Archive for January, 2016
Sunday, January 24th, 2016
Scientific American 1/13/16
What Will It Take for Humans to Colonize the Milky Way?
It’s a common theme in science fiction, but migrating to planets beyond our solar system will be a lot more complicated and difficult than you might imagine
By Kim Stanley Robinson on January 13, 2016
The idea that humans will eventually travel to and inhabit other parts of our galaxy was well expressed by the early Russian rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, who wrote, “Earth is humanity’s cradle, but you’re not meant to stay in your cradle forever.” Since then the idea has been a staple of science fiction, and thus become part of a consensus image of humanity’s future. Going to the stars is often regarded as humanity’s destiny, even a measure of its success as a species. But in the century since this vision was proposed, things we have learned about the universe and ourselves combine to suggest that moving out into the galaxy may not be humanity’s destiny after all.
The problem that tends to underlie all the other problems with the idea is the sheer size of the universe, which was not known when people first imagined we would go to the stars. Tau Ceti, one of the closest stars to us at around 12 light-years away, is 100 billion times farther from Earth than our moon. A quantitative difference that large turns into a qualitative difference; we can’t simply send people over such immense distances in a spaceship, because a spaceship is too impoverished an environment to support humans for the time it would take, which is on the order of centuries. Instead of a spaceship, we would have to create some kind of space-traveling ark, big enough to support a community of humans and other plants and animals in a fully recycling ecological system.
On the other hand it would have to be small enough to accelerate to a fairly high speed, to shorten the voyagers’ time of exposure to cosmic radiation, and to breakdowns in the ark. Regarded from some angles bigger is better, but the bigger the ark is, the proportionally more fuel it would have to carry along to slow itself down on reaching its destination; this is a vicious circle that can’t be squared. For that reason and others, smaller is better, but smallness creates problems for resource metabolic flow and ecologic balance. Island biogeography suggests the kinds of problems that would result from this miniaturization, but a space ark’s isolation would be far more complete than that of any island on Earth. The design imperatives for bigness and smallness may cross each other, leaving any viable craft in a non-existent middle.
The biological problems that could result from the radical miniaturization, simplification and isolation of an ark, no matter what size it is, now must include possible impacts on our microbiomes. We are not autonomous units; about eighty percent of the DNA in our bodies is not human DNA, but the DNA of a vast array of smaller creatures. That array of living beings has to function in a dynamic balance for us to be healthy, and the entire complex system co-evolved on this planet’s surface in a particular set of physical influences, including Earth’s gravity, magnetic field, chemical make-up, atmosphere, insolation, and bacterial load. Traveling to the stars means leaving all these influences, and trying to replace them artificially. What the viable parameters are on the replacements would be impossible to be sure of in advance, as the situation is too complex to model. Any starfaring ark would therefore be an experiment, its inhabitants lab animals. The first generation of the humans aboard might have volunteered to be experimental subjects, but their descendants would not have. These generations of descendants would be born into a set of rooms a trillion times smaller than Earth, with no chance of escape.
In this radically diminished enviroment, rules would have to be enforced to keep all aspects of the experiment functioning. Reproduction would not be a matter of free choice, as the population in the ark would have to maintain minimum and maximum numbers. Many jobs would be mandatory to keep the ark functioning, so work too would not be a matter of choices freely made. In the end, sharp constraints would force the social structure in the ark to enforce various norms and behaviors. The situation itself would require the establishment of something like a totalitarian state.
Of course sociology and psychology are harder fields to make predictions in, as humans are highly adaptable. But history has shown that people tend to react poorly in rigid states and social systems. Add to these social constraints permanent enclosure, exile from the planetary surface we evolved on, and the probability of health problems, and the possibility for psychological difficulties and mental illnesses seems quite high. Over several generations, it’s hard to imagine any such society staying stable.
Still, humans are adaptable, and ingenious. It’s conceivable that all the problems outlined so far might be solved, and that people enclosed in an ark might cross space successfully to a nearby planetary system. But if so, their problems will have just begun.
Any planetary body the voyagers try to inhabit will be either alive or dead. If there is indigenous life, the problems of living in contact with an alien biology could range from innocuous to fatal, but will surely require careful investigation. On the other hand, if the planetary body is inert, then the newcomers will have to terraform it using only local resources and the power they have brought with them. This means the process will have a slow start, and take on the order of centuries, during which time the ark, or its equivalent on the alien planet, would have to continue to function without failures.
It’s also quite possible the newcomers won’t be able to tell whether the planet is alive or dead, as is true for us now with Mars. They would still face one problem or the other, but would not know which one it was, a complication that could slow any choices or actions.
So, to conclude: an interstellar voyage would present one set of extremely difficult problems, and the arrival in another system, a different set of problems. All the problems together create not an outright impossibility, but a project of extreme difficulty, with very poor chances of success. The unavoidable uncertainties suggest that an ethical pursuit of the project would require many preconditions before it was undertaken. Among them are these: first, a demonstrably sustainable human civilization on Earth itself, the achievement of which would teach us many of the things we would need to know to construct a viable mesocosm in an ark; second, a great deal of practice in an ark obiting our sun, where we could make repairs and study practices in an ongoing feedback loop, until we had in effect built a successful proof of concept; third, extensive robotic explorations of nearby planetary systems, to see if any are suitable candidates for inhabitation.
Unless all these steps are taken, humans cannot successfully travel to and inhabit other star systems. The preparation itself is a multi-century project, and one that relies crucially on its first step succeeding, which is the creation of a sustainable long-term civilization on Earth. This achievement is the necessary, although not sufficient, precondition for any success in interstellar voyaging. If we don’t create sustainability on our own world, there is no Planet B.
Rights & Permissions
Kim Stanley Robinson
Kim Stanley Robinson is a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards. He is the author of more than twenty books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed Forty Signs of Rain, The Years of Rice and Salt and 2312. His latest book is Aurora. In 2008, he was named a “Hero of the Environment” by Time magazine, and he works with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute. He lives in Davis, California.
Sunday, January 24th, 2016
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER ON THE CLINTONS
January 14, 2016 at 1:38:58 PM CST
The Clinton Foundation is “organized crime” at it’s finest, and we are financing it. Here is a good, concise summary of how the Clinton Foundation works as a tax free international money laundering scheme.
It may eventually prove to be the largest political criminal enterprise in U.S. History.
This is a textbook case on how you hide foreign money sent to you and repackage it to be used for your own purposes. All tax free. Here’s how it works:
1. You create a separate foreign “charity.” In this case one in Canada.
2. Foreign oligarchs and governments, then donate to this Canadian charity. In this case, over 1,000 did – contributing mega millions. I’m sure they did this out of the goodness of their hearts, and expected nothing in return. (Imagine Putin’s buddies waking up one morning and just deciding to send untold millions to a Canadian charity).
3. The Canadian charity then bundles these separate donations and makes a massive donation to the Clinton Foundation.
4. The Clinton Foundation and the cooperating Canadian charity claim Canadian law prohibits the identification of individual donors.
5. The Clinton Foundation then “spends” some of this money for legitimate good works programs. Unfortunately, experts believe this is on the order of 10%. Much of the balance goes to enrich the Clinton’s, pay salaries to untold numbers of hangers on, and fund lavish travel, etc. Again, virtually all tax free, which means you and I are subsidizing it.
6. The Clinton Foundation, with access to the world’s best accountants, somehow fails to report much of this on their tax filings. They discover these “clerical errors” and begin the process of re-filing 5 years of tax returns.
7. Net result — foreign money, much of it from other countries, goes into the Clinton’s pockets tax free and untraceable back to the original donor. This is the textbook definition of money laundering.
Oh, by the way, the Canadian “charity” includes as a principal one Frank Giustra. Google him. He is the guy who was central to the formation of Uranium One, the Canadian company that somehow acquired massive U.S. Uranium interests and then sold them to an organization controlled by Russia. This transaction required U.S. State Department approval, and guess who was Secretary of State when the approval was granted? As an aside, imagine how former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell feels. That poor schlep is in jail because he and his wife took $165,000 in gifts and loans for doing minor favors for a guy promoting a vitamin company. Not legal but not exactly putting U.S. Into security risk. Sarcasm aside, if you’re still not persuaded this was a cleverly structured way to get unidentified foreign money to the Clinton’s, ask yourself this:
Why did these foreign interests funnel money through a Canadian charity? Why not donate directly to the Clinton Foundation? Better yet, why not donate money directly to the people, organizations and countries in need?
This is the essence of money laundering and influence peddling. Now you know why Hillary’s destruction of 30,000 e-mails was a risk she was willing to take.
Bill and Hillary are devious, unprincipled, dishonest and criminal, and they are Slick! Warning: They could be back in the White House in January 2017. Don’t let it happen. Remember, most people are not well informed. You must inform and educate them.
May God Bless America
Sunday, January 24th, 2016
President Tom Fitton
January 15, 2016
Judicial Watch Clinton Records Lawsuits Uncovers More Hidden Documents
As if the hidden Clinton email cache wasn’t enough, apparently, the Obama State Department recently found “thousands” of new records from Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. According to information provided to Judicial Watch by various Justice Department attorneys, the new documents appear to be “working” records in electronic format located on both “shared” and “individual” drives accessible to or used by persons identified as being relevant to Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits on the Benghazi scandal and controversies from Clinton’s term at State. The State Department confirmed the new find in a court filing earlier this month as part of a FOIA lawsuit concerning records about Clinton aide Huma Abedin:
After State filed its motion for summary judgment in this case [on November 11, 2015], State located additional sources of documents that originated within the Office of the Secretary that are reasonably likely to contain records responsive to Plaintiff’s request. State has informed Plaintiff that it intends to search these locations, produce non-exempt portions of any responsive records, and file a supplemental declaration in support of its motion for summary judgment (which is presently stayed).
This is how the Washington Free Beacon reported on JW’s find:
The watchdog group Judicial Watch has been suing the State Department for years to turn over public records related to Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation, the employment arrangements of Clinton’s top aides, and her response to the Benghazi attack. According to the State Department, the newly found records are likely to include information relevant to Judicial Watch’s requests. Officials said they would need until at least Feb. 1 to review the documents.
In another modified limited hangout, the State Department admitted in another JW court case that the new records include the files of two of Clinton’s top aides:
The newly identified files that need to be searched in this case consist of office files that were available to employees within the Office of the Secretary during former Secretary Clinton’s tenure as well as individual files belonging to Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills.
The notorious Mills was Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at State and Sullivan was her top policy advisor. Both now work on her presidential campaign. As best as I can tell, the Obama State Department is still withholding key facts. We still don’t where exactly these newly identified records are located; why they were not identified and searched previously; and how and when they were just identified.
This is the statement we issued to the press about this new Clinton records scandal:
This latest find of Clinton records, at this late date, is astonishing. The State Department waited to last possible moment, as it did with the Clinton emails, to tell Judicial Watch and the federal courts about thousands of records that haven’t been searched, as the law requires. Who knew what – and when did they know it – about these new Clinton documents?
These newly recovered Clinton records are a potential game changer – and will be of interest to the courts, Congress, and the FBI’s criminal investigation. It sure looks like more of the same in terms of Obama administration officials’ obstructing our FOIA requests, obstructing the courts, obstructing Congress, and obstructing justice.
Judicial Watch exposed this new cover up on the heels of a finding by State Department’s Inspector General that Hillary Clinton and the Obama State Department thwarted specific Judicial Watch FOIA requests by lying about her email system with “inaccurate” and “incomplete” responses.
Despite this new obstruction, there was some success last week over our legal fight for all the emails of Huma Abedin, another Clinton State consigliere. We forced the State Department to agree to review and release under FOIA at least 29,000 Abedin emails over the next year. As Politico’s Josh Gerstein reported:
At a court hearing in September, a Justice Department attorney said State had no plans to process for release all of the emails submitted by Abedin and other top aides such as Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and Director of Policy Planning Jake Sullivan.
However, a legal filing Monday in a lawsuit brought by the conservative group Judicial Watch indicated State has acceded to a request to process all the emails Abedin turned over, except for news articles and summaries.
“The parties have agreed that State will produce to Judicial Watch responsive, nonexempt records from within the recently received documents, excluding news clippings/briefings contained therein,” said the court filing (posted here).
The schedule the two sides agreed to has the disclosure of the records overlapping significantly with Clinton’s presidential campaign and will have the State Department ramping up release of Abedin’s private emails just as the agency winds down its disclosure of Clinton’s messages.
So now a court will supervise the release of records the Obama gang had previously opposed. Though we all would have like to have the records released years ago, as opposed to within a year, you should know that the Obama operatives trying to protect Hillary Clinton’s quest for the presidency wanted us to wait three years!
Looking back over this week, it’s remarkable that JW’s numerous lawsuits continue to make waves on the Clinton records issue. Mrs. Clinton is probably worrying about 150 FBI agents, investigating her potential crimes on her records scandal and her evident abuse of office to help out those funding the Clinton Foundation and her own bank accounts. But as JW’s work first led to the disclosure of both these scandals, you can see how JW is the key driver of the effort to hold her accountable for her corruption.
Sunday, January 24th, 2016
New State Department Intel Confirms Arab Smuggling “Cells,” Al Qaeda Leader in Mexico
This week, Judicial Watch published another in our series of Pulitzer Prize-worthy reports the narco-terror threat, one of the many existential threats as a result of purposefully lax border security at the U.S.-Mexican reporter. I reprint the chilling report below from you from our Corruption Chronicles blog:
For more than a decade the U.S. government has known that “Arab extremists” are entering the country through Mexico with the assistance of smuggling network “cells,” according to State Department documents obtained by Judicial Watch that reveal among them was a top Al Qaeda operative wanted by the FBI. Some Mexican smuggling networks actually specialize in providing logistical support for Arab individuals attempting to enter the United States, the government documents say. The top Al Qaeda leader in Mexico was identified in the September 2004 cable from the American consulate in Ciudad Juárez as Adnan G. El Shurkrjumah. The cable was released to Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act.
The new intelligence records were released as a result of an ongoing JW investigation into the critical national security threats on the southern border, specifically those created by Islamic terrorists teaming up with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate and attack the U.S. In response to JW’s reporting in the last two years the Obama administration-through various spokespeople, including FBI Director James Comey-has vehemently denied that Islamic terrorists are operating in Mexican towns near American cities or entering the U.S. through the famously porous southern border.
The State Department documents, which include substantial redactions supposedly to protect classified and personal information, contradict this. JW obtained them as part of an investigative series into Shukrijumah, an Al Qaeda operative also known as Javier Robles. In December, 2014 Shukrijumah was killed by the Pakistan Army in an intelligence-borne operation in South Waziristan. But before he died Shukrijumah helped plan several U.S. attacks, including plots to bomb Oprah Winfrey’s studio and detonate nuclear devices in multiple American cities. For years Shukrijumah appeared on the FBI’s most wanted list and, despite being sought by the agency, he crossed back and forth into the U.S. from Mexico to meet fellow militant Islamists in Texas. JW has reported that, as one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, Shukrijumah piloted an aircraft into the Cielo Dorado airfield in Anthony, New Mexico.
The new State Department records show that U.S. authorities knew Shukrijumah was in Mexico because they say that the Regional Security Office (RSO) at the consulate in Ciudad Juárez used newspapers to distribute information throughout Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico about the Al Qaeda operative at the request of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in El Paso. This appears on page 17 of the documents, which are linked above in their entirety. Of interesting note is that the government uses an exemption that applies to classified information to continue to withhold some of the records when the entire file was already declassified back in September, 2014.
Information about Middle Eastern terrorists entering the U.S. through Mexico appears in a September 2, 2004 cable-declassified 10 years later-titled “CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT, A PROVEN CI TO USG IN THE PAST, REPORTS ARAB CELLS WITHIN MEXICO.” It explains that a reputable government informant went to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez and provided information pertaining to suspect Arab extremists who have been smuggled into the U.S. through the Mexican border. “The confidential source (SUBJECT) stated his family member, who is a human trafficker, knows the exact whereabouts of three Arabs who are currently being hidden in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico,” the State Department cable reads. “Although not absolutely positive, one of the three is likely Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, alleged to be a Saudi Arabian terrorist cell leader thought to be in Mexico. SUBJECT also provided information on two smuggling networks, “cells,” that specialize in providing logistical support for Arab individuals attempting to enter the United States.”
Many questions remain about the U.S. government’s relationship with Shukrijumah, but last spring JW obtained records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) that indicate he was a Confidential Source/Informant for the government. Shukrijumah lived in South Florida’s Broward County and graduated from Broward Community College with a degree in computer engineering. Four months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks Shukrijumah fled the U.S. He was one of the suspected actors in a number of planned terror attacks in the U.S., including a plot to simultaneously detonate nuclear devices in several U.S. cities. Convicted terrorist Jose Padilla claimed to have trained with Shukrijumah to blow up U.S. apartment buildings using natural gas explosions.
In 2010 Shukrijumah was indicted in the Eastern District of New York for his role in a terrorist plot to attack targets in the United States-including New York City’s subway system-and the United Kingdom, according the FBI. The plot against New York City’s subway system was directed by senior Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan, the FBI says, and was directly related to a scheme by Al Qaeda plotters in Pakistan to use Western operatives to attack a target in the United States.
A year earlier Shukrijumah helped plan a terrorist truck-bomb targeting Winfrey’s Harpo Studios in Chicago as well as the iconic Sears Tower. Two of his fellow conspirators-Emad Karakrah and Hector Pedroza Huerta-were arrested in 2014 for unrelated state crimes in different parts of the country. Karakrah got busted in Chicago on charges of making a false car bomb threat after leading police on a high-speed chase with an ISIS flag waving from his vehicle. Huerta, an illegal alien twice convicted for driving intoxicated, got nabbed in El Paso for drunk driving. Both Karakrah and Pedroza were released from custody in 2015 under highly unusual plea deals.
The men formed part of a sophisticated narco-terror ring, exposed in a JW investigative series, with connections running from El Paso to Chicago to New York City. The operation includes an all-star lineup of logistics and transportation operatives for militant Islamists in the United State, drug and weapons smugglers for the Juarez drug cartel in Mexico, an FBI confidential informant gone rogue and two of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists. Shukrijumah was one of them and, though he’s dead, he is an important part of the puzzle and extremely relevant when connecting the dots in the narco-terror ring.
The crisis at the Mexican border – and the government’s lies about the worsening Islamist terror threat – could result in a terrorist attack calamity for the United States. But you can see that we can make a difference – as I’m convinced JW’s reporting flushed the al Qaeda operative out of Mexico and resulted in his demise in Mexico.
Sunday, January 24th, 2016
Gingrich Productions/January 14-15, 2016. Obama Blasts Bullying, Ignores Beheading
Originally published at the Washington Times on 1/14/16
Obama Blasts Bullying, Ignores Beheading
The 2016 State of the Union was very striking for the one-sidedness and disproportion of the President’s concern for religious suffering.
President Obama worried that “politicians insult Muslims, whether abroad or fellow citizens.”
But he couldn’t bring himself to worry aloud about the Christians being driven from Middle Eastern countries, the churches being burned from Nigeria to Malaysia, or the 22 Coptic Christians who were beheaded on video on a beach in Libya by Islamic supremacists.
Insulting Muslims: bad. Killing Christians: irrelevant.
The President went on to say that when “a kid is called names, that doesn’t make us safer, it diminishes us in the eyes of the world.”
Why is our civilization—or Islamic civilization, for that matter—diminished by name-calling, when the real damage to both is being done by virulent, violent Islamic supremacism? (After all, the vast majority of Muslims being violently killed are killed by Islamic supremacists.)
The President saw fit to blast bullying in his State of the Union, but he said nothing of the beheadings that leave Americans justifiably afraid. Nor did he mention San Bernardino, the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11—which occurred just over a month ago.
If calling a kid names is bad enough to diminish us all, how does the President feel about the incident in France this week, in which a Muslim student in Marseille pulled out a machete and tried to kill his Jewish teacher? Indeed, the situation in France is so hostile to Jews that the leader of the Jewish community in Marseille advised that they should stop wearing yarmulkes because it makes them targets. Not since the Nazis have Jews been told it is dangerous to be overtly Jewish in a European country.
Moreover, if calling a kid names diminishes us all, how would the President characterize the hundreds of assaults and rapes of German women by immigrants over New Years? How would he describe the German media’s and German government’s efforts to censor the news so that people would not know about it?
The President talks about “telling it like it is,” but neglects to mention the thousands of women and girls sold into sexual slavery by ISIS. He says that the United States has the most powerful military on the planet, but offers no strategy for ending the brutal rule of ISIS over millions of people.
Finally, the President highlighted his delusions about the dangers of the real world at the close of his speech, when he said that he was optimistic that “unarmed truth…will have the final word.”
This is a wonderful phrase for a preacher.
It is a terrible phrase for a commander-in-chief.
Unarmed truth would have its head cut off by ISIS.