Friday, November 14, 2014

Night Watch
Iran-Russia: The top nuclear officials of Iran and Russia, in a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, signed an agreement on the construction of two new nuclear power plants for Iran. The agreement was signed by the Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, and the Head of Russia's Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, Sergey Kiriyenko.

Upon arrival in the Russian capital, Salehi told reporters that he is also due to discuss mechanisms for nuclear fuel exchanges with Russia. A Russian official said Russia might agree to build two more reactor units at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant and six more at another location to be determined.

No schedule was given for any of the planned construction. Rosatom said that all the plants would be operated as Bushehr currently is, under safeguards mandated by the International Atomic Energy Agency, with the nuclear fuel produced in Russia and shipped back there for reprocessing after use.

Comment: These are power generation projects that have been under negotiation for a considerable time. The timing of the announcement, during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, appears designed to reinforce the perception that Western sanctions are not damaging Russian economic prospects.

Ukraine: US General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told the press that Russian ground forces entered eastern Ukraine this week. He said NATO detected "Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops entering Ukraine."

General-Major Igor Konashenkov, a Russian Defense Ministry official, dismissed the comments as anti-Russian "hot air" and said "there was and is no evidence" behind the NATO accusations.

"We have already stopped paying attention to unsubstantiated statements by NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Philip Breedlove, on Russian military convoys he 'observed' allegedly invading Ukraine," Konashenkov said.

Comment: The Russians are fencing with words in their denials. They contend that any Russians in eastern Ukraine are volunteers, an old canard.

On the other hand, the lack of details in the NATO report, including information on the locations and some estimate of numbers, weakens its cogency.

Assuming the NATO reports are accurate, the movements suggest Russia is establishing an undeclared protectorate over the two eastern regions in rebellion. It is ensuring their survival against Ukrainian forces. That would make the actions similar in concept to those Russian forces took in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. The big difference is that the Russian military moves into Georgia were overt and undisguised.

It probably is no accident that the Russian reinforcement of eastern Ukraine also apparently overlapped the APEC summit in Beijing.

Egypt: A military official told the Egyptian news agency MENA that armed men from boats fired at a naval patrol on Wednesday north of the port of Damietta. A military source said a "unit of the naval forces was conducting combat activity in the Mediterranean, 40 nautical miles north of the port of Damietta, when a number of fishing boats opened fire from several directions."

The official said air force and navy fighters were deployed to rescue the patrol after their boat caught fire. He said reinforcements "destroyed" the three attacking boats and 20 people were subsequently arrested.

Comment: No group has claimed responsibility for the attack and the Egyptian report did not identify any group. One news outlet claimed the attackers were armed men in fishing boats. Despite Egypt's troubles of the past two years and the continuing unrest in Sinai, few attacks have been reported in the region of the Suez Canal that have impacted its use.

End of NightWatch

As Gruber-Gate continues and as Obamacare heads back to the Supreme Court over the validity of federal subsidies in states that do not use federal healthcare exchanges, the legislation continues to take an extremely negative toll on the nation's healthcare system and hospitals. 

In a piece published yesterday, USA Today writers Jayne O'Donnell and Laura Ungar detail the devastating effect the Affordable Care Act is having on rural hospitals.
Since the beginning of 2010, 43 rural hospitals — with a total of more than 1,500 beds — have closed, according to data from the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program. The pace of closures has quickened: from 3 in 2010 to 13 in 2013, and 12 already this year. Georgia alone has lost five rural hospitals since 2012, and at least six more are teetering on the brink of collapse. Each of the state's closed hospitals served about 10,000 people — a lot for remaining area hospitals to absorb.

The Affordable Care Act was designed to improve access to health care for all Americans and will give them another chance at getting health insurance during open enrollment starting this Saturday. But critics say the ACA is also accelerating the demise of rural outposts that cater to many of society's most vulnerable. These hospitals treat some of the sickest and poorest patients — those least aware of how to stay healthy. Hospital officials contend that the law's penalties for having to re-admit patients soon after they're released are impossible to avoid and create a crushing burden.
This news comes on top of other negative factors we've already seen as a result of Obamacare: limited healthcare choices and networks, loss of innovation in the medical device industry due to over taxation, massive loss of insurance coverage, and 6-out-of-10 doctors retiring early. 

Despite these developments, facts and consequences, liberal Democrats across the country, including President Obama, continue to argue Obamacare is working.

Meanwhile, the administration downgraded Obamacare enrollment expectations last week as open enrollment gets set to begin tomorrow. Original estimates for new enrollees were at 13 million and have been downgraded to 9 million.
Federal officials on Monday sought to lower expectations for upcoming enrollment in Obamacare, announcing that they now believe that only between 9 million and 9.9 million people will be enrolled in Affordable Care Act health insurance plans by the end of 2015.

That is well below the 13 million people that the Congressional Budget Office has projected for Obamacare enrollment by the end of 2015. Open enrollment for 2015 plans resumes Saturday.

The new projection, as much as 30 percent reduced from the CBO estimate, comes from the Health and Human Services Department, which oversees the Obamacare health reform program.

Administration wants to exempt Islamic State effort from bans on aid to torturers, rapists

Pamela Geller / Atlas Shrugs

The arms and the aid Obama has been sending to Syria have been captured, sold, or given to the Islamic State for well over a year now. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if the weapons transferred to Syria in the gun-running operation that Ambassador Stevens was overseeing didn’t fall into their hands as well.

Now Obama wants Congress to sign off on aid to the beheaders, torturers, rapists and enslavers. American taxpayer dollars to these savages.

This cannot stand. There are people we should stand with, aid and arm — the religious minorities, the victims of jihad. And we should ally with Israel — but Obama appears to share more common ground with the killers. Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Libya, Gaza, Syria...


     

$420,000,000 in U.S. weapons, “sensitive items” missing in Afghanistan

/ Jihad Watch
 
Afghanistan: US Military in Southern Afghanistan
The corrupt and treacherous kleptocrat Hamid Karzai is gone, but his legacy lives on. The new President, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, is almost certainly still receiving those bags of cash from the CIA, and the new regime shows no more interest in accountability than Karzai did.

Will this revelation slow down the flow of money and materiel to the Afghan regime? Don’t be silly. Despite the regime’s corruption, unwillingness to do anything to curb green-on-blue attacks, and inability to stop the Taliban, this won’t even be a speed bump.

Yet Obama and the State Department have never explained exactly what benefits to the United States will accrue from the massive expenditure and loss American life in Afghanistan – they know the mainstream media and the Stupid Party will not call them on it, so why bother?

“Report: $420M in U.S. Weapons, ‘Sensitive Items’ Go Missing in Afghanistan,” by Adam Kredo, Washington Free Beacon, November 13, 2014:
Nearly $420 million in weapons and other “sensitive items” have gone missing from U.S. Army bases in Afghanistan and are not likely to be recovered due to mismanagement and improper accounting, according to an internal report by the Pentagon’s inspector general obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Obama Plan to Shield Up to 5 Million Immigrants From Deportation

NEWSMAX


Image: Obama Plan to Shield Up to 5 Million Immigrants From Deportation
President Barack Obama plans to announce an overhaul of U.S. immigration policy through executive action that would shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, the New York Times reported on Thursday.  

Such a move will set up a showdown with Republicans, who have blocked Democrats' efforts in Congress to reform immigration laws and warned the president not to take unilateral action on immigration.

The Times, citing unidentified administration officials with direct knowledge of the plan, said Obama's proposed overhaul may be announced as soon as next week. Officials said it would allow many parents of children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents to obtain work documents and stay in the United States.

The Times said Obama's plan will provide more opportunities for immigrants with high-tech skills and add security resources to the border with Mexico. 

Undocumented immigrants with family ties in the United States and no criminal record also would be considered lower priority for deportation than those with criminal records or who are considered security risks.

Republicans, who won control of Congress in Nov. 4 elections, have warned Obama not to take unilateral action on immigration.

Obama told congressional leaders last Friday he was committed to using executive powers to ease some restrictions on undocumented immigrants since Republicans in the House of Representatives had refused to advance immigration legislation.

Mitch McConnell, who will be Senate majority leader starting in January, said if Obama took unilateral action on immigration, it would be like "waving a red flag in front of a bull."

When the new Congress convenes in January, Republicans will have majorities in both chambers.

Op-ed: 
Riding Upon the Chariot of Long Ago Gods        By: Diane Sori 

“We are there...We are sitting on the surface... Philae is talking to us...We are on the comet.”
- Stephan Ulamec, Philae lander manager

Man's ingenuity knows few bounds except for the ones some put on imagination and on the quest for knowledge through exploration. Just NOT understanding that if man stops exploring... especially in reaching for the stars...man will stagnate and grow complacent. And with complacency comes contempt, and the outcome of contempt is that it destroys the very concept of exceptionality.

But this past Wednesday that sad truth was thankfully put aside as the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission came to a very successful end. After a seven hour wait where NO transmissions were received, the team in charge achieved what many thought would be an impossible task as a robotic spacecraft ...after a ten-year 300 million mile journey that cost $1.8 billion...landed on a comet for the first time in history.

At 11am EST...Philae 'called home,' if you will, signaling it had arrived safe and sound at its intended destination atop comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, named after the two astronomers who identified it in 1969. Now anchored onto the comet, the Philae probe will study what happens as the comet's activity increases as it gets closer to the sun, and hopefully will unlock some details about how the planets... and maybe even life itself...evolved. Life itself for comets preserve within their interior certain organic molecules dating back to the formation of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago...that's 4.6 billion years ago NOT 6,000 years ago as 'some' erroneously believe...and this happens by Philae 'seeing' the molecules chemical composition from below the surface like one would view a time-capsule.

In fact, some scientists believe comets like 67P brought water to our newly formed Earth, because the rocky pieces that came together to form this planet were dry, so logic would dictate that water had to have come from somewhere else and that maybe Earth’s oceans are filled with so-called 'melted' comets. Interesting hypothesis...huh. Going a step further, could Philae possibly prove the 'panspermia theory'...a theory that proposes that 'simple' (microscopic) life arrived on Earth via a comet or asteroid...simple life that then over time 'evolved' into more complex life forms...as in mammals...as in homo sapiens. Perhaps...

Now let's NOT get all religious on me here as what I'm writing in this article is from a purely scientific and tangible perspective alone, and in NO way is meant to demean the faithful. And that includes the ubber far right who think of themselves as 'God's police.'

To continue...now many will claim why did ESA bother to send anything to a comet that is just going to eventually be swallowed up by the sun...what a waste of money they say. These are the very same people who pooh-poohed America's Apollo missions to the Moon...the very same people who lambasted the funds spent on the Space Shuttle...and who continuously whine why does man need to go back to the Moon or ever go to Mars.

I'll tell you why we need to keep exploring space and it goes well beyond man's basic and genetically programmed need to explore...take a look around at your everyday life because guess what...you have NASA and the space program to thank for the things you take for granted.

Here are but a few of the many things per category that we use in our everyday lives that we could NOT or want NOT to do without that came about via NASA and space exploration.

In the medical field, first and foremost is the CAT Scan. Now used to detect cancer in people and animals, this 'imaging' machine was developed to find imperfections in space components. Next is the Ear Thermometer, something parents of young children could NOT do without. Today these commonly-used thermometers are routinely used in hospitals, but the technology that led to their development came from a camera-like lens that detected infrared energy used to measure radiation emanating from stars and planets. And let's NOT forget Light-Emitting Diodes (LED). Developed by NASA, the red light-emitting diodes were first used to grow plants in space, but is now used in medical devices for muscle and joint pain relief due to arthritis and muscle spasms as well as it being used to combat symptoms of bone atrophy, multiple sclerosis, diabetic complications, and Parkinson's disease.

And so critical to those awaiting heart transplants, NASA in collaboration with Dr. Michael DeBakey, Dr. George Noon, and MicroMed Technology Inc. invented the Ventricular Assist Device which pumps blood until a donor heart becomes available. The pump's small size which can can operate for up to 8 hours on batteries, allows patients the ability to do normal, everyday activities untethered to the more commonly seen very large VAD devices.

In the field of computer technology and telecommunications...you know the computer you're reading this article on...while the first integrated circuit...the forefather of the modern microchip...was built by Texas Instruments, it was built for and funded by the Apollo program to use in the Apollo Guidance Computer, and in the Air Force's Minuteman Missile Project as was the computer 'mouse.' And now comes the first ever quantum computer that NASA hopes will be able to solve problems faster than any computer using currently known optimization algorithms. Also, NASA software engineers have created thousands of computer programs over the decades equipped to design, test, and analyze stress, vibration, and acoustical properties of a broad assortment of aerospace parts and structures.

And your beloved 'smartphone' comes from technology that NASA used to send satellites into Earth's orbit to monitor space and communicate with scientists on the ground. Well, this technology was adopted to over 200 communication satellites that connect us via our 'smartphones' to everyone else with a 'smartphone'...or any phone for that matter.

And here are but a few things we take for granted but things we could NOT do without...at least most people couldn't. Let's start with home insulation. Still in use in the reflective material that protects spacecrafts from radiation, this technology filtered down to private sector use in the guise of the 'fuzzy pink stuff' that keeps heat in our homes in winter and keeps the heat out in summer. And how about the scratch resistant lenses used in our eyeglasses, ski goggles, and such that were derived from the technology used in astronauts helmet visors which now makes our lenses 10X more scratch resistant. And let's NOT forget the water filters most of us have in our homes, especially in areas of our country where 'hard water' is the norm...well NASA is the one who pioneered filter technology as a way to purify the water and kill the bacteria in the water our astronauts take into space.

And let's NOT forget that the life-saving, but sometimes extremely annoying, 'adjustable' smoke detector is a NASA innovation as well. And along the lines of saving lives, NASA was the first to develop fire-resistant materials which are NOT only used in space suits and space vehicles, but are currently used in firefighters suits, and are even used in children's pajamas and clothes. And speaking of children...the video game 'joy stick' gamers could NOT do without was first used on the Apollo Lunar Rover.

And while NASA also invented the cushioned insoles used in today's athletic shoes via the padding used in astronauts boots, NASA is also responsible for the work-out equipment so many of us use weekly if NOT daily. These are the machines used in fitness gyms, school athletic departments, and by physical therapists, and were developed by NASA to keep the astronauts physically fit by preventing muscle atrophy that would otherwise occur in the zero gravity environment of the space ships they are passengers on.

NASA is also 'green' conscious, if you will, as their surplus rocket fuel is used to produce a flare that can safely destroy land mines without negatively impacting the environment. Adding to NASA's 'green' conscious is their development of a solid oil-free lubricant (PS300) capable of operating machines at high temperatures with increased reliability, lowered weight, reduced maintenance, lower friction, reduced emissions, all while increasing power and productivity, allowing this lubricant to be used in advanced aeropropulsion engines, refrigeration compressors, turbochargers, and hybrid electrical turbogenerators.

And dare we forget that the concept of modern solar energy use is also the brainchild of NASA and the space program. Originated with a NASA sponsored 28-member coalition of companies, government groups, universities, and non-profits forming the 'Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology Alliance' (ERAST), NASA intended to develop an unmanned aircraft that was able to maintain high altitude flight for days at a time by harnessing the sun's energy for power, and their proposed technology for said aircraft morphed into the solar panels we all see in use today.

And there are so many more contributions NASA has made that are applicable to our daily lives (spin-off technologies) ranging from infant formulas, enriched baby foods that mimic breast milk, 'life-like' artificial limbs, long-lived freeze dried foods that are favored by survivalists, memory foam, emergency 'space blankets', the Dustbuster, cochlear implants, single-crystal silicon solar cells, video enhancing and analysis systems, aircraft anti-icing systems, and over 1,650 other commercial products and services in the fields of computer technology, environment and agriculture, health and medicine, public safety, transportation, recreation, and industrial productivity.

So while some claim that wasting all that money chasing a comet is money down the drain, just remember all the things...life saving and life enhancing things...that would NOT be in existence today if it was NOT for those brave men and women who dared to reach for the stars, to explore the unknown, to enter the realm of the long ago gods.