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Submission + - EPA reveals Gold King mine spill much worse than initially stated (foxnews.com)

schwit1 writes: On Thursday, the House Committee on Natural Resources released a damning report on the EPA and its handling of the Gold King Mine disaster last August. The report detailed how the EPA and the Department of the Interior were inaccurate and misleading in their conflicting accounts of the wastewater spill, which the EPA said last week released 880,000 pounds of toxic metals.

"When government actions result in harm, it's our duty to know who was responsible and why decisions failed. They haven't been forthcoming in this regard," Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said in a released statement. "This report peels back one more layer in what many increasingly view as a pattern of deception on the part of EPA and DOI. The EPA is saying one thing and their own experts say another"

No wonder the trust in government is so low.

Submission + - Bug List for F-35 is huge. (extremetech.com) 1

nairnr writes: ExtremeTech has an article on the extensive bugs that the F-35 program has still in it. It is the longest development cycle of any plane and problems keeping on getting pushed back.

The US plan to buy a block of planes while still not operational means every plane will require some level of refit in order to go into service.

Submission + - Financial institutions pushing for cashless economy

An anonymous reader writes: In recent days we have seen op-eds by both Bloomberg and FT urging the banning of cash, the most disturbing development we have seen yet in the push for a cashless society has come from the following slide in a Morgan Stanley presentation:

... we should move quickly to a cashless economy so that we could introduce negative rates well below 1% — as they were concerned that Larry Summers' secular stagnation was indeed playing out and we would be stuck with negative rates for a decade in Europe.

Consider this the latest, and loudest, warning on the road to digital fiat serfdom.

Submission + - A second Little Ice Age uncovered

An anonymous reader writes: New data, compiled from tree rings in Russia, suggests that a previously undetected little ice age occurred in the 6th and 7th centuries, caused by a combination of volcanoes and low sunspot counts.

This cold spell would have preceded the Medieval Warm Period centered around 1000 AD that was followed by the already known Little Ice Age centered around 1600 AD. Note that no fossil fuel regulations or carbon taxes were used in creating this cold period. Note also this description of the consequences of that cold period:

The poor climate may been one of many factors contributing to societal changes of the era, including widespread crop failures and famines in Central Asia that may have triggered migrations from the area to China and Eastern Europe, thus helping spread an episode of plague (depicted in this 15th century painting) that originated there.

Famine and plague, caused by extreme cold, illustrating starkly that cooling is a far greater threat to human survival than climate warming. Meanwhile, the Medieval Warm Period saw a flourishing of American Indian culture in the American southwest.

So why do our modern climate doom-sayers fear warming so much, when there is no data to justify that fear, and plenty of data to suggest otherwise.

Submission + - North Korea's satellite tumbling 1

schwit1 writes: U.S. Defense officials stated today that the satellite that North Korea launched on Sunday is now tumbling in orbit and is useless.

Do not take comfort from this failure. North Korea has demonstrated that it can put payloads in orbit. From this achievement it is a very short leap to aiming those payloads to impact any continent on Earth. They might not be able to aim that impact very accurately, but if you want to ignite an atomic bomb somewhere, you don't have to be very accurate.

Submission + - NASA bans employees from writing the word "Jesus"

An anonymous reader writes: Lawyers at NASA have ruled that the agency has the right to ban the use of the word "Jesus" in any email written by employees.

In a letter sent Monday, the Liberty Institute stated that NASA lawyers pressured a group of employees at the Johnson Space Center to remove the word "Jesus" from a club announcement. This demand took place in May and June of 2015.

These employees had formed a private group within the agency called the JSC Praise and Worship Club, an entity separate from the agency. As part of the group, employees meet together during lunch to pray, and no one is prevented from taking part in the group's activities. In an announcement email, one of the employees had used the word "Jesus." A few days after the email went out, NASA lawyers clamped down and said the use of the word was absolutely unacceptable and would not accept the group's offer to issue any kind of disclaimer to downplay its use.

NASA is now going to be sued by these individuals, as the agency is clearly acting to deny them their first amendment rights. And NASA deserves to be sued, and to lose badly in court. It is absurd that those NASA lawyers can construe the writing of the word "Jesus" by a single employee as an endorsement by the agency of that religion. These same lawyers would have also acted to ban the Apollo 8 astronauts from reading from the Old Testament while in orbit around the Moon in 1968. They are thus no different than the Soviet overlords with whom we were fighting the Cold War at the time.

Submission + - Supreme Court blocks Obama carbon emissions plan (yahoo.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a major blow to President Barack Obama by blocking federal regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, the centerpiece of his administration's strategy to combat climate change.

On a 5-4 vote, the court granted a request made by 27 states and various companies and business groups to block the administration's Clean Power Plan. The move means the regulations will not be in effect while litigation continues over whether their legality.

Submission + - Obama Keeps Public in Dark About 'Black Budget' Requests (usnews.com)

An anonymous reader writes: "Most transparent" administration congratulates itself for complying with mandatory disclosure requirement.

The self-described "most transparent administration in history" declined to say how much it seeks to bill taxpayers for individual spy agencies as part of President Barack Obama's final budget request to Congress.

Disclosing any agency-specific information — such as whether the controversial National Security Agency or lesser-known National Reconnaissance Office won backing for a raise or a cut — "could harm national security," the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Tuesday in a press release.

Agency-specific figures will be reviewed and debated behind closed committee doors, where only some representatives will have a meaningful opportunity for input. Members of Congress not serving on the relevant committees can gain access to the information, but many are unwilling to make the effort or do not do so out of principle.

Submission + - Enormous beam found streaming from black hole in distant galaxy (foxnews.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Imagine spotting the laser beam from the fictitious Death Star of "Star Wars" fame as you scan a distant galaxy.

That comes close to what an international team saw as they surveyed the Pictor A galaxy. Not only did they find a supermassive black hole in the galaxy about 500 million light years away but were able to study something even more stunning — a huge amount of gravitational energy streaming from the black hole and forming a visible beam or jet.

The beam, compromised of particles traveling nearly the speed of light into intergalactic space, stretched for a distance of 300,000 light years — three times the diameter of the entire Milky Way.

Submission + - Company tracked Iowa caucusgoers' phones 1

schwit1 writes: Who needs exit polls when you can track caucusgoers' phones?

That's what one company did. Dstillery, which has been called "Picasso in the dark art of digital advertising," turned its intelligence-collection capabilities to the Iowa caucuses last week.

The company used location data to identify more than 16,000 devices at caucus locations across the state.

"We can take a population in a discrete location — in this case a polling, a caucus site — and sample that population and go and then look at characteristics of that population that no one's been able to discern before, because we have this incredibly rich behavioral view of American consumers based on all the digital behaviors we observe," Dstillery CEO Tom Phillips said in an interview.

Submission + - French company bungled clinical trial that led to a death and illness (sciencemag.org)

An anonymous reader writes: A drug study in France has caused the death of one person and the possible permanent brain injury to four others.

A government investigation states that the company running the test committed some major errors when the first person experienced ill effects and was hospitalized. The company, Biotrial, did not pay close attention to that person's condition before proceeding with tests and giving additional dosages of the test drug to subjects. It also did not, as required by its own disclosure statement to the test subjects, inform them that one patient had been hospitalized so they would have all the information necessary to decide whether to continue.

The investigations third complaint, that Biotrial did not inform the government of these issues, is mostly a complaint by government officials that there weren't treated with the due respect they deserve, and is less important in my mind.

Read the article, as it is disturbing that a research company could be so cavalier about the lives of the human beings it is using as test subjects.

This story also illustrates indirectly the significant decline in the state of today's modern mainstream press as well as the greater interests of the general public. This is a major science story. For a clinical drug study to kill one of its test subjects is a big deal. Yet I am certain that this will get no coverage in any cable news outlet. (If anyone see a video story about this, please let me know.) The written news outlets on the web will likely do a story, but it will not give it wide exposure.

Worse however is the reason why these outlets will likely not care much about this story. As I like to say, it is the audience that counts. News organizations cover stories that they think their readers or viewers are interested in, and they, like their audiences, are simply not interested in very much these days. Our society is becoming increasingly close-minded and childish, interested only in shallow reports about subjects that are not very important (such the poll numbers in New Hampshire or whether Marco Rubio wears silly boots).

Any interest in a story about how a drug study killed a person and might have caused permanent brain damage to four others? Nah, that's no fun! Let's focus instead on how Donald Trump told Jeb Bush to shut up during last nights debate!

Submission + - The death of SLS begins

An anonymous reader writes: At House hearings this week, congressmen listened to several space experts who lambasted NASA's asteroid and Mars mission proposals.

Paul Spudis of the Lunar and Planetary Institute and an expert on lunar science, was especially harsh.

"America's civil space program is in disarray, with many aspirations and hopes but few concrete, realizable plans for future missions or strategic direction," he said, adding that NASA lacks what it needs to pull off the mission (and throwing some shade at the agency's strong Twitter game). "We pretend that we are on a '#JourneytoMars' but in fact, possess neither the technology nor the economic resources necessary to undertake a human Mars mission now or within the foreseeable future. What is needed is a logically arranged set of short-term, realizable space goals-a series of objectives and destinations that are not only interesting in and of themselves, but whose attainment build space faring capability in the long term."

The testimony claimed that it could cost anywhere from $500 billion to $1 trillion for NASA to get humans to Mars, numbers that are reasonable based on using NASA's very costly and overpriced SLS/Orion rocket and capsule. The congressmen were of course interested in this, not because they want to get to Mars, but because they see gobs of pork for their districts in these numbers.

However, I expect that when SpaceX begins successfully launching its Falcon Heavy rocket in the next two years while simultaneously putting humans in space with its Dragon capsule, and does both for a tenth the cost of SLS/Orion, those same congressmen will dump SLS/Orion very quickly. Though they want the pork, they also know they don't have $500 billion to $1 trillion to spend on space. The private sector gives them an option that is both affordable and of strong self-interest. The more realistically priced and designed hardware of private companies will give them a more credible opportunity to fund pork in their districts.

Submission + - Thirty Meter Telescope likely never gets built ... in Hawai

An anonymous reader writes: After years of doing everything the state of Hawaii demanded in order to get permission to build the Thirty Meter Telescope, a state judge today ordered that the whole process should start over again.

Since this order was instigated by the protesters, and that it appears the government favors those protesters, it appears that there is no chance TMT will ever get approval to build in Hawaii. Though the university consortium building the telescope says they want to go through the new process to get permission, they are wasting their time. It will never happen. The peasants with the pitchforks and burning torches, terrified of new knowledge while preferring the worship of a mountain, are in control in Hawaii.

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