Sunday, July 30, 2006

---Elections in the Congo, News From Lebanon, Qana, Iraq, NASA Comeback, Orion Planning Flawed, News from Titan, and Other Stories 

...also see HeartBreakLog: "The Plan"

Elections in the Congo
My Way News[AP] - War-Battered Congo Conducts Historic Vote
Pray for the Congo
---which is conducting its first multi-party elections in about forty years. Just as the nation’s four-year civil war turned central Africa into a raging cauldron, the success of the election could ensure peace, reform, and prosperity---or not, as it remains to be seen if the well-established traditions of violence can be set aside by those who don’t win.

Kofi Annan is really steamed this time, Israel!

My Way News[AP] - 2 Dead, 2 Missing After U.N. Post Hit
My Way News[AP] - U.N. Observers Leave Israel-Lebanon Border
UNIFIL’s peaceful observers have withdrawn from the border area after four were killed by Israeli air strikes. Annan immediately pronounced the U.N. casualties “deliberate”, based apparently on his personal feelings, since no investigation of the incident has been completed. The damage to the observation post probably actually resulted from its proximity to terrorist missile launch sites, which they were presumably out “observing”.
It isn’t at all clear why the “observers” were there in the first place. The presence of UNIFIL in Lebanon for decades has had absolutely no effect on the secret construction of massive underground bunker complexes by the Iranian-Syrian irregular army of occupation, or its accumulation of thousands of artillery missiles and---obviously, now---quantities of much more advanced Iranian, North Korean, and Chinese weaponry (including advanced, radar-evading cruise missiles).

Iranian irregulars caught off guard
My Way News[AP] - Hezbollah: Israeli Onslaught a Surprise
Instead of "the usual, limited response"from Israel, maybe the cession of a few more miles of territory and some terrorists freed, they got “this big war”. They also evidently didn’t expect the overwhelmingly negative reaction of the entire outside world, including Arab nations, to their kidnapping of foreign nationals from their own country. Nobody’s leaning on Israel, this time, because it’s far too obvious even to the usual suspects in the Middle East that the terrorists went much too far---this time.

...and the HeartBreakLogNews “O Brave New World” award for the week goes to....
My Way News[AP] - Hezbollah Rocket Hits Deeper Into Israel
It’s the radical Islamic “space race”...how far can the next new missile smuggled in from Iran/North Korea/China fly into Israel and how many civilians can it kill with intentionally shrapnel-laced warheads weighing how much more than the last one? Even the Western news media are falling into the pattern of sensationalizing the contest as if it is some kind of amazing technical accomplishment to fire off unguided artillery rockets for 30-40 miles into another country in an age of orbital spacecraft.

56 dead in Qana, Lebanon
FOXNews.com[AP] - Israeli Attack on Lebanese Village Kills at Least 56, Sparks Outrage
Israeli airstrikes have killed a large group of civilians in a shelter, prompting the Lebanese government to demand Israel’s unconditional surrender, and the diplomatic mission of the U.S. Secretary of State Rice to be cancelled. Was the strike the fault of the Israelis for targeting the area, or of the terrorists for sheltering their rocket launchers with large groups of civilians? TBD. Do I personally believe that these terrorists are capable of deliberately drawing fire to large groups of civilians to generate “outrage”? ...without hesitation. The disproportionate warfare by public opinion directed against Israel, especially in the Arab world, continues with no end in sight.
[further developments:
FoxNews.com has posted an IDF infrared video of multiple rocket launches from areas beside a large building which is believed to be the building in Qana which was hit by airstrikes (pending verification at the time of this update), killing many civilians sheltering there. Other blogs cite another video clip, which I can't find yet, purportedly showing a truck delivering rockets to the building before the Israeli airstrike.
Yes, the deaths of so many in one place---including dozens of children--- is a despicable, heart-rending outrage. The question now is, where should the outrage be directed?
As protesters in Beirut inexplicably attacked a U.N. building, Lebanese prime minister Saniora---even less explicably---supported the right of the Hezbollah terrorists to retaliate for the airstrikes, and again praised their leader, Nasrallah. He had earlier said that the Lebanese army would fight alongside the terrorists if Israel invaded the country.
No, GWB, democracy doesn't actually work, at least not by itself.]

Must be massively frustrating...
My Way News[AP] - Over 60 Killed, Scores Wounded in Iraq
...to the insurgency in Iraq; with all of the media attention drawn to the conflict on the Israeli-Lebanon border, even the horrific, intentional murder of dozens of unarmed Iraqi men, women, and children in a market and a municipal building only merits a brief mention by the AP. How many people do they have to kill to get some attention these days?

Some other recent opinions
Michael Yon : Online Magazine » Blog Archive » Jihad
New Wars

Another astounding acrobatic feat by a Chinese activist
My Way News[AP] - China Says Activist Broke His Own Neck
A Chinese activist---who was protesting the government's meager compensation of people evicted for the construction of the Three Gorges Dam---is now paralyzed, barely able to function in a wheelchair. The government investigation has determined that his injuries---which resulted from a powerful blow to the back of his neck which shattered three vertebrae--- were self-inflicted.

NASA comeback
FL Today Space:"Back in business" FL Today Space:"Safe return marks 'full circle'" FL Today Space:"NASA works to lift night launch ban" SPACE.com -- NASA: Fewer Heat Shield Dings on Shuttle Discovery
The space agency has concluded that the 1/3 reduction of damage to the thermal protection tiles during Discovery’s recent mission is sufficiently encouraging to warrant a return to a full launch schedule. The improvement---not elimination by any means---of ascent foam damage to the Orbiter is so encouraging that managers now advocate relaxation of daylight launch rules, intended to allow careful observation of any foam shedding on ascent of the kind that doomed Columbia three years ago. This is judged necessary for the rigorous completion schedule of the International Space Station.

Which brings us to this topic....
SPACE.com -- NASA Considers U.S. Science Suspension Aboard ISS
In an irony that Rube Goldberg and the Marx brothers would surely have appreciated, NASA is now considering complete suspension of U.S research programs on the Station, in order to save money for its construction.

Orion planning flawed
SPACE.com -- Project Orion to Follow Apollo to the Moon SPACE.com -- NASA Vision Plans Doomed, Space Advocacy Group Reports FL Today Space: "Report critical of moon plans"
Looks like NASA has spent more intellectual effort in finding a non-copyrighted name for its next generation of manned spacecraft than in working out an effective strategy for making it work as part of an achievable, worthwhile plan for manned space exploration. The spacecraft, which is an upgraded and up-scaled update of the Apollo moon craft for a four-man crew, is already falling into the traditional cycle of mismanagement, incoherent vision of achievable goals, and cost overruns. Such are the conclusions of a paper from the Space Frontier Foundation, entitled “Unaffordable and Unsustainable—NASA’s failing Earth-to-orbit Transportation Strategy”, and of a report from the U.S. GAO.
No need to worry, though. NASA certainly isn’t, as it plans to select the prime contractor for the project according to its own schedule:
SPACE.com -- NASA Determined To Move Ahead with CEV Acquisition Plan

News from Titan
NASA - Titan's Geological Goldmine - Radar Movie JPL.NASA.GOV: News Releases
JPL has put together a movie presentation of Cassini’s SAR mappings of the enigmatic “Xanadu” region of Saturn’s moon Titan. The geography of the unusually bright region has been billed as surprisingly Earth-like.
Spaceflight Now | Cassini | Cassini's radar mapper finds possible lakes on Titan
Spaceflight Now | Cassini | Methane drizzles on Titan
Recent radar scans of the higher latitudes of Titan have revealed more evidence of large lakes of liquid hydrocarbons. Further analysis of data from the ESA Huygens probe’s “splat-down” on Titan suggests that the moon experiences a continuous drizzle of methane droplets.
...haven’t seen that at any West Texas Dairy Queens, so I guess I’ll vote for these results as “interesting”.

My Way News - Wreck Likely That of Nazi Aircraft Carrier
People can probably be forgiven for not knowing that the Nazis had an aircraft carrier in WWII, since it was obviously a waste of time, effort, and resources for them. Of course, I’m all for catastrophic wastes of time, effort, and resources by monstrously evil fascist dictatorships past, present, and future. Anyway, Poland has found the carrier at the bottom of the Baltic. Whee. Really.

Some more random informationalism
Army Technology - Merkava 4 Main Battle Tank
Israel’s indigenous main battle tanks have some interesting features, including modular bolt-on armor that can be quickly upgraded with new technologies. Several current Western tanks can supposedly target and fire on helicopters with common antitank munitions. The current Merkavas’ extreme sloping turret armor makes them looks like alien spacecraft on tracks.

But to put all this in perspective....
Ephesians 6
11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.(NIV)

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

---Indonesia Hit Again, WWIII?, Airbus Failures, the Downloadable Camera 

Indonesia hit again
My Way News[AP] - Death Toll in Indonesian Tsunami Hits 341
Actually, I think the latest reports put it at over 500, rising so fast that it’s almost impossible to post before the number changes. It has been all but relegated to secondary news status by events in the Middle East.
Another earthquake off Indonesia caused a wave that struck Java, one of the places which wasn’t affected by the catastrophic tsunamis last year, and where the warning system hadn’t been implemented yet.

My Way News - Israel May Send Ground Troops Into Lebanon
The usual suspects at FoxNews began comparing the current world crises to conditions which produced the last two world wars, and predicted WWIII is imminent. Now Iran’s thinly disguised terrorist irregular army is “welcoming” it. The prospect of a "World War" isn’t that far-fetched, of course---the whole world is again violently polarized along political, ethnic, and, of course, religious fault lines that threaten to rupture at any time.
Although news coverage of the Israeli operations in Lebanon might suggest that they are “acting out” on some intense frustrations over the continuing terrorist attacks from their northern border and maybe don’t really have much idea of what to do next, there are other opinions:
OPFOR: Prepping the Battlespace ->
This analysis suggests that the Israeli operations to date are meant to fully isolate Hezbollah from resupply and reinforcement, in preparation for its destruction.
As always, innocent and fairly innocent people are going to get hurt. The evidence is that the evacuation of tens of thousands of foreign nationals is not going that smoothly. Americans are chafing as they watch other nations picking up their citizens as the U.S. citizens wait for the cruise ships chartered by the government to arrive---there were some rumors that the U.S. military was planning to charge a fee for evacuation. The Chinese in Lebanon, of course, have mostly made their way to Syria.

Airbus has other problems...
The Observer | International | What made an Airbus rudder snap in mid-air?
...than the late delivery of the mega-jumbo A380’s. There have been at least three incidents of structural failure in the carbon-composite fin-rudder assemblies of the extremely popular A300/310 airliners. One was the 2001 crash of American Airlines flight 587soon after the 9/11 attacks, with the loss of all on board, which was ultimately blamed on excessive use of the rudder by the co-pilot. The incident above, Air Transat flight 961 last year, involved the sudden, unexplained departure of the rudder at cruising altitude and speed, when the rudder of these aircraft is not expected to be under any significant load. The plane landed safely in Cuba, but could easily have lost the fin as well, which would have been unsurvivable.
Then there
was the report by a FedEx crew in 2002 of uncommanded excursions of the rudder of an A300. FedEx investigations showed that the hydraulic actuator for the rudder “tore a large hole around its hinges, in exactly the spot where the rudders of both flight 961 and flight 587 parted company from the rest of the aircraft.
Airbus has been blamed for prescribing lax, visual-only inspection techniques for the composite parts. Meanwhile, several pilots have demanded transfer to Boeing aircraft, and some have even changed their travel plans to avoid Airbus aircraft.

It had to happen eventually
Downloadable Paper Camera-Linatree Dirkon [found on BlogsNow]
I always knew that someday, someone would come up with a downloadable paper camera. This clever device is styled to look like an SLR, and uses 35mm film and a pin-hole instead of a conventional lens.

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

---Iran aids Hezbollah terrorists in attack on Israeli warship 

FOXNews.com[AP] - Israel Intelligence: Iranian Troops Helped Hezbollah Attack Warship
The Israeli missile boat Hanit (“Spear”) was hit by one of two Iranian-built Chinese “Silkworm” anti-ship missiles, according to the Israeli investigation of the attack. Israel also claims that the missile was fired by Iranian troops participating directly in the conflict against Israel.
“Iran denied that it had any troops in Lebanon.”
“Iran's embassy in Beirut issued a statement late Saturday that called the Israeli allegations "meaningless."”

From which we can conclude that there are Iranian regular troops in Lebanon fighting alongside the terrorist irregulars, and the Israeli allegations are most likely accurate.
It appears that the Israeli naval forces disastrously underestimated the threat:
“An Israeli military official said the Spear's missile detection and deflection system was not on during the attack, apparently because the sailors did not anticipate such an attack. “
The “Spear” is a Sa'ar 5-class missile/patrol boat. It apparently made it back to Ashdod for repairs with one crewman dead and three missing, with its stern helipad wrecked.
INS Hanit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sa'ar 5-class missile boat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
[Wiki as news sources? Oh, well, it’s just a blog....]
The missiles fired were a C-802 export version of the Chinese anti-ship cruise missile:
C-802 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
GlobalSecurity.org: C-802
There are more sinister implications, though. The Chinese exports to Iran were apparently stripped-down versions, but the planned exports were cut off because of U.S. complaints. According to the document at Global Security.org, the Iranians and North Koreans got together in 2000 and developed an upgraded version of the Iranian missiles using advanced North Korean missile technology. That evidently is what hit the Hanit.
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Friday, July 14, 2006

---Israeli Warship Hit, STS-121 Prepares for Landing 

My Way News[AP] - Hezbollah Drone Batters Israeli Warship
There are a number of confusing accounts of an attack on one of the Israeli warships near Beirut. The first stories of the incident describe an attack by “an unmanned aircraft rigged with explosives”, a “new weapon” in the Hezbollah arsenal. The attack coincided with a broadcast message from Hezbollah leader Nasrallah, who gloated about the attack after escaping injury as his residence and the terrorist group’s headquarters were destroyed by the Israelis.
That a modern warship, benefiting from 40 years of experience since anti-ship missile development revolutionized naval warfare, could be successfully attacked by some kind of makeshift lightplane or low-tech drone seems extremely unlikely.
The warship---described as a missile ship with “several dozen” crew--- was on fire and had lost steering according to early reports, and four crew members were missing. The ship has now been towed back to Haifa, where it should be possible to determine the exact nature of the attack.
Meanwhile [FOXNews.com[AP] - Ahmadinejad Says Israel Does Not Have Power to Harm Iran - The Mideast] Iranian leader Abadabadoobajab appeared to be encouraging Israel to harm him and/or his nation. I would be satisfied with a communications blackout of his incessant blithering.

STS-121 prepares for return
Spaceflight Now | STS-121 Shuttle Report | Shuttle boss optimistic about Discovery hydraulics issue
The Discovery crew is making preparations to leave ISS and return to Kennedy Space Center. NASA is evaluating the apparent leak in the fuel system for APU #1 and its impact on the landing. Oddly enough, only APU1 can operate the landing gear hydraulically. If it has to be shut down, the gear will have to be deployed for landing with pyrotechnic charges. This evidently isn’t that unusual, though.
SPACE.com -- NASA Confident Potential Leak Won’t Hinder Shuttle Landing
There have been some major leaks in the history of the Shuttle program, including one on STS-9 that set two APU’s on fire. I can recall seeing a poster presentation on a wall of Bldg. 13 at JSC with photos of APU turbines which exploded in flight, which resulted in a redesign effort---the details escape me at this point. That’s why there are three APU’s onboard.
Unfortunately, it appears that the rest of the hydraulic system---designed by airline practice in the ‘70’s (and see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Airlines_Flight_232) ---is not truly redundant. It appears to me that there are several possible single point failures---such as an event which severs the brake lines on a main gear strut---which would result in loss of all hydraulic pressure, and the vehicle and crew. I’m open to discussion on the subject. It’s too bad that I’ve become severely allergic to sci.space.* newsgroups.

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---Israel hits Beirut 

Israeli attacks in Lebanon continue
FOXNews.com - Israel Strikes Beirut; Hezbollah Barrages N. Israel With Rockets - The Mideast
My Way News[AP] - Israeli Warplanes Strike in Beirut Again
The Israeli offensive into Lebanon intensified, as forces blockaded the country from land, sea, and air. Israel has hit major airports and interdicted highways, includng the road from Beirut to Damascus. The Lebanese government has protested that it it powerless to control Hezbollah guerillas operating within its borders. This appears to be a fairly reasonable assessment. The Syrians left under intense international pressure, but simply left an irregular army behind (with Iran's financial backing) to continue the de facto occupation of the country. [Hezbollah - Wikipedia]
It isn’t clear what the destabilization of the anti-Syrian representative government will accomplish, or if it can be avoided in any case. The U.S. Administration has advocated restraint to ensure the survival of "this young democracy that is trying to get a foothold there"[CNN.com - Bush: Syria should press Hezbollah]. On the other hand, the civil arm of Hezbollah holds legislative and ministerial positions in the Lebanese government, and clearly enjoys a degree of public support in the country.

Yesterday’s AP photos from the attack on Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut [0713dvs_israel_lebanon.jpg actually a thumbnail from the AP video clip] showed the amazing efficiency of modern air attack. It appeared that two bombs were placed precisely at the intersections of a runway with its taxiways, presumably rendering it useless without extensive repairs, while otherwise intact. At one point, the U.S. evidently brokered a brief cease-fire to allow some evacuations from the airport, during which a runway was repaired. After the cease-fire, the Israelis bombed the runway again.
[edited 6-16]
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Thursday, July 13, 2006

---A Very Bad Week, STS-121, ESA Venus Probe, Plame, A Bride Too Far, Variable Constants? 

A very bad week....
My Way News[AP] - Hezbollah Captures 2 Israeli Soldiers
The Syrian-Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists were evidently feeling left out of the kidnapping “moral high-road” position enjoyed by the Palestinian Syrian-Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists/government. Now the terrorists have launched missile attacks into the Israeli port city of Haifa, and Israel has twice attacked the Beirut airport. The violence threatens to escalate out of control, and destabilize the government of Lebanon in the process. The U.N., which can’t be bothered to censure Iran or North Korea for their undisguised nuclear intimidation of their neighbors, threatened to condemn Israel for its actions in Gaza, prevented only by a U.S. veto. Oil prices are at a new record high as the conflict escalates, and the U.S. stock market fell sharply.
My Way News[AP] - Iraq Gunmen Seize 24 People, Killing 20
More sectarian violence in Iraq, which may soon progress from wholesale slaughter of religious opponents toward outright civil war.
My Way News[AP] - U.S. Envoy: North Korea Not Cooperating
North Korea doesn’t seem to see any reason to do the whole “sanity” thing if no one else is.
FOXNews.com[AP] - No Charges Expected After 5 Kids Drowned in River at Church Picnic
An horrific accident in St. Louis, as five children drown in strong undertow currents trying to save one, who was rescued. It appears that four of the children were from one family.
The Church and ministries of evangelist Joyce Meyer conducted the Sunday outing. The grieving families, the evangelist, her associates and members of the Church should be remembered in prayer.

An especially bad week for civil transportation
FOXNews.com[AP] - India Stops Short of Accusing Pakistan of Train Attacks as Death Toll Hits 200
Eight crowded commuter trains in Bombay/Mumbai were attacked with bombs, killing almost 200 and injuring about 700. Kashmir separatist terrorists or Alquaeda terrorists, the result was pretty much the same. Pakistan condemned the bombings, but the terrorists are likely finding havens in the country.
FOXNews.com[AP] - Boston's Big Dig Tunnel Still Closed After Woman's Death
The roof of a Boston traffic tunnel fell on a car and killed the female passenger.
My Way News[AP] - Ill. Train Derailment Prompts Evacuation
Major commuter train left the tracks in Chicago and caught fire, resulting in 152 injuries, many from smoke inhalation.

Spaceflight Now | STS-121 Shuttle Report | Astronaut: 'We're back, baby'
Discovery is safely on-orbit with no serious damage to its thermal protection systems, and NASA is beginning to conclude that the loss of Columbia is behind it.
FOXNews.com[AP] - NASA Mulls Duct-Tape Fix for Space Shuttle Problems
One of the EVA emergency propulsion packs started to come loose during the first of three EVA’s. NASA and astronauts contemplated whether to re-secure the pack---which is supposed to allow an astronaut to propel himself back to safety if he accidentally floats away from the spacecraft---with duct tape.
SPACE.com -- Shuttle Crew Takes Day Off While NASA Eyes Glitches
The crews rested today, and had a large communal meal of Russian delicacies. NASA is looking into problems with two of the three APU’s, which power the Shutttle’s hydraulic systems for operation of aerodynamic control surfaces in the atmosphere. One unit seems to have a slow leak in its fuel system, while a backup heater has failed on another.

Venus Express ready for business
SPACE.com -- Despite Balky Sensor, Venus Express Ready for Operations
The ESA’s Venus probe (see http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Venus_Express/) has completed its commissioning in Venus orbit. Unfortunately, the “Planetary Fourier Spectrometer”, which is supposed to measure surface and atmospheric temperatures and search for active volcanism, is stuck shut and inoperative.

Valerie who?
FOXNews.com - Novak: No Bush Administration Effort to Discredit Joe Wilson - The Executive Branch
The Plame leak “scandal” just won’t take off, but it won't go away, either. Now Robert Novak refuses to play along. In apparent desperation to wring something out of the non-event, oddly coincident with Novak’s NYT op-ed on the “leaks”, Plame has filed a lawsuit against administration officials. The suit alleges, among other things, that the safety of Plame and her family was put at risk by the exposure. Since it has been repeatedly pointed out by many sources that Plame was not a covert operative, this safely exceeds my willing suspension of disbelief.

A Bride Too Far
My Way News - Man Is Fined Buffalo and Pig for Bigamy
Malaysia evidently allows a parallel justice system for its indigenous peoples along with civil and the Islamic sharia courts. A Malaysian Native Court levied the punishment because the man married a second wife without the permission of the first.
Many men in many places could have warned him....

Variable constants?
Scientists question fundamental laws - Space News - MSNBC.com
Studies of very distant, and therefore very ancient, quasars suggest that such "constants" as the speed of light and those affecting intranuclear forces may have changed over time. Sounds a lot like something I remember from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy about understanding the Universe.
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Monday, July 10, 2006

---N.K. situation deteriorates, Ethanol in Iowa 

N.K. situation deteriorates
My Way News[AP] - Japan May Postpone North Korea Resolution
Japan, faced with a direct threat to its security, is deciding whether its constitution allows it to contemplate an almost certainly suicidal attempt to launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea to prevent ballistic missile attacks. The possibility arises because Russia and China seem determined to prevent the U.N. Security Council from making any meaningful effort to discourage one of the most insane governments in the world from developing nuclear ICBM’s.

Just not fair
FOXNews.com[AP] - Iowa Man Fired for Drinking Ethanol Fuel Denied Unemployment
Man found unconscious after consuming what he swears was 2-3 ounces of spilled 95% fuel-grade ethanol. Hospitalized with an amazing 0.72 blood-alcohol level. What’s the big deal?

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

---Siberian Airliner Crashes with 200 Aboard 

Siberian airliner crashes on landing
My Way News[AP] - Scores Feared Dead in Siberia Runway Crash
CNN.com - Airbus A-310 jet crashes in Russia - Jul 8, 2006
A Sibir (Siberian Airlines) airliner with 200 people aboard has veered off the runway at Irkutsk while landing. The plane crashed through a concrete barrier and into buildings, and burst into flame. Currently it appears that 10 got out okay, 43 were taken to hospitals, and most of the rest are feared dead.
The AP story says it was an Airbus 390, which appears from a quick web search to be a 4-engine model. The CNN story refers to the 2-engine 310, which seems more likely for some reason.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

---NK Targeted Hawaii, NY Tunnel "Plot" 

Pearl Harbor-II?
FOXNews.com[AP] - Report: North Korean Missile Was Aimed at Hawaii
South Korea is reporting that its data on the failed launch of the “Taepodong-2” would-be ICBM indicate that the missile was targeted at Hawaii. Even without a warhead, the result of a successful flight would have undoubtedly escalated tensions beyond the provocation stage.
Various sources are wondering why China is equivocating about sanctions against the North Korean regime, even though it would be on the receiving end of any flood of refugees across the Yalu into Manchuria. [My mental picture of the location of the Korean peninsula was way off. It’s on the other end of China from Vietnam and the other Southeast Asian countries.]

My Way News[AP] - FBI Disrupts New York City Tunnel Plot
This scheme was evidently in the “talking” and “dreaming” phase of conspiracy. The would-be terrorists hoped to destroy the Holland Tunnel with explosives. To show the intellectual level of the erstwhile terrorists, they thought this would result in massive flooding in the NY financial district, which is far above the elevation of the tunnel. The ongoing investigation apparently wasn’t supposed to be publicized at this time.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

---Bloomberg Honest About Immigration, China and Russia Again, FBI Passwords Stolen, STS-121 On-Orbit 

FOXNews.com [AP]- Bloomberg: New York City Will Collapse Without Illegal Immigrants
NY’s Mayor Bloomberg had a candid moment in front of a Senate hearing. In other words, our current economy would be unsupportable if we actually had to pay all workers a fair living wage to support it. We were supposed to have learned this lesson already.

A predictable result
My Way News - China, Russia Resist North Korea Sanctions
Russia and China
, with duplicity bordering on outright betrayal, are refusing to actually afflict North Korea with actual consequences for its deliberately provocative missile testing.

Another predictable result
FOXNews.com[AP] - Hacker Uses Free Software to Steal Secret FBI Passwords
Yes, the FBI is right on track to modernize and secure its computers, including learning about such cutting-edge technologies as "networks". Uhm..."Virtual Case File"....didn't actually work, so, we, like, need another half-a-billion or so to try to get "Sentinel"working by 2009...yeaaah...that's the ticket.
This time, a consultant was able to extract a large list of critical passwords for high-level agency personnel, using some unidentified free software.
This would be a lot funnier---just a bunch of lovable goof-ups doing what they do best---if we could forget to wonder what they were doing on 9-10-2001, and if they weren't evil as hell.
Really, guys, you should call in the playground full of eight-year-olds like I suggested earlier.

Spaceflight Now | STS-121 Shuttle Report | Crew told about debris, gap filler as they near station
On-orbit inspection of the ascent damage to the Shuttle so far shows several minor dings, a protuding gap filler, and some bird droppings. The orbiter is performing its end-over-end pitch manuver on approach to ISS for high-resolution photographic inspections. They evidently are using an 800mm lens.....I guess that wouldn’t fit in a camera bag anyway.
There is much collective relief that the debris during ascent seemed to be at an acceptable minimum, and that no serious damage was done to the vehicle. Complacency will take a little longer....
Listening to the live feed on FL Today’s “Flame Trench” weblog: I thought I heard the Russians squabbling about who had to clean out the Soyuz, before the Shuttle even docked to the Station.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

---News From the Brink, Shuttle Foam Cracked, Hawking Again 

News from the brink
FOXNews.com - Israel's PM Rejects Ultimatum From Soldier's Captors - The Mideast
Israel has apparently finally lost all patience with Palestinian leaders, as the Hamas-led government inconceivably raised its demand for the return of its hostage from 1,000 imprisoned Palestinians to 1,500. Even more amazing, the Hamas government seems to believe that its terrorist incursion into Israel and kidnapping of Israeli citizens, coupled with such tactics as regular bombardment of Israeli settlements with homebuilt rockets, should give it the moral high ground in international debates on the situation.
FOXNews.com [AP]- Mexican Candidates Each Declare Victory
Mexican voters have cast their ballots, and the election is too close to call. Mexico is perilously close to the kind of radical isolationism that has made nations like Cuba and Venezuela what they are today. This won’t help the social and living conditions of the Mexican people any more than border fences and trade restrictions.
FOXNews.com[AP] - North Korea Warns of 'Annihilating Strike and a Nuclear War' if U.S. Attacks
North Korea responded predictably to threats of U.S. pre-emptive attacks on its long-range missile testing.
We must pray for these nations and their people, for wisdom for the leaders involved, for peace in which the Truth can be spoken openly in all these places, and for God’s Will to be accomplished before all else.

Lessons learned
Crack Found in Foam on Shuttle Fuel Tank
New problem found on shuttle tank - Return to Flight - MSNBC.com
The Flame Trench space blog by Florida Today
Spaceflight Now | STS-121 Shuttle Report | Crack found in Discovery external tank insulation
A crack has been found in foam insulation on a bracket for the external tank’s oxygen plumbing. Worse, the crack caused a piece of foam (see images on FL Today and Spaceflight Now) described as “large enough to damage Discovery's heat shield”---in fact, it “weighs about half as much as a piece that NASA fears could do severe damage...” ---to fall off the Shuttle while it was sitting on the pad!
This reminds me of the incident last year with the ET for Discovery’s previous mission. As I remember, ET was filled with cryogenic fuel a couple of times, then finally removed and returned to Michoud after the fuel sensor refused to cooperate. It was then found to have cracks in its foam, which apparently weren’t there before it was fueled. In the current case, the crack is on a part of the oxygen piping which has to accommodate thermal changes from the supercold oxidizer. It doesn’t seem to make sense to have semi-rigid, fragile foam on something that has to flex to operate, but that’s how it's done.
NASA has demonstrated its new managerial responsibility by having to think about whether to cancel tomorrow’s planned launch attempt. The decision is expected by 8pm ET tonight.
My Way News [AP] - NASA to Try Shuttle Launch Despite Foam
According to the AP, NASA has decided to go for the July 4 launch attempt for Discovery/STS-121. After all, they gotta finish that Space Station....]

Steven Hawking, again....
SPACE.com -- Why We Must Flee the Planet: The Geometry of Earth is All Wrong
This time, Hawking is criticizing the design of Earth’s habitation spaces. The problem with Earth? It’s a sphere, which has the least available surface area for a given volume of any shape, and all the people are required to live on the surface. Hawking, naturally, has some ideas for more efficient use of materials.
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