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[Markets] PBS Frontline's "In The Age of AI" Exposes Big-Tech's Ongoing Abuse Of Public Trust PBS Frontline's "In The Age of AI" Exposes Big-Tech's Ongoing Abuse Of Public Trust

Authored by B.N.Frank via AcivistPost.com,

You won’t see cell phones or personal computers much in movies or TV shows until the late 1990s because most people didn’t own them.  Of course most people didn’t need them either.  If you couldn’t afford a “home phone” – pay phones usually weren’t hard to find.  Anyone who needed to be “on call” – like doctors – wore pagers.

People who grew up without new technology know firsthand that it has made the world better in some ways. 

We also know that it has made it worse in others.  People who never knew the world without new technology have been conditioned to believe that all of it is necessary as well as beneficial.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  5G is very dangerous (see 1234, 56, 7, 8).  Artificial Intelligence (AI) is associated with many risks as well.

There will always be people who want more technology regardless of the human and environmental consequences.  Those kinds of people are not going to like Frontline’s “In the Age of AI”.

FRONTLINE investigates the promise and perils of artificial intelligence, from fears about work and privacy to rivalry between the U.S. and China. The documentary traces a new industrial revolution that will reshape and disrupt our lives, our jobs and our world, and allow the emergence of the surveillance society.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/14/2019 - 22:25
Published:11/14/2019 9:32:03 PM
[Markets] America Needs A War On Waste - 100 Examples Of Federal Taxpayer Abuse America Needs A War On Waste - 100 Examples Of Federal Taxpayer Abuse

Via OpenTheBooks.com,

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations. Unfilled jobs are at a record high. Unemployment for Black Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and those with only a high school diploma is at or near record lows. For women, near a 66-year low. For youths, a 50-year low.

Wages are increasing. Regulations are far less counterproductive. Corporate tax rates are globally competitive.

Unfortunately, the federal debt continues to explode—a lurking threat to our country as we have known it. When George W. Bush took office, the federal debt, after 225 years, was $5.7 trillion. Since then, only 20 years, the debt has exploded—quadrupled—to close to $23 trillion and is increasing about $4 billion a day. Sadly, no one in government seems to care.

Mr. President, the world is undergoing exciting changes—the Internet, the Cloud world, Big Data, 5G, the Information Age—all in the birthing process. The potential progress is beyond imagination. These changes give you the tools to tackle this lurking threat. Today, there is no reason why every government expenditure—local, state, and federal—is not online, available real time to the public via cell phone, iPad, or computer. Taxpayers should know how their every dollar is spent. It is their money. Today, we have the ability to do just that.

MR. PRESIDENT, YOU CAN CREATE A FOUR-STEP NONPARTISAN TRANSPARENCY REVOLUTION.

You can do for government what Uber and Airbnb did for their industries. They revolutionized their worlds by giving their customers detailed information instantaneously. You can do the same for your customers, the taxpayers, by giving them detailed on-line, real time information on how their money is being spent. Doing so will change who they vote for. Elected officials will be far more likely to inform their constituents of what they have done to eliminate wasted tax dollars rather than some program they put in place to buy votes. This is culture changing. Changes to the culture in government will be far more productive than a top-down budget initiative.

The Transparency Revolution could drastically reduce the cost of government. Government is a monopoly. It has an administrative class, public employee unions, lacks a profit motive, and does not have to deal with progress. This is a lethal combination when it comes to spending other people’s money. The following page represents but a small sample of wasted tax dollars.

STEP 1. PUBLICIZE EVERY WHITE HOUSE EXPENDITURE. DIRECT EVERY DEPARTMENT, EVERY AGENCY IN YOUR ADMINISTRATION TO DO THE SAME AND REPORT THEIR PROGRESS TO YOU MONTHLY.

STEP 2. BEGIN A WAR ON WASTE. Appoint a White House Efficiency Executive to examine every White House expense. Cut every dollar of waste. Have every department, every agency in your administration do the same. Report the progress to you monthly.

STEP 3. MOBILIZE EVERY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE. Our government has many fine, dedicated public servants. They know where the waste and incompetence are. They should be encouraged to report what they see. They should be rewarded with a percentage of the realized savings with a smaller percentage going to their department head. Hold an annual recognition dinner.

STEP 4. REPORT THE PROGRESS OR LACK THEREOF TO THE PUBLIC MONTHLY FOR AT LEAST THE FIRST SIX MONTHS, THEN QUARTERLY FOR THE REST OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION. By reporting frequently, you are telling the public and your administration that the Transparency Revolution, the War on Waste, is a high, ongoing priority.

Mr. President, fiscal sanity is every bit as crucial to America’s survival as is a strong defense. There are no free lunches, even in government. As a successful businessman, you understand the importance of managing debt.

Mr. President, you told us that you were going to attack the deficit, drain the so-called Swamp. That is exactly what this Transparency Revolution will do.

*  *  *

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION PAYS TO PUT RUNNING SHRIMP ON A TREADMILL - $1.3 MILLION

FY2012-FY2017 | NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION | National Science Foundation (NSF) funded an experiment that tested how sickness impaired shrimp mobility by putting the crustaceans on a treadmill made an uproar in the media and in Congress nearly five years ago. Yet the NSF has once again given tax dollars to the same researchers to put the would-be seafood on a cardiovascular workout regime. The investigators – Louis and Karen Burnett – measure the crustaceans’ responses to low oxygen and high carbon dioxide environments in a variety of ways and would also test their reactions "when performing energetically demanding activities," according to the award abstract. "The energetically demanding activities will be conducted with the aid of a treadmill, as the technique is effective and will help to make the data comparable to previous studies," Arriens said.

LOBSTER TAIL & SNOW CRAB PURCHASES -- $25.4 MILLION

FY2017-2018 | DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE | As the fiscal year wrapped up, federal agencies celebrated by splurging on luxury food items. The Department of Defense (DOD) originally reported spending $2.3 million on snow crab, Alaskan king crab, and crab legs and claws, plus another $2.3 million on lobster tail. Additionally, agencies spent nearly $300,000 on steak (ribeye, top sirloin, and flank). However, the DOD admitted to inflated disclosures. Their updated numbers reveal lobster and crab purchases amounted to $1.6 million in September 2018 and $25.4 million during an 18-month period. We have additional questions for the agency. Here is a video showing our data download and quantification of $2.3 million (Sept 2018) and $22.1 million (FY2018) in lobster tail purchases as reported by the DOD to the federal government's official transparency portal at USAspending.gov.

MISTAKES & IMPROPER PAYMENTS DISTRIBUTED BY 20 FEDERAL AGENCIES – $1.5 TRILLION

FY2004–FY2019 | OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT & BUDGET | Congressional Research Service released a report on July 16, 2018, titled "Improper Payments in High-Priority Programs: In Brief." Garrett Hatch, a specialist in American National Government, authored the report. In the summary, Hatch writes, "Over the period of FY2004 through FY2017, high priority improper payments have totaled $1.2 trillion." Between FY2017 and FY2019 inclusive, the reports compiled by the Office of Management & Budget show that the agencies admit to approximately $140 billion per year in improper payments. Our reporting published at Forbes.

DEAD PEOPLE RECEIVED MISTAKEN & IMPROPER PAYMENTS - $921 MILLION

FY2018 | MULTIPLE FEDERAL AGENCIES | Dead people received $1 billion in benefits. Medicare, Medicaid, social security payments and also the federal retirement annuity payouts (pensions) kept flowing to dead recipients. Our reporting published at Forbes.

EXPENSIVE COFFEE CUPS: THE PENTAGON PAYS MORE THAN $1,000 FOR A SINGLE COFFEE CUP

FY2018 | U.S. AIR FORCE | The Pentagon admitted to spending $1,220 on a single coffee cup. According to Travis Air Force Base Website. "In 2016, the 60th Aerial Port Squadron purchased 10 hot cups for $9,630. The price for each cup surged from $693 to $1,220 in 2018 resulting in a total expenditure of $32,000 for 25 cups. That’s a price jump of $527 per cup which leads to some pricey hot water," (July 2018).

LIVING EXPENSE TAX DEDUCTION FOR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS -- $1.6 MILLION

FY2019 | INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE | U.S. Senator Joni Ernst introduced the Stop Questionable, Unnecessary, and Excessive Allowances for Legislators Act, also known as the SQUEAL Act, to cut perks for elected officials and make Washington squeal. This legislation would eliminate a provision of the tax code that allows Members of Congress to deduct, for income tax purposes, up to $3,000 annually in living expenses while in the Washington, D.C. area.

MISTAKES & IMPROPER MEDICARE PAYMENTS – $491.9 BILLION

FY2004–FY2019 | HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES | Congressional Research Service released a report on July 16, 2018, titled "Improper Payments in High-Priority Programs: In Brief." Garrett Hatch, a specialist in American National Government, authored the report. On page CRS-5, table 2 shows Medicare (Fee for Service) improper payments amounted to $387 billion between FY2004-FY2017. The Office of Management & Budget updated the improper payment amounts for FY2018 and FY2019: yielding a total of $491.9 billion since FY2004.

SEX ED FOR PROSTITUTES IN CALIFORNIA – $1.4 MILLION

FY2016 | BARBARA LEE | CALIFORNIA–13 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 5, the report details the $1.4 million grant to the California Prostitutes Education Project from the Department of Health and Human Services.

2020 STUDENT LOANS (ESTIMATED BAD DEBT LOSS) -- $17 BILLION

FY2020 | CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE (CBO) | The CBO forecasts that the 2020 student loan portfolio will cost the U.S. taxpayer $17.6 billion. ED will loan $102 billion via six college loan programs and the taxpayer subsidy will amount to 17.3% of all money lent in FY2020.

GROUNDED MOON ROCKET COST OVERRUN -- $2.79 BILLION

FY2012—FY2019 | NASA | NASA will spend $8.9 billion in tax dollars on the Space Launch System (primarily through a Boeing contract), which is $2.7 billion more than the original estimate. A report found that the project’s problems "can be traced largely to management, technical, and infrastructure issues driven by Boeing’s poor performance" yet NASA awarded Boeing $323 million in performance bonuses.

USE IT OR LOSE IT SPENDING – $97 BILLION

FINAL MONTH FY2018 | ALL FEDERAL AGENCIES | In the final month of fiscal year 2018, 67 federal agencies spent $97 billion to close out their budgets. It was a massive shop-until-you-drop, taxpayer funded spending spree. Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com found that roughly one out of every nine dollars in federal contracts disclosed by the executive and military agencies in FY2018 was spent during last week of the fiscal year. Eight departments – including the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Energy, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, State, and Justice – each spent over $1 billion. These findings were aired in a 30-minute interview on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and published in our oversight report.

PREPARING RELIGIONS FOR DISCOVERY OF EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE – $1.1 MILLION

FY2017 | NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION | In 2017, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake published a waste book report. On page 58, the report details the $1.1 million NASA spent enlisting theologians to answer how the world’s religions would respond if extraterrestrial life were discovered.  

AIRPORT AT MARTHA’S VINEYARD – $19 MILLION

FY2016—FY2020 | DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION | On May 3, 2018, we published an editorial at Fox News Online titled, "Just how much federal waste, duplication and weird or unnecessary spending are your tax dollars funding?" The editorial quantifies the $9.2 million in federal grants that flowed to the private airport on Martha’s Vineyard in FY2016. Since then, we updated the figures through 2020.

AUTHORIZED BY CONGRESS & UNSPENT BY AGENCIES -- $15 BILLION

FY2018 | Rescissions submitted by EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT (EOP) | From EOP: The attached rescission proposals include unobligated balances from prior-year appropriations and reductions to budget authority for mandatory programs. These proposals include rescissions of funding that is no longer needed for the purpose for which it was appropriated by the Congress; in many cases, these funds have been left unspent by agencies for years. These proposals also include rescissions of low priority and unnecessary Federal spending.

2020 U.S. CENSUS COST OVERRUN -- $3.3 BILLION

FY2012—FY2023 | U.S. CENSUS BUREAU | Project:  The 2020 national population count conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau is more than $3 billion over budget and will be the most expensive in U.S. history and government auditors are warning that the current cost estimate is not reliable. Original Cost Estimate:  $12.3 billion in 2015. Current Cost Estimate:  $15.6 billion. Project Began:  2012. Original Completion Date:  September 2023. Federal Spending:  $15.6 billion

STUDY: HOW FACEBOOK AFFECTS ALCOHOL USE – $147,686

FY2016 | JIM MCDERMOTT | WASHINGTON–7 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 7, the report details the $147,686 grant given to the University of Washington from the Department of Health and Human Services.

SPACE RACERS: AN ANIMATED CHILDREN’S CARTOON – $2.5 MILLION

FY2016 | MO BROOKS | ALABAMA–5 | REPUBLICAN | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 7, the report details the $2.5 million grant given to the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission from NASA. 

FURNITURE BINGE 2018 USE IT LOSE IT -- $491 MILLION

FINAL MONTH FY2018 | MULTIPLE FEDERAL AGENCIES | In the final month of fiscal year 2018, Federal agencies spent a half billion dollars on furniture to close out their budgets. It was a massive shop-until-you-drop, taxpayer funded spending spree. To Redecorate – federal agencies signed nearly 10,000 contracts to purchase furniture. Notably, the Department of Defense spent $9,341 on a Wexford leather club chair. Our findings published at Forbes.

MISTAKES & IMPROPER MEDICAID PAYMENTS – $306.6 BILLION

FY2004–FY2019 | HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES | Congressional Research Service released a report on July 16, 2018, titled "Improper Payments in High-Priority Programs: In Brief." Garrett Hatch, a specialist in American National Government, authored the report. On page CRS-5, table 2 shows Medicaid improper payments amounted to $234 billion between FY2004-FY2017. Our auditors updated the numbers through FY2019 using disclosures published by the Office of Management & Budget.

GRANTS (SUBSIDIZES) TO FORTUNE 100 COMPANIES -- $3.2 BILLION

FY2014—FY2017 | MULTIPLE FEDERAL AGENCIES | Our auditors quantified a four-year period during which Fortune 100 companies spent $2 billion lobbying Capitol Hill and received $3.2 billion in federal grants (2014-2017). These grants, or subsidies, are funded by the American taxpayer.  our organization at OpenTheBooks.com released our oversight report, Federal Funding of Fortune 100 Companies. We launched this report on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and published at Forbes.

FUNDING TOP 25 COLLEGES WITH LARGEST ENDOWMENTS -- $6.9 BILLION

FY2017—FY2018 | DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION | The wealthiest colleges received nearly $7 billion in federal subsidies last year. The top 25 universities with largest endowments (collectively $272 billion) reaped $7 billion in federal student aid. Rich schools are getting richer and taxpayers paid for it. Wealthy colleges must make themselves affordable. Our findings published at Forbes and in our oversight report.

FANCY ROCK SCULPTURE – $482,960

FY2016 | DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS | After a joint investigation with COX Media Washington, D.C., OpenTheBooks published an editorial at Forbes on July 26, 2016, titled "The VA’s Luxury Art Obsession." The editorial exposed the Department of Veterans Affairs’ array of luxury artwork, including a fancy rock sculpture costing $482,960.

TALKING TO SAGUARO CACTUS – $10,000

FY2016 | NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES | In July 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, detailing numerous examples of wasteful grant making by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. On page 10, the report details the $10,000 grant to the Collage Dance Theatre in Los Angeles. Our report launched on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal in a column by Roger Kimball.

USING SOAP OPERAS TO REDUCE HIV IN URBAN BLACK WOMEN – $567,529

FY2016 | MIKE CAPUANO | MASSACHUSETTS–7 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 7, the report details the $567,529 grant given to Northeastern University from the Department of Health and Human Services.

EARNED INCOME AND MISTAKEN TAX PAYMENTS-- $18.8 BILLION

FY2019 | INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE | Millions of low-income families who Congress designated as qualified recipients were overpaid billions of dollars. The program is rife with errors: the government overpaid $1 in every $4 to beneficiaries. (The IRS administers the program and responded to our request for comment here.) Our auditors used disclosures published by the Office of Management & Budget. Our findings published at Forbes.

FEDERAL FUNDING INTO THE 50 WORST JUNIOR COLLEGES -- $923.5 MILLION

FY2017—FY2018 | DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION | $1 billion in taxpayer subsidies flowed to the 50 worst performing junior colleges as ranked by WalletHub last year. The 10 worst junior colleges had an average graduation rate of 12 percent. Students aren’t graduating. Yet, they’re saddled with large debts. Our findings published at Forbes and in our oversight report.

PR CONTRACTS 2018 USE-IT-OR-LOSE-IT SPENDING SPREE – $462 MILLION

FINAL MONTH OF FY2018 | MULTIPLE FEDERAL AGENCIES | $462 Million Self Promotion Machine – Federal agencies spent millions on public relations, marketing research and public opinion, communications, and advertising in the final month of fiscal year 2018. The feds already employ 5,000 public affairs officers. It wasn’t enough. Our findings published at Forbes. 

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE MISTAKEN & IMPROPER OVERPAYMENTS -- $3.6 BILLION

FY2019 | DEPARTMENT OF LABOR | Unemployment insurance recipients received $3.6 billion in over payments administered by the states through the Department of Labor. The feds blame the states for lax oversight and program management: *The Department of Labor has been aggressively working with states to address unemployment insurance improper payments, providing intensive oversight and technical assistance to states with the highest improper payment rates and providing tools and resources to help all states better prevent, detect, and recover improper payments. Our findings published at Forbes.

BUYING BOOZE FOR EMBASSIES AROUND THE WORLD – $308,994

FINAL MONTH FY2018 | STATE DEPARTMENT & DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE | On October 3, 2018, we published an editorial at Forbes, titled "Use It or Lose It – Trump’s Agencies Spent $11 Billion Last Week in Year-End Spending Spree." Using data compiled by OpenTheBooks.com via the Freedom of Information Act, we quantified $79,000 in alcohol expenditures at the Department of State between September 24 and 30, 2017. We updated the numbers for FY2018 in this piece published at Forbes: For some agencies, the end of the fiscal year seems to be one big party. The Department of Defense and the Department of State purchased beer, wine, and whiskey. Contract recipients included Coors Brewing Company ($76,173); E&J Gallo Winery ($16,510), and more.

PERFORMANCE BONUSES – 99.6% OF FEDERAL WORKFORCE RATED "FULLY SUCCESSFUL" -- $4.4 BILLION

FY2016—FY2019 | ALL FEDERAL AGENCIES | Approximately $1.1 billion in federal performance bonuses were withheld from disclosure in FY2016. All federal performance bonuses are shielded by anti-transparency language inserted into federal union contracts. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, performance bonuses are sometimes based on salary amount and performance rating, and disclosure may allow others to determine an employee's rating. According to a Government Accountability Office audit using 2013 data, 99.6 percent of all federal workers received job performance ratings of "fully successful." That's a higher rating than the advertised purity of Ivory soap (99.3 percent).

2020 SBA LENDING (ESTIMATED BAD DEBT LOSS) -- $4 BILLION

FY2020 | CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE | The CBO forecasts that the 2020 SBA loan portfolio will cost the U.S. taxpayer $4 billion. The SBA will loan $44 billion via seven loan programs and the taxpayer subsidy will amount to 9.5% of all money lent in FY2020.

FLEET OF ARMORED VEHICLES – $1.5 MILLION

FY2017 | DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES | On October 3, 2018, we published an editorial at Forbes, titled "Use It or Lose It – Trump’s Agencies Spent $11 Billion Last Week in Year-End Spending Spree." Using data compiled by OpenTheBooks.com via the Freedom of Information Act, we identified a $1.5 million contract between Square One and the Department of Health and Human Services during the week of September 24 through 30, 2018.

SUPPORTED GREEN GROWTH IN PERU -- $10 MILLION

FY2019 | U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT | USAID is committing up to 10 million American taxpayer dollars to develop new and innovative Alliances with the private sector that advance environmentally-friendly economic development (i.e. green growth) in Peru. The envisioned activities will facilitate private sector financing andinvestment in value chains that lead to improved management of natural resources. 

RENOVATION BOONDOOGLE FOR NEW HOMELAND SECURITY HEADQUARTERS -- $2.1 BILLION

Through FY2019 | HOMELAND SECURITY, GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION | Trying to turn around an abandoned mental hospital into a new DHS headquarters, the General Services Administration (GSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have been attempting, since 2005 and at a cost of more than $2.1 billion to the taxpayer, to establish a headquarters for DHS on parts of the property. This effort includes creating office space for the Office of Secretary of Homeland Security and other crucial senior personnel in the West Campus’ main building.

HIPSTER PARTIES – $5 MILLION

FY2015 | NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH | In 2015, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake published a wastebook report. On page 11, the report details the $5 million the federal government spent funding "hipster parties."

VIRTUAL REALITY TO TEACH CHILDREN IN CHINA HOW TO CROSS THE STREET – $183,750

FY2016 | TERRI SEWELL | ALABAMA–7 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 7, the report details the $183,750 grant given to the University of Alabama Birmingham from the Department of Health and Human Services.

TAI CHI FOR THE ELDERLY – $696,723

FY2016 | MIKE CAPUANO | MASSACHUSETTS–7 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 8, the report details the $696,723 grant given to the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for the Elderly from the Department of Health and Human Services.

MISTAKES & IMPROPER STUDENT LOANS AND GRANTS – $11 BILLION

FY2017–FY2018 | DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION | ED lacks basic in-house financial accounting controls, and admits to overpaying $11 billion in Pell grants and student loans over the last two-years. About four percent of all student loans and eight percent of all Pell grants are overpaid. Our oversight published at Forbes.

27’ ARTIFICIAL CHRISTMAS TREE – $21,500

FY2016 | DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS | In a joint investigation with COX Media Washington, D.C., OpenTheBooks published an editorial at Forbes on July 26, 2016, titled "The VA’s Luxury Art Obsession." The editorial exposed the Department of Veterans Affairs’ array of luxury artwork purchases over a ten-year period cost taxpayers $20 million, including a 27-foot artificial Christmas tree. Our story was aired on Good Morning America and ABC World News Tonight. Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley wrote an oversight letter to then-VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who apologized for the purchases and instituted new rules to stop the purchases on a go-forward basis.

BOGUS BONUSES RELATED TO F-35 SPARE PARTS SHORTAGE -- $303 MILLION

FY2019 | INSPECTOR GENERAL DEFENSE DEPARTMENT | "We determined that the DoD did not receive RFI F35 spare parts in accordance with contract requirements and paid performance incentive fees on the sustainment contracts based on inflated and unverified F35A aircraft availability hours. As a result, the DoD received nonRFI spare parts and spent up to $303 million in DoD labor costs since 2015, and it will continue to pay up to $55 million annually for nonRFI spare parts until the nonRFI spare parts issue is resolved."

AVERAGE FEDERAL EMPLOYEE RECEIVES 43 DAYS PAID TIME OFF – $22.6 BILLION

FY2016 | U.S. OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT | Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Mapping the Swamp quantified the taxpayer cost of federal employees’ benefits package. In the report, there is a section titled "Time Off and Benefits," beginning on page 11. The average federal bureaucrat receives 10 holidays, 13 sick days, and 20 vacation days. That’s 43 days of paid time off each year.

160,000 DEFAULTED SBA LOANS – $24.2 BILLION

SINCE 2000 | SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION | In September 2016, we published our OpenTheBooks Snapshot Oversight Report – Truth in Lending, quantifying the 160,000 defaulted Small Business Administration (SBA) loans doled out between 2000 and 2015, costing taxpayers $24.2 billion. Search all bad loans in your own ZIP Code, or any ZIP Code across America, on our interactive mapping platform.

COSTS 7 CENTS TO MAKE A NICKLE -- $150 MILLION

FY2019 | U.S. MINT | It currently costs 2.06 cents to make each penny and 7.53 cents to make each nickel. In other words, American taxpayers lose money every time the U.S. Mint produces one of those coins.

It might sound funny, but so many coins are produced annually that the cost actually adds up. Based on estimates from numbers in the U.S. Mint’s annual report, taxpayers lost about $85.4 million from penny production and $33.5 million from nickel production last year. Over the next decade, taxpayers would save $150 million. Source: here.

FROG MATING CALL STUDY IN PANAMA -- $404,991

FY2019 | NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION | The National Science Foundation spent a significant portion of a grant totaling $466,991 on studying the mating call of the male tungara frog of Panama. In a look at the effects of urbanization, the study examined the differences between the mating call in the city and in the forest, including the likelihood of attracting midges and bats.

SUPERSTORM SANDY FALSE-CLAIM VEHICLE DAMAGE PAYMENTS TO NYC -- $5.3 MILLION

FY2019 | FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY | The problems began when the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) submitted a list of claims to FEMA for a total of $12,758,664 in reimbursement for vehicles, all of which it claimed were damaged by the storm. However, "many of the vehicles" instead were already "non-operational — and some had even been marked for salvage —years before Sandy," The federal government stated in its complaint. The government also made it clear that proper oversight was ignored every step of the way. Source: here.

IVY LEAGUE COLLEGES – $42 BILLION

FY2010–2015 | FEDERAL PAYMENTS, SUBSIDIES, TAX–BREAKS | ALL FEDERAL AGENCIES | In March 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Ivy League, Inc. In this report, we quantified all federal payments, subsidies, and tax breaks for the eight Ivy League schools between FY2010-FY2015. The Ivy League schools have $120 billion in accumulated endowment funds. Our findings launched on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal in a column by James Piereson and Naomi Schaefer-Riley titled, Ivy League Doesn’t Need Taxpayer Help. Our findings were also cited in the Boston Globe as providing research to congress as they instituted a new ‘excessive endowments’ tax in December 2017.

USING E–DIARIES TO COPE WITH MICROAGGRESSIONS – $173,089

FY2016 | ADAM KINZINGER | ILLINOIS–16 | REPUBLICAN | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 6, the report details the $173,089 grant to Northern Illinois University from the Department of Health and Human Services for these e-diaries.

DANCING WITH 15–FOOT FISH – $10,000

FY2016 | NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES | In July 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, detailing numerous examples of wasteful grant making by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. On page 10, the report details the $10,000 grant to the Collage Dance Theatre in Los Angeles.

MEDITATION BREATHING MOBILE APP – $687,989

FY2016 | JIM CLYBURN | SOUTH CAROLINA–6 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 6, the report details the $687,989 grant to the Medical University of South Carolina from the Department of Health and Human Services.

FUNDING A FREQUENTLY INVESTIGATED CHILDCARE FACILITY IN TEXAS – $32.6 MILLION

FY2013-2020 | DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 6, the report details the $5 million in federal grant dollars given to the Shiloh Treatment Center in FY2016 alone. NPR investigated this center and allegations of medicating children. Recently, we updated the numbers to cover the fiscal years 2013 through 2020.

WHERE IT HURTS THE MOST TO BE STUNG BY BEE – $1 MILLION

FY2015 | NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION | Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona published a report, titled "Twenty Questions: Government Studies That Will Leave You Scratching Your Head." On page 7, the report details the $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation for a study asking "Where does it hurt the most to be stung by a bee?"

MISTAKEN & IMPROPER SBA LENDING -- $1.8 BILLION

FY2018—FY2019 | SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION | The SBA also has a problem with basic internal financial controls and admitted to $924.5 million in improperly paid "over payments" just last year. The agency cited its "inability to authenticate [borrower] eligibility," and "administrative or process errors made by the agency." Our findings were published at Forbes.

SUBSIDIZED LENDING TO WALL STREET BANKERS -- $12 BILLION

FY2014—FY2018 | SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION | A significant portion of SBA lending didn’t go to Main Street; it went to Wall Street. In fact, $12.2 billion in lending flowed to highly capitalized venture capital, mezzanine finance firms, private investor funds and investment pools. That’s not small business.

35,780 FEDERAL LAWYERS – $14.3 BILLION

FY2016—FY2018 | OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT | Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Mapping the Swamp analyzed the most popular and taxpayer expensive federal employee job titles. On page 16, there is a case study detailing the annual taxpayer cost ($4.8 billion) of employing 35,212 federal lawyers. Only 12,000 of those lawyers are pursuing crime and criminals at the Department of Justice. Recently, we updated the numbers for all the years between FY2016 and FY2018.

IRS PURCHASE OF 4,600 GUNS & 5M ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION – INCLUDING 621 SHOTGUNS, 539 RIFLES & 15 SUBMACHINE GUNS -- $15.5 MILLION

FY2006—FY2017 | INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE | In December 2018, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report to congress quantifying purchases of $1.5 billion in firearms, ammunition, and tactical equipment by federal agencies outside of the Pentagon (FY2010-FY2017). These findings were consistent with our oversight published at The Wall Street Journal in summer 2016, which found 67 federal agencies outside of the Department of Defense purchased $1.4 billion in guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment (FY2006-FY2014).

LUXURY ARTWORK PURCHASES – $20 MILLION

FY2007–FY2016 | DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS | In a joint investigation with COX Media Washington, D.C., OpenTheBooks published an editorial at Forbes on July 26, 2016, titled "The VA’s Luxury Art Obsession." The editorial exposed the Department of Veterans Affairs’ array of luxury artwork purchases over a ten-year period cost taxpayers $20 million. Our story was aired on Good Morning America and ABC World News Tonight. Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley wrote an oversight letter to then-VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who apologized for the purchases and instituted new rules to stop the purchases on a go-forward basis.

3,390 FEDERAL PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICERS - $1.1 BILLION

FY2016—FY2018 | 202 FEDERAL AGENCIES | OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT | Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Mapping the Swamp analyzed the most popular and taxpayer expensive federal employee job titles. On page 17, there is a case study detailing the annual taxpayer cost ($368.4 million) of employing 3,618 federal public affairs officers. There are approximately 5,000 public relations officers employed by all federal agencies, but only 3,618 are disclosed. Recently, we updated the numbers in fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

STUDY: ARE PHYSICIAN TRAINEES RACIST? – $932,741

FY2016 | TIM WALZ | MINNESOTA–1 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 9, the report details the $932,741 grant given to Mayo Clinic from the Department of Health and Human Services.

PREVENTING TEEN PREGNANCY THROUGH THEATER – $749,000

FY2016 | CHAKA FATTAH | PENNSYLVANIA–2 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 9, the report details the $749,000 grant given to the Public Health Management Corporation from the Department of Health and Human Services.

VIRTUAL SHOE–FITTING – $902,789

FY2015-2016 | MORGAN GRIFFITH | VIRGINIA–9 | REPUBLICAN | ANNA ESHOO | CALIFORNIA-18 |  DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 10, the report details the $753,502 grant given to Eclo, Inc. from the National Science Foundation. A representative from Rep. Griffith's office reached out to us, claiming Rep. Griffith was not responsible for this grant. Read Rep. Griffith's office's argument here. Rep. Griffith's office sent a cease and desist letter to our office and we issued a response. Read our response letter here. Recently, we updated the numbers and the total grants amounted to $902,789.

VIDEO GAME: THE LOGICAL JOURNEY OF THE ZOOMBINIS – $658,388

FY2016 | KATHERINE CLARK | MASSACHUSSETS–5 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 11, the report details the $658,388 grant given to Technical Education Research Centers, Inc. from the National Science Foundation.

650 FEDERAL GARDENERS & LANDSCAPERS – $127.1 MILLION

FY2016—FY2018 | U.S. OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT | Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Mapping the Swamp analyzed the most popular and taxpayer expensive federal employee job titles. On page 18, there is a case study detailing the annual taxpayer cost ($44 million) of employing 650 federal gardeners and landscapers. Recently, we updated the numbers to reflect the cost during fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

SBA LOANS TO EXCLUSIVE CLUBS (COUNTRY CLUBS, YACHT CLUBS, ETC.) – $281 MILLION

FY2007–FY2018 | SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION | In September 2016, we published our OpenTheBooks Snapshot Oversight Report – Truth in Lending, detailing examples of the Small Business Administration (SBA) doling out small business loans to country clubs, yacht clubs, golf courses, and other exclusive entities. This continued our oversight we kicked off in 2014 of the SBA. Recently, we updated the numbers and published the results at Forbes. Since FY2007, our auditors quantified more than $280 million in lending to private country clubs, beach clubs, swim clubs, tennis clubs and yacht clubs across America. In the past five years, $120 million flowed to these exclusive clubs.

HISTORIC HOBO DAY – $11,987

FY2016 | KRISTI NOEM | SOUTH DAKOTA–1 | REPUBLICAN | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 8, the report details the $11,987 grant given to South Dakota State University from the National Endowment for the Arts.

STUDY: DISEASE SUSCEPTIBILITY OF TRANSLOCATING TORTOISES – $350,773

FY2016 | GLENN THOMPSON | PENNSYLVANIA–5 | REPUBLICAN | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 12, the report details the $350,773 grant given to Pennsylvania State University from the National Science Foundation.

MOBILE APP FOR SEX DIARY – $1 MILLION

FY2016 | GRACE NAPOLITANO | CALIFORNIA–32 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 12, the report details the $1 million grant given to Public Health Foundation Enterprises, Inc. from the Department of Health and Human Services.

CONVINCING MOTHERS TO STOP TEEN GIRLS FROM USING TANNING BEDS – $671,522 

FY2016 | ED PERLMUTTER | COLORADO–7 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 12, the report details the $671,522 grant to Klein Buendel, Inc. from the Department of Health and Human Services.

279 FEDERAL INTERIOR DESIGNERS AT VETERANS AFFAIRS – $67.1 MILLION

FY2016—FY2018 | U.S. OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT | Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Mapping the Swamp analyzed the most popular and taxpayer expensive federal employee job titles. On page 16, there is a case study detailing the annual taxpayer cost ($22 million) of employing 270 federal interior designers. Recently, we updated the numbers at the VA through fiscal years 2016—2018. 

LENDING TO MILLIONAIRES: 40,000 $1M+ LOANS -- $94 BILLION

FY2014—FY2018 | SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION | We discovered 40,000 recipients received $1 million plus during fiscal years 2014 through 2018. Since 2007, there were 75,000 recipients receiving $1 million or more. Last year, there were 9,332 recipients, up from 8,275 the previous year. We mapped all of them – recipients of the SBA’s $1+ million loans – by ZIP Code across the country. Search your own neighborhood. Just click a pin (ZIP Code) on our interactive search tool and scroll down to see the results rendered in the chart beneath the map.

MISTAKES & IMPROPER FARM SUBSIDY PAYMENTS – $3.7 BILLION

FY2004–FY2017 | DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | Congressional Research Service released a report on July 16, 2018, titled "Improper Payments in High-Priority Programs: In Brief." Garrett Hatch, a specialist in American National Government, authored the report. On page CRS-5, table 2 shows USDA Crop Insurance improper payments amounted to $3.7 billion between FY2004-FY2017. 

HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES (HHS) PURCHASE OF 1,300 GUNS & 4M ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION – INCLUDING 1 SHOTGUN, 5 SUBMACHINE GUNS & 189 AUTOMATIC FIREARMS – MILLION$

FY2006—FY2017 | HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES

In December 2018, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report to congress quantifying purchases of $1.5 billion in firearms, ammunition, and tactical equipment by federal agencies outside of the Pentagon (FY2010-FY2017). These findings were consistent with our oversight published at The Wall Street Journal in summer 2016, which found 67 federal agencies outside of the Department of Defense purchased $1.4 billion in guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment (FY2006-FY2014).Specific to HHS, the agency has resisted transparency to specifically quantify how much they have spent.

FARM SUBSIDIES INTO URBAN AREAS – $626 MILLION

FY2015–2017 | POPULATION OVER 250K | U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Harvesting U.S. Farm Subsidies, released August 2018, quantifies all federal farm subsidies flowing to urban areas with populations exceeding 250,000 between FY2015-FY2017.

VIDEO GAME FOR YOUR FUTURE–SELF – $1.4 MILLION

FY2014—FY2018 | ROBERT WITTMAN | VIRGINIA–1 | REPUBLICAN | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 8, the report details the $651,498 grant given to Research and Evaluation Solutions, Inc. from the Department of Health and Human Services. A representative from Rep. Wittman's office reached out to us, claiming Rep. Wittman was not responsible for this grant. Read Rep. Wittman's office's argument here. Our auditor’s updated the numbers to reflect fiscal years 2014 through 2018.

RESEARCHING STIGMATIZATION OF DANISH SMOKERS – $330,176

FY2016 | LOU BARLETTA | PENNSYLVANIA–11 | REPUBLICAN | OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 11, the report details the $330,176 grant given to Dickinson College from the Department of Health and Human Services.

MEASURING BLOOD PRESSURE AT BLACK BARBERSHOPS – $2.1 MILLION

FY2016 | ADAM SCHIFF | CALIFORNIA–28 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 13, the report details the $2.1 million grant given to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from the Department of Health and Human Services.

389 FARM SUBSIDY RECIPIENTS OF $1 MILLION+ – $667 MILLION

FY2017 | U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Harvesting U.S. Farm Subsidies, released August 2018, quantifies the number of federal farm subsidy recipients pulling down $1 million or more in fiscal year FY2017 payments. Reviewing those farming entities who received over $1 million during the past 10-years (since 2008), we found over 6,600 entities received up to $23 million. Search our interactive map of all $1 million recipients of federal farm subsidies from over 60 USDA programs displayed by ZIP Code across America.

EPIDEMIC SIMULATION GAME FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS – $350,236

FY2016 | DAVID MCKINLEY | WEST VIRGINIA–1 | REPUBLICAN | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 14, the report details the $350,236 grant given to Wheeling Jesuit University from the Department of Health and Human Services. 

HOW AIR POLLUTION AFFECTS BIRTH BY RACE – $788,664

FY2016 | JERRY MCNERNEY | CALIFORNIA–9 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 14, the report details the $788,664 grant given to the University of California at Berkeley from the Environmental Protection Agency. 

VIRTUAL WEIGHT LOSS GAME – $228,830

FY2016 | HENRY JOHNSON, JR. | GEORGIA–4 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 16, the report details the $228,830 grant given to Virtually Better, Inc. from the Department of Health and Human Services.

SMARTPHONE APP FOR PARKING YOUR CAR – $149,999

FY2016 | KRYSTEN SINEMA | ARIZONA–9 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 16, the report details the $149,999 grant given to Arizona State University from the National Science Foundation. 

REFRAMING BELIEFS ABOUT DEATH & DYING AMONG LATINOS – $882,841

FY2015 | CORNELL UNIVERSITY | NATIONAL INSITUTES OF HEALTH, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES In March 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Ivy League, Inc. The report includes examples of wasteful grants doled out by the government to the Ivy League colleges. On page 16, the report details the $882,841 in grants given to Cornell University from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services. 

PAYMENTS TO GAY MEXICAN PROSTITUTES FOR SAFE SEX – $53,419

FY2015 | BROWN UNIVERSITY | NATIONAL INSITUTES OF HEALTH | In March 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Ivy League, Inc. The report includes examples of wasteful grants doled out by the government to the Ivy League colleges. On page 15, the report details the $53,419 grant given to Brown University from the National Institutes of Health.

12 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS COLLECTED FARM SUBSIDY PAYMENTS – $637,059

FY2017 | U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | When conducting research for our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Harvesting U.S. Farm Subsidies, released August 2018, our team found 12 members of Congress collecting farm subsidy payments in FY2017. These members of congress sit on the agriculture committee, craft farm policy, vote on the subsidies, and then collect the subsidies. Our Honorary Chairman Dr. Tom Coburn, while in congress, complained to the ethics committee.

NON–MILITARY AGENCIES PURCHASE GUNS, AMMUNITION, AND MILITARY–STYLE EQUIPMENT – $2.2 BILLION

FY2006–FY2017 | 67 NON–MILITARY FEDERAL AGENCIES | In July 2016, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – The Militarization of America, quantifying all non-military federal agency purchases of guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment between FY2006-FY2014. On October 20, 2017, we published updated numbers (FY2006-FY2017) in an editorial at Forbes, titled "Why Are Federal Bureaucrats Buying Guns and Ammo? $158 Million Spent by Non-Military Agencies."

CLIMATE CHANGE VOICEMAILS FROM THE FUTURE (2020—2065) – $5.7 MILLION

FY2012 | COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY | NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION | In March 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Ivy League, Inc. The report includes examples of wasteful grants doled out by the government to the Ivy League colleges. On page 15, the report details the $5.7 million grant given to Columbia University from the National Science Foundation. 

NEW CONDOM DESIGN WITH MORE LUBRICATION – $1.1 MILLION

FY2016—FY2019 | JOSEPH KENNEDY III | MASSACHUSETTS–4 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 6, the report details the $200,601 grant given to Hydroglyde Coatings from the Department of Health and Human Services. Recently, we updated the numbers to include fiscal years 2016 through 2019.

FUNDING CHRISTIAN SEMINARIES TO MINT PASTORS & PRIESTS -- $815 MILLION

FY2014—FY2017 | DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION | Nearly $1 billion funded 112 seminaries to mint pastors and priests. Our findings were published at Forbes and research published in our oversight report.

VA PURCHASE OF GUNS, 11 MILLION ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION, AND MILITARY-STYLE EQUIPMENT -- $17.3 MILLION

FY2006—FY0217 | VETERANS AFFAIRS | The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a mission to provide basic healthcare for veterans. In 1996, the VA didn’t have a police force. Over the last eight years, however, the VA purchased 11 million rounds of ammunition, which amounts to 2,800 rounds for each of their 3,957 officers. The VA also purchased camouflage uniforms, riot helmets and shields, specialized image enhancement devices and tactical lighting. Our findings published at Forbes.

TWO SCULPTURES FOR VA FACILITY THAT SERVES BLIND VETERANS – $670,000

FY2016 | DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS | In a joint investigation with COX Media Washington, D.C., OpenTheBooks published an editorial at Forbes on July 26, 2016, titled "The VA’s Luxury Art Obsession." The editorial exposed the Department of Veterans Affairs’ array of luxury artwork, including a $670,000 sculpture for a VA facility that serves blind veterans.

ARTS GRANTS FOR ORGANIZATIONS WITH OVER $1 BILLION IN ASSETS – $143 MILLION

FY2009–2016 | NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES | In July 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, detailing numerous examples of wasteful grant making by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. The report quantifies all FY2016 arts and humanities funding flowing to organization with over $1 billion in assets each (page 5). Our report launched on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal in a column by Roger Kimball.

ROBERT REDFORD’S SUNDANCE INSTITUTE – $4.6 MILLION

FY2009—FY2019 | NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES | In July 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, detailing numerous examples of wasteful grant making by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. On page 7, the report details the $200,000 in funding Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute received in FY2016. Our report launched on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal in a column by Roger Kimball. Recently, we updated the numbers from FY2009 and found millions of dollars in grants to this well healed arts organization with roughly $50 million in gross assets.

FEMINIST PORN BOOK AND OTHER TITLES – $55,000

FY2016 | NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES | In July 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, detailing numerous examples of wasteful grant making by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. On page 8, the report details the $55,000 grant the Feminist Press received in FY2016. Our report launched on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal in a column by Roger Kimball.

EPA PURCHASE OF GUNS, AMMO, AND MILITARY–STYLE EQUIPMENT – $3.4 MILLION

FY2006–FY2017 | ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY | In July 2016, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – The Militarization of America, quantifying all non-military federal agency purchases of guns, ammunition, and military equipment between FY2006-FY2014. On October 20, 2017, we published updated numbers (FY2006-FY2017) in an editorial at Forbes, titled "Why Are Federal Bureaucrats Buying Guns and Ammo? $158 Million Spent by Non-Military Agencies." In both studies, we quantified all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) purchases of guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment. Our report launched in a co-authored editorial at the Wall Street Journal with Dr. Tom Coburn titled, Why Does the IRS Need Guns?.

"GAMES FOR CHANGE" VIDEO GAME CONVENTION – $200,000

FY2016 | NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES | In July 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, detailing numerous examples of wasteful grant making by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. On page 10, the report details the $200,000 grant Games for Change, Inc. received. Our report launched on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal in a column by Roger Kimball.

CIGAR TASTE TEST – $114,375

FY2016 | ROBERT SCOTT | VIRGINIA–3 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 5, the report details the $114,375 grant to Virginia Commonwealth University from the Department of Health and Human Services.

COMEDY CLUB HOLOGRAMS – $1.7 MILLION

FY2017 | DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE | A report by Arizona Senator Jeff Flake quantified $1.7 million given to a nonprofit called the National Comedy Center from the Department of Commerce. The grant was awarded to help the nonprofit construct a comedy museum that will "resurrect" dead comedians as holograms.

HOW TO USE A LAWYER GUIDE – $728,000

FY2015 | DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | In 2015, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake published a wastebook report. On page 89, the report details the $728,000 the Department of Agriculture spent on a "How to Use a Lawyer" guide.

LIGHTING FOR LIQUOR STORES – $50,000

FY2017 | DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | In 2017, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake published a wastebook report. On page 56, the report details the $50,000 the Department of Agriculture spent on liquor store lighting in Florida, Colorado, and Oklahoma.

ADVERTISING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS (PR) CAMPAIGNS -- $1.4 BILLION

FY2020 | ALL FEDERAL AGENCIES | U.S. Senator Joni Ernst quantified $1.4 billion per year spent on PR by the federal agencies. These findings are consistent with our previous oversight report in 2015, The Department of Self-Promotion. 

HOW ALCOHOL AFFECTS MEN’S ATTENTION AND SENSITIVITY TO SEXUAL INTEREST CUES – $180,921

FY2016 | DAVE LOEBSACK | IOWA–2 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 7, the report details the $180,921 grant given to the University of Iowa from the Department of Health and Human Services.

EXTRA: USDA SPENDS MILLIONS SUBSIDIZING CRICKET FARMS FOR HUMANS TO EAT BUGS

FY2017 | DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | According to USAspending.gov search results (May 2, 2017) Bugeater Labs received Department of Agriculture funding. The University of Nebraska Omaha College of Business Administration website published an article on April 28, 2017, titled "Bugeater Foods," explaining the funding. 

*  *  *

SIGN YOUR NAME TO OPENTHEBOOKS' PETITION, URGING THE PRESIDENT TO WAGE A WAR ON WASTE. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 11/11/2019 - 22:25
Published:11/11/2019 9:44:47 PM
[Aerospace] Boeing’s Starliner crew spacecraft launch pad abort test is a success NASA’s commercial crew partner Boeing has achieved a key milestone on the way to actually flying astronauts aboard its CST-100 Starliner: Demonstrating that its launch pad abort system works as designed, which is a key safety system that NASA requires to be in place before the aerospace company can put astronauts inside the Starliner. The […] Published:11/4/2019 8:28:47 AM
[Aerospace] Watch live as NASA and Boeing test the Starliner crew spacecraft launch pad abort system NASA’s commercial crew program Boeing will run a key test today of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner, a new spacecraft developed by the aerospace company to bring American astronauts to the International Space Station, beginning as early as next year. The Starliner will undergo a crucial and necessary launch pad abort test, wherein if all goes […] Published:11/4/2019 6:28:19 AM
[Markets] The Great Decoupling Has Begun, Sinophobia Erupts, DJI Drones Banned  The Great Decoupling Has Begun, Sinophobia Erupts, DJI Drones Banned 

Before a complete fracturing of the US and Chinese economies, there have already been numerous signs of decoupling that are currently taking place behind the scenes. 

But before we tell you about the decoupling and the latest evidence we've found. You must be asking: Where are we in the trade war? Beginning innings? Imminent trade deal?  

The flurry of trade headlines from the US and China over the last 15 or so months have certainly been confusing. The fact is, there's so much fake trade news that it's hard to tell exactly the progress between both countries. 

But what's certain is that the trade war is in the beginning innings and nowhere near being resolved. Yes, there's a Phase 1 deal being floated around, but that's only for President Trump to save Midwest farmers and to create positive sentiment ahead of the 2020 election to pump the stock market. 

In reality, the trade war is a winner take all game, it's really about empire, and how Washington is attempting to prevent China from becoming the next global superpower. Hence the reason for tariffs, which is an attempt by President Trump, the Pentagon, and US corporate elites to limit China's ascension. 

The decoupling will be slow at first, then rapid. We're already seeing small to medium-sized Chinese companies being denied IPOs on Nasdaq. President Trump has already banned Haweui access to key US markets. And now, the next evidence that the decoupling is gaining momentum comes from the US Department Of The Interior. 

The Department has grounded its entire fleet of 800 drones for fear that Chinese hackers could spy on critical infrastructure, reported The Wall Street Journal.

"Secretary Bernhardt is reviewing the Department of the Interior's drone program. Until this review is completed, the Secretary has directed that drones manufactured in China or made from Chinese components be grounded unless they are currently being utilized for emergency purposes, such as fighting wildfires, search and rescue, and dealing with natural disasters that may threaten life or property," the Department told The Verge via an email statement. 

US officials worry that the Department is relying too heavily on Chinese drones and has put critical infrastructure at risk of being spied on by the Chinese. 

Last month a bipartisan bill was introduced that would limit federal agencies from purchasing Chinese drones. 

Several years ago, the Department of Homeland Security warned federal agencies from purchasing Chinese drones, specifically ones made by Shenzhen-based SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd.

A DJI spokesperson told The Verge in a statement that the latest grounding of their drones by the Department Of The Interior is rather "disappointing." 

"We are aware the Department of Interior has decided to ground its entire drone program and are disappointed to learn of this development...As the leader in commercial drone technology, we have worked with the Department of Interior to create a safe and secure drone solution that meets their rigorous requirements, which was developed over the course of 15 months with DOI officials, independent cybersecurity professionals, and experts at NASA. We will continue to support the Department of Interior and provide assistance as it reviews its drone fleet so the agency can quickly resume the use of drones to help federal workers conduct vital operations," the DJI spokesperson said.

The Department's decision to ground Chinese drones is a clear trend of what's to come in the year ahead: more groundings across a wide array of agencies. 

Just wait until the groundings start hitting state and local municipalities and lower-level agencies. It's going to be a nightmare. 

Nevertheless, when the government starts banning certain Chinese products from consumers, you'll know the great decoupling between the US and China is imminent. 

For this to all happen, the Trump administration will need to ramp up Sinophobia propaganda to convince the American people that decoupling is the right move. 

 

Tyler Durden Sun, 11/03/2019 - 20:05
Published:11/3/2019 7:25:30 PM
[Markets] Air Force's Secretive X-37B Spaceplane Lands After 780-Day "Classified Mission" Air Force's Secretive X-37B Spaceplane Lands After 780-Day "Classified Mission"

The U.S. Air Force's secretive X-37B, also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, is a robotic spacecraft, landed Sunday morning after 780 days in orbit, beating its previous record of 718 days, reported Space.com

The X-37B touched down at the Shuttle Landing Facility of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, early Sunday morning. The classified mission, which initially began in September 2017, started on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

"This program continues to push the envelope as the world's only reusable space vehicle. With a successful landing today, the X-37B completed its longest flight to date and successfully completed all mission objectives," Randy Walden, director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, said in a statement. "This mission successfully hosted Air Force Research Laboratory experiments, among others, as well as providing a ride for small satellites."

X-37B's real mission in low Earth Orbit (LEO) is classified. But a 2017 Air Force press release detailed the plane is a "host platform for experimental payloads." 

"This mission carries small satellite ride shares and will demonstrate greater opportunities for rapid space access and on-orbit testing of emerging space technologies. Building upon the fourth mission and previous collaboration with experiment partners, this mission will host the Air Force Research Laboratory Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader payload to test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies in the long-duration space environment," the Air Force said back in 2017. 

In July, we reported how an amateur space enthusiast captured the X-37B orbiting Earth on camera. 

The X-37B resembles a smaller version of NASA's retired Space Shuttle orbiter. It measures 29 feet long, 9.5 feet high, and has a wingspan of only 15 feet. The payload bay is about 7 feet long by 4 feet wide. 

Ground-based infrared sensors captured the moment the X-37B landed on Sunday morning. 

More footage shows ground crews in spacesuits working on the plane after it landed.

Here's another view of the spaceplane.

As for the exact mission, we'll never know what the X-37B did for 780-days while orbiting the Earth.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/29/2019 - 01:00
Published:10/29/2019 12:27:36 AM
[TC] Will the quantum economy change your business? Google and NASA have demonstrated that quantum computing isn’t just a fancy trick, but almost certainly something actually useful — and they’re already working on commercial applications. What does that mean for existing startups and businesses? Simply put: nothing. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore it forever. There are three main points that anyone […] Published:10/28/2019 6:49:48 PM
[Aerospace] U.S. Air Force experimental test spaceship lands after a record 780 days in orbit The X-37B, a test vehicle operated by the U.S. Air Force, has returned from orbit and landed successfully at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, over two years after it originally launched on its latest mission aboard a SpaceX rocket. The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, as its formally known, was on its fifth mission, which […] Published:10/28/2019 7:46:32 AM
[Gadgets] NASA’s VIPER lunar rover will hunt water on the Moon in 2022 NASA is looking for liquid gold on the Moon — not oil, but plain-old water. If we’re going to have a permanent presence there, we’ll need it, so learning as much as we can about it is crucial. That’s why the agency is sending a rover called VIPER to the Moon’s south pole — its […] Published:10/25/2019 6:03:11 PM
[Aerospace] NASA’s Mars 2020 rover rests on its own six wheels for the first time NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will have to operate on its own in a harsh environment, hundred of millions of miles from the nearest mechanic. But for now, it’s still in development at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab – and every milestone is an important one. Including supporting its own weight, fully assembled and resting on its […] Published:10/25/2019 8:02:58 AM
[Aerospace] NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine explains how startups can help with Artemis Moon missions At this week’s International Astronautical Congress, where the space industry, international space agencies and researchers from around the world convene to discuss the state of space technology and business, I asked NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about what role he sees for startups in contributing to his agency’s ambitious Artemis program. Artemis, named after Apollo’s twin […] Published:10/24/2019 2:27:41 PM
[Middle Column] CLAIM: Pentagon Commissioned report: U.S. Military Could Collapse Within 20 Years Due to ‘Climate Change’

"The report says a combination of global starvation, war, disease, drought, and a fragile power grid could have cascading, devastating effects."

"The study found that the US military itself might also collapse. This could all happen over the next two decades, the report notes.The senior US government officials who wrote the report are from several key agencies including the Army, Defense Intelligence Agency, and NASA. [..] The report was commissioned by General Mark Milley, Trump's new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making him the highest-ranking military officer in the country."

Published:10/24/2019 12:29:51 PM
[Aerospace] Jeff Bezos announces Blue Origin will form new industry team to return to the Moon At the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, D.C. today, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos announced a new “national team” that will join forces in order to help return humans to the Moon via NASA’s Artemis program. They’ll focus on developing the Human Landing System that will be used to achieve this goal. Blue Origin will […] Published:10/22/2019 8:11:25 AM
[Left Column] Physicist: No Convincing Evidence That Antarctic Ice Sheet is Melting

"Global panic over the impending meltdown of Antarctica is totally unwarranted...A 2015 NASA study reported that the Antarctic ice sheet was actually gaining rather than losing ice in 2008, and that ice thickening was making sea levels fall by 0.23 mm per year."

Published:10/21/2019 2:38:02 PM
[Aerospace] Japan will participate in NASA’s Lunar Gateway project for the Artemis program Japan has officially announced that it will participate with NASA’s Lunar Gateway project (via NHK), which will seek to establish an orbital research and staging station around the Moon. The Lunar Gateway is a key component of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land the first American woman and the next American man on the […] Published:10/18/2019 6:15:34 AM
[Aerospace] Watch NASA’s first ever all-woman spacewalk live NASA astronauts Christina H Koch and Jessica Meir will make history this morning, as they take part in the first ever spacewalk in the agency’s history featuring only women. The two astronauts will be venturing outside of the International Space Station in order to effect a repair on a failed power controller for the station, […] Published:10/18/2019 5:46:40 AM
[Boeing] How Elon Musk’s Infamous Pot Smoking Episode Cost Tax Payers Millions of Dollars Newly uncovered records show that NASA paid SpaceX $5 million to ensure that none of its employees would repeat CEO Elon Musk's marijuana incident. Published:10/16/2019 11:35:24 AM
[Aerospace] NASA extends contact with Boeing for SLS rocket, paving the way for up to 10 Artemis missions NASA has a new contract extension in place with Boeing, which will cover rocket stages for its Space Launch System (SLS) beyond Artemis I and Artemis II, the missions covered under the current contract it holds with the aerospace company. The new contract includes production of the core stage of the rocket for Artemis III, […] Published:10/16/2019 9:04:11 AM
[Aerospace] NASA Administrator “very confident” SpaceX crew launch could happen in early 2020 NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was at SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne, California on Thursday, delivering an address alongside NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who will launch aboard SpaceX’s commercial Crew Dragon capsule, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Bridenstine kicked off  with some brief remarks about the importance and priority of the crew launch mission, […] Published:10/10/2019 5:30:41 PM
[Markets] Forget Facial Recog: DHS New Amazon-Based Database Uses Scars, Tattoos, & Your Voice To ID You Forget Facial Recog: DHS New Amazon-Based Database Uses Scars, Tattoos, & Your Voice To ID You

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

These days, you can’t really go anywhere without encountering cameras.  Going into a store? Chances are there are security cameras. Getting money at an ATM? More cameras. Driving through the streets of a city? More cameras still. Your neighbors may have those doorbells from Amazon that are surveilling the entire neighborhood.

And many of these cameras are tied into facial recognition databases, or the footage can be quite easily compared there if “authorities” are looking for somebody.

But as it turns out, it isn’t just facial recognition we have to worry about.

DHS has a new recognition system called HART.

Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology system is the alarming new identity system being put in place by the Department of Homeland Security.

DHS is retiring its old system that was based on facial recognition. It’s being replaced with HART, a cloud-based system that holds information about the identities of hundreds of millions of people.

The new cloud-based platform, called the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology System, or HART, is expected to bring more processing power, new analytics capabilities and increased accuracy to the department’s biometrics operations. It will also allow the agency to look beyond the three types of biometric data it uses today—face, iris and fingerprint—to identify people through a variety of other characteristics, like palm prints, scars, tattoos, physical markings and even their voices. (source)

Incidentally, the cloud hosting for HART is being done by none other than Amazon – you know, the ones with surveillance devices like the Ring doorbell and the Alexa home assistant and the Nest home security system. Does anyone see a pattern here?

Also note that Amazon Web Services also hosts data for the CIA, the DoD, and NASA.

More about HART

As HART becomes more established, that old saying “you can run but you can’t hide” is going to seem ever more true. The DHS is delighted at how much further the new system can take them into surveilling Americans.

And by freeing the agency from the limitations of its legacy system, HART could also let officials grow the network of external partners with whom they share biometric data and analytics capabilities, according to Patrick Nemeth, director of identity operations within Homeland Security’s Office of Biometric Identity Management.

“When we get to HART, we will be better, faster, stronger,” Nemeth said in an interview with Nextgov. “We’ll be relieved of a lot of the capacity issues that we have now … and then going forward from there we’ll be able to add [capabilities].” (source)

The DHS wants to break free of the limitations of the old system with their new and “improved” system. HART will use multiple pieces of biometric data to increase identification accuracy.

Today, when an official runs a person’s face, fingerprint or iris scans through IDENT’s massive database, the system doesn’t return a single result. Rather, it assembles a list of dozens of potential candidates with different levels of confidence, which a human analyst must then look through to make a final match. The system can only handle one modality at a time, so if agent is hypothetically trying to identify someone using two different datapoints, they need to assess two lists of candidates to find a single match. This isn’t a problem if the system identifies the same person as the most likely match for both fingerprint and face, for example, but because biometric identification is still an imperfect science, the results are rarely so clear cut.

However, the HART platform can include multiple datapoints in a single query, meaning it will rank potential matches based on all the information that’s available. That will not only make it easier for agents to analyze potential matches, but it will also help the agency overcome data quality issues that often plague biometric scans, Nemeth said. If the face image is pristine but the fingerprint is fuzzy, for example, the system will give the higher-quality datapoint more weight.

“We’re very hopeful that it will provide better identification surety than we can provide with any single modality today,” Nemeth said. And palm prints, scars, tattoos and other modalities are added in the years ahead, the system will be able to integrate those into its matching process. (source)

HART will also use DNA.

Remember a while back when we reported that DNA sites were teaming up with facial recognition software? Well, HART will take that unholy alliance even further.

The phase-two solicitation also lists DNA-matching as a potential application of the HART system. While the department doesn’t currently analyze DNA, officials on Wednesday announced they would start adding DNA collected from hundreds of thousands of detained migrants to the FBI’s criminal database. During the interview, Nemeth said the agency is still working through the legal implications of storing and sharing such sensitive data. It’s also unclear whether DNA information would be housed in the HART system or a separate database, he said. (source)

Nifty.

The DHS is operating without any type of regulation.

Currently, there’s no regulation or oversight of government agencies collecting and using this kind of data. Civil liberty activists and some lawmakers are alarmed by this, citing concerns about privacy and discrimination. This hasn’t slowed down the DHS one iota, however.

Critics have taken particular issue with the government’s tangled web of information sharing agreements, which allow data to spread far beyond the borders of the agency that collected it. The Homeland Security Department currently shares its biometric data and capabilities with numerous groups, including but not limited to the Justice, Defense and State departments.

In the years ahead, HART promises to strengthen those partnerships and allow others to flourish, according to Nemeth. While today the department limits other agencies’ access to IDENT to ensure they don’t consume too much of its limited computing power, HART will do away with those constraints. (source)

Mana Azarmi, the policy counsel for the Freedom, Security and Technology Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology is one of those people voicing concern.

A person might give information to a single agency thinking it would be used for one specific purpose, but depending on how that information is shared, they could potentially find themselves subjected to unforeseen negative consequences, Azarmi said in a conversation with Nextgov.

“The government gets a lot of leeway to share information,” she said. “In this age of incredible data collection, I think we need to rethink some of the rules that are in place and some of the practices that we’ve allowed to flourish post-9/11. We may have overcorrected.” (source)

You think?

Many people voluntarily provide biometric data.

Many folks provide biometric data without giving it a second thought. They cheerfully swab a cheek and send it into sites like Ancestry.com, providing not only their DNA, but matches to many relatives who never gave permission for their DNA to be in a database.

Then there are cell phones. If you have a newer phone, it’s entirely possible that it has asked you to set up fingerprint login, facial recognition, and even voice recognition. It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to believe that those samples are shared with folks beyond the device in your hand. Add to this that your device is tracking you every place you go through a wide variety of seemingly innocuous apps, and you start to get the picture.

You can’t opt-out.

Back in 2013, I wrote an article called The Great American Dragnet.  At that time, facial recognition was something that sounded like science fiction or some kind of joke. Our drivers’ licenses were the first foray into creating a database but even in 2013, it far exceeded that.

Another, even larger, database exists. The US State Department has a database with 230 million searchable images.  Anyone with a passport or an immigration visa may find themselves an unwilling participant in this database.   Here’s the breakdown of who has a photo database:

  • The State Department has about 15 million photos of passport or visa holders

  • The FBI has about15 million photos of people who have been arrested or convicted of crimes

  • The Department of Defense has about 6 million photos, mainly of Iraqis and Afghans

  • Various police agencies and states have at least 210 million driver’s license photos

This invasion of privacy is just another facet of the surveillance state, and should be no surprise considering the information Edward Snowden just shared about the over-reaching tentacles of the NSA into all of our communications. We are filing our identities with the government and they can identify us at will, without any requirement for probable cause. (source)

Some people don’t even seem to mind that their identities have been tagged and filed by the US government. And even those of us who do mind have no option. If you wish to drive a car or travel outside of the country or have any kind of government ID, like it or not, you’re in the database. Six years ago, I wrote:

The authorities that use this technology claim that the purpose of it is to make us safer, by helping to prevent identity fraud and to identify criminals.  However, what freedom are we giving up for this “safety” cloaked in benevolence? We are giving up the freedom of having the most elemental form of privacy – that of being able to go about our daily business without being watched and identified.  And once you’re identified, this connects to all sorts of other personal information that has been compiled: your address, your driving and criminal records, and potentially, whatever else that has been neatly filed away at your friendly neighborhood fusion center.

Think about it:  You’re walking the dog and you fail to scoop the poop – if there’s a surveillance camera in the area, it would be a simple matter, given the technology, for you to be identified. If you are attending a protest that might be considered “anti-government”, don’t expect to be anonymous.  A photo of the crowd could easily result in the identification of most of the participants.

Are you purchasing ammo, preparedness items, or books about a controversial topic?  Paying cash won’t buy you much in the way of privacy – your purchase will most likely be captured on the CCTV camera at the checkout stand, making you easily identifiable to anyone who might wish to track these kinds of things.  What if a person with access to this technology uses it for personal, less than ethical reasons, like stalking an attractive women he saw on the street?  The potential for abuse is mind-boggling.

If you can’t leave your house without being identified, do you have any real freedom left, or are you just a resident in a very large cage? (source)

When I wrote that, it still seemed far-fetched but remotely possible, even to me. This was before we were really aware of anything like the social credit program in China or how crazy the censorship was going to become or how social media would change the very fabric of our society.

Now, it’s here and it looks like there’s no stopping it.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/09/2019 - 23:45
Published:10/9/2019 10:57:47 PM
[Science] NASA shares 3D Moon data for CG artists and creators If you want to set your movie or game on the Moon, it's not hard to find imagery of our photogenic satellite. But NASA has just released a useful and beautiful new set of data just for creators that includes not just imagery but depth data, making it simple to build an incredibly detailed 3D map of the Moon. Published:10/5/2019 6:05:43 PM
[Markets] Central Bankers Go Green... Why? Central Bankers Go Green... Why?

Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

I was told many depressing things as a child.

Watching World Vision infomercials educating the west to the want and misery suffered by millions of children in the third world, I wasn’t alone in asking adults “why”? When I enjoyed all the comforts of food security, electricity and running water, why were these other children living in poverty? I know that I was not the only bewildered child to receive the shallow response that I did from family and teachers when I was told that this “simply is the way it is”. At best, we privileged few in the 1st world could hope that $1/day would alleviate their pain, but really there was no great solution.

Later in life, as my closest friends found themselves enmeshed in university political science and economic programs, the innocent curiosity that recognized injustice for what it was not only died under the weight of materialist theories of human nature which their parents paid good money to feed them, but upon leaving school, those same friends actually became witting accomplices in that very system which their youthful hearts recognized as wrong so many years earlier. Since humanity was intrinsically selfish and our economic system so immutable, the best we could hope for was success in life and enjoy being on the receiving end of destiny.

Again, I know that I’m not alone in this experience, as tens of millions of citizens took to the streets all around the world on September 27 to march for the earth, repulsed by corrupt consumerism and celebrating the advent of a Green New Deal.

This activation of “people power” driven by such institutions as the Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for the Future and the young Greta Thunberg could never have occurred had not a deep sense of injustice and malaise not already been festering in our collective hearts. That sense of injustice and malaise connects us to our deepest humanity and is a purity which unites each of us in a field of compassion with the whole of which we are but parts, and should be celebrated and protected at all costs.

In spite of that purity something much darker showed its ugly face on September 27 which used that inherent goodness to its dark advantage. It is that dark something that I would like to discuss.

You Know Something Isn’t Right When…

The first clue as to the ugly problem can be found in the simple fact that leading central bankers had already issued a call for the same new green banking system which Greta and the countless masses also demanded long before Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for the Future or There is No Time were ever created.

While officially announced on September 22nd at the opening of the UN Climate Summit in NY, a Central Banker’s Climate Compact was unveiled under the leadership of Bank of England Governor Mark Carney that had already been in the works for over 18 months representing over 130 of the world’s largest and corrupt banks calling for a radical decarbonisation of the world economy by 2/3 according to commitments laid out in the 2015 Paris Climate accord.

Bank of England head and Chair of the Bank of International Settlement’s Financial Stability Board (2011-2018) Mark Carney announced at this venue that “climate disclosures must become comprehensive, climate risk management must be transformed and sustainable investing must go mainstream”. Carney then took on a more threatening tone by saying “the firms that anticipate these developments will be rewarded handsomely. Those that don’t will cease to exist”.

Now Mark Carney has been hailed by the environmental lobby as the leading “eco-warrior” of central bankers and those doing the hailing seem to rarely take notice of the blatant fact that the person who sits atop the technocratic power structure that has given rise to the world’s greatest economic and environmental injustices for decades is also the person designing how this dysfunctional world is supposed to be restructured.

So how do Carney and his fellow hive of central bankers propose the world transform?

The New Green System Becomes…

For starters, Carney believes that a new global reserve currency must replace the U.S. Dollar.

What should this post-dollar system be based upon? Well, as of August 23, during a central bankers’ summit in Jackson Hole Missouri, Carney stated that it should be modelled on Facebook’s cryptocurrency the Libra, which is scheduled to start issuance by early next year. Unlike the Libra however, Carney’s cryptocurrency will be entirely controlled by private banking institutions and totally removed from sovereign nation states, which are just too influenced by short term political interests rather than an “enlightened technocratic elite” who know how to truly think long term.

Knowing that China’s Belt and Road Initiative is increasingly becoming the foundation for a viable new economic order, and knowing that the financial oligarchy’s monopoly over world finance will come undone if that were so, Carney also warned that a crypto-digital currency is the only way to stop the Renminbi from becoming the US dollar’s replacement. Carney called his digital solution to be a “synthetic hegemonic currency… through a network of central bank digital currencies” which would base their value upon new standards not existent in the 1971-2019 globalized model.

Redefining value

In a 2015 Lloyds of London Speech preceding the Paris COP21 Climate summit, Carney stated “the desirability of restricting climate change to two degrees above pre-industrial levels leads to the notion of a carbon “budget”- an assessment of the amount of emissions the world can “afford”.

This statement essentially defines the parameters which Greta and her minions of green followers are being induced to call for as a new “post-consumerist” world of monetary valuation while actually merely destroying what little remains of a middle class and empowering an already entrenched oligarchy.

Like all good lies, this one hinges upon a truth.

Carney and the green new dealers recognize that pure “market demand” has totally failed as a standard of assessing “value” of money or any other primary asset in our economy. $4.5 trillion of currency speculation grows like a cancer every day without any positive payback to the real economy while $700 trillion of derivatives hover like a Damocles sword over the world waiting to fall at any moment that “market confidence” disappears as it did in 2007.

But after that truth is acknowledged, what does the “carbon budget” entail which professes to somehow lower the world temperature to within two degrees of pre-industrial temperatures which we must assume to be a solution to an under-defined problem?

According to the Green New Deal proposed by Carney and his allies, in order to bring world carbon dioxide production down to net zero emissions by 2050 as demanded by COP21, several things must happen.

  • Green bonds must be expanded en masse, in the similar fashion that victory bonds were created in WW2 to pay for the growth of industry needed to battle Hitler. In this 21st century version of course, it is the Bank of International Settlements which financed Nazism which today wishes to define how the new victory bonds will behave. Rather than finance industrial and scientific growth as occurred in the 1940s, these new bonds promise to shrink it. The associated constraints upon humanity’s ability to support its 7 billion lives is not lost to some cold hearted technocrats and their aristocratic managers at the top.

  • In reducing industrial growth through the transition from a carbon-based society towards a “green” energy- fueled society of windmills and solar panels, carbon footprints must be diminished. The degree to which humanity diminishes its carbon footprints is the degree to which Carney and his masters promise to reward economic players with monetary profit. Again this is the very opposite process when compared to the 1938-1971 system of industrial growth which tied dollar values to the growth of the REAL economy (agriculture, industry, science and technology) which tied money to the betterment of human life.

  • Carbon Taxes and Cap and Trade mechanisms must become hegemonic which then creates measurable values for the reduction of humanity’s carbon footprint.

Embarrassingly Bad Science

By acting on a purely emotional state of fear and panic as Greta demands we do, Carney-ite technocrats hope that no one bothers to shine light upon the blatant scientific fallacies underlying the entire “green new deal” which the Bank of England is proposing the world adopt.

We must ignore the fact that the “99% of scientists who all agree that global warming is caused by human activity” is really only based upon a survey of 79 anonymous scientists (77 of whom believed in the claim).

We must believe that it has been proven that CO2 is a cause of climate variation, even though all long term measurements of climate and temperature indicate that CO2 follows rather than precedes temperature changes.

We must also believe that this reduction in humanity’s contribution of CO2 to the entire greenhouse effect (which accounts for less than 0.1% of the total) would have any impact whatsoever upon a 2 degree reduction of the global mean temperature from pre-industrial levels (which we have no ability to assess anyway).

We must ultimately assume that perpetual economic growth is a delusion which only fools believe in and that population growth is a problem which must be corrected by a technocratic elite who have the “stomachs to handle the bloodletting”.

Breaking out of our Carrying Capacity

The fact is that there has always been a carrying capacity to humanity and no one should try to deny that reality.

What green technocrats hate to admit is that humanity’s carrying capacity is very different from that found among all other species of life in the biosphere.

While other species find their population potential limited by genetic traits, and environmental constraints, humanity alone can transcend those material limits by leaping into the creative realm of discovery both in the sciences as well as in the arts. The fruits of humanity’s discoveries as outlined in Abraham Lincoln’s brilliant speech On Discoveries and Inventions (1860) is entirely connected to our unbounded capacity for scientific and technological progress.

The reality of the coherence between mankind’s creative powers and the creative power shaping the universe as a whole has been a powerful concept identified millennia ago by Plato, St. Augustine, Nicholas of Cusa and his followers Johannes Kepler, Gottfried Leibniz, Benjamin Franklin and Friedrich Schiller. Its expression (though not always fully understood by those acting upon it) has been the object of hate and fear by an entrenched oligarchy which has launched innumerable wars, assassinations and regime changes to prevent its awakening.

The New Silk Road… Not the Green New Deal

Today, Russia and China have recognized this necessity of unbounded human progress and are fully committed to integrating their economies into an “alternative” financial system centered on the Belt and Road Initiative. While 135 other nations have increasingly joined in this new system, the oligarchy which signs Carney’s paycheques is well aware that a USA under the control of a president who says “the future belongs to patriots, not globalists” creates an intolerable risk that may re-orient America towards this new system and that cannot be tolerated.

Most importantly, when one truly inspects the Belt and Road Initiative’s accomplishments both in Asia as well as Africa and the Middle East, it becomes apparent that the only system which truly has the means to not only replace our bankrupt order while also eliminating war, environmental destruction and squalor is tied directly to what China has built and which has already pulled over 800 million souls out of poverty. NASA even recently confirmed that earth’s biomass grew by 10% entirely because of India and China’s commitment to industrial progress- overturning the foolish notion that economic growth and environmental health must always be at odds.

This is the system which existed only as a dream unknown to most in the west as I watched World Vision programs encouraging me to beg my mother to give $1/day to a kid in Guatemala whose life had been destroyed by that same system which today threatens to destroy what little is left of the third world through a Green New Deal.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/02/2019 - 22:55
Published:10/2/2019 10:14:50 PM
[worldNews] U.S. House committees seek to hold line on Pompeo in impeachment probe The leaders of three U.S. House of Representatives committees accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of intimidating witnesses on Tuesday, and said doing so is illegal and "will constitute evidence of obstruction."
Published:10/1/2019 9:25:35 PM
[Markets] We're About To Find Life On Mars But The World Is "Not Prepared", NASA Scientist Warns We're About To Find Life On Mars But The World Is "Not Prepared", NASA Scientist Warns

Authored by Elias Marat via TheMindUnleashed.com,

As we humble earthlings begin to learn more about the universe and potentially stand on the cusp of great discoveries about the planet Mars, we may not be prepared for what’s in store of us, warns the chief scientist of U.S. space agency NASA.

Dr. Jim Green believes that as two rovers from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) prepare to embark for Mars next summer, humanity could be overwhelmed by the implications of studies to come.

Speaking to the Telegraph, the director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division compared the potential discoveries to Rennaissance-era astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus’ theory that postulated that the Earth revolves around the Sun, rather than vice-versa.

The Copernican model, which is credited with revolutionizing science during the 16th century, earned him the condemnation of the Roman Catholic Church due to the model’s impact on the Church’s doctrines relating to astronomy.

“It will start a whole new line of thinking. I don’t think we’re prepared for the results.

I’ve been worried about that because I think we’re close to finding it and making some announcements.”

The ESA’s ExoMars Rover and NASA’s Mars 2020 are set to drill 6.5 feet into the Red Planet’s core to take samples in hopes of finding evidence of life on. The samples will be processed and examined in a mobile laboratory that will look for any traces of organic matter.

Green said that if scientists find biosignatures of life in Mars’ crust, a new era of astrobiology could begin.

“What happens next is a whole new set of scientific questions.

Is that life like us? How are we related?

Can life move from planet-to-planet or do we have a spark and just the right environment and that spark generates life – like us or not like us – based on the chemical environment that it is in?”

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is set to launch next July before making the 140-million mile trek to Mars and landing on its Jezero Crater in February 2021.

With two high-definition cameras and a detachable helicopter drone, the rover is set to collect an unprecedented batch of visual data and images of the cavernous and cliffy terrain of Mars.

However, the primary mission of the rover is to find signs of life. Habitable environments and biosignatures left in rock are being sought so that samples can be studied back on earth.

The latest research has shown that many planets believed to have always been uninhabitable may have once enjoyed conditions suitable for sustaining life. Earlier this year, NASA’s InSight rover found evidence of a potentially vast global reservoir of water on Mars.

Dr. Green notes that research also suggests the existence of civilizations on other planets. He commented:

 “There is no reason to think that there isn’t civilization elsewhere, because we are finding exoplanets [planets lying beyond the solar system] all over the place.”

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/01/2019 - 22:05
Published:10/1/2019 9:25:35 PM
[Aerospace] NASA awards $43.2M to Blue Origin, SpaceX and others for tech to take us to the Moon and Mars NASA has announced the total funding it will distribute to the 14 companies it’s chosen to work with on developing key, innovative technologies that will be instrumental in helping get the agency to the Moon through the Artemis program, and potential to Mars and beyond later on. The U.S. space agency is awarding $43.2 million […] Published:10/1/2019 4:09:04 PM
[Markets] Will Billionaires Embrace Wealth Tax As "Investment In Social Stability"? Will Billionaires Embrace Wealth Tax As "Investment In Social Stability"?

Via Global Macro Monitor,

America's Perilous Path Of Wealth Distribution

Summary

  • We illustrate the stark contrast in the growth of household wealth between the different percentile groups since Q1 2000

  • The top 1% of households now hold more wealth than the bottom 90%

  • The aggregate nominal wealth of the bottom 50% of households has fallen by almost 10 percent since 2000, from 3.4 percent of total household wealth to just 1.3 percent

  • The share of the top 1% is now over 31 percent and has grown by over 165 percent since Q1 2000

  • The average wealth per household of the bottom 50% has declined 25 percent in nominal terms and 50 percent in real purchasing power compared to the 1%’s increase of 118 percent and 50 percent, respectively

  • The widening wealth gap is a major factor in the rise of populism in the U.S. and the debate over a wealth tax will be a central focus of the 2020 presidential election

  • Asset inflation resulting from quantitative easing (QE) has contributed to the widening wealth gap

  • Long pitchforks and water cannons

Wealth Tax Talk

We hear a lot these days about wealth taxes.   A new wealth tax on the upper echelons of the top 1% of wealthiest households will likely be at the center of the 2020 presidential campaign.

This kind of rhetoric and these ideas just don’t happen in a vacuum and are gaining political momentum.  Our analysis will illustrate how it is based and moored in the two-decade-long change in the country’s distribution of wealth.

The prediction markets now give Elizabeth Warren a 50 percent probability of winning the Democratic nomination compared to only 21 percent for Joe Biden.

Here is a little snippet of Elizabeth Warren’s plan for a wealth tax from her campaign website.

 ..an Ultra-Millionaire Tax on America’s 75,000 richest families to produce trillions that can be used to build an economy that works for everyone — elizabethwarren.com

During the next week, we will present a series of posts analyzing wealth distribution in the United States, which seems to have reached a political tipping point.  The top 1% of American households now have more wealth than the bottom 90% compared to 79 percent of the bottom 90% in Q1 2000.

In this post, we briefly present some data and charts on the growing wealth inequality between the top 1% and the bottom 50% of U.S. households.

Changes In Wealth For Average Household 

Just a few caveats before looking at the following charts.

First, see our post, Be Skeptics Of Macro Data In The Two-Speed Economy, warning about looking at averages when data distributions are so skewed.   This is illustrated in the bible of wealth distribution, the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF),  

Note the significant differences between the average and median data points,  which is the result of the top-heavy distribution of wealth in the U.S. where 70 percent of household wealth is now held by the top 10%,  pulling up and distorting the average.

Second,  our estimate of the number of households, which we have sourced from the Census Bureau and extrapolated for the current year.  There is an ongoing debate about what constitutes a household and a family.   Nevertheless, we are very confident our estimates in the following two charts are very good and close approximations of the data that will be eventually published in the next SCF, which should be out in a year or two.

The Raw Data

The following table illustrates the aggregate wealth data from the Fed’s new Distributional Financial Accounts (DFA).  Note we use the terms “wealth” and “net worth” interchangeably.

Though the DFA time series begins in 1989, we use Q1 2000 as our base year not only because it represents the beginning of the new Millenium but it was also the quarter of peak aggregate nominal wealth for the bottom 50% of households.

Key Takeaway

The most stunning takeaway, at least for us, from the table is that the nominal aggregate wealth of the bottom 50% has declinedunderscore fallen in nominal terms, over the past 19 years.   That is almost a 10 percent decline while, at the same time, the wealth of the top 1% has increased by 166 percent.   The share of the total household wealth of the bottom 50% has dropped from a mere 3.4 percent in 2000 to 1.3 percent in Q1 2019.

The aggregate wealth of the top 1% relative to the bottom 50% has increased from a factor of 8.5 to 24.6 from Q1 2000 to Q1 2019.  Stunning and politically dangerous.

The data are even starker when taking into account that household formation has grown by over 20 percent since the beginning of 2000.

Real Average Wealth/Net Worth Per Household

Go no further to understand America’s rising populism and growing political conflict than the above two charts.  It also illustrates the country’s two-speed economy and the sharp contrast of the economic well being of the top percentile groups and the bottom 50% of U.S. households.

Real-World Example Of Wealth Decimation

It is hard to comprehend the decimation in purchasing power of the wealth of the average household on the other side of middle from 2000 to 2019 but let us help with a simple real-life example.

In 2000, the average wealth per household of the bottom 50%, assuming a family of four, could purchase 163 day passes at Disneyland.  In 2019, however, given the decline in nominal wealth and the increase in Disneyland ticket prices, which have outpaced core CPI by more than 5x, fell to just 36 days.

Official Inflation Data Flawed

Just an aside, the relative increase in Disney tickets illustrates why we are so skeptical of and think the official inflation data calculated by the government underestimates real-world price increases, which are what truly matter with respect to a consumer’s real purchasing power.

Yes, we do understand relative price changes and that Samsung large screen televisions are much less expensive than they were in 2000.

Another Data Caveat 

One should not make the mistake of viewing the above comparisons as a panel study.  That is there is no doubt that some households were in the bottom 50% in 2000 are now in the top 1%, and vice versa.

In addition,  the data are averaged with a range from a deeply negative net worth for the lowest percentiles of the bottom 50% to around $100k of the top percentile of the bottom 50%.   Ditto for the top 1% where a few of the highest percentile households hold over $100 billion in wealth and the lowest of the top 1%, i.e., the 99th percentile of all U.S. households, is just over $10 million.

Keep that in perspective, folks, during your meditation on the data.

Why The Wealth Divergence?

One, or the major factor of the wealth divergence is that the returns earned on assets such as stocks, bonds, and equity in private businesses have greatly exceeded the growth of wages, which have been nothing short been dismal over the past 20 years.  The several rounds of quantitative easing (QE) and the subsequent asset inflation have greatly contributed to the problem, increasing the support for some kind of a People’s QE.

We also illustrated in an earlier post how debt-laden the bottom 50% is relative to other percentile groups.

Upshot

So, there you have it, folks.

It doesn’t take a Ph.D. economist or political scientist to understand what, we believe, is the biggest problem in today’s political economy.  Just contemplate and study the few charts and data points above.

It will certainly be one of the main drivers of the 2020 presidential election and the winner will most likely be the candidate who convinces the majority of the electoral college or voters in the swing states, that he/she can best fix the problem or, more darker, is better at exploiting the rage against it.  Yikes!

Either way, we suspect the 2020 campaign will be very ugly.

The concept of fairness in the distribution of resources is not just political but the literature increasingly shows is more innate.   The perception of fairness also triggers more cooperation and helps an economy and society become more efficient  and run more smoothly.

See our June post, The Innate Angst Of Inequality, or take a few minutes to view the video in the Appendix at the bottom of this post.

Can Markets Handle A Hard-Left Turn?

We are not so sure asset markets can handle and sustain a hard-left political turn.  We are fairly certain, however, the current trajectory of the distribution of household wealth is not politically sustainable.

We are hoping for new policies that focus more on equitable growth, pulling the lower middle and bottom 50% of households up to close the wealth gap rather a radical redistribution of wealth program.  The quickest but ugliest path to close the wealth gap is for both public and private equity markets to take, say, a 50 percent hit, which will end up hurting the most vulnerable.

I recall a conversation with one of my lefty political science professors during the dot.com crash.  I asked if he was happy that the wealth gap between the richest man in the world at the time, Bill Gates, and the poorest person (maybe it was me) was cut in half with the crash of the Nasdaq.  He responded, “no, let’s not do it that way.”  Good for him.

Wealth Tax As An Investment In Social Stability

Nevertheless, some sort of redistribution of wealth from the uber-wealthy is inevitable, in our opinion.  After all, the top of the top 1% have taken down an extraordinarily disproportionate share of the increase in total household wealth since 2000.  They should view some sort of a wealth tax as an investment in the country’s social infrastructure and political stability in order to protect the totality of their asset holdings.

Whatever the scenario, the markets are vulnerable and to extract ourselves from this mess it is going to take some very effective and competent leadership with lots of nuance and finesse. 'Apollo 13'-like leadership and finesse.

…to return the [Apollo 13] astronauts safely, a new return trajectory had to be calculated and that is where his education in physics, as well as his experience at NASA, came into play. Calculating that return trajectory was like threading a needle from 70 feet away, he said. “We had to be accurate.”

“Apollo 13 was a test of real leadership and how we took a potential tragedy and turned it into a success,” he said. “All of us had a conviction to ride Apollo 13 to the end. We never thought we couldn’t do it.’ — Cherokee Phoenix

Stay tuned for more data posts.

Long pitchforks and water cannons, for now.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/30/2019 - 20:25
Published:9/30/2019 7:34:44 PM
[The Blog] NASA scientist: We’re “not ready” to know about extraterrestrial life

Oh, I think we can handle it

The post NASA scientist: We’re “not ready” to know about extraterrestrial life appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/30/2019 4:01:22 PM
[Markets] Martin Armstrong: No Evidence Of Human-Induced Climate Change Martin Armstrong: No Evidence Of Human-Induced Climate Change

Authored by Martin Armstrong via ArmstrongEconomics.com,

Climate has ALWAYS changed from decade to decade. 

There were major swings (volatility) during the 1930s. You had the dust bowl during the summer and in 1936 you had record cold. The 1936 North American cold wave, which also hit Japan and China, still rank among the most intense cold waves in the recorded history of North America. You cannot blame this on soccer moms driving the kids around town burning fossil fuels. Cars were a luxury in the 1930s still.

There is just no evidence of human-induced climate change. There is nobody willing to call them out on this nonsense with just showing the dramatic swings in temperature over the centuries.

Here is a piece that appeared in the Weekend Australian on the covert issues behind the curtain.

It’s a well-kept secret, but 95 per cent of the climate models we are told prove the link between human CO2 emissions and catastrophic global warming have been found, after nearly two decades of temperature stasis, to be in error.

It’s not surprising.

We have been subjected to extravagance from climate catastrophists for close to 50 years.

In January 1970Life magazine, based on “solid scientific evidence”, claimed that by 1985 air pollution would reduce the sunlight reaching the Earth by half. In fact, across that period sunlight fell by between 3 per cent and 5 per cent. In a 1971 speech, Paul Ehrlich said: “If I were a gambler I would take even money that ­England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Fast forward to March 2000 and David Viner, senior research scientist at the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, told The Independent, “Snowfalls are now a thing of the past.” In December 2010, the Mail Online reported, “Coldest December since records began as temperatures plummet to minus 10C bringing travel chaos across Britain”.

We’ve had our own busted predictions. Perhaps the most preposterous was climate alarmist Tim Flannery’s 2005 observation: “If the computer records are right, these drought conditions will become permanent in eastern Australia.” Subsequent rainfall and severe flooding have shown the records or his analysis are wrong. We’ve swallowed dud prediction after dud prediction. What’s more, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which we were instructed was the gold standard on global warming, has been exposed repeatedly for ­mis­rep­resentation and shoddy methods.

Weather bureaus appear to have “homogenised” data to suit narratives. NASA’s claim that 2014 was the warmest year on record was revised, after challenge, to only 38 per cent probability. Extreme weather events, once blamed on global warming, no longer are, as their frequency and intensity decline.

Why then, with such little evidence, does the UN insist the world spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on futile climate change policies? Perhaps Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN’s Framework on Climate Change has the answer?

In Brussels last February she said, “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years since the Industrial Revolution.”

In other words, the real agenda is concentrated political authority. Global warming is the hook.

Figueres is on record saying democracy is a poor political system for fighting global warming. Communist China, she says, is the best model. This is not about facts or logic. It’s about a new world order under the control of the UN. It is opposed to capitalism and freedom and has made environmental catastrophism a household topic to achieve its objective.

Figueres says that, unlike the Industrial Revolution, “This is a centralised transformation that is taking place.” She sees the US partisan divide on global warming as “very detrimental”. Of course. In her authoritarian world there will be no room for debate or ­disagreement.

Make no mistake, climate change is a must-win battlefield for authoritarians and fellow travellers. As Timothy Wirth, president of the UN Foundation, says: “Even if the ­(climate change) theory is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.”

Having gained so much ground, eco-catastrophists won’t let up. After all, they have captured the UN and are extremely well funded. They have a hugely powerful ally in the White House. They have successfully enlisted compliant academics and an obedient and gullible mainstream media (the ABC and Fairfax in Australia) to push the scriptures regardless of evidence.

They will continue to present the climate change movement as an independent, spontaneous consensus of concerned scientists, politicians and citizens who believe human activity is “extremely likely” to be the dominant cause of global warming. (“Extremely likely” is a scientific term?)

And they will keep mobilising public opinion using fear and appeals to morality. UN support will be assured through promised wealth redistribution from the West, even though its anti-growth policy prescriptions will needlessly prolong poverty, hunger, sickness and illiteracy for the world’s poorest.

Figueres said at a climate ­summit in Melbourne recently that she was “truly counting on Australia’s leadership” to ensure most coal stayed in the ground.

Hopefully, like India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tony Abbott isn’t listening. India knows the importance of cheap energy and is set to overtake China as the world’s leading importer of coal. Even Germany is about to commission the most coal-fired power stations in 20 years.

There is a real chance Figueres and those who share her centralised power ambitions will succeed. As the UN’s December climate change conference in Paris approaches, Australia will be pressed to sign even more futile job-destroying climate change treaties.

Resisting will be politically difficult. But resist we should. We are already paying an unnecessary social and economic price for empty gestures. Enough is enough.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/30/2019 - 14:20
Published:9/30/2019 1:32:07 PM
[Mars Mission] Elon Musk Unveils SpaceX’s Newest Mars-Colonizing Spacecraft The rocket used in SpaceX's Mars mission will be twice as powerful as NASA's Saturn V, the largest rocket ever built. Published:9/30/2019 12:33:28 PM
[Markets] Prof Says Border Enforcement Harms Environment Prof Says Border Enforcement Harms Environment

Authored by Celine Ryan via CampusReform.org,

A study from a New Mexico professor claims that activity at the border affects nearby vegetation. The professor who authored the study is warning against increasing border enforcement for fear of damaging the environment in the immediate area

New Mexico Tech professor Haoying Wang set out to analyze the changes in vegetation along the U.S.-Mexico border and determine whether or not such changes could be attributed to climate change or illegal immigration.

By using NASA images and data from the Department of Agriculture, Wang found that “both illegal and legal activities have statistically significant impacts on the border region,” but that border patrol agents and the enforcement of the border have a much larger impact on the environment than actual completed illegal crossings. His findings suggest that if increased by 10 percent, illegal border crossings would cause a 13 percent decrease of vegetation in the immediate area, while a 20 percent increase in Border Patrol agents would damage vegetation by 135 percent.

Wang suggests that this difference hinges on factors such as the fact that Border Patrol uses heavy machinery while illegal immigrants’ actions of creating unauthorized roads are less invasive. He does not address the inherent differing impacts of an increase in staffers remaining on the border for an extended period of time as opposed to an increase in immigrants momentarily passing through. 

“Typically, you have people hiding out in areas along the border for a few days or weeks,” Wang told The Albuquerque Journal.

“They leave campfires … that can be harmful. They are leaving trash. They are also leaving trails where there hadn’t been trails before. Border Patrol agents are also creating trails with their heavy equipment.”

The professor concludes that it “can be challenging to manage both the natural resources and border security effectively” and says that his findings “should be able to shed some light on finding a solution that could integrate the stewardship of the natural environment and a secure border.” Such a solution, Wang says, “can only become effective in the context of binational economic integration.”

Wang is reportedly in collaboration with the National Park Service about solutions. While he admits that a decrease in illegal border crossings would help the situation, he says an increase in border enforcement and security would likely result in more of the same detrimental effects. He has stated that a border wall would also cause harm to the environment. 

In a statement to Campus Reform, Wang called his study "non-partisan." 

"In general, for any policy, while it intends to bring social welfare improvement we have to concern about any unintended consequences it may leave behind as well. For a fixed border barrier, most of the existing studies have shown that it could have a significant impact on wildlife. A lot of species have their habitats spanning across the border and free movement can be important to their reproduction and livelihood," he added.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/25/2019 - 18:30
Published:9/25/2019 5:33:04 PM
[Space] Watch a Roscosmos rocket launch the next crew of the International Space Station live NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Rocscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and first-time UAE spaceflight traveler Hazza Ali Almansoori are all set to launch aboard a Roscosmos rocket in a Soyuz capsule, as part of the Expedition 61 crew launch to the International Space Station. The crew is set to take off from Kazakhstan at 9:57 AM EDT, […] Published:9/25/2019 9:04:25 AM
[Markets] NASA And ESA Announce Plans For "Insurance Policy For Earth" NASA And ESA Announce Plans For "Insurance Policy For Earth"

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and the ESA (Europeans Space Agency) are finally ready to test the Earth’s planetary defenses to see whether we can successfully defend ourselves from the apparent scourge of “space rocks”. Calling it an “insurance policy for Earth,” scientists intend to smash a spacecraft into an asteroid at over 14,000 miles per hour.

According to RT, the target they have chosen to crash a spacecraft into is the asteroid Didymos B.  This space rock is roughly 160 meters in diameter, one half of a binary asteroid system. Didymos B orbits the larger asteroid Didymos A every 11.92 hours and this will help determine the ultimate success (or failure) of the mission. The Didymos system is classified as a Near-Earth Object (NEO), meaning it’s close but not too close that it might hit us, making it the perfect test subject to see how well Earth is prepared to steer an asteroid off a collision course with the Earth.

The joint asteroid impact and deflection assessment (AIDA) project launched by the ESA and NASA in 2015, and Earth’s champion selected for the mission will be NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft. 

“Today, we’re the first humans in history to have the technology to potentially deflect an asteroid from impacting the Earth,” astronomer Ian Carnelli of the ESA told Technology Review.

The key question that remains to be answered is, are the technologies and models that we have good enough to actually work? Before you drive a car, you need to have an insurance policy. Well, AIDA is the insurance policy for planet Earth.

Both space agencies are anticipating some problems with this mission, however.  Things may not go as smoothly as planned. For example, when the Japanese space agency JAXA bombed the asteroid Ryugu in April, it made a far bigger crater than anticipated. Additionally, the material on the surface behaved like sand, which may impact the effectiveness of deflection. There is no way to tell how Didymos B will react when it is struck with a man-made spacecraft.

“If gravity is also dominant at Didymos B, even though it is much smaller, we could end up with a much bigger crater than our models and lab-based experiments to date have shown,” explained planetary scientist Patrick Michel of CNRS. 

“Ultimately, very little is known about the behavior of these small bodies during impacts and this could have big consequences for planetary defense.”

The DART will ram into Didymos B at 23,760 kilometers per hour (14,760mph). However, all that force will only translate into a change in the asteroid’s velocity of just a centimeter per second or so, which could change the orbital period from almost 12 hours to a mere matter of minutes.

The mission is set to launch in July 2021, with the impact expected in September 2022.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/24/2019 - 23:05
Published:9/24/2019 10:26:09 PM
[Politics] NASA Faces Political Roadblock in Getting to Moon NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is lobbying hard for funding for the Artemis program, but faces an uphill battle to sell the lunar initiative to Congress, according to The Washington Post. Published:9/24/2019 8:25:50 PM
[Science] NASA orders up to a dozen Orion spacecraft from Lockheed Martin for Moon missions NASA has placed an order for a minimum of six, and as many as 12 Orion spacecraft from Lockheed Martin. The Orion is a spacecraft that Lockheed Martin designed and built specifically for the purpose of flying crewed missions to space, and the first Orion recently completed construction ahead of testing and preparation for its […] Published:9/24/2019 7:59:55 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Lockheed Martin, Facebook, Pinduoduo Move On News Dow Jones futures: Lockheed Martin neared a buy on a NASA contract. Pinduoduo fell on a debt offering. Facebook will buy brain-computing startup CTRL-labs. Published:9/23/2019 9:52:26 PM
[Artemis program] This Inflatable Space Habitat Could House the Next Astronauts to Walk on the Moon If NASA green-lights the habitat, Bigelow officials say that it could be ready to ship in as little as 42 months. Published:9/21/2019 9:34:13 AM
[Markets] Is California About To Get Hit By A Hurricane For The Very First Time In History? Is California About To Get Hit By A Hurricane For The Very First Time In History?

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

In the entire history of our country, a hurricane has never made landfall in the state of California.  So if such a thing actually happened, it would be considered to be an extremely unusual event.  Well, right now there are three very dangerous tropical storms swirling in the eastern Pacific Ocean.  Tropical Storm Kiko is not expected to be a serious threat to make landfall, but Tropical Storm Lorena and Tropical Storm Mario “are expected to become hurricanes by Friday as they approach the Mexican coast”Tropical Storm Lorena is the more immediate threat, and the latest forecast is projecting that it will reach Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula by Saturday.  If it maintains hurricane strength and continues to ride up the west coast, it is entirely possible that we could see something that we have never seen before.  Most forecasters don’t want to talk too much about it yet, because it truly would be an unprecedented event, but there really is a chance that California could get hit by a hurricane for the very first time in U.S. history.

Let’s back up a bit and take a look at the bigger picture.  According to USA Today, a record-tying six named storms are being tracked by meteorologists right now, and three of those are in the eastern Pacific…

Sure, it’s the middle of hurricane season. But this is ridiculous.

The six named storms whirling at once this week in the Atlantic and Pacific set a record, forecasters reported.

“While Humberto and Kiko were spinning in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific, four new tropical cyclones formed Tuesday: Imelda and Jerry in the Atlantic Basin, and Mario and Lorena in the Eastern Pacific Basin,” the Weather Channel reported.

Tropical Storm Lorena is expected to become a hurricane shortly, and according to the Weather Channel hurricane warnings have already been issued for much of the Baja California Peninsula…

A hurricane warning has been posted on the Baja California Peninsula from La Paz to Santa Fe, Mexico. This means hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph) are expected somewhere within the warning area – in this case, within the next 24 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

The projected track of the storm will take it very close to southern California, but that does not necessarily mean that it will make landfall.  So many things could still happen, and as we have seen in recent weeks, forecasting the behavior of hurricanes is not an exact science.

But if Lorena or Mario does make landfall along the California coastline, it will truly be a historic event.  According to NASA, there has never been a documented case of a hurricane making landfall in the state…

While there has never been a documented case of a hurricane making landfall in California, the Golden State has had its share of run-ins and close calls with tropical cyclones. In fact, California has been affected by at least a few tropical cyclones in every decade since 1900. Over that timeframe, three of those storms brought gale-force winds to California: an unnamed California tropical storm in 1939, Kathleen in 1976 and Nora in 1997. But the primary threat from California tropical cyclones isn’t winds or storm surge. It’s rainfall — sometimes torrential — which has led to flooding, damage and, occasionally, casualties.

So we are talking about something that would be considered to be an extremely strange event.

The primary reason why hurricanes usually never make landfall in California is because the water off of the California coast is usually quite cold.  The following comes from Wikipedia

Tropical cyclones usually require very warm water to depth, generally above 26.5 °C (80 °F) extending to a depth of 50 meters (160 ft).[1] However, the waters off California are cold even in summer. They rarely rise above 24 °C (75 °F) in near-shore southern California,[2] and usually remain below 17 °C (63 °F) along most of the rest of the coast and outer coastal waters, although El Niño events may warm the waters somewhat. This is due primarily to the extensive upwelling of colder sub-surface waters caused by the prevailing northwesterly winds acting through the Ekman Effect. The winds drive surface water to the right of the wind flow, that is offshore, which draws water up from below to replace it. The upwelling further cools the already cool California Current which runs north to south along coastal California and even much of coastal Baja California.

But right now a “strange anomaly” has caused water temperatures in the region to heat up dramatically.  The following comes from an article that I published earlier this month

It is being called “the Pacific marine heatwave of 2019”, and officials are warning that it could have very frightening implications if it does not dissipate soon. Right now, there is a vast expanse of water stretching from northern Alaska all the way to southern California where the water temperatures have rapidly risen to very dangerous levels. In fact, in some spots the water temperature is already “as much as 6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal”, and there is a tremendous amount of concern about what will happen if the water continues to become even warmer. At this point things are already so bad that we are being warned that this strange anomaly could “ravage marine life and decimate commercial fishing” all along the west coast.

This means that conditions along the west coast of the United States are now quite favorable for major storms, and it makes it much less likely that Lorena and Mario will quickly fizzle out once they track farther north.

And if either Lorena or Mario does make landfall in California, many will consider that to be a really, really troubling sign.

Let’s review what we know at this hour.

We know that Tropical Storm Lorena and Tropical Storm Mario are both expected to become hurricanes very shortly, and we know that Lorena and Mario are both tracking north along the Mexican coast toward California.

And we also know that water temperatures along the California coast are much, much higher than normal right now, thus creating exceedingly favorable conditions for storms such as Lorena and Mario.

That doesn’t mean that either of them will make landfall in California, but it does mean that we should be watching these storms very carefully over the next several days.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/20/2019 - 16:25
Tags
Published:9/20/2019 3:28:57 PM
[Markets] Goldman Goes "Lehman Weekend" On Oil: Expects Chaos When Trading Reopens Goldman Goes "Lehman Weekend" On Oil: Expects Chaos When Trading Reopens

Exactly 11 years to the day since traders organized an emergency impromptu CDS unwind session on Sunday afternoon ahead of Lehman's shocking September 15, 2008 bankruptcy filing, major banks are preparing for similar Sunday chaos, only this time in the crude oil market in the aftermath of Saturday's shocking drone attack on the most important oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia (and the world) which may result in a production shortfall of millions of bpd that stretches for days if not weeks, and lead to an explosion in oil prices (for those who are reading this early on Sunday afternoon, gas up your car now before gasoline prices surge on Monday).

First, we present the email that was just sent out by Saxo's Christopher Dembik, indicating that when Brent reopens, it will surge as much as $5-10 in the Asian session:

Very short comment on what is happening in the oil market.

Following the events in Saudi Arabia, well-informed market participants expect that oil prices may increase by $5-10 per barrel in the Asian session.

Higher pressure on CNY, but also negative for TRY and INR due to elevated current account deficits.

Too early to assess the exact macro impact by it is bright clear we don’t need an oil shock…

The bottom line: oil may spike much more if the return to normal production takes longer than expected. Sure enough, that is the main point conveyed in an email that was just blasted out by Goldman sales (not research) to the bank's top clients around the globe, with a message is simple: expect chaos when oil reopens... and sharply higher prices.

A shocking lack of additional information has been released since the initial headlines yesterday afternoon that attacks on Saudi infrastructure would halt nearly half of Saudi output.  With even Donald Trump quiet on the issue there remains more questions than answers.

A thorough summary of events and quick market backdrop from my colleague, Elise Backman, is attached.  The long and short of it being that the Saudi’s Abqaiq facility processes up to 7mbd of crude and Khurais that was also hit produces about 1.5 mbd. It’s not an overstatement to call Abqaiq and its surrounding areas the heart of Aramco’s empire. In our view, the flaring pictures from NASA satellites make it very likely that some production is down; these flares are likely not from the attacks but more from the facilities going into emergency shutdowns.  Aramco is built and setup with a lot of redundancies which is why you rarely hear of major outages – given the importance of Abqaiq we expect these redundancies (extra piping, spare stabilization units, extra tanks, etc.) to be even more prevalent at the facility.

 

 

However, this is a meaningful change for the crude market and highlights the vulnerability of Saudi infrastructure, and ongoing instability of the Middle East.  While the market needs more information in order to make a determination on the direct impact to balances our expectation is for the market to trade definitively stronger with high levels of activity from the discretionary, systematic and corporate community likely creating a raft of opportunities.

Expect chaos to begin at 6pm sharp, when futures reopen:

We will be staffed globally from Market Open this evening (6pm EST/11pm BST) with best efforts on pricing subject to market tradability.

And just to help traders make an informed decision (to submit a market buy order), here is what Goldman's energy analyst, Damien Courvalin and teams, published on the situation moments ago:

Attacks on Saudi oil assets to support prices; magnitude uncertain but likely capped. High level summary from research is below.  We expect estimates to be updated as new information becomes available.

Research Bottom Line:

Two oil facilities in Saudi Arabia were targeted on Saturday by drone attacks, with the extent of the damage highly uncertain yet potentially significant: half of current production was halted while reports indicate that a re-start of most oil output could occur in days or weeks. The potential for a prompt resumption of production hinges on the fact that most damage occurred at a processing plant rather than a field.

This is nonetheless a historically large disruption on critical oil infrastructure and these events represent a sharp escalation in threats to global supply with risks of further attacks. These events are therefore set to support oil prices at their open on Sunday, especially given recent growth concerns and low levels of positioning. The magnitude of such a price rally is difficult to estimate in the absence of official comments on the timeline and scale of production losses. We nonetheless provide a rough first estimate of possible outcomes based on our pricing framework and the experiences of the 2018 Iranian sanctions and the 2011 Libya production losses:

  • A very short outage – a week for example – would likely drive long-dated prices higher to reflect a growing risk premium, although short of what occurred last fall given a debottlenecked Permian shale basin, a weaker growth outlook and prospects of strong non-OPEC production growth in 2020. Such a price impact could likely be of $3-5/bbl.
  • An outage at current levels of two to six weeks would, in addition to this move in long-dated prices, see a steepening of the Brent forward curve (2-mo vs. 3-year forward) of $2 to $9/bbl respectively. All in, the expected price move would be between $5 and $14/bbl, commensurate to the length of the outage (a six month outage of 1 mb/d would be similar to a six week one at current levels).
  • Should the current level of outage be announced to last for more than six weeks, we expect Brent prices to quickly rally above $75/bbl, a level at which we believe an SPR release would likely be implemented, large enough to balance such a deficit for several months and cap prices at such levels.
  • An extreme net outage of a 4 mb/d for more than three months would likely bring prices above $75/bbl to trigger both large shale supply and demand responses.

Finally, here is a recap of events that took place over the past 36 hours from Goldman's sales team:

Following on overnight events / earlier WSJ article, please find additional color from the desk below. Note, we will have desk coverage starting at 6pm EST on Sunday.

Summary of events:

Quick market recap:

  • As of Friday’s close, Nov BRT settled $60.22. 1m ATM BRT vols were around 31.3%. Call skew was around -1.8v in 1m BRT. This is about 10 vols lower than the 6m high and 4.8v lower for skew in the same time-frame.
  • As of last Tuesday, investors had added about 124k contracts WoW across the oil complex (51.6k in BRT alone) – however, the complex is still down 420k contracts YoY and -150k contracts in BRT net length.
  • There is about 13k on $65 Call strike in BRT, 12k OI on $70 strike, and 17k OI on $75 strike (Nov options expire 25Sep).

Key questions from here:

  • Please note there has been significant speculation as to the party/parties responsible for the attacks with no official conclusion or statement yet made.
  • Will Saudi actually be able to return production by Monday / what is the extent of the damage at relevant fields, oil processing facilities (is there any permanent damage)?
  • Will there be future attacks on key elements of Aramco infrastructure?
  • Will Saudis respond / how?
  • Was Iran involved in the attack, if so how (i.e. IRGC acting independently from official government action?)
  • How does this affect Trump Administration’s stance on potentially softening Iranian sanctions - particularly given the domestic political implications of higher oil prices heading into the general election / recent headlines around NSA Bolton leaving the Administration (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/bolton-fired-disagreeing-trump-i…)?

Relevant charts (Sources are GS Securities Internal unless otherwise stated. Past performance not indicative of future results).

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/15/2019 - 14:03
Published:9/15/2019 1:25:42 PM
[Markets] Could Be "Weeks" Before Aramco Restores Full Production Capacity As Specter Of $100 Oil Looms Could Be "Weeks" Before Aramco Restores Full Production Capacity As Specter Of $100 Oil Looms

With the Saudis now racing to restore full oil production to normal levels as one Sunday morning headline noted, the industry is bracing for a potential significant delay in production — given rumors the fires at the facilities struck in the early hours of Saturday may not be fully "under control" as the kingdom was quick to assure hours after the raging explosions — which could translate into oil prices being very high for a long time. Industry sources said it could take weeks to return full production levels to normal.

Following what Yemen's Houthis claimed was their own successful targeting of Saudi Arabia's second largest oil field in the Khurais, as well as the sprawling Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq  described by Aramco as "the largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world" — the Saudi company acknowledged it was forced to slash its output by half, equal to about 5% of world supply, specifically 5.7 million barrels a day of oil production lost. In the meantime, Saudi Arabia’s stock market fell by 2.3% at Sunday’s open.

Satellite imagery showing the scene at Abqaiq crude processing facility in Buqyaq,Sept. 14, 2019. Via Planet Labs/NBC

What will Monday bring? Upon market opening there's widespread prediction oil will rally by $5 to $10 per barrel, and as we were among the first to notecould eventually hit $100 per barrel — the latter alarming scenario dependent on how slow or fast the facilities can be brought back online.

As Bloomberg detailed, citing insiders familiar with Aramco operations:

Aramco would need weeks to restore full production capacity to a normal level, according to people familiar with the matter. The producer however can restore significant volume of oil production within days, they said. Aramco could consider declaring force majeure on some international shipments if the resumption of full capacity at Abqaiq takes weeks, they said.

Aramco's president and CEO Amin Nasser announced Sunday, “Work is underway to restore production and a progress update will be provided in around 48 hours.” 

Though the company says alternative plans are in place to temporarily make up for the shortfall, such as tapping Aramco's global storage network, the 5.7 million barrels a day outage is the single worst supply disruption even over and against that brought on by the first Gulf War and the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

“If it’s protracted it could be a big challenge for the oil markets,” Mele Kyari, CEO of Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. told Bloomberg Television on Sunday of the "significant disruption". 

Meanwhile NASA satellite imaging showed that 24 hours after the attack, smoke over Abqaiq had dissipated, but elsewhere in Ghawar oilfield, the world’s largest, multiple massive plumes were still visible.

Though other installations like Ghawar were not attacked, excess oil and natural gas going to Abqaiq have to be burned off via relief flares due to emergency shutdowns.

Hours into the daylight hours of Saturday even after Saudi authorities and state media claimed the fires were "under control", skeptics analyzing local photos as well as satellite imagery said it wasn't the case that the facilities had blazes under control as fast as they claimed.

Here is a brief line-up of early reactions from market trader and analysts via Reuters:

* * *

Bob McNally, Rapidan Energy

Crude prices would spike by at least $15-20 per barrel in a seven-day disruption scenario and go well into triple digits in a 30-day scenario.

"This does not include what are likely to be large (if difficult to model or predict) premia to reflect zeroing out of global spare production capacity amidst ongoing disruption risks, hoarding, and panic sentiment."

Greg Newman, Onyx Commodities

Expects Brent futures to open $2 per barrel up and close $7 to $10 per barrel higher on Monday. The market could see a return to $100 per barrel if the issue cannot be resolved in the short term.

In the swaps market, Dubai timespreads could see a $1.50-$2 barrel backwardation as end-users scramble to cover shorts for short-term loading.

Refined product prices will be strong, with particular emphasis on high-sulphur fuel oil given current tightness and that it is the refinery product most closely linked to Saudi heavy crude.

Ayham Kamel, Eurasia Group

"A small $2-$3 per barrel premium would emerge if the damage appears to be an issue that can be resolved quickly, and $10 if the damage to Aramco’s facilities is significant."

"The scale of (the) attack will encourage markets to re-examine the need for considering an oil geopolitical risk premium ... The attacks could complicate Aramco’s IPO plans given rising security risks and potential impact on its valuation."

"The U.S. would only release crude from its strategic reserves if damage to infrastructure appears critical or oil prices spike significantly."

Samuel Cizul, Els Analysis

"The outage of 5 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d), roughly half of the current Saudi production level and about 5% of global supply, is very large by historic standards. It would in relatively few weeks start to put a stress on the market."

"This incident is a very uncomfortable wake-up call to radically higher risk premiums on Gulf production."

Christy Malek, JP Morgan

"I'd expect a $3-$5 move in oil prices in the short term. The market has been sleep-walking in risk premium in the region, disproportionately focusing on risk to demand growth and shale oil supply."

"This attack introduces a new, irreversible risk premium into the market."

Expects oil to rise to $80-90 a barrel over the next three-six months as the market turns its focus to geopolitics.

Gary Ross, Black Gold Investors

"The heart of the Saudi oil industry has been successfully attacked so look for prices to rise substantially to $65-$70 per barrel."

"These attacks are difficult to stop and could occur periodically. The market has to price this risk in."

John Driscoll, JTD Energy

"This is significant as it takes out twice the volume of the spare capacity in the market, which is at 2-2.5 MMbbl/d"

"There’s going to be an initial panic reaction. Anyone who’s hedged on the short side will want to get out quickly. This may cause a significant spike upwards."

Tilak Doshi, Muse & Stancil

"In the oil universe, this attack is perhaps equivalent to the 9/11 attacks ... Abqaiq is easily the world's single most important oil production and processing infrastructure site."

"This puts Iran's wars-by-proxy in the region squarely in the centre of the security concerns of the Middle East."
"For Asian governments, perhaps this overtakes the perennial concern about the safety of tanker traffic in the Strait of Hormuz with even more serious concerns about the impact of a direct breakout of hostilities between the Saudi alliance and Iran."

"Governments throughout the Asian region will perhaps now be more supportive of the U.S. administration's tough sanctions regime on Iran."

* * *

Without doubt, the world awaits for the looming potential shock in energy prices as markets open at the start of this week.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/15/2019 - 12:55
Published:9/15/2019 11:57:13 AM
[Markets] Massive Fires Erupt After Drone Strike Hits World's Largest Oil Processing Facility In Saudi Arabia Massive Fires Erupt After Drone Strike Hits World's Largest Oil Processing Facility In Saudi Arabia

What appears to be the most devastating Yemen Houthi rebel attack on Saudi Arabia to date, took place overnight on the world's largest oil processing facility as stunning videos emerged of massive explosions rocking the major Aramco Buqyaq facility.

Fires burned into the morning daylight hours, with explosions also reported at the Khurais oil field, in what the Houthis said was a successful attack involving ten drones. "These attacks are our right, and we warn the Saudis that our targets will keep expanding," a rebel military spokesman said on Houthi-operated Al Masirah TV.

Satellite images shows extent of fires following the attacks in eastern Saudi Arabia: NASA Worldview/AP

Saudi authorities — initially slow or reluctant to identify the cause of the major blaze on Saturday issued a confirmation via the Saudi Press Agency: "At 4.00am (01:00 GMT) the industrial security teams of Aramco started dealing with fires at two of its facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais as a result of... drones," an interior ministry statement said, which further claimed the fires were "under control".

However, the Saudis have stopped short of acknowledging the Houthis were behind the attack, which Riyadh is also likely to blame on Iran, which has lately promised that if it can't export its oil then "no one will". 

It remains unclear according to early statements whether there were injuries or casualties in the twin oil facility attacks.

In some of the video captured by onlookers outside the Buqayq facility, gunfire in or around the complex was apparent. 

The impact on global oil markets - closed for the weekend - could be significant given the Khurais field produces about 1% of all the world's oil (estimated at over 1M bpd and reserves of over 20BN bpd) and more importantly Abqaiq, which based on the stunning local footage bore the brunt of the drone attacks, remains the most crucial of the kingdom's processing plant.

Located 37 miles southwest of Aramco’s Dhahran headquarters, it controls all the flows from fields like the giant Ghawar field to coastal export terminals like Ras Tanura. Saudi Aramco describes the Buqyaq facility as "the largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world."

According to breaking reports the devastating drone attacks could impact up to 5 million bpd of oil production.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/14/2019 - 09:41
Published:9/14/2019 8:48:52 AM
[2019 News] NASA admits that climate change occurs because of changes in Earth’s solar orbit, and NOT because of SUVs and fossil fuels NASA admits that climate change occurs because of changes in Earth’s solar orbit, and NOT because of SUVs and fossil fuels.The biggest factor affecting earth’s climate is the SUN. Yes that big yellow heat factory in the sky the 97% of climatologists blatantly ignore. Based upon this we say OK ladies and gentlemen. It’s time […] Published:9/9/2019 10:48:50 AM
[Markets] India Reeling After Failed Historic Moon Landing Attempt India Reeling After Failed Historic Moon Landing Attempt

India is reeling after a hugely disappointing attempt at a moon landing has failed — the nation's second ever mission to the moon — a decade after its first successful mission to launch a probe into lunar orbit.

Contact with the moon lander Chandrayaan-2 was lost overnight Friday, just before it was to send a module to land at the lunar south pole to observe and measure lunar ice. It's being commonly described as a last minute communications loss resulting in complete loss of control of the space craft. 

The July 22 launch had been broadcast live to an audience of hundreds of millions. Image source: ISRO

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged the mission's failure on Saturday, telling the Indian Space Research Organization he was proud of the program which had come so close to mission success. It would have made India the fourth nation to make a soft landing on the moon, after the United States, former Soviet Union and China.

India has sought to assert itself as a space superpower, even as the now failed Chandrayaan-2 mission was initiated on a shoe-string budget — at an estimated $140 million — which is a fraction of what NASA spends on similar missions.

Image via Space.com

The lunar rover's planned mission had been described as follows

The rover (called Pragyan - wisdom in Sanskrit) had the capacity to travel 500m from the lander in its 14-day life span, and would have sent data and images back to Earth for analysis.

The mission would have focused on the lunar surface, searching for water and minerals and measuring moonquakes, among other things.

Artist’s rendition of the Vikram lander deploying the Pragyan rover, via NewScientist.com

The initial July 22 launch had been broadcast live to an audience of hundreds of millions, and there were reported nationwide lunar landing watch parties being held in the middle of the night Friday as news of the lost communication hit. 

It's the second Indian space disaster in under a year as earlier an Indian test of an anti-satellite system broke up to dangerously create hundreds of pieces of space debris in low-Earth orbit. The failed satellite test and resulting space wreckage received wide international criticism. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/07/2019 - 19:30
Published:9/7/2019 6:39:46 PM
[Asia] Watch India’s Chandrayaan-2 make its historic moon landing attempt right here It’s a big day for India’s highly audacious Chandrayaan-2 mission. The nation will attempt to land its lunar orbit on the moon’s surface later today as it inches closer to become the fourth in the world to complete a successful lunar landing. ISRO, India’s equivalent of NASA, will be live streaming the landing on its […] Published:9/6/2019 2:36:43 PM
[Markets] 5 Surprising Scientific Facts About Earth's Climate

Authored by Vijay Jayaraj Jayaraj via The Foundation for Economic Education,

On the weekend of August 10–11, as if in chorus, major online news websites called on people to stop consuming meat. The calls echoed a recent United Nations report that recommended doing so to fight climate change.

It surprised many, but there are other more surprising facts about climate change that are hardly published in our everyday news media.

Below are some facts - scientifically recognized and published in peer-reviewed journals - that may raise your eyebrows.

All proxy temperature data sets reveal that there have been cyclical changes in climate in the past 10,000 years. There is not a single climate scientist who denies this well-established fact. It doesn’t matter what your position on the causes and magnitude and danger (or not) of current climate change is—you have to be on board on this one. Climate has always changed. And it has changed in both directions, hot and cold. Until at least the 17th century, all these changes occurred when almost all humans were hunters, gatherers, and farmers.

Industrialization did not happen until the 17th century. Therefore, no prior changes in climate were driven by human emissions of carbon dioxide. In the last 2,000 years alone, global temperatures rose at least twice (around the 1st and 10th centuries) to levels very similar to today’s, and neither of those warm periods were caused by humans.

Yes, you read that right. The 10,000-year Holocene paleoclimatology records reveal that both the Arctic and Antarctic are in some of their healthiest states. The only better period for the poles was the 17th century, during the Little Ice Age, when the ice mass levels were higher than today’s. For the larger part of the past 10,000 years, the ice mass levels were lower than today’s. Despite huge losses in recent decades, ice mass levels are at or near their historic highs.

If you paid attention to the previous fact, then the following one is not hard to understand. Polar bears—often used as a symbol of climate doomsday—are one of the key species in the Arctic. Contrary to the hype surrounding their extinction fear, the population numbers have actually increased in the past two decades.

Last year, the Canadian government considered increasing polar bear killing quotas as their increasing numbers posed a threat to the Inuit communities living in the Nunavut area.

The increase in population size flies in the face of those who continue to claim otherwise in the popular news media. And it is not just the polar bears in the Arctic. Other critical species elsewhere, like tigers, are also making a comeback.

While most of the current climatologists who collaborate with the United Nations believe anthropogenic CO2 emissions have exacerbated natural warming in recent decades, there is no empirical proof to support their claim. The only way to test it would be to wait and see if their assumptions come true.

The entire climate fraternity was in for a surprise when global temperature between 2000 and 2016 failed to rise as anticipated by the climate alarmists. The scientists assumed that rising CO2 emissions from human activity would result in a rapid rise in temperature, but they didn’t.

This proved that atmospheric CO2 concentrations are not the primary factor controlling global temperature. Consideration of a much longer period (10,000 or more years) suggests that CO2 had no significant role to play in temperature increases. CO2 never was the temperature control knob.

It would be naïve not to acknowledge this blatant and lopsided reporting in our news media.

These are some of the many climate facts that the media refuses to acknowledge, like the impending solar minimum that NASA has predicted for the next two solar cycles between 2021 and 2041, ushering in a period of global cooling like it did during the solar minimum of 17th century.

There are other facts that run contrary to popular belief, such that there has been no increase in the frequency or intensity of floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, droughts, or other extreme weather events. Even the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported low confidence that global warming—manmade or not—was driving increases in extreme weather events.

The list is endless.

Published:9/5/2019 8:57:14 AM
[Markets] "I Feel Helpless": Bottled Water, Gas Shortages Reported As Floridians Brace For Hurricane Dorian

By now, this has become a familiar scene for millions of Americans, particularly those living in the southeastern states of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, as well as Texas and Louisiana, all of which have been rocked by major hurricanes in recent years. With Hurricane Dorian barreling toward Florida, expected to make landfall as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, with 130 mph winds, this weekend.

According to WSJ, Floridians could begin feeling the impact of the storm as soon as Saturday. The NHC said Thursday that the storm is a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 85 mph, moving northwest over the Atlantic Ocean. Though it's too early to say exactly where it will make landfall, projections suggest it will hit the northwestern Bahamas before moving on to central and southern Florida. 

In Orange County, residents have already begun filling up sandbags at a local park.

The Bahamas and Florida could be under a hurricane watch as soon as Thursday evening. But Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis has already declared a state of emergency that has been expanded to 67 counties, and secured promises of assistance from President Trump.

"The message I think right now is that all Floridians really need to monitor Hurricane Dorian and make necessary preparations," said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference Thursday morning. "This is a track that has a significant amount of uncertainty."

The entire East Coast of Florida is within the potential travel path of the storm, yet no evacuation orders have been issued yet. But the rush to stock up had already brought on fuel shortages in the Cape Canaveral area.

Those who have decided to remain in the area over the weekend are stocking up on essentials: Gasoline, packaged food, bottled water, batteries and other essentials.

The rush for supplies has left store shelves empty across Central Florida, with supplies of bottled water already dwindling, as the powerful, slow-moving storm has the potential to bring hurricane force winds and rain well inland from the coast.

One reporter quipped that "the water frenzy is real" in Tampa, along with a video of customers standing in a lengthy check-out line with carts filled with bottled water.

As has become a tradition at Publix, a grocery store chain prominent across Florida, customers have been buying up 'hurricane cakes'.

Shoppers appeared to be reacting to DeSantis, who urged all Floridians to "have a plan" and start making "the necessary preparations" right now.

Meanwhile, the International Space Station has published images of the storm captured by its cameras.

Speaking to the Orlando Sentinel, Orlando resident Nicholas Boyd said during the last storm, the art teacher had put off stocking up on supplies a little too long,

"Last time, I put it off a little too long, and there was none left," the 35-year-old Boyd said, adding that he wanted to be "a little more proactive" this time around. And he isn't alone: Home Depot said it had already sent some 160 truckloads of various products to stores in Florida so far.

"We have five distribution centers in the Southeast working to get more materials to stores as quickly as they can," a spokesperson said, adding that the chain is "prioritizing those in-demand items like generators, batteries, water and plywood."

Reporting from a Publix in Baldwin Park, the Orlando Sentinel noted that shelves of water were left largely empty, and employee were offering customers bottles of Fiji water instead of the large multi-gallon jugs they were looking for.

"We like to get the 5-gallon jugs because we have a dispenser at home, but they’re out of those," said 37-year-old Orlando resident Shannon Taylor, a professor at the University of Central Florida’s college of business. "So instead I went into the aisle with the bottled water, and they didn’t have any, but right when I was walking out of there, one of the Publix employees came with a cart of a few extra boxes of Fiji."

After several powerful hurricanes hammered Florida in recent years, residents have no illusions about what Dorian's impact could be. "If it makes landfall as  Category 3 or 4 hurricane, that's a big deal," said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. "A lot of people are going to be affected. A lot of insurance claims," he told the AP.

Another resident who spoke with the AP described feeling "helpless" because of the forecast.

"I feel helpless because the whole coast is threatened," said Tiffany Miranda of Miami Springs. "What’s the use of going all the way to Georgia if it can land there?"

"You never know with these hurricanes. It could be good, it could be bad. You just have to be prepared," she said.

As of early Thursday afternoon, Dorian was situated about 220 miles northwest of San Juan, and was traveling at about 13 mph with winds of about 85 mph.

Published:8/29/2019 4:13:38 PM
[Markets] A List Of Things You Shouldn't Nuke

After Axios reported this week that President Trump wanted to explore stopping hurricanes with nuclear bombs (which Trump has vehemently denied), several pundits brought up the fact that using nukes for various non-military applications has been floated for decades

...as Garret Graff explains at Wired, nuclear explosions were considered for a variety of non-combat purposes throughout the Cold War, from melting the polar ice-caps to nuking the moon. The US Atomic Energy Commission launched Project Plowshare in 1958 to pursue peaceful applications of the technology. Some proposed uses of nuclear blasts: harbor, canal, and dam construction; fracking; railroad cuts; sewage disposal; and even generating steam for geothermal power. The Plowshare program produced some three dozen explosive experiments, but none led to feasible applications. -Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The Russians, meanwhile, tried using nukes for mining purposes - detonating hundreds of devices up until the late 1980s, including a 200-300 kiloton explosion set off in a coalmine located in Eastern Ukraine in 1979 which has left the region's water irradiated ever since.  

Some other genuinely bad ideas

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has chimed in on the nuke debate - providing a list of "a few other proposed uses for nuclear bombs that should still generally be considered bad ideas, since nuclear bombs remain a horribly destructive force that threatens human civilization."

***

Atomic cork? The Soviet Union reportedly capped natural gas wells with nuclear detonations a few times, and Barack Obama’s administration supposedly considered that course briefly as a speedy way to plug the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010.

A man, a bomb, a canal The Atomic Energy Commission thought it would be prudent to carve a backup Panama Canal using a long chain of nuclear blasts.

Nuked Alaska. In the early 1960s, Manhattan Project scientist Ed Teller worked eagerly on using a nuclear explosion to create an artificial harbor at Cape Thompson, along Alaska’s northwest coast. Radioactive experiments in anticipation of the (abandoned) plan to detonate a 200 kiloton device were only revealed in the 1990s, and cleanup of the contamination concluded just a few years ago.

Glass desert highway. Project Carryall would have been spectacular. The idea was to carve a new path for the Santa Fe Railway Company and an adjacent public roadway through the Bristol Mountains in California’s Mojave desert—by simultaneously detonating 22 nuclear devices, each with varying yields of up to 200 kilotons, along a two-mile stretch of California’s Mojave desert. If it had proceeded, who knows what interesting flora would line the Interstate Highway System today…

Shoot the Moon. In the late 1950s, the space race was just beginning, and the Soviet Union had a good head start with the launch of Sputnik. In 1958, the US Air Force decided one way to establish supremacy might be to send a nuclear device to the moon and blow it up, so everyone on Earth, especially the Russians, could see it.  Thankfully that plan was scrapped, NASA figured out how to put humans there instead, and in 1967 the Outer Space Treaty banned nuclear weapons in space.

Asteroids. Compared to all of these brilliant ideas, taking out an asteroid with nuclear bombs sounds almost reasonable, and there are active efforts to design a system to do that in case a planetary killer heads our way. But some recent studies have shown that blowing up an asteroid could be largely ineffective, like turning a giant space rock into a gravitationally glued blob of thousands of smaller space rocks. The good news is the likelihood of something hitting Earth anytime soon remains low, so we have plenty of time to figure out another way to protect ourselves—as long as we don’t blow ourselves up first.

Published:8/28/2019 9:08:43 PM
[Markets] Snyder: Experts Brace For Apocalyptic Future As Earth's Forests Burn

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

A world without forests would be an apocalyptic wasteland, and right now we are losing our forests at an astounding rate.  As you read this article, more than 10,000 wildfires are ripping through forested areas of South America and Africa, and global leaders seem powerless to do anything about it.  Most of the media attention has been on the horrific wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, and we are being told that the number of fires in Brazil is up 85 percent compared to last year.  But the number of fires is actually much higher in Africa.  In fact, it is being reported that there are “approximately five times as many wildfires burning in Africa than in the Amazon” at this point.  Our planet is literally being destroyed right in front of our eyes, and a lot of people don’t seem to care.

Let’s talk about what is going on in the Amazon first.  In a previous article, I discussed the fact that there have been more than 72,000 wildfires in Brazil so far this year, and at least 640 million acres have been affected by those fires.  CNN arranged for a plane to fly over some of the most heavily damaged areas, and what those on the plane witnessed was almost too horrifying for words

Flying above the Amazon’s worst afflicted state (during last week), Rondonia, is exhausting mostly because of the endless scale of the devastation. At first, smoke disguised the constant stream of torched fields, and copses; of winding roads that weaved into nothing but ash. Below, the orange specks of a tiny fire might still rage, but much of the land appeared a mausoleum of the forest that once graced it.

“This is not just a forest that is burning,” said Rosana Villar of Greenpeace, who helped CNN arrange its flight over the damaged and burning areas. “This is almost a cemetery. Because all you can see is death.”

The Amazon rainforest has been described as “the lungs of the Earth” because it produces so much of our oxygen, but many people don’t realize that the second largest tropical rainforest in the world is actually in the Congo Basin, and there are even more fires happening there right now.

In fact, according to official data released by NASA, the number of fires in central Africa is more than five times higher than the number of fires currently raging in Brazil…

Data from Nasa’s Fire Information for Resource Management System, showed at least 6,902 fires in Angola and 3,395 burning in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The same data put Brazil’s fires at 2,127.

These fires in central Africa have become so widespread that they have even gotten the attention of French President Emmanuel Macron

If you look at the data from NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management Map (FIRMS), which show a large swatch of fire across Angola, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The alarming area of these fires has left some people wondering why so much attention is being paid to the Amazon, while on the surface it appears Africa is alight with even more blazes. Even French President Emmanuel Macron, who has led the charge for international relief and solutions for the Amazon wildfire and has pledged aid from France, said on Twitter that he would consider starting a similar initiative for sub-Saharan Africa.

Fortunately, the good news is that the fires in the Congo Basin are not as out of control as the fires in the Amazon rainforest, but we are also being told that this could soon change

Organizations like Greenpeace Africa, which focuses primarily on calling attention to issues of deforestation, are monitoring the situation while acknowledging that as of right now, the fires are relatively “small-scale” compared to the flames the in the Amazon or even previous African wildfires.

But that doesn’t mean the flames are under control. “This is something we could experience again tomorrow if preventative measures are not taken today,” Irène Wabiwa Betoko, Greenpeace Africa Senior Forest Campaign Manager, told Newsweek on Tuesday.

Many of the fires in Africa are being set purposely by farmers in order to clear land, but they are still eroding critical ecosystems.  And we cannot afford to continue to treat our planet like this, because we are losing species at an astounding pace.

According to new research that was just released, “some plants have been going extinct up to 350 times faster than the historical average”

Earth is seeing an unprecedented loss of species, which some ecologists are calling a sixth mass extinction. In May, a United Nations report warned that 1 million species are threatened by extinction. More recently, 571 plant species were declared extinct.

But extinctions have occurred for as long as life has existed on Earth. The important question is, has the rate of extinction increased? Our research, published today in Current Biology, found some plants have been going extinct up to 350 times faster than the historical average – with devastating consequences for unique species.

How many species do we have to lose before we finally become concerned?

If you follow my work on a regular basis, then you already know that I am deeply concerned about our “culture of death”.  Our endless wars have killed thousands, millions of children have been killed in our “clinics”, and we are wiping out countless species of plants and animals without even thinking twice about it.

What kind of monsters have we become?  We are so cold and so heartless, and all we seem to care about is ourselves.

Meanwhile, the long-term consequences that so many have warned about are starting to arrive.  In fact, a CNN article about the Amazon wildfires that was just published boldly declared that “the apocalyptic future is here, and it is impatient”…

It is hard to see any claims of future doom as alarmist, when you see skylines rendered invisible by smoke, flames march across the plains like lava, and hear disinterested taxi drivers tell you they have never seen it so bad. The apocalyptic future is here, and it is impatient.

For once, I actually agree with CNN.

Given enough time, nothing would survive.  We are systematically destroying ourselves and everything around us, and for a while it didn’t seem like we needed to fear the long-term consequences.

But now the dark times are upon us, and the stench of our evil ways has become undeniable.

Published:8/28/2019 8:09:51 PM
[Markets] NASA Astronaut Accused Of Committing First Crime Ever From Outer Space

The wife of a NASA astronaut claimed that her identity was stolen and her bank account accessed without permission while her wife was on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station, according to Fox News.

Astronaut Anne McClain has been involved in a bitter divorce with former Air Force intelligence officer Summer Worden since 2018, but the battle recently took an unexpected turn when Worden filed a complaint with the FTC and NASA's OIG accusing her wife of assuming her identity and gaining improper access to her financial records while she was orbiting the earth.

Worden said she found out when her wife had knowledge about her private spending while on a mission - information she would otherwise have no knowledge of.

She then contacted her bank and was informed that her sign in credentials were used by a computer registered to NASA.

“I was pretty appalled that she would go that far. I knew it was not O.K.,” Worden said.

McClain denies the allegations and says that she was acting in routine fashion by checking the family's finances to make sure they had money to pay their bills for their son. Their child has also come up during the divorce.

Worden had a son about a year before she met McClain and after they wed in 2014, she refused McClain's request to adopt the child.

McClaine then took Worden to court in 2018 to get shared parenting rights after accusing the boy's mother of having a temper and making poor financial decisions, but this lead toward Worden filing for divorce after pictures of her son and McClain were posted on Twitter.

A short time later, McClain went on mission with NASA. NASA officials stated that they were unaware of any previous crimes committed on the International Space Station.

Ain't love grand?

Published:8/26/2019 7:55:55 PM
[Markets] The Great Failure Of The Climate Models

Authored by Patrick Michaels and Caleb Stewart Rossiter via The Washington Examiner,

Computer models of the climate are at the heart of calls to ban the cheap, reliable energy that powers our thriving economy and promotes healthier, longer lives. For decades, these models have projected dramatic warming from small, fossil-fueled increases in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, with catastrophic consequences.

Yet, the real-world data aren’t cooperating. They show only slight warming, mostly at night and in winter. According to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there has been no systematic increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, and the ongoing rise in sea level that began with the end of the ice age continues with no great increase in magnitude. The constancy of land-based records is obvious in data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Should we trust these computer models of doom? Let’s find out by comparing the actual temperatures since 1979 with what the 32 families of climate models used in the latest U.N. report on climate science predicted they would be.

Atmospheric scientist John Christy developed a global temperature record of the lower atmosphere using highly accurate satellite soundings. NASA honored him for this achievement, and he was an author for a previous edition of the U.N. report. He told a House Science Committee hearing in March 2017 that the U.N. climate models have failed badly.

Christy compared the average model projections since 1979 to the most reliable observations — those made by satellites and weather balloons over the vast tropics. The result? In the upper levels of the lower atmosphere, the models predicted seven times as much warming as has been observed. Overprediction also occurred at all other levels. Christy recently concluded that, on average, the projected heating by the models is three times what has been observed.

This is a critical error. Getting the tropical climate right is essential to understanding climate worldwide. Most of the atmospheric moisture originates in the tropical ocean, and the difference between surface and upper atmospheric temperature determines how much of the moisture rises into the atmosphere. That’s important. Most of earth’s agriculture is dependent upon the transfer of moisture from the tropics to temperate regions.

Christy is not looking at surface temperatures, as measured by thermometers at weather stations. Instead, he is looking at temperatures measured from calibrated thermistors carried by weather balloons and data from satellites. Why didn’t he simply look down here, where we all live? Because the records of the surface temperatures have been badly compromised.

Globally averaged thermometers show two periods of warming since 1900: a half-degree from natural causes in the first half of the 20th century, before there was an increase in industrial carbon dioxide that was enough to produce it, and another half-degree in the last quarter of the century.

The latest U.N. science compendium asserts that the latter half-degree is at least half manmade. But the thermometer records showed that the warming stopped from 2000 to 2014. Until they didn’t.

In two of the four global surface series, data were adjusted in two ways that wiped out the “pause” that had been observed.

The first adjustment changed how the temperature of the ocean surface is calculated, by replacing satellite data with drifting buoys and temperatures in ships’ water intake. The size of the ship determines how deep the intake tube is, and steel ships warm up tremendously under sunny, hot conditions. The buoy temperatures, which are measured by precise electronic thermistors, were adjusted upwards to match the questionable ship data. Given that the buoy network became more extensive during the pause, that’s guaranteed to put some artificial warming in the data.

The second big adjustment was over the Arctic Ocean, where there aren’t any weather stations. In this revision, temperatures were estimated from nearby land stations. This runs afoul of basic physics.

Even in warm summers, there’s plenty of ice over much of the Arctic Ocean. Now, for example, when the sea ice is nearing its annual minimum, it still extends part way down Greenland’s east coast. As long as the ice-water mix is well-stirred (like a glass of ice water), the surface temperature stays at the freezing point until all the ice melts. So, extending land readings over the Arctic Ocean adds nonexistent warming to the record.

Further, both global and United States data have been frequently adjusted. There is nothing scientifically wrong with adjusting data to correct for changes in the way temperatures are observed and for changes in the thermometers. But each serial adjustment has tended to make the early years colder, which increases the warming trend. That’s wildly improbable.

In addition, thermometers are housed in standardized instrument shelters, which are to be kept a specified shade of white. Shelters in poorer countries are not repainted as often, and darker stations absorb more of the sun’s energy. It’s no surprise that poor tropical countries show the largest warming from this effect.

All this is to say that the weather balloon and satellite temperatures used in Christy’s testimony are the best data we have, and they show that the U.N.’s climate models just aren’t ready for prime time.

Published:8/26/2019 5:27:35 PM
[Left Column] You have been Amazon.CONNED – NASA: Amazon rainforest Is Burning At ‘Below Average’ Rates – Fires mostly farms, not forests – Bolivia’s ‘socialist’ Wildfires Ignored

Amazon rainforest fires at record high levels? ‘This is a blatant lie’ – Fires ‘nowhere close to a record so far in 2019’ -"The NY Times claims 2019 fires are way up, over 2018. That is correct. What they don’t say, is that about 1/2 the years BEFORE 2019 are higher, and about 1/2 are lower. Cherry picking of the first order."

Bolivia’s Wildfires Ignored By The BBC – The Reason? ‘Evo Morales is a socialist, unlike Brazil’s Bolsonaro’ - Of course, Evo Morales is a socialist, unlike Brazil’s Bolsonaro. But I am sure that had nothing to do with the BBC’s lack of interest in this story!

"The Amazon rainforest is not the "lungs of the Earth" - It does NOT produce 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen. The Amazon rain forest is a closed system that uses all its own oxygen and carbon dioxide."
Published:8/26/2019 7:58:11 AM
[Markets] Russian Space Capsule Carrying Humanoid Robots Fails To Dock As Planned At International Space Station

A space capsule that was carrying a Russian humanoid robot failed to dock as planned with the International Space Station, according to AP

Russia's space agency said that the failure involving the planned docking on Saturday was due to faults with "the docking system" and that the Space Station and the 6 person crew were both safe. A new docking attempt will be made on Tuesday. 

We reported on Friday that Russia had launched an unmanned rocket carrying its first life-sized humanoid robot to the International Space Station. The robot, named Fedor (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research), was supposed to spend 10 days learning to help astronauts in space.

Now, it looks as though the project could be in jeopardy. 

As we reported, the humanoid blasted off Thursday "in a Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft at 6:38 am Moscow time (0338 GMT) from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan." He was scheduled to dock at the International Space Station on Saturday and stay until September 7. No word on whether or not that schedule has changed a result of the docking failure. 

The launch was unmanned in order to help test new emergency rescue systems on board. The humanoid was strapped into a specially-made pilot seat with a small Russian flag in its hand before being launched into space. It even said: "Let's go, let's go," during the launch, an homage to the famous phrase used by first man in space Yuri Gagarin.



The human-like robot stands about 5‘11“ tall and weighs about 353 pounds. And of course, what would a scientific technological advancement be without having its own Instagram and Twitter accounts? Fedor's social media accounts update its followers with posts on when it acquires new skills, like opening a bottle of water.

"The first stage of in-flight experiments went according to the flight plan," Fedor Tweeted after reaching orbit. 

If it can dock with the International Space Station successfully, the robot will have a chance to try these skills in a low gravity environment.

Russian space agency's director for prospective programmes and science, Alexander Bloshenko, said: "That's connecting and disconnecting electric cables (and) using standard items, from a screwdriver and a spanner to a fire extinguisher." 

Fedor copies human movements, which is a key skill that allows it to help astronauts remotely while humans are strapped into an exoskeleton. These humanoids could eventually carry out dangerous operations, like spacewalks, instead of putting humans at risk.

The humanoid is also described as being potentially useful for high radiation environments and tricky rescue missions. The robot was initially developed for the emergencies ministry, but it can also be seen seen shooting at targets using two handguns in a video posted by Russian space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin.

If the capsule can dock successfully, the plan is for the humanoid robot to perform tasks supervised by a Russian cosmonaut who docked at the ISS in July. The cosmonaut will "wear an exoskeleton and augmented reality glasses in a series of experiments later this month."



Fedor's legs will be immobilized on the space station because it isn’t yet trained to grab handles and move in microgravity conditions. While showing President Putin photographs of the humanoid robot, space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin told him: "In the future we plan that this machine will also help us conquer deep space."

Russian media also speculated that these types of robots will be used in Russia’s moon program.

Although Fedor is the first Russian humanoid robot to make it to space, he is not the first robot globally to make the journey. In 2011, NASA sent up a humanoid robot developed in conjunction with General Motors that had a similar aim of working in high-risk environments. It experienced technical difficulties and was flown back to the earth in 2018.

Published:8/25/2019 9:52:01 PM
[Uncategorized] NASA investigating first allegation of criminal activity in orbit The alleged crime is related to a bitter divorce between NASA astronaut Anne McClain and her spouse Published:8/25/2019 11:26:13 AM
[US News] Dear climate alarmists: We regret to inform you that NASA declared the fires in the Amazon to be ‘close to the average in comparison to the past 15 years’

If you’ve been reading the MSM over the past few days, you’ve been treated to a barrage of coverage over the fires in the Amazon and how what’s going on is a “massive increase over last year”: The Amazon is often referred to as "the lungs of the planet." It's home to 10% of the […]

The post Dear climate alarmists: We regret to inform you that NASA declared the fires in the Amazon to be ‘close to the average in comparison to the past 15 years’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:8/24/2019 6:51:40 AM
[Markets] More Wildfires Are Burning In Angola & Congo Than Brazil

Thanks to a concerted effort by American social media 'influencers', everybody and their grandmother is now aware of the fact that wildfires - many of which were allegedly started illegally by farmers seeking to clear out more land for farming or pasture - are tearing through the Amazon.

What many don't realize is that the wildfires in the 'lungs of the Earth' - as French President Emmanuel Macron described the Amazon - actually aren't that uncommon. In fact, they're a natural part of the rainforest's process of self-restoration. In total, this year, fires are up by 83% compared with last year.

And while the rest of the world uses the fires as an excuse to slam Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his environmental policies (some have accused him of tacitly condoning the farmers who set the fires), Bloomberg reports that Brazil is actually third in the world in wildfires over the last 48 hours, citing data from the MODIS satellite analyzed by Weather Source.

Weather Source recorded 6,902 fires in Angola over the past 48 hours, 3,395 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 2,127 in Brazil.

Like in the Amazon and in California, wildfires aren't all that uncommon in Central Africa.

As for the total number of active wildfires, they're also nowhere near some of the highs recorded in recent years. According to NASA, more than 67,000 fires were reported in a one-week period in June last year, most of which were started by farmers.

Over the past two days, roughly 16,500 wildfires were recorded in the top 10 countries.

Actually, as far as wildfires go, 2019 isn't out of the ordinary in any meaningful sense.

But we're sure the Instagram influencer set will soon clarify all of this in a series of sponsored posts putting the Amazon wildfires in context...right?

Published:8/23/2019 7:07:57 PM
[Markets] Russia Just Launched Its First Humanoid Robot Into Space

On Thursday, Russia launched an unmanned rocket carrying its first life-sized humanoid robot to the International Space Station, according to AFP. The robot, named Fedor (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research), will spend 10 days learning to help astronauts in space. Its name is short for "Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research".

The humanoid blasted off "in a Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft at 6:38 am Moscow time (0338 GMT) from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan." He is scheduled to dock at the International Space Station on Saturday and stay until September 7.

The launch is unmanned in order to help test new emergency rescue systems on board. The humanoid was strapped into a specially-made pilot seat with a small Russian flag in its hand before being launched into space. It even said: "Let's go, let's go," during the launch, an homage to the famous phrase used by first man in space Yuri Gagarin.



The human-like robot stands about 5‘11“ tall and weighs about 353 pounds. And of course, what would a scientific technological advancement be without having its own Instagram and Twitter accounts? Fedor's social media accounts update its followers with posts on when it acquires new skills, like opening a bottle of water.

"The first stage of in-flight experiments went according to the flight plan," Fedor Tweeted after reaching orbit. 

At the International Space Station, the robot will have a chance to try these skills in a low gravity environment.

Russian space agency's director for prospective programmes and science, Alexander Bloshenko, said: "That's connecting and disconnecting electric cables (and) using standard items, from a screwdriver and a spanner to a fire extinguisher." 

Fedor copies human movements, which is a key skill that allows it to help astronauts remotely while humans are strapped into an exoskeleton. These humanoids could eventually carry out dangerous operations, like spacewalks, instead of putting humans at risk.

The humanoid is also described as being potentially useful for high radiation environments and tricky rescue missions. The robot was initially developed for the emergencies ministry, but it can also be seen seen shooting at targets using two handguns in a video posted by Russian space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin.

At the ISS, the robot will perform tasks supervised by a Russian cosmonaut who docked at the ISS in July. The cosmonaut will "wear an exoskeleton and augmented reality glasses in a series of experiments later this month."



Fedor's legs will be immobilized on the space station because it isn’t yet trained to grab handles and move in microgravity conditions. While showing President Putin photographs of the humanoid robot, space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin told him: "In the future we plan that this machine will also help us conquer deep space."

Russian media also speculated that these types of robots will be used in Russia’s moon program.

Although Fedor is the first Russian humanoid robot to make it to space, he is not the first robot globally to make the journey. In 2011, NASA sent up a humanoid robot developed in conjunction with General Motors that had a similar aim of working in high-risk environments. It experienced technical difficulties and was flown back to the earth in 2018.

Published:8/23/2019 1:40:21 PM
[World] Scientists fly over Greenland to track melting ice NASA scientists are in Greenland on a mission to track melting ice. Global warming is the chief culprit, but scientists want to know how this is happening. They're aboard a research plane this week dropping probes into the ice to learn more. (Aug. 15)
      
Published:8/22/2019 7:29:12 AM
[3D printing] These 5 Space Companies May Return Humans to the Moon Before NASA Potential NASA challengers range from tech billionaires to traditional industrial titans. Published:8/22/2019 7:29:12 AM
[Science] Second docking adapter for commercial crew vehicles installed on International Space Station The International Space Station is now more than ready for crew-carrying spacecraft flown by commercial companies to pay it a visit: The second planned International Dock Adapter (IDA) was installed on the Space Station during a spacewalk by NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan earlier today. The dock adapter, actually IDA-3 since the first […] Published:8/21/2019 2:25:04 PM
[Science] Watch live as NASA astronauts spacewalk to install a new automated docking ring on the ISS NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan are setting out today to perform the installation of a new International Docking Adapter (IDA) on the International Space Station that will provide another way for futuer crew craft flown by commercial providers to bring astronauts to the orbital research platform. This is the second IDA to be […] Published:8/21/2019 6:52:41 AM
[Artemis program] NASA Skeptics Plan $2 Billion Prize for Whoever Can Land Humans on Moon Supporters of the plan argue it will be a lot cheaper than NASA's own lunar project. Published:8/20/2019 11:57:41 AM
[Markets] Comet's Fiery Death Caught On Video As It Plunges Into Sun; Conspiracy Theorist Warn Of Planet Nibiru

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • DM economies are likely to have an advantage over EM

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

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

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

Riding the horse is easy, affording the stable is hard

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

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

Domestic markets are more forgiving when DM currencies depreciate

DM investors tolerate easing better than EM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Borrowing abroad makes currency depreciation risky

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it worth winning a currency war?

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

US may have a small currency-war advantage within G10

The US has lots of room to ease compared to others

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

A risk-off currency war weakens small G10 and EM

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

Negative-rate currencies may depreciate faster on easing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

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

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

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

Some necessary background

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

– Franklin Delano Roosevelt, first Inaugural Address 1933

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

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

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

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

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

The Big Bang

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

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

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

The Derivative Time Bomb is Set

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

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

NAFTA, the Euro and the End of History

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

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

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

The 2000-2008 Frenzy

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authored by Matthew Ehret via Oriental Review,

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

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

What is it?

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

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

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

Where did it come from?

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

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

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

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

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

The Club of Rome and 1001 Nature Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Malthusianism in Brief

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

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

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

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

The Chaining of Prometheus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Defense of Prometheus

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

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

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

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

There Are No Limits To Growth

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

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

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

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

Entropic or Anti-Entropic

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

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

The BRI and the REAL New Deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who will spend the most?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Warren would spend much more.

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

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

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

But wait! Bernie Sanders would spend even more.

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

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

Let’s look at health care spending.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Harris “wins” the free stuff contest.

Taxpayers lose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did we not see this coming?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to do? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sure, until one lands on your house.

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

Authored by Andrew Bacevich via TomDispatch.com,

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

Chapter 1: The Launch

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

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

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

President Trump in 2019. (White House/Flickr)

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

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

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

Craft beer was in vogue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only when...

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

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

Authored by Marshall Auerback via TruthDig.com,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authored by Igor Ogorodnev,

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

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

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

Heroes retconned

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

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

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

Celebrating white men in the age of Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why wasn’t von Braun a black woman?

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

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

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

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

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

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

America weighs itself down

And handicap becomes the key word.

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

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

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

Neil Armstrong leads his crew to the launchpad. ©  NASA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Japanese expert: data of “no scientific value”

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

“Not real data”

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

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

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

#

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

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

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

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

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

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

But First: What is Temperature Anyway?

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

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

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

Highs and Lows on Planet Earth

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

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

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

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

The Amazing Tardigrade

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

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

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

Testing the Limits

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

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

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

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

Highs and Lows of the Universe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clouds over Los Angeles, via AFP/Getty

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: NASA

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

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

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

Which leads the scientists to state further:

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

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

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

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

Image source: AFP/Getty 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authored by Dan Folk via NBCNews.com,

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

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

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

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

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

Simulating worlds and beings

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

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

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

Echoes of Genesis

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

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

(click image for link to poll and updated distribution)

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

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

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

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

The search for evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Botrum insists that he takes the simulation hypothesis seriously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vandebergh said the newly captured images exceeded his wildest expectations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Red Dot in the Sky

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

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

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

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

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

Martian Geology

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

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

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

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

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

Mars Colony: Location, Location, Location

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

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

Closing the Distance

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

Who knows what more exploration will reveal.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MDRS recently received donations from SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

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

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

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

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

Published:6/27/2019 9:34:12 PM
[Gadgets] NASA’s Dragonfly will fly across the surface of Titan, Saturn’s ocean moon NASA has just announced its next big interplanetary mission: Dragonfly, which will deliver a Mars Rover-sized flying vehicle to the surface of Titan, a moon of Saturn with tantalizing life-supporting qualities. The craft will fly from place to place, sampling the delicious organic surface materials and sending high-resolution pictures back to Earth. Published:6/27/2019 5:03:48 PM
[Science] NASA’s Curiosity rover finds levels of gas on Mars that could suggest possibility of life NASA’s Curiosity Rover has detected high levels of methane output during its mission on the Martian surface, the New York Times reports. The discovery, found during a measurement taking on Wednesday by the robot and observed by NASA researchers, could indicate that microbial lifeforms may have taken up residence underground on Mars. Methane is often […] Published:6/22/2019 11:58:56 AM
[Markets] Scary Fast: The Global Hypersonic Arms Race That Will Change Warfare Forever

Authored by Jeffrey Smith via PublicIntegrity.org,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LITTLE TIME FOR DECISION-MAKING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACCELERATING KEY TESTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NO DEFENSE IS AVAILABLE NOW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A WORLD FILLED WITH HYPERSONICS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published:6/20/2019 8:50:26 PM
[Robotics] One of NASA’s robotic astronaut helpers just flew on its own in space for the first time NASA’s very own free-floating Companion Cube equivalent took its own first tentative ‘steps’ in space today, demonstrating its ability to rotate on its own in zero gravity inside the International Space Station. The robot, called ‘Bumble’ and one of a series of Astrobee robots that NASA developed to work along with astronauts on the ISS, is […] Published:6/20/2019 3:20:54 PM
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