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Archive for February, 2018

A Special Telescope to the Stars is Being Built

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

While most of us“Move on our petty pace from day to day,” the real work is being done behind the scenes, one baby step at a time, to prepare humanity one day to fly to the stars.

Casting a $20 Million Mirror for
the World’s Largest Telescope

The glass arcs that will let astronomers peer back
millions of years are decades in the making

by Celia Gorman

Building a mirror for any giant telescope is no simple feat. The sheer size of the glass, the nanometer precision of its curves, its carefully calculated optics,and the adaptive software required to run it make this a task of herculean
proportions. But the recent castings of the 15-metric ton, off-axis mirrors forthe Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) forced engineers to push the design andmanufacturing process beyond all previous limits.

Building the GMT is not a task of years, but of decades. The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) and a team at the University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory cast the first of seven mirrors back in2005; they expect to complete construction of the telescope in 2025. Once complete, it’s expected to be the largest telescope in the world. The seven 8.4-meter-wide mirrors will combine to serve as a 24.5-meter mirror telescope with 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope. This will allow
astronomers to gaze back in time to, they hope, the materialization of galaxies.

Each mirror costs US $20 million dollars and takes more than two years to build. Every stage of the manufacturing process calls for careful thought and meticulous planning. To begin, more than 17,000 kilograms of special glass
are ordered and inspected for flaws. Next, a crew must build a 15-metric ton ceramic structure to serve as a mold for the glass, which they carefully place one chunk at a time. The glass is slowly melted and continuouslyspun in a furnace to create a parabolic shape, then cooled by fractions of degrees over the course of three months. And that’s only the beginning. Once cooled, massive machinery lifts the mirror and tilts it to a vertical position. Engineers purge the ceramic mold from the mirror, wait for it to
dry, and then rotate it again. They grind and refine the back of the mirror with exacting precision. Then they reposition the mirror in order to shape and polish the front face to within 20 nanometers of perfection—a process
that takes about 18 months. Along the way, it undergoes four optical tests, some of which were engineered specifically for this project.

Any mammoth mirror requires much of the same engineering, but six of the seven GMT mirrors have an off-axis, parabolic shape. Producing an off-axis mirror at this scale is a new achievement for the Caris Mirror Laboratory and for the field in general.

Once four of the mirrors are complete, they must be transported to the Chilean Andes, where the giant telescope will be constructed on the peak of a mountain range. Even the transport to Chile will be a challenge—so much so that the teams have yet to decide exactly how they’ll pull it off. Still, GMTO says it is on course for the four-mirror installation and “First Light” in 2023, when the telescope will be turned to the night skies for the first time.

And then we’ll all get a chance to peer into the maternity ward of the cosmos and see galaxies being born.

Islam, Macron and the Future of France

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

This report from France is rather troublesome. The Muslim problem in France has been progressing rapidly. The new President, Macron, at first appeared to be ready to deal vigorously with this issue, but now seems to be retreating. This problem will ultimately envelop the USA. I wonder how Trump or future Presidents will deal with this it.

Macron and Islam: “Appeasement and Dialogue”
by Yves Mamou
February 20, 2018

When French President Emanuel Macron recently said that “We are working on the structuring of Islam in France,” it was only one part of a message, to prepare Muslims and non-Muslims for the big project: transforming Islam in France into the Islam of France.

Prison guards tried to explain that every day, their lives are in danger. In late January when the strike ended, Macron said privately that the danger was not radicalized Muslim prisoners but radicalized guards, and claimed that one of the main unions for prison guards had become “infiltrated” by undercover militants from the right-wing Front National party.

When US President Donald Trump announced the transfer of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv in Jerusalem, Macron immediately tweeted, “France does not approve the US decision. France supports the two-state solution, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security with Jerusalem as the capital of the two states. We need to focus on appeasement and dialogue.” The last sentence is a resumé of Macron’s Islam policy: appeasement and dialogue — in other words, submission.

During Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign, and even after he became president, he carefully avoided France’s two most dodgy topics: migrants and Islam. It did not take long, however, before Macron found himself caught up in both of them.

On February 11, 2018, however, Macron gave an interview to Journal du Dimanche: “We are working on the structuring of Islam in France and also on how to explain it, which is extremely important,” Macron told the French weekly newspaper. Of course, nothing significant came out of the interview; it was only one part of a message, to prepare Muslims and non-Muslims for the big project: transforming Islam in France into the Islam of France. Although its contents are still unclear, the frame is usually the same: Muslims are supposedly victims, and a reform of France is necessary to make them peaceful and happy.

One wonders if the Islam of France will be really different from what it is today.

With Islam, an unbridled anti-Semitism in France has continued to soar. On January 29, 2018, an 8-year-old Jewish boy wearing a Jewish skullcap was attacked in the suburb of Sarcelles, near Paris. For a long time, Sarcelles was a suburb where Jews and Muslims once lived peacefully side by side. That has changed. In 2014, a pro-Palestinian demonstration escalated into an anti-Jewish pogrom, complete with shops burned and civilians attacked. On January 10, 2018, also in Sarcelles , an unidentified assailant armed with a knife slashed the face of a 15-year-old Jewish girl. On January 9, in the suburb of Creteil, a kosher grocery store that had been covered with swastikas days earlier was gutted in a fire. The police said they suspected arson.

Macron reacted strongly against the anti-Jewish violence. “It’s the republic that is attacked,” he said. Like all presidents before him, he took great care not to name the Islamist attacker.

In France, small groups of Muslims and Salafists have undertaken ethnically to purify territories that they see as their own. Every time an area is shared with Jews, the violence against them builds up. Between 30,000 and 60,000 Jews have already migrated from their homes — generally in the eastern suburbs of Paris — to other, safer parts of Paris.

As for asylum seekers, in 1981, there were 20,000 asylum seekers in France. In 2017, the number of economic migrants disguised as “asylum seekers” reached a historic mark of 100,000, announced the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) on January 8, 2018. That 100,000 represents an increase of 17% from the year before.

As the government seems unable to control the situation, violence is soaring. On February 1, 2018, extremely violent clashes between Afghan and African migrants broke out in several parts of the coastal city of Calais, where a growing number of migrants go to try to cross the Channel to Great Britain. Twenty-two people were injured, four of them by gunfire. Those four are still in hospital and still in critical condition. The Minister of the Interior Gérard Collomb deplored “a degree of violence never seen before” in modern France.

Macron now knows that he will have to confront the issue of Islam and migrants. Since his election, he has had access to sensitive, disorienting information. Collomb has informed him about the state of the terrorist threat and the radicalization of young Muslims, aged 15-25 (25% of the Muslim population), who say they want to establish sharia law in France. Macron, apparently, is hesitating.

In December 2017, he delayed a speech he was about to deliver on the coexistence between the secular Republic and “monotheistic religions”. Instead, Macron brought representatives of the six main religions (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist) for a “nearly two hour” meeting, assisted by Collomb and Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, in the president’s Elysée Palace. Part of what was discussed has filtered out. Macron evidently reaffirmed that the “Republic is secular” but that “society does not have to be secular”. In other words, in society, all religions must feel free to express themselves. Macron also said that he will be “vigilant” against an eventual “radicalization of secularism”.

None of the clerics around the president pointed out that secularism has never killed anyone, while since 2015, Islamist terrorism has seen the murder of hundreds of citizens.

In January 2018, when a protest by prison guards erupted, the government was taken by surprise. For two weeks, television and radio airwaves were filled with testimonies about the terror that Islamist detainees were sowing throughout the whole prison system. Prison guards tried to explain that every day their lives are in danger.

In late January, when the strike ended, Macron said privately that the danger was not radicalized Muslim prisoners but radicalized guards. One of the main unions for prison guards, according to him, had become “infiltrated” by undercover militants from the right-wing Front National party. French politicians, as usual, mistake the effect for the cause. If prison guards are joining Front National, it is probably because they feel abandoned by politicians who are not doing their essential work: keeping dangerous people away from society.

Another headache for Macron are the 1,500 French jihadists who reached ISIS in Syria: what France should do about them. On December 9, 2017, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, disclosed that 500 French fighters who had joined the Islamic State were still in the Iraqi-Syrian area. In late December, 30 were arrested in northern Syria. Among them was Thomas Barnouin, a convert to Islam and close to Mohamed Merah, the killer of seven French citizens in 2012, and Emilie König, who recruited jihadists for ISIS. Many of these Frenchmen were requesting to be tried in France: in Iraq and Syria they would risk the death penalty.

Macron, apparently, is hesitating. In November 2017, he had declared on Channel 2 that the situation of jihadi women and children would be examined “on a case-by-case basis”. He had sad that most of them would receive a humanitarian treatment; not be brought to court, and that jihadi women would receive “medical and psychiatric treatment.” This “case by case” treatment — no court, no prison, but medical care as well as money for gradual social rehabilitation — is a solution that could in the end be worth it for all the French jihadists arrested in Iraq and Syria” the French daily Ouest-France explained.

In January 2018, the French Minister of Justice issued a public statement: “We will not let ‘death penalty sentences’ against French jihadists by Iraqis happen in Syrian courts”. Maybe these killers will next be considered victims of intolerance by the discriminatory French.

On the diplomatic level, at first glance, Macron adopted a tough stance against “Islamic terrorism”. In August 2017, in front of all of France’s ambassadors, he said, “The fight against Islamist terrorism” must be “the first” priority, to “ensure the safety of our fellow citizens”.

This martial announcement, however, targeted only ISIS, by now almost defeated. When a few Islamic states such as Turkey behaved like terrorist states, the official tone of the French president varied significantly. When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a military offensive against the Kurds in Afrin (in Syrian Kurdistan), Macron immediately distanced himself from the Kurds. He considered publicly as “potential terrorists” these Kurdish Peshmergas whom the French military had been training in Iraq to fight ISIS.

The reason for this betrayal could well be the important Turkish population in France (between half a million and 800,000) as well as the growing influence inside the French Turkish population of a Muslim Turkish party, the Parti Egalité Justice (“Equality and Justice Party,” PEJ). The PEJ is the French element of a network of political parties built by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), to influence each country in Europe, and to influence Europe as a whole through its Muslim population.

Recently, in Lyon, large numbers of Turkish Islamists demonstrated in front of the city hall to support Erdogan’s war against the Kurds, while pro-Kurdish demonstrators were blocked by the police.

Macron seems to ignore that each Islamist victory in the Middle East has a euphoric effect on French jihadists (Turkish and non-Turkish) and brings them out of the woodwork.

Regarding Israel and the Palestinians, Macron seems to be positioning himself along the traditional arc of French diplomacy: “appeasement” resulting from the strong Muslim population living in France. When US President Donald Trump announced the transfer of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv in Jerusalem, Macron immediately tweeted:

“France does not approve the US decision. France supports the two-state solution, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security, with Jerusalem as the capital of the two states. We need to focus on appeasement and dialogue.”

The last sentence is a resumé of all Macron’s Islam policy: appeasement and dialogue — in other words, submission.

Like his predecessors, Macron is on his way to search for an imaginary amicable solution. Like his predecessors, he will fail — and will have been president for nothing.
Yves Mamou, author and journalist, based in France, worked for two decades as a journalist for Le Monde. He is completing a book, “Collaborators and Useful Idiots of Islamism in France,” to be published in 2018.

Rebuilding Our Military

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

After 8 years of deliberate neglect by the Obama Administration, the new Administration in Washington is bent on restoring our military might. The following is the thoughtful review on the subject of what is needed to achieve, once more, a military that can deal appropriately with all of the global dangers that confront us.

The Heritage Foundation

How Congress Can Start Rebuilding the Military Within New Budget Framework
Feb 16th, 2018
By
Frederico Bartels (Commentary)
and
Connor Ewing (Policy Analyst for defense budgeting)

Spring 2018 member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 raised the defense budget caps for both 2018 and 2019. For the coming year, the defense budget will be $647 billion, excluding war funds.

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019 will determine how these resources are to be spent and provides a chance to continue reversing the current trend of deteriorating military strength.

The signs of a declining military are made evident in The Heritage Foundation’s Index of U.S. Military Strength. The inaugural edition of The Index in 2015 graded the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and nuclear platforms as marginal, and the Air Force as strong. The military received an overall grade of marginal.

In the latest edition, the Navy, Air Force, and nuclear platforms were graded as marginal, and the Army and Marine Corps as weak. The overall grade was again marginal.

Reversing this declining trend starts with properly allocating resources.

Congress can lead this effort in the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act. It can help the Defense Department increase the lethality of U.S. military force, strengthen international partnerships, and reform the department’s business practices.

Congress should increase, in a fiscally responsible manner, the defense budget cap for fiscal year 2019 to $664 billion. The Heritage Foundation assesses $664 billion to be a sufficient level of funding for fiscal year 2019 to continue rebuilding each of the armed services as well as the nuclear triad.

This will provide necessary resources for each branch to increase procurement, research and development, and fill critical needs, both in people and equipment.

Congress should enable the Army to start solving its single most critical issue: its inability to generate and maintain appropriate numbers of combat-ready brigade combat teams.

Congress needs to work with the Navy to increase its fleet size through accelerated procurement. Consistent and appropriate levels of yearly funding are necessary to make the goal of a 355-ship Navy feasible.

The Marine Corps has been suffering with aging and inadequate quantities of equipment. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act gives Congress an opportunity to boost the Corps’ modernization programs and speed up the acquisition of desperately needed new equipment and technology.

The Air Force has been plagued with aging platforms and a decreasing number of available pilots, as they continue to endure a high operational tempo. The 2019 bill must include the acceleration of advanced platforms and create incentive programs to retain pilots and maintainers.

The nuclear platforms are old and in need of replacement. The nuclear triad ought to be modernized with advanced delivery systems and nuclear weapons. Congress also needs to continue developing a layered missile defense system to ensure the U.S. is prepared to protect itself from ballistic missiles.

Strengthening alliances is also critical in the work of rebuilding the military. In Europe, Congress should support the European Deterrence Initiative and incentivize forward basing. Additionally, the United States needs to focus on a “NATO first” policy in Europe and discontinue support for the creation of a European Union army.

On the business-reform front, Congress can work to make the Defense Department more efficient. Even though the department did not request it, they should authorize a new round of base realignment and closures. That alone would save the Pentagon an estimated $2 billion yearly.

In addition, incentivizing the use of performance-based logistics could save $9 billion annually. Congress should also lift the moratorium on private-public competitions. These can provide more cost-effective services for the U.S. government.

It has been made clear over the past several years that the U.S. military has deteriorated in readiness, capacity, and capability. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act needs to build on the success of 2018 and continue the process of rebuilding the military through strengthening alliances, increasing lethality, and bringing efficient business-oriented reform to the Defense Department.

It took years for the military to reach its current state of deterioration. It will take years to rebuild it.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal

Israel vs Iran. War Soon?

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

The Middle East remains a tinderbox: Syria; Yeman; Libya; Turkey vs Kurds; Isreal vs Palestinians; Isis; al Queda; and now Israel vs Iran directly. Did I miss anyone? So, read the following:

Washington Examiner
2/18/2018
Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel will attack Iran if necessary
by Joel Gehrke
Israel is prepared for a direct conflict with Iran if the threat of the regime’s terrorist proxies increases, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned.

“We will act if necessary not just against Iran’s proxies but against Iran itself,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the Munich Security Conference.

Netanyahu reinforced the point by showing the assembly of diplomats and international leaders a piece of the Iranian drone shot down after entering Israeli airspace eight days ago. Israel responded to the drone incursion with airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria, but Syrian anti-aircraft defenses succeeded in downing an Israeli F-16.

“Israel will not allow the regime to put a noose of terror around our neck,” Netanyahu said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif countered the real lesson of the recent clash is the Israeli air force is vulnerable for the first time in decades. “And so the myth of invincibility of Israel, of the Israeli military, has crumbled,” Zarif told NBC News.

Zarif also brushed off Netanyahu’s warning. “Well, if they try to exercise that threat, they will see the response,” he said.

U.S. officials have worried for years about the prospect of a conflict between Israel and Iran that plays out across Lebanon and southern Syria.

Iran has transferred more than a hundred thousand missiles to Hezbollah, its terrorist proxy in Lebanon, some of which have precision-guided technology that could strike any place in Israel.

Netanyahu, additionally, has promised to prevent Iran from amassing on Israel’s border with Syria, where Syrian President Bashar Assad has invited Iranian forces to operate as they help his regime fight a civil war.

Netanyahu’s speech was designed not just to warn Iran, but also sway the United States and Europe as President Trump weighs whether to renew economic sanctions that former President Barack Obama waived under the Iran deal.

“[The speech] was meant to address the current aggressiveness of Iran on the ground and to influence what will happen in Washington in a few months,” Netanyahu told reporters, per the Times of Israel.

Franklin Graham/Trump/Political/Dangers

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018

Disturbing comments by Franklin Graham concerning his view of the present status of our political world and what he sees as the serious dangers faced by Trump.

Franklin Graham: ‘We Are In A Coup D’etat….They Are Using The Media’

By Mac Slavo — January 31, 2018

“I don’t have any faith in the Republican Party. I don’t have any faith in the Democrat Party. The only hope for this nation is God.”

Prominent Christian leader Franklin Graham said he believes the country is already in the throes of a coup d’etat. Graham also said that those attempting to overthrow the government are using the media, not bullets, to achieve their goals.

“I believe we are in a coup d’etat,” Franklin Graham said last week on the Todd Starnes Radio Show. “There are people in this country who are wanting to destroy the president and take over the government by force.” Graham and other Christian conservatives have been targets of the bias and liberal weaponized propaganda we often refer to as “the mainstream media.”

“They are not going to use bullets. They are using the media – to plant thoughts in people’s minds that he’s incompetent, that he’s dangerous, that you can’t trust him with nuclear weapons, that he is mentally unstable,” Graham said. According to Fox News, many prominent Christians have been accused of hypocrisy for backing a man who is accused of cheating on his wife and using profanity.

“I have a very simple admonition at this point,” Michael Steele said on MSNBC’s Hardball. “Just shut the hell up and don’t ever preach to me about anything ever again. I don’t want to hear it.” Steele, the former head of the Republican National Committee, was furious at evangelicals. “After telling me how to live my life, who to love, what to believe, what not to believe, what to do and what not to do and now you sit back and the prostitutes don’t matter? The grabbing the you-know-what doesn’t matter? The outright behavior and lies don’t matter? Just shut up.”

But Graham isn’t the only person who’s made mention that the deep state is already attempting to remove Donald Trump. Roger Stone listed the steps the deep state will attempt in detail, calling them Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.

The Deep State’s “Plan A,” is the imploding “investigation” into alleged “Russian collusion” by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, said Stone. If and when that fails, which Stone suggested was likely and soon, the establishment would move to “Plan B.” In essence, Plan B would involve trying to get a majority of Trump’s cabinet to declare him unfit for office. This would allow Trump to be removed under the U.S. Constitution’s 25th Amendment. This scheme is also going to most likely fail, Stone said. Last but not least, though, Stone warned of “Plan C,” which is killing the president. –SHTFPlan

If Stone is correct, and judging by what’s going on in the realm of politics these days, he very well could be, the deep state is steadfastly working on Plan B as we speak.

Graham also called the accusations against the president unfortunate and distracting. “We are all flawed people,” he told the Todd Starnes Radio Show. “The president is a sinner. Franklin Graham is a sinner. We are not perfect people. Has he had scandals in his life? Sure he has,” Graham said. “These scandals happened a number of years ago. That doesn’t make it right. I don’t condone bad language. I don’t condone adultery.”

But, Graham said he still supports President Trump and he will have a target on his back because of it. “He’s not perfect, but he’s our president,” Graham said. “He said he didn’t do it. I have to take his word over that of the media – that is trying to lynch him.” Graham did not endorse a president during the 2016 presidential election.

“The only hope for this country is God,” Graham said. “I don’t have any faith in the Republican Party. I don’t have any faith in the Democrat Party. The only hope for this nation is God.”


William S. Frankl, MD, All Rights Reserved