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UNIFIL’s peaceful observers have withdrawn from the border area after four were killed by Israeli air strikes.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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