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[Markets] The Next Big Geomagnetic Storm Poses An Astronomical Risk To Modern Man

Scientists are concerned about the next significant "space weather" event, which begins at the sun in the center of the solar system. Severe space weather occurs less frequently than traditional weather on Earth but can be more destructive in nature.

The sun is now headed towards a solar minimum, forecasted to arrive in 2019 as the Sun changes over from Solar Cycle 24 to Solar Cycle 25. The Sun goes through 11-year cycles, during which solar activity increases and decreases.


Tracking sunspot activity dates back to the start of the first solar cycle in 1755. Today, simple sketching and counting of sunspot numbers have given way to land-based and space-based technologies that continuously monitor the Sun.

Scientists have discovered that intense activity such as sunspots and solar flares generally subside during a solar minimum. Dean Pesnell of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said during a solar minimum, that does not mean the sun becomes dull.

He said solar activity simply changes.

For instance, Pesnell warned, "during a solar minimum, we can see the development of long-lived coronal holes."

Coronal holes are large regions in the sun’s atmosphere where the sun’s magnetic field opens up and allows streams of solar particles known as coronal mass ejection (CME) to escape the sun as fast solar wind.

If the coronal hole is Earth-facing, then electrically charged particles from the Sun slam into Earth's magnetic field and cause intense electromagnetic storms around the planet. The impact of these particles on the electronic infrastructure underlying modern industrial civilization can be devastating, said the Financial Times.

CMEs disrupt GPS, satellites, and astronauts currently in space. Even airline crew and passengers get a markedly higher dose of radiation during solar storms, especially during polar-crossing, trans-oceanic flights.

And a repeat of the most significant solar storm on record, the 1859 Carrington Super-flare, would cost trillions of dollars in damage as power grids, communication networks, and electronic equipment worldwide would be knocked out.

Some scientists believe that Earth is due for a severe space weather event that could send civilization temporarily into reverse.

Another incident occurred in 1989, when an Earth-facing CME rocked the planet, producing a surge in voltage that caused Hydro-Québec power grid in Canada to collapse, leaving millions of people without electricity.

"During a big geomagnetic storm in 2003, a Japanese scientific satellite was lost and 10 percent of the world’s satellite fleet suffered malfunctions," said Professor Richard Horne of the British Antarctic Survey.

"Today we have around 1,500 satellites in orbit, with thousands more due to be launched in the next few years," Prof Horne adds. "People are trying to use more commercial off-the-shelf components, rather than components made to operate in space, and many systems have not been tested in a major storm, so there is a lot of uncertainty about what might happen."

A recent space weather event in late April 2017, allegedly knocked out power grids across the entire country in one simultaneous fashion. San Fransisco, New York, and Los Angeles were the three main areas affected. Each region experienced challenges or shutdowns in basic infrastructure such as communication networks and mass transportation.

An unfortunate coincidence of adverse space and Earth weather came in September 2017, when space storms disrupted shortwave radios for hours -- preventing emergency response to hurricanes tearing apart the Caribbean.

"The Sun’s been very quiet for the last 10 years. It reminds people not to be complacent," said Mike Hapgood, head of space weather at the UK Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

Scientists tell the Financial Times that satellites can monitor potentially troublesome activity on the sun days ahead of a possible eruption, forecasting the path and effects of an actual CME, well, that is very difficult. If the CME is Earth-facing it takes about 24-hours to arrive, so when the next big solar flare comes racing towards Earth, government officials do not have enough time to prepare the nation or even the world for impact -- it would be devastating.

According to Prof Horne, the most notable satellite for short-term space weather forecasting today is the US Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, launched into low-Earth Orbit (LEO) in 2015. From this tactical position about 1m miles from Earth, DSCOVR provides an early warning of about one hour before impact.

In late 2016, the Obama administration quietly passed an executive order titled "Coordinating Efforts to Prepare the Nation for Space Weather Events," which prepares the fragile nation for economic collapse from a space weather event. The mainstream media, for a good reason, were not allowed to cover the passage of this executive order because it would cause too much panic among the American people. When the next significant solar event strikes, most will not be prepared -- not even government.

Published:9/21/2018 12:16:14 AM
[Markets] Will NASA’s next rockets carry a Budweiser logo? NASA's administrator has directed the space agency to look at boosting its brand by selling naming rights to rockets and spacecraft. Published:9/11/2018 2:29:26 AM
[Markets] Russia Says Space Station Leak May Be Deliberate Sabotage

Last week, we reported that in what may have been a scene out of the movie Gravity, NASA scrambled to contain a pressure leak on the International Space Station that was reportedly caused by a micrometeorite striking the lab according to the Russian space agency.

However, a few days later what was merely an innocent close encounter with a meteor, turns out may have been straight out of a Stanley Kubrick movie, because according to PhysOrg, the Russian space chief said the air leak on the International Space Station last week could have been deliberate sabotage.

Russia's space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin said the hole detected Thursday in the Russian space craft docked at the orbiting station was caused by a drill and could have been done deliberately, either back on Earth or by astronauts in space. He said that astronauts used tape to seal the leak after it caused a small loss of pressure that was not life-threatening.

"There were several attempts at drilling," Rogozin said late Monday in televised comments, adding that the drill appeared to have been held by a "wavering hand". "What is this: a production defect or some premeditated actions?" he asked.

"We are checking the Earth version. But there is another version that we do not rule out: deliberate interference in space."

A state commission will seek to identify the culprit by name, Rogozin said, calling this a "matter of honour" for Russia's Energiya space manufacturing company that made the Soyuz.

Asked to comment on the sabotage allegations, a NASA spokeswoman referred all questions to the Russian space agency which is overseeing the commission's analysis. Last week Rogozin said the hole in the side of the ship used to ferry astronauts was most likely caused from outside by a tiny meteorite, but later admitted it had been ruled out.

A Russian MP who is a former cosmonaut suggested that a psychologically disturbed astronaut could have done it to force an early return home.

"We're all human, and anyone might want to go home, but this method is really low," Maxim Surayev of President Vladimir Putin's ruling party, told RIA Novosti state news agency.

"If a cosmonaut pulled this strange stunt—and that can't be ruled out—it's really bad," said Surayev, who spent two stints on the ISS. "I wish to God that this is a production defect, although that's very sad, too—there's been nothing like this in the history of Soyuz ships."

Some were skeptical by the sabotage theory: Alexander Zheleznyakov, a former space industry engineer and author, told TASS state news agency however that drilling the hole in zero gravity would be nearly impossible in that part of the spacecraft. "Why would cosmonauts do it?" he asked.

The hole was in a section of the Soyuz ship that will not be used to carry astronauts back to Earth.

A space industry source told TASS that the spacecraft could have been damaged during testing at Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan after passing initial checks and the mistake was then hastily covered up.

"Someone messed up and then got scared and sealed up the hole," the source speculated, but then the sealant "dried up and fell off" when the Soyuz reached the ISS.

Meanwhile, RIA Novosti reported that Energiya will carry out checks for possible defects on all Soyuz ships and Progress unmanned ships used for cargo at its production site outside Moscow and at Baikonur. The ISS is one of the few areas of Russia-US cooperation that remains unaffected by the slump in relations and Washington's sanctions, although as we reported over the weekend, Russia announced it would stop carrying US astronauts to the space station in April.

Russia's rockets used for launching spacecraft and satellites have suffered engine problems.

Currently on the ISS are two cosmonauts from Russia, three NASA astronauts and a German from the European Space Agency.

Published:9/4/2018 4:12:47 PM
[Markets] Russia To Stop Carrying US Astronauts To Space Station In April

Russia’s contract with NASA to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) will end in April 2019, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov told reporters on Friday. Under the current contract, American astronauts have had access to seats on Russian Soyuz spacecraft in order to reach the ISS and return home according to RT.

Yury Borisov, who is responsible for overseeing military and space matters in the Russian cabinet, said that the landing of a Soyuz-MS spaceship in April next year "will finalize the fulfillment of our obligation under a contract with NASA."

The expiration will pile further pressure on NASA to restore its own capability to shuttle U.S. crew members back and forth to the orbiting lab. The space agency has contracting with Boeing and Musk's SpaceX to develop new vehicles to transport astronauts, but the work has been plagued by delays.

NASA has relied on Russia since retirement of the space shuttle in 2011 ended U.S.-controlled access to the space station. Congress and President Donald Trump’s administration have touted the commercial program’s importance to ending that reliance, especially as diplomatic relations between the nations have deteriorated.

The cost of the ISS ferry service has varied over the years: currently Russia charges NASA about $81 million per seat on the Soyuz to fly astronauts to and from the station, up from the cheapest price of $21.8 million in 2007 and 2008. NASA signed an agreement in early 2017 to acquire additional Soyuz seats into 2019, although no further contracts involving the Russian craft have been announced.

The discontinuation of the Space Shuttle program seemed like a minor inconvenience in 2011, when the US and Russia were on relatively good terms. Today however, as a result of the bitter political stand-off between the two nations, the fact that the US has to rely on Russia in some aspects of its space exploration is considered humiliating by some people in America.

However, Russia may continue carrying US astronauts to orbit if a new deal is struck, Sergey Krikalev, executive director of manned space programs at Roscosmos, told TASS. "This is a working issue. The current contract ends, but it doesn’t mean that we’ll stop delivering American astronauts on the ISS. There’ll be other contracts. No tough measures are implemented." Discussions on the next contract are already underway between Roscosmos and NASA, but "there have been no specific decisions yet," Krikalev added.

NASA officials declined to say whether the agency has discussed procuring additional Soyuz spots with Russian officials. "As part of its normal operations planning, NASA is continuing to assess multiple scenarios to ensure continued U.S. access to the International Space Station," NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz said in an email.

According to Bloomberg, in September 2014, NASA awarded Boeing and Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. a combined $6.8 billion to revive the U.S.’s ability to fly to the station. SpaceX plans to fly Demo-2, its first test flight with a crew, in April 2019, while Boeing’s Crew Test Flight is now slated for mid-2019, according to a new schedule that NASA released Aug. 2.

Both dates are later than the companies had been targeting. The first Boeing and SpaceX test flights without a crew could occur later this year, according to NASA’s most recent flight schedule.

Late Senator John McCain was among the most vocal critics of the situation, in which the US pays Russia millions of dollars each year in return for space engines and rides to the ISS. Vice-President Mike Pence last week pledged that the US will “very soon” be able to take people into space without Russia’s help and will return to the moon by 2024.

Published:9/1/2018 4:13:20 PM
[Markets] North America's Devastating Wildfires, Viewed From Space

If you live on the west coast of North America, it’s likely that you’ve felt a bit smoked out, lately.

Wildfires in British Columbia, Canada are already the worst in the province’s history, while California has had a particularly rough season with human deaths, evacuations, and billions of dollars of damage.

Oregon has one confirmed death from a wildfire in mid-July, and Washington hasn’t gotten off easy, either. On July 31, 2018 a state of emergency was declared in the Evergreen State.

VISUALIZING WILDFIRES FROM SPACE

Today’s image comes to us from NASA, and it shows aerosols around the world including those originating from volcanoes, desert dust, cloud cover, sea-salt – and of course, smoke.

Here’s the same image with labels, indicating black carbon on the west coast of the continent:

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

The wildfires are just as visible as the massive slash-and-burning occurring in Central Africa, hurricanes and typhoons, and even the dust swirling up from the Sahara, the world’s largest desert.

Here’s a visualization of the fires in North America, with some extra zoom:

It’s clear from this image that smoke isn’t just affecting the coast – in fact, experts say it has been travelling as far as Ireland, in lesser concentrations of course.

OTHER VISUALS

While we thought the visualization above was the most striking, there are countless of other examples from the last month that show the extent of wildfires and smoke on the west coast.

Here’s another shot from NASA from a few weeks ago, during peak wildfire season in California and Oregon:

And here’s an image of Seattle and Vancouver from mid-August, when smoke from Canadian fires was so bad in those cities that it was like “inhaling seven cigarettes” per day:

FUTURE FORECAST

As we roll into September, the worst of the wildfire season is over.

Unfortunately, it’s already been the worst in British Columbia’s history. Here are the 10 worst fire seasons graphed since 1950, based on square kilometers burned:


Data as of Aug 29, 2018, and from the BC Forest Service

While this year has been an anomaly, it may also be a preview of what’s to come. One recent report out of California said that the number of wildfires over 25,000 acres is likely to increase by 50% leading up to 2050.

Is this the new normal?

Published:8/30/2018 10:59:31 PM
[2018 News] Gamer gunman was hospitalized for psychological issues and struggled at college where he fell behind as it’s revealed his NASA engineer father and government worker mom argued over his medical care when they divorced Gamer gunman was hospitalized for psychological issues and struggled at college where he fell behind as it’s revealed his NASA engineer father and government worker mom argued over his medical care when they divorced. Well, it appears we have another problem child who somehow obtained a weapon. Did he buy it? Did his dad or […] Published:8/27/2018 6:25:19 PM
[Markets] More Evidence The Economy Is Deteriorating

Authored by Dave Kranzler via Investment Research Dynamics,

“Financial-market and economic prospects remain far shy of the hype and headlines, amidst tanking consumer optimism and negative revisions to recent reporting.” – John Williams, Shadowstats.com

The economy may seem like it’s doing well if you are part of the upper 10% demographic. Though, in reality, for most of the upper 10%, doing “well” has been a function of having easy access to credit. NASA Federal Credit Union is offering 0% down, 0% mortgage insurance for mortgages up to $2.5 million.

Someone I know suggested the tax cut stimulus had run its course. But the narrative that the tax cuts would stimulate economic activity was pure propaganda. The tax cuts stimulated $1 trillion in expected share buybacks and put more money in the pockets of corporate insiders and billionaires. The average middle class household spent its tax cut money on more expensive gasoline and food. Since the tax cut took effect, auto sales and home sales have declined. Retail sales have been mixed. However, it’s difficult to distinguish between statistical manipulation and inflation. I would argue that, net of real inflation and Census Bureau statistical games, real retail sales have been declining.

As an example, last week Black Box Intelligence released July restaurant sales. While comparable store sales were up 0.54% over July 2017, comparable restaurant traffic was down 1.8%. On a rolling three months, comp sales are up 0.46% but comparable traffic is down nearly 2%. With traffic declining, especially a faster rate relative to the small increase in sales, it means the sales “growth” is entirely a function of price inflation. If Black Box Intelligence could control it’s data for price increases, it would show that there is no question that real sales are declining. I have been loathe to recommend shorting restaurant stocks because, for some reason, the hedge funds love them.

On Wednesday last week, the Government reported July retail sales, which were “up” 0.5% vs June. However, June’s 0.5% “gain” was revised sharply lower to 0.2%. Revising the previous month lower to make the headline number for the reported month appear higher is a mathematical gimmick that the Government uses frequently. As an example of the questionable quality of the retail sales report, the Government reports that sales at motor-vehicle and parts dealers rose 0.2% from June to July. But the auto industry itself reported a 4% decline in sales from June to July. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which report is more reliable…

Housing starts for July, reported last Thursday, showed an 8% decline from June’s number. June’s number was revised lower from the original number reported. No surprise there, at least for me. The report missed the Wall Street brain trust’s expectations by a wide margin for the second month in row. The downward revision to June makes the report even worse. Additionally, housing starts are now down year-over-year for the second month in a row.

This report followed last Wednesday’s mortgage applications report which showed a decline in purchase applications for the 5th week in a row. The housing starts number continues to throw cold water on the “low inventory” narrative. While there still may some areas of housing market strength in the $500,000 and below price bucket, the mortgage purchase applications data has been mostly negative since April, which reflects deteriorating home sales. This reality is “magnified” by the fact that home sales have declining during what should be the strongest seasonal period of the year for home sales.

Lending Tree, Zillow Group and Redfin are “derivatives” of housing market activity. They reflect web searches, foot traffic and sales associated with mortgages and home sales. Lending Tree stock is down nearly 42% late January. Zillow stock is down 26% since mid-June. Redfin is down 39.5% since the beginning of the year, including an 18.5% plunge two weeks ago. unequivocally, these three stocks reflect the popping of the housing bubble. The Short Seller Journalrecommended shorting all three of these stocks before their big declines.

Normally I’m hesitant to discuss the regional Fed economic surveys because they are skewed by their expectations/outlook (hope/sentiment) components. However, the Philly Fed survey for August was notable because it reinforced my view that the economy and the “hope” for a better economy is fading quickly. The overall index crashed to 11.9 from 25.7 in July. This is lower than just before the Trump election, when “hope” soared. Wall Street was expecting a 22.5 reading on the index. The new orders, work week and employment components plunged. Shipments dropped, inventories rose and prices paid fell. This report reflects the view that economy is much weaker than is conveyed by the political propaganda coming form DC.

I don’t know what it will take to cause a plunge in the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq but, as we’ve seen with homebuilder stocks, there’s a lot of opportunity to make money on economic reality in the lesser-followed sectors of the stock market.

Published:8/26/2018 8:15:47 PM
[Markets] "Worst Storm In A Quarter Century" Nears Hawaii, Gov Warns "Be Prepared To Shelter In Place"

Overnight saw Hurricane Lane churn slowly toward Hawaii as 1.4 million people brace for the U.S. Pacific island state’s worst storm in a quarter century.

Hurricane Lane in the early morning hours near Hawaii (Source/ The crew of the @Space_Station) 

The storm is moving northwest to the Hawaiian islands at 7 miles per hour with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour, and forecasters say it’s “on course to pass very close” to the islands or make landfall from Thursday through early Saturday.

It could be so disastrous that state officials are asking residents to stockpile food and water for several weeks.

“Be prepared to shelter in place with 14 days of food supplies and water and any other necessities,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige said at a press conference Wednesday.

NOAA: Lane Weakens Slightly While Tracking Towards The Hawaiian Islands 

“Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion,” the National Weather Service said. “Life-threatening impacts are likely in some areas as the hurricane makes its closest approach.”

NOAA: Earliest Reasonable Arrival Time of Tropical-Storm-Force Winds

“Lane – classified as a powerful Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength – was expected to hit the Big Island overnight and slam the island of Maui on Thursday,” according to Reuters.

To the north, Oahu was under a hurricane warning while Kauai remained on hurricane watch meaning it could face similar conditions starting Friday morning.

Governor David Ige requested for a President Disaster Declaration for the State of Hawaii on Wednesday. Washington shortly approved it.

“I urge our residents and visitors to take this threat seriously and prepare for a significant impact,” the governor said at a news conference in the state capital, Honolulu.

He also announced that all schools, University of Hawaii campuses and non-essential government offices on the islands of Oahu and Kauai would be closed for at least two days starting on Thursday.

Tropical Tid Bits: Global + Hurricane Models

On Thursday morning, Reuters compiled a list of critical events that have transpired in Hawaii in the last 24 hours, as citizens, government, and the military are now preparing for a devastating hit:

The shelves of a downtown Honolulu Walmart were stripped of items ranging from canned tuna to dog food. Shoppers jostled with one another to get the last boxes of ramen noodles.

“There’s nothing in there,” said one shopper leaving the store.

City residents used carts to push cases of bottled water and coolers full of ice, after warnings of possible power outages and evacuations.

Cars waited in long lines at gasoline stations in Honolulu and people could be seen pulling small boats from the water ahead of Lane’s expected storm surge.

“I went to Safeway last night for regular groceries, everyone was in a panic,” said Thao Nguyen, 35, an employee at a Honolulu branch of Hawaiian shirt retailer Roberta Oaks.

“People were buying cases of tiny water bottles.”

U.S. President Donald Trump directed FEMA and administration officials to remain in close coordination with the state, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.

“The president is deeply concerned for the well-being of all Hawaiians,” she said.

U.S. Navy ships and submarines based in Hawaii were instructed to leave port, a common practice as a hurricane approaches to avoid damage.

As of 11 p.m. (0900 GMT Thursday), the storm was centered 235 miles (380 km) south-southwest of Kailua-Kona, the weather service said.

The outer bands of the storm were already dumping 1 to 3 inches an hour of rain on parts of the Big Island as the eastern side of the island was under a flash flood warning, said Gavin Shigesato, a NWS meteorologist said.

The most powerful storm on record to hit Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki, a Category 4 storm that made landfall on Kauai island on Sept. 11, 1992, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It killed six people and damaged or destroyed more than 14,000 homes.

How are people reacting?

Hawaii News Now shows how the Big Island is starting to see “early impacts” of the storm

Another Twitter user complains about price gouging at Safeway

Big waves rolling in onto the beaches

Supplies going fast at Walmart in Honolulu

Kona businesses begin preparing for the hurricane

NASA captures footage of Hurricane Lane from space

“All Costco’s on Oahu are sold out of water,” said one user.

CBS This Morning provides an update earlier this morning from Hawaii. In short, Hurricane Lane could be devastating.

Published:8/23/2018 12:45:04 PM
[TC] Descartes Labs launches its geospatial analysis platform Descartes Labs, a New Mexico-based geospatial analytics startup, today announced that its platform is now out of beta. The well-funded company already allowed businesses to analyze satellite imagery it pulls in from NASA and ESA and build predictive models based on this data, but starting today, it is adding both weather data to its library, as […] Published:8/15/2018 10:32:44 AM
[Markets] Paul Craig Roberts: The Self-Imposed Impotence Of The Russian And Chinese Governments

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

The Russian and Chinese governments are puzzling. They hold all the cards in the sanction wars and sit there with no wits whatsoever as to how to play them.

The Russians won’t get any help from the Western media which obscures the issue by stressing that the Russian government doesn’t want to deprive its citizens of consumer goods from the West, which is precisely what Washington’s sanctions intend to do.

The Russian and Chinese governments are in Washington’s hands because Russia and China, thinking that capitalism had won, quickly adopted American neoliberal economics, which is a propaganda device that serves only American interests.

For years NASA has been unable to function without Russian rocket engines. Despite all the sanctions, insults, military provocations, the Russian government still sends NASA the engines. Why? Because the Russian economists tell the government that foreign exchange is essential to Russia’s development.

Europe is dependent on Russian energy to run its factories and to keep warm in winter. But Russia does not turn off the energy in response to Europe’s participation in Washington’s sanctions, because the Russian economists tell the government that foreign exchange is essential to Russia’s development.

As Michael Hudson and I explained on a number of occasions, this is nonsense. Russia’s development is dependent in no way on the acquisition of foreign currencies.

The Russians are also convinced that they need foreign investment, which serves only to drain profits out of their economy.

The Russians are also convinced that they should freely trade their currency, thereby subjecting the ruble to manipulation on foreign exchange markets. If Washington wants to bring a currency crisis to Russia, all the Federal Reserve, its vassal Japanese, EU, and UK central banks have to do is to short the ruble. Hedge funds and speculators join in for the profits.

Neoliberal economics is a hoax, and the Russians have fallen for it.

So have the Chinese

Suppose that when all these accusations against Russia began - take the alleged attack on the Skirpals for example - Putin had stood up and said:

“The British government is lying through its teeth and so is every government including that of Washington that echoes this lie. Russia regards this lie as highly provocative and as a part of a propaganda campaign to prepare Western peoples for military attack on Russia. The constant stream of gratuitous lies and military exercises on our border have convinced Russia that the West intends war. The consequence will be the total destruction of the United States and its puppets.”

That would have been the end of the gratuitous provocations, military exercises, and sanctions.

Instead, we heard about “misunderstandings” with out “American partners,” which encouraged more lies and more provocations.

Or, for a more mild response, Putin could have announced: “As Washington and its servile European puppets have sanctioned us, we are turning off the rocket engines, all energy to Europe, titanium to US aircraft companies, banning overflights of US cargo and passenger aircraft, and putting in place punitive measures against all US firms operating in Russia.”

One reason, perhaps, that Russia does not do this in addition to Russia’s mistaken belief that it needs Western money and good will is that Russia mistakenly thinks that Washington will steal their European energy market and ship natural gas to Europe. No such infrastructure exists. It would take several years to develop the infrastructure. By then Europe would have mass unemployment and would have frozen in several winters.

What about China?

China hosts a large number of major US corporations, including Apple, the largest capitalized corporation in the world. China can simply nationalize without compensation, as South Africa is doing to white South African farmers without any Western protest, all global corporations operating in China. Washington would be overwhelmed with global corporations demanding removal of every sanction on China and complete subservience of Washington to the Chinese government.

Or, or in addition, China could dump all $1.2 trillion of its US Treasuries. The Federal Reserve would quickly print the money to buy the bonds so that the price did not collapse. China could then dump the dollars that the Fed printed in order to redeem the bonds. The Fed cannot print the foreign curriences with which to purchase the dollars. The dollar would plummet and not be worth a Venezuelan bolivar unless Washington could order its pupper foreign central banks in Japan, UK, and EU to print their currencies in order to purchase the dollars. This, even if complied with, would cause a great deal of stress in what is called “the Western alliance,” but what is really Washington’s Empire.

Why don’t the Russian and Chinese play their winning hands? The reason is that neither government has any advisers who are not brainwashed by neoliberalism. The brainwashing that Americans gave Russia during the Yeltsin years has been institutionalized in Russian institutions. Trapped in this box, Russia is a sitting duck for Washington.

Turkey is a perfect opportunity for Russia and China to step forward and remove Turkey from NATO. The two countries could offer Turkey membership in BRICS, trade deals, and mutual security treaties. China could easily buy up the Turkish currency off foreign exchange markets. The same could be done for Iran. Yet neither Russia nor China appear capable of decisive action. The two countries, both under attack as Turkey is from Washington, sit there sucking their thumbs. 

Published:8/13/2018 8:57:30 PM
[Markets] 72% Of Americans Say It's "Essential" For US To Be World Space Exploration Leader

Seventy-two percent of U.S. adults say it is “essential” for the U.S. to lead the world in space exploration, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted from March 27 to April 9.

As The Daily Caller's Evie Fordham reports, space exploration is on many Americans’ minds after President Donald Trump proposed creating a sixth branch of the military called the Space Force in March. Vice President Mike Pence delivered a speech Thursday outlining a Pentagon report about how Space Force can become reality.

Eighty percent of U.S. adults see the International Space Station as a “good investment.” Sixty-five percent of U.S. adults see the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as “essential” in space exploration even as private companies like Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk’s SpaceX have come into existence, according to Pew.

Support for U.S. investment in space exploration and technology is roughly the same among U.S. adults “across gender, educational and political groups,” according to Pew. Seventy-one percent of Baby Boomer and older generations support “continued U.S. space leadership” compared to 70 percent of millennials.

Sixty-three percent of U.S. adults say that monitoring “key parts of the Earth’s climate system” should be a top priority for NASA. Sixty-two percent of U.S. adults say that monitoring “asteroids/objects that could hit earth” should be NASA’s top priority. Only 18 percent say that sending astronauts to Mars should be a top priority.

Democrats, including Hawaii Rep. Brian Schatz, blasted Trump’s interest in space and a potential Space Force after Pence’s speech Thursday.

“It’s dangerous to have a leader who cannot be talked out of crazy ideas,” Schatz said on Twitter Thursday.

Published:8/12/2018 4:10:35 PM
[Artificial Intelligence] NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launches tonight to “touch the sun” NASA's ambitious mission to go closer to the Sun than ever before is set to launch in the small hours between Friday and Saturday — at 3:33 AM Eastern from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, to be precise. The Parker Solar Probe, after a handful of gravity assists and preliminary orbits, will enter a stable orbit around the enormous nuclear fireball that gives us all life and sample its radiation from less than 4 million miles away. Believe me, you don't want to get much closer than that. Published:8/10/2018 1:28:55 PM
[Politics] NASA's Bridenstine Touts Space Force: 'It's Necessary' NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine touted President Donald Trump's plan to create a separate U.S. Space Force as a sixth military service. Published:8/10/2018 8:28:13 AM
[Markets] Your Digital Self: Jeff Bezos shoots for the moon The Amazon.com founder is likely to meet a goal of having his Blue Origin space-travel company work with NASA to return to the moon.
Published:8/10/2018 3:01:35 AM
[World] NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly on Trump Space Force: USAF Has Capability

Former NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly gave mixed reviews to President Donald Trump's plan for a Space Force to militarize space.

Published:8/9/2018 6:53:56 PM
[Markets] Your Digital Self: America’s biggest housing challenge — 3D-printing a home on Mars NASA selects 10 designs for housing on the red planet.
Published:8/9/2018 3:20:40 AM
[Space] NASA names first astronauts for the inaugural commercial flights to the ISS NASA has announced the names of the first astronauts who’ll fly to the International Space Station on American-made, commercial spacecraft. The crews will fly to the space station on rockets built by NASA commercial partners Boeing and SpaceX. “Today, our country’s dreams of greater achievements in space are within our grasp,” said NASA administrator Jim […] Published:8/3/2018 1:56:25 PM
[Gadgets] NASA’s 3D-printed Mars Habitat competition doles out prizes to concept habs A multi-year NASA contest to design a 3D-printable Mars habitat using on-planet materials has just hit another milestone — and a handful of teams have taken home some cold hard cash. This more laid-back phase had contestants designing their proposed habitat using architectural tools, with the five winners set to build scale models next year. Published:7/27/2018 3:14:28 PM
[Markets] World's First Satellite With Harpoon Will Begin Space Junk Removal Test

After more than 60-years of human beings launching satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO), space junk has become a rather serious problem. In fact, humans have left outer space an absolute mess.

In the collection of space junk orbiting above, it includes spent boosters, dead satellites, spacecraft parts, and even Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster.

According to the United States Space Surveillance Network, there are more than 21,000 objects larger than 3.93 inches orbiting Earth. But, it gets worse, there are an estimated 500,000 bits and pieces of space junk between .40 inches and 3.93 inches in size. The figures do not count active satellites, which the Index of Objects Launched into Outer Space maintained by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), counts roughly 4,600 active satellites overhead.

Last month, the RemoveDEBRIS satellite, one of the world’s first experiments to address the problem of space debris orbiting Earth, was launched from the International Space Station (ISS), indicating that a new era of junk removal in space has begun. The satellite traveled to the ISS on a commercial resupply mission aboard the SpaceX CRS-14, following its launch via a Falcon 9 rocket back in April.

Video: RemoveDEBRIS satellite departs from ISS

Led by Surrey Space Centre (SSC) at the University of Surrey, the RemoveDEBRIS satellite was constructed on the SSTL-42 satellite bus platform. The mission to remove space debris was mostly funded by the European Union, will demonstrate its satellite junk removal capabilities later this year and into next.

RemoveDEBRIS satellite features three Airbus technologies to complete the Active Debris Removal (ADR) mission: a harpoon and net to capture space junk, and a Vision-Based Navigation (VBN) system to find space debris.

“We have spent many years developing innovative active debris removal systems to be at the forefront of tackling this growing problem of space debris and to contribute to the UNs’ Sustainable Development Goals for our future generations,” noted Nicolas Chamussy, Head of Airbus Space Systems.

“We will continue to work closely with teams across the world to make our expertise available to help solve this issue.”

The mission began last month via the departure from the ISS. Deployment of the net from RemoveDEBRIS is scheduled for October, while the VBN test could be late Demeber. The harpoon test is expected sometime in the first quarter of 2019. All experiments will be conducted underneath the ISS.

“During the net experiment, a cubesat will be deployed from the main mission craft. Once the cubesat is 5m away, it will be targeted by the net and captured at around 7m before it floats away to deorbit. The harpoon experiment will involve the launch of a 1.5m boom from the main spacecraft with a composite panel on the end. After launching the boom, the harpoon will be fired at 20m per second to penetrate the target and demonstrate its ability to capture debris. The VBN system will be used to test 2D cameras and 3D light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology provided by Switzerland’s CSEM to track a second cubesat deployed from the main spacecraft,” said Nasaspaceflight.com.

Video: Space Debris removal mission animation – RemoveDEBRIS

If the experiment is successful, the RemoveDebris satellite could be the most cost-effective, orbital debris removal solution the world has ever seen. This would usher in a boom period for the space junk removal industry, which could be first sparked by a series production of the RemoveDebris satellite, along with countless launches via Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 to the ISS. Maybe President Trump’s space force will get it on the action…

Published:7/10/2018 12:15:13 AM
[Markets] Spacecraft With Revolutionary Heat Shield Will "Touch The Sun"

NASA has unveiled a "cutting-edge heat shield" that will make it possible for a space probe to "touch the sun" — or at least get a spacecraft to within 4 million miles of it, which scientists are hailing as nothing short of a "revolutionary" development in space technology. 

The announcement was made via the official site NASA.gov as the launch of the Parker Solar Probe is readied for its August 4 liftoff date: "The launch of Parker Solar Probe, the mission that will get closer to the Sun than any human-made object has ever gone, is quickly approaching, and on June 27, 2018, Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield — called the Thermal Protection System, or TPS — was installed on the spacecraft."

Image source: NASA

The heat shield, measuring eight feet in diameter, will reach nearly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit while keeping the probe's instruments at about 85 degrees, allowing the probe to "collect unprecedented data" on the giant ball of fire and earth's most vital source of energy, previously impossible to access without a protective shield, and will allow "the spacecraft’s orbit will carry it to within 4 million miles of the Sun's fiercely hot surface," according to NASA

For comparison, the closest that planet Mercury ever gets to the sun during its orbit is approximately 29 million miles, allowing surface temperatures to reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit (430 °C). And Earth’s average distance to the sun is 93 million miles. At the core of the sun, temperatures can reach more than 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million °C), scientists have estimated. 

The TPS shield will enable the probe to reach more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before, to within the sun's outer atmosphere known as the corona, as a NASA statement explains, "Parker Solar Probe will employ a combination of in situ measurements and imaging to revolutionise our understanding of the corona and expand our knowledge of the origin and evolution of the solar wind."

And further NASA has defined the mission as to "trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles."

Via Mail Online

The description of the heat shield is as follows:

The heat shield is made of two panels of superheated carbon-carbon composite sandwiching a lightweight 4.5-inch-thick carbon foam core. The Sun-facing side of the heat shield is also sprayed with a specially formulated white coating to reflect as much of the Sun’s energy away from the spacecraft as possible.

The Parker Solar Probe itself is about the size of a car but is light-weight, along with its protective shield:

The heat shield itself weighs only about 160 pounds — here on Earth, the foam core is 97 percent air. Because Parker Solar Probe travels so fast — 430,000 miles per hour at its closest approach to the Sun, fast enough to travel from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., in about one second — the shield and spacecraft have to be light to achieve the needed orbit.

The agency has previously said the probe will "touch the sun" when it arrives at the star's outer atmosphere, revealing more than ever before about its mysterious "inner workings," according to researchers. 

Published:7/6/2018 9:25:22 PM
[Markets] NASA To Test 'Quiet' Supersonic Booms Over Texas 

The era of commercial supersonic flight could be just around the corner (again).

This November, residents will get to hear “quiet” sonic booms as military jets race above the skies of Galveston, Texas, said NASA.

NASA research pilot Jim “Clue” Less stands next to an F/A-18 that he is flying to help test low-boom flight research. (Source: Maria Werries/NASA)
 

Part of the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration program (LBFD), the space agency recently awarded Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works a $247.5-million contract to design, build and flight test a low-boom X-plane that could produce a quiet supersonic aircraft in the next three to five years.

The experimental aircraft dubbed X-59 “QueSST,” is scheduled to take to the skies in 2021 with a top velocity of 1.5 times the speed of sound, or about 990 miles per hour at an altitude of 55,000 feet. The jet will only have room for a pilot, as it tests design principles that soften the sonic boom.

Artist drawing of the X-59 “QueSST” (Source: NASA)

“It is super exciting to be back designing and flying X-planes at this scale,” said Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics. “Our long tradition of solving the technical barriers of supersonic flight to benefit everyone continues.”

The news comes about four months after President Trump signed the federal budget deal, which funds the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD) program. In the budget proposal, the Trump administration noted that the X-plane “would open a new market for U.S. companies to build faster commercial airliners, creating jobs and cutting cross-country flight times in half.”

While the X-59 is more of a concept than reality, NASA will use McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets over Galveston to imitate the sonic profile of the X-plane while residents and sound recording sensors document the sonic booms overhead — if there are any.

During the tests this fall, F/A-18 Hornets will perform dives at supersonic speeds, making powerful sonic booms over the Gulf of Mexico and quieter booms over the coastal city. Simultaneously, a network of “audio sensors strategically placed around the city” will provide scientists with a decibel reading of how loud the sonic booms were, said NASA. About 500 local volunteers will be dispersed around the region to document their experience. The combination of audio sensors and the "human factor" will give scientists a better understanding if the LBFD program can produce “quiet” sonic booms.

According to NASA, the Gulf Coast city was selected because of its location near the Gulf of Mexico, allowing the F/A-18s to keep its louder sonic booms (near the dive point) out to sea, while sending muffled sonic thumps [X-59 supersonic profile] towards the city.

“We’ll never know exactly what everyone heard. We won’t have a noise monitor on their shoulder inside their home,” Alexandra Loubeau, NASA’s team lead for sonic boom community response research at Langley, Virginia, said in a statement. “But we’d like to at least have an estimate of the range of noise levels that they actually heard.”

The technology behind the X-59’s noise-reducing ability is its uniquely shaped structure, designed so that supersonic shockwaves do not build up into strong sonic booms.

“With the X-59 you’re still going to have multiple shockwaves because of the wings on the aircraft that create lift and the volume of the plane. But the airplane’s shape is carefully tailored such that those shockwaves do not combine,” said Ed Haering, a NASA aerospace engineer at Armstrong.

“Instead of getting a loud boom-boom, you’re going to get at least two quiet thump-thump sounds, if you even hear them at all,” he said.

“This is why the F/A-18 is so important to us as a tool. While construction continues on the X-59, we can use that diving maneuver to generate quiet sonic thumps over a specific area,” Haering added.

The X-59 is expected for delivery by the second half of 2021. Once the prototype is built and its “quiet” sonic booms confirmed, NASA stated it would conduct test flights across the United States.

Sonic booms have been a problem for aeronautical engineers for decades. In 1973, the U.S. banned commercial supersonic flights over the mainland for concern that sonic booms posed an extreme public nuisance. This was a significant challenge for the Anglo-French Concorde project to expand, which ultimately led to its retirement in 2003.

While commercial supersonic airliners have been around for decades, commercial flights were halted following the Year 2000 crash of Air France Flight 4590. However, the Trump administration is making a move to reintroduce these planes by the mid-2020 period. That is, assuming “quiet” sonic booms can be confirmed via NASA.

Meanwhile, the real test is about a decade later, because it is around early 2030 or mid-2030s when hypersonic airliners are expected to be introduced to the public domain. When that happens, and assuming commercial flight is cost-effective, it would spark the next "travel" revolution around the world.

Published:7/5/2018 10:48:24 PM
[Markets] Amazon's Fusion With The State Shows Neoliberalism's Drift To Neo-Fascism

Authored by Elliott Gabriel via MintPressNews.com,

In Part 1 of our investigative series on Surveillance Capitalism, MPN spoke to author Yasha Levine and Monthly Review editor John Bellamy Foster about the rise of the Amazon.com empire and its fusion with the U.S. state apparatus.

In our next installments, we will continue exploring the rise of Surveillance Capitalism and the implications of Amazon-fueled spying technology, both in the workplace and in U.S. city streets.

“Capitalism is a system that seeks to transgress all boundaries in its production and sale of commodities, commodifying everything in existence, which today, in the age of monopoly-finance capital and surveillance capitalism, means intruding into every aspect of existence,” John Bellamy Foster told MPN.

This year may go down in history as a turning-point when the world finally woke up to the dark side of the ubiquitous presence of popular Silicon Valley companies in our daily lives. One can only hope so, at least.

From Amazon to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and PayPal – among others – revelations poured out confirming the ongoing abuse of user data by monopolistic corporations, as well as their growing role as vendors of surveillance technology to the U.S. police state, military, and migrant detention agencies.

In March, the lid was blown off of the violation of user data on Facebook, with Cambridge Analytica mining user information for the purpose of providing millions of detailed “psychological profiles” to the Trump campaign, among others. Scarcely two weeks later, the Google campus was in an uproar over the development of its “Project Maven,” which was building an AI-fueled platform to vastly upgrade the automatic targeting abilities of the U.S. military’s global drone fleet. Faced with public outrage and internal dissent, the company pulled out of bidding to renew its Pentagon contract, which ends next year.

Now, employees and shareholders of Amazon.com – the world’s largest online marketer and cloud-computing provider – are demanding that chief executive Jeff Bezos halt the sale of its facial recognition or Amazon Web Services (AWS) Rekognition service to law enforcement agencies across the U.S., including to the Department of Homeland Security – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS-ICE).

“As ethically concerned Amazonians, we demand a choice in what we build, and a say in how it is used,” the letter said. “We learn from history, and we understand how IBM’s systems were employed in the 1940s to help Hitler.

“IBM did not take responsibility then, and by the time their role was understood, it was too late,” it continued, referring to collusion with the operation of Nazi extermination camps during the Second World War. “We will not let that happen again. The time to act is now.”

Unveiled in November 2016 as a part of the AWS cloud suite, Rekognition analyzes images and video footage to recognize objects while providing analytics to users. It also lets clients “identify people of interest against a collection of millions of faces in near real-time, enabling use cases such as timely and accurate crime prevention,” according to promotional material. Law enforcement agencies like the Washington County Sheriff’s Department pay as little as $6 to $12 a month for access to the platform, giving deputies the ability to scan its mugshot database against real-time footage.

Amazon employees cited a report from the ACLU that notes that AWS Rekognition “raises profound civil liberties and civil rights concerns” owing to its “capacity for abuse.” Its uses could include monitoring protest activity, as well as the possibility that ICE could employ the technology to continuously track immigrants and advance its “zero tolerance” policy of detaining migrant families and children at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In the letter distributed on email list “we-won’t-build-it,”  Amazon employees lay out their opposition to their employer’s collusion with the police and the DHS-ICE migrant-capture and mass-incarceration regime:

We don’t have to wait to find out how these technologies will be used. We already know that in the midst of historic militarization of police, renewed targeting of Black activists, and the growth of a federal deportation force currently engaged in human rights abuses — this will be another powerful tool for the surveillance state, and ultimately serve to harm the most marginalized.”

The furor surrounding AWS Rekognition is hardly a revelation to journalist Yasha Levine. Instead, as is the case with Google and other flagship firms’ work for Washington, it’s just another chapter in Silicon Valley’s long-time integration into the repressive state apparatus.

“This isn’t so much a big step to some ‘Surveillance Apocalypse,’ it’s just an indication of where we’ve been for a long time,” Levine told MintPress News.

Yet the Amazon workers’ outrage was likely provoked by recent headlines highlighting the Trump administration’s separation of Central American migrant families at the concentration camps along the Southern border - along with the key role Amazon plays for ICE’s data “ecosystem,” crucial to the operation of ICE’s immigrant enforcement, mass incarceration, and removal regime.

In their letter, Amazon’s employees decried the role the company plays in the platform Palantir provides for ICE:

We also know that Palantir runs on AWS. And we know that ICE relies on Palantir to power its detention and deportation programs. Along with much of the world we watched in horror recently as U.S. authorities tore children away from their parents. Since April 19, 2018 the Department of Homeland Security has sent nearly 2,000 children to mass detention centers...

In the face of this immoral U.S. policy, and the U.S.’s increasingly inhumane treatment of refugees and immigrants beyond this specific policy, we are deeply concerned that Amazon is implicated, providing infrastructure and services that enable ICE and DHS.“

In 2014, ICE gave Palantir a $41 million contract for the Investigative Case Management (ICM) system, which expanded its capacity for data-sharing between the bureau and other agency databases including those of the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, among others. The contract allowed ICE to significantly boost its ability to capture and incarcerate unauthorized migrants based on the disparate data Palantir collated and hosted on Amazon Web Services’ servers.

Watch | Palantir 101

“What Amazon has simply done is allow everyone to lease that [Rekognition] capability the way that you would lease its web space, or have a pay-as-you-go plan with Amazon,” Levine commented.

In his new book, Surveillance Valley: The Hidden History of the Internet, Levine details the romance enjoyed between Big Data and the U.S. repressive state. In the introduction to his book, he notes :

From Amazon to eBay to Facebook — most of the Internet companies we use every day have also grown into powerful corporations that track and profile their users while pursuing partnerships and business relationships with major U.S. military and intelligence agencies. Some parts of these companies are so thoroughly intertwined with America’s security services that it is hard to tell where they end and the U.S. government begins.”

Having conquered retail and the internet, Amazon looks to the state and says “Forward”

President Barack Obama shakes hands with workers after speaking at the Amazon fulfillment center in Chattanooga, Tenn., July 30, 2013. Susan Walsh | AP

Conceived by founder Jeff Bezos as an “everything store” selling products from books to DVDs and music, Amazon has long been a scourge to the traditional brick-and-mortar marketplace, spending the late 1990s and the 2000s sweeping big and small booksellers alike into the ash-heap of retail history.

Amazon has now become the de facto store for everything in America –  it’s shocking to think about how much we buy from it and how much money we give away to it,” Levine said, adding that the company’s power as a business “is kind of depressing.”

The company has also become the world’s premier internet hosting firm through its Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform. From 2006 on, AWS played a similar role to Amazon.com’s retail platform in regard to small-fry-displacing traditional corporate data centers and information technology (IT) professionals, providing a previously unimaginable level of centralization in terms of data storage and IT functionality at a low cost. For some time even Dropbox found shelter under the AWS cloud.

Watch | Amazon.com and Jeff Bezos In 1999

The company’s success as the world’s biggest retailer and cloud computing service was closely related to Amazon’s surveillance efforts directed not only toward consumers, but against its huge and heavily-exploited employee workforce. As Levine detailed in his book:

[Amazon] recorded people’s shopping habits, their movie preferences, the books they were interested in, how fast they read books on their Kindles, and the highlights and margin notes they made. It also monitored its warehouse workers, tracking their movements and timing their performance.

Amazon requires incredible processing power to run such a massive data business, a need that spawned a lucrative side business of renting out space on its massive servers to other companies.”

In the 2012 U.S. presidential election, AWS software provided nearly all aspects of then-incumbent President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign software and big-data analysis, ranging from web management to mailing-list management, data modeling, volunteer dispatching, voter-information database maintenance and “massive transaction processing” for donations.

Watch | Obama for America on AWS

By early 2013, a secretive deal awarded Amazon a 10-year, $600-million contract to provide cloud services to the Central Intelligence Agency and the 17 agencies comprising the intelligence community.

Langley’s contract with such a commercially-oriented company as Amazon, rather than rival bidder IBM, sent shockwaves through the tech industry, but the company boasted that it reflected the “superior technology platform” it could provide to the CIA along with its ability to deliver “the confidence and security assurance needed for mission-critical systems.”

Amazon’s platform will soon be the venue for a major intelligence project by the CIA dubbed “Mesa Verde,” which will see the agency’s AWS-built C2S cloud software deployed in multiple experiments meant to parse thousands of terabytes of data, including public web data, using natural language processing tools, sentiment analysis, and data visualization.

According to a Bloomberg Government report in May, AWS is the only private cloud platform granted clearance to store agency information marked “Secret.”

Amazon’s CIA partnership: Surveillance Capitalism in action

Rev. Paul Benz, center, and Shankar Narayan, legislative director of the ACLU of Washington, right, stand with others as they wait to deliver petitions at Amazon headquarters, June 18, 2018, in Seattle. Representatives of community-based organizations urged Amazon at a news conference to stop selling its face surveillance system, Rekognition, to the government. They later delivered the petitions to Amazon. Elaine Thompson | AP

Amazon’s partnership with Langley is just another case of surveillance capitalism in action, according to sociology professor and author John Bellamy Foster, the editor of the venerable independent socialist journal Monthly Review.

Speaking to MintPress News, Foster explained:

Amazon now seems to be landing one contract after another with the military and intelligence sectors in the United States...

[The CIA cloud] is built on the premises of a private corporation, a kind of ‘walled castle’ for intelligence [spy] agency communication separate from the rest of the Internet, but principally operated by a for-profit corporation. Amazon also has a $1 billion contract with the Security and Exchange Commission, works with NASA, the Food and Drug Administration and other government agencies.”

In a 2014 essay for Monthly Review, Foster and Robert W. McChesney introduced the term surveillance capitalism in reference to the process of finance capital monetizing data extracted through surveillance operations performed in collusion with the state apparatus. The two trace the political-economic roots of the the data-driven Information Age from the early stages of the military-industrial complex to the 1950s fusion of consumer capitalism – corporations, ad agencies, and media – with the permanent warfare state, eventually leading to the birth of satellite technology, the internet, and the domination of a handful of monopolist tech firms during the present era of neoliberal globalization.

From the tech sector’s role in police-state operations to the expansion of “Smart” technology like Amazon’s Alexa into our homes, the use of drones and AI for keeping tabs on the entire population, and the manipulation of Facebook user data by the Trump campaign’s partnership with Cambridge Analytica, Foster is unequivocal in his judgment of surveillance capitalism’s metastasizing growth and its omniscient role in our daily lives:

The implications for the future are staggering.”

Not everyone shares Foster’s pessimistic perspective. To former CIA cybersecurity researcher John Pirc, the agency contract with Amazon represented the removal of a “clouded judgment”-based stigma over cloud computing security. Speaking to The Atlantic, Pirc commented:

You hear so many people on the fence about cloud, and then to see the CIA gobble it up and do something so highly disruptive, it’s kind of cool.”

Holy Disruption and the “Gale Force of Creative Destruction”

Creation, epiphany, genesis, prophecy, rapture, sacrifice, wrath; such sacred words pepper the Old and New Testaments and still carry divine significance for the faithful. Beloved by clergy and revered by the flock, such consecrated terms hardly apply to Apple’s bitten-fruit logo or Alexa’s profanely secular robotic voice.

But in today’s cult of high technology and the internet — where entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have been elevated to the level of prophets or pharaohs, and start-ups are evangelized at TED Talks as the panacea to problems ranging from physical fitness to refugee crises — a new ecclesiastical lexicon is used. Central to this pseudo-religion of Big Data is the phrase disruption, an oft-invoked term signifying the replacement of old markets and business models by new technological innovations.

As Silicon Valley pioneer, computer scientist, and critic Jaron Lanier noted in his 2013 book Who Owns the Future?:

The terminology of ‘disruption’ has been granted an almost sacred status in tech business circles...

To disrupt is the most celebrated achievement. In Silicon Valley, one is always hearing that this or that industry is ripe for disruption. We kid ourselves, pretending that disruption requires creativity. It doesn’t. It’s always the same story.”

For Lanier – a fervent defender of capitalism —  the D-word is misused to convey the liberating potential of new technology, when in fact the reign of big tech firms has led to a shrunken market dominated by “a small number of spying operations in omniscient positions.” Thus the digital landscape has become the fiefdom of monopoly firms who exercise an iron grip on competitors and Big Data’s primary commodities – internet users and their data.

To Foster, this process is little more than neoliberalism – the prevailing capitalist ideology dictating the unimpeded control over all aspects of public life by finance capital and the market. Foster notes that neoliberal orthodoxy is rooted in the concept of creative destruction, the concept from which the “disruption” buzzword is derived.

Creative destruction was introduced in 1942 by Austrian-American economist Joseph Schumpeter to describe a process of constant change under capitalism, whereby emerging entrepreneurs act as “innovation powerhouses” through a “perennial gale of creative destruction” that disorganizes and displaces competition, reshapes global markets, and paves the way to an emergence of new monopolies such as, for example, Silicon Valley’s leading firms.

Watch | Greenspan on Schumpeter’s “Creative Destruction”

“One of the key components of neoliberal ideology has been the opening up of the system to the unrestricted growth of monopolistic corporations and monopoly power,” Foster said to MintPress News, adding:

The neoliberal age has thus seen one of the greatest periods of growth of monopoly power, particularly in the cyber or digital realm, in all of history. If you take Google, Amazon, and Facebook, none of them even existed 25 years ago, and Facebook didn’t exist 15 years ago. Amazon had a 51 percent increase in market capitalization between 2016 and 2017 alone. These are giant monopolistic enterprises.”

Continuing, Foster explained:

In general, capitalism is a system that seeks to transgress all boundaries in its production and sale of commodities, commodifying everything in existence — which today, in the age of monopoly-finance capital and surveillance capitalism, means intruding into every aspect of existence as a means of manipulating not only the physical world, but also the minds and lives of everyone within it. It is this that constitutes the heart of surveillance capitalism.

But this same system of monopoly-finance capital has as its counterpart a growing centralization of power and wealth, increasing monopoly control, expanding militarism and imperialism, and an expansion of police power. It is what the political theorist Sheldon Wolin called ‘inverted totalitarianism,’ the growth of totalizing control of the population, and the destruction of human freedom under the mask of an ideology of individualism.”

As Amazon now approaches its 25-year anniversary, Foster notes, it’s become “a vast cultural (or anti-cultural) commodity empire” – and its ownership of The Washington Post has made clear the monopoly firm’s fusion with the state apparatus of U.S. imperialism.

Amazon clutches the “Newspaper of Record,” or “Democracy Dies in Darkness”

The front page of the Washington Post is displayed outside the Newseum in Washington, , 2013, a day after it was announced that Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million. Evan Vucci | AP

Since Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million, the leading newspaper of the U.S. capital has stood at the ramparts of Fortress Amazon. Beyond any elite squadron of lobbyists or contracts with the Homeland Security or National Security State, the newspaper’s influential role shaping public and policymaker opinion gives Jeff Bezos and his fellow Amazon executives unparalleled access to the halls of imperial power.

“Of course it’s a problem when a powerful, monopolistic business like this with a very controlling owner is in the media business as well,” Yasha Levine commented, adding:

Let’s be honest, Amazon is a major CIA contractor now, and now this major contractor owns one of the most important newspapers in the country – which also happens to report on the CIA and national security issues.”

Since President Donald Trump came to power last January, “Amazon Washington Post” has been the target of the former reality-TV star’s ire as a top example of “fake news media.” While many of Trump’s attacks on the Post have been his standard Twitter outbursts against legitimate journalistic scrutiny, the newspaper once celebrated for publishing the groundbreaking 1971 Pentagon Papers is now both a bully pulpit for the president’s detractors in the Beltway liberal “resistance” and a mouthpiece of an aggressively neoliberal wing of the U.S. establishment.

“The Washington Post was always a liberal-capitalist paper, an arbiter of capitalist ideology and a defender of U.S. empire, [but] it has now become, as part of the Bezos empire, something worse,” Foster observed.

Scarcely a day passes without the Post publishing a torrent of stories seeking to expose “Russian interference” favoring Trump through social media or “fake news.” Citing the “experts” in “nonpartisan” media criticism group PropOrNot, the Post has smeared MintPress News and publications like Black Agenda Report, CounterPunchand Truthout as propaganda platforms tied to the Kremlin without citing so much as a shred of evidence. Through its de facto blacklist, the group has also attempted to tie disparate independent media organizations to hard-right and white-supremacist outlets like Alex Jones’ Infowars and neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.

Watch | WaPo refuses to add disclosure about $600M CIA contract

The Washington Post has generally waged what amounts to an ideological war on basic progressive causes, Foster explained:

It recently ran an article describing the ‘far left’ as those who believed in single-payer health insurance or protecting national parks, as if even these traditional left-liberal causes were now far outside the range of acceptable political discourse — a stance clearly designed to ratchet the political discourse further to the right. Bezos and Amazon are simply symbols of this social retrogression, as is the current autocrat in the White House.

To Levine, the trend – like the ownership of muckraking news website The Intercept by billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur and eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar — goes beyond the Post alone. Levine commented:

It’s a larger issue of Silicon Valley coming into its own, and businesses built on top of the internet dominating business; and if you dominate business, you dominate society and news media coverage – that’s just the way things work.

Foster agrees, and minces no words depicting the danger Amazon’s growing power in U.S. society represents:

Democracy can be judged in various ways, but no definition of democracy – no matter how specious – is consistent with a society in which such vast class and monopoly power exist, and where the infrastructure of genuine democracy (education, communications, science, culture, public discourse, means of public protest) is demolished.

For this and other reasons, U.S. society and much of the capitalist world is shifting from neo-liberalism to something better described as neo-fascism.”

In our next installments, we will continue exploring the rise of Surveillance Capitalism and the implications of Amazon-fueled spying technology, both in the workplace and in U.S. city streets.

Published:7/3/2018 9:35:00 PM
[The Blog] Another little spacecraft that could: Dawn’s photos reveal distant secrets

Robot craft discovers it's no asteroid after all

The post Another little spacecraft that could: Dawn’s photos reveal distant secrets appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:7/3/2018 4:33:14 PM
[Markets] This Is What A Massive X9 Class Solar Flare Looks Like

Scientists from Caltech Astronomy examined the great solar flare of 1990 that occurred in active region NOAA 6063. The eruption and subsequent shockwave were so massive that scientist decided to write a report on their findings titled “Tangential Field Changes in the Great Flare of 1990 May 24.”

The region on the sun gave rise to a dangerous X9.3 flare, which was visible in white light. The flare was observed by several observatories, including the Big Bear Solar Observatory at Caltech.

Solar flares are enormous explosions on the sun that unleash streams of energy, light, and high-speed particles into space. The most dangerous solar flare is known as “X-class flares” based on a classification system that divides solar flares according to their strength.

If Earth faced, the solar flares and associated coronal mass ejection (CME) can create geomagnetic storms that can disable satellites, communications systems, and even ground-based technologies and power grids.

massive solar storm in April 2017 allegedly interfered with power grids in San Fransisco, New York, and Los Angeles. On both coasts, critical infrastructure such as communication networks and mass transportation were severely impaired.

This was the period when mainstream media blamed the Russians for cyber hacking America.

Meanwhile, in a report from NOAA titled “Geomagnetic Storms and the US Power Grid,” the paper mentions how US power grids are highly interconnected and susceptible to damage from solar flares.

The report shows how the sun produces Geomagnetically Induced Current (GIC) [solar flares] and launches it to the Earth.

When GICs penetrate the Earth’s geomagnetic field, they usually enter transformers in the power grid.

What happens next? Well, GICs blowup transformers and force a terrifying grid-down event.

Even the White House has been preparing for a catastrophic solar storm through a recent 2016 Executive Order titled “Coordinating Efforts to Prepare the Nation for Space Weather Events.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta warns about solar storms and its physiological impact on markets.

So, what does this all mean? Like the great solar flare of 1990, scientist and governmental agencies have been fascinated by the sun and its occasional expulsion of energy. Not all solar flares are Earth-facing, but it is only a matter of time before the next big one cripples modern society. Then what?

Published:7/3/2018 12:29:30 AM
[Politics] Global Warming Turning Out To Be Hot Air It is 30 years this past week that James Hansen, then well into the first of more than three decades as head of the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)-Goddard Institute for Space Studies, testified to a Senate committee that the then-current heat wave in Washington was caused by the relationship between "the greenhouse effect and observed warming."This was the starting gun of a mighty debate about the existence, cause and consequences of global warming. Hansen was embraced by... Published:6/30/2018 9:13:20 AM
[Markets] Moon Fuel: A New Multi-Trillion Dollar Treasure

Authored by Mining.com  via OilPrice.com,

India’s space program wants to go where no nation has gone before – to the south side of the moon.

And once it gets there, it will study the potential for mining a source of waste-free nuclear energy that could be worth trillions of dollars.

The nation’s equivalent of NASA will launch a rover in October to explore virgin territory on the lunar surface and analyze crust samples for signs of water and helium-3. That isotope is limited on Earth yet so abundant on the moon that it theoretically could meet global energy demands for 250 years if harnessed.

“The countries which have the capacity to bring that source from the moon to Earth will dictate the process,’’ said K. Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation. “I don’t want to be just a part of them, I want to lead them.’’

The mission would solidify India’s place among the fleet of explorers racing to the moon, Mars and beyond for scientific, commercial or military gains. The governments of the U.S., China, India, Japan and Russia are competing with startups and billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson to launch satellites, robotic landers, astronauts and tourists into the cosmos.

The rover landing is one step in an envisioned series for ISRO that includes putting a space station in orbit and, potentially, an Indian crew on the moon. The government has yet to set a timeframe.

The mission would solidify India’s place among the fleet of explorers racing to the moon, Mars and beyond for scientific, commercial or military gains.

“We are ready and waiting,’’ said Sivan, an aeronautics engineer who joined ISRO in 1982. “We’ve equipped ourselves to take on this particular program.’’

China is the only country to put a lander and rover on the moon this century with its Chang’e 3 mission in 2013. The nation plans to return later this year by sending a probe to the unexplored far side.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump signed a directive calling for astronauts to return to the moon, and NASA’s proposed $19 billion budget this fiscal year calls for launching a lunar orbiter by the early 2020s.

ISRO’s estimated budget is less than a 10th of that – about $1.7 billion – but accomplishing feats on the cheap has been a hallmark of the agency since the 1960s. The upcoming mission will cost about $125 million – or less than a quarter of Snap Inc. co-founder Evan Spiegel’s compensation last year, the highest for an executive of a publicly traded company, according to the Bloomberg Pay Index.

This won’t be India’s first moon mission. The Chandrayaan-1 craft, launched in October 2008, completed more than 3,400 orbits and ejected a probe that discovered molecules of water in the surface for the first time.

The upcoming launch of Chandrayaan-2 includes an orbiter, lander and a rectangular rover. The six-wheeled vehicle, powered by solar energy, will collect information for at least 14 days and cover an area with a 400-meter radius.

The rover will send images to the lander, and the lander will transmit those back to ISRO for analysis.

A primary objective, though, is to search for deposits of helium-3. Solar winds have bombarded the moon with immense quantities of helium-3 because it’s not protected by a magnetic field like Earth is.

The presence of helium-3 was confirmed in moon samples returned by the Apollo missions, and Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, a geologist who walked on the moon in December 1972, is an avid proponent of mining helium-3.

There are an estimated 1 million metric tons of helium-3 embedded in the moon — enough to meet the world’s current energy demands for at least two, and possibly as many as five, centuries.

“It is thought that this isotope could provide safer nuclear energy in a fusion reactor, since it is not radioactive and would not produce dangerous waste products,’’ the European Space Agency said.

There are an estimated 1 million metric tons of helium-3 embedded in the moon, though only about a quarter of that realistically could be brought to Earth, said Gerald Kulcinski, director of the Fusion Technology Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a former member of the NASA Advisory Council.

That’s still enough to meet the world’s current energy demands for at least two, and possibly as many as five, centuries, Kulcinski said. He estimated helium-3’s value at about $5 billion a ton, meaning 250,000 tons would be worth in the trillions of dollars.

To be sure, there are numerous obstacles to overcome before the material can be used – including the logistics of collection and delivery back to Earth and building fusion power plants to convert the material into energy. Those costs would be stratospheric.

“If that can be cracked, India should be a part of that effort,’’ said Lydia Powell, who runs the Centre for Resources Management at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation think tank. “If the cost makes sense, it will become a game-changer, no doubt about it.’’

Plus, it won’t be easy to mine the moon. Only the U.S. and Luxembourg have passed legislation allowing commercial entities to hold onto what they have mined from space, said David Todd, head of space content at Northampton, England-based Seradata Ltd. There isn’t any international treaty on the issue.

“Eventually, it will be like fishing in the sea in international waters,’’ Todd said. “While a nation-state cannot hold international waters, the fish become the property of its fishermen once fished.’’

India’s government is reacting to the influx of commercial firms in space by drafting legislation to regulate satellite launches, company registrations and liability, said GV Anand Bhushan, a Chennai-based partner at the Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. law firm. It doesn’t cover moon mining.

Yet the nation’s only spaceman isn’t fully on board with turning the moon into a place of business.

Rakesh Sharma, who spent almost eight days aboard a Russian spacecraft in 1984, said nations and private enterprises instead should work together to develop human colonies elsewhere as Earth runs out of resources and faces potential catastrophes such as asteroid strikes.

“You can’t go to the moon and draw boundaries,’’ Sharma said. “I want India to show that we’re capable of utilizing space technology for the good of people.’’

Published:6/29/2018 7:39:58 PM
[Government] NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launch set back to 2021 NASA announced yesterday that its highly anticipated James Webb Space Telescope is delaying its launch — again. It was announced in March that the mission would be delayed until 2020, which is already two years past its original launch date in October 2018. But after accepting the recommendations of an independent review board, NASA has […] Published:6/28/2018 12:33:08 PM
[Markets] Boeing Unveils Plans For Hypersonic Mach 5 Passenger Airliner

About four months after China revealed its plan to design a hypersonic passenger airliner, Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) has decided to join the race for hypersonics by partnering with hypersonic specialists at the company’s Research & Technology unit to examine the feasibility of Mach 5 travel capable of crossing the Atlantic in 2 hours or the Pacific in 3.

According to Aviation Week, Boeing unveiled the initial concept vehicle at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Aviation 2018 conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Although the hypersonic vehicle is in the early stages of design, the concept depicts a passenger capacity larger than long-range business jets, but much smaller than Boeing’s flagship 737, with indications the plane could enter service by the mid/late 2030s.

Boeing said the hypersonic aircraft could fly at Mach 5 with an altitude ceiling of 95,000 feet. That means this new vehicle would travel 2.5 times faster and 30,000 feet higher than the Aérospatiale/BAC Concorde, a British-French turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, which operated from 1976 to 2003. Boeing touted the ability to operate the aircraft with same-day return flights from Asia and Europe, which would significantly increase asset utilization.

“You have to do these kinds of studies now to know where we have to push the technology and where we have to advance things,” said Boeing chief scientist for hypersonics Kevin Bowcutt, whose hypersonic research has been primarily in space and military applications.

Technologically we could have an [operational military] hypersonic aircraft... flying in 10 years. But there’s a lot that goes into a commercial airplane, including the market, regulatory and environmental requirements, so it will happen when there is a convergence of those things,” Bowcutt explained.

Boeing determined that Mach 5 (3,836 mph) as the sweet spot between civil and non-transport military applications. “When you look at the problem of getting from Point A to Point B anywhere in the world, the question is how fast do you want to go and how fast is fast enough?” said Bowcutt.

“Supersonic isn’t really fast enough to go overseas and back in one day. For the business traveler or the military, where time is really important, that’s an interesting point. Mach 5 is where you can do that. You can get across the Atlantic in about 2 hr. and across the Pacific in about 3 hr,” said Bowcutt, who confirmed that a fierce race for hypersonic technologies is well underway among global superpowers.

Although sharing design features with Boeing’s proposed military hypersonic demonstrator, the commercial concept has an extended forward fuselage for greater cabin volume. (Source: Boeing) 

“Our commercial airplane team has been working right alongside the BR&T [Boeing Research & Technology] team as this technology has evolved,” said Mike Sinnett, vice president of BCA product strategy and future airplane development. “We share our insight into the commercial market and where we see it going, as well as the requirements any commercial airplane would need to meet—ranging from passenger appeal to regulatory mandates.”

Both teams have “so far been looking at requirements and flight times,” adds Bowcutt. “And we have some of their advanced concept folks working shoulder-to-shoulder with us. We are trying to get to a point where we have a concept in which we are comfortable with the way the design closes, and then we can start looking at the market and at things like sonic boom and takeoff noise.”

In April, we covered the $247.5-million contract NASA awarded Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works to design and build a low-boom X-plane that could lead to a new era of supersonic air travel in the next three to five years. While the technology is for Mach 1.5, there could be indications that the technology expected to hit the skies in 2021, could eventually be applied to hypersonic aircraft.

From supersonic to the sweet spot of Mach 5, it is the speed that dictates time for research and development. “To get from Mach 0.8 to Mach 5 is a sixfold [600%] increase in speed, but from Mach 5 to 6 is only a 20% increase. After Mach 5 you get diminishing returns and increasing costs, so what I am looking for are technical cliffs, or step changes. If you go much faster, eventually you are going to hit a step change in propulsion or materials,” explained Bowcutt. Boeing believes that it will have to adopt an advanced titanium airframe structure to sustain Mach 5 cruising speeds.

Bowcutt said the propulsion options for Mach 5 travel are limited. “We know we don’t need a scramjet because we can do it with a kind of turboramjet: a turbofan that transitions to a ramjet at Mach 5,'” he explained. Bowcutt also mentioned that cooling technology would be necessary for managing the thermal environment of the cabin and propulsion system.

As Aviation Week noted, Boeing will likely partner with one of the “big three” commercial engine-makers GE, Pratt & Whitney, and or Rolls Royce for the project.

Boeing could speed up the research of the development of the hypersonic airliner because of its vast knowledge of hypersonic technologies from its hypersonic waverider program. “We are doing a lot of that aero work right now, trying to look at what the theoretical limits of the lift/drag ratio are in cruise, and there are some key things we’ve learned about how to configure waveriders to get the right ratio, and to get high performance with an integrated propulsion system,” said Bowcutt.

Why should you care about hypersonic technologies?

Well, the era of hypersonic is now. Unbeknownst too many, the race for hypersonic aircraft and weapons have flourished among global superpowers (China, Russia, and the United States), who realize that the first to possess these technologies will revolutionize their civilian and military programs.

Video: Routine Hypersonic Flight: The Final Frontier of Aeronautics | Kevin Bowcutt

Published:6/28/2018 3:28:42 AM
[Climate News] Martian dust storm now global Nuclear powered Curiosity rover captures photos through the haze, while Opportunity goes into sleep mode due to lack of solar power. Via NASA Goddard – A storm of tiny dust particles has engulfed much of Mars over the last two weeks and prompted NASA’s Opportunity rover to suspend science operations. But across the planet, NASA’s Curiosity rover,… Published:6/26/2018 7:21:29 PM
[Middle Column] NYT: NOAA may be stripped of climate mission by Trump admin.

Anthony Watts: "Limiting NOAA’s proselytizing about gloom and doom and tinkering with climate data such as Karl et al did in 2015 to remove “the pause” would be a better approach in my view. If the Trump administration really wants to limit the gloom and doom, getting rid of NASA GISS GISTEMP climate division and the feckless Gavin Schmidt would be the best approach. The agency was formed to study planetary situations for NASA missions, not to study the climate of Earth. It’s a redundant agency, using NOAA’s climate data and then bollixing it to fit their viewpoint. Further, Schmidt has shown time and again that he’s lost the principles of what science really should be about, and has become more of an advocate than a scientist, much like his predecessor James Hansen, who would regularly get himself arrested at protests."

Published:6/25/2018 1:44:01 PM
[Markets] Martin Armstrong: 30 Years Of Global Warming Forecasts Have All Failed

Authored by Martin Armstrong via ArmstrongEconomics.com,

The Wall Street Journal just published a review of the Global Warming Forecasts for the past 30 years. They have not even come close to the scenarios they put forth back in 1988...

On June 23, 1988, the then NASA scientist James E. Hansen who helped to start all this nonsense testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

He stated that he expressed had a “high degree of confidence” in “a cause-and-effect relationship between the claimed CO2 induced “greenhouse effect and observed warming.” 

That is how government characterizes something when they are guessing – “high degree of confidence” which was the same words used to invade Iraq who had weapons of mass destruction. He later came out and said: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” (August 25, 2002).

The CIA Director testified before Congress and said: “We said in the estimate with high confidence that Iraq had them.” see Transcript Washington Post).

Why does anyone EVER believe those in government? They cannot even forecast GDP accurately when they fudge the numbers.

Here is Hansen’s forecast.

The dark red overlay is actual surface temperatures reported and there is even a controversy surrounding them that they have been constantly skewed higher to not look like complete idiots.  Even the models devised by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are at least twice the actual temperature by now even with fudged numbers. So why are all these model so exaggerated?

These models are completely VOID of cyclical models and they do not even understand that this is a cycle. They are constructed with same idiotic bases that whatever trend is in motion will remain in motion. The Dow Jones Industrials closed 1932 at 60.26 and 1933 at 98.67. That was a 63.7% gain year over year. By assuming that trend will remain in motion, which was his dire forecast, the Dow would have reach 96,433,885,025.00 by 1975. That makes 50,000 look cheap.

Even averaging a 5-year advance VOID of understanding cycles, fails to provide a valid forecast ever. If I take the closing in the Dow of 2009 and the closing of 2014, the average advance was 1479 points per year. Now take the 2014 closing of 17823.07, that gives me 25,218.09. That is fine because we have been in a bull market. We all know the cycle will change. That is what is wrong with the global warming forecasts.

What actually happened, they got $1 billion for research by scaring the HELL out of everyone. I wonder what kind of chart I should make to get $1 billion handed to me from Congress with no performance requirements. What a deal.

Published:6/25/2018 8:42:32 AM
[Markets] Star Wars Redux: Trump's Space Force

Authored by Karl Grossman via Counterpunch.org,

If Donald Trump gets his way on formation of a Space Force, the heavens would become a war zone. Inevitably, there would be military conflict in space.

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 which designates space as the global commons to be used for peaceful purposes—and of which Russia and China, as well as the United States, are parties—and the years of work facilitating the treaty since would be wasted.

If the U.S. goes up into space with weapons, Russia and China, and then India and Pakistan and other countries, will follow.

Moreover space weaponry, as I have detailed through the years in my writings and TV programs, would be nuclear-powered—as Reagan’s Star Wars scheme was to be with nuclear reactors and plutonium systems on orbiting battle platforms providing the power for hypervelocity guns, particle beams and laser weapons.

This is what would be above our heads.

Amid the many horrible things being done by the Trump administration, this would be the most terribly destructive.

“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space,” Trump said at a meeting of the National Space Council this week.

“Very importantly, I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon,” he went on Monday, “to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces; that is a big statement. We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal, it is going to be something.”

The notion of the U.S. moving into space with weaponry isn’t new.

It goes back to the post-World War II years when the U.S. government brought former Nazi rocket scientists from Germany to the U.S.—mainly to the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama—to use “their technological expertise to help create the U.S. space and weapons program,” writes Jack Manno, who retired last year as a professor at the State University of New York/Environmental Science and Forestry College, in his book Arming the Heavens: The Hidden Military Agenda for Space, 1945-1995.

 “Many of the early space war schemes were dreamt up by scientists working for the German military, scientists who brought their rockets and their ideas to America after the war,” he relates. “It was like a professional sports draft.”

Nearly 1,000 of these scientists were brought to the U.S., “many of whom later rose to positions of power in the U.S. military, NASA, and the aerospace industry.” Among them were “Wernher von Braun and his V-2 colleagues” who began “working on rockets for the U.S. Army,” and at the Redstone Arsenal “were given the task of producing an intermediate range ballistic range missile to carry battlefield atomic weapons up to 200 miles. The Germans produced a modified V-2 renamed the Redstone….Huntsville became a major center of U.S. space military activities.”

Manno writes about former German Major General Walter Dornberger, who had been in charge of the entire Nazi rocket program who, “in  1947, as a consultant to the U.S Air Force and adviser to the Department of Defense…wrote a planning paper for his new employers. He proposed a system of hundreds of nuclear-armed satellites all orbiting at different altitudes and angles, each capable or reentering the atmosphere on command from Earth to proceed to its target. The Air Force began early work on Dornberger’s idea under the acronym NABS (Nuclear Armed Bombardment Satellites).”

For my 2001 book, Weapons in Space, Manno told me that “control over the Earth” was what those who have wanted to weaponize space seek. He said the Nazi scientists are an important “historical and technical link, and also an ideological link….The aim is to…have the capacity to carry out global warfare, including weapons systems that reside in space.”

But then came the Outer Space Treaty put together by the U.S., Soviet Union and the United Kingdom. In the 2001 TV documentary I wrote and narrate, “Star Wars Returns.”

Craig Eisendrath, who had been a U.S. State Department officer involved in its creation, notes that the Soviet Union launched the first space satellite, Sputnik, in 1957 and “we sought to de-weaponize space before it got weaponized…to keep war out of space.”

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966, it entered into force in 1967.  It has been ratified or signed by 123 nations.

It provides that nations “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 space in any other manner.”

Atomic physicist Edward Teller, the main figure in developing the hydrogen bomb and instrumental in founding Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, pitched to Ronald Reagan, when he was governor of California visiting the lab, a plan of orbiting hydrogen bombs which became the initial basis for Reagan’s “Star Wars.” The bombs were to energize X-ray lasers. “As the bomb at the core of an X-ray battle station exploded, multiple beams would flash out to strike multiple targets before the entire station consumed itself in in a ball of nuclear fire,” explained New York Times journalist William Broad in his 1986 book Star Warriors.

Subsequently there was a shift in “Star Wars” to orbiting battle platforms with nuclear reactors or “super” plutonium-fueled radioisotope thermoelectric generators on board that would provide the power for hypervelocity guns, particle beams and laser weapons.

The rapid boil of “Star Wars” under Reagan picked up again under the administrations George H. W. Bush and son George W. Bush. And all along the U.S. military has been gung-ho on space warfare.

A U.S. Space Command was formed in 1982.

“US Space Command—dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into war-fighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict,” it trumpeted in its 1998 report Vision for 2020. It laid out these words to resemble the crawl at the start of the Star Warsmovies. The U.S. Space Command was set up by the Pentagon to “help institutionalize the use of space.” Or, as the motto of one of its units declares, to be “Master of Space.”

Vision for 2020states, “Historically, military forces have evolved to protect national interests and investments-both military and economic.” Nations built navies “to protect and enhance their commercial interests” and during “the westward expansion of the United States, military outposts and the cavalry emerged to protect our wagon trains, settlements and railroads. The emergence of space power follows both of these models. During the early portion of the 2lst Century, space power will also evolve into a separate and equal medium of warfare.”

“It’s politically sensitive, but it’s going to happen,” remarked U.S. Space Command Commander-in-Chief Joseph W. Ashy in Aviation Week and Space Technology (8/9/96):

“Some people don’t want to hear this, and it sure isn’t in vogue, but—absolutely—we’re going to fight in space. We’re going to fight from space and we’re going to fight into space…. We will engage terrestrial targets someday—ships, airplanes, land targets—from space.”

Or as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Keith R. Hall told the National Space Club in 1997: “With regard to space dominance, we have it, we like it and we’re going to keep it.”

The basic concept of the Pentagon’s approach to space is contained in The Future of War: Power, Technology & American World Dominance in the 2lst Century. Written by “arms experts” George and Meredith Friedman, the 1996 book concludes: “Just as by the year 1500 it was apparent that the European experience of power would be its domination of the global seas, it does not take much to see that the American experience of power will rest on the domination of space. Just as Europe expanded war and its power to the global oceans, the United States is expanding war and its power into space and to the planets. Just as Europe shaped the world for a half a millennium [by dominating the oceans with fleets], so too the United States will shape the world for at least that length of time.”

Or as a 2001 report of the U.S. Space Commission led by then U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asserted:

“In the coming period the U.S. will conduct operations to, from, in and through space in support of its national interests both on the earth and in space.”

Nuclear power and space weaponry are intimately linked.

“In the next two decades, new technologies will allow the fielding of space-based weapons of devastating effectiveness to be used to deliver energy and mass as force projection in tactical and strategic conflict,” stated New World Vistas: Air and Space Power for the 21st Century, a 1996 US Air Force board report. “These advances will enable lasers with reasonable mass and cost to effect very many kills.” However, “power limitations impose restrictions” on such space weaponry making them “relatively unfeasible,” but “a natural technology to enable high power is nuclear power in space.” Says the report: “Setting the emotional issues of nuclear power aside, this technology offers a viable alternative for large amounts of power in space.”

Or as General James Abrahamson, director of the Strategic Defense Initiative, put it at a Symposium on Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion, “without reactors in orbit [there is] going to be a long, long light [extension] cord that goes down to the surface of the Earth” to power space weaponry.

Thus nuclear power would be needed for weapons in space.

Since 1985 there have been attempts at the UN to expand the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 to prohibit not only nuclear weapons but all weapons from space. This is called the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) treaty and leading in urging its passage have been Canada, Russia and China. There has been virtually universal backing from nations around the world for it. But by balking, U.S. administration after administration has prevented its passage.

Although waging war in space was hotly promoted by the Reagan and Bush administrations and ostensibly discouraged by the Obama administration and Clinton administration, all U.S. administrations have refused to sign on to the PAROS treaty.

In my book Weapons in Space, I relate a presentation I gave at a conference at the UN in Geneva in 1999 on the eve of a vote the next day on PAROS. I spoke about the “military use of space being planned by the U.S.” being “in total contradiction of the principles of peaceful international cooperation that the U.S. likes to espouse” and “pushes us—all of us—to war in the heavens.”

I was followed by Wang Xiaoyu, first secretary of the Delegation of China, who declared: “Outer space is he common heritage of human beings. It should be used for peaceful purposes…It must not be weaponized and become another arena of the arms race.”

The next day, on my way to observe the vote, I saw a U.S. diplomat who had been at my presentation. We approached each other and he said he would like to talk to me, anonymously. He said, on the street in front of the UN buildings, that the U.S has trouble with its citizenry in fielding a large number of troops on the ground. But the U.S military believes “we can project power from space” and that was why the military was moving in this direction. I questioned him on whether, if the U.S. moved ahead with weapons in space, other nations would meet the U.S. in kind, igniting an arms race in space. He replied that the U.S. military had done analyses and determined that China was “30 years behind” in competing with the U.S. militarily in space and Russia “doesn’t have the money.” Then he went to vote and I watched as again there was overwhelming international support for the PAROS treaty—but the U.S. balked. And because a consensus was needed for the passage of the treaty, it was blocked once more.

And this was during the Clinton administration.

With the Trump administration, there is more than non-support of the PAROS treaty but now a drive by the U.S. to weaponize space.

It could be seen—and read about—coming.

“Under Trump, GOP to Give Space Weapons Close Look,” was the headline of an article in 2016 in Washington-based Roll CallIt said “Trump’s thinking on missile defense and military space programs have gotten next to no attention, as compared to the president-elect’s other defense proposals….But experts expect such programs to account for a significant share of what is likely to be a defense budget boost, potentially amounting to $500 billion or more in the coming decade.”

Intense support for the plan was anticipated from the GOP-dominated Congress. Roll Call mentionedthat Representative Trent Franks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and an Arizona Republican, “said the GOP’s newly strengthened hand in Washington means a big payday is coming for programs aimed at developing weapons that can be deployed in space.”

In a speech in March at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station near San Diego, Trump declared:

“My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea. We may even have a Space Force—develop another one, Space Force. We have the Air Force; we’ll have the Space Force.”

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, notes that Trump cannot establish a Space Force on his own—that Congressional authorization and approval is needed.  And last year, Gagnon points out, an attempt to establish what was called a Space Corps within the Air Force passed in the House but “stalled in the Senate.”

“Thus at this point it is only a suggestion,” said Gagnon of the Maine-based Global Network.

“I think though,” Gagnon went on, “his proposal indicates that the aerospace industry has taken full control of the White House and we can be sure that Trump will use all his ‘Twitter powers’ to push this hard in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, relates Gagnon, there is the “steadily mounting” U.S. “fiscal crisis…Some years ago one aerospace industry publication editorialized that they needed a ‘dedicated funding source’ to pay for space plans and indicated that it had come up with it—the entitlement programs. That means the industry is now working to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and what little is left of the welfare program. You want to help stop Star Wars and Trump’s new Space Force. Fight for Social Security and social progress in America. Trump and the aerospace industry can’t have it both ways—it’s going to be social progress or war in space.”

As Robert Anderson of New Mexico, a board member of the Global Network, puts it:

“There is no money for water in Flint, Michigan or a power grid in Puerto Rico, but there is money to wage war in space.”

Or as another Global Network director, J. Narayana Rao of India, comments: “President Donald Trump has formally inaugurated weaponization of space in announcing that the U.S. should establish a Space Force which will lead to an arms race in outer space.”

Russian officials are protesting the Trump Space Force plan, “Militarization of space is a way to disaster,” Viktor Bondarev, the head of the Russian Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, told the RIA news agency the day after the announcement. This Space Force would be operating in “forbidden skies.” He said Moscow is ready to “strongly retaliate” if the US violates the Outer Space Treaty by putting weapons of mass destruction in space.

And opposition among legislators in Washington has begun. “Thankfully the president cannot do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart,” tweeted Senator Bill Nelson of Florida.

“Space as a warfighting domain is the latest obscenity in a long list of vile actions by a vile administration,” writes Linda Pentz Gunter, who specializes in international nuclear issues for the organization Beyond Nuclear, this week. “Space is for wonder. It’s where we live. We are a small dot in the midst of enormity, floating in a dark vastness about which we know a surprising amount, and yet with so much more still mysteriously unknown.”

“A Space Force is not an aspiration unique to the Trump administration, of course,” she continued on the Beyond Nuclear International website of the Takoma Park, Maryland group, “but it feels worse in his reckless hands.”

Published:6/23/2018 5:32:06 PM
[Middle Column] Book details NASA’s ‘ex-con’ James Hansen’s 1988 climate testimony – ‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change’
Published:6/23/2018 12:00:48 PM
[Climate News] Thirty Years Of Failed Climate Predictions – the video On June 23 1988, NASA’s James Hansen testified before Congress and made very specific predictions about global warming. In this video I show how he got them exactly backwards, and how scientists and journalists continue to spread baseless misinformation. Published:6/23/2018 11:00:22 AM
[Climate FAIL] Thirty Years On, How Well Do Global Warming Predictions Stand Up? The short answer, is not all that well. On June 23, 1988, NASA scientist James E. Hansen testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, where he expressed his “high degree of confidence” in “a cause-and-effect relationship between the claimed CO2 induced “greenhouse effect and observed warming.” The 30th anniversary of Mr. Hansen’s… Published:6/22/2018 5:57:48 PM
[NASA] Trump’s NASA to build an Asteroid Deflection System Guest essay by Eric Worrall The White House has announced plans to find a way to protect the Earth from dangerous Asteroids. This Is NASA’s New Plan to Detect and Destroy Asteroids Before They Hit Earth By Hanneke Weitering, Space.com Staff Writer | June 20, 2018 06:30pm ET NASA has updated its plans to deflect… Published:6/21/2018 6:20:31 PM
[2018 News] Obama cyber chief confirms stand down order against Russian cyberattacks Obama cyber chief confirms stand down order against Russian cyberattacks. “Stand down” seems to have been Obama’s standard response to every crisis. He issued a “stand down” order in the Ukraine, in Benghazi, in the South China Sea, in Iran, in Korea, and he even had NASA “stand down” from manned space flight. We thought […] Published:6/21/2018 10:18:32 AM
[Markets] Trump's "Space Force" Is No Joke - Bloomberg Admits "It Might Even Work"

Via The Bloomberg Editors,

The military is heavily reliant on space, but its approach now is dysfunctional.

President Donald Trump’s desire to add a “Space Force” to the U.S. military has elicited plenty of mockery and puzzlement. But don’t dismiss the idea. If undertaken prudently, it could represent a substantial and forward-looking reform.

Although Trump offered few details, Congress has been mulling a similar concept for years. The idea would be to create a new military branch, or a new service within the Air Force, dedicated to overseeing operations in space. Trump said this week (in unfortunate language) that he envisions the new entity as “separate but equal” to the Air Force.

If nothing else, such a shift would recognize military reality. Space is an increasingly critical battlefield. Across its five branches, the U.S. military uses space-based technology for navigation, reconnaissance, weather forecasting, intelligence collection, communications, command and control, precision targeting, and much else. Its reliance on satellite-guided munitions has increased with each new conflict in recent years.

This growing dependency also creates risks, however. Satellites are vulnerable to attack, as are the ground systems that support them. By treaty and convention, countries have long avoided conducting strikes in space, but U.S. adversaries have been investing heavily in anti-satellite weapons for years, and with good reason — without adequate defenses, space could become an “Achilles’ heel” for America’s high-tech forces.

Yet no one is fully in charge of U.S. space operations. Notionally, most responsibility falls to the Air Force. But in practice, authorities are fragmented across some 60 different entities. Among other problems, this has made acquiring new technology a painfully slow and expensive process, which results in the U.S. chronically sending obsolete stuff into orbit. It has made it harder to set coherent priorities and pursue a broader strategy for space. And plenty of critics have argued — persuasively — that the current arrangement is impeding much-needed change and innovation.

Could Trump’s Space Force, or something like it, do better?

Several studies, dating back to 2001, suggest that it could. If organized with care and forethought, such a force could clarify accountability, accelerate decision-making, rationalize the procurement process, improve recruitment, and ease pressure on the broader Air Force, which is heavily burdened with more traditional responsibilities.

Done rashly, though, such a reform could simply enlarge the bureaucracy and create catalogs of new expenses. More alarmingly, it could signal to other countries that the U.S. is taking a more belligerent approach to space, and thus encourage a new arms race or otherwise worsen tensions. For these reasons and others, much of the Pentagon’s senior leadership — not least, the president’s own defense secretary — opposes the idea.

Some skepticism, then, is clearly in order. Creating a Space Force would be the most ambitious reorganization of the military since 1947. And getting it right would require extreme diligence, farsightedness and attention to detail — virtues that are not exactly hallmarks of this administration.

Even so, the idea is worthy of serious debate. Congress, which would have to authorize and fund any new military branch, is considering it with due care. The president has drawn needed attention to long-simmering flaws in U.S. space policy. And the Pentagon now has renewed incentive for reform. All that should count as progress — whether the Space Force takes off or not.

Published:6/21/2018 8:48:18 AM
[Right Column] Fmr. chief of NASA climate science James Hansen: Prez. Obama ‘failed miserably’ on climate – ‘Late, ineffectual & partisan’ – Also rips Merkel & Gov. Brown as ‘both pretending to be solving the problem’

Via UK Guardian: Jame Hansen’s long list of culprits for this inertia are both familiar – the nefarious lobbying of the fossil fuel industry – and surprising. Jerry Brown, the progressive governor of California, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, are “both pretending to be solving the problem” while being unambitious and shunning low-carbon nuclear power, Hansen argues.

James Hansen: ‘Promises like Paris don’t mean much, it’s wishful thinking. It’s a hoax that governments have played on us since the 1990s.’  

There is particular scorn for Barack Obama. Hansen says in a scathing upcoming book that the former president “failed miserably” on climate change and oversaw policies that were “late, ineffectual and partisan”. 

Hansen even accuses Obama of passing up the opportunity to thwart Donald Trump’s destruction of US climate action, by declining to settle a lawsuit the scientist, his granddaughter and 20 other young people are waging against the government, accusing it of unconstitutionally causing peril to their living environment. “Near the end of his administration the US said it would reduce emissions 80% by 2050,” Hansen said.

Published:6/19/2018 5:08:14 PM
[Alarmism] NASA James Hansen: Climate Change is Obama and Jerry Brown’s Fault Legendary climate activist James Hansen has cut loose at everyone over their climate failings, and has not spared politicians whom he says are “fraudulently” claiming to be taking climate action. But James Hansen’s rant sheds light on an unlikely figure who took a final opportunity to do the right thing. Ex-Nasa scientist: 30 years on,… Published:6/19/2018 3:16:41 PM
[Climate FAIL] Happy 30th Birthday Gorebal Warming! Guest drive-by by David Middleton Well… Happy 30th birthday, 3 days early… AP Was There: The age of climate change begins By GUY DARST, ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — Jun 18, 2018 On June 23, 1988, a top NASA scientist told Congress and the world that global warming had arrived. NASA scientist James Hansen predicted that… Published:6/19/2018 7:45:03 AM
[Left Column] NASA researcher: Despite recent claims, Antarctica is still GAINING ice

Scientists tend to agree ice loss has increased in western Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula has increased. Measurements of the eastern ice sheet, however, are subject to high levels of uncertainty. That’s where disagreements are. “In our study East Antarctic remains the least certain part of Antarctica for sure,” Andrew Shepherd, the study’s lead author and professor at the University of Leeds, told TheDCNF. “Although there is relatively large variability over shorter periods, we don’t detect any significant long-term trend over 25 years,” Shepherd said. However, Zwally’s working on a paper that will show the eastern ice sheet is expanding at a rate that’s enough to at least offset increased losses the west. The ice sheets are “very close to balance right now,” Zwally said. He added that balance could change to net melting in the future with more warming.

...

Zwally’s 2015 study said an isostatic adjustment of 1.6 millimeters was needed to bring satellite “gravimetry and altimetry” measurements into agreement with one another. Shepherd’s paper cites Zwally’s 2015 study several times, but only estimates eastern Antarctic mass gains to be 5 gigatons a year — yet this estimate comes with a margin of error of 46 gigatons. Zwally, on the other hand, claims ice sheet growth is anywhere from 50 gigatons to 200 gigatons a year. 

Published:6/17/2018 3:33:55 PM
[Markets] Despite 'New, Tough Sanctions', US Takes Delivery Of Russian Rocket Engines

The Trump administration and the U.S. Department of the Treasury last week slapped sanctions on several Russian companies and billionaires for allegedly supporting Russia’s military and intelligence agencies in fueling more cyber attacks and other malicious activities.

Despite the newest round of tough U.S. sanctions, Russia will supply two batches of rocket engines to the U.S. Air Force in 2018, Chief Developer of Energomash Scientific and Production Association [the engines’ developer] Pyotr Lyovochkin told TASS on Friday.

“Currently, the production of commercial engines at Energomash is proceeding in compliance with the contracts signed. The dispatch of the first batch of RD-180 and RD-181 engines to the United States is planned for the second quarter of 2018,” the chief developer said.

“And the next batch of these engines will be supplied to the customer at the end of the year,” he added, without specifying the number of engines.

The Atlas III and Atlas V rockets, manufactured by the Convair Division of General Dynamics, along with Antares rockets are the cheapest and most viable solution for the U.S. Air Force in launching heavy payloads into high orbits.

Atlas V’s Business End with Russian RD-180 Engine – (Source: NASA) 

The new “enhanced” Antares at the Horizontal Integration Facility at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport with RD-181 Engine. (Source: Jared Haworth/SpaceFlight Insider)

Unbeknownst too many, the Atlas family of rockets and Antares rely on Russian rocket engines for the first stage. This has become a dangerous national security threat, as the Air Force has become Russian dependent on RD-180 and RD-181 rocket engines. The Air Force’s contract with Energomash extends into the second half of 2019.

The issue about using Russian rocket engines was raised at a recent Air Force budget hearing by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

“Congress has consistently supported funding to rapidly transition from our current dependence on the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engine for national security space launches while maintaining assured access to space as a matter of U.S. policy,” Shelby said.

He then directed a question to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson: “Is the Air Force on track to successfully transition the RD-180 rocket engine by the end of 2022?”

Wilson responded: “Yes, sir. We are.” Shelby: “So you feel good about that?” Wilson: “Yes, sir. I do.”

The Air Force is currently evaluating proposals from ULA, SpaceX and Orbital ATK for new rockets that will be entirely manufactured in the U.S. However the transition could take a few years.

In 2014, the U.S. Congress became serious about the Air Force’s dependence on Russian rocket engines, and banned both RD-180 and RD-181, amid challenging times between both countries regarding the Ukraine crisis.

Russian rocket engines are the cheapest and most effective solution for the Air Force to blast heavy payloads into outer space, as the ban was quickly lifted in 2015. Afterward, the Air Force placed an even larger purchase order of rocket engines with Energomash for an additional 18 RD-180 engines, in mid-2016.

Video: US Air Force Needs Russian Rocket Engines

The American obsession with Russian rocket engines was last seen during the firing test of Russia’s RD-181 engines held before the launch of an Antares carrier rocket on May 21, which confirmed the possibility the engines could be used multiple times, said Chief Developer Lyovochkin noted in early June.

“We carried out this work as part of our contractual obligations with Orbital ATK. So, thanks to our foreign partners and the Antares carrier rocket, the entire world has been able to become clearly convinced in the possibility of the multiple uses of our engines. Although we have the experience of creating reusable engines (The RD-170 was certified for the 10-time use), today this was demonstrated for the first time as part of a carrier rocket,” Lyovochkin said.

While U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s statement last week addressed the latest round of Russian sanctions: “The United States is engaged in an ongoing effort to counter malicious actors working at the behest of the Russian Federation and its military and intelligence units to increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities,” Washington must tread lightly — or, Moscow could strike back with trade restrictions on Energomash’s rocket engines.

How would Washington respond if Russia cuts the U.S. military’s addiction to cheap rocket engines? 

Published:6/17/2018 2:33:33 PM
[Antarctic] NASA glaciologist Jay Zwally puts the hammer down: ‘Antarctica is gaining ice’ A new paper about to be in press, comes at the end of a flurry of papers and reports published this week that claims Antarctica was losing ice mass. Zwally says ice growth is anywhere from 50 gigatons to 200 gigatons a year. NASA glaciologist Jay Zwally says his new study will show, once again,… Published:6/15/2018 9:22:34 PM
[Middle Column] Watch: Morano on Fox debunking new Antarctic ice melt scare & explaining how ‘global warming’ will solve alleged overpopulation problem

Morano on Fox - Varney & Co. - June 15, 2018

Morano: In my new book, 'The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change', I go back and show that in 1901, 1922, 1979 and 2014, 2018 that they've come up with Antarctic melt scenarios over and over. I also point out that in 2015, a NASA study showed Antarctica was gaining it and actually contributing to a sea level lowering. This new study which, by the way, it used observational data but to enhance that they used models, climate models --  not even actual data -- they simulated what they thought the actual ice conditions were and it gives them a huge fudge factor.

#

Morano: In my book, I go back to the 1960s and I show no matter the environmental scare, famines, scares, all sorts of calamities, they always had same solutions no matter the scare. They always wanted central power, redistribution of wealth and global governance. Now the Berkeley city council is following that same line -- even though the new productions of populations showing a declining in population as we go forward into the 21st century. More importantly, their own governor -- Jerry Brown --  has said global warming will kill 3 billion people. (See: OVERPOPULATION SOLVED! Gov. Jerry Brown Claims in 2018: 3 Billion+ Will Die from ‘Global Warming’) Now here's the problem. The Berkely California city council is worried that overpopulation will lead to global warming -- but their own governor is saying that global warming is going to kill 3 billion people. Problem solved Stuart! Global warming will kill the excess population. 

Varney: (laughing) Ohhh. Oh, we gotcha. 

Morano: There you go! We just solved it!

Varney: (Laughing) Alright Marc, we did hear you. Marc Morano everybody. Thanks for joining us sir. We will see you again soon.

 

 

Published:6/15/2018 2:25:40 PM
[NASA] NASA’s Space Science “Hide the Decline” Scandal Guest essay by Eric Worrall h/t Dr. Willie Soon – an outside researcher has uncovered what he alleges is an attempt by NASA JPL asteroid researchers to pass off other research results as the product of their model, possibly in an effort to conceal the shortcomings of the NASA model. Two years of stonewalling: What… Published:6/14/2018 11:19:45 PM
[Volcanoes] The month-long Kilauea eruption as seen from orbit In early May 2018, an eruption on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano began to unfold. Here’s what satellites saw in the first few weeks of the eruption. This video is a compendium of satellite views from NASA and other sources that tell the story of the eruption over the last month. For more details about these images,… Published:6/14/2018 10:19:25 PM
[Right Column] Media hypes ‘disgracefully misleading’ Antarctica study – Scare over potential one inch per century of sea level rise

Despite the apocalyptic headline, ice loss has only been contributing about 0.3mm a year to sea level rise, about an inch per century. Given that sea levels have been rising at around 8 inches a century since the 19thC, there is no evidence that this is not a long-term phenomenon we are seeing...Indeed as Shephard himself is forced to admit, we did not start collecting data until 1992. This sort of melting could have been going on for centuries or longer. In fact, another paper published this month by Kingslake et al finds that there has been extensive retreat and re-advance of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet during the Holocene...Then there is the question of the accuracy of measurements. A major study by NASA in 2015 discovered that Antarctic ice mass has actually been increasing since 1992, basically because of greater snowfall, and not decreasing as this new study claims. In reality, measurements of ice mass are not exact and are subject to huge margins of error.

Climate Depot Note: Here is another clue this new Antarctica study is screwy. It used models to simulate current ice status instead of actual data. In other the words, they had huge fudge factor.  Excerpt: "The researchers pulled their data from sources including satellite observations and computer modeling."

Published:6/14/2018 3:47:35 PM
[Space] Huge planet-wide dust storm on Mars knocks out NASA’s ‘Opportunity’ rover – scientists worried Dust storm is now on the verge of circumnavigating the entire planet Mars rover Opportunity is in trouble. NASA engineers attempted to contact Opportunity yesterday, June 12th, but did not hear back from the nearly 15-year old rover. The problem: A huge dust storm is blanketing Perseverance Valley where Opportunity has been working. This sequence… Published:6/13/2018 3:41:24 PM
[Climate News] NASA’s ‘living planet” team thinks we only have one climate and one type of people on Earth Science and emotion should never intersect, here’s proof. From NASA Goddard: Creating a major scientific visualization takes considerable time and expertise. A team of scientists and data visualizers work together to building an artful depiction of hard data – whether it be an animation of sea surface temperature, hurricane paths, or life on Planet Earth.… Published:6/12/2018 3:04:12 PM
[Albedo] NASA finds dirty glaciers in Alaska – may melt faster Over the years, scientists have captured spectacular photographs while mapping ice during NASA’s Operation IceBridge mission. Many of the photographs have featured the icy landscapes of Greenland and Antarctica, over which lengthy missions are flown each year over. But the views during shorter duration IceBridge missions over Alaska reveal some equally majestic icescapes. Chris Larsen of the… Published:6/11/2018 5:28:34 PM
[Climate News] NASA’s @JimBridenstine has reversed his position on ‘Climate Change’ and can no longer be trusted Wow, “say anything” to get the appointment, then reverse your position. I see a “you’re fired!” Trump moment in the not too distant future. James Delingpole writes: NASA’s new administrator Jim Bridenstine has done his president a grave disservice. Perhaps he thinks he has just been politic – canny even – by publicly reversing his stated… Published:6/11/2018 3:57:59 PM
[Climate News] Fuego volcano injected large amounts of sulfur dioxide into stratosphere, may induce some short-term global cooling Volcanologist Simon Carn is quoted by Smithsonian as saying “SO2 mass ejected was about ~2 orders of magnitude than the 1974 eruption, which had a significant stratospheric impact. “ It is well known that sulfur dioxide ejected into the stratosphere has a global cooling effect. From NASA: Fuego in Guatemala is one of Central America’s most… Published:6/9/2018 4:12:15 AM
[Markets] The New York Post: Life on Mars? NASA rover finds building blocks for life on planet’s surface The “ingredients necessary for life” have been found on Mars, according to NASA scientists.
Published:6/7/2018 6:36:49 PM
[Astronomy] Organic molecules found on Mars, MIT author says they are of “unknown origin” NASA Finds Ancient Organic Material, Mysterious Methane on Mars Discovery adds to evidence suggesting that Mars was at one time habitable. NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the… Published:6/7/2018 2:02:07 PM
[Science and Technology] NASA Talking To Private Companies On Taking Over The International Space Station

By DCNF -

international space station

  by Tim Pearce NASA is putting together a coalition of private companies that can run the International Space Station as a commercial space lab, The Washington Post reports. The Trump administration plans on ending direct government funding of the ISS by 2025, according to documents uncovered in February. The ...

NASA Talking To Private Companies On Taking Over The International Space Station is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:6/5/2018 9:20:12 AM
[NASA] Ex NASA Employee: Planned Blog Posts on Coal to Solar Plant Conversions Cancelled Guest essay by Eric Worrall An ex-employee claims “fear and anxiety” of President Trump is causing a drop in NASA climate posts. But some of the activities which were allegedly cancelled give us a glimpse of just how far off mission NASA drifted under the previous President. Nasa full of ‘fear and anxiety’ since Trump… Published:5/30/2018 6:42:31 AM
[NASA] Ex NASA Employee: Planned Blog Posts on Coal to Solar Plant Conversions Cancelled Guest essay by Eric Worrall An ex-employee claims “fear and anxiety” of President Trump is causing a drop in NASA climate posts. But some of the activities which were allegedly cancelled give us a glimpse of just how far off mission NASA drifted under the previous President. Nasa full of ‘fear and anxiety’ since Trump… Published:5/30/2018 5:41:15 AM
[Markets] Stunning Images From Space As "Widening & Advancing" Lava Flow Reaches Hawaii Power Plant

In just the past 24 hours there were between 250 and 270 earthquakes at Kilauea’s summit, with four explosions on Saturday sending ash to altitudes as high as 12,000-15,000 feet, said Stovall and National Weather Service meteorologist John Bravender.

The scale of the eruption and lava flow is so immense that satellites have been photographing it from above.  First up, Digg shows an incredibly detailed shot from the European Space Agency's Earth Observation satellite, showing the bright flows sticking out against the lush green of the island: 

And NASA Earth Observatory got in on the action with this stunning night shot of the lava flows:

Satellites aren't the only ones capturing cool photos - this view from the Gemini Observatory shows the "glow from an extensive region of fissures over the course of a single night": 

However, more worrying for now is that fact that the lava crossed onto the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) Saturday evening local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, having destroyed dozens of nearby houses in the past few days.

The plant's wells run a mile deep in some areas.

Tom Travis from Hawaii Emergency Management told CBS News that in the worst-case scenario, there would be "a steam release, many chemicals, but primarily hydrogen sulphide, a very deadly gas".

“The flow from fissures 21 and 7 was widening and advancing,” Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman for the County of Hawaii, said in an email on the position of lava heading northeast toward PGV at 12:30 p.m. (6:00 p.m. ET)

Hawaii Governor David Ige has said the wells are stable.

Since Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano began a once-in-a-century-scale eruption May 3, authorities have shutdown the plant, removed 60,000 gallons of flammable liquid and deactivated wells that tap into steam and gas deep in the Earth’s core.

But,  as Reuters reports, lava has never engulfed a geothermal plant anywhere in the world and the potential threat is untested, according to the head of the state’s emergency management agency.

Residents have complained of health hazards from emissions from the plant since it went online in 1989 and PGV has been the target of lawsuits challenging its location on the flank of one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

The Israeli-owned 38 megawatt plant typically provides around 25 percent of electricity on the Big Island, according to local power utility Hawaii Electric Light.

Operator Ormat Technologies last week said there was no above-ground damage to the plant but it would have to wait until the situation stabilized to assess the impact of earthquakes and subterranean lava flows on the wells.

However, as we detailed previously, there is a long-running debate about whether PGV is fracking. The debate may be a matter of terminology, because in the geothermal process, as hawaiifracking.com reports, “…the drilling and the injection of cold water into hot rocks used in geothermal energy plants does fracture the rocks, which can induce earthquakes and through contamination of the atmosphere and water tables can affect our health and safety.”

Whether deep injection of fluid aims to capture oil, gas, or heat (geothermal), the beginning stage of the process is the same.

Earthquakes induced by this water-injection could obviously trigger a volcano.

For example, here is an alarming article about a geothermal project in Switzerland. Swissinfo.ch, December 10, 2009:

“The authorities in canton Basel City say they will cancel a geothermal energy project, which three years ago caused minor tremors that damaged many buildings.”

“A risk analysis study published on Thursday found that the danger of setting off more earthquakes was too great if drilling at the site resumed.”

“The project was put on hold three years ago after thousands of claims for damage were filed with insurers. Total costs for the damage were around SFr9 million ($8.78 million).”

“The study, commissioned by the canton, concluded that Basel was ‘unfavourable’ for geothermal power generation.”

“It said the resumption of Deep Heat Mining project and its operation over a 30-year period could set off around 200 tremors with a strength of up to 4.5 on the Richter Scale – in 2006, the quakes were about 3.4.”

“This would result in damages up to SFr40 million.”

“The Basel facility drilled five kilometres into the earth. The borehole was designed to be injected with water to capture the extreme heat. Back at the surface, the hot water – at a temperature of around 160° Celsius – would run a steam turbine coupled with a generator.”

This Swiss article outlines the risks, and also confirms that deep water-injection is used in the geothermal process—which can and does trigger earthquakes.

Ormat is no stranger to scandals. At blog.heartland.org, H Sterling Burnett writes (4/1/15):

"One scandal that could haunt [Harry] Reid for his remaining time in the Senate (and possibly beyond) was reported on recently in the Washington Free Beacon and Courthouse News. It seems the Reid helped the green energy company, Ormat Technologies, a firm that owns and manages geothermal plants in California and Hawaii, secure nearly $136 million in economic stimulus funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

“Two former employees are suing the firm, claiming Ormat executives defrauded the United States of more than $130 million by reporting false information about two projects to get government grants, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.”

“Reid’s ties to Ormat are deep. The company runs geothermal plants in Nevada and Reid has been a big booster of the company in D.C. As reported in the Free Beacon, ‘Reid bragged about securing Ormat a $350 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy (DOE) and took credit for expanding the Treasury program that the former employees say illicitly provided Ormat with millions more in taxpayer funds’.”

“It is also worth noting that Ormat’s DOE award came a year after investors sued the company for allegedly inflating its stock price through ‘fraudulent accounting and overstated financial results.’ Ormat settled the allegations in 2012 for $3.1 million.”

Ormat potentially faces a much larger scandal now: A massive volcanic eruption on the Island of Hawaii.

Published:5/27/2018 12:23:00 PM
[Space] Jeff Bezos details his moon colony ambitions Jeff Bezos has big plans for the moon, if he can just get there. With a little elbow grease our trusty satellite could become a platform from which to build out the space industry — and while a partnership with NASA, the ESA and others would be best, Blue Origin will do it solo if it has to. Published:5/27/2018 12:23:00 PM
[Markets] Elon Musk, Crony Capitalist

Authored by Lee Enochs via The Mises Institute,

Elon Musk is at it again. The billionaire tech magnate continues to get richer and richer on the American taxpayer’s dime, highlighting the need to do as Murray Rothbard advised of reassessing the “partnership” of government and business.

At first glance, Elon Musk appears to be a quintessential capitalist success story. The South African born-American technology magnet, lead designer of SpaceX, and product architect of Tesla, Inc. is now ranked 25th on Forbes Magazine’s list of the World’s Most Powerful People, and as of February 2018, Forbes has Musk listed as the 53 rd richest person in the world.

One might conclude that Musk’s staggering wealth was produced via faithful adherence to the timeless and inexorable principles of laissez-faire capitalism, where personal wealth is accrued through the federal government leaving commerce alone and staying outside the affairs of private industry. However, this perception of Elon Musk’s economic independence from government interventionism is largely a fabrication and carefully manufactured distortion since Musk has personally enriched himself through a whole lot of government favoritism and statist interference in the private sector economy.

At this point, Musk has received well over $5 billion in government support. Previous reports have shown over 80 percent of SpaceX’s contracts come right from Uncle Sam. Given that the government is most space contractors’ top customer, this may not seem like a big deal. In fact, last July one Mises Wire columnist arguedthat Musk is a “mixed hero” because, although living largely off government largesse, he has “successfully [executed]” big ideas that benefit consumers in the “‘really existing’ world.”

To be fair, this characterization may have seemed to be the case last summer, but like all creatures of government, Musk’s so-called successfully executed ideas are already starting to come crashing down.

SpaceX’s selling point has always been that it can sell cheaper rockets than those of his competitors, but a new report from the space industry’ inspector general found that SpaceX will soon have staggering 50% price increases “compared to its final CRS-1 mission price.”

SpaceX has indicated that the reason it has increased prices is that the company now has a “better understanding of the costs involved after several years of experience with cargo resupply missions.” This just means it overpromised and underdelivered as is typical in the world of government. In recent months, policymakers have also discovered that SpaceX rockets are far less reliable than those of many of its competitors. This was outlined in reports from December 2017 and January 2018 , in which the Department of Defense Inspector General and NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Council described a list of security concerns they have with SpaceX – among them: 33 significant nonconformities.

We can only guess that SpaceX would cease to exist in the absence of government. But given the recent history of tumbling sales that have come with the end of governments’ support for electric vehicles, it is almost a certainty with Tesla.

As an Asian Review article outlined last November, just months after Hong Kong cut its tax breaks for electric vehicle owners, Tesla sales dropped to near zero. A sharp decline in business also resulted in Denmark as the country undertook its own slashing of government incentives. It is only a matter of time before the same occurs in the United States, where Tesla’s $7,500 tax credit is expected to soon phase out. In fact, Tesla is already thelargest short in the entire U.S stock market.

Yet, like a catfish that can’t resist shiny new bait, many American politicians and appropriators, enamored with even a hint of technological wizardry, just can’t say no to wasting taxpayer money on Musk’s latest pet projects that do not deliver as promised.

One can only hope that the public will soon wake up and realize what Murray Rothbard warned of – that government exists “precisely to set up such ‘partnerships,’ for the benefit of both government and business, or rather, of certain business firms and groups that happen to be in political favor.”

Politics is driven by culture, so the sooner the American people wake up to this realization, the sooner a smaller government footprint will result. I won’t hold my breath.

Published:5/26/2018 12:17:17 PM
[Science] Watch SpaceX launch the GRACE-FO and Iridium NEXT satellites here Today's the day for SpaceX's launch of Iridium's NEXT communications satellites and a pair of twin birds from NASA that will monitor the fresh water on the surface of the Earth. You can watch the launch right here. Published:5/22/2018 12:21:32 PM
[Science] SpaceX rocket will make a pit stop 305 miles up to deploy NASA satellites before moving on Tuesday is the planned launch for a SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying two payloads to orbit — and this launch will be an especially interesting one. A set of five communications satellites for Iridium need to get to almost 500 miles up, but a NASA mission has to pop out at the 300 mile mark. What […] Published:5/21/2018 5:18:19 PM
[TC] NASA’s newest planet-hunting satellite takes a stellar first test image TESS, the satellite launched by NASA last month that will search thousands of stars for Earth-like exoplanets, has just sent back its first test image. It's just a quick one, not "science-quality," but it does give you an idea of the scale of the mission: the area TESS will eventually document is 400 times the area covered by this shot. Published:5/18/2018 5:57:55 PM
[Climate News] Don’t Tell Anyone, But We Just Had Two Years Of Record-Breaking Global Cooling The drop in temperatures at least merits a “Hey, what’s going on here?” story. Inconvenient Science: NASA data show that global temperatures dropped sharply over the past two years. Not that you’d know it, since that wasn’t deemed news. Does that make NASA a global warming denier? Writing in Real Clear Markets, Aaron Brown looked at the official… Published:5/17/2018 9:19:51 AM
[Bad science] Claim: U.N. data reflects greening of the Earth, not carbon dioxide NASA says the greening of the planet is due to increased CO2, these guys are arguing against that, saying increased forest growth “correlates strongly to the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Index”. Riiiighht. They say that “Europe’s early turnaround and expansion of forest resources obviously can’t be attributed to the rapid rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide… Published:5/15/2018 6:39:36 PM
[Markets] EMP: Elaborate Hoax Or Legitimate Threat?

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

As a prepper and avid reader of post-apocalyptic fiction like One Second AfterAlas Babylon, and Going Home, an EMP has long been on my mind as one of the most catastrophic threats we could face.

After reading numerous reports from the Congressional EMP Commission, I figured that the reality of such a threat was a given. So when I recently wrote about making Faraday cages, imagine my surprise when I saw this comment:

I appreciate the attempt to help people prepare for all kinds of disasters, but I’m going to have to throw a conversational bomb into this room, so to speak.

EMP is a total scam. See here: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/02/david-hathaway/emp-hoax/

Not only is EMP a scam, nuclear weapons are probably a scam. Certainly they were at the time of abhorrent and immoral destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, both cities victimized by fire bombing like all the other Japanese cities.

I suppose protection against lightning might be useful, a system of lightning rods being an alternative. I wouldn’t lose sleep at night over this EMP nonsense, especially when there are real dangers we face every day.

What?????

I was really surprised to see this. I went to read the article at the link and discovered the author of it had written an entire book on the topic called EMP Hoax. The book had a forward written by Lew Rockwell, for whom I have the deepest respect. Mr. Rockwell wrote of a nuclear detonation over the Pacific Ocean in 1962:

One purpose of the blast was to study the impact, if any, of Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) effects. One incident is alleged to show such effects. Based on this incident, the government concluded that hostile powers could use EMPs to disable the electronic infrastructure of our country. Even after the Cold War ended, the government has continued to tout the threat posed by EMPs.

Hathaway comments: “The alleged incident happened on the island of Oahu which is made up of the City and County of Honolulu. This incident has developed a cult following within the EMP science community. The incident allegedly involved blown fuses in a small number (less than 1%) of street light strings. It has been trotted out for decades as the single definitive proof of EMP effects on power grid and long-wire infrastructure.”

Hathaway isn’t convinced. He presents a painstaking discussion of the incident, subsequent investigations, and the science behind EMP effects. He writes clearly about complicated science, and his conclusion is backed by abundant evidence: “EMP is a ridiculous notion; one that we are supposed to give up our money, our common sense, and our freedom to validate. From the state’s perspective, there is always some area of life where people haven’t yet developed the proper level of panic to make them tolerate the forced filling of state coffers in relation to that area. There is always something new to fear that the public can’t quite grasp without the government to ratchet up its fears.”

David Hathaway deserves our gratitude for his excellent and timely account of a little-known propaganda campaign by the State.” (source)

So with this in mind, I spent the weekend doing some research on the topic.

Some mainstream outlets concur that EMP is not a legitimate threat.

Vice interviewed an analyst from Stratfor about how concerned we should be about an EMP. The analyst was pretty thorough, and concluded that he believed it was “not impossible” but “unlikely.”

It’s not that EMPs are not a threat. It’s just that—although the effect would be massive—currently they’re not really a risk apart from nuclear strikes, so highlighting them as the greatest threat there is might not be entirely realistic…

…When we’re talking about realistic versus unrealistic threats, currently generating an EMP with a nuclear weapon is the most feasible way to do it. Homebuilt EMP weapons aren’t very feasible. The cost you would put into building such a system versus the benefit that you would actually gain is very, very impaired…

…Besides the weight, and the cost of whatever you use to generate that kind of electricity—a capacitor, a large amount of batteries, or whatever power generation method—the cost would be so high, but the damage you can do with it would be so limited, that other much cheaper methods might be more efficient when it comes to damaging the area that you’re targeting. (source)

Larry Kummer of FabiusMaximus.com believes the threat of EMP is pure propaganda and points out that the naysayers don’t get press but there are plenty of them out there. He wrote:

The threat of EMP’s has been debunked many times. But only in the back pages. Experts know that speaking against the fear narratives gets one blackballed from the defense gravy train and blacklisted by journalists. Only the threat mongers, the warmongers, get attention.

The Wall Street Journal shows how the propaganda narrative works. There is a large body of analysis showing that the EMP threat is grossly exaggerated, especially versus the serious ones we face. For details see these posts about EMPs: Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons, generating waves of fear in America for 20 years and Renowned Physicists Cast Doubt on Gingrich’s Far-Fetched Scenario about EMP weapons. None of this appears in the WSJ, who give only the warnings. Some examples…

Then, Mr. Kummer rightly points out the threat of solar flares and other space weather events, which would wreak similar havoc to our electronics. He concludes, “Since natural threats don’t have anything like the military-industrial complex to shill for them, we remain vulnerable to events certain to occur eventually.”

Matthew Gault from War is Boring calls EMP an “overrated threat.” He interviewed cybersecurity expert Peter Singer, who had a LOT to say about his feeling that an EMP strike was unlikely. Here are some of the highlights from that interview.

“There’s this irony of the people who think it’s serious not realizing that they’re the joke,” he explained. “When you walk through the actual scenarios of use, it doesn’t pass the logic test.”

…Setting aside the geopolitical gymnastics that must occur to lead to that kind of exchange, if a foreign power detonated a 100 or more kiloton in an electromagnetic attack on America, then the world is at war and there’s little strategic benefit for the aggressor to not just go ahead and nuke a city.

“It doesn’t mean it can’t happen,” Singer told me. “But if the other side is using EMPs we’re moving into thermonuclear war.”

“A weapon of mass destruction is preferable to a weapon of mass disruption,” Butt explained. “A state would be highly unlikely to launch an EMP strike from their own territory because the rocket could be traced to the country of origin and would probably result in nuclear or massive conventional retaliation by the U.S.”

…However, we don’t know what the effects of an EMP might be. Studies conducted by both the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War produced dramatically different results every time.

An electromagnetic pulse is a highly unpredictable side effect of a predictably horrifying weapon. “It’s not a weapon we’ve seen past use of. Ever. Literally ever. Nor tests of,” Singer said. (source)

Patrick Disney of The Atlantic calls the hullabaloo a “campaign to terrify” us about the threat of an EMP and says it all goes back to the money trail of increased ballistic missile defenses. He believes the threat is unlikely to occur because of its unpredictable nature.

It may be that a terrorist, after going through the trouble of acquiring a nuclear warhead and a missile capable of delivering it to America’s shores, would be a fool to employ the ultimate weapon in such a cockamamie fashion. The effects of an EMP are far from universal; according to one commissioned study, a best-case scenario would impact 70 percent of electronics, while a worst-case estimate could be as low as 5 percent. Far better from the terrorist’s perspective to deliver the bomb as it was intended, rather than hang his hopes on a series of unpredictable events and second- or third-order consequences. After all, a nuclear bomb need not be made any more devastating to serve a terrorist’s purposes.

A slightly more plausible scenario could involve a state actor who, facing a vastly superior U.S. military massed on its border, might consider launching an EMP attack against U.S. troops as a way of evening the playing field. Because the U.S. military is much more highly dependent on technology than others, a rogue state facing the threat of invasion could conceivably attempt such a tactic against invading forces in the hopes that it could damage their capabilities without incurring the totally devastating retaliation that a “regular” nuclear strike would surely provoke. Of course, a wide-ranging EMP would knock out his own electronics as much as it would anyone else’s, so even this scenario is a bit far-fetched. (source)

These are all valid arguments. If a country or a group of terrorists acquired the nuclear capability to set off an EMP above America, would they do that even if they weren’t positive it would work? The retaliation if it didn’t work – heck, even if it DID work – would be formidable and thorough.

But all this doesn’t mean an EMP strike is impossible.

While it is possible we may be getting played by the fearmongers, it still doesn’t mean that a disaster that would take out our grid is impossible. It doesn’t mean that people who are preparing with Faraday cages and long-term supplies are being silly.

First of all, these preps will help us through a wide variety of disasters. The protected electronics would see us through a space weather event, and the other preps would help us through anything from World War 3 to a raging pandemic. I’ve mentioned my own plan to prep low-tech because it’s budget-friendly and it will get us through many different emergencies. There are all sorts of reasons the grid could be down for an extended period of time. Look no further than Puerto Rico to see that is a fact.

And furthermore, regarding an EMP, we simply don’t know what it would do because it has never happened.

I reached out to Dr. Arthur T. Bradley and asked him 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. 

So can it happen? We have a very decisive agreement on “maybe.”

My own conclusion? Keep prepping.

After reading all of this, it’s pretty clear that nobody knows for sure whether an EMP attack is likely or would work as an enemy might hope. There is compelling evidence from both sides of the argument that leave us up in the air.

As a prepper who wants to be ready for everything, here’s my advice.

An EMP that takes the grid down indefinitely is only one possibility among many others that could cause a long-term power outage.

So obviously, this isn’t an “it can never happen” scenario. Being ready for a long-term power outage and shutdown of the supply line is just common sense.

The twist of an EMP is that it would be longer-term and you can protect some of your devices from such an event. Faraday cages would also protect your electronics from a solar event. A Faraday cage is simple and inexpensive to make (learn how here) and the devices you would protect would be things that you would use anyway in certain types of emergencies, like communications devices, a backup laptop, and solar chargers. So, really, it isn’t costing you very much extra money to additionally make some preparations for the possibility that an EMP could occur.

As far as low-tech, off-grid systems, I think they’re a good idea for all sorts of reasons. Here are a few examples:

  • When I lived in the boondocks, I had no washing machine at my house. Having a backup way to do laundry helped me lengthen the time between my one-hour drive each way to the laundromat.

  • Having solar chargers and lights have been nothing but helpful in power-outage situations.

  • I yearn for solar panels on my roof to reduce my electric bill and decrease my dependence on public utilities.

  • California has had rolling power outages for years to manage the extra demand for power in the heat of summer – wouldn’t off-grid supplies make that more comfortable?

None of these preps are outrageous and most are very multipurpose. I think it’s very important to diversify your basic preps to see you through a wide variety of emergencies, and the potential (or lack thereof) of an EMP is no different.

Published:5/14/2018 8:36:08 PM
[Uncategorized] Trump administration jettisons $10 million NASA program tracking greenhouse gases NASA's return journey from #FakeScience to space exploration. Published:5/14/2018 8:04:28 PM
[Markets] Uber Teams Up With US Army, NASA To Launch 'Flying Taxis'

Authored by Sasha Lekach via Mashable.com,

Uber is flying high above its street-level ride-hailing business.

At its annual Elevate summit in Los Angeles Tuesday, the rideshare company detailed its aviation goals to launch electric flying taxis within the next five years.

The service, dubbed UberAir, aims to move rides to the sky, so Uber is partnering with the U.S. Army's research arm and NASA to make it happen.

Uber's partnership with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), within the Army Research Lab, is focused on researching the tech needed to propel the company's electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

UberAir wants to fly its vehicles up to 2,000 feet at 150 mph for short-haul flights, going as far as 60 miles on a battery charge. The service plans to fly demos of its four-passenger seat planes in Los Angeles and the Dallas area by 2020, ready for commercial use by 2023. 

Although the air taxi will initially be piloted, flights will eventually become autonomous.

IMAGE: UBER

As part of this $1-million partnership, spilt 50-50, the U.S. Army research team is working with Uber to develop quieter propeller technology. In a release, the Army said, "this is a concept for having two rotor systems placed on top of each other and rotating in the same direction." Apparently this has never been deployed in a flying craft before. 

So Uber won't necessarily be outfitting the military with aircraft, but this joint research could help the Army one day fly a fleet of unmanned air vehicles, or supply the tech for more efficient military aircraft down the track.

IMAGE: UBER

On the NASA side, Uber is expanding an agreement with the space agency. The new arrangement means Uber will share information with NASA about creating an "urban aviation rideshare network." NASA wants to use this data for computer modeling and simulation in order to study how small aircraft like UberAir manage in crowded environments.

Previously, Uber had an agreement with NASA to research pilotless vehicle traffic management at low altitudes. 

Uber is moving way beyond cities, roads, and public transit, getting deep into aeronautical institutions, and possibly into defense contracting. But for now, its nascent aviation team is trying to establish itself as legit. Partnerships with the likes of NASA and U.S. Army sure help on that front.

Published:5/14/2018 6:03:20 PM
[Markets] Hypersonic Weapons: The Perfect Tool For Asymmetrical Warfare

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

As recently confirmed in a debate at the Brookings Institute by the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, General Robert Neller, “there are military areas in which the United States maintains a technological advantage [over Russia and China], others in which there is substantial parity, and others in which the United States is lagging behind, revealing a technological gap with its peer competitors.

The last point applies to weapons systems designed to operate at hypersonic speed. Let us start with the simple and pragmatic definition offered by The National Interest of hypersonic vehicles and weapons:

A hypersonic vehicle is one that moves through the atmosphere at a minimum speed of five times that of sound, or Mach 5. A hypersonic cruise missile travels continuously through the air employing a special high-powered engine. A hypersonic glide vehicle [HGV] is launched into space atop a ballistic missile, after which it maneuvers through the upper reaches of the atmosphere until it dives towards its target. Both vehicle types can carry either conventional or nuclear weapons.

As we can see, we are speaking here about technological developments that require money and scientific structures of the highest level to achieve such significant and complex results. The difficulty of implementing systems of such complexity is very well explained by Defense Review:

One of DR’s primary questions about the Russian and Chinese HAA/HGV [Hypersonic Attack Aircraft/Hypersonic Glide Vehicle] tech is whether or not the vehicles generate a plasma field/shield around it that can effectively camouflage the vehicle and/or disrupt an incoming high-powered laser beam, and thus avoid both detection and destruction during its flight. Russian scientists and military aircraft designers/developers have been experimenting with plasma field generation tech since the late 1970’s, so one would think they’re pretty far along by now. Oh, and let’s not forget China’s recent development of a new ultra-thin, lightweight “tunable” UHF microwave radar-absorbing stealth/cloaking material for both manned and unmanned combat aircraft and warships. The hits just seem to keep on coming. Its enough to drive a military defense analyst to drink.

Another area of complexity concerns the communication between the hypersonic flight carrier and and its land-based components, especially if the re-entry vehicle is to be maneuvered remotely.

The fundamental component in performing a hypersonic flight naturally lies in the engines, used to reach speeds higher than Mach 7. There are ongoing studies by all of these countries concerning scramjet engines, essential for the purposes of producing hypersonic weapons. By employing a scramjet engine, and mixing it with other technologies (jet engine or ramjet), one would enable the aircraft and missiles to reach hypersonic speeds, as Beijing’s Power Machinery Research Institute explains:

The turbo-aided rocket-augmented ram/scramjet engine (TRRE), which uses rocket augmentation to aid the transition into the supersonic and hypersonic flight regimes, could be the world's first combined cycle engine to fly in 2025, paving the way for hypersonic -space planes and single-stage space launchers.

DARPA also explains the US point of view on this particular area of research:

Advanced Full Range Engine program (AFRE) which is intended as a reusable hypersonic engine that combines an off-the-shelf jet engine with a dual mode ramjet engine.

War Is Boring definitively clarifies the concept using simpler words:

Turbojet? Ramjet? Scramjet? A turbojet spins a lot of blades to compress and heat incoming air. A ramjet moves so fast that the engine is already hot and compressed enough to ignite the fuel. A scramjet – short for "supersonic combustion ramjet"  is just that, a ramjet where the incoming air is moving at supersonic speeds.

The world of hypersonic weapons is divided into four types: hypersonic cruise missiles, which are surface- or air-launched; hypersonic glide vehicles, brought to high altitude by missiles or jets, re-entering the atmosphere at very high speeds while maneuvering, and able to hit targets with conventional or nuclear bombs; hypersonic attack aircraft, which are vehicles that fly at hypersonic speeds and are capable of taking off and landing, and are therefore useful for surveillance purposes but potentially also for attack; and finally, hypersonic anti-ship missiles.

Let's examine them one by one, listing the current respective stages of research, development and testing of the countries in question.

The first type of hypersonic weapons are the easiest to understand. Simply put, these are cruise missiles with scramjet engines that are capable of accelerating to hypersonic speeds.

Hypersonic cruise Missiles (excluding anti-ship weapons available below) United States (testing phase)

Russia/India (testing phase)

  • BrahMos-II is a hypersonic missile currently under development in India and Russia

The most discussed weapon is the hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV). What exactly a HGV is can be explained as follows:

HGVs are unmanned, rocket-launched, maneuverable aircraft that glide and "skip" through the earth's atmosphere at incredibly fast speeds. Compared to conventional ballistic systems, HGV warheads can be much higher, lower altitudes and less-trackable trajectories. The defense systems approach leaves less time to intercept the warhead before it drops its payload.

Glide Weapon/Hypersonic Glide Vehicle:

United States (experimental phase)

  • For years, the US has worked on missiles that can be used as a Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) weapon, which is a rocket glider that can reach speeds of 20,921 kilometers per hour, or Mach 20, and then uses a scramjet/ramjet engine to perform maneuvers. Currently, the United States is in the research and development phase of experimenting with an Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) known as the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2)

Russia (entering into service in 2019)

  • KH-47M 2 Kinzhal (Dagger). An air-launched, modified Zircon missile launched from a MiG-31.

China (test phase)

  • DF-17/DF-ZF/WU-14 - Hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) medium-range system, with a range of between 1,800 and 2,500 kilometers.

As we can see, Russia is almost ready to start mass production of their HGVs, while the US is still in the early phase of experimentation, and China is already undertaking numerous tests.

The most complicated factor with hypersonic technology concerns the Hypersonic Attack Aircraft (HAA), equipped with scramjet engines and able to attain hypersonic speeds, but with the added benefit of being able to take off and land. They are to be unmanned and can be used for surveillance or attack purposes.

Hypersonic Attack Aircraft

United States (unknown phase)

  • No known projects, much speculation about tests and scientific research. For example, the US military created in 1996 a program called SHAAFT. Now the US Military is working on a number of prototypes:

Russia (testing phase)

China (testing phase)

  • TENGYUN is a hypersonic aircraft powered during the first stage by a turbine rocket combined cycle (TRCC) engine, which then launches a reusable second-stage rocket to reach the stratosphere.

Because scramjet technology, on which HAA systems rely, is still in its early phases of development, this weapon system is unlikely to see the light of day any time soon.

Anti-ship missiles accelerate to hypersonic speed, allowing them to hit naval groups. As described below, this is because of a scramjet motor that gives such missiles their power:

Anti Ship Missiles are believed to be a maneuvering, winged hypersonic cruise missile with a lift-generating center body. A booster stage with solid-fuel engines accelerates it to supersonic speeds, after which a scramjet motor in the second stage accelerates it to hypersonic speeds.

Anti Ship Hypersonic Missiles:

United States (Currently only possesses sub-sonic missiles)

Russia (operational)

China (testing phase)

In the next article I will explain how Russia and China Gained a Strategic Advantage in Hypersonic Technology and why this could be a game changer in future war scenarios. 

Published:5/13/2018 10:30:24 PM
[Markets] Congress Is Planning To Spend Millions On Search For Aliens, UFOs

Via ValueWalk.com,

A new bill in the House of Representatives related to NASA’s funding proposes $10 million a year to search for signs of life out there.

A climate denier may be the reason the S-word is back in vogue in Congress. Oh yeah, not that S-word, the other one: SETI.

That’s right, Congress is talking about spending a bunch of money on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (or SETI) for the first time in 25 years.

In 1992, a huge NASA SETI initiative was launched with the construction of two radio telescopes (one in Puerto Rico and the other in California) to comb the cosmos for signals from alien civilizations. Just a year later, however, Nevada Sen. Richard Bryan shut it down, and “SETI” became an unmentionable. [Greetings, Earthlings! 8 Ways Aliens Could Contact Us]

“[Bryan] made it clear to the administration that if they came back with SETI in their budget again, it wouldn’t be good for the NASA budget,” renowned astronomer Jill Tarter told Marina Koren of The Atlantic.

“So, we instantly became the four-letter S-word that you couldn’t say at headquarters anymore, and that has stuck for quite a while.”

(Tarter was the director of the SETI Institute for 35 years before stepping down in 2012.)

Now, the U.S. House of Representatives has proposed a bill that includes $10 million in NASA funding for the next two years “to search for technosignatures, such as radio transmissions, in order to meet the NASA objective to search for life’s origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe.” Such technosignatures would come in the form of radio waves that have the telltale features of being produced by TV- or radio-type technologies. An intelligent civilization could also produce those signals intentionally to communicate with other civilizations like ours.

“If it passes, it would definitely be a sea-change in Congressional attitude since Sen. Bryan terminated NASA’s SETI program, the High Resolution Microwave Survey, in 1993,” Tarter told Live Science in an email.

She added that the funding seems to be an extension of the efforts of Rep. Lamar Smith, R–Texas, to bring attention to the search for life beyond Earth when he was the chairman of the House Science Committee. (Smith, who announced that he will retire at the end of his term this year, is a known denier of human-caused climate change.)

If the legislation clears the House and passes the Senate, the result would be huge. “It allows for new instrumentation to be built, and data collected and analyzed at scale, by a global community,” Tarter said of the $10 million.

Of course, the hunt for intelligence beyond Earth has not stopped, as private companies and other organizations have funded it, but a buy-in from the federal government is a big deal. [7 Huge Misconceptions about Aliens]

“You need to remember that this is an authorization bill, not an appropriations bill. Even if it passes, the appropriators may not provide any SETI funding in their bill. But if they do, that would be a very big deal,” said Tarter, who was the basis for the heroine Ellie Arroway in Carl Sagan’s novel “Contact” and in the adapted movie by the same name.

Tarter is admittedly ecstatic about the possibility of such a federal focus on SETI. But you don’t become the director of the SETI Institute by keeping your feet on the ground.

“Bring it on! But don’t stop there,” Tarter said about the potential funding. “Earthlings everywhere are fascinated with this search and care about the answer. So, we should create an international endowment for searching for intelligent life beyond Earth. The backers should be private individuals, enlightened corporations, U.S. federal agencies and agencies from other governments around the world.”

She added, “By smoothing out the funding roller coaster that has characterized this research field from the beginning, it will be possible to attract the best and brightest minds with the best ideas from everywhere, and commit to the long-term search efforts that might be required for success.”

Are alien greetings just around the corner? Tarter said we have the technology now to search for more distant and fainter signals in ways we haven’t tried before. “But that doesn’t guarantee success in the ‘near future.’ The cosmos is vast, and we may not yet be looking in the right way, although we are doing the best job possible with what we now know.”

The “correct perspective on timing,” Tarter said, is summed up in a line from a paper published in 1959 in the journal Nature by Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison: “‘The probability of success is difficult to estimate; but if we never search, the chance of success is zero,’” Tarter said.

Published:5/12/2018 2:54:45 PM
[Climate News] An extremely rare cyclone off the coast of Chile   An extremely rare cyclone formed in early May 2018 about 160 kilometers (100 miles) off the coast of Chile—an area that almost never sees tropical cyclones. This image was acquired on May 9, 2018, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Cyclones are not typically found in this region because sea surface temperatures (SSTs)… Published:5/11/2018 9:45:29 PM
[EPA] NASA Gavin Schmidt Joins Call for Climate Data Transparency Guest essay by Eric Worrall h/t Dr. Willie Soon – NASA GISS head Gavin Schmidt has voiced his support for EPA director Scott Pruitt’s call for more climate research transparency, though Schmidt is concerned that providing enough data and method to ensure reproducibility will distract scientists from research. Climate scientists call for more transparency in… Published:5/10/2018 10:10:15 PM
[Science & Technology] NASA Says Alien Invasion 'Imminent' Representatives of all the world's leading governments have been summoned to an unprecedented emergency summit in Helsinki on Wednesday afternoon, after NASA released a statement which affirms that an alien invasion from space is "imminent". The n... Published:5/8/2018 12:14:24 AM
[Markets] SpaceX using rocket technology that could endanger lives, NASA advisers say Some members of Congress and safety advisers for NASA, which has been accused of being overly conservative in the wake of two shuttle disasters, are alarmed by SpaceX’s process of loading rocket propellant while astronauts are aboard. Published:5/6/2018 5:47:58 PM
[Markets] NASA Successfully Tests Portable Nuclear Fission System For Long-Term Space Travel

While nuclear power stations across the United States are shutting down, NASA and the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) are working on a secret nuclear reactor to power deep-space exploration, such as human missions to Mars in the next decade and beyond.

Kilopower, NASA’s Portable Nuclear Fission Reactor, Will Help Humans Power Future Base On Mars (Source: NASA)

NASA announced the results of a new nuclear reactor power system, called the Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology (KRUSTY), during a press conference Wednesday at its Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Experimental trials of the Kilopower system were conducted at NNSA’s Nevada National Security Site from November 2017 through the end of 1Q2018.

“Safe, efficient and plentiful energy will be the key to future robotic and human exploration,” said Jim Reuter, NASA’s acting associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington. “I expect the Kilopower project to be an essential part of lunar and Mars power architectures as they evolve.”

The Kilopower system can generate 1 to 10 kilowatts of electrical power — enough power to run several American homes – continuously for more than 10-years. NASA indicates that four Kilopower units would provide enough “power to establish an outpost” on Mars or the Moon.

Artist’s conception of the Kilopower reactor on Mars. (Source: NASA)

According to Marc Gibson, lead Kilopower engineer at Glenn Research, “the pioneering power system is ideal for the Moon, where power generation from sunlight is difficult because lunar nights are equivalent to 14 days on Earth.”

“Kilopower gives us the ability to do much higher power missions, and to explore the shadowed craters of the Moon,” said Gibson.

 

“When we start sending astronauts for long stays on the Moon and to other planets, that’s going to require a new class of power that we’ve never needed before,” he added.

The Kilopower reactor utilizes a solid, cast uranium-235 reactor core, about the size of a “paper towel roll,” said NASA. Reactor heat is transferred through passive sodium heat pipes, then converted to energy by high-efficiency Stirling engines. In other words, NASA has successfully built a thermoelectric generator that can power its space camps hundreds of thousands, if not millions of miles away from planet earth.

Kilopower lead engineer Marc Gibson and Vantage Partner’s Jim Sanzi install hardware on the Kilopower assembly at the Nevada National Security Site during testing in March. (Source: NASA)

According to David Poston, the chief reactor designer at NNSA’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, “the purpose of the recent experiment in Nevada was two-fold: to demonstrate that the system can create electricity with fission power, and to show the system is stable and safe no matter what environment it encounters.”

“We threw everything we could at this reactor, in terms of nominal and off-normal operating scenarios and KRUSTY passed with flying colors,” said Poston.

A recent test of the Kilopower technology was conducted in four phases. The first two – conducted without power – to make sure all components of the system “behaved as expected,” said NASA. During the third phase, the power to heat the core was incrementally increased before moving to the last and final phase. For 28-hours, the Kilopower unit experienced a full-power blast that simulated a mission, including “reactor startup, ramp to full power, steady operation and shutdown,” said NASA.

Kilopower nuclear fission reactor KRUSTY vacuum test. (Source: NASA)

During the demonstration, the Kilopower unit ran through “simulated power reduction, failed engines and failed heat pipes,” said NASA, showing that the power unit was more than capable of operating under extreme stress.

“We put the system through its paces,” said Gibson. “We understand the reactor very well, and this test proved that the system works the way we designed it to work. No matter what environment we expose it to, the reactor performs very well.”

NASA and NNSA developed the Kilopower technology project for a little less than $20 million; however, officials said it was too premature to forecast how much it will cost to build a spaceworthy Kilopower system. If the program receives enough funding, a Kilopower system could be operating on the lunar surface by the mid-2020s.

Before NASA or SpaceX rockets a portable nuclear reactor to Mars or even the Moon, numerous companies are creating portable nuclear power for earthly applications, including TerraPower, a Seattle-area venture backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Powering a Habitat on Mars with Kilopower

Published:5/5/2018 12:38:20 PM
[Science and Technology] What is NASA’s InSight Mars Mission? [Launch Live Stream]

By R. Mitchell -

InSight, the first planetary mission to take off from the West Coast, is targeted to launch at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT) from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory invites you to ...

What is NASA’s InSight Mars Mission? [Launch Live Stream] is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:5/5/2018 6:06:08 AM
[Markets] "The Ocean Is Suffocating": Mysterious "Dead Zone" In Arabian Sea Far Worse Than Expected

Thanks to advances in robotic technology, scientists have been able to study a massive "dead zone" in the Arabian sea - a region with so little oxygen that virtually nothing can live. Scientists began to observe the oxygen-starved zones in the 1970s - which naturally form in the deep sea, but are also found wherever excess nitrogen and phosphorous-based fertilizers run off into coastal waters.

By one account nearly 8-12% of the nitrogen fertilizer applied worldwide is lost from fertilized fields and transported to the sea. In some individual fields, the value can be as high as 50%.

Still more nitrogen is lost during the disposal of animal wastes from modern industrialized production of pork and chickens. Here nitrogen is lost during inadvertent overflow of waste lagoons, and nitrogen is transported to groundwater, which makes its way to stream channels. -blog.nature.org

By 2008, 405 dead zones - also known as Oxygen Minimum Zones (OMZ) had been identified by Sweden's Göteborg University.

New research from the University of East Anglia (UEA) has confirmed that the Gulf of Oman dead zone - floating in the strait bordered by Iran, Pakistan, Oman and the UAE, is indeed the largest in the world.

That's not all... it's growing.

Two robot submarines called Seagliders, each around the size of a small human diver, were able to collect data for eight months in parts of the Gulf of Oman previously unable to be monitored due to concerns over piracy and geopolitical tensions. 

We barely have any data collected for almost half a century because of how difficult it is to send ships there," said lead researcher, Bastien Queste.

What they found was stunning; since the 1990's, the gulf's dead zone has undergone "a dramatic increase" in both size and severity, and is now made up of entirely of low, or no-oxygen waters also known as suboxic or anoxic conditions respectively.  

“As part of this project, we went to the Gulf of Oman, which shares its water masses with the wider Arabian Sea, and found that the oxygen was much lower than we thought from the outdated data,” Queste told Gizmodo. “The region is now anoxic—essentially extending the Arabian Sea OMZ into the marginal regions, much closer to where people live, fish, and depend on the marine environment. Hence the growing concerns.

"Our research shows that the situation is actually worse than feared. The area of dead zone is vast and growing. The ocean is suffocating," Queste said in a statement.

"All fish, marine plants, and other animals need oxygen, so they can't survive there. It's a real environmental problem, with dire consequences for humans, too, who rely on the oceans for food and employment."

Aside from their impact on sea life, dead zones also affect the atmosphere, as the absence of oxygen dramatically changes the chemical cycling of nitrogen - a key nutrient for plant growth. Nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than C02, is instead produced, said Queste. 

Computer simulations of ocean oxygen show a decrease in oxygen over the next century and growing oxygen minimum zones.

However these simulations have a difficult time representing small but very important features such as eddies which impact how oxygen is transported.

The team combined their Seaglider data with a very high-resolution computer simulation to determine how oxygen is spread around the north-western Arabian Sea throughout different seasons and the monsoons.-UEA.AC.UK

What the team found was that the dead zone moves up and down between seasons - forcing fish to live in a thin layer near the surface.

“Management of the fisheries and ecosystems of the western Indian Ocean over coming decades will depend on better understanding and forecasting of oxygen levels in key areas such as the Gulf of Oman,” added Dr Queste.

And as Earth's population grows, so will agricultural output - which will only worsen the problem. 

Increase in land use, larger cities, and increased pollution will also lead to more nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, entering the water, which promotes more algae that later sink and get consumed by the bacteria,” adding that “It’s an incredibly intricate system with many moving parts!”

What's the solution? According to Duke University's William H. Schlesinger, dead zones can be mitigated from a "more judicious use of fertilizer, so that the largest percentage of it is assimilated by the crop plant of interest." He notes that we "need to treat nitrogen and phophorus in human and animal wastes as a resource to be recycled, not an unfortunate byproduct to be disposed.

Published:5/4/2018 6:03:13 PM
[Science] Get up super early and watch NASA’s Insight Mars lander launch live Night owl? Good news — there's an historic rocket launch early tomorrow morning that you can catch while the rest of the country is sleeping. NASA's Insight Mars lander is scheduled for takeoff at 4:05 AM Pacific, weather permitting. Published:5/4/2018 4:33:12 PM
[Current News] NASA Mars rocket launch may produce spectacular early morning display over SoCal Remember this fantastic view from a launch in 2015? We might see one that looks similar this weekend in Southern California. NASA is about to do something it has never done before. On Saturday, May 5th, the space agency will attempt to launch a rocket to Mars from the west coast of the USA. Exhaust… Published:5/4/2018 2:02:10 PM
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