.”

In order to finance this paradigm shift, the 1001 Trust was founded in 1970 by Prince Bernhardt of the Netherlands. Bernhardt (card carrying Nazi and founder of the Bilderberger Group in 1954) had worked alongside his close misanthropic associates Prince Philip Mountbatten, and Sir Julian Huxley to create the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) just a few years earlier. The plan was simple: each of the 1001 founding members simply put $10,000 into the trust which was then directed towards the green paradigm shift. Other prominent 1001 Club members included international royalty, billionaires, and technocratic sociopaths who wanted nothing more than to manage this promised Brave New World as “alphas”. Many of these figures were also members of the Club of Rome, including Canada’s Maurice Strong, who later became Vice President of the WWF under Prince Philip’s presidency. Strong had replaced another WWF Vice President by the name of Louis Mortimer Bloomfield. Bloomfield was another 1001 Club member whom New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison discovered to be at the heart of the Montreal-based assassination of the anti-Malthusian President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

The document which became the bible and blueprint of this new anti-humanist movement that birthed today’s Green New Deal agenda was titled Limits to Growth (1972) and today holds the record as the most widely read book on ecology, having sold 30 million copies published into 32 languages. A recent article celebrating the book’s 40 year anniversary stated “it helped launch modern environmental computer modeling and began our current globally focused environmental debate. After Limits [To Growth], environmentalists, scientists and policy-makers increasingly thought of ecological problems in planetary terms and as dynamically interconnected… It is worth revisiting Limits today because, more than any other book, it introduced the concept of anthropocentric climate change to a mass audience.”

The book itself was the culmination of a two year study undertaken by a team of MIT statisticians under the nominal heading of Jay Forrester and Dennis Meadows. Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez today, these young MIT professors were merely cardboard cut-outs selected to deflect from the higher social engineers managing the show from the top.

The MIT study itself was not even begun in the USA, but rather in Montebellow Quebec in 1971, when Club of Rome-backer Pierre Trudeau allocated tax payer money to begin the project. A network of Rhodes Scholars and Privy Councillors centered around Alexander King, Maurice Strong, Maurice Lamontagne (founder of Environment Canada), Michael Pitfield (Privy Council Clerk and founder of Canada’s CSIS) and Governor General Roland Michener, among others, had presided over that meeting. When the Canadian funds had served their role, the project continued to receive its funding from the Volkswagen Foundation, whose Nazi-supporting past should have made some of the MIT statisticians uncomfortable.

Sir Alexander King (left) and the model produced by the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth predicting an apocalyptic end of the world by 2000 (right)

Malthusianism in Brief

These Club of Rome/WWF/1001 Club members dubbed themselves “neo Malthusians” referring to the ideology popularized by the British Empire’s Thomas Malthus. Malthus’ 1799 Essay on the Principle of Population pessimistically noticed that human population grows geometrically while food production grows arithmetically leading invariably to a crisis point of over-population.  This crisis point creates a mathematical foundation for the concept that later came to be dubbed “carrying capacity” by the authors of Limits to Growth. Of course rather than permit those human cattle from developing their minds in order to make more discoveries and inventions which would offset this crisis point, Malthus (and his heirs later) knew that the British Empire which employed him could never exist were that creative power unleashed. Instead, Malthus coldly advocated the elimination of the “unfit to make way for the more fit.” Not adept at the subtleties of modern 21st century newspeak, Malthus went so far as to propose that even children perish:

“All children who are born beyond what would be required to keep up the population to a desired level must necessarily perish, unless room be made for them by the deaths of grown persons… therefore we should facilitate, instead of foolishly and vainly endeavoring to impede, the operations of nature in producing this mortality”

By re-packaging Malthus’ assumptions into a more complex computing system, these neo-Malthusians wanted to create a shame based movement of willful self-annihilation among an entire generation of baby boomers.

Of course if you assume that technological progress has ended, then it will certainly appear that a closed system of fixed limited resources can only be managed by a technocratic elite choosing who gets diminishing returns as the world settles into some imaginary “mathematical equilibrium” of sustainability. Fortunately for humanity, reality rarely conforms to the pessimistic ideals of racists and imperialists.

The Chaining of Prometheus

A long time London trained asset and close collaborator of Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Maurice Lamontagne was Club of Rome member, and former President of the Privy Council. Of all Club of Rome members, Lamontagne was the most candid in identifying the Earth’s greatest enemy to be human creativity itself. Writing in his Senate Committee Reports of 1968-1972 which reformed science policy funding and planning, Lamontagne wrote:

“Nature imposes definite constraints on technology itself and if man persists in ignoring them the net effect of his action in the long run can be to reduce rather than to increase nature’s potential as a provider of resources and habitable space… But then, an obvious question arises: How can we stop man’s creativeness?”

Correctly recognizing that the yearning to discover the unknown is built into the human condition, Lamontagne answers his own question, writing:

“How can we proclaim a moratorium on technology? It is impossible to destroy existing knowledge; impossible to paralyze man’s inborn desire to learn, to invent and to innovate… In the final analysis we find that technology is merely a tool created by man in pursuit of his infinite aspirations and is not the significant element invading the natural environment. It is material growth itself that is the source of conflict between man and nature”

Thus creativity and its fruits of technological progress are acceptable only IF they reduce the assumed conflict between man and nature posited by Lamontagne!  “Bad” technology in Lamontagne’s formulation, has the effect of increasing humanity’s material growth (ie: powers of productivity). If, on the other hand, we promote technologies of a low energy flux density form, such as windmills, solar panels and biofuels, which lead to the reduction of man’s powers to exist, then technology can be defined as a “good” thing” according to this twisted logic.

This concept was echoed by another Club of Rome member and collaborator with Lamontagne on his Senate Report named Omond Solandt. Solandt made his career as the science advisor to Lord Mountbatten (Prince Philip’s pedophiliac mentor) during WWII and headed the Defense Research Board until 1957, where he collaborated on MK Ultra alongside the infamous Ewan Cameron at McGill University. Solandt sophistically said: There is no longer any need to advance science. The need is rather to understand, guide and use science effectively for the welfare of mankind.” What defines “the welfare of mankind” in the mind of an MK Ultra proponent should give one chills.

In preparation for the “post-industrial order” that was unleashed with the 1971 floating of the US dollar and the destruction of the Bretton Woods monetary system, that at least included a modicum of regulation of the monetarist speculators, Lamontagne prescribed that the “new wisdom” no longer aim at discoveries in atomic, medical and space sciences, in order to focus on more “practical” engineering endeavors. He also proposed that funding to advanced science be diminished by widening the definition of “science” itself to embrace the humanities, monetary economics and social sciences. Those programs then began absorbing the funding that had formerly been directed to research on pure science. Lamontagne stated this in volume one of his Report:

“The new wisdom prescribes that the additional R&D effort be devoted to the life sciences and social sciences rather than the physical sciences… to economic and social objectives rather than curiosity and discovery.

In Defense of Prometheus

One leading Canadian scientist took an early stand against this Club of Rome-driven transformation. Ronald Hayes, professor of environmental science at Dalhousie University and Canadian Civil Servant wrote his 1973 book “The Chaining of Prometheus: The Evolution of a Power Structure for Canadian Science”, where he identified Lamontagne as a minion of the god Zeus as portrayed in Aeschylus’ famous drama Prometheus Bound. The ancient Greek drama told the story of the demi-god Prometheus who was punished for 10 thousand years for the defiant act of teaching humanity how to use the Fire which Zeus had monopolized for himself.

Attacking the call to deconstruct the entire 1938-1971 science funding structure and rebuild it under a new technocratic regime, Professor Hayes said that the main problem with the Lamontagne approach was called the Egyptian Syndrome:

 “if only we could destroy all that the Israelis have built up and reduce Palestine to a desert everyone would be equal and we could start to build a better world for the Arabs. Thus Lamontagne wants to destroy the National Research Council, the body that has nurtured and launched much of the government research and got the graduate programs going in our universities. It is a fault of the Trudeau administration which Lamontagne echoes.”

Hayes attacked the newly-formed powers of the Treasury Board which were now given exceptional control of science policy under a new scientific dictatorship when he said “the most subtle exercise of power, which obviates the necessity of close control, is infiltration by reliable people- the creation of a ruling elite…These Englishmen became known the world over as the rulers of the British Empire… With somewhat similar aims, the Public Service Commission is grooming future Canadian government managers to follow the general policies and precepts of the Treasury Board.”

There Are No Limits To Growth

Ten years after the publication of the Limits to Growth, American presidential candidate and founder of the Fusion Energy Foundation Lyndon LaRouche (1922-2019) responded to the neo-Malthusian movement in more forceful terms than Dr. Hayes. Writing his 1982 “There are no Limits to Growth” as an early publication of the Club of Life, LaRouche wrote:

“It is not the growth of industry which destroys the world’s forests. In most cases, the cause is a lack of industrial output, a lack of good industrial management of the ecosphere. Over the past fifteen years, the greatest single cause for destruction of the world’s “ecology” has been the toleration of the policies demanded by the so called “ecologists,” the so-called “neo-Malthusians” of the Club of Rome, of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), of the World Wildlife Fund, the Aspen Institute, the Ford Foundation, the ‘Rockefeller Foundation, the U.S. Sierra Club, and so forth and so on. We are not putting enough industrially-produced energy, in the form of water management, chemicals, and so forth, into the farming of the Earth’s biosphere. At the same time, we are using biomass for fuel and other “traditional” uses, in cases we should be using nuclear-generated energy supplies, and using modern, industrially produced materials in place of timber for housing and so forth”

Describing the extraordinary influence which the Limits to Growth had on consolidating the neo-Malthusian revival as a dominant factor in western policy circles, LaRouche identified the core fallacies which are only now being properly challenged by the efforts of President Trump in America. LaRouche stated:

“The study itself [Limits to Growth] was most conspicuously fraudulent on two leading counts. First, in attempting to prove that industrial society was using up its remaining natural resources very rapidly, Meadows and Forrester greatly understated the known quantities of such resources. Second, more important, Meadows and Forrester projected the rate of consumption of natural resources by using systems of simultaneous linear equations. The very use of such linear equations for a computer “model” of that sort, builds into the computer projections the assumption that absolutely no technological progress is occurring in society. In fact, technological progress, including fundamental redefinitions of what “natural resources” means, has been the outstanding feature of European civilization for five hundred years. The Limits to Growth depended upon the assumption that such technological progress had come to a sudden, absolute stop.”

Entropic or Anti-Entropic

Just like Thomas Malthus centuries earlier, the neo-Malthusians had to deny the existence of technological progress (and its origins in human creative reason) as the means by which humanity’s carrying capacity is changed according to discoveries and inventions. This fact of humanity’s relationship with the universe absolutely defines our existence as a species above all other creatures of the biosphere. As the “carrying capacities” of other species are defined by the environment and genetic characteristics, humans uniquely can transcend those conditions willfully on the condition that we are given access to the best cultural and educational heritage of the past with the inspiration and curiosity to carry that heritage to ever higher limits without ever expecting to reach a “mathematical equilibrium” or “entropic heat death” as so many statisticians from the Limits to Growth school pessimistically presume.

In opposition to this school, LaRouche’s discoveries in the science of physical economy (made during a period of 1952-1956) were premised on the opposing concept that mankind’s ability to leap from lower to higher forms of energy consumption (ie: wood burning, to coal to oil to nuclear fission to fusion etc.) allows for the upward transformation of humanity’s physical economic potential without limits. Creative leaps into the unknown drive new discoveries of principles which allow for humanity’s potential relative population density to increase with increased standards of living, life expectancies and cognitive potential in ways that no other animal (which the Malthusians wish us to presume we are) can achieve. This fact of life is the essential proof that not only mankind but the universe is unbounded in its potential for constant self-perfectibility and thus ANTI-ENTROPIC in its essence.

The BRI and the REAL New Deal

I hope that this report has demonstrated that the Green New Deal is nothing other than a new form of eugenics masquerading as a socially conscious reform of the system. The fact is that not only is this Green New Deal NOT green (as a world covered by solar panels would increase desertification of the earth through heating), but has no connection to the true New Deal. The effects of a program that seeks to reduce global CO2 emissions to “acceptable levels” in accord with the will of today’s British Empire would bring nothing more than chaos, famine and depopulation to humanity.

Luckily, today’s world carries nearly 8 billion souls and (barring a few stubborn oligarchs and technocrats)- all of whom have minds that could be willfully perfected and deployed to make great discoveries in science and the arts. The world in which these people live is increasingly being shaped by a REAL New Deal under the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative which now has more than 160 countries on board and is the size of 20 Marshall Plans. This initiative requires a return to an ethic founded upon a love of mankind and belief in scientific and technological progress. This spirit was expressed beautifully by President Xi Jinping who said on May 15 at the Dialogue of Asian Civilizations:

“For a civilization to endure, efforts must be made to keep it alive and build on its heritage from one generation to the next. More importantly, a civilization needs to adapt itself to the changing times and break new ground. The history of world civilizations tells us that every civilization needs to advance with the times and take in the best of its age in order to develop itself. We need to come up with new ideas to add impetus and inspiration to the development of our civilizations. With these efforts, we will deliver achievements for our civilizations to transcend time and space and have a lasting appeal. To spur people’s innovation and creativity, the best way is to come into contact with different civilizations, see the strengths of others and draw upon them.”

The fact that such figures as Presidents Xi Jinping and Putin have created an alliance based upon long term planning, great infrastructure projects to uplift the conditions of life of everyone and frontier technological progress indicates that the “great green game” created in the wake of the assassinations of anti-Malthusian leaders in the 1960s is finally coming to an end. America’s slow self-mutilation has finally a chance to heal with the first anti-Malthusian President elected since the days of the well-intentioned (though often dim-witted) Ronald Reagan over 35 years ago.

While Reagan did not have a Russia-China power alliance to cooperate with during the Cold War, President Trump does. The offer for America to join the Belt and Road and new strategic operating system of cooperation is on the table and awaiting an answer. How Trump will respond remains to be seen.

Published:7/31/2019 11:25:20 PM
[Markets] Senator Harris "Wins" The 'Free Stuff' Contest... Taxpayers Lose

Authored by John Stossel, op-ed vbia Townhall.com,

Never before have presidential candidates offered voters so much “free” stuff.

Kamala Harris wants you to “collect up to $500 a month.”

Elizabeth Warren says, “We need to go tenfold in our research and development in green energy.”

No one has tracked the cost of all of the promises. So my video team did!

Who will spend the most?

Here are the new spending proposals from the five most popular (according to ElectionBettingOdds.com) candidates.

In my latest video, we break it down by category, education spending first:

Joe Biden wants to “triple the amount of money we spend for Title I schools” ($32 billion) create “universal pre-K” ($26 billion), provide “free community college” ($6 billion per year) and double the number of psychologists and social workers in schools ($14 billion) — $78 billion total. 

That’s a lot, but much less than what Kamala Harris would spend.

She too wants to “make community college free” ($6 billion), but she’d add debt-free “four-year public college” ($80.1 billion), “increase government’s investment in childcare” dramatically ($60 billion) and “give the average public school teacher a $13,000 raise” ($31.5 billion) for a total of $177 billion.

Pete Buttigieg rarely says what his proposals would cost, but he at least seems to want to spend less than Harris.

He touts “free college for low- and middle-income students” and would give teachers more money. Assuming his plan is like Harris’, that brings his education total to $87 billion.

Elizabeth Warren would spend much more.

“You’ll be debt-free!” she tells students. Taxpayers, unfortunately, will be deeper in debt, since she would “forgive” most existing student debt and make public college tuition-free ($125 billion).

She also wants a “Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act” ($70 billion).

These big-ticket items put her in the first place so far.

But wait! Bernie Sanders would spend even more.

He’d completely “eliminate student debt,” “make public colleges and universities tuition-free” and provide universal daycare and pre-K. That totals $280 billion, so Sanders “wins” in education spending.

I assumed the self-described socialist would be the biggest spender, but he’s got lots of competition!

Let’s look at health care spending.

Harris, Sanders and Warren all propose “Medicare for All,” including for people here illegally.

Sanders goes further, saying, “Under our plan, people go to any doctor they want.” He admits it will cost between $3 trillion and $4 trillion per year, about what the government now spends on everything. How will he pay for that? Well, somehow the rich will pay. Or Martians. Somebody.

Sanders, Harris, and Warren all said they’d ban private health insurance — although Harris now says she’d let private companies sell “Medicare plans” that “adhere to strict Medicare requirements on costs and benefits.” She also claims her “Medicare for All” will be cheaper than Sanders’ version, but as of now, there is no independently calculated cost.

When it comes to the environment, all Democratic candidates but Biden say they support the Green New Deal, which Republicans say would cost $93 trillion. For our ranking, I went with the lowest estimate we could find: An economist who likes the idea says it will cost around $500 billion a year.

Welfare? Harris would increase benefits and have the government pay your rent if it’s over 30% of your income ($94 billion), and Friday she offered $75 billion to black colleges and minority entrepreneurs.

Warren wants to spend more ($50 billion) on housing.

Sanders would increase food stamps for kids ($10.8 billion), boost Social Security benefits ($19 billion) and guarantee everyone a government job ($158 billion), for a total of $187.8 billion.

President Donald Trump, who says America will never be a socialist country, hasn’t been a responsible spender either.

Since he took office, spending increased about $500 billion per year. Trump did propose some cuts, but when Congress ignored his cuts and increased spending, he signed the bills anyway.

Now he says he’d spend even more: $200 billion a year for infrastructure, $8.6 billion for the border wall construction, $1.6 billion for more NASA funding and on and on, for a total of $267 billion.

We can’t afford it! The federal government is already $22 trillion in debt -- $150,000 per taxpayer.

While Trump’s $267 billion is bad, the Democrats’ plans are worse. We counted $297 billion proposed by Biden, $690 billion from Buttigieg, $3.8 trillion from Warren, $4 trillion from Sanders and $4.3 trillion from Harris. That would double what the entire federal government spends now.

Senator Harris “wins” the free stuff contest.

Taxpayers lose.

Published:7/31/2019 1:53:53 PM
[Blue Origin] How Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos Will Help NASA Land Humans on the Moon in 5 Years NASA has awarded 19 commercial contracts to 13 U.S. companies, including SpaceX and Blue Origin. Published:7/31/2019 11:23:19 AM
[Science] NASA calls for more companies to join its commercial lunar lander program NASA has opened up a call for companies to join the ranks of its nine existing Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) providers, a group it chose in November after a similar solicitation for proposals. With the CLPS program, NASA is buying space aboard future commercial lunar landers to deliver its future research, science and demonstration […] Published:7/30/2019 5:45:38 PM
[Markets] "Unprecedented" Arctic Wildfires Visible From Space As 'Global Cooling' Looms

Numerous wildfires have been ravaging the Arctic for weeks following the hottest June ever recorded on Earth. Now, the fires are so huge and intense, the smoke can literally be seen from space.

As RT reports, satellite images show more than 100 long-lived wildfires with huge plumes of swirling black smoke covering most of the Arctic Circle including parts of Russia, Siberia, Greenland and Alaska. 

The wildfires have now reached “unprecedented levels, according to Mark Parrington of the EU’s Copernicus Emergency Management Service, who said the smoke vortex is covering a “mind boggling” two million square kilometers.

Wildfires are burning across 11 regions in Russia with the largest covering Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk and Buryatia. Likely caused by lightning strikes.

It is unusual to see fires of this scale and duration at such high latitudes in June,” Parrington said.

But temperatures in the Arctic have been increasing at a much faster rate than the global average, and warmer conditions encourage fires to grow and persist once they have been ignited.

However, for those terrified by this event as a climactic climate change indicator, Armstrong Economics' Martin Armstrong has something potentially more worrisome...

One of the serious correlations we see is that the next solar cycle of 11 years may be the lowest in at least 200 years on our model, which calls for the low in a wave of 224 years to be precise.

Our forecast for this next solar cycle of activity, which rises and falls in an 11-year cycle, is indeed in a bearish trend but it correlates with the ECM – which is rare. If our computer is correct, then the next solar cycle should be at least one-third less solar activity and it could rise to a panic type of decline of 50% as measured in terms of sunspots.

This analysis warns that the next cycle will start in 2020 and reach its maximum in 2025. This further warns not of global warming, but highly volatile weather and crop failures as we hit both extremes.

The next two solar cycles will be the risk of violent weather and global cooling.

Will we need a green new deal 2.0 to deal with global cooling? Cue Outrage mob..

Published:7/29/2019 1:49:46 AM
[Markets] Astronomers Stunned After 'City-Killer' Asteroid 'Snuck Up On Us Pretty Quickly'

A giant 'city-killer' asteroid that just whizzed past earth seemingly appeared "out of nowhere" has stunned astronomers after only being discovered last week, days before it flew within around 45,000 miles from earth - or less than 20% of the distance to the moon, according to the Washington Post

"I was stunned," said Alan Duffy - lead scientist at the Royal Institution of Australia. "This was a true shock." 

This asteroid wasn’t one that scientists had been tracking, and it had seemingly appeared from “out of nowhere,” Michael Brown, a Melbourne-based observational astronomer, told The Washington Post. According to data from NASA, the craggy rock was large, an estimated 57 to 130 meters wide (187 to 427 feet), and moving fast along a path that brought it within about 73,000 kilometers (45,000 miles) of Earth. That’s less than one-fifth of the distance to the moon and what Duffy considers “uncomfortably close.” -Washington Post

"It snuck up on us pretty quickly," said Michael Brown, an associate professor at Australia's Monash University School of Physics and Astronomy, adding later "People are only sort of realizing what happened pretty much after it’s already flung past us."

The asteroid was discovered by separate astronomy teams in the United States and Brazil - while information on the 'city-killer' was announced only hours before it shot past Earth.

"It shook me out my morning complacency," said Brown. "It’s probably the largest asteroid to pass this close to Earth in quite a number of years."

How did we not see this coming?

For starters, while Asteroid 2019 OK (as it's been named) is large enough to destroy a city, it's nowhere near the half-mile-wide or larger asteroids which NASA and its international partners have scientists think they've identified 90% of. 

"Nothing this size is easy to detect," said Duffy. "You’re really relying on reflected sunlight, and even at closest approach it was barely visible with a pair of binoculars."

Brown said the asteroid’s “eccentric orbit” and speed were also likely factors in what made spotting it ahead of time challenging. Its “very elliptical orbit” takes it “from beyond Mars to within the orbit of Venus,” which means the amount of time it spends near Earth where it is detectable isn’t long, he said. As it approached Earth, the asteroid was traveling at about 24 kilometers per second, he said, or nearly 54,000 mph. By contrast, other recent asteroids that flew by Earth clocked in between 4 and 19 kilometers per second (8,900 to 42,500 mph).

“It’s faint for a long time,” Brown said of Asteroid 2019 OK. “With a week or two to go, it’s getting bright enough to detect, but someone needs to look in the right spot. Once it’s finally recognized, then things happen quickly, but this thing’s approaching quickly so we only sort of knew about it very soon before the flyby.” -Washington Post

"It should worry us all, quite frankly," Duffy added. "It’s not a Hollywood movie. It is a clear and present danger."

The reason Asteroid 2019 OK is referred to as a 'city-killer' is because it's large enough that if it struck earth, most of it would likely have reached the ground, resulting in catastrophic damage. 

"It would have gone off like a very large nuclear weapon," with enough energy to level a city," said Duffy. "Many megatons, perhaps in the ballpark of 10 megatons of TNT, so something not to be messed with."

In 2013, a much smaller meteor (around 65 feet across) broke up over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk - the shockwave from which shattered windows, collapsed roofs, caused car accidents, and provided some amazing footage to boot. Around 1200 people were injured. 

According to the report, "The last space rock to strike Earth similar in size to Asteroid 2019 OK was more than a century ago, Brown said. That asteroid, known as the Tunguska event, caused an explosion that leveled 2,000 square kilometers (770 square miles) of forest land in Siberia."

What to do? 

Turning his attention to the topic of planetary defense, Duffy warns against trying to "blast it with a nuke" to avert disaster. 

"It makes for a great Hollywood film," he said. "The challenge with a nuke is that it may or may not work, but it would definitely make the asteroid radioactive."

Instead, he recommends a 'gravity tractor' which would use the gravity of a spacecraft - something Duffy calls an "elegant solution." 

In light of Asteroid 2019 OK, Duffy stressed the importance of investing in a “global dedicated approach” to detecting asteroids because “sooner or later there will be one with our name on it. It’s just a matter of when, not if.”

“We don’t have to go the way of the dinosaurs,” he said. “We actually have the technology to find and deflect certainly these smaller asteroids if we commit to it now.”

Emily Lakdawalla, senior editor of the Planetary Society, which promotes space exploration, said the recent near miss is a reminder that “it’s an important activity to be watching the skies.” The more that can be learned about an asteroid, the better prepared people can be to prevent potential disasters, she told The Post. -Washington Post

"It’s the kind of thing where you learn about something that you didn’t know about, like things flying close by us, and your inclination is to be scared," said Emily Lakdawalla. "But just like sharks in the ocean, they’re really not going to hurt you and they’re really fascinating to look at."

Sure, until one lands on your house.

Published:7/28/2019 5:42:20 PM
[Markets] The Great Reckoning - Looking Back From The Year 2050

Authored by Andrew Bacevich via TomDispatch.com,

[Editorial note: This remnant of a manuscript, discovered in a vault near the coastal town of Walpole, Massachusetts, appears to have been part of a larger project, probably envisioned as an interpretive history of the United States since the year 2000. Only a single chapter, probably written near the midpoint of the 21st century, has survived. Whether the remainder of the manuscript has been lost or the author abandoned it before its completion is unknown.] 

Chapter 1: The Launch

From our present vantage point, it seems clear that, by 2019, the United States had passed a point of no return. In retrospect, this was the moment when indications of things gone fundamentally awry should have become unmistakable. Although at the time much remained hidden in shadows, the historic pivot now commonly referred to as the Great Reckoning had commenced.

Even today, it remains difficult to understand why, given mounting evidence of a grave crisis, passivity persisted for so long across most sectors of society. An epidemic of anomie affected a large swath of the population. Faced with a blizzard of troubling developments, large and small, Americans found it difficult to put things into anything approximating useful perspective. Few even bothered to try. Fewer succeeded. As with predictions of cataclysmic earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, a not-in-my-lifetime mood generally prevailed.

During what was then misleadingly known as the Age of Trump, the political classes dithered. While the antics of President Donald Trump provoked intense interest— the word “intense” hardly covers the attention paid to him — they also provided a convenient excuse for letting partisan bickering take precedence over actual governance or problem solving of any sort. Meanwhile, “thought leaders” (a term then commonly used to describe pontificating windbags) indulged themselves with various pet projects.

President Trump in 2019. (White House/Flickr)

In the midst of what commentators were pleased to call the Information Age, most ordinary Americans showed a pronounced affinity for trivia over matters of substance. A staggering number of citizens willingly traded freedom and privacy for convenience, bowing to the dictates of an ever-expanding array of personalized gadgetry. What was then called a “smartphone” functioned as a talisman of sorts, the electronic equivalent of a rosary or prayer beads. Especially among the young, separation from one’s “phone” for more than a few minutes could cause acute anxiety and distress. The novelty of “social media” had not yet worn off, with its most insidious implications just being discovered.

Divided, distracted, and desperately trying to keep up: these emerged then as the abiding traits of life in contemporary America. Craft beer, small-batch bourbon, and dining at the latest farm-to-table restaurant often seemed to matter more than the fate of the nation or, for that matter, the planet as a whole. But all that was about to change.

Scholars will undoubtedly locate the origins of the Great Reckoning well before 2019. Perhaps they will trace its source to the aftermath of the Cold War when American elites succumbed to a remarkable bout of imperial hubris, while ignoring (thanks in part to the efforts of Big Energy companies) the already growing body of information on the human-induced alteration of the planet, which came to be called “climate change” or “global warming.” While, generally speaking, the collective story of humankind unfolds along a continuum, by 2019 conditions conducive to disruptive change were forming. History was about to zig sharply off its expected course.

Craft beer was in vogue.

This disruption occurred, of course, within a specific context. During the first two decades of the 21st century, American society absorbed a series of punishing blows.

First came the contested election of 2000, the president of the United States installed in office by a 5-4 vote of a politicized Supreme Court, which thereby effectively usurped the role of the electorate. And that was just for starters.

Following in short order came the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which the world’s (self-proclaimed) premier intelligence services failed to anticipate and the world’s preeminent military establishment failed to avert.

Less than two years later, the administration of George W. Bush, operating under the delusion that the ongoing war in Afghanistan was essentially won, ordered U.S. forces to invade Iraq, a nation that had played no part in the events of 9/11. The result of this patently illegal war of aggression would not be victory, despite the president’s almost instant “mission accomplished” declaration, but a painful replay of the quagmire that U.S. troops had experienced decades before in Vietnam. Expectations of Iraq’s “liberation” paving the way for a broader Freedom Agenda that would democratize the Islamic world came to naught. The Iraq War and other armed interventions initiated during the first two decades of the century ended up costing trillions of taxpayer dollars, while sowing the seeds of instability across much of the Greater Middle East and later Africa.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 destroyed many areas of New Orleans. (Marines/Rocco DeFilippis)

Then, in August 2005, Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast, killing nearly 2,000 Americans. U.S. government agencies responded with breathtaking ineptitude, a sign of things to come, as nature itself was turning increasingly unruly. Other natural disasters of unnatural magnitude followed. In 2007, to cite but one example, more than 9,000 wildfires in California swept through more than a million acres. Like swarms of locusts, fires now became an annual (and worsening) plague ravaging the Golden State and the rest of the West Coast. If this weren’t enough of a harbinger of approaching environmental catastrophe, the populations of honeybees, vital to American agriculture, began to collapse in these very same years.

Americans were, as it turned out, largely indifferent to the fate of honeybees. They paid far greater attention to the economy, however, which experienced its own form of collapse in 2008. The ensuing Great Recession saw millions thrown out of work and millions more lose their homes as a result of fraudulent mortgage practices. None of the perpetrators were punished. The administration of President Barack Obama chose instead to bail out offending banks and large corporations. Record federal deficits resulted, as the government abandoned once and for all even the pretense of trying to balance the budget. And, of course, the nation’s multiple wars dragged on and on and on.

Protesters in NYC, Sept. 24, 2011. (Carwil Bjork-James via Flickr)

Through all these trials, the American people more or less persevered. If not altogether stoic, they remained largely compliant. As a result, few members of the nation’s political, economic, intellectual, or cultural elites showed any awareness that something fundamental might be amiss. The two established parties retained their monopoly on national politics. As late as 2016, the status quo appeared firmly intact. Only with that year’s presidential election did large numbers of citizens signal that they had had enough: wearing red MAGA caps rather than wielding pitchforks, they joined Donald Trump’s assault on that elite and, thumbing their noses at Washington, installed a reality TV star in the White House.

To the legions who had found the previous status quo agreeable, Trump’s ascent to the apex of American politics amounted to an unbearable affront. They might tolerate purposeless, endless wars, raise more or less any set of funds for the military that was so unsuccessfully fighting them, and turn a blind eye to economic arrangements that fostered inequality on a staggering scale. They might respond to the accelerating threat posed by climate change with lip service and, at best, quarter-measures. But Donald Trump in the Oval Office? That they could not abide.

As a result, from the moment of his election, Trump dominated the American scene. Yet the outrage that he provoked, day in and day out, had this unfortunate side effect: it obscured developments that would in time prove to be of far more importance than the 45th American president himself. Like the “noise” masking signals that, if detected and correctly interpreted, might have averted Pearl Harbor in December 1941 or, for that matter, 9/11, obsessing about Trump caused observers to regularly overlook or discount matters far transcending in significance the daily ration of presidential shenanigans.

Here, then, is a very partial listing of some of the most important of those signals then readily available to anyone bothering to pay attention. On the eve of the Great Reckoning, however, they were generally treated as mere curiosities or matters of limited urgency — problems to be deferred to a later, more congenial moment.

Item: The reality of climate change was now indisputable. All that remained in question was how rapidly it would occur and the extent (and again rapidity) of the devastation that it would ultimately inflict.

2013  Alder fire in Yellowstone National Park. (Mike Lewelling, National Park Service)

Item: Despite everything that was then known about the dangers of further carbon emissions, the major atmospheric contributor to global warming, they only continued to increase, despite the myriad conferences and agreements intended to curb them. (U.S. carbon emissions, in particular, were still rising then, and global emissions were expected to rise by record or near-record amounts as 2019 began.)

Item: The polar icecap was disappearing, with scientists reporting that it had melted more in just 20 years than in the previous 10,000. This, in turn, meant that sea levels would continue to rise at record rates, posing an increasing threat to coastal cities.

In early 2017, the western U.S. was hit by rain and flooding from a series of storms flowing on multiple streams of moist air. A satellite image of these “atmospheric rivers” shown here. (NASA)

Item: Deforestation and desertification were occurring at an alarming rate.

Item: Approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic were seeping into the world’s oceans each year, from the ingestion of which vast numbers of seabirds, fish, and marine mammals were dying annually. Payback would come in the form of microplastics contained in seafood consumed by humans.

Item: With China and other Asian countries increasingly refusing to accept American recyclables, municipalities in the United States found themselves overwhelmed by accumulations of discarded glass, plastic, metal, cardboard, and paper. That year, the complete breakdown of the global recycling system already loomed as a possibility.

Item: Worldwide bird and insect populations were plummeting. In other words, the Sixth Mass Extinction had begun.

Polar bears in 2008 became the first species to be listed as endangered because of forecasted population declines from the effects of climate change. (National Park Service)

All of these fall into the category of what we recognize today as planetary issues of existential importance. But even in 2019 there were other matters of less than planetary significance that ought to have functioned as a wake-up call. Among them were:

Item: With the federal government demonstrably unable to secure U.S. borders, immigration authorities were seizing hundreds of thousands of migrants annually. By 2019, the Trump administration was confining significant numbers of those migrants, including small children, in what were, in effect, concentration camps.

Item: Cybercrime had become a major growth industry, on track to rake in $6 trillion annually by 2021. Hackers were already demonstrating the ability to hold large American cities hostage and the authorities proved incapable of catching up.

Item: With the three richest Americans — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet —controlling more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of the entire population, the United States had become a full-fledged oligarchy. While politicians occasionally expressed their dismay about this reality, prior to 2019 it was widely tolerated.

Item: As measured by roads, bridges, dams, or public transportation systems, the nation’s infrastructure was strikingly inferior to what it had been a half-century earlier. (By 2019, China, for instance, had built more than 19,000 miles of high-speed rail; the U.S., not one.) Agreement that this was a problem that needed fixing was universal; corrective action (and government financing), however, was not forthcoming.

Item: Military spending in constant dollars exceeded what it had been at the height of the Cold War when the country’s main adversary, the Soviet Union, had a large army with up-to-date equipment and an arsenal of nuclear weapons. In 2019, Iran, the country’s most likely adversary, had a modest army and no nuclear weapons.

Item: Incivility, rudeness, bullying, and general nastiness had become rampant, while the White House, once the site of solemn ceremony, deliberation, and decision, played host to politically divisive shouting matches and verbal brawls.

To say that Americans were oblivious to such matters would be inaccurate. Some were, for instance, considering a ban on plastic straws. Yet taken as a whole, the many indications of systemic and even planetary dysfunction received infinitely less popular attention than the pregnancies of British royals, the antics of the justifiably forgotten Kardashian clan, or fantasy football, a briefly popular early 21st century fad.

People working on their fantasy football drafts. (Daniel Means/Flickr)

Of course, decades later, viewed with the benefit of hindsight, the implications of these various trends and data points seem painfully clear: the dominant ideological abstraction of late postmodernity — liberal democratic capitalism — was rapidly failing or had simply become irrelevant to the challenges facing the United States and the human species as a whole. To employ another then-popular phrase, liberal democratic capitalism had become an expression of “fake news,” a scam sold to the many for the benefit of the privileged few.

“Toward the end of an age,” historian John Lukacs (1924-2019) once observed, “more and more people lose faith in their institutions and finally they abandon their belief that these institutions might still be reformed from within.” Lukacs wrote those words in 1970, but they aptly described the situation that had come to exist in that turning-point year of 2019. Basic American institutions — the overworked U.S. military being a singular exception — no longer commanded popular respect.

In essence, the postmodern age was ending, though few seemed to know it — with elites, in particular, largely oblivious to what was occurring. What would replace postmodernity in a planet heading for ruin remained to be seen.

Only when...

[Editor’s note: Here the account breaks off.]

Published:7/26/2019 5:24:52 PM
[Gadgets] Original Apollo 11 landing videotapes sell for $1.8M VCRs didn't really exist when the first men walked on the moon, but NASA was ahead of the curve and recorded the event for posterity on videotapes — which just sold at auction for $1.8 million. The Hasselblads may have captured more detail, but there's nothing else in the world quite like these tapes. Published:7/22/2019 5:24:11 PM
[Asia] With Chandrayaan-2 launch, India’s ISRO shoots for the Moon on a shoe-string budget India took a giant leap in its space program on Monday after its space agency launched a spacecraft that is scheduled to touch down on the Moon in September. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which is India’s equivalent of NASA, confirmed the successful launch of the spacecraft as the nation inches closer to become […] Published:7/22/2019 4:42:08 AM
[Markets] Why Are Billionaires Like Bezos So Obsessed With Space?

Authored by Marshall Auerback via TruthDig.com,

The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing is this year, and it’s worth recalling the memo that then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson wrote to President John F. Kennedy:

“If we do not make the strong effort now, the time will soon be reached when the margin of control over space and over men’s minds through space accomplishments will have swung so far on the Russian side that we will not be able to catch up, let alone assume leadership.”

That sense of urgency has shifted over the decades from government to the private sector, where billionaires like Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, among others, are displaying profound enthusiasm in regard to the notion of exploiting space. Their interest appears to go well beyond space tourism for the thrill-seeking one-percenters, even though that’s what gets most of the media attention. As Cathal O’Connell reports for Cosmos Magazine, “Already companies are sending up 3D printers to produce replacement tools in space. Next we could see orbiting factories making products for sale on Earth or automated robots constructing satellites the size of a football field.”

If this all seems as exotic as those old 1930s “Flash Gordon” films did to the audiences of the day, recall that the experience of the Apollo 11 moon landing showed that reality has a way of catching up quickly to Hollywood fantasy (it also shows that when sufficient government resources are harnessed to a higher common purpose, good results can happen surprisingly quickly and efficiently). Once the likes of Bezos, Branson, Musk, and others find a way to economically hoist heavy machinery into space (and it is becoming more economic), permanent “off-Earth” manufacturing could become a reality.

But this raises an interesting issue: who chooses the technological alternatives that set out our future? Should this decision solely be left in the domain of the private sector? Should space be privatized in this matter? What about NASA? Consider the future: Forget about the threat of moving a Midwestern plant from, say, Ohio, to Mexico or China. Next time, it could be a robot-filled factory in space that takes your job.

To be clear, nobody is suggesting a return to medieval-style craft guilds. At the same time, it is worth noting certain salient aspects about technology: rather than acting in the service of mankind, technology has often been used in a way that creates a momentum of its own that establishes limits or controls what becomes socially possible. It is wrapped in an aura of linear progress and scientific inevitability, conveniently ignoring that its benefits are often skewed most heavily to the power brokers who initiate and champion its use. This is a principle danger of subcontracting space to billionaire plutocrats, whose ambitions and interests might be inconsistent with society’s broader public purpose. This is to say nothing of the increasing de-skilling of labor that could follow, if they are not integrated into this process somehow.

As the Wall Street Journal’s Greg Ip notes, the government-sponsored race to the moon spurred considerable “advances in computers, miniaturization and software, and found its way into scratch-resistant lenses, heat-reflective emergency blankets and cordless appliances,” all of which had tremendous benefits for society as a whole. But today, the government has largely lost its “moonshot mindset” and space, in turn, has increasingly become the focus of the oligarch class, seeking to enhance profit opportunities as well as exploiting the increasing trend of displacing human labor with machines. This is despite the fact that Professor Seymour Melman’s own research illustrated that if you give workers decision-making power on the shop floor, productivity tends to increase substantially.

Without a doubt, there are many benefits to be derived from the work being done in the cosmos. For example, the microgravity conditions pertaining in space are considered ideal for developing materials, such as protein and virus crystals, observes Sarah Lewin, in a piece discussing the incipient development of “off-Earth manufacturing.” The insights developed by these crystals could enhance drug research and provide useful new therapies and medical treatments for infections and diseases (such as heart disease and organ transplants). Space also enhances the scope for producing high-tech materials, whose production is otherwise adversely affected by the Earth’s gravity, one example being a “fiber-optic cable called ZBLAN, … [which, w]hen manufactured in microgravity… is less likely to develop tiny crystals that increase signal loss. When built without those flaws, the cable can be orders of magnitude better at transmitting light over long distances, such as for telecommunications, lasers and high-speed internet,” according to Lewin.

We shouldn’t be oblivious to the considerable human costs associated with work in the government’s space program - “Microgravity sets our fluids wandering and weakens muscles, radiation tears through DNA and the harsh vacuum outside is an ever-present threat” (to quote Lewin), to say nothing of the risk of death itself—which are mitigated considerably when you can do things with machines alone. At the same time, left unchallenged or unmonitored, these billionaires could use space to quietly initiate further radical changes to our social structures.

It starts with ownership models. There’s an interesting paradox of futuristic 24th-century economic visions in space being built on the 12-to-13th–century ownership models that make up Silicon Valley. Wealth sharing ownership models should be conceived as part of the futuristic vision if we don’t want to be saddled with human wealth disparities reaching factors of 12 or 15 zeros. Ideally, NASA (or some other space agency) should take a leading national developmental role in the production of goods in space, and then subcontract to manufacturers to do the actual production processes, rather than the other way around.

Of course, if the government does ultimately decide that space privatization is not a great thing, no doubt Silicon Valley and its market fundamentalist champions will trot out the line about the inefficient government fighting “technological inevitability” - a typical playbook from the Silicon Valley oligarchs (i.e., you can’t fight technological progress, so let’s just set up something like a Universal Basic Income - UBI - that acts like a painkiller, but masks the symptoms of economic injustice and fails to address the underlying causes of exploitation and inequality). That’s one major risk of “off-Earth” production when it becomes a plaything of the rich alone. That’s to say nothing of the fact that the billionaire class is already benefiting from a long series of government-funded innovations undertaken in the past, as Professor Marianna Mazzucato has illustrated in her work, “The Entrepreneurial State.”

One of which was the government-led (and funded) space program: at its funding peak, the lunar space program employed over 400,000 Americans. The management, national commitment and personal motivation of the participants were just as important as the technology itself in terms of ensuring the program’s success. It’s hard to see that sort of coalescing of interests in the absence of an overriding government stake when it comes to the production of manufactured goods in an environment outside a planetary atmosphere.

There is another unhealthy aspect to uncritically acceding to a paradigm in which supposedly superhuman entrepreneurs are selflessly taking up the baton from a tapped-out public sector. It becomes self-serving for the billionaires, and implicitly justifies and entrenches the economic status quo. As journalist Amanda Schaffer has argued:

“If tech leaders are seen primarily as singular, lone achievers, it is easier for them to extract disproportionate wealth. It is also harder to get their companies to accept that they should return some of their profits to agencies like NASA and the National Science Foundation through higher taxes or simply less tax dodging.”

That self-entitlement also manifests itself in other ways. Just look at the way that Elon Musk treats his own employees to get a better sense of this. Or Jeff Bezos’s labor practices at Amazon.com.

It’s undoubted that orbital manufacturing will yield innovations in technology, medicine and material science in the next few decades. But we should recall that technology doesn’t simply have an autonomous momentum and direction that inexorably leads to social progress. Likewise, it bears recalling (as Professor Seymour Melman once observed) that technology “is applied in accordance with specific social criteria wielded by those with economic decision power in the society.” Melman’s implicit argument is that technology can be used to enhance worker control or to create more yet alienation. The government, therefore, shouldn’t be reduced to the role of passive minority shareholder collecting dividends or royalties from a privately run space enterprise.

That’s the old market fundamentalist model that has failed pretty badly on this planet, let alone replicating it in space. So before we get too wrapped up in all of the exciting new goodies that Jeff Bezos and his fellow space enthusiasts can create for us, let’s also ensure that this move to “the final frontier” doesn’t simply become a new form of technological control and enslavement, in which the benefits continue to be distributed in a profoundly illiberal direction as they are here on planet Earth.

Published:7/21/2019 3:09:11 PM
[Science] NASA’s Orion crew capsule is officially complete and ready to prep for its first Moon mission NASA’s 50th anniversary celebrations weren’t limited to just remembrances of past achievements – the space agency also marked the day by confirming that the Orion crew capsule that will bring astronauts back to the Moon for the first time since the end of the Apollo program is ready for its first trip to lunar orbit, […] Published:7/20/2019 6:34:54 PM
[Science] Hold the first Moon rock ever collected with your smartphone NASA is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing in a variety of ways today, but here’s one you can experience no matter where you are, provided you have a modern smartphone. NASA’s Astromaterials Research & Exploration Science (ARES) department has released a fully detailed model of the first ever sample of […] Published:7/20/2019 2:32:18 PM
[Markets] On the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, thank NASA for memory foam, pet odor filters — and GPS on your iPhone NASA-related research has led to well-known common consumer products including Bowflex home gyms.
Published:7/20/2019 4:29:17 AM
[Markets] Outside the Box: The business lesson from Apollo 11 that we shouldn’t forget NASA didn’t get us to the moon on its own.
Published:7/19/2019 7:24:31 AM
[Politics] 'A Bunch of Boys' There's a moment in the movie "First Man" about Neil Armstrong that we keep thinking of as the jubilee of Apollo 11 is being celebrated throughout the Milky Way. It's the confrontation over a crisis in the flight of Gemini 8, when Armstrong's wife rejects NASA's reassurance that it has everything under control. "No you don't ." she retorts. "You're a bunch of boys making models out of balsa wood. You don't have anything under control." Published:7/19/2019 2:55:05 AM
[Science & Technology] NASA celebrate 50 years of pretending to go to the Moon It was fifty years ago this week, that NASA sent a manned rocket to the Moon, or so they claimed. When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface, he should have drowned in soft cheese. Instead, he calmly said the line, "That's one small step for... Published:7/18/2019 7:50:55 PM
[Markets] Attacks On "White, Male" Moon Landing Prove No US Achievement Is Beyond Liberals' Virtue-Signaling Rage

Authored by Igor Ogorodnev,

Attempts to diminish the triumph of Apollo 11 and to reassign credit don’t just taint the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, but presage the technological decline of the US if it persists with identity politics...

With the Founding Fathers now rarely mentioned in the media without side notes about their slave ownership, and the Betsy Ross flag is offensive to Colin Kaepernick and Nike, there is nothing new about liberal attempts to strike at the very heart of American identity.

But – leaving aside the conspiracy theorists – the moment Neil Armstrong stepped on the surface of the Moon on July 20, 1969 was objectively such a universal milestone that to qualify it seems a fight against human endeavor itself.

Heroes retconned

It would seem like the more logical route, for those who resent that this was a feat of white un-woke America, would be to try and diminish their role in favour of supposedly unsung heroes.

Hidden Figures, the Oscar-winning film from 2016 was the perfect archetype of this revisionist history, exaggerating and fictionalizing the role of a cadre of politically suitable black women, who did an entirely replaceable job and were no more important than thousands of others involved.

This way everyone would get to celebrate their own role models, even though in time such worthy changes of focus can end up with grotesque urban myths, like Crick and Watson stealing the Nobel Prize from (the actually dead) Rosalind Franklin.

Celebrating white men in the age of Trump

But while this unifying narrative, where people of different races and varying attainments are placed alongside each other in anniversary pieces, a more sour, radicalized note has begun to surface, compared to celebrations even five years ago, in the prelapsarian era of Barack Obama.

It is not yet dominant, but persistent enough to be more than a coincidence.

“The culture that put men on the moon was intense, fun, family-unfriendly, and mostly white and male,” tweeted the Washington Post, over a behind-the-scenes look at the life of those involved in the program.

“In archival Apollo 11 photos and footage, it’s a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ exercise to spot a woman or person of color, it continued in the article itself.

"We chose to go to the moon. Or at least, some did: watching [documentary film] Apollo 11, it is impossible not to observe that nearly every face you see is white and male," left-wing magazine New Statesman wrote in a recent piece.

A recent Guardian review of the documentary Armstrong features the writer talking about “good ol’ boys from NASA – elderly white men every one of them, who you suspect are still pining for the days of American life when men were men and women waited by the phone in headscarves,” though no evidence is given for the assertion.

Why wasn’t von Braun a black woman?

This is not just bigoted, but astonishing in its unfairness.

Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins could not have helped being white at birth.

George Mueller and Max Faget were not proverbial “mediocre white men” – their deeds are tangible.

No one at NASA could have helped living in 1960s America, or made its social structures, workplace roles, and demographics fit in with 2019 journalists’ conceptions. For God’s sake, many were Germans who had served the Nazi Party with varying degrees of reluctance during World War II, before being whisked away through Operation Paperclip – how do they fit into 21st century privilege hierarchies? Could Wernher von Braun have been an African-American woman from Louisiana?

Wernher von Braun with John F. Kennedy ©  Getty Images/Bettmann / Contributor

Or would it have been better to stay on Earth until US society advanced enough to send the right people into space? Or perhaps let the Soviets get there first, since for all their class-based ideology they didn’t want to handicap themselves in the space race.

America weighs itself down

And handicap becomes the key word.

Rewriting history is a crucial weapon in the long-term culture war for the left, disappointed so often at the ballot box. But the implications of this go far beyond the past.

At the very edge of technological and scientific progress is a meritocracy – you can’t make someone a genius by appointing them. And for all the social changes, the key innovators at NASA and, more importantly, Silicon Valley, remain men, and predominantly white (though more often Asian). Whether it is more due to their superior opportunities, education or creativity, Elon Musk or Larry Page look just like the fathers of the space program.

Yet to avoid ever producing a picture like the sea of white shirts and black ties and pale arms at Launch Operations Center fifty years ago, there are demands for rectification, for diversity, essentially for positive discrimination.

Neil Armstrong leads his crew to the launchpad. ©  NASA

But picking people for posts on the basis of historic justice, skin color and chromosome combinations is a recipe for uncompetitive organizations, where the most talented never succeed, or merely drag along the quota-fillers.

And America’s rivals are not standing still – not just Russia now, but China, India and others. They would have no better chance to overtake the US in whatever is this century’s version of the space race, than if that nation decided to spit on its own achievements, and replace them with dogma.

Published:7/17/2019 11:17:28 PM
[Columnists] The Legacy of the Moon Landing

As a young reporter for a local TV station in Houston, I frequently visited NASA (“the space base,” we dubbed it), met many of the... Read More

The post The Legacy of the Moon Landing appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:7/17/2019 12:48:29 PM
[Middle Column] Apollo astronauts – climate skeptics – Moonwalkers Defy Gore’s Claim That Skeptics Are Akin To Those Who Believe Moon Landing was ‘Staged’
Published:7/17/2019 11:42:54 AM
[Left Column] Japanese Climate Expert Rips NASA Temperature Trends As Having ‘No Scientific Value’ – ‘Not Real Data’

Japanese expert: data of “no scientific value”

This tells us that global temperature trends since the start of the Industrial Revolutions presented by NASA are fraught with huge uncertainty. “This is nothing new,” says Japanese climate expert Dr. Mototaka Nakamura in an email to NTZ. “We simply did not have many observing stations in the 1800s and early 1900s. They can produce ‘new data sets’ and claim that they have ‘better data sets’ all day long, but they just can’t make any meaningful difference for periods up to 1980.”

“Not real data”

“These datasets are products of simulation models and data assimilation software, not real data,” Dr. Nakamura added. “This problem has been present in data products produced by all institutions from the beginning – NASA, NOAA, NCEP, ECMWF, UMet, etc.”

Published:7/16/2019 10:44:31 AM
[Left Column] NASA Faces Lawsuit Demanding Removal Of False ‘97% Consensus’ Global Warming Claim

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) sent NASA a formal complaint, asking the agency to withdraw the false claim that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that humans are the primary cause of global warming and climate change. The 2013 study purporting to demonstrate that number was fatally flawed and proved no such thing. "The claim that 97% of climate scientists believe humans are the primary cause of global warming is simply false," CEI attorney Devin Watkins said in a statement. "That figure was created only by ignoring many climate scientists’ views, including those of undecided scientists. It is time that NASA correct the record and present unbiased figures to the public." According to the CEI complaint, NASA's decision to repeat the false claim violated the Information Quality Act (IQA). Specifically, NASA claimed that "[n]inety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities." The claim appears on the NASA website on the page "Climate Change: How Do We Know?"

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Watch: Morano exposes 97% climate consensus con testifying before Congress: ‘Pulled from thin air… tortured data’

Watch: Morano on TV, explains why the 97% climate scientist statistic is false and ridiculous

Published:7/15/2019 6:03:13 PM
[Politics] NASA Chief: We'd Be On Mars Today If It Weren't For 'Political Risk' NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said Sunday the United States would be on Mars today if it weren't for the "political risk.".. Published:7/14/2019 1:00:58 PM
[Markets] Visualizing The Extreme Temperatures Of The Universe: From Coldest To Hottest

For most of us, temperature is a very easy variable to overlook.

Our vehicles and indoor spaces are climate controlled, fridges keep our food consistently chilled, and with a small twist of the tap, we get water that’s the optimal temperature. Of course, as Visual Capitalist's Nick Routley notes, our concept of what’s hot or cold is actually very narrow in the grand scheme of things.

Even the stark contrast between the wind-swept glaciers of Antarctica and the blistering sands of our deserts is a mere blip on the universe’s full temperature range. Today’s graphic, produced by the IIB Studio, looks at the hottest and coldest temperatures in our universe.

But First: What is Temperature Anyway?

Before looking at this top-to-bottom view of extreme temperatures, it helps to remember what temperature is actually measuring – kinetic energy, or the movement of atoms.

Hypothetically, atoms would simply stop moving as they reach absolute zero. As matter heats up, it begins to “vibrate” more vigorously, changing states from solid to gas. Eventually, plasma forms as electrons wander away from the nuclei.

With that quick primer, let’s dig into some of the hottest insights in this cool data visualization.

Highs and Lows on Planet Earth

Earth’s lowest air temperature, -135ºF (-93ºC), was recorded in Antarctica in 2010. Since then, scientists have discovered that surface ice temperatures can dip as low as -144ºF (-98ºC).

The conditions need to be just right: clear skies and dry air must persist for several days during the polar winter. In surroundings this cold, human lungs would actually hemorrhage within just a few breaths.

On the other end of the spectrum of extreme temperatures, the hottest surface reading on Earth of 160ºF (71ºC) occurred in Iran’s Lut Desert in 2005. In fact, the Lut Desert clocked the highest surface temperature in 5 out of 7 years during a 2003-2009 study, making it the world’s hottest location. The desert’s dark pebbles, dry soil, and lack of vegetation create the perfect conditions for blistering heat.

There are very few organisms that can withstand such temperatures, but one fascinating phylum makes the cut.

The Amazing Tardigrade

Commonly known as a “moss pig” or “water bear”, the one-millimeter long tardigrade is extremely resilient. While most organisms need water to survive, the tardigrade gets around this by entering a “tun” state, in which metabolism slows to just 0.01% of its normal rate.

When water is scarce, the creature curls up and synthesizes molecules that lock sensitive cell components in place until re-hydration occurs. Beyond dry conditions, the tardigrade can also survive both freezing and boiling temperatures, high radiation environments, and even the vacuum of space.

This video courtesy of TEDEd explains more about the hardy critter:

Testing the Limits

For better or worse, humans have pushed the limits of temperature here on Earth.

At MIT, scientists cooled a sodium gas to half-a-billionth of a degree above absolute zero. In the words of the Nobel Laureate Wolfgang Ketterle, who co-led the team: “To go below one nanokelvin (one-billionth of a degree) is a little like running a mile under four minutes for the first time.”

Not all experiments are conducted out of simple curiosity. Conventional bombs already explode at around 9,000ºF (5,000ºC), but nuclear explosions take things much further. For a split second, temperatures inside a nuclear fireball can reach a mind-bending 18,000,000ºF (10,000,000ºC).

The highest man-made temperature ever recorded is 9,900,000,000,000ºF (5,500,000,000,000ºC), created in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. It was achieved by accelerating heavy lead ions to 99% the speed of light and smashing them together.

Highs and Lows of the Universe

While humans have been able to manufacture extremely hot and cold temperatures, the universe has created these extremes naturally.

Undoubtedly, the creation of the universe is made of the hottest stuff of all. The temperature of the universe at 10?³5 seconds old was a whopping 1 octillion ºC. Moments later, it “cooled down” to 1,800,000,000ºF (1 billion ºC) when the universe was less than two minutes old.

On the other end of the spectrum, the coolest natural place currently known in the universe is the Boomerang Nebula at -457.6ºF (-272ºC). It’s found 5,000 light years away from us in the constellation Centaurus, and it is currently in a transitional phase as a dying star.

As space exploration goes further than ever, these extreme temperatures may one day reach even hotter or colder heights than we can imagine.

Published:7/11/2019 11:09:23 PM
[Markets] Bombshell Claim: Scientists Find "Man-made Climate Change Doesn't Exist In Practice"

A new scientific study could bust wide open deeply flawed fundamental assumptions underlying controversial climate legislation and initiatives such as the Green New Deal, namely, the degree to which 'climate change' is driven by natural phenomena vs. man-made issues measured as carbon footprint. Scientists in Finland found "practically no anthropogenic [man-made] climate change" after a series of studies. 

“During the last hundred years the temperature increased about 0.1°C because of carbon dioxide. The human contribution was about 0.01°C”, the Finnish researchers bluntly state in one among a series of papers.

This has been collaborated by a team at Kobe University in Japan, which has furthered the Finnish researchers' theory: "New evidence suggests that high-energy particles from space known as galactic cosmic rays affect the Earth's climate by increasing cloud cover, causing an 'umbrella effect'," the just published study has found, a summary of which has been released in the journal Science Daily. The findings are hugely significant given this 'umbrella effect' — an entirely natural occurrence  could be the prime driver of climate warming, and not man-made factors

Clouds over Los Angeles, via AFP/Getty

The scientists involved in the study are most concerned with the fact that current climate models driving the political side of debate, most notably the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) climate sensitivity scale, fail to incorporate this crucial and potentially central variable of increased cloud cover. 

"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has discussed the impact of cloud cover on climate in their evaluations, but this phenomenon has never been considered in climate predictions due to the insufficient physical understanding of it," comments Professor Hyodo in Science Daily. "This study provides an opportunity to rethink the impact of clouds on climate. When galactic cosmic rays increase, so do low clouds, and when cosmic rays decrease clouds do as well, so climate warming may be caused by an opposite-umbrella effect."

In their related paper, aptly titled, “No experimental evidence for the significant anthropogenic [man-made] climate change”, the Finnish scientists find that low cloud cover "practically" controls global temperatures but that “only a small part” of the increased carbon dioxide concentration is anthropogenic, or caused by human activity. 

The following is a key bombshell section in one of the studies conducted by Finland's Turku University team

We have proven that the GCM-models used in IPCC report AR5 cannot compute correctly the natural component included in the observed global temperature. The reason is that the models fail to derive the influences of low cloud cover fraction on the global temperature. A too small natural component results in a too large portion for the contribution of the greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. That is why 6 J. KAUPPINEN AND P. MALMI IPCC represents the climate sensitivity more than one order of magnitude larger than our sensitivity 0.24°C. Because the anthropogenic portion in the increased CO2 is less than 10 %, we have practically no anthropogenic climate change. The low clouds control mainly the global temperature.

This raises urgent questions and central contradictions regarding current models which politicians and environmental groups across the globe are using to push radical economic changes on their countries' populations.

Image source: NASA

Conclusions from both the Japanese and Finnish studies strongly suggest, for example, that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's "drastic measures to cut carbon emissions" which would ultimately require radical legislation changes to "remake the U.S. economy" would not only potentially bankrupt everyone but simply wouldn't even work, at least according to the new Finnish research team findings. 

To put AOC's "drastic measures" in perspective  based entirely on the fundamental assumption of the monumental and disastrous impact of human activity on the climate  — consider the following conclusions from the Finnish studies

“During the last hundred years the temperature increased about 0.1°C because of carbon dioxide. The human contribution was about 0.01°C.

Which leads the scientists to state further:

“Because the anthropogenic portion in the increased carbon dioxide is less than 10 percent, we have practically no anthropogenic climate change,” the researchers concluded.

And the team in Japan has called for a total reevaluation of current climate models, which remain dangerously flawed for dismissing a crucial variable

This study provides an opportunity to rethink the impact of clouds on climate. When galactic cosmic rays increase, so do low clouds, and when cosmic rays decrease clouds do as well, so climate warming may be caused by an opposite-umbrella effect. The umbrella effect caused by galactic cosmic rays is important when thinking about current global warming as well as the warm period of the medieval era.

Failure to account for this results in the following, according to the one in the series of studies: "The IPCC climate sensitivity is about one order of magnitude too high, because a strong negative feedback of the clouds is missing in climate models."

Image source: AFP/Getty 

"If we pay attention to the fact that only a small part of the increased CO2 concentration is anthropogenic, we have to recognize that the anthropogenic climate change does not exist in practice," the researchers conclude. 

Though we doubt the ideologues currently pushing to radically remake the American economy through what ends up being a $93 trillion proposal (according to one study including AOC's call for a whopping 70% top tax rate — will carefully inquire of this new bombshell scientific confirmation presented in the new research, we at least hope the US scientific community takes heed before it's too late in the cause of accurate and authentic science that would stave off irreparable economic disaster that would no doubt ripple across the globe, adding to both human and environmental misery.  

And "too late" that is, not for some mythical imminent or near-future "global warming Armageddon" as the currently in vogue highly politicized "science" of activists and congress members alike claims.  

Published:7/11/2019 5:42:32 PM
[Issues] Group Asks NASA to Remove Dubious Climate Change Stat

A free-market think tank formally requested that NASA remove information on its website asserting that a broad consensus among scientists endorse the theory that human activity is the main driver of global climate change.

The post Group Asks NASA to Remove Dubious Climate Change Stat appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/10/2019 4:02:13 PM
[Markets] Matrix-Like Reality Goes Mainstream: NBC Asks "Are We Living In A Simulated Universe"

Authored by Dan Folk via NBCNews.com,

What if everything around us - the people, the stars overhead, the ground beneath our feet, even our bodies and minds - were an elaborate illusion?

What if our world were simply a hyper-realistic simulation, with all of us merely characters in some kind of sophisticated video game?

This, of course, is a familiar concept from science fiction books and films, including the 1999 blockbuster movie "The Matrix." But some physicists and philosophers say it’s possible that we really do live in a simulation — even if that means casting aside what we know (or think we know) about the universe and our place in it.

“If we are living in a simulation, then the cosmos that we are observing is just a tiny piece of the totality of physical existence,” Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom said in a 2003 paper that jump-started the conversation about what has come to be known as the simulation hypothesis.

“While the world we see is in some sense ‘real,’ it is not located at the fundamental level of reality.”

Simulating worlds and beings

Rizwan Virk, founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s PlayLabs program and author of "The Simulation Hypothesis," is among those who take the simulation hypothesis seriously. He recalls playing a virtual reality game so realistic that he forgot that he was in an empty room with a headset on. That led him to wonder: Are we sure we aren’t embedded within a world created by beings more technologically savvy than ourselves?

That question makes sense to Rich Terrile, a computer scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Detailed as they are, today’s best simulations don’t involve artificial minds, but Terrile thinks the ability to model sentient beings could soon be within our grasp. “We are within a generation of being those gods who create those universes,” he says.

Not everyone is convinced. During a 2016 debate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, Harvard University physicist Lisa Randall said the odds that the simulation hypothesis is correct are “effectively zero.” For starters, there’s no evidence that our world isn’t the array of stars and galaxies that it appears to be. And she wonders why advanced beings would bother to simulate Homo sapiens. “Why simulate us? I mean, there are so many things to be simulating,” she said. “I don’t know why this higher species would want to bother with us.”

Echoes of Genesis

Yet, there’s a familiar ring to the idea that there’s a simulator, or creator, who does care about us. Similarly, the idea of a superior being forging a simulated universe parallels the notion of a deity creating the world — for example, as described in the Book of Genesis.

Some thinkers, including Terrile, welcome the analogy to religion. If the simulation hypothesis is correct, he says, then “there’s a creator, an architect — someone who designed the world.” It’s an ancient idea recast in terms of “mathematics and science rather than just faith.”

(click image for link to poll and updated distribution)

But for other scholars, including University of Maryland physicist Sylvester James Gates, the similarity between the simulation hypothesis and religious belief should be taken as a warning that we’re off track. Science, as he said in a recent radio interview, has taken us “away from this idea that we are puppets” controlled by an unseen entity. The simulation hypothesis, he said, “starts to look like a religion,” with a programmer substituting for god.

Who, or what, is the godlike entity that may have created a simulated universe? One possibility, supporters of the simulation hypothesis say, is that it’s a race of advanced beings — space aliens. Even more mind-bending is the possibility is that it’s our own descendants — “our future selves,” as Terrile puts it. That is, humans living hundreds or thousands of years in the future might develop the ability to simulate not only a world like ours but the bodies and minds of the beings within it.

“Just as you can simulate anything else, you can simulate brains,” Bostrom says. True, we don’t yet have the technology to pull it off, but he says there’s no conceptual barrier to it.

And once we create brain simulations “sufficiently detailed and accurate,” he says, “it is possible that those simulations would generate conscious experiences.”

The search for evidence

Will we ever learn whether the simulation hypothesis is correct? Bostrum says there’s a remote chance that one day we might encounter a telltale glitch in the simulation. “You could certainly imagine a scenario where a window pops up in front of you, saying, ‘You are in a simulation; click here for more information,’” he says. “That would be a knock-down proof.”

More realistically, physicists have proposed experiments that could yield evidence that our world is simulated. For example, some have wondered if the world is inherently “smooth,” or if, at the smallest scales, it might be made up of discrete “chunks” a bit like the pixels in a digital image. If we determine that the world is “pixelated” in this way, it could be evidence that it was created artificially. A team of American and German physicists have argued that careful measurements of cosmic rays could provide an answer.

What if we did confirm that we were living in a simulation? How would people react upon learning that our world and thoughts and emotions are nothing more than a programmer’s zeroes and ones? Some imagine such knowledge would disrupt our lives by upending our sense of purpose and squashing our initiative. Harvard astronomer Abraham Loeb says the knowledge could even trigger social unrest.

Knowing that our thoughts and deeds aren’t our own could “relieve us from being accountable for our actions,” he says. “There is nothing more damaging to our social order than this notion.”

Others imagine evidence in support of the simulation hypothesis could engender a new fear — that the creators might grow tired of the simulation and switch it off. But not Bostrum. “You could similarly ask, ‘shouldn’t we be in perpetual fear of dying?’ You could have a heart attack or a stroke at any given point in time, or the roof might fall down,” he says.

Whatever we might think of the simulation hypothesis, Bostrom thinks the mere act of pondering it provides a welcome dose of humility. He cites Hamlet’s cautionary remark to a friend in Shakespeare’s "Hamlet": “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

And Botrum insists that he takes the simulation hypothesis seriously.

“For me, it’s not just an intellectual game,” he says. “It’s an attempt to orient myself in the world, as best I can understand it.”

Published:7/8/2019 9:45:40 PM
[Markets] Top Secret X-37B Space Plane Caught On Camera Orbiting Earth

Skywatcher Ralf Vandebergh of the Netherlands recently snapped an impressive photo of the US Air Force's most secretive space plane orbiting Earth.

The Boeing X-37, also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), is a reusable robotic space plane, was conducting a top-secret mission in low Earth orbit when Vandenbergh recorded the image.

"When I tried to observe it again [in] mid-June, it didn't meet the predicted time and path," Vandebergh explained.

"It turned out to have maneuvered to another orbit. Thanks to the amateur satellite observers' network, it was rapidly found in orbit again, and I was able to take some images on June 30 and July 2."

The X-37B resembles a smaller version of NASA's retired Space Shuttle orbiter.

"It is a small object, even at only 300 kilometers [186 miles] altitude, so don't expect the detail level of ground-based images of the real space shuttle," Vandebergh said.

Vandebergh said the newly captured images exceeded his wildest expectations.

"We can recognize a bit of the nose, payload bay and tail of this mini-shuttle, with even a sign of some smaller detail," he said.

Vandebergh noted that he used a 10-inch F/4,8 aperture Newtonian telescope with an Astrolumina ALccd 5L-11 mono CMOS camera (both can be bought over the internet under $10,000). 

Space.com said the X-37B had achieved 666 days of flight on OTV-5 mission.

Notice how each OTV mission has a longer duration in space...

  • OTV-1 launched on April 22, 2010, and ended on December 3, 2010 (224 days in space).

  • OTV-2 began March 5, 2011, and landed on June 16, 2012 (468 days).

  • OTV-3 launched on December 11, 2012, and came down on October 17, 2014 (675 days).

  • OTV-4 lifted off on May 20, 2015, and landed May 7, 2017 (718 days).

OTV-5 began on September 2017 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with experimental cargo: electronics and oscillating heat pipes for long-duration stints in the space environment. The payload's top science objectives are to measure the thermal performance of extended space travel to asses any lifetime degradation.

The 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron oversees OTV-5 at the Schriever Air Force Base, has sparked suspicion that the space plane's payload could be carrying intelligence-gathering sensors to spy on China and or Russia.

Published:7/8/2019 7:40:13 PM
[Space] SpaceX contracted by NASA to launch black hole and neutron star research craft SpaceX has been awarded a new contract by NASA to launch the agency’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, or IXPE. This research spacecraft will study polarized light from sources including neutron stars, pulsar wind nebulae and supermassive black holes, and provide much more imaging than existing space-based observation resources. The mission will help scientists in the […] Published:7/8/2019 6:37:44 PM
[Markets] Map Of Mars: The Geology Of The Red Planet

For centuries, Mars has been mythically defined by its characteristic red appearance.

In Babylonian astronomy, Mars was named after Nergal, the deity of fire, war, and destruction. In Chinese and Japanese texts, the planet was known as ??, the fire star.

Although this unique reddish hue has been a key defining characteristic of Mars in culture for centuries, Visual Capitalist's Nicholas LePan notes that today we now know that it’s the iron oxide soil of the Martian landscape that makes it the “Red Planet” – and that there is much more to Mars than its color upon closer observation.

Above, today’s map, posted and created by Reddit user /hellofromthemoon, brings together the data from centuries of observation and the numerous missions to the Red Planet to map out its geology on a grand scale.

A Red Dot in the Sky

Egyptian astronomers first observed the planet Mars four thousand years ago and named it “Horus-the-red.” Babylonian astronomers marked its course through the night sky to track the passage of time. But it was not until 1610, when Galileo Galilei witnessed Mars with his own eyes through a telescope, that Mars was revealed as a whole other world.

Over the centuries with improving technology, a succession of astronomers observed and crudely mapped out everything from polar ice caps to yellow clouds, and white and dark spots denoting varying elevations across the Martian surface. Some of the earliest maps of Mars date to 1831. But there is only so much you can accurately observe from the surface of the Earth.

On July 14, 1965, NASA successfully received the first up-close images of Mars from the Mariner 4 spacecraft, passing within 9,844 kilometers (6,117 miles) of Mars’ surface. Mariner 4 captured the image of a large ancient crater and confirmed the existence of a thin atmosphere composed largely of carbon dioxide.

Since then, four space agencies have successfully made it to Mars: NASA, the former Soviet Union space program, the European Space Agency and the Indian Space Research Organization. From orbital satellites to surface exploration with robots, each successful mission has brought back important data to develop an evolving picture of the planet.

Here is a complete list of both the successful and failed missions to Mars.

Martian Geology

On Mars, we see volcanoes, canyons, and impact basins much like the ones on Earth. The yellows scattered across the map indicate meteor impacts of varying size while the swaths of red indicate volcanoes and their associated lava flows. The varying colors of brown indicate the cratered highlands and midlands that make up most of the southern hemisphere.

The planet appears asymmetric. Most of the southern hemisphere is heavily cratered and resembles the moon’s highlands. In contrast, the northern hemisphere is sparsely cratered and has many large volcanoes.

Mars is approximately one-half the diameter of the Earth, but both planets have the same amount of dry land. This is because the current surface of Mars has no liquid water.

Mars and Earth are very different planets when it comes to temperature, size, and atmosphere, but geologic processes on the two planets are eerily similar. The sheer size of some landforms on Mars would shadow over similar features on Earth because of the lack of water erosion. This lack of erosion has preserved billion year-old geologic features.

The tallest mountain on Mars and in the solar system is Olympus Mons, and it is two and a half times taller than Mt. Everest. A Martian canyon system, called Valles Marineris, is the length of the entire continental United States and three times deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Mars Colony: Location, Location, Location

The first step to building a colony is to figure out where the best chance of survival is. For Mars, some researchers have identified the planet’s poles, which contain millennia-old ice deposits. These are thought to contain large amounts of ice, which mars settlers could extract and turn into liquid water.

The poles also host other natural resources, such as carbon dioxide, iron, aluminum, silicon and sulfur, which could be used to make glass, brick and plastic. Furthermore, the planet’s atmosphere contains enough hydrogen and methanol for fuel.

Closing the Distance

The map above represents the culmination of centuries of work which we are lucky enough to view here on a computer, conveniently online for us to appreciate and wonder what life’s like on the surface of Mars.

Who knows what more exploration will reveal.

 

Published:7/3/2019 8:10:51 PM
[Markets] China Eyes Green Supersonic Civilian Jetliner Prototype By 2035

China, the rising power of the world, has transformed its country into a superpower that will likely dominate the US by the 2030s. To do this, they need to advance their aerospace industry, along with supersonic civil jetliners that could take a traditional flight of ten hours down to five.

A new report from China Central Television (CCTV), reported in English via the Global Times, says China is expected to develop an environmentally friendly supersonic civil aircraft with prototypes expected for flight tests in 2035.

China Association for Science and Technology announced on Sunday at its annual meeting held in Harbin, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, that it has started designing a green supersonic civil jetliner.

The CCTV report said supersonic air travel would take a traditional ten-hour flight down to five, would revolutionize travel between continents.

"Green supersonic civil aircraft is currently a hot research topic internationally, as well as the direction of future aerospace development," Xu Yue, a senior engineer at the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment under the state-owned Aviation Industry of China, told CCTV.

We have extensively covered the developments of supersonic and even hypersonic technologies that are expected to revolutionize aerospace in the next decade.

Countries including the US, Japan, and some European countries have already published designs for supersonic planes, CCTV said.

In November 2018, Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works started to build the X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) plane, which could take to the skies in the next several years.

The QueSST is for NASA's Low-Boom Flight Demonstration program will be flown above several US cities to measure the public's reaction of a low-boom sound from supersonic flight.

We even reported that an Atlanta-based startup is working on the development of hypersonic jetliners.

China has already made breakthroughs in technologies for supersonic and hypersonic flight.

"We hope that, through our own technological development and continued scientific investment, we can launch our own supersonic civil aircraft prototype in around 2035," Xu said.

A race between China and the US has developed, in who can build, test, and launch a supersonic jetliner first. For the US, this will be about defending its aerospace empire. And for China, well, it's about becoming the world's next greatest superpower through technological advances, starting in aerospace, then in all other industries to displace the American empire.

Published:7/2/2019 10:38:31 PM
[Science] NASA performs successful test of Orion spacecraft launch abort crew escape system NASA has completed a key test in preparing for its planned crewed space mission to return to the Moon, successfully testing the Launch Abort System (LAS for short) for its Orion spacecraft. This is the first full stress test of the LAS, which involved launching both an Orion test craft and the full LAS system […] Published:7/2/2019 6:59:02 AM
[Climate] The “Magic Wand of Fudging” Produces Global Warming (John Hinderaker) I have written many times about what I consider the worst scandal in the history of science: efforts by the curators of global temperature records to rewrite the past so as to produce an illusion of warming that is not reflected in the temperatures that have actually been recorded. No Tricks Zone picks up the theme in a post titled “Adjusted ‘Unadjusted Data: NASA Uses The ‘Magic Wand Of Fudging’, Published:7/1/2019 7:55:52 PM
[Space] NASA restores Apollo Mission Control to its 1969 Moon landing condition To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, which is coming up on July 20, NASA has restored and re-opened the original Apollo Mission Control Center at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The restoration is a painstakingly detailed recreation, which involved years of research of archival footage and photography, and seven months of restoration […] Published:6/28/2019 11:06:49 AM
[Markets] Life On Mars Gets A Head Start In Utah Desert

Since 2001, the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), a facility simulating Mars analog habitat owned by the Mars Society, has allowed thousands of space enthusiasts from countries around the world to put on a makeshift spacesuit and live in a space station for an extended period, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The station was built near Hanksville, Utah, in the early 2000s, and is visited by engineers, physicians, geologists, astronomers, and biologists.

NASA aims to send astronauts to Mars by 2033, and the buzz about commercial space travel has made MDRS much more popular than ever before.

Last month, 500 college students from ten countries gathered at MDRS for the annual University Rover Challenge, designed at developing space vehicles for use on Mars.

"I could run two of these programs side by side, and there would still be a demand," said station director Shannon Rupert.

"You no longer have to work at NASA to go into space, and a lot of people want to go into space."

Many of the visitors are forking over $1,500 per person for a two-week stay. Each visitor can perform their own experiments as long as they observe one protocol: don't leave the station without a spacesuit.

MDRS includes a two-story habitat, a greenhouse, a robotic observatory, an engineering pod, and a science dome. Above-ground walkways connect all buildings except the robotic observatory allow crews to travel between buildings without a spacesuit.

Camila Castillo, a 23-year-old biologist from Peru, was on her second mission when the Times interviewed her. She said she was made commander of a seven-person team.

"As commander my role is to keep people calm," she explained. "We are all passionate, but I must make sure we observe the protocols."

Two Italian engineers, Vittorio Netti, 29, and Paolo Guardabasso, 27, spent their time operating a drone that could one day fly on Mars.

"We can use them to photograph the area around the station in a short time rather than send people out on potentially dangerous missions," Netti said.

One of the walkways led the Times to the greenhouse was overseen by Hector Palomeque, a 28-year-old from Mexico who investigates life in harsh climates.

"The first people on Mars will be more farmers than astronauts," Palomeque said.

Mariona Badenas, 25, of Spain, was in command of a special telescope that allowed her to look at the sun's chromosphere.

"Observing the sun on Mars would be critical to understanding how it would affect the crew and possibly interfere with communications," she said.

The creator of the MDRS is 67-year-old, Robert Zubrin, the president of Mars Society and owner of Pioneer Astronautics in Lakewood, Colorado.

Zubrin, a nuclear engineer and NASA contractor, told the Times he believes a trip to Mars could be completed today in six months with existing technology.

"NASA had plans in 1969 to land on Mars by 1981; then Nixon canned the whole thing. We had a total failure of leadership," he said. "If that plan had carried through, we would have landed on Mars in 1981, had a permanent base on Mars by the late 1980s, and the first children born on Mars would be graduating from high school this June. That was the future not taken."

MDRS recently received donations from SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

Musk in a series of cryptic tweets around 4:20 pm Sunday hinted at his plans on colonizing the red plant

"Accelerating Starship development to build the Martian Technocracy," Musk tweeted on Sunday.

About an hour later around 5 pm, he tweeted "OCCUPY MARS" and an image of the moon.

Mars seems like the next place where humans will travel in the next decade.

Published:6/27/2019 9:34:12 PM
[Gadgets] NASA’s Dragonfly will fly across the surface of Titan, Saturn’s ocean moon NASA has just announced its next big interplanetary mission: Dragonfly, which will deliver a Mars Rover-sized flying vehicle to the surface of Titan, a moon of Saturn with tantalizing life-supporting qualities. The craft will fly from place to place, sampling the delicious organic surface materials and sending high-resolution pictures back to Earth. Published:6/27/2019 5:03:48 PM
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[Markets] Scary Fast: The Global Hypersonic Arms Race That Will Change Warfare Forever

Authored by Jeffrey Smith via PublicIntegrity.org,

Hypersonic missiles - which travel at more than 15 times the speed of sound - are touching off a new global arms race that threatens to change the nature of warfare.

On March 6, 2018, the grand ballroom at the Sphinx Club in Washington was packed with aerospace-industry executives waiting to hear from Michael D. Griffin. Weeks earlier, Secretary of Defense James Mattis named the 69-year-old Maryland native as the Pentagon’s under secretary for research and engineering, a job that comes with an annual budget of more than $17 billion. So the dark-suited attendees at the McAleese/Credit Suisse Defense Programs Conference were eager to learn what type of work he would favor.

The audience was already familiar with Griffin, an unabashed defender of American military and political supremacy who has bragged about being labeled an “unreconstructed cold warrior.” With five master’s degrees and a doctorate in aerospace engineering, he was the chief technology officer for President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (popularly known as Star Wars), which was supposed to shield the United States against a potential Russian attack by ballistic missiles looping over the North Pole. Over the course of his career, he also wrote a book on space vehicle design, ran a technology incubator funded by the C.I.A., directed NASA for four years, and was employed as a senior executive at a handful of aerospace firms.

Griffin was known as a scientific optimist who regularly called for “disruptive innovation” and who prized speed above all. He had repeatedly complained about the Pentagon’s sluggish bureaucracy, which he saw as mired in legacy thinking.

“This is a country that produced an atom bomb under the stress of wartime in three years from the day we decided to do it,” he told a congressional panel last year.

“This is a country that can do anything we need to do that physics allows. We just need to get on with it.”

In recent decades, Griffin’s predecessors had prioritized broad research into topics such as human-computer interaction, space communication and undersea warfare. But Griffin signaled an important shift, one that would have financial consequences for the executives in attendance. “I’m sorry for everybody out there who champions some other high priority, some technical thing; it’s not that I disagree with those,” he told the room. “But there has to be a first, and hypersonics is my first.”

Griffin was referring to a revolutionary new type of weapon, one that would have the unprecedented ability to maneuver and then to strike almost any target in the world within a matter of minutes. Capable of traveling at more than 15 times the speed of sound, hypersonic missiles arrive at their targets in a blinding, destructive flash, before any sonic booms or other meaningful warning. So far, there are no surefire defenses. Fast, effective, precise and unstoppable — these are rare but highly desired characteristics on the modern battlefield. And the missiles are being developed not only by the United States but also by China, Russia and other countries.

Michael D. Griffin, the Pentagon’s under secretary for research and engineering and former NASA Administrator, at the Space Symposium on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at Broadmoor Hall in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Griffin is now the chief evangelist in Washington for hypersonics, and so far he has run into few political or financial roadblocks. Lawmakers have supported a significant expansion of federal spending to accelerate the delivery of what they call a “game-changing technology,” a buzz phrase often repeated in discussions on hypersonics. America needs to act quickly, says James Inhofe, the Republican senator from Oklahoma who chairs the Armed Services Committee, or else the nation might fall behind Russia and China. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are largely in agreement, though recently they’ve pressed the Pentagon for more information about the program. (Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island, and House committee chairman Adam Smith, the Democratic representative for Washington’s ninth district, told me it might make sense to question the weapons’ global impact or talk with Russia about the risks they create, but the priority in Washington right now is to get the American versions built.)

In 2018, Congress expressed its consensus in a law requiring that an American hypersonic weapon be operational by October 2022. This year, the Trump administration’s proposed defense budget included $2.6 billion for hypersonics, and national security industry experts project that the annual budget will reach $5 billion by the middle of the next decade. The immediate aim is to create two deployable systems within three years. Key funding is likely to be approved this summer. Griffin has spoken about America eventually having an arsenal of “a couple of thousand prompt strike missiles.”

Keen enthusiasm has spread to military contractors, especially after the Pentagon awarded the largest one, Lockheed Martin, more than $1.4 billion in 2018 to build missile prototypes that can be launched by Air Force fighter jets and B-52 bombers. These programs are just the beginning of what the acting defense secretary, Patrick M. Shanahan, described in December as the Trump administration’s goal of “industrializing” hypersonic missile production. This spring, he and Griffin created a new Space Development Agency of some 225 people, tasked with putting a network of sensors in low-earth orbit that would track incoming hypersonic missiles and direct American hypersonic attacks. This isn’t the network’s only purpose, but it will have “a war-fighting capability, should it come to that,” Griffin said in March.

Development of hypersonics is moving so quickly, however, that it threatens to outpace any real discussion about the potential perils of such weapons, including how they may disrupt efforts to avoid accidental conflict, especially during crises. There are currently no international agreements on how or when hypersonic missiles can be used, nor are there any plans between any countries to start those discussions. Instead, the rush to possess weapons of incredible speed and maneuverability has pushed the United States into a new arms race with Russia and China — one that could, some experts worry, upend existing norms of deterrence and renew Cold War-era tensions.

LITTLE TIME FOR DECISION-MAKING

Although hypersonic missiles can in theory carry nuclear warheads, those being developed by the United States will only be equipped with small conventional explosives. With a length between just five and 10 feet, weighing about 500 pounds and encased in materials like ceramic and carbon fiber composites or nickel-chromium superalloys, the missiles function like nearly invisible power drills that smash holes in their targets, to catastrophic effect. After their launch — whether from the ground, from airplanes or from submarines — they are pulled by gravity as they descend from a powered ascent, or propelled by highly advanced engines. The missiles’ kinetic energy at the time of impact, at speeds of at least 1,150 miles per hour, makes them powerful enough to penetrate any building material or armored plating with the force of three to four tons of TNT.

A Mach 14 Waverider glide vehicle, which takes its name from its ability to generate high lift and ride on its own shock waves. This shape is representative of the type of systems the U.S. is developing today (Dan Winters for The New York Times)

They could be aimed, in theory, at Russian nuclear-armed ballistic missiles being carried on trucks or rails. Or the Chinese could use their own versions of these missiles to target American bombers and other aircraft at bases in Japan or Guam. Or the missiles could attack vital land- or sea-based radars anywhere, or military headquarters in Asian ports or near European cities. The weapons could even suddenly pierce the steel decks of one of America’s 11 multibillion-dollar aircraft carriers, instantly stopping flight operations, a vulnerability that might eventually render the floating behemoths obsolete. Hypersonic missiles are also ideal for waging a decapitation strike — assassinating a country’s top military or political officials. “Instant leader-killers,” a former Obama administration White House official, who asked not to be named, said in an interview.

Within the next decade, so many of these new weapons might be around that they would be able to undertake a task long imagined for nuclear arms: a first strike against another nation’s government or arsenals, interrupting key chains of communication and disabling some of its retaliatory forces, all without the radioactive fallout and special condemnation that would accompany the detonation of nuclear warheads. That’s why a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report said in 2016 that hypersonics aren’t “simply evolutionary threats” to the United States but could in the hands of enemies “challenge this nation’s tenets of global vigilance, reach and power.”

The arrival of such fast weaponry will dangerously compress the time during which military officials and their political leaders — in any country — can figure out the nature of an attack and make reasoned decisions about the wisdom and scope of defensive steps or retaliation. And the threat that hypersonics pose to retaliatory weapons creates what scholars call “use it or lose it” pressures on countries to strike first during a crisis. Experts say that the missiles could upend the grim psychology of Mutual Assured Destruction, the bedrock military doctrine of the nuclear age that argued globe-altering wars would be deterred if the potential combatants always felt certain of their opponents’ devastating response.

And yet decision makers seem to be ignoring these risks. Unlike with previous leaps in military technology — such as the creation of chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missiles with multiple nuclear warheads — that ignited international debate and eventually were controlled through superpower treaty negotiations, officials in Washington, Moscow and Beijing haven’t seriously considered any sort of accord limiting the development or deployment of hypersonic technology. In the United States, the State Department’s arms-control bureau has an office devoted to emerging security challenges, but hypersonic missiles aren’t one of its core concerns. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s deputies say they primarily support making the military’s arsenal more robust, an unusual stance for a department tasked with finding diplomatic solutions to global problems.

This position worries arms-control experts like Thomas M. Countryman, a career diplomat for 35 years and former assistant secretary of state in the Obama administration.

“This is not the first case of a new technology proceeding through research, development and deployment far faster than the policy apparatus can keep up,” says Countryman, who is now chairman of the Arms Control Association.

He cites examples of similarly “destabilizing technologies” in the 1960s and 1970s, when billions of dollars in frenzied spending on nuclear and chemical arms was unaccompanied by discussion of how the resulting dangers could be minimized. Countryman wants to see limitations placed on the number of hypersonic missiles that a country can build or on the type of warheads that they can carry. He and others worry that failing to regulate these weapons at the international level could have irreversible consequences.

“It is possible,” the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs said in a February report, that “in response [to] the deployment of hypersonic weapons,” nations fearing the destruction of their retaliatory-strike capability might either decide to use nuclear weapons under a wider set of conditions or simply place “nuclear forces on higher alert levels” as a matter of routine. The report lamented that these “ramifications remain largely unexamined and almost wholly undiscussed.”

So why haven’t the potential risks of this revolution attracted more attention? One reason is that for years the big powers have cared mostly about numerical measures of power — who has more warheads, bombers and missiles — and negotiations have focused heavily on those metrics. Only occasionally has their conversation widened to include the issue of strategic stability, a topic that encompasses whether specific weaponry poses risks of inadvertent war.

ACCELERATING KEY TESTS

An aerospace engineer for the military for more than three decades, Daniel Marren runs one of the world’s fastest wind tunnels — and thanks to hypersonics research, his lab is in high demand. But finding it takes some time: When I arrived at the Air Force’s White Oak testing facility, just north of Silver Spring, Md., the private security guards only vaguely gestured toward some World War II-era military research buildings down the road, at the edge of the Food and Drug Administration’s main campus. The low-slung structure that houses Marren’s tunnel looks as if it could pass for an aged elementary school, except that it has a seven-story silver sphere sticking out of its east side, like a World’s Fair exhibit in the spot where an auditorium should be. The tunnel itself, some 40 feet in length and five feet in diameter, looks like a water main; it narrows at one end before emptying into the silver sphere. A column of costly high-tech sensors is grafted onto the piping where a thick window has been cut into its midsection.

Marren seemed both thrilled and harried by the rising tempo at his laboratory in recent months. A jovial 55-year-old who speaks carefully but excitedly about his work, he showed me a red brick structure on the property with some broken windows. It was built, he said, to house the first of nine wind tunnels that have operated at the test site, one that was painstakingly recovered in 1948 from Peenemünde, the coastal German village where Wernher von Braun worked on the V-2 rocket used to kill thousands of Londoners in World War II. American military researchers had a hard time figuring out how to reassemble and operate it, so they recruited some German scientists stateside.

As we entered the control room of the building that houses the active tunnel, Marren mentioned casually that the roof was specially designed to blow off easily if anything goes explosively awry. Any debris would head skyward, and the engineers, analysts and visiting Air Force generals monitoring the wind tests could survive behind the control room’s reinforced-concrete walls.

Inside the main room, Marren — dressed in a technologist’s polo shirt — explained that during the tests, the tunnel is first rolled into place on a trolley over steel rails in the floor. Then an enormous electric burner is ignited beneath it, heating the air inside to more than 3,000 degrees, hot enough to melt steel. The air is then punched by pressures 1,000 times greater than normal at one end of the tunnel and sucked at the other end by a vacuum deliberately created in the enormous sphere.

The U.S. Air Force’s White Oak facility in Silver Spring, Md., where scientists are testing hypersonic missile prototypes.

That sends the air roaring down the tunnel at up to 18 times the speed of sound — fast enough to traverse more than 30 football fields in the time it takes to blink. Smack in the middle of the tunnel during a test, attached to a pole capable of changing its angle in fractions of a second, is a scale model of a hypersonic missile prototype. That is, instead of testing the missiles by flying them through the air outdoors, the tunnel effectively makes the air fly past them at the same incredible pace.

For the tests, the models are coated with a paint that absorbs ultraviolet laser light as it warms, marking the spots on their ceramic skin where frictional heat may threaten the structure of the missile; engineers will then need to tweak the designs either to resist that heat or shunt it elsewhere. The aim, Marren explains, is to see what will happen when the missiles plow through the earth’s dense atmosphere on their way to their targets.

It’s challenging work, replicating the stresses these missiles would endure while whizzing by at 30 times the speed of a civilian airliner, miles above the clouds. Their sleek, synthetic skin expands and deforms and kicks off a plasma like the ionized gas formed by superheated stars, as they smash the air and try to shed all that intense heat. The tests are fleeting, lasting 15 seconds at most, which require the sensors to record their data in thousandths of a nanosecond. That’s the best any such test facility can do, according to Marren, and it partly accounts for the difficulty that defense researchers have had in producing hypersonics, even after about $2 billion-worth of federal investment before this year.

Nonetheless, Marren, who has worked at the tunnel since 1984, is optimistic that researchers will be able to deliver a working missile soon. He and his team are operating at full capacity, with hundreds of test runs scheduled this year to measure the ability of various prototype missiles to withstand the punishing friction and heat of such rapid flight. “We have been prepared for this moment for some time, and it’s great to lean forward,” Marren says. The faster that weapons systems can operate, he adds, the better.

NO DEFENSE IS AVAILABLE NOW

Last year, the nation was confronted with a brief reminder of how Cold War-era nuclear panic played out, after a state employee in Hawaii mistakenly sent out an emergency alert declaring that a “ballistic missile threat” was “inbound.” The message didn’t specify what kind of missile — and, in fact, the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command at two sites in Alaska and California may have some capability to shoot down a few incoming ballistic missiles — but panicked Hawaii residents didn’t feel protected. They reacted by careening cars into one another on highways, pushing their children into storm drains for protection and phoning their loved ones to say goodbye — until a second message, 38 minutes later, acknowledged it was an error.

Hypersonics pose a different threat from ballistic missiles, according to those who have studied and worked on them, because they could be maneuvered in ways that confound existing methods of defense and detection. Not to mention, unlike most ballistic missiles, they would arrive in under 15 minutes — less time than anyone in Hawaii or elsewhere would need to meaningfully react.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles are like fly balls on the baseball field. They follow a predictable trajectory and their targets are known within a few minutes after their launch. Hypersonics – both scramjet-powered and boost-gliders – are more like a knuckleball, because they can jink around a catcher’s glove at the last minute and land unpredictably. (Illustration by Mark Watkinson)

How fast is that, really? An object moving through the air produces an audible shock wave — a sonic boom — when it reaches about 760 miles per hour. This speed of sound is also called Mach 1, after the Austrian physicist Ernst Mach. When a projectile flies faster than Mach’s number, it travels at supersonic speed — a speed faster than sound. Mach 2 is twice the speed of sound; Mach 3 is three times the speed of sound, and so on. When a projectile reaches a speed faster than Mach 5, it’s said to travel at hypersonic speed.

One of the two main hypersonic prototypes now under development in the United States is meant to fly at speeds between Mach 15 and Mach 20, or more than 11,400 miles per hour. This means that when fired by the U.S. submarines or bombers stationed at Guam, they could in theory hit China’s important inland missile bases, like Delingha, in less than 15 minutes. President Vladimir Putin has likewise claimed that one of Russia’s new hypersonic missiles will travel at Mach 10, while the other will travel at Mach 20. If true, that would mean a Russian aircraft or ship firing one of them near Bermuda could strike the Pentagon, some 800 miles away, in five minutes. China, meanwhile, has flight-tested its own hypersonic missiles at speeds fast enough to reach Guam from the Chinese coastline within minutes.

One concept now being pursued by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency uses a conventional missile launched from air platforms to loft a smaller, hypersonic glider on its journey, even before the missile reaches its apex. The glider then flies unpowered toward its target. The deadly projectile might ricochet downward, nose tilted up, on layers of atmosphere — the mesosphere, then the stratosphere and troposphere — like an oblate stone on water, in smaller and shallower skips, or it might be directed to pass smoothly through these layers. In either instance, the friction of the lower atmosphere would finally slow it enough to allow a steering system to maneuver it precisely toward its target. The weapon, known as Tactical Boost Glide, is scheduled to be dropped from military planes during testing next year.

Hypersonic missiles are typically launched by a rocket and then released before they reach their apex. They are pulled by gravity or propelled by highly advanced engines. (Illustration by Mark Watkinson)

Under an alternative approach, a hypersonic missile would fly mostly horizontally under the power of a “scramjet,” a highly advanced, fanless engine that uses shock waves created by its speed to compress incoming air in a short funnel and ignite it while passing by (in roughly one two-thousandths of a second, according to some accounts). With its skin heated by friction to as much as 5,400 degrees, its engine walls would be protected from burning up by routing the fuel through them, an idea pioneered by the German designers of the V-2 rocket.

The unusual trajectories of these missiles would allow them to approach their targets at roughly 12 to 50 miles above the earth’s surface, in an attacker’s sweet spot. That’s below the altitude at which ballistic missile interceptors — such as the costly American Aegis ship-based system and the Thaad ground-based system — are now designed to typically operate, yet above the altitude that simpler air defense missiles, like the Patriot system, can reach. They would zoom along in the defensive void, maneuvering unpredictably, and then, in just a few final seconds of blindingly fast, mile-per-second flight, dive and strike a target such as an aircraft carrier from an altitude of 100,000 feet.

Officials will have trouble, moreover, predicting exactly where any strike would land. Although the missiles’ launch would probably be picked up by infrared-sensing satellites in its first few moments of flight, Griffin says they would be roughly 10 to 20 times harder to detect than incoming ballistic missiles as they near their targets. And during their flight, due to their maneuverability, the perimeter of their potential landing zone could be about as big as Rhode Island. Officials might sound a general alarm, but they’d be clueless about exactly where the missiles were headed. “We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us,” Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of United States Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2018. The Pentagon is just now studying what a hypersonic attack might look like and imagining how a defensive system might be created; it has no settled architecture for it, and no firm sense of the costs.

Developing these new weapons hasn’t been easy. A 2012 test was terminated when the skin peeled off a hypersonic prototype, and another self-destructed when it lost control. A third hypersonic test vehicle was deliberately destroyed when its boosting missile failed in 2014. Officials at Darpa acknowledge they are still struggling with the composite ceramics they need to protect the missiles’ electronics from intense heating; the Pentagon decided last July to ladle an extra $34.5 million into this effort this year.

The task of conducting realistic flight tests also poses a challenge. The military’s principal land-based site for open-air prototype flights — a 3,200-acre site stretching across multiple counties in New Mexico — isn’t big enough to accommodate hypersonic weapons. So fresh testing corridors are being negotiated in Utah that will require a new regional political agreement about the noise of trailing sonic booms. Scientists still aren’t sure how to accumulate all the data they need, given the speed of the flights. The open-air flight tests can cost up to $100 million.

The Air Force’s portion of this effort is being managed from its largest base, Eglin, located in the Florida panhandle, under the direction of the 96th Test Wing, whose official slogan is “Make It Happen.” But the most recent open-air hypersonic-weapon test was completed by the Army and the Navy in October 2017, using a 36,000-pound missile to launch a glider from a rocky beach on the western shores of Kauai, Hawaii, toward Kwajalein Atoll, 2,300 miles to the southwest. The 9 p.m. flight created a trailing sonic boom over the Pacific, which was expected to top out at an estimated 175 decibels, well above the threshold at which noise causes physical pain. The effort cost $160 million, comparable to 6 percent of the total hypersonics budget proposed for 2020.

A WORLD FILLED WITH HYPERSONICS

In March 2018, Vladimir Putin, in the first of several speeches designed to rekindle American anxieties about a foreign missile threat, boasted that Russia had two operational hypersonic weapons: the Kinzhal, a fast, air-launched missile capable of striking targets up to 1,200 miles away; and the Avangard, designed to be attached to a new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile before maneuvering toward its targets. Russian media have claimed that nuclear warheads for the weapons are already being produced and that the Sarmat missile itself has been flight-tested roughly 3,000 miles across Siberia.

The Kinzhal hypersonic seen at the 2018 Moscow Victory Day Parade (Wikimedia Commons)

Russia is also working on a third hypersonic missile system, designed to be launched from submarines that Putin said last February could be stationed “in neutral waters” within a short flight time to “the decision-making centers that are creating threats to us.” Evidently seeking domestic acclaim, he compared the effort to the Soviet Union’s launch of its Sputnik satellite, the beeping silver ball that orbited the earth for five months in 1957 and 1958 and transfixed the world.

That achievement in the end didn’t play out quite as planned, because it provoked a space race and accelerated the Cold War. And American experts aren’t buying all of Putin’s claims. “Their test record is more like ours,” said an engineer working on the American program. “It’s had a small number of flight-test successes.” But Pentagon officials say they are convinced that Moscow’s hypersonics, which Putin claims will carry nuclear warheads, will soon be a real threat.

Analysts say the Chinese are further along than the Russians, partly because Beijing has sought to create conventionally-armed hypersonic missiles with shorter ranges that don’t have to endure high temperatures as long. Last August, a contractor for the Chinese space program claimed that it successfully flight-tested a gliding hypersonic missile for slightly more than six minutes. It supposedly reached a speed exceeding Mach 5 before landing in its target zone. Other Chinese hypersonic missile tests have reached speeds almost twice as fast.

CCTV footage of the Starry Sky-2 hypersonic missile test in China on August 3, 2018. (China Aerospace Aerodynamics Research Institute)

And it’s not just Russia, China and the United States that are interested in fast-flying military power drills. France and India have active hypersonics development programs, and each is working in partnership with Russia, according to a 2017 report by the Rand Corp., a nonpartisan research organization heavily funded by the Pentagon. Australia, Japan and the European Union have either civilian or military hypersonics research underway, the report said, partly because they are still tantalized by the prospect of making super-speedy airplanes large enough to carry passengers across the globe in mere hours. But Japan’s immediate effort is aimed at making a weapon that will be ready for testing by 2025.

This is not the first time the United States or others have ignored risks while rushing toward a new, apparently magical solution to a military threat or shortcoming. During the Cold War, America and Russia competed fiercely to threaten each other’s vital assets with bombers that took hours to cross oceans and with ballistic missiles that could reach their targets in 30 minutes. Ultimately, each side accumulated more than 31,000 warheads (even though the detonations of just 100 weapons would have sparked a severe global famine and stripped away significant protections against ultraviolet radiation). Eventually the fever broke, partly because of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, and the two nations reduced their arsenals through negotiations to about 6,000-6,500 nuclear warheads apiece.

Since then, cycles of intense arms racing have restarted whenever one side has felt acutely disadvantaged or spied a potential exit from what the political scientist Robert Jervis once described as the “overwhelming nature” of nuclear destruction, a circumstance that we’ve been involuntarily and resentfully hostage to for the past 70 years.

Trump officials in particular have resisted policies that support Mutual Assured Destruction, the idea that shared risk can lead to stability and peace. John Bolton, the national security adviser, was a key architect in 2002 of America’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, which limited both nations’ ability to try to block ballistic missiles. He asserted that freeing the United States of those restrictions would enhance American security, and if the rest of the world was static, his prediction might have come true. But Russia started its hypersonics program to ensure it could get around any American ballistic missile defenses. “Nobody wanted to listen to us” about the strategic dangers of abandoning the treaty, Putin said last year with an aggressive flourish as he displayed videos and animations of his nation’s hypersonic missiles. “So listen now.”

But not much listening is going on in either country. In January, the Trump administration released an updated missile-defense strategy that explicitly calls for limiting mutual vulnerability by defeating enemy “offensive missiles prior to launch.” The administration also continues to eschew any new limits on its own missiles, arguing that past agreements lulled America into a dangerous post-Cold War “holiday,” as a senior State Department official has described it.

The current administration’s lack of interest in regulating hypersonics isn’t that different from its predecessor’s. Around 2010, President Obama privately “made it clear that he wanted better options to hold North Korean missiles” at risk, a former senior official in his administration said, and some military officials said hypersonic weapons might be suitable for this (others said loitering drones were a better option). About that same time, a nuclear arms reduction agreement with Russia – the most recent one completed – was written to deliberately exclude any constraints on hypersonic weapons. Then, three years ago, a New York-based group called the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, acting in conjunction with other nonprofits committed to disarmament, called on the president to head off a hypersonic competition and its anticipated drain on future federal budgets by exploring a joint moratorium with China and Russia on testing. The idea was never taken up.

The Obama administration’s inaction helped open the door to the 21st-century hypersonic contest America finds itself in today.

“We always do these things in isolation, without thinking about what it means for the big powers — for Russia and China — who are batshit paranoid” about a potential quick, pre-emptive American attack, the adviser said, expressing regret about how the issue was handled during Obama’s tenure.

While it might not be too late to change course, history shows that stopping an arms race is much harder than igniting one. And Washington at the moment is still principally focused on “putting a weapon on a target,” as a longtime congressional staff member puts it, rather than the reaction this capability inspires in an adversary.

Griffin even projects an eventual American victory in this race: In April 2018, he said the best answer to the Chinese and Russian hypersonic programs is “to hold their assets at risk with systems similar to but better than what they have fielded.” Invoking the mantra of military scientists throughout time, Griffin added that the country must “see their hand and raise them one.” The world will soon find out what happens now that the military superpowers have decided to go all in.

Published:6/21/2019 5:05:48 PM
[Left Column] Prominent climate scientist dissents on ‘global warming’: Declares claims ‘not backed by demonstrable data’ – ‘Untrustworthy, Falsified Data’ … ‘No Scientific Value’

Dr. Mototaka Nakamura new book demolishes “the lie of critical global warming due to increasing carbon dioxide”, exposes the great uncertainty of “global warming in the past 100 years” and points out the glaring failure of climate models.

"The global surface mean temperature change data no longer have any scientific value and are nothing except a propaganda tool to the public.”

Dr. Nakamura received a Doctorate of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and for nearly 25 years specializing in abnormal weather and climate change at prestigious institutions that included MIT, Georgia Institute of Technology, NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology and Duke University.

Published:6/21/2019 11:53:21 AM
[Markets] Watch: Lockheed Martin Successfully Flies Its Newest Hypersonic Missile On B-52 Bomber

The US Air Force and Lockheed Martin successfully flight tested a hypersonic missile on the service's Boeing B-52 Stratofortress out of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on June 12, 2019, read a Lockheed Martin press release

The "captive carry flight test" evaluates an unarmed AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) during flight and shows that the Air Force is dangerously behind the development curve of hypersonic missiles amid an arms race between China and Russia.

A hypersonic missile can fly at speeds exceeding five times the speed of sound (Mach 5).

The ARRW completed a preliminary design review in March, with the expectation of ground and flight tests for the next three years.

"With hypersonic capabilities being a national security priority, Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force are accelerating the maturation and fielding of a hypersonic weapon system," said Frank St. John, executive vice president at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "Lockheed Martin is proud to partner with the US Air Force on this important initiative."

Last April, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $928 million contract to build a hypersonic conventional strike weapon.

Rising powers [China and Russia] have been conducting hypersonic flight tests for several years. A little over a year ago, Putin revealed hypersonic missiles that have since been sent into series production with deployment currently underway.

As it stands, the US doesn't have a working hypersonic missile nor the defense missile shields against enemy hypersonic weapons.

Meanwhile, last August, China stated that it had successfully tested a hypersonic aircraft, something that the US could be many years away from achieving.

"The Chinese have been much more thoughtful in their systems development because they are developing long-range tactical precision-guided systems that will be really influential in a conventional fight," Michael Griffin, a former NASA administrator, said in a previous interview.

"The Chinese ability to hold our forward deployed assets at risk with very high speed and very hard to intercept precision-guided systems is something to which we have to respond," he added.

Lockheed's latest ARRW test is one of many that will eventually be air-launched from a B-52 bomber. While many might think this is an achievement of American air supremacy, it is not, and the service severely lags China and Russia in hypersonics.

Published:6/20/2019 8:50:26 PM
[Robotics] One of NASA’s robotic astronaut helpers just flew on its own in space for the first time NASA’s very own free-floating Companion Cube equivalent took its own first tentative ‘steps’ in space today, demonstrating its ability to rotate on its own in zero gravity inside the International Space Station. The robot, called ‘Bumble’ and one of a series of Astrobee robots that NASA developed to work along with astronauts on the ISS, is […] Published:6/20/2019 3:20:54 PM
[Government] Price tag to return to the Moon could be $30 billion NASA's ambitious plan to return to the moon may cost as much as $30 billion over the next five years, the agency's administrator, Jim Bridenstine, indicated in an interview this week. This is only a ballpark figure, but it's the first all-inclusive one we've seen and, despite being a large amount of money, is lower than some might have guessed. Published:6/14/2019 3:44:49 PM
[Entertainment] Hidden Figures Way: Street in front of NASA headquarters renamed for pioneers The street outside of NASA's D.C. headquarters has been renamed "Hidden Figures Way" to honor African American women who overcame adversity.
      
Published:6/13/2019 5:32:01 AM
[Markets] Space Tourism: A Round Trip Ticket To The Space Station Costs $50 Million

NASA has announced it will open the International Space Station (ISS) for commercial business, permitting anyone who pays an estimated $50 million for a round trip ticket plus $35,000 per night, to stay in space, reported USA Today.

"We are announcing the ability for private astronauts to visit the space station on U.S. vehicles and for companies to engage in commercial profit-making activities," said Jeff DeWit, NASA's chief financial advisor, at a press conference last Friday at NASDAQ headquarters in New York.

Since the Space Transportation System (STS) ended in 2011, NASA has partnered with Boeing and SpaceX to transport cargo to ISS. Private citizens who want to go to space will have to make arrangements with those companies to get into Low Earth orbit (LEO).

"If a private astronaut is on station, they will have to pay us while they're there for the life support, the food, the water, things of that nature," DeWit added.

Private astronauts will need to meet the same physical requirements as any other astronaut. NASA will allow two private astronauts per year on the ISS with an expected price tag of $50 million per trip, and the first launch could be in the next several years.

Private astronauts must meet the following qualifications:

  • Pass an exhaustive physical exam
  • 20/20 distance and near vision in each eye (corrective lenses or corrective surgery permitted)
  • Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics
  • Minimum of three years of related professional experience obtained after degree OR at least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time on jet aircraft
  • Since about 2016, NASA has received more than 18,000 applications since 2016, only 120 made it to the interview stage, and just five were accepted into the program.

Private astronauts must complete two years of basic training, study Russian, understand how to operate the equipment on the ISS, perform spacewalks and land a Soyuz rocket if a mishap occurred during launch.

"We are so excited to be part of NASA as our home and laboratory in space transitions to become accessible to commercial and marketing opportunity as well as to private astronauts," said astronaut Christina Koch, who currently lives aboard the ISS, in a NASA video announcement. "Enabling a vibrant economy in low-earth orbit has always been a driving element on the space station program and will make space more accessible to all Americans."

It was right after the Dot Com bust when California businessman Dennis Tito became the first paying visitor of the ISS.

Bill Gerstenmaier, a NASA's associate administrator, said the ISS would become too costly for the government to maintain into the 2020s, indicates opening up the space station to tourism could generate enough revenue to maintain the craft in LEO.

Tourism revenue from ISS could also support the agency in its mission on returning to the moon by the mid-2020s.

Published:6/11/2019 7:51:14 PM
[TC] Relativity is building a 3D printing rocket manufacturing hub in Mississippi The future of rocket manufacturing has touched down in Mississippi. At NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, nestled in Hancock County, Miss. right on the border of Louisiana, the Los Angeles-based 3D printed spacecraft manufacturer, Relativity Space, is planning a massive $59 million expansion to make a permanent manufacturing hub in this bucolic corner of […] Published:6/11/2019 8:54:22 AM
[Markets] Scientists Now Believe Black Holes Could Be Portals To Other Galaxies

Authored by Jake Anderson via The Mind Unleashed,

In Christopher Nolan’s epic 2014 science fiction film Interstellar, a rogue splinter group of scientists constituting the collapsed remnants of NASA hatch a plan to save Earth from environmental collapse by searching for potentially habitable planets in a distant galaxy. They get there by traveling through a wormhole and using the gravitational slingshot velocity of a massive black hole.

Though it’s been a recurring theme in science fiction for decades, a black hole itself has never been considered a feasible form of space travel because scientists have always believed that the mysterious tidal forces inside the event horizon would spaghettify and crush anything that dared to enter it.

But scientists now say new simulation models are suggesting that a rotating black hole, which contains a unique “mass inflation singularity,” may actually offer safe passage to another part of the galaxy - or a different galaxy altogether.

The team of physicists from UMass Dartmouth and Georgia Gwinnett College say their simulations show the singularity at the center of a large, rotating black hole could actually facilitate a “gentle” passage through rips in spacetime.

Physicist Gaurav Khanna, his colleague Lior Burko, and his student Caroline Mallary were inspired by the film Interstellar to test whether its central character named Cooper, played by Matthew McConaughey, could have theoretically survived a descent into the film’s fictional black hole, Gargantua.

Mallary built a computer simulation exploring the physics involved and concluded:

The effects of the singularity in the context of a rotating black hole would result in rapidly increasing cycles of stretching and squeezing on the spacecraft. But for very large black holes like Gargantua, the strength of this effect would be very small. So, the spacecraft and any individuals on board would not detect it.

Scientific speculation concerning exotic properties of black holes has increased in recent years. A 2016 study examined the possibility of five-dimensional black holes shaped like rings which violate the laws of physics, including Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Another paper posited that black holes deposit matter into the far future.

Realistically, we likely won’t know anything substantial about the logistics of traveling the stars via black holes within our lifetime. Humans are still trying to visit the nearest planet in our solar system and the nearest black hole, Sagittarius A* - which lurks 27,000 light years away at the center of the Milky Way - is not even remotely reachable without propulsion technologies that are decades, if not centuries, from implementation.

However, within our lifetime we may learn more about how quantum gravity works inside of black holes - buoyed by new advanced telescopes and research methods - which may tell us if it’s physically possible for hyperspace travel using black holes. And even though we can’t do it, perhaps others in the universe can.

*  *  *

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Published:6/7/2019 6:59:06 PM
[Politics] Trump contradicted himself on NASA going to the moon? A few minutes ago Trump tweeted about NASA, saying they shouldn’t be planning a trip to the moon because they did that 50 years ago: For all of the money we are . . . Published:6/7/2019 3:23:51 PM
[Science] SpaceBNB? International Space Station readies for tourism at astronomical price

The following article, SpaceBNB? International Space Station readies for tourism at astronomical price, was first published on Godfather Politics.

NASA has put a hefty price tag on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Continue reading: SpaceBNB? International Space Station readies for tourism at astronomical price ...

Published:6/7/2019 2:45:37 PM
[Politics] Trump just totally contradicted himself on NASA going to the moon… A few minutes ago Trump tweeted about NASA, saying they shouldn’t be planning a trip to the moon because they did that 50 years ago: For all of the money we are . . . Published:6/7/2019 2:45:37 PM
[Science] NASA’s Mars Helicopter begins final testing phase before 2020 mission NASA’s Mars Helicopter will be a key experimental craft when it comes to shaping what humanity’s future exploring the Red Planet looks like – when it launches aboard NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, it’ll head to Mars with the aim of testing the viability of flying heavier-than-air vehicles through another world’s atmosphere. After passing its most […] Published:6/7/2019 8:18:25 AM
[TC] Meet the first private companies that NASA has selected to deliver stuff and things to the Moon The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has selected Astrobotic, Intuitive Machines, and Orbit Beyond as the first three private companies to deliver science and technology payloads under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) as part of its Artemis program. In an announcement yesterday, the administration said that each lander will carry NASA-provided payloads to conduct science […] Published:6/1/2019 7:21:10 PM
[worldNews] Turkey frees jailed U.S.-Turkish former NASA scientist: wife tells Reuters Turkey has released from prison U.S.-Turkish former NASA scientist Serkan Golge, his wife told Reuters on Wednesday, in a step that could lead to an easing in relations with Washington.
Published:5/29/2019 1:53:00 PM
[Markets] Watch: Russian Rocket Struck By Lightning During Launch

A Russian Soyuz rocket was struck by a bolt of lightning during a launch on Monday, but the strike didn't hinder the rocket's course and the launch was completed successfully. The rocket reached orbit without issue, according to Russian space officials. The strike, did, however, result in stunning video, captured from numerous angles and posted to YouTube

The strike occurred during the launch from Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome, about 500 miles north of Moscow.

Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin wrote on Twitter while celebrating the launch: "Lightning is not an obstacle for you!"

Roscosmos used a Soyuz 2.1b booster equipped with a Fregat upper stage to launch Glonass-M, the latest in a series of navigation satellites to support Russia's military and civilian customers, according to Space.com

Russia's Ministry of Defense wrote in an update: "A stable telemetric connection is established and maintained with the spacecraft. The on-board systems of the Glonass-M spacecraft are functioning normally."

While rare, it isn't the first time such a strike has occurred. In 1969, lightning struck a Saturn V rocket twice during the launch of NASA's Apollo 12 mission to the moon. 

Analysis of the Apollo 12 strike showed that "lightning can be triggered by the presence of the long electrical length created by the space vehicle and its exhaust plume in an electric field which would not otherwise have produced natural lightning," according to a NASA report.

Russia's General Major Nikolai Nesterchuk told RT, "The weather is not a hindrance, we are an all-weather troop."

 

Published:5/29/2019 3:20:55 AM
[World] The New York Post: Car-sized meteor stuns southern Australia The “fireball” — as NASA is classifying it — lit up the skies over Victoria and South Australia before crashing into the waters of the Great Australian Bight late Tuesday night, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Published:5/27/2019 6:08:35 AM
[Markets] Vicious Cycle: The Pentagon Creates Tech Giants & Then Buys Their Services

Authored by TJ Coles via Counterpunch.org,

The US Department of Defense’s bloated budget, along with CIA venture capital, helped to create tech giants, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and PayPal. The government then contracts those companies to help its military and intelligence operations. In doing so, it makes the tech giants even bigger.

In recent years, the traditional banking, energy and industrial Fortune 500 companies have been losing ground to tech giants like Apple and Facebook. But the technology on which they rely emerged from the taxpayer-funded research and development of bygone decades. The internet started as ARPANET, an invention of Honeywell-Raytheon working under a Department of Defense (DoD) contract. The same satellites that enable modern internet communications also enable US jets to bomb their enemies, as does the GPS that enables online retailers to deliver products with pinpoint accuracy. Apple’s touchscreen technology originated as a US Air Force tool. The same drones that record breath-taking video are modified versions of Reapers and Predators.

Tax-funded DoD research is the backbone of the modern, hi-tech economy. But these technologies are dual-use. The companies that many of us take for granted–including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and PayPal–are connected indirectly and sometimes very directly to the US military-intelligence complex.

A recent report by Open the Government, a bipartisan advocate of transparency, reveals the extent of Amazon’s contracts with the Pentagon. Founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, the company is now valuedat $1 trillion, giving Bezos a personal fortune of $131 billion. Open the Government’s report notes that much of the US government “now runs on Amazon,” so much so that the tech giant is opening a branch near Washington, DC. Services provided by Amazon include cloud contracts, machine learning and biometric data systems. But more than this, Amazon is set to enjoy a lucrative Pentagon IT contract under the $10bn, Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure program, or JEDI. The Pentagon says that it hopes Amazon technology will “support lethality and enhanced operational efficiency.”

The report reveals what it can, but much is protected from public scrutiny under the twin veils of national security and corporate secrecy. For instance, all prospective host cities for Amazon’s second headquarters were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements.

But it doesn’t end there. According to the report, Amazon supplied surveillance and facial Rekognition software to the police and FBI, and it has pitched the reportedly inaccurate and race/gender-biasedtechnology to the Department of Homeland Security for its counter-immigration operations. Ten percent of the subsidiary Amazon Web Services’ profits come from government contracts. Departments include the State Department, NASA, Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2013, Amazon won a $600m Commercial Cloud Services (C2S) contract with the CIA. C2S will enable deep learning and data fingerprinting. Amazon’s second headquarters will be built in Virginia, the CIA’s home-state. Despite repeated requests, the company refuses to disclose how its personal devices, like Amazon Echo, connect with the CIA.

But Amazon is just the tip of the iceberg.

According to one thorough research article: In the mid-90s, future Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin used indirect Pentagon and other government funding to develop web crawlers and page ranking applications. Around the same time, the CIA, Directorate of Intelligence and National Security Agency–under the auspices of the National Science Foundation–funded the Massive Data Digital Systems (MDDS) program. A publication by Sergey Brin acknowledges that he received funding from the MDDS program. According to Professor Bhavani Thuraisingham, who worked on the project, “The intelligence community … essentially provided Brin seed-funding, which was supplemented by many other sources, including the private sector.” The Query Flocks part of Google’s patented PageRank system was developed as part of the MDDS program. Two entrepreneurs, Andreas Bechtolsheim (who set up Sun Microsystems) and David Cheriton, both of whom had previously received Pentagon money, were early investors in Google.

Like Bezos, Brin and Page became billionaires.

The Pentagon’s Project Maven (or Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Function Team) was launched in 2017 as a machine-learning application to help drones differentiate humans from objects. Technology and staff were provided by Google, many of whom quit in protest after it was revealed that the project had targeted Iraqis and Syrians for death.

In 1999, the CIA established a venture capital firm, Peleus; later In-Q-Tel. One of In-Q-Tel’s companies was the mapping firm Keyhole, bought by Google in the mid-2000s and developed into Google Earth. Within a few years, military personnel were using Google Earth to target sites in Afghanistan. In 2005, In-Q-Tel invested $2.2m in Google. In 2010, the CIA and Google both invested in Recorded Futures, a social media tracking company.

Another billionaire, Peter Thiel, created both PayPal and Palantir. With $2m of In-Q-Tel investment, Palantir was launched in 2004 and provided data analysis for the CIA in Afghanistan and Iraq. Recently, it was tested in New Orleans as part of local law enforcement’s “predictive policing” program. Palantir creates digital webs of citizens whose personal data are gleaned from various sources. Palantir’s webs show police images of alleged, potential, future suspects along with captions such as, “Colleague of…,” “Lives with…,” “Owner of…,” “Sibling of…,” and “Lover of…”. Palantir is also used by US immigration authorities. For all the accusations of Russian meddling in both the US elections and Brexit referendum in the UK, mainstream Western media have underplayed Palantir employees’ role in working with Facebook to create psychographic profiles of potential voters.

These and other examples show that in addition to trying to shape the world in the interests of American elites, the Pentagon’s ulterior motive is to fund hi-tech industry to stimulate new economies. That same hi-technology, which exists in a so-called system of “free enterprise,” not only creates monopolies, it does so with taxpayer money. Spied on and manipulated by the technologies they fund, the public, as consumers, then pay for services provided by those tech giants. Talk about a vicious cycle…

Published:5/23/2019 7:52:07 PM
[Netflix] Mario Lopez Is Exec Producing a New Netflix Sitcom, ‘The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia’ The half-hour comedy is about a 15-year-old science genius who moves cross country to work for NASA. Published:5/23/2019 6:49:19 PM
[Markets] Will 5G Undermine Weather Prediction?

Via Cliff Mass Weather and Climate blog,

There have been a number of media stories this week about a major threat to weather prediction:  the sale of electromagnetic spectrum for new 5G cellphone service.   The problem is that some of the wavelengths being auctioned off for 5G are critical for an important class of weather satellites, with 5G signals potentially undermining our ability to forecast the weather.

Currently, 4G cellphone technologies provide roughly 100 megabits per second (100 million bits per second) of communication speed, while the proposed 5G service could achieve 10 gigabits per second (10 billion bits per second).  Downloading movies and animations would be much quicker, with hardwired connections becoming less critical for most uses.

But to achieve such service one needs a larger communications highway, which means the use of more of the electromagnetic spectrum.   Electromagnetic energy, such as radio, microwaves, and visible light, are characterized by ranges of wavelength and frequency.  The use of these wavelengths is controlled by our government, which can auction off specific frequency/wavelength bands.

Among the spectrum recently auctioned off by the FCC for 5G is a band of frequencies near 24 GHz (GHz is gigahertz, or a billion cycles per second).   Unfortunately, this is close to 23.8 GHz, a frequency in which water vapor emits microwave radiation and which is used by weather satellites to determine the three-dimension properties of the atmosphere.  And that information is very important for providing the description of the atmosphere that is required for numerical weather prediction.

Why weather satellite information is important for numerical weather prediction

Numerical weather prediction, the foundation of all weather forecasts, depends on securing a comprehensive, three dimensional description of that atmosphere--known as the initialization.  The better this initialization, the better the forecast.

One of the key reasons why modern numerical weather prediction has gotten so good is that weather satellites now provide 3D data over the entire planet.  Even over remote oceans and the polar regions.  Roughly 95% of the total volume of weather information now comes from weather satellites.

Before weather satellites, radiosondes were the main source of weather information above the surface

And the most important source of weather information is from a collection of satellites that contain microwave sounders.  These satellites observe the earth by sensing microwave radiation being emitted by water vapor, liquid water, ice, and the surface.

The amount of radiation being emitted can be related to temperature.  And different wavelengths/frequencies reveal the conditions at different levels of the atmosphere.   To put it another way, by sensing emissions at various wavelengths, one can secure a profile of temperatures at various levels in the atmosphere.  Kind of like have radiosondes (balloon-launched weather observations) everywhere.  Very valuable information

The Microwave Sounder Unit on the AMSU-A satellite

What is the most valuable of all satellite observations?

Satellites with microwave sounders like AMSU-A (see below).  That platform ALONE contributed to a 17% reduction in forecast error in the European Center global model (the world's best)

AMSU A looks at the atmosphere in 15 wavelength/frequency bands or channels,  including sensing the atmosphere at wavelengths that the atmospheric water vapor has peaks in emission (see below).

Channel 1 is at 23.8 GHz.   The problem is that the FCC has sold off 24 GHz, which is very close to 23.6 GHz.   And if the 5G transmitters aren't very high quality, with little spread to neighboring frequencies, they could well interfere with the microwave weather satellites.

Why?  Because the weather satellite have very, very sensitive receivers because they are trying to sense the weak microwave emissions of atmospheric water vapor.  These sensors could be overwhelmed by the active TRANSMISSION in nearby wavelengths by thousands of 5G cell tower transmissions or other sources.

And the problem is even worse than that.  The FCC is planning to auction off more wavelengths/frequencies, some of which are close to other wavelength/frequency bands used by the weather satellites.

The potential harm to U.S. and worldwide numerical weather prediction by interfering with the 23.8 GHz band is certainly real, but difficult to quantify exactly. 

First, it will depend on the characteristic of the 5G transmitters and to what degree they will contaminate the nearby weather observation bands.

Second, it depends on how many wavelength bands would be affected.

Third, cell phone coverage does not include the entire planet.  One analysis suggests that only 34% of the earth's surface has cell phone coverage, suggesting that roughly 90% of the planet would be clean of interference (71% of the earth's surface is covered by water).  But if plans to establish satellite-based 5G on commercial ships and aviation come to fruition, the problem would be much worse.

NOAA, NASA, and U.S. Navy are quite concerned about this issue, with the Navy writing a strong statement of the potential harm.  On Thursday, NOAA Administrator Neil Jacobs warned of a potential loss of  1/3rd of current forecast skill.  These warnings need to be taken seriously.

The key now is to have close coordination between the FCC and NOAA/NASA/DOD, as well as other international players, to ensure that spectra close to the weather observing frequencies are not used and, if there are, investments in high-quality transmitters, with effective filters, are required by law. 

Improved forecast skill derived from weather satellites has had huge positive impact on saving lives and property, and in fostering economic growth.  Reasonable actions must be taken to protect the value of weather observations from space.

Published:5/19/2019 9:35:44 PM
[Entertainment] Ariana Grande Visits NASA Space Center and Dresses the Part Ariana Grande, 2019 Coachella Ariana Grande's Saturday was out of this world! The 25-year-old pop star visited NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, a day before her concert in the city. And she...
Published:5/19/2019 3:39:46 PM
[Markets] The Polar Silk Road Comes To Life As A New Epoch In History Begins

Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Speaking at China’s second Belt and Road conference in Beijing featuring 37 heads of state, Russia President Vladimir Putin unveiled the intention to unite Russia’s Northern Sea Route with China’s Maritime Silk Road. This announcement should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the close strategic friendship between both countries since the 2015 announcement of an alliance between the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union and Belt and Road Initiative. This extension of the Maritime Silk Road represents a powerful force to transform the last unexplored frontier on the Earth, converting the Arctic from a geopolitical zone of conflict towards a new paradigm of mutual cooperation and development.

Putin gave a speech at the BRI forum on April 26 stating:

“the Great Eurasian Partnership and Belt and Road concepts are both rooted in the principles and values that everyone understands: the natural aspiration of nations to live in peace and harmony, benefit from free access to the latest scientific achievements and innovative development, while preserving their culture and unique spiritual identity. In other words, we are united by our strategic, long-term interests.”

Weeks before this speech Russia unveiled a bold plan for Arctic development during the conference Arctic: Territory of Dialogue on April 9-10. This bold plan ties to the “Great Eurasian Partnership”, not only extending roads, rail and new cities into the Far East, but also extending science and civilization into a terrain long thought totally inhospitable. At this Arctic conference, China and Russia signed the first scientific cooperation agreement together setting up the “China-Russia Arctic Research Center” as a part of the Polar Silk Road.

The BRI’s Success So Far

The Belt and Road Initiative has already won over much of Africa as BRI-connected rail, ports, and other infrastructure are providing a breath of fresh air to nations long held hostage by IMF/World Bank conditionalities. Pakistan and much of Southwest Asia are also increasingly on board the BRI through the growing China-Pakistan Economic CorridorSeventeen Arab states consolidated 8 massive BRI infrastructure projects between April 15-16 and much of Latin America has also joined with hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure projects. Italy embraced this new BRI framework on March 23, and Greece joined the Central and Eastern European nations of the 16+1 alliance on April 9th. The Eurasian Economic Union is now in the final stages of a long planned economic treaty between China and the Russian-led economic block. Although America has been invited to the BRI on many occasions since its 2013 inception, no positive response has been permitted by the NATO-Deep State power structures manipulating the west.

While China’s activity in the Arctic is only manifesting now, its Arctic Strategy began many years ago.

The importance of the Arctic Silk Road for China

China deployed their first Arctic research expedition in 1999, followed by the establishment of their first Arctic research station in Svalbard, Norway in 2004. After years of effort, China achieved a permanent observer seat at the Arctic Council in 2011, and began building icebreakers soon thereafter surpassing Canada and nearly surpassing the USA whose two out-dated ice breakers have passed their shelf life by many years.

As the Arctic ice caps continue to recede, the Northern Sea Route has become a major focus for China. The fact that shipping time from China’s Port of Dalian to Rotterdam would be cut by 10 days makes this alternative very attractive. Ships sailing from China to Europe must currently follow a transit through the congested Strait of Malacca and the Suez Canal which is 5000 nautical miles longer than the northern route. The opening up of Arctic resources vital for China’s long term outlook is also a major driver in this initiative.

In preparation for resource development, China and Russia created a Russian Chinese Polar Engineering and Research Center in 2016 to develop capabilities for northern development such as building on permafrost, creating ice resistant platforms, and more durable icebreakers. New technologies needed for enhanced ports, and transportation in the frigid cold was also a focus. China additionally has a 30% stake in the Yamal LNG Project and the ‘Power of Siberia’ 3000 mile pipeline to China is 99% complete and will soon be the primary supplier of China’s oil and natural gas needs.

Where the Belt Goes, the Road Follows

While the Belt and Road features two components (land and sea), the fact is that they are inextricably connected. Rails, ports and other civilization-building practices driven by a belief in scientific and technological progress have given this design a power and flexibility to adapt to every nation’s chosen developmental pathways. This is the mysterious “secret ingredient” to the BRI’s powerful adaptability which boggles the minds of closed-minded geopoliticians who can only think in zero-sum terms.

Scientific and technological progress, when shaped by the intention to uphold the common good represent UNIVERSAL requirements for human survival and satisfy a creative yearning at the deepest core of all people. Without this commitment to the continual improvement of productive powers of society and quality of life, a society will always be divided by the localized self interest of its parts fighting for their own short term benefits. Such has been the fate of the west as it embarked upon a consumer society driven by a “post-industrial mode of existence”after the assassinations of the 1960s and floating of the US dollar in 1971.

This concept of the common development of mankind both as a whole and in all of its parts was echoed recently by Xi Jinping who stated:

“China is ready to jointly promote the Belt and Road Initiative with international partners. We hope to create new drivers to power common development through this new platform of international cooperation; and we hope to turn it into a road of peace, prosperity, openness, green development and innovation and a road that brings together different civilizations.”

The BRI summit closed on April 27 with 37 Heads of State, and over 5000 leading participants from the public and private sector. Billions of dollars in BRI contracts were signed and the ideas that will carry humanity into the coming decades were displayed brilliantly. The future orientation of the BRI and the Russia-China alliance doesn’t stop with Earth based development, but extends also towards space exploration and colonization of other planetary bodies such as the Moon and Mars development programs to which both China and Russia have committed to in recent months.

The cage of delusions holding the Trans-Atlantic system together is cracking ever faster by the day with Trump’s continued fight against the British-run Deep State producing surprises such as the US-China collaboration during China’s historic landing on the far side of the moon on January 3, and his recent appeals for China-US-Russian cooperation. Following Italy’s lead, patriotic forces in Switzerland and Luxembourg signed MOUs with China’s Belt and Road creating a precedent for more Trans-Atlantic nations to jump on board the new emerging paradigm.

Published:5/17/2019 10:53:46 PM
[Government] Blue Origin and SpaceX get million-dollar NASA nod to test moon lander tech Eleven aerospace companies will share more than $45 million in funds from NASA to design and test prototypes for the Artemis moon missions, the agency announced today. Among the established names like Northrop Grumman and Sierra Nevada are relative newcomers SpaceX and Blue Origin, looking to make a place for themselves on the agency's biggest push in decades. Published:5/17/2019 1:42:31 PM
[Markets] Washington Heats Up Its Cold War In The Arctic

Authored by Brian Cloughley via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

US Secretary of State Pompeo continues to travel the world, creating alarm, resentment and irritation almost everywhere. He maintained his lamentable reputation for crass rudeness by cancelling a meeting with Germany’s Chancellor Merkel on May 8 in order to go to Iraq, apparently to try to justify Washington’s despatch of nuclear-capable B-52H bombers and an aircraft carrier battle group to menace Iran.

As observed by Norbert Röttgen, head of Germany’s foreign affairs committee, “Even if there were unavoidable reasons for the cancellation, it unfortunately fits into the current climate in the relationship of the two governments.”

There were no “unavoidable reasons” for Pompeo’s boorish discourtesy, which was regarded internationally as yet another example of the arrogance that so critically influences US foreign policy. And before he insulted Mrs Merkel and the German people he managed to offend several other nations at the Arctic Council meeting in Finland on 6-7 May.

The Arctic Council is “the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.” Up until now it has been a shining and all-too-rare example of international cooperation which has resulted in production of valuable environmental, ecological and social assessments.

The Arctic Institute describes the Council as “a model for global governance. It is inclusive of Indigenous perspectives, committed to evidence based decision-making, and a champion of regional peace and stability.” Of great importance is the fact that its mandate, as laid down in the Ottawa Declaration of 1996, explicitly excludes military matters.

But Washington intends to change all that. Instead of contributing to the Council’s aims of championing peace and stability, it has adopted its only too familiar stance of confrontation and patronising criticism.

A most pressing concern of most members of the Council is climate change, and as reported by Reuters the 2019 meeting of the eight Arctic nations “was supposed to frame a two-year agenda to balance the challenge of global warming with sustainable development of mineral wealth.” This was an eminently sensible approach, and not in the least controversial or divisive — unless you are an adherent of Trump, who denies there is any such thing as a climate crisis. In March 2019 he tweeted “Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace: ‘The whole climate crisis is not only Fake News, it’s Fake Science. There is no climate crisis, there’s weather and climate all around the world, and in fact carbon dioxide is the main building block of all life.’ Wow!”

Moore was not a co-founder of Greenpeace, and is, as Greenpeace states, a paid spokesman for a number of polluting industries who “often misrepresents himself in the media as an environmental ‘expert’ or even an ‘environmentalist,’ while offering anti-environmental opinions on a wide range of issues and taking a distinctly anti-environmental stance.”

But very few people in the US are concerned about disproof of Trump’s bogus pronouncements, in spite of evidence supplied by the Washington Post that he “has made 9,014 false or misleading claims over 773 days.”

So far as the US Military-Industrial complex is concerned, there is no climate crisis in the Arctic or anywhere else. Trump, Pompeo and the rest ignore their own government department, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which states that “Arctic sea ice reaches its minimum each September. September Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 12.8 percent per decade, relative to the 1981 to 2010 average.”

In spite of this, Pompeo refused to sign an Arctic Council Agreement that acknowledged climate change as a severe threat to the region. His other achievement was that this was the first time a declaration has been cancelled since the Council was formed in 1996. Americans must be proud.

Finland’s foreign minister stated later that “A majority of us regard climate change as a fundamental challenge facing the Arctic and acknowledge the urgent need to take mitigation and adaptation actions and to strengthen resilience.” He told reporters “I don’t want to name and blame anyone,” which is polite — but regrettable because it’s about time Pompeo, Trump and Bolton were named and blamed for their campaigns of spiteful aggression.

Pompeo tried to justify Washington’s moves to militarise the region by declaring “We’re concerned about Russia’s claim over the international waters of the Northern Sea Route, including its newly announced plans to connect it with China’s Maritime Silk Road.”

He ignores the fact that Russia has not made any claim involving international waters. In accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which Russia ratified in 1997 (and is accepted by 157 signatories, but not the US which refuses ratification) it has submitted a request to extend its continental shelf.

The application does not involve the slightest intrusion into the sectors of any other Arctic state. When it was put forward in 2016 the New York Times reported that “a nation may claim an exclusive economic zone over the continental shelf abutting its shores. If the geological shelf extends far out to sea, the nation can claim mineral resources in the seabed beyond that zone . . . If the United Nations committee accepts Russia’s claim, the seabed under the North Pole would be subject to Moscow’s oversight for activities like oil drilling, though Russia will not have sovereignty over the water or the ice.”

The fact that Russia has submitted its Arctic case to the UN does not cut any ice with Pompeo, who is intent on painting the worst possible picture of the situation, and — inevitably — brought in China to illustrate what he considers to be the grave threat posed by development of the trade route, the Maritime Silk Road (MSR).

As put succinctly by the US Center for Strategic & International Studies, the MSR is intended to “boost infrastructure connectivity throughout Southeast Asia, Oceania, the Indian Ocean, and East Africa. The MSR is the maritime complement to the Silk Road Economic Belt, which focuses on infrastructure development across Central Asia.”

But Washington objects violently to any project that is likely to contribute to the economies of Russia and China.

Associated Press reported that at the Plenary meeting of the Arctic Council on April 9 President Putin “said that Russia plans to expand the ports on both sides of the Arctic shipping route… and invited foreign companies to invest in the reconstruction project.” AP noted that the leaders of Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden “who spoke at the forum underlined the need for all countries in the Arctic region to focus on areas of mutual interest despite differences.”

But enter Pompeo, and exit mutual interest, dialogue and cooperation. In his Council speech Pompeo poured scorn on China and accused Russia of “provocative actions”, including, absurdly, “leaving snow prints in the form of army boots”.

The man would be a joke, were it not that he wields power in Washington and is intent on ramping up tension with Moscow and Beijing.

Washington’s policy of truculence in the Arctic has resulted in alienation of badly-needed allies and the firming of resolve by Russia and China to continue development of the Northern Sea shipping route. Pompeo and the other war hawks appear determined to heat up their cold war in the North, but if they intensify their confrontation there could well be conflict.

Published:5/14/2019 11:08:09 PM
[Space] NASA gives its new Moon mission a name: Artemis Cool missions need cool names, and NASA's new plan to establish a permanent lunar presence and put an American on the Moon again now has one: Artemis. It's nod both to Apollo, the 50th anniversary of the culmination of which is this year, and to the fact that the program is likely to send the first woman to the Moon. Published:5/14/2019 1:06:01 PM
[Markets] Bezos Reveals Blue Origin's Lunar Lander, Targets Humans On The Moon In 2024

On Thursday, Jeff Bezos' space exploration company, Blue Origin, revealed "Blue Moon", the company's lunar lander designed for towing cargo, payloads, and even humans, back to the moon. At an event late last week in Washington D.C., Bezos - pulling a page out of the Elon Musk taxpayer subsidy playbook - gave a grim outlook for energy consumption on Earth and began to ponder another plan - moving to smaller, man made planets, according to Popular Mechanics.



Bezos proposed the idea of building “O’Neill Worlds", named after physicist Gerard O'Neill, instead of going to distant planets. Bezos said Thursday: "This is going to take a long time. How are we going to build O'Neill colonies? I don't know and no one in this room knows. But we need gateways."

Bezos believes that part of the gateway to doing this is by getting on the moon. He said that Blue Moon will be able to transport between 3.6 and 6.5 tons of cargo and will run on liquid hydrogen. He also talked about the engine that will power Blue Moon, called the BE-7 seven engine. It is set to be test fired this summer for the first time.



The lander appears to come with several robotic helpers, including a lunar rover that’s built for exploring the moon. The company also announced that the lunar lander should be set to carry humans as early as 2024.

Greg Johnson, head of the New Shepard program and retired NASA astronaut said: "Jeff laid out a rational reason to do this. That's what's been lacking. Everyone's been putting the pieces together, step by step this is what we have to do. My hope is that it makes everyone enthusiastic for a private/public partnership that gets us back to the moon."

Bezos also has aspirations to mine the moon for resources, like water, according to The Atlantic. Bezos warned at the event that the Earth's resources are finite and will eventually and inevitably wind up depleted. 

“Space is the only way to go,” Bezos said about humankind looking for additional resources.  



Bezos envisions that heavy, pollution causing industry will eventually be done off of the earth, which will solely be "zoned for residential and light industrial use". He then stated that it was up to future generations to help follow through on this plan. Pointing to a group of middle school aged children, he said: “You guys are going to do this, and your children are going to do this. This is going to take a long time.”

But in the meantime, Bezos said that starting with the Blue Moon lander, he would mine the natural resources of the moon. Robotic missions to the moon have found evidence in the past decade that water exists there, in the form of ice. Exploiting that resource could make longer-term outposts on the moon possible. Bezos envisioned that future lunar explorers could feed the water ice into life-support systems or split it into hydrogen and oxygen and turn it into rocket fuel. 

“Ultimately, we’re going to be able to get hydrogen from that water on the moon, and be able to refuel these vehicles on the surface of the moon,” Bezos said.

The news follows the mysterious build up to the event - one that we wrote about  last week. The company had, for the most part, been quiet about its strategy for moon exploration. 

Back in March, Vice President Mike Pence called on NASA to build a space platform in lunar orbit and to put American astronauts back on the moon by 2024 "by any means necessary". This timeline is 4 years quicker than previously planned and Bezos is expected to tailor his plans to align with Pence's timeline request. Meeting the timeline could help Blue Origin attract funds from NASA and one source has said that the company has been working to accelerate its strategy specifically based on Pence's comments. 

Blue Origin hinted at the announcement with a Twitter post last month showing the ship used by explorer Ernest Shackleton on an expedition to Antarctica. Reuters, without sarcasm, said that the Tweet could be "a possible reference to an impact crater on the lunar south pole sharing the man’s name." 

Bezos, like his billionaire competitor Elon Musk of SpaceX, has shared a broader vision of a future where millions live and work in space. Bezos also faces competition from United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin.

Blue Origin is working on its New Shepard rocket for short space trips and a rocket called New Glenn for potential satellite launch contracts. Its timeline target for delivering its New Glenn rocket is 2021, while its plans to launch humans in a suborbital flight in New Shepard are set for later this year.

You can watch the full Blue Moon announcement below:

Published:5/11/2019 4:45:11 PM
[Markets] Bezos To Unveil "Moon Mission" Plans In Race With Elon Musk

Having monopolized the earth, the world's richest man turns his attention toward the stars.

On Thursday, billionaire Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will unveil plans for upcoming missions to the moon, according to Reuters. The plans will be tailored to the US government's renewed push to establish a lunar outpost over the next five years. The plans will also likely put Bezos in direct competition with Elon Musk's SpaceX, who is also working on similar "lunar plans."

Bezos will host a media event at 4pm EDT on Thursday on behalf of his space exploration company, Blue Origin. The event will provide “an update on our progress and share our vision of going to space to benefit Earth," according to Bezos. 

The company has, for the most part, been quiet about its strategy for moon exploration. However, people familiar with the plans told Reuters that Bezos will lay out details on both lunar mission and a new lunar lander spacecraft that Blue Origin is developing. The idea of a human outpost on the moon is also expected to be up for discussion. 

Back in March, Vice President Mike Pence called on NASA to build a space platform in lunar orbit and to put American astronauts back on the moon by 2024 "by any means necessary". This timeline is 4 years quicker than previously planned and Bezos is expected to tailor his plans to align with Pence's timeline request. Meeting the timeline could help Blue Origin attract funds from NASA and one source has said that the company has been working to accelerate its strategy specifically based on Pence's comments. 

Blue Origin hinted at the announcement with a Twitter post last month showing the ship used by explorer Ernest Shackleton on an expedition to Antarctica. Reuters, without sarcasm, said that the Tweet could be "a possible reference to an impact crater on the lunar south pole sharing the man’s name." One hopes that Bezos' lunar ambitions don't meet the same end.

Bezos, like his competitor Musk, has shared a broader vision of a future where millions live and work in space. Bezos also faces competition from United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin.

Blue Origin is working on its New Shepard rocket for short space trips and a rocket called New Glenn for potential satellite launch contracts. Its timeline target for delivering its New Glenn rocket is 2021, while its plans to launch humans in a suborbital flight in New Shepard are set for later this year.

Published:5/9/2019 2:03:50 PM
[Apps] Decolonization and intersectionality in tech, with Chanda Prescod-Weinstein Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy and a Core Faculty Member in Women’s Studies at the University of New Hampshire. She is the lead “axion wrangler” and a social media team member for the NASA STROBE-X Probe Concept Study. The first Black woman in history to hold a faculty position in theoretical […] Published:5/8/2019 10:29:42 AM
[Markets] NASA Issues A Warning: Meteorites Are "A Threat To The Earth!"

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

On Monday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine warned that meteors that could destroy an entire state in the United States and that they are a real threat to Earth. Bridenstine also claimed that not enough people are taking his warnings seriously enough.

Speaking at the Planetary Defense Conference in Washington, D.C., Bridenstine said:

“This is not about Hollywood, this is not about movies, this is about ultimately protecting the only planet we know right now to host life!” And it’s not being taken seriously, according to a report by WRCBTV.

Bridenstine used the meteorite that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013 as an example of just how dangerous these space rocks could be to the Earth. The Chelyabinsk meteor had “30 times the energy of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima” and injured around 1,500 people. Just 16 hours after the crash, NASA detected an even larger object that approached the earth but did not actually land on it, he revealed.

“I wish I could tell you that these events are exceptionally unique, but they are not,” Bridenstine said. “These events are not rare - they happen. It’s up to us to make sure that we are characterizing, detecting, tracking all of the near-Earth objects that could be a threat to the world.”

In 2018, the White House published an action plan that required NASA to detect, track, and characterize 90 percent of near-Earth objects measuring 140 meters (460 feet) in diameter. Bridenstine admitted on Monday that the space agency had a long way to go to meet that goal.

“We’re only about a third of the way there,” he said. “We want more international partners that can join us in this effort. We want more systems on the face of the Earth that can detect and track these objects, and we want to be able to feed all of that data into one single operating system so that ultimately, we have the best, most accurate data that we can possibly get.

Bridenstine warned that failure to track these near-Earth objects could result in an apocalyptic tragedy. “We know for a fact that the dinosaurs did not have a space program,” he added. “But we do, and we need to use it.”

Published:5/4/2019 9:52:02 PM
[Markets] SpaceX Finally Confirms Astronaut Capsule "Destroyed" From April 20 Explosion

Breaking a nearly two week's long silence about what it called an "anomaly" - a massive explosion by any other name - SpaceX has finally confirmed the "explosion and destruction" of an astronaut capsule during testing on April 20. It also seemed to confirm that leaked video of the explosion we had reported on was in fact accurate, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of build and flight reliability, says that it is still the company's mission to put astronauts in space by the end of the year this year, a timeline that looks increasingly pessimistic given the massive setback the company suffered on April 20. SpaceX is still pulling together data from the explosion that occurred at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station nearly two weeks ago.

“The vehicle was destroyed,” Koenigsmann said. 

The capsule had previously launched to the International Space Station in March and was going through its normal tests on April 20. The Draco engines were fired in two sets successfully, but the capsule's SuperDraco thrusters, which are used for emergencies, appeared to be the cause of a malfunction.



A major explosion that sent up "clouds of orange smoke" ensued. SpaceX says that the wind was blowing in the right direction so "harmful chemicals" from the explosion blew away from the land - so much for saving the environment.

Koenigsmann continued:

 “That is why we test. If this has to happen, I’d rather it happen on the ground in the development program. I believe what we learn from this test will make us basically a better company and Dragon 2 at the end a better vehicle, a safer vehicle.”

As the investigation is now working through a second week, SpaceX said it’s still “too early to confirm any cause.” It does, however, have a couple of ideas as what could have happened thanks to the significant amount of data that has been collected from the vehicle and the ground sensors.

Koenigsmann says he doesn’t believe that there’s an issue with the thrusters themselves, since they have gone through about 600 prior tests in the past with no issue. In fact, the explosion happened about half a second before the thrusters were set to ignite. SpaceX also says it is certain that none of the issues were with components that are also found on the company's cargo version of Dragon, the vehicle that is set to launch today to the International Space Station, carrying more than 5,500 pounds of crew supplies, hardware and experiments.

“Only a few parts are really the same,” Koenigsmann said.

One of the first things the teams looked at was whether or not the explosion with the capsule meant anything with the cargo could be at risk. And the spacecraft that SpaceX will use to carry supplies to the International Space Station has already flown there in the past.

Kenny Todd, ISS mission operations integration manager said: 

“We were able to get our arms around the common areas that we had to look at, that they had to look at. At the end of the day, we didn’t see any change in our overall measurable risk.”

Shown below, four pairs of SuperDraco engines power the Crew Dragon's escape system. SpaceX has been developing SuperDraco thrusters for the better part of a decade to enable human flights on board Dragon, according to ARSTechnica. But this recent incident  will have NASA continuing to scrutinize these thrusters closely.

SpaceX also doesn’t believe that the anomaly was a result of anything that happened to the capsule during its first test mission in March. But alas, it seems as though everything is still on the table.

“I've done a lot of anomaly investigations by now, and whatever I knew in the second week was never really was happened to be resolved in the end,” Koenismann said.

This setback could mean additional delays to NASA's commercial crew program, which plans to return astronauts to space for the first time since 2011.

SpaceX was granted $2.6 billion from NASA to build Crew Dragon and was supposed to perform an in-flight abort test next with the vehicle that was destroyed. That would’ve been followed by a test, accompanied by crew, to the International Space Station as early as July. SpaceX has several other vehicles in various stages of production, but if the company has to go back and make changes to those spacecraft, it could still wind up costing the project more time.

Published:5/4/2019 8:22:48 PM
[Markets] NASA Defrauded By Metals Company Blamed For $700 Million In Losses And Two Failed Launches

An Oregon-based metals manufacturer faked test results and provided faulty materials to NASA, which the agency says caused over $700 million in losses and two failed satellite launches, according to the results of an internal investigation. 

Hydro Extrusion Portland, Inc. - formerly known as Sapa Profiles, Inc., (SPI) falsified thousands of certifications for aluminum components over a 19-year period for hundreds of customers, including NASA. 

When the launch of NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory and Glory missions failed in 2009 and 2011, the agency said it was because their launch vehicle malfunctioned. The clamshell structure (called fairing) encapsulating the satellites as they traveled aboard Orbital ATK's Taurus XL rocket failed to separate on command. Now, a NASA Launch Services Program (LSP) investigation has revealed that the malfunction was caused by faulty aluminum materials. -Engadget

SPI would generally alter the tests in one of two ways. Between 1996 and 2006, an SPI plant manager "led a scheme to make thousands of handwritten alterations to failing test results by changing failing numbers that fell below the minimum required test results to appear to be passing," according to the Justice Department. Then, from around 2002 through 2015, SPI testing lab supervisor Dennis Balius "led a scheme to alter tests within SPI’s computerized systems and provide false certifications with the altered results to customers." He also instructed employees to routinely violate other testing standards, such as increasing the speed of the testing machines or cutting samples in a way that did not meet testing standards. 

Balius was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay more than $170,000 in restitution

"When testing results are altered and certifications are provided falsely, missions fail," said NASA's Director for launch services, Jim Norman, who added that years of scientific work were lost because of the fraud. 

The Oregon company has agreed to pay $46 million for the fraud, including $34.1 million in combined restitution to NASA, the Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and commercial customers. They will also forfeit $1.8 million in ill-gotten gains.

"Corporate and personal greed perpetuated this fraud against the government and other private customers, and this resolution holds these companies accountable for the harm caused by their scheme," said Brian Benczkowski, assistant attorney general of the criminal division at the Department of Justice, in an April 23 statement reported by Bloomberg

A Norsk Hydro spokesman said that the case was settled, and that it had invested "significant time and resources to completely overhaul our quality and compliance organizations."

Published:5/2/2019 3:06:29 PM
[Gadgets] Blue Origin lofts NASA and student experiments in New Shepard tomorrow morning The 11th mission for Blue Origin's New Shepard launch vehicle is slated for takeoff Tuesday morning. The craft will be carrying 38 (!) experimental payloads from NASA, students, and research organizations around the world. You'll be able to watch the launch live tomorrow at about 6 AM Pacific time. Published:5/1/2019 12:59:26 PM
[Markets] What If A Mega-Tsunami Hit The East Coast Of The United States?

Authored by Michael Snyder via The End Of The American Dream blog,

Someday a giant meteor will slam into the Atlantic Ocean, and the colossal tsunami that is produced will wipe out most of the people that are living along the east coast.  In 1998, a big Hollywood movie entitled “Deep Impact” imagined what such an event would look like, and scientists assure us that it is just a matter of time before it takes place.  And since 39 percent of all Americans live in a county that directly borders a shoreline, we are in an extremely vulnerable position.  Let’s just hope that what I am talking about in this article does not happen any time soon.

Earlier today I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, and I came across a video entitled “What If A Mega-Tsunami Hit The United States”.

If you know me well, then you probably know that this is a hot button issue for me, and so it definitely got my attention.

And it must be a hot button issue for a lot of other people as well, because it has already been viewed more than 3.5 million times.

I did some digging around, and I found an accompanying article for the video.  According to that article, someday a wall of water 3000 feet high could come racing toward us at 620 miles per hour…

In six hours, you, your government, and 124 million other people across 14 states will be tested by the greatest disaster to ever hit the U.S. East Coast. A great wave, 1000 meters tall (3280 ft.), moving towards you at 1000 km/h (620 mph), and that’s only the beginning.

Boston, New York, Philly, D.C., Miami. All underwater. And you?

Of course the size of the tsunami would all depend upon the size of the event that caused it.

According to scientists at the University of California at Santa Cruz, if a giant meteor suddenly slammed into the Atlantic Ocean it could potentially create a tsunami with a wall of water as high as 400 feet…

If an asteroid crashes into the Earth, it is likely to splash down somewhere in the oceans that cover 70 percent of the planet’s surface. Huge tsunami waves, spreading out from the impact site like the ripples from a rock tossed into a pond, would inundate heavily populated coastal areas. A computer simulation of an asteroid impact tsunami developed by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, shows waves as high as 400 feet sweeping onto the Atlantic Coast of the United States.

Either way, we are talking about death and destruction on a scale that is hard to imagine.

Once a meteor hit, there would be a race against time to get away from the massive wall of water rapidly approaching the east coast.  The creators of the Facebook video that I just mentioned envision that everyone would have “6 hours of advance notice”

The death toll would be staggering; the economic impact, easily costing billions, if not trillions of dollars. It will take decades to rebuild, and yet, is it wrong to suggest that we might’ve gotten off easy?

How much worse would it have been without the 6 hours of advance notice? That’s right, you owe a big thank you to these supersmart buoys monitoring the coast, keeping you safe and dry, so that you can rest easy, and keep watching ‘What If.’

Sadly, the truth is that we would probably get very little warning.  For example, if a giant meteor were to splash down near Puerto Rico, the amount of time before impact would be extremely limited.  You could try to get in your car and outrace the wall of water coming at you at 620 miles per hour, but of course the highways would be jammed with other people trying to get out as well.

In a worst case scenario, tens of millions of people would die, and all of our east coast cities would essentially be destroyed.

You may not spend much time thinking about such a thing, but I find it very interesting that NASA is currently simulating a similar scenario

NASA is going to be using a simulation of an “asteroid apocalypse” in order to help the space agency prepare for the cataclysmic event. And they are taking it seriously, as disaster planners from FEMA will join NASA for a dress rehearsal of doomsday.

International partners, including the European Space Agency (ESA), will also be a part of the simulation. The drill is said to be a “tabletop exercise” that will simulate just how a planetary asteroid emergency would play out in real time.

And NASA has good reason to be concerned, because our planet is apparently “in the midst of an epic asteroid surge”

NASA’s been running these simulations for years, and with good reason: Earth, as it happens, is in the midst of an epic asteroid surge compared to the relative peace and quiet the planet experienced many millions of years ago.

When unexpected space rocks do appear on our scopes, sometimes we only get hours’ notice of their existence before they streak past. While the chances of a catastrophic impact are exceedingly slim, we’re nonetheless unprepared for surprise asteroid strikes, which is why NASA is continually working on plans to help improve our NEO detection and mitigation capabilities.

We truly do live in very strange times, and they are going to get a whole lot stranger.

A single moment in time can change everything.  Most people assume that NASA knows about all of the big rocks that could potentially slam into our planet, but that is not true at all.  According to one estimate, approximately 17,000 large near-Earth objects remain undetected.  But since they are “undetected”, the truth is that nobody knows the real number.

Meteors go whizzing by us all the time, and NASA doesn’t discover a lot of them until they are already past us.

In reality, we are sitting ducks, and someday our luck will finally run out.

Published:4/30/2019 10:54:19 PM
[Markets] NASA Prepares For "Asteroid Apocalypse" With "Planetary Defense" Simulation

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

NASA is going to be using a simulation of an “asteroid apocalypse” in order to help the space agency prepare for the cataclysmic event. And they are taking it seriously, as disaster planners from FEMA will join NASA for a dress rehearsal of doomsday.

International partners, including the European Space Agency (ESA), will also be a part of the simulation. The drill is said to be a  “tabletop exercise” that will simulate just how a planetary asteroid emergency would play out in real time. Although an emergency on this scale has never happened, and factors such as the location of impact will have a massive effect on the response to such a globally catastrophic event.

According to the Metro UK, disaster planners from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will join with NASA to hold a “make-believe apocalypse” intended to “inform involved players of important aspects of a possible disaster and identify issues for accomplishing a successful response.” The scenario will begin with the fictional premise that on March 26, astronomers “discovered” a near-Earth object (a comet or asteroid which comes within 30 million miles of Earth and one they consider potentially hazardous to Earth), NASA wrote.

At first, scientists said there is only a one in 50,000 chance this thing will hit us. Within weeks, those odds become one in 100, reported Science Alert. There are bits of good news and bad news about this approaching object, dubbed 2019 PDC. The good news is 2019 PDC doesn’t exist at all. It’s a completely fictional, imaginary apocalypse. The chance of impact, in actuality, is zero. But it makes for a good simulation and practice for an asteroid apocalypse.

Participants (NASA and FEMA) in this exercise will discuss potential preparations for asteroid reconnaissance and deflection missions and planning for mitigation of a potential impact’s effects.

NASA’s been running these simulations for years, and with good reason: Earth, as it happens, is in the midst of an epic asteroid surge compared to the relative peace and quiet the planet experienced many millions of years ago.

When unexpected space rocks do appear on our scopes, sometimes we only get hours’ notice of their existence before they streak past. While the chances of a catastrophic impact are exceedingly slim, we’re nonetheless unprepared for surprise asteroid strikes, which is why NASA is continually working on plans to help improve our NEO detection and mitigation capabilities. –Science Alert

“The first step in protecting our planet is knowing what’s out there,” says the ESA’s Head of Planetary Defence, Rüdiger Jehn. “Only then, with enough warning, can we take the steps needed to prevent an asteroid strike altogether, or to minimize the damage it does on the ground.”

Published:4/29/2019 7:48:58 PM
[Middle Column] Morano speaks in Seattle at Climate Summit: ‘Gore has egg on his face … polar bears are at or near historic population highs’

Marc Morano, former communications director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, editor of Climate Depot, and author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change,” will keynote the banquet in the evening...Saturday’s conference will attract scientists from around the nation, including Tom Wysmuller, a founding member of NASA retiree-founded group The Right Climate Stuff, and Don Easterbrook, professor emeritus of geology at Western Washington University.

Morano told the Dori Monson Show that climate change has little to do with science, and is really about pushing for certain political policies.  Morano said, in Al Gore’s 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth,” the coming demise of polar bears due to climate change featured as a major theme. However, this was not repeated in Gore’s 2017 sequel “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.” “Gore has egg on his face … polar bears are at or near historic population highs — there have never been this many polar bears they’ve ever counted,” Morano said. “So Al Gore dropped them like a hot potato.”

Published:4/27/2019 12:04:52 PM
[TC] NASA, FEMA and International Partners are planning an asteroid impact exercise When it comes to planning for a potential asteroid strike on planet Earth, The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency don’t want to miss a thing. Alongside international partners like the European Space Agency’s Space Situational Awareness-NEO Segment and the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN), NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office […] Published:4/24/2019 2:46:49 PM
[Society] NASA Chief Criticized for Mentioning Christianity in Speech

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the First Amendment. Or maybe, after the spat over a speech by NASA’s Jim Bridenstine, it does. Thanks to... Read More

The post NASA Chief Criticized for Mentioning Christianity in Speech appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:4/24/2019 1:16:00 PM
[US News] NASA used tonight’s ‘Game of Thrones’ premiere to promote climate-change alarmism

The premiere of the final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” airs tonight and even NASA is getting in on the ice and fire action, although the space agency is using it as a way to promote climate-change alarmism: “While you’re waiting for the new #GameOfThrones episode, you can check out a real landscape of […]

The post NASA used tonight’s ‘Game of Thrones’ premiere to promote climate-change alarmism appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/14/2019 9:44:05 PM
[Markets] Trump Signs Ambitious EMP Preparedness Executive Order

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

After years of the government blowing off concerns about an electromagnetic pulse, President Trump has signed an executive order that will put EMP preparedness in the hands of the White House.

What’s in the executive order?

The Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses is a first step toward learning more about how an EMP would affect us and how to protect critical infrastructure.

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) has the potential to disrupt, degrade, and damage technology and critical infrastructure systems.  Human-made or naturally occurring EMPs can affect large geographic areas, disrupting elements critical to the Nation’s security and economic prosperity, and could adversely affect global commerce and stability.  The Federal Government must foster sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective approaches to improving the Nation’s resilience to the effects of EMPs. (source)

The Order outlines the responsibilities of specific offices to help get the country ready for a threat to the grid and sets up a 4-year plan.

It is the policy of the United States to prepare for the effects of EMPs through targeted approaches that coordinate whole-of-government activities and encourage private-sector engagement.  The Federal Government must provide warning of an impending EMP; protect against, respond to, and recover from the effects of an EMP through public and private engagement, planning, and investment; and prevent adversarial events through deterrence, defense, and nuclear nonproliferation efforts.  To achieve these goals, the Federal Government shall engage in risk-informed planning, prioritize research and development (R&D) to address the needs of critical infrastructure stakeholders, and, for adversarial threats, consult Intelligence Community assessments.

(b)  To implement the actions directed in this order, the Federal Government shall promote collaboration and facilitate information sharing, including the sharing of threat and vulnerability assessments, among executive departments and agencies (agencies), the owners and operators of critical infrastructure, and other relevant stakeholders, as appropriate.  The Federal Government shall also provide incentives, as appropriate, to private-sector partners to encourage innovation that strengthens critical infrastructure against the effects of EMPs through the development and implementation of best practices, regulations, and appropriate guidance.

Sec. 4.  Coordination.  (a)  The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), through National Security Council staff and in consultation with the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), shall coordinate the development and implementation of executive branch actions to assess, prioritize, and manage the risks of EMPs.  The APNSA shall, on an annual basis, submit a report to the President summarizing progress on the implementation of this order, identifying gaps in capability, and recommending how to address those gaps. (source)

In 2017, those in the know were aghast when the EMP Commission was defunded by Congress.

What is an EMP?

If you’re not familiar with the term “EMP” you’re in for a shocking awakening. An electromagnetic pulse is one of the biggest threats out there against our well-being.  Back in 2008, the EMP Commission warned of the extreme consequences and experts concluded that 9 out of 10 Americans could be dead within a year of such an event.

So what is it?

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a high-frequency burst of electromagnetic energy caused by the rapid acceleration of changed particles. A catastrophic EMP would cause the collapse of critical civilian infrastructures such as the power grid, telecommunications, transportation, banking, finance, food and water systems across the entire continental United States—infrastructures that are vital to the sustenance of our modern society and the survival of its citizens.

An EMP event can occur naturally from a great geomagnetic storm, or it can be man-made through the use of a single, crude nuclear weapon delivered by a primitive missile, and the effects would be virtually identical. (source)

With the possibility of an EMP from either our enemies and our sun, it’s definitely an existential threat to which you should pay attention.

The havoc that such an event would cause is pretty difficult to imagine – and even worse, we don’t actually know how bad it would be. One Second After, a fictionalized tale of an EMP, has turned many a person into a prepper.

Some say that talk of an EMP is exaggerated. Others don’t.

After the Congressional report came out in 2017 about the risk of an EMP from North Korea, many mainstream outlets took to the airwaves to convince the public that it was overblown, if not a total hoax.

I asked my friend, Dr. Arthur T. Bradley about his thoughts on whether an EMP was a legitimate threat or a gigantic hoax. Dr. Bradley is an electrical engineer at NASA and has done a lot of scholarly research on the possibilities of EMP and space weather events. He’s a prolific author and his book Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms is a classic that belongs on every prepper’s bookshelf. (Find all of his books here.) Needless to say, Dr. Bradley is a pro and knows that of which he speaks.

Here’s his very thorough answer:

To address whether or not an EMP is a scam, we should first ask what it is we’re wanting to deny. An EMP is simply a broadband electromagnetic pulse. Such a pulse can be created by the sudden release of energy, such as a spark gap or on a larger scale, a bolt of lightning. Likewise, a very large explosion can release an EMP due to gamma rays ionizing nearby air molecules. EMPs from these events are well understood, and there are countless technical papers addressing the phenomenon. Even without expert confirmation, most people have experienced the phenomenon when their radio, phone, or TV suddenly “pops” when a bolt of lightning strikes nearby. Simply put, to say that “EMP is a scam” is to deny science.

The real question at hand is are the effects of a nuclear-generated EMP really as significant as people claim. The short answer to that is no one knows for sure. The US government observed EMPs during nuclear testing in the 60’s, such as during the Starfish experiments, and it was identified as a possible weapon to disrupt an enemy’s infrastructures. The Russians also did extensive EMP testing during the same period, including the Soviet Test 184 in 1962 that caused extensive damage on the ground, including destroying the Karaganda power plant.

The US Air Force later built a very large $60 million wooden structure, known as ATLAS-I (aka Trestle), to study how best to harden systems against an EMP. More recently, the government commissioned a group of technical experts to assess the nation’s vulnerabilities to such an attack.

This council was known as the EMP Commission and issued a Critical National Infrastructures Report in April of 2008. In it, the commission discussed in detail how the nation’s critical infrastructures and citizens could be disrupted by a high-altitude nuclear-generated EMP, and the feasibility of hardening military and civilian systems. The EMP Commission was later reestablished in 2006 to make specific recommendations on reducing our susceptibilities.

Their conclusion was that an EMP “has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures that support the fabric of U.S. society and the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power,” and “damage to or loss of these components could leave significant parts of the electric power grid out of service for months to a year or more.” The loss of electricity would lead to the subsequent disruption of every other infrastructure, including food and water distribution, telecommunications, banking, transportation, emergency services, government, and energy production.

Whether or not the commission’s assessments would prove accurate is impossible to say, since no country has ever suffered a wide-scale EMP attack. What can be said is that a group of highly-trained experts commissioned by the government came to some very dire conclusions about the effects of an EMP attack. 

In fact, there have been several EMPs of which we know.

While some folks want to wave off concerns, there’s some history that tells is the warnings may not be exaggerated. In this in-depth article that discusses exactly what an EMP is, the author shared four examples.

The first is the Carrington Event of 1859, which was the first documented event of a solar flare impacting Earth. The event occurred at 11:18 a.m. EDT on Sept., 1 and is named after Richard Carrington, the solar astronomer who witnessed the event through his telescope.

The second event is the Star Fish Prime tests. In 1962, the US government launched a 1.4 megaton nuclear warhead about 250 miles into the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. The pulse results were much stronger than expected. It damaged street lights and microwave links in Hawaii, 900 miles away. The EMP was so intense that it was not accurately measured because “it drove much of the instrumentation off scale”.

The third event was a Soviet EMP test called “Test 184”. It happened around the same time as the Star Fish Prime tests. Not many details have been released from this. Although the warhead was not as powerful as the one from Star Fish Prime, it was exploded about 180 miles over the populated area of Kazakhstan.

What is known is that the EMP from Test 184 knocked out a 600-mile underground power line (shielded) that was buried 3 feet underground. It caused fires to the power station that the line was connected to. It also damaged diesel generators. (Most of the details have not been released and/or have remained classified.)…

…The final event I’ll mention here is a CME that hit Canada on March 13, 1989. A powerful solar flare set off a major power blackout that left six million people without electricity for about nine hours.

According to NASA, the CME disrupted electric power transmission from the Hydro Québec generating station and even melted some power transformers in New Jersey. NASA scientists have concluded that this event was only about a 1/3 the strength of the Carrington event. (source)

So, it’s definitely not impossible, although we do not know for sure the extent of the damage.

The Executive Order is a step in the right direction.

President Trump’s Executive Order is a step in the right direction when it comes to a threat like EMPs. But, as every prepper knows, you can’t wait for the government (or anyone else) to save you in the event of a disaster.

My personal plan for long-term grid interruption doesn’t include fancy generators and equipment. In fact, it’s pretty low-tech. If you’re on a budget, don’t spend a fortune on stuff that could potentially become very expensive paperweights.

Here’s an excerpt from my article on low-tech preparedness:

If money is an object in your preparedness endeavors, (and let’s face it, money is an object for most of us these days), then focus your dollars on preps that are sustainable without electrical power.  Instead of trying to live the exact same life you are living right now, only fueled by an individual generator, look for low-tech solutions instead.

This reminds me of people who stop eating gluten but still want to eat exactly like they have been eating their entire lives, only now with expensive gluten-free baked goods that cost 4 times the price of their wheat-filled counterparts.  When things change dramatically, accept the change and adapt to it, instead of trying to maintain the illusion that everything is the same.

Whether you can get power from an outlet in the wall or not, the necessities of day-to-day life will remain the same:

  • Water
  • Shelter and Warmth
  • Food
  • Sanitation and Hygiene
  • Light

The ultimate preparedness goal should be to provide those necessities without any help from the power grid, generators, or fossil fuel. (LEARN MORE about planning for a long-term disaster)

When my youngest daughter and I lived in the North Woods of Canada, we lost power frequently throughout the year. Lots of folks in the area had generators that they would fire up when the power went out, and that was a viable solution since gas stations were available and fuel was pretty much unlimited as long as you could afford to go get it.  We were on a tight budget, however, and we adapted our situation to live without power during those outages.

After the first couple of outages, we had worked out most of the bugs and we even began to look forward to our time without power – it was like a little vacation from the regular workday.  As plugged in as our society is, power is not actually a necessity – it’s a luxury, and we can live without it as long as we are adaptable, creative, willing, and prepared. (source)

Your skills and local resources will count more than anything in a situation like that. Read more about low-tech prepping and why I suggest it here, and check out this book about preparing specifically for EMPs and solar storms – I strongly recommend it.

Published:4/13/2019 11:40:45 AM
[Science, Technology, and Social Media] Watch: SpaceX Launches ArabSat-6A on Falcon Heavy Rocket

By Duncan Idaho -

On Thursday, April 11 at 6:35 p.m. EDT, Falcon Heavy launched the Arabsat-6A satellite from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The satellite was deployed approximately 34 minutes after liftoff. Following booster separation, Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters landed at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and ...

Watch: SpaceX Launches ArabSat-6A on Falcon Heavy Rocket is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:4/12/2019 12:03:55 PM
[Markets] NASA Warns: "Catastrophic" Supervolcano Poses Bigger Threat The Mankind Than Asteroid

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

NASA has warned that a catastrophic supervolcano’s eruption poses a bigger threat to humanity than does an asteroid. An eruption at Yellowstone, for example, would be an apocalyptic event – one which human beings have never experienced.

A supervolcano has the ability to “push mankind to extinction” with an eruption, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) further warned.  The space agency conducted a “thought experiment” called, Defending Human Civilization From Supervolcanic Eruptions.  In it, researchers stated that a supervolcano eruption was more likely to happen on Earth in the future than an asteroid hitting the earth, according to the Express Daily. NASA added:

“Supervolcanic eruptions occur more frequently than a large asteroid or comet impacts that would have a similarly catastrophic effect to human civilization.”

Jet Propulsion Laboratory researchers found that collisions from asteroids which are more than 2km in diameter occurred “half as often as supervolcanic eruptions.”

A supervolcano is defined as a volcano which is big enough to cause an eruption which could project more than 1000 km3 of material into the atmosphere. The term “supervolcano” was introduced to describe eruptions capable of “plunging the world into a catastrophe and push humanity to the brink of extinction,” according to researchers.

The caldera underneath Yellowstone National Park is perhaps the most famous supervolcano in the United States.  Yellowstone has the capacity to extinct humanity if it ever erupts.

What Would Happen To The World If The Yellowstone Super Volcano Erupted Right Now?

Yellowstone is due for another eruption at any time, and no one knows when. Scientists haven’t even offered much of an educated guess, but NASA did say that they had plansto save the world from Yellowstone previously.  Although they admitted the plan could cause an eruption.

NASA’S Risky Plan To Save Us From Yellowstone Could Trigger A Massive Eruption

As of now, there is no good solution or fix to an eruption.  Continue to be prepared, as many scientists say that an eruption at Yellowstone would cause a nuclear winter and there wouldn’t be enough food stored for everyone. Researchers have found that if a supervolcano like Yellowstone did erupt, then a “volcanic winter” would ensue. The length of said volcanic winter could surpass the “amount of stored food worldwide,”wrote Express Daily. 

Volcanologists claim that MOST volcanoes display warning signs weeks before they erupt, however, some do not.  U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program coordinator John Eichelberger told Life’s Little Mysteries: “These signs may include very small earthquakes beneath the volcano, slight inflation, or swelling, of the volcano and increased emission of heat and gas from vents on the volcano. Rising magma causessolid rock to break, sending earthquake signals.

Published:4/8/2019 6:01:02 PM
[Uncategorized] Trump Administration targets 2024 for next moon mission NASA administrator discussed launching astronauts inside Orion, on a SpaceX rocket. Published:4/7/2019 11:27:44 AM
[Space] HyperSciences raises an untraditional $9.6M for its hypersonic drilling vision We profiled HyperSciences in February, when the team had just successfully completed a launch milestone for a small business grant with NASA. The last time we checked in, the hypersonic drilling company had raised about $5 million as part of an untraditional Reg A offering. By the end of March, HyperSciences rounded out its first […] Published:4/3/2019 3:29:34 PM
[Government] India’s satellite destruction test put 400 pieces of debris into unknown orbits, claims NASA India's recent demonstration of its orbital defense capabilities scattered more than 400 pieces into various orbits, endangering the International Space Station and other emplacements, according to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. He called the test a "terrible, terrible thing" at a town hall event yesterday. Published:4/2/2019 5:23:33 PM
[Markets] The State Of NASA's Budget As Pence Seeks New Moon Landing

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has declared that the Trump administration wants to send humans back to the moon by 2024. That is four years earlier than NASA's previous target of 2028. Apart from changing rockets and switching between contractors, Statista's Niall McCarthy notes that Pence did not provide any information as to how NASA will achieve another moon landing by 2024.

For starters, the agency will need a much bigger budget. NASA's budget for FY 2019 is $21.5 billion, representing 0.49 percent of the federal budget.

The following infographic provides a long term overview going back to the late 1950s.

Infographic: The State Of NASA's Budget As Pence Seeks New Moon Landing | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

Apollo 17 was the final mission of NASA's Apollo program and it marks the last time humans walked on the moon. The budget for space exploration was much higher that year, accounting for 1.48 percent of the total federal budget. The share reached its highest point in 1966 at 4.41 percent.

Published:3/31/2019 10:42:10 PM
[Global Warming] Climate Shocker: NASA Finds Major Greenland Glacier Getting Bigger, Not Melting

A key glacier in Greenland is growing again after shrinking for several years, according to NASA.

The post Climate Shocker: NASA Finds Major Greenland Glacier Getting Bigger, Not Melting appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:3/30/2019 3:33:14 PM
[Global Warming] Climate Shocker: NASA Finds Major Greenland Glacier Getting Bigger, Not Melting

A key glacier in Greenland is growing again after shrinking for several years, according to NASA.

The post Climate Shocker: NASA Finds Major Greenland Glacier Getting Bigger, Not Melting appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:3/30/2019 3:03:20 PM
[Markets] Hey Broke Millennials! NASA Will Give You $19k To Stay In Bed For 2 Months

NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), and German Aerospace Center (DLR) are requesting 24 volunteers to lie in bed for two months as part of a study into examining how the body changes in weightlessness. The three space agencies will compensate each volunteer $19,000.

"We are looking for test persons who take part in a bed rest study from September to December 2019 in Cologne and spend 60 days lying down. Based on the study results, scientists are developing countermeasures that reduce the negative effects of weightlessness on astronauts," reads a translated DLR website for the project.

Dubbed Agbresa (Artificial Gravity Bed Rest Study), NASA, ESA, and DLR have asked the public for 12 men and 12 women who will spend 60 days in special beds angled downward by 6 degrees, feet elevated above heads, with one shoulder touching the mattress at all times. This position simulates astronauts in space.

According to ESA, one group of volunteers will be spun around in a short-arm human centrifuge to generate artificial gravity and force blood back in the extremities, while the other group won't.

Agbresa is the first of its kind to be conducted in partnership between the multiple space agencies. The test will be conducted at DLR's medical research facility called the envihab facility.

ESA explained that bedrest had been the best way for researchers to mimic some of the body's changes that would occur in space. Humans have been created to live on Earth, and without the constant pull of gravity, the body's muscles and bones deteriorate.

Astronauts on board the International Space Station exercise for several hours per day and maintain a healthy diet to mitigate microgravity’s effects on the body, but researchers who are conducting the study believe a dose of artificial gravity on deep space missions could be beneficial for astronauts.

So, if you're a broke millennial and need a quick payout to cover half of your student loans, well, NASA's bed rest study could be for you.

Applications for the study are available online.

Published:3/29/2019 10:59:32 PM
[Markets] "At First We Didn't Believe It": Fast-Melting Greenland Glacier Starts Growing Again In Massive U-Turn

A large and fast-melting glacier in Greenland is growing again, according to a new NASA study. The Jakobshavn (YA-cob-shawv-en) glacier on Greenland's west coast had reportedly been retreating by around 1.8 miles and thinning by nearly 130 feet annually in 2012. 

May 30, 2012, photo shows an iceberg in or just outside the Ilulissat fjord that likely calved from the Jakobshavn glacier in west Greenland. (Ian Joughin/Associated Press)

According to a study published in Monday's peer-reviewed Nature Geoscience, however, the glacier began growing at about the same rate over the past two years. That said, the authors of the study swear it's temporary. 

"At first we didn't believe it," said lead author Ala Khazendar who works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). "We had pretty much assumed that Jakobshavn would just keep going on as it had over the last 20 years."

Jakobshavn glacier (photo: Google Earth)

Co-author Josh Willis said that while this is "good news" on a temporary basis, it's still "bad news" over the long term because it means that ocean temperatures are a larger factor in the growth and melting of glaciers than previously thought. 

"In the long run we’ll probably have to raise our predictions of sea level rise again," says Willis, pointing to inevitable doom from man-made global warming. 

"That was kind of a surprise. We kind of got used to a runaway system," said Jason Box, a Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland ice and climate scientist who was not involved in the study. 

Think of the ocean temperatures near Greenland like an escalator that’s rising slowly from global warming, Khazendar said. But the natural North Atlantic Oscillation sometimes is like jumping down a few steps or jumping up a few steps. The water can get cooler and have effects, but in the long run it is getting warmer and the melting will be worse, he said.

Four outside scientists said the study and results make sense.

University of Washington ice scientist Ian Joughin, who wasn’t part of the study and predicted such a change seven years ago, said it would be a “grave mistake” to interpret the latest data as contradicting climate change science.

What’s happening, Joughin said, is “to a large extent, a temporary blip. Downturns do occur in the stock market, but overall the long term trajectory is up. This is really the same thing.” -AP

Of course, what will they say if and when the sun enters a Maunder Minimum in 2020? The last time there was a prolonged solar minimum, it lead to a mini ice-age which was scientifically known as the Maunder minimum

SHTFplan.com's Mac Slavo wrote last November that sunspots have been absent for most of 2018 and Earth’s upper atmosphere is responding, says Phillips, the editor of spaceweather.com

Data from NASA’s TIMED (Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics) satellite shows that the thermosphere (the uppermost layer of air around our planet) is cooling and shrinking, literally decreasing the radius of the atmosphere. This reduction of solar activity could result in a global cooling phase. 

“The thermosphere always cools off during Solar Minimum. It’s one of the most important ways the solar cycle affects our planet,” said Mlynczak, according to The New American

The new NASA findings are in line with studies released by UC-San Diego and Northumbria University in Great Britain last year, both of which predict a Grand Solar Minimum in coming decades due to low sunspot activity.

Both studies predicted sun activity similar to the Maunder Minimum of the mid-17th to early 18th centuries, which coincided to a time known as the Little Ice Age, during which temperatures were much lower than those of today.

Published:3/28/2019 5:53:49 PM
[Markets] DARPA Wants Nuclear Reactor Rockets For Deep Space Travel

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has requested immediate funding to demonstrate a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system in space, according to the Pentagon's fiscal 2020 budget request, reported by Aviation Week & Space Technology

DARPA's budget request includes approximately $10 million to begin the new program in 1H20. 

The new space program is called Reactor On A Rocket (ROAR), will develop a high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) propulsion system.

"The program will initially develop the use of additive manufacturing approaches to print NTP fuel elements…In addition, the program will investigate on-orbit assembly techniques (AM) to safely assemble the individual core element subassemblies into a full demonstration system configuration, and will perform a technology demonstration," DARPA’s budget document states.

The propulsion system superheats liquid hydrogen in a nuclear reactor and propels the plasma out a rocket nozzle. HALEU is more efficient than NASA's current chemical rockets, reducing flight time by a significant margin to deep space destinations. 

According to Aviation Week, HALEU is being "developed as a fuel source for next-generation nuclear reactors, will use the fissionable isotope uranium-235 (U-235) with a concentration of more than 5% but less than 20%. This assay of U-235 is much lower than the 90% used in US naval reactors but also higher than the average 3-5% U-235 used in commercial reactors, allowing for smaller reactors."

Breakthroughs in nuclear technology have enabled engineers to develop cheaper, lighter and dependable NTP systems than when NASA tested its Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA) program in the 1960s.

Once the NTP system is mounted onto a rocket, DARPA is expected to pilot test missions into deep-space, but no timeframe has been given in the budget request. 

The budget request also had no mention of what the flight demonstration mission would involve. Often dummy payloads are mounted within the capsule to avoid damaging expensive space probes. 

Could DARPA's ROAR program to mature nuclear rocket engines be for deep-space travel under President Trump's new Space Force?

Published:3/28/2019 12:16:44 AM
[Markets] ...And Now For Confrontation In Space

Authored by Brian Cloughley via Strategic Culture Foundation

There was much international news in mid-March, although little of it was encouraging for those who prefer peace to war, handshakes to sabre-rattling, and cooperation to confrontation.

But there was one item of good cheer which showed that friendly cooperation between the US and Russia continues, albeit unobtrusively. It concerned the International Space Station, about which it was reported on March 15 that “A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch along with Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as planned from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan... Their Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft reached a designated orbit about nine minutes after the launch, and the crew reported they were feeling fine and all systems on board were operating normally."

The mission was successful, technically and professionally, but did not in any way diminish Washington’s anti-Russian bias or its determination to militarize space.

A forecast for the second quarter of 2019 by the analytical think-tank STRATFOR reflects the Washington Establishment’s line that “Military competition between the United States and Russia will prevail...” but does not record that the military budget of the United States is vastly more than that of Russia, or that, as headlined in the 2018 Report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, world defence expenditure “falls sharply in Russia, but rises in Central and Western Europe.” As is well-known, the US will spend 716 billion dollars on its military in 2019, but what is not publicised by the Western media is that Russia’s 2019 outlay is 45 billion dollars.

The word ‘competition’ (“the activity or condition of striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others”) is hardly appropriate when the figures involved are 716 compared to 45 whether these be dollars or coconuts, but the competition myth continues, supported energetically by Washington’s military-industrial complex - and especially by the generals, spurred on by the lure of lucrative post-retirement jobs with manufacturers of military systems. Stars and Stripes records that "major US defense contractors have hired hundreds of former high-level government officials in recent years, including at least 50 since Trump became president. The report lends new visibility to long-standing concerns about a revolving door between the government agencies that award massive contracts for military supplies and services and the businesses that profit from those contracts."

Which leads us to General "Fighting Joe" Dunford, who at his Senate hearing for appointment as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said "my assessment today, Senator, is that Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security." In October 2018 he reiterated that “the Russian challenge is not isolated to the plains of Europe. It is a global one" requiring the armed forces of the United States "to be able to project power to an area... and then once we’re there we’ve got to be able to freely manoeuvre across all domains... sea, air, land, space, and cyberspace."

Naturally he didn’t mention that at the very time he uttered his confrontational challenges there was close cooperation in air, land and space between the US and Russia whose astronauts were “able to freely manoeuvre” in harmony, adding to world knowledge and engendering trust by jointly conducting research projects in the International Space Station.

This is in accord with the United Nations 'Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space', otherwise known as the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which, among other things "establishes basic principles related to the peaceful use of outer space. This includes that the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries..."

It is the wish of the world - or most of the world - that space should be forever free of weapons. The Treaty lays down that "States Parties to the Treaty undertake not to place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner."

But although the United States signed and ratified the Space Treaty in 1967, it strongly objected to later attempts to refine it. In February 2008 the New York Times reported that "The Russian foreign minister, Sergey V Lavrov, presented a Russian-Chinese draft treaty banning weapons in space to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, an idea that was quickly rejected by the United States."

Space

It is a difficult to imagine why there could be any objection to a treaty aimed at "prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space," but the White House responded that it opposes any treaty that seeks "to prohibit or limit access to or use of space." Indeed the White House said that such a treaty would be impossible to enforce because "any object orbiting or transiting through space can be a weapon if that object is intentionally placed onto a collision course with another space object. This makes treaty verification impossible." The US continues to be resistant to any treaty forbidding deployment of weapons in space.

It was therefore unsurprising when Trump put forward his plan for militarising space in March last year, and in August tweeted “Space Force All the Way!” Then he declared on February 19 that “we’re investing in new space capabilities to project military power and safeguard our nation’s interests, especially when it comes to safety and defense” and signed a directive ordering the Pentagon to create a Space Force as the sixth branch of the military.

The result of his brainwave is that the US is going to "project military power" in space, which is directly contrary to "the basic principles related to the peaceful use of outer space” noted in the Outer Space Treaty.

The US refuses to move onwards from the original treaty, and on March 20 Newsweek summed up Washington’s policy by noting that "the United States has blamed Russia and China for militarizing space, while refusing to sign their joint proposal against placing weapons there."

On February 19, while preparations were in full swing for launch of the joint Russia-US mission to the International Space Station three weeks later, the White House announced that “President Donald J Trump’s Space Policy Directive-4 is a bold, strategic step toward guaranteeing American space dominance" by establishing the United States Space Force which among other tasks will "organize, train and equip our space warfighters with next-generation capabilities."

In the words of the US Administration, “space is now a warfighting domain just like the air, land and sea” so it’s goodbye to a future of harmonious exploration and scientific research in the regions beyond our globe. It had been hoped that the Treaty would go far to assist in “maintaining international peace and security and promoting international co-operation and understanding” but Washington has no intention of agreeing to any international law that would prohibit extra-terrestrial weaponisation, and Trump’s Space Directive has now set the seal on Washington’s preparedness to confront in space as well as by land and sea and in the air. Stand by for Space War.

Published:3/26/2019 9:41:06 PM
[Politics] Climate scientists find one of Earth’s fastest-shrinking glaciers is now GROWING again… Wouldn’t you know it. Climate scientists at NASA have revealed that a glacier in Greenland that was said to be one of the fastest-shrinking glaciers on the planet is now growing again. . . . Published:3/26/2019 8:41:00 PM
[Politics] Climate scientists find one of Earth’s fastest-shrinking glaciers is now GROWING again… Wouldn’t you know it. Climate scientists at NASA have revealed that a glacier in Greenland that was said to be one of the fastest-shrinking glaciers on the planet is now growing again. . . . Published:3/26/2019 8:09:40 PM
[Markets] NASA Photographed Huge Meteor Blast Equivalent To Ten Atomic Bombs

A massive fireball exploded over the Bering Sea with enough energy equivalent to ten atomic bombs, reported NASA.

The meteor was the second biggest in three decades, and the largest to explode in the atmosphere since the incident in Chelyabinsk, Russia, six years ago.

NASA tweeted several satellite photos of the explosion on Friday which appeared in the upper stratosphere in December.

Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA, told BBC News that an explosion of this size is only expected to occur a couple of times a century.

The blast occurred on 18 December about 16 miles over the Bering Sea, off Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula.

The meteor was traveling at a speed of 20 miles per second. It measured 30 feet long and weighing more than 1,500 tons, according to NASA.

The impact of the explosion was equivalent to roughly 173 kilotons, or about ten Hiroshimas.

"That was 40% the energy release of Chelyabinsk, but it was over the Bering Sea so it didn't have the same type of effect or show up in the news," said Kelly Fast, near-Earth objects observations programme manager at Nasa.

NASA's Terra satellite captured the event with five of the nine cameras on the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer satellite. The space agency compiled footage of about seven minutes after the meteor exploded and transformed it into a GIF.

Congress tasked NASA in 2005 with developing technology that would spot 90% of near-Earth asteroids of 460 feet or larger by 2020. Meteors of that size are called "problems without passports" because the impact would be devastating. Scientists responded to Congresses' request by indicating such technology would not be available until the 2030s.

The latest space incident over the Bering Sea shows that meteors can collide with Earth without early warning, underlining the need for governments to enhance the global Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System.

So, why did NASA wait more than three months to alert the public that a huge meteor exploded off the coast of Russia? Well, the one thing governments don't like is panic, so, of course, the public is not allowed to know.

Published:3/26/2019 6:43:41 PM
[Politics] Pence Calls for Landing US Astronauts on Moon in 5 Years Vice President Mike Pence is calling for landing astronauts on the moon within five years.At a meeting of the National Space Council in Huntsville, Alabama, on Tuesday, Pence said NASA needs to achieve that goal "by any means necessary." He says NASA rockets will be... Published:3/26/2019 6:17:58 PM
[Media] NOT SEXISM: NASA scraps all-female spacewalk after astronaut Anne McClain decides she needs a smaller spacesuit

This is a totally BS headline from The Guardian which now has libs dragging NASA because they think the space agency allegedly didn’t have a spacesuit to fit a woman: Nasa cancels all-female spacewalk, citing lack of suit in woman's size https://t.co/gv6qZl1oDp — The Guardian (@guardian) March 26, 2019 The reality? There are no men’s […]

The post NOT SEXISM: NASA scraps all-female spacewalk after astronaut Anne McClain decides she needs a smaller spacesuit appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:3/26/2019 8:38:02 AM
[Left Column] NASA STUDY: ONE OF THE FASTEST SHRINKING GREENLAND GLACIERS IS GROWING AGAIN
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