Archive for November, 2010

Martin Armstrong (born 1950) is the former chairman of Princeton Economics International Ltd. Indicted in 1999 on charges of bilking Japanese investors, he spent seven years jailed for contempt of court before finally pleading guilty in 2007, and he is now serving a five-year sentence for conspiracy to commit fraud.

As a teenager, Armstrong worked at a rare stamp and coin dealership and became a millionaire at age 15. Then he opened his own store at age 21. After studying historical gold prices, he developed a cyclical theory of commodity prices and began a company, Economic Consultants of Princeton.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed multiple complaints about this company, finding that it failed to maintain adequate records, misstated performance results, and was not properly registered. During this time, Armstrong continued to collect gold and antiquities which would later become a major bone of contention with the New York State justice system.

Armstrong was a frequent contributor to academic journals and was often sought for comment on financial topics. As an investor, he proved that his market timing approach predicted both the high-water mark of the Nikkei in 1989, months ahead of time, and also the July 20, 1998, high in the U.S. equities market.

In 1981 Armstrong formed Princeton Economics and, in 1998, he established a hedge fund in partnership with Magnum Global Investments.

During that time he developed a financial prediction model called the “pi-cycle model” and published long term forecasts which are still monitored by the financial press. In the United Kingdom, for example, a popular financial magazine Money Week published an article on Martin Armstrong on March 27, 2007, titled “The strange case of the jailed market genius”. In that article they highlighted the model had predicted a major top in financial markets for February 27, 2007, with the next major bottom being June 18, 2011.

In 1999, Japanese fraud investigators determined that Armstrong had been collecting money from Japanese investors, improperly “commingling” these funds with funds from other investors, and using the fresh money to cover losses he had incurred while trading. Assisting Armstrong in his scheme was the Republic New York Bank which produced false account statements to reassure Armstrong’s investors, and which in 2001 agreed to pay $606 million as restitution for its part in the scandal.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor was reported to have been part of the panel of appeals judges that upheld a lower court ruling to keep Martin Armstrong in prison for contempt of court.

Armstrong was indicted in 1999, and was ordered by Judge Richard Owen to turn over a number of gold bars, computers, and antiquities that had been bought with the fund’s money; the list included bronze helmets and a bust of Julius Caesar. Armstrong produced some of the items, but claimed the others were not in his possession; this led to several contempt of court charges.

Armstrong was jailed for seven years for contempt of court, and only went to trial when the NY Court of Appeals removed Judge Owen from his case; in 2007 after spending several days in solitary confinement. Left with limited options he was forced to plead guilty and was sentenced to five more years in prison.Despite the unjust conditions of his case, Armstrong continues to write essays and has commented on the current economic conditions facing the United States and the world in 2007-09.

Armstrong, who is divorced, has two children. His daughter, Victoria Armstrong, paid her father visits in prison on most Wednesdays, spending about one hour with him in a common room with other visitors and prisoners. Martin Armstrong Jr and Victory Armstrong supported their father in what was, according to Martin Armstrong Jr, a “one sided legal battle”. They asked the public for help and sent letters to the judges.

According to Armstrong’s daughter Victoria Armstrong, “It took nearly 30 years for my dad to develop this model and his refusing to turn over its source code to the government is a big reason why he has been held in jail for over 7 years without a trial. His model was his life’s work and his passion that ultimately landed him in jail. Although it’s great to hear people that have benefited from his insight, after seeing what has happened to him I wish he kept it to himself.”

Armstrong published in 22 May 2009 a piece entitled “Is Democracy Dying? Leviathan, The Power Cleverly Hidden Behind Politicians” in which he uses the history to explain the delusion of Democracy. The paper “Looking Behind the Curtain”, Published by Armstrong on April 9, 2009, details purported events connecting Goldman Sachs to U.S. government manipulation of financial markets.

As of 24/11/2009 a dedicated site hosting over 40 of his essays is available at Additionally Armstrong’s recent writings are also available at found by searching for Martin Armstrong.

As of 2/11/2010, Armstrong filed motions with the US district court in New Jersey for medical treatment and/or home confinement. He has complained about a serious infection and the loss of sight in one eye due to repeated requests for medical treatment denied by the authorities at Ft Dix Camp Prison. More info at Princeton Economics Blog. Recent court motions can be found at

Wiki Note: The neutrality of this article is disputed. Please see the discussion on the talk page.

Source:  Wiki

Video: Bernanke Addresses Business Leaders in Ohio

IBM CEO says economic recovery will depend on education and skills development

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The Creature From Jekyll Island

It’s The Economy Stupid…

Public Sector Employment: The Gravy Train Robs Peter To Pay Paul

World Governance: Who Gave Them The Right To Take What I Have Earned?

Obama’s “Union” Trade War Has Started

Wealth Redistribution: Legal Plunder Or Just California Dreamin?

“Helicopter Ben” Bernanke: Keynesian Fine Tuning Or Intertemporal Misallocation?

Updated Links:

The Wall Street Pentagon Papers: Biggest Scam In World History Exposed – Are The Federal Reserve’s Crimes Too Big To Comprehend?

Zero Hedge: The Federal Reserve: America’s Fourth Branch of Government

60 Minutes Overtime” cut of the Bernanke interview

FRB Data Download

FRB: Credit and Liquidity Programs and the Balance Sheet

Updates – OSU Photos, Video, 60 Minutes Video, Related Links – end


WARNING: This blog post contains graphic photographs and video of items on display (October 30, 2010 through February 13, 2011) in an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery.

*** UPDATE ***

Express Yourself: A Major New Showcase Of Gay Portraiture

NPR – by Neda Ulaby (Listen to the Story)

Hide/Seek is not exactly hidden, but to find it, you have to thread your way upstairs and through the crowds visiting a hugely popular Norman Rockwell exhibit at the adjacent Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery is a smaller show, but it marks the first time a major museum in the United States has dedicated an entire exhibition to gay and lesbian portraiture.

For the first time, a major museum exhibition is focusing on gay and lesbian portraiture — in the exhibition Hide/Seek at the National Portrait Gallery.

“To see artwork, all by gay men and women in this country, all exhibited in a place like this — it’s amazing,” enthused a visitor, Gary Fisher of Washington, D.C. He added tartly, “It’s about time.”

The artists are actually not all gay, but the subjects generally are. Co-curator Jonathan Katz is an eminent queer studies scholar and art historian. He agrees that the Smithsonian’s involvement is a landmark achievement. “For a gay man of my generation to understand the federal government as a helpmeet was, shall we say, a new feeling,” he observed.

Katz came of age as an art historian in 1989, when the Corcoran Gallery of Art canceled a retrospective of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs. Their confrontational gay and S&M content stirred a furor in Congress. Since then, Katz says, major museums have basically blacklisted exhibitions focusing on gay sexuality. He put together this one with the Portrait Gallery’s David C. Ward, and its reviews have been terrific. Ward credits that in part to their different perspectives.

“Jonathan is gay, I’m straight,” Ward said. “Jonathan is the outside guy; I’m the inside guy.”

Ward says Hide/Seek is one of the biggest and most expensive shows the National Portrait gallery has ever launched, with over a hundred works of art. The show includes an ad for Arrow dress shirts from 1914 that pictures a pair of handsome bachelors enjoying domestic bliss. The illustrator, J.C. Leyendecker, used his boyfriend as one of the models…

Smithsonian Christmas-Season Exhibit Features Ant-Covered Jesus, Naked Brothers Kissing, Genitalia, and Ellen DeGeneres Grabbing Her Breasts

CNS News – By Penny Starr

The federally funded National Portrait Gallery, one of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, is currently showing an exhibition that features images of an ant-covered Jesus, male genitals, naked brothers kissing, men in chains, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, and a painting the Smithsonian itself describes in the show’s catalog as “homoerotic.”

The exhibit, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” opened on Oct. 30 and will run throughout the Christmas Season, closing on Feb. 13.

“This is an exhibition that displays masterpieces of American portraiture and we wanted to illustrate how questions of biography and identity went into the making of images that are canonical,” David C. Ward, a National Portrait Gallery (NGP) historian who is also co-curator of the exhibit, told…

The Smithsonian Institution has an annual budget of $761 million, 65 percent of which comes from the federal government, according to Linda St. Thomas, the Smithsonian’s chief spokesperson. The National Portrait Gallery itself received $5.8 million in federal funding in fiscal year 2010, according to St. Thomas. It also received $5.8 million in federal funding in fiscal 2009, according to the museum’s annual report. The gallery’s overall funding in that year was $8 million.

St. Thomas told that federal funds are not used to pay for Smithsonian exhibits themselves, including the “Hide/Seek” exhibit. The federal funds received by the Smithsonian, she said, pay for the buildings, the care of collections exhibited at Smithsonian venues, and museum staff, including the salaries for curators of exhibits. The exhibits presented at Smithsonian museums, including “Hide/Seek,” are funded by donations from individuals or institutions. Among the donors who provided support for the “Hide/Seek” exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery are The Calamus Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The John Burton Harter Charitable Foundation, and The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute and a former senior economist on the congressional Joint Economic Committee, told, “If the Smithsonian didn’t have the taxpayer-funded building, they would have no space to present the exhibit, right? In my own view, if someone takes taxpayer money, then I think the taxpayers have every right to question the institutions where the money’s going.”

“Think about the Washington Post,” he said. “They don’t have to publish every op-ed that they get, right? They own the platform. In this case [the Smithsonian Institution], the taxpayers own the platform and so the taxpayers should decide what is presented on that platform.”

Gary Scott, an economist who is a senior research fellow at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, had a similar view.

“Leaving aside the merit or lack of it in the exhibit itself, the notion that taxpayers don’t fund it is unpersuasive,” said Scott. “First, most of the overall budget derives from tax monies for the facility, and maintenance and staff.  Second, the exhibit appears inside and is monitored by staff. Finally, if it was funded only by outside funding the exhibit would be outside in a snowdrift.”

A spokesperson for the gallery’s external affairs office said the cost to mount the “Hide/Seek” exhibit is $750,000, the most expensive exhibition to date at the National Portrait Gallery…

The “Hide/Seek” exhibit includes a television screen that shows edited versions of two videos, “A Fire in My Belly” and “The Pink Narcissus.”

“The Pink Narcissus” is a video released in 1971 by James Bidgood (b. 1933). The National Portrait Gallery’s description for the video says, “The film is a surreal portrait of the youth’s emergence into gay life, his coming out symbolized by the metaphor of a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly.” The video was originally 71 minutes long, and has been edited down to 7 minutes for display in the museum, according to the description.

“A Fire in My Belly” was created by David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992). The full-length version of this 1987 video, according to the description at the exhibit, is 30 minutes long. The version viewable in the National Portrait Gallery has been edited down to 4 minutes. The description says, “A Fire in My Belly, a compilation of footage largely shot in Mexico, weaves together numerous images of loss, pain, and death into a metaphor for the AIDS epidemic; it concludes in a picture of the world aflame.”

The description speaks of the video artist’s “poetic, yet furious, condemnation of the way greed, religion, and selfishness conspire to label certain people as outside the scope of our caring.” It also quotes Wojnarowicz, who died of AIDS, as saying, “When I was told I’d contracted the virus, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I’d contracted a diseased society as well.”

On Nov. 21, a “Hide/Seek Family and Friends Day” was held at the gallery in conjunction with the exhibit. The event was publicized on the Web site for the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution and other venues.

The promotion read, in part: “Gallery Talks & Tours, Kids & Families. EVENT LOCATION Throughout the museum COST Free RELATED EXHIBITION Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture … NOTE This friends and family day includes music and hands-on arts activities inspired by the exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture. Guided tours of the Hide/Seek exhibition also available at special times.”

The “hands-on arts activities” for children inspired by the “Hide/Seek” exhibit were held in the atrium of the gallery. asked Ward if he thought the exhibit might be offensive to people who disagree with the homosexual lifestyle. He said, “I believe that the American public is mature and tolerant in its opinion of alternative points of view. This is an art and cultural exhibition that displays important and key works of artistic creation and attempts to interpret them against the background of American history.”

“This exhibition identifies specific artists who were gay and discusses how that identity affected their art,” Ward said. “It also shows how straight artists were also influenced in their art by questions about the fluidity of gender and identity. Insofar as Hide/Seek has an over-arching message it is that democratic culture consists of many strands and influences.”

“It would be wrong for us as a museum to close off the discussion of any question because of a personal or political point of view,” Ward said. “The National Portrait Gallery is a living institution, responsive to the social and cultural changes that we have experienced in America since our founding (and before!).”…]


Opening of the sixteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 16)
Cancún, 29 November 2010

Address by Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary

I also would like to extend my sincere thanks to those countries which have made a generous contribution to enable the participation of two delegates from all developing countries and 2 +1 delegates from the least developed countries and small island developing States. Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to COP16, welcome to CMP6! Welcome to the land of the ancient Mayan goddess Ixchel!

Next to being the goddess of the moon, Ixchel was also the goddess of reason, creativity and weaving. May she inspire you – because today, you are gathered in Cancún to weave together the elements of a solid response to climate change, using both reason and creativity as your tools. Weaving this tapestry is urgent.

• It is urgent because according to the World Meteorological Organization, concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have today reached their highest level since pre-industrial times;
• It is urgent because the poorest and most vulnerable need predictable and sufficient assistance to face a serious problem that they did not cause;
• And it is urgent because the multilateral climate change process needs to remain the trusted channel for rising to the challenge;

The task is not easy, but it is achievable. I know that, because in the past, you have woven tapestries that have turned into significant achievements in the context of the already existing implementation agenda of both the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.

I urge you to further advance those issues here in Cancún and to continue weaving them into ever more effective achievements. But evidently, in order to achieve the full and effective implementation of the Convention, a richer tapestry of efforts is needed. During 2010, you have taken important steps.

• You revealed a commitment to live up to the fast start finance pledged in Copenhagen. Developed countries have announced pledges totaling USD 28 billion dollars and many of them are now making information available on the disbursement of these funds. This is encouraging and I urge developed countries to complete the work on this pledge in a transparent and timely manner;
• You also revealed a growing convergence that a balanced set of decisions under both the COP and the CMP could be an achievable outcome here in Cancun;
• You revealed a willingness to capture progress and advance work with a text under the Kyoto Protocol;
• And you revealed that you may be able to agree on a decision to start operationalizing the Bali Action Plan.

However, before those issues can move forward there are a number of politically charged issues that have not yet benefited from equal willingness to compromise, both under the Kyoto Protocol track and the LCA track. With respect to the Kyoto Protocol, these politically charged issues include:

• The need to avoid a gap after the first commitment period and the importance of having clarity on the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol;
• How the mitigation proposals put forward by industrialized countries in 2010 could help achieve clarity on this;
• And how to send a signal from Cancun that governments wish to continue engaging the private sector through the Kyoto Protocol’s market mechanisms beyond 2012.

Under the LCA, the unresolved issues include:

• The formalization of mitigation proposals put forward by Parties in 2010 and the accompanying accountability for their implementation;
The mobilization of long-term finance, the creation of a new fund and the accompanying accountability of its delivery;
• Response measures;
• And the understanding of fairness that will guide long-term mitigation efforts.

I urge you to resolve these issues with priority so that a balanced outcome in Cancun can be achieved. A tapestry with holes will not work and the holes can only be filled in through compromise. Excellencies, when the stakes are high and the issues are challenging, compromise is an act of wisdom that can unite different positions in creative ways.

Looking at what you have achieved over the past months, I am convinced that you can compromise to find your way to a concrete outcome in Cancun. That outcome needs to be both firm and dependable and have a dedicated follow-on process for future work.

Excellencies, the goddess Ixchel would probably tell you that a tapestry is the result of the skilful interlacing of many threads. I am convinced that 20 years from now we will admire the policy tapestry that you have woven together and think back fondly to Cancun and the inspiration of the goddess Ixchel.

Thank you.

Examination of CRU data suggests no statistically significant warming

Watts Up With That? By Anthony Watts

UPDATE: The StataSphere server can’t handle the load of interest, I’ve take the images offline from this article, and disabled the link to it. Once he gets the server up and running again I’ll put them back – Anthony

Readers may recall this quote from Dr. Phil Jones of CRU, by the BBC:

Q: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

A: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

A.J. Strata has done some significance tests:

CRU Raw Temp Data Shows No Significant Warming Over Most Of The World

Published by AJStrata at StrataSphere

Bottom Line – Using two back-of-the-envelope tests for significance against the CRU global temperature data I have discovered:

  • 75% of the globe has not seen significant peak warming or cooling changes between the period prior to 1960 and the 2000′s which rise above a 0.5°C threshold, which is well within the CRU’s own stated measurement uncertainties o +/- 1°C or worse.
  • Assuming a peak to peak change (pre 1960 vs 2000′s) should represent a change greater than 20% of the measured temperature range (i.e., if the measured temp range is 10° then a peak-to-peak change of greater than 2° would be considered ‘significant’) 87% the Earth has not experienced significant temperature changes between pre 1960 period and the 2000′s.

Cancun climate change summit: scientists call for rationing in developed world

Global warming is now such a serious threat to mankind that climate change experts are calling for Second World War-style rationing in rich countries to bring down carbon emissions.

Telegraph – By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent

…As the world meets in Cancun, Mexico for the latest round of United Nations talks on climate change, the influential academics called for much tougher measures to cut carbon emissions.

In one paper Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said the only way to reduce global emissions enough, while allowing the poor nations to continue to grow, is to halt economic growth in the rich world over the next twenty years.

This would mean a drastic change in lifestyles for many people in countries like Britain as everyone will have to buy less ‘carbon intensive’ goods and services such as long haul flights and fuel hungry cars.

Prof Anderson admitted it “would not be easy” to persuade people to reduce their consumption of goods

He said politicians should consider a rationing system similar to the one introduced during the last “time of crisis” in the 1930s and 40s.

This could mean a limit on electricity so people are forced to turn the heating down, turn off the lights and replace old electrical goods like huge fridges with more efficient models. Food that has travelled from abroad may be limited and goods that require a lot of energy to manufacture.

“The Second World War and the concept of rationing is something we need to seriously consider if we are to address the scale of the problem we face,” he said…

The Convention and the Protocol

Over a decade ago, most countries joined an international treaty — the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) — to begin to consider what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with whatever temperature increases are inevitable. More recently, a number of nations approved an addition to the treaty: the Kyoto Protocol, which has more powerful (and legally binding) measures. The UNFCCC secretariat supports all institutions involved in the climate change process, particularly the COP, the subsidiary bodies and their Bureau.

This section contains numerous resources — for beginners or experts — such as introductory and in-depth publications, the official UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol texts and a search engine to the UNFCCC library.

Kyoto Protocol — What it means

The Kyoto Protocol, an international and legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, entered into force on 16 February 2005.

UNFCCC COP16/CMP6 Official Website

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Climategate: Just Say Nopenhagen

Sveriges Riksbank Prize (Nobel 2009):One For Economics, The Other For A Political Scientist?

Climate Change: Airline Asks Passengers To Pee Before Flying And “Unique” Tree Rings

Climate Change: Don’t Worry–Obama And His Liberal Friends Will Save The World


Beware a Hollow Air Force

…current plans to hollow out the Air Force are misguided and will in the long run cost far more to the nation than they will save today. Retiring 650 combat fighters before replacements are ready will necessarily reduce the availability of needed planes and thus U.S. credibility. Yet the Air Force finds itself in a Catch-22, since its fleet is superannuated. Flying airframes until they are falling apart is inexcusable in a country that can spend billions of dollars filling in potholes and repaving curbs.

No airman should be expected to fly planes that are older than he is, but today’s B-52 pilots fly airframes built in the 1960s, and F-15 pilots fly the same planes as did their fathers. The lack of progress on the Next-Generation Bomber similarly puts America’s strategic options at risk. Unless a future president wants to start lobbing ballistic missiles at enemy fortifications, a modern bomber fleet remains necessary to penetrate the heavily defended airspace of potential adversaries.

Why is all this so urgent? Because authoritarian states that seek to challenge global stability are not only getting stronger, but becoming more advanced, as well. China’s air and naval forces are giving it the confidence to stake out claims in the South China, East China, and Yellow Seas that implicitly dare the U.S. to get involved. Both Russia and China are developing two-engine fifth-generation stealth fighters, just when America has shut down F-22 production. News reports this week indicate Russia may sell its most advanced fighters, the Su-35, to China.

Iran will likely soon develop the know-how to build nuclear weapons, and has a ballistic-missile supply source in North Korea. All of these countries, moreover, have increasingly sophisticated integrated air defenses that will prevent U.S. airplanes from entering their airspace — except the F-22, whose numbers are now so low that combatant commanders will be wary of using them for fear of losing them. One doesn’t have to be a fatalist to see various scenarios in which the Air Force will be called upon to respond to a crisis, yet may be unable to do so, or succeed only at appallingly high cost in airmen’s lives.

Today, the Air Force needs to come up with a list of strategic priorities and make its case on Capitol Hill and on Main Street. As next year’s budget is being drawn up, there must be development funding for the Next-Generation Bomber, which has already been canceled once by Secretary Gates. The White House or Senate cannot be allowed to kill the production of C-17 transport planes, which ensure global reach.

Further cutting the production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will drive up the per-plane cost, as anyone with budgetary experience can attest. Equally important, Air Force leadership needs to make Congress face up to the fact that canceling the F-22 was a mistake that will limit the force’s ability to respond to a variety of high-level threats. Finally, the Air Force must ensure it receives funding resources commensurate with its unique missions of providing cyber security and space assets to America’s national-security establishment.

Secretary Gates has criticized military leaders for having “next-waritis,” arguing that they should focus on current conflicts — which today means counterinsurgency operations. But it is dangerously irresponsible for our national-security leadership to ignore state-level threats that are not merely on the horizon, but rapidly approaching. America needs to build the weapons that are necessary for defeating high-level threats, even as our armed forces must better steward their diminishing budgetary resources.

If we intend to maintain American military dominance abroad, the U.S. Air Force cannot be hollowed out and relegated to a supporting role. Nor can it be asked to maintain its global responsibilities with a sub-par force. If the United States wants to maintain the ability to be a global actor, to protect friends, and to dissuade adversaries, then a 360-degree Air Force is a prerequisite, as it has been for the last 60 years.

For its part, the Air Force must reclaim its unique spirit, recommit to core competencies in its nuclear mission, regain control of spiraling costs and procurement problems, and reassert itself in the political process and public debates. Anything less risks failure in the air and a loss of America’s unique role in the world.

– Michael Auslin is a resident scholar in foreign- and defense-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

NASA: Medium Launch Transition Strategy Leverages Ongoing Investments but Is Not Without Risk

GAO Report

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has long relied on the Delta II medium class launch vehicle to launch science missions. Delta II, however, is no longer in production, and no other vehicle in the relative cost and performance range is currently certified for NASA use. Thus, NASA faces a potential gap in the availability of medium class launch vehicles that could cause design challenges, delays, or funding issues.

GAO was asked to assess (1) NASA’s and the Delta II contractor’s, steps to ensure resources (budget, workforce, and facilities) are available to support safe Delta II operations through the last planned NASA flight in 2011; (2) NASA’s plans and contingencies for ensuring a smooth transition from current small and medium class launch vehicles to other launch vehicles for future science missions; (3) the risks associated with NASA’s planned approach to fill the medium launch capability gap; and (4) technical and programmatic implications to science missions if NASA commits to new launch vehicles before they are certified and proven. GAO identified and assessed transition plans and mitigation activities and interviewed responsible NASA and government officials.

NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) is taking steps to address risks and ensure the success of the last planned Delta II launched missions through a combination of specific government approvals and targeted government insight into contractor activities and designs. For example, LSP uses government systems engineers with technical expertise to review or repeat the contractors’ engineering analyses. This is a key factor in high launch success rates.

From 1990 through 2009, LSP has achieved a 98 percent launch success rate. LSP is conducting additional reviews of launch vehicle processing to mitigate risk associated with the remaining Delta II flights. LSP has also identified several specific areas of concern with the remaining Delta II flights–including contractor workforce expertise, postproduction subcontractor support, spare parts, and launch pads–and is taking steps where possible to mitigate risks and ensure the success of the remaining missions. NASA plans to leverage ongoing investments to acquire a new medium launch capability for science missions in the relative cost and performance range of the Delta II.

The agency expects to eventually certify the vehicles being developed for space station resupply for use by NASA science missions. NASA has been in coordination with agency and contractor officials responsible for these efforts. Further, the agency revised its policy to allow for faster certification of new providers. Due to an active small class launch vehicle market and NASA’s relative low need for vehicles in this class, the agency has no plans to develop additional small class launch vehicles. Rather, the agency will acquire these services through the NASA Launch Services II Contract.

NASA’s plan has inherent risks that need to be mitigated. NASA has not developed detailed estimates of the time and money required to resolve technical issues likely to arise during the launch vehicle certification process. As these costs are currently unknown, according to Science Mission Directorate officials, NASA has not yet budgeted for them. Further, both space station resupply vehicles have experienced delays and more delays are likely as launch vehicle development is an inherently risky endeavor. Neither potential provider currently has the facilities needed to launch the majority of NASA earth science missions requiring a medium capability.

NASA medium class science missions that are approaching their preliminary design review face uncertainties related to committing to as yet uncertified and unproven launch vehicles. Launch vehicle decisions for these missions will be made before new vehicles are certified. Because changing the launch vehicle of a science mission after its preliminary design review is likely to lead to significant cost growth and schedule delays, NASA’s intention is to select a launch vehicle and accept the impacts that any delays in the certification process could have to the cost and schedule of the science mission.

NASA officials also indicated that future science missions might be asked to accommodate multiple launch vehicle possibilities if the availability of future vehicles is delayed. GAO recommends that NASA perform a detailed cost estimate based on knowledge gained during launch vehicle certification and adequately budget for potential additional costs. NASA concurred.

GAO-11-107 November 22, 2010

Highlights Page (PDF)   Full Report (PDF, 38 pages)

X-37B Shuttle’s Super Secret Mission to End Soon


Preparations underway for first landing of X-37B

30th Space Wing Public Affairs

11/30/2010 – VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Preparations for the first landing of the X-37B are underway at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Space professionals from the 30th Space Wing will monitor the de-orbit and landing of the Air Force’s first X-37B, called the Orbital Test Vehicle 1 (OTV-1). While the exact landing date and time will depend on technical and weather considerations, it is expected to occur between Friday, December 3, and Monday, December 6, 2010.

NORAD ID: 36514
Int’l Code: 2010-015A
Perigee: 284.9 km
Apogee: 295.8 km
Inclination: 40.0°
Period: 90.2 min
Semi major axis: 6,661.4 km
Launch date: April 22, 2010
Source: United States (US)
Comments: It will land on a runway originally built for the space shuttle at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Officially named the Orbital Test Vehicle. Besides saying the mission will demonstrate the craft’s high-tech capabilities, the Air Force is not releasing any information on what experiments or objectives are planned while the X-37B is in orbit.

Two Line Element Set (TLE):

1 36514U 10015A   10327.74357191  .00025051  00000-0  55503-4 0    04
2 36514  39.9869 111.4048 0008163   6.5863 353.5069 15.96830074    04

More details about OTV 1 (USA 212)


Inside The Cockpit

The exploded engine was scary enough. But in the days following the emergency landing of the Qantas A380 in Singapore, it has become clear just how dangerous the situation was. Multiple systems on the aircraft failed and a disaster was only narrowly avoided.

Rarely had so much flying expertise been assembled in one cockpit. A training pilot was sitting behind Captain Richard de Crespigny, who was completing his annual flight test. Sitting next to them was a third captain whose job was to supervise the training pilot.

Together, the Airbus A380 operated by Australia’s Qantas Airways had a total of 100 years of flying experience sitting in its cockpit. Four minutes after takeoff from Singapore, that accumulated expertise was suddenly in great demand. At an altitude of 2,000 meters (6,560 feet), engine two of the double-decker aircraft exploded. The loud bang of the detonation had hardly faded away before 53 error messages appeared on the monitors.

Upon reading the matter-of-fact messages, the five pilots realized immediately how serious the situation was. Kerosene was leaking from two of the 12 fuel tanks, which meant that the plane could catch fire at any moment.

“It was unbelievably stressful. But in a situation like that, you have no choice but to keep on going,” says Richard Woodward. The captain knows what he is talking about. He also flies the A380 for Qantas, is the vice president of the International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) and has looked after the crew since the near-catastrophe almost two weeks ago. “The crew has dealt with this situation extraordinarily well,” Woodward reports. “They’re like horseback riders who, after a fall, are eager to get back on their horses.”

Failed to Activate

The men have given him their accounts of those dramatic moments in the air. There were no warnings before the engine exploded — no change in oil pressure, no unusual vibrations, nothing. When the explosion occurred, the captain quickly pressed an emergency button that activates an automatic extinguishing system when there is an engine fire. But the system failed to activate. “It was clear to him at that point that there must have been more damage,” says Woodward.

One of the training pilots ran back into the cabin, where he saw the holes in the wing caused by loose metal parts from the turbine. As a result, De Crespigny could not dump fuel properly to reduce the weight of the fully fueled aircraft for an emergency landing. He was also unable to pump kerosene from the back to the front of the aircraft, causing it to become increasingly unstable as kerosene escaped.

The incident raises serious questions for both engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce and Airbus. “How could there have been this much loss of function?” asks Woodward.

One of the two hydraulic systems failed and important connecting cables were severed, including those leading to the outer engine one. Although the pilot could still control the engine manually, it could no longer be shut off, so that firefighters had to smother it with extinguishing foam after the emergency landing.

Bad Brakes

“This raises the question of whether the aircraft is improperly designed,” says Woodward. “Apparently certain connections are not redundant; or the two cables are positioned so close together that the shrapnel destroyed them simultaneously.”

The aircraft manufacturer is defending itself against such accusations. The aircraft, says Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath, was “controllable until the landing,” and the autopilot continued to function. “There are two separate hydraulic and electrical systems,” Schaffrath adds. But some of the brakes were no longer working properly. Luckily, the pilots were able to land in Singapore, which has a very long, 4,000-meter runway.

Another dramatic aspect of the emergency landing was that an anti-lock system also stopped working. Three tires burst when the plane touched down as a result, sending sparks into the air. “And that was with two holes in the tank!” says Woodward.

Very Conservative

At least the reason for the engine explosion is now clear. Last week, Rolls-Royce identified a defective part in the turbine, which caused an oil leak that led to the fire. Of the superjumbo jets delivered to date, 20 are affected by the problem, including three at Lufthansa. The defective engine part will gradually be replaced.

Qantas pilot Woodward is pleased that his company has made a “very conservative safety decision” to temporarily ground the A380. But he does wonder why the other airlines potentially affected by the engine defect are not taking similar precautions.

Lufthansa points out that it has such short maintenance intervals that dangerous oil leaks are bound to be discovered. But Woodward isn’t convinced, saying: “Our plane had just returned from maintenance in Frankfurt, and the accident happened nonetheless.”

Internet Source/Credit/Translation Unknown

Qantas Airbus A380 inflight engine failure

Unconfirmed Damage overview

* massive fuel leak in the left mid fuel tank (the beast has 11 tanks, including in the horizontal stabiliser on the tail)

* massive fuel leak in the left inner fuel tank

* a hole on the flap canoe/fairing that you could fit your upper body through

* the aft gallery in the fuel system failed, preventing many fuel transfer functions

* fuel jettison had problems due to the previous problem above

* bloody great hole in the upper wing surface

* partial failure of leading edge slats

* partial failure of speed brakes/ground spoilers

* shrapnel damage to the flaps

* TOTAL loss of all hydraulic fluid in the Green System (beast has 2 x 5,000 PSI systems, Green and Yellow)

* manual extension of landing gear

* loss of 1 generator and associated systems

* loss of brake anti-skid system

* unable to shutdown adjacent #1 engine using normal method after landing due to major damage to systems

* unable to shutdown adjacent #1 engine using using the fire switch!!!!!!!!

Therefore, no fire protection was available for that engine after the explosion in #2

* ECAM warnings about major fuel imbalance because of fuel leaks on left side, that were UNABLE to be fixed with cross-feeding

* fuel trapped in Trim Tank (in the tail). Therefore, possible major center of gravity out-of-balance condition for landing.

Rolls-Royce: Journey Through A Jet Engine

Related Links:

Stricken Qantas A380 jet was full of holes




We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

Thomas Stearns Eliot OM (September 26, 1888 – January 4, 1965) was an American-born English poet, playwright, and literary critic, arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. The poem that made his name, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock—started in 1910 and published in Chicago in 1915—is regarded as a masterpiece of the modernist movement, and was followed by some of the best-known poems in the English language, including Gerontion (1920), The Waste Land (1922), The Hollow Men (1925), Ash Wednesday (1930), and Four Quartets (1945). He is also known for his seven plays, particularly Murder in the Cathedral (1935). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, and educated at Harvard, Eliot studied philosophy at the Sorbonne for a year, then won a scholarship to Oxford in 1914, becoming a British citizen when he was 39. “[M]y poetry has obviously more in common with my distinguished contemporaries in America than with anything written in my generation in England,” he said of his nationality and its role in his work. “It wouldn’t be what it is, and I imagine it wouldn’t be so good … if I’d been born in England, and it wouldn’t be what it is if I’d stayed in America. It’s a combination of things. But in its sources, in its emotional springs, it comes from America.” Eliot completely renounced his citizenship to the United States and said: “My mind may be American but my heart is British”.

Eliot died of emphysema in London on January 4, 1965. For many years he had had health problems caused by his heavy smoking, and had often been laid low with bronchitis or tachycardia. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium. In accordance with Eliot’s wishes, his ashes were taken to St Michael’s Church in East Coker, the village from which his ancestors had emigrated to America.

There, a simple wall plaque commemorates him with a quotation from his poem “East Coker”: “In my beginning is my end. In my end is my beginning.” On the second anniversary of his death, he was commemorated by the installation of a large stone in the floor of Poets’ Corner in London’s Westminster Abbey. The stone, cut by designer Reynolds Stone, is inscribed with his life dates, his Order of Merit, and a quotation from his poem, “Little Gidding”: “the communication / Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond / the language of the living.”

T. S. Eliot and literary culture: Dare we ask, “What is it?”

The Library of America

Like clockwork, Joseph Epstein’s recent lament in Commentary that “literary culture . . . seems to be slowly but decisively shutting down” set off a series of online exchanges whose very liveliness seems to challenge Epstein’s thesis. Reviewing the revised edition of The Letters of T. S. Eliot: Volume 1, 1898–1922 and the newly published Volume 2, 1923–1925, Epstein questioned why no poet or critic currently has the same cultural impact as T. S. Eliot:

The unsolved mystery is why no poetry written since the time of Eliot, Yeats, Stevens, Frost, or possibly Auden has anything like the same memorability as theirs . . . Wallace Stevens’s poetry is more beautiful, and Robert Frost’s often more powerful, than Eliot’s, but the latter’s, once read, refuses to leave the mind. . . Eliot was the equivalent in literature of Albert Einstein in science in that everyone seemed to know that these men were immensely significant without quite knowing for what.

Daniel E. Pritchard on The Wooden Spoon took up the gauntlet, noting that plenty of publishers, magazines, and blogs, including “The Quarterly Conversation, Jacket, Maggy, Pen & Anvil, Dark Sky, Dzanc Books, Fulcrum, The Critical Flame, and others . . . have persisted under the fantasy that through hard work and imagination we can make something worthwhile. Make literary culture vibrant. . . that we are literary culture.” To prove his point: when Frank Wilson responded by commenting that “while there are plenty of good writers around . . . the culture as a whole no longer seems to . . . take literature seriously,” Pritchard used that as a springboard for a follow-up post:

Well, it’s absolutely fair to say that no single person has the stature that Eliot did then. Ashbery or Heaney are closest. But I’m not sure that such a figure is possible any longer. First, the narrative has changed: as an audience, we no longer anoint demigods because we no longer adhere to the same hegemony and homogeneity that existed at mid-century. . . Second, we have largely unmasked / undermined the pretension of high culture. People no longer feel the need to pay lip service to so-called high art, and alternate traditions have been legitimized in kind.

Besides, there are so many excellent poets writing today: John Ashbery, Adrienne Rich, Geoffrey Hill, Rae Armantrout, D.A. Powell, Mark Levine, Ange Mlinko, Maxine Kumin, Ben Lerner, Mark Strand, Seamus Heaney, Tim Donnelly, and many more. Beyond that, there are even more young poets uncounted: scribbling, sweating, reading. . .

Related LOA works: American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, volume one: Henry Adams to Dorothy Parker (includes 14 poems by T. S. Eliot); John Ashbery: Collected Poems 1956–1987

Bloggers Get Their Due From ‘The Tonight Show’


It was almost a blink-and-you-missed-it moment, but early Wednesday morning “The Tonight Show” made good on its word and gave credit to two bloggers for providing a montage of Taylor Swift video clips that  Jay Leno had played for the country singer on Monday’s broadcast.

The credit that appeared moments before Mr. Leno signed off for the night read: “Last night’s Taylor Swift montage provided by Rich Juzwiak of and Kate Spencer of”

Mr. Juzwiak wrote Tuesday on his blog that he had been contacted by a “Tonight Show” research coordinator, Sean O’Rourke, who wanted to use on the program a Web video that Mr. Juzwiak and Ms. Spencer created, showing Ms. Swift reacting with apparent surprise to her victories at various awards shows.

The video that Mr. Leno played for Ms. Swift on Monday was very similar to Mr. Juzwiak and Ms. Spencer’s work, using many of the same scenes in the same order, but neither Mr. Leno nor “The Tonight Show” mentioned the bloggers’ involvement.

In a telephone interview on Wednesday morning Mr. Juzwiak said he almost preferred that “The Tonight Show” had credited him and Ms. Spencer after the fact rather than up front, explaining that this paid him higher dividends in “the economy of attention.”

“It’s preferable just in the sense that it gets me more attention,” Mr. Juzwiak said. “A lot more people cared. I feel like a few people would have high-fived me on Twitter if they had seen this thing go down. This reached people who don’t care about Jay Leno whatsoever, who weren’t watching his show any way.”

Mr. Juzwiak said he thought it was unlikely that “The Tonight Show” would seek his contributions again.

“I doubt that they’ll ever look at me,” he said. “I doubt they would even consider. I’m sure it’s been a complete hassle for them. But, you know, rightfully so.”

A press representative for “The Tonight Show” declined to comment further on Wednesday.

Galicia’s tower of strength

Rome left an indelible landmark on the coast of Spain’s northwestern region


The Tower of Hercules is in luck, and so is the city that it identifies. Last year, A Coruña experienced a collective high when the world’s oldest operating lighthouse was declared aWorld Heritage Site by Unesco, thus becoming the fourth Galician monument to earn this distinction. Surrounded by a halo of mystery, it achieved mythic status through the tale of the Twelve Labors of Hercules, the Greek personification of strength.

Among other chores, he was tasked with stealing the cattle of the monster Geryon, and after slaying the giant, he ordered a commemorative tower to be built. José María Bello, director of the Archeological and Historical Museum of A Coruña and co-director of the latest digs near the lighthouse, says the tower dates back to the first century after Christ, between the rules of the Roman emperors Claudius and Vespasian.

“Having legions deployed in Brittany required a supply of staple foods in the Roman diet, such as olive oil,” he explains. “That spurred construction of a lighthouse in the last civilized port before embarking on the journey to barbarian lands.” On the outside, the tower can be misleading.

There are even locals who do not believe it is 2,000 years old. The reason for this is that what we see rising atop of a 57-meter hill from which the Eirás point protrudes into the sea is, in fact, the neoclassical exterior completed by Eustaquio Giannini in 1791. On the inside, however, except for the staircase and the dome, the tower has preserved its Roman heritage.

Sapping spiral

The ascent to the top of the Tower of Hercules requires good footwear and warm clothing. Together with its Andalusian counterpart in Chipiona, it is the only lighthouse in Spain that allows in visitors. The parking lot is presided by a Botero-like statue of Charon, by Ramón Conde.

It is the first of 21 sculptures that dot the park surrounding the tower, and which also include a likeness of Breogán, the mythological father of the Galician people. The façade of this imposing pile of stones still bears a subtle relief that spirals all the way up to the top, evoking the ramp that used to surround the lighthouse during Roman times. The cavalry used this outer platform to carry up the firewood that fed the fire within. The scene is graphically reproduced in the sculpted bronze doors that lead in.

Standing 106 meters above the ground, one can easily understand the strategic situation of the Magnus Portus Artabrorum, where the estuaries of A Coruña, Ferrol, Ares and Betanzos come together. The seven Celtic nations are symbolized by the Rose of the Winds underfoot; the archipelago of the Sisargas looms to the west.

This cannot be happening


Among my mother’s memories of the Second Republic are a few vicious satirical verses that each side shot at the other like burning arrows. Among her memories of the Franco era, one phrase stands out among the rest: “Don’t get involved in that.” “That” was politics. Even Franco said it. “Do as I do — don’t get involved in politics. Those were troubled times. Sometimes my mother said: “Perhaps that will not happen again.”

Perhaps. But the atmosphere around us suggests the worst. It suggests that what happened in other times is, indeed, happening now. Vicious sarcasm is making a comeback, by land, sea and air, on the radio and television, in the press and on the internet. The anthology compiled daily by José María Izquierdo in his blog El Ojo Izquierdo has not enough room for them all. He notices too much.

It is happening around us, but we pretend it isn’t, so as not to succumb to shame and embarrassment. This month some things have happened that seemed unlikely to happen. But they happen. Broken things, in the words of Neruda. Things that nobody breaks, but they were broken. And they are still being broken.

For example, it seemed incredible that a woman, a political candidate, might appear in a video simulating a long-drawn-out orgasm, just because she wanted to get her face on television in a political campaign. She simulates the orgasm, and then, within the abstract context of consummated coitus, tells us a confused tale of crime rates and public salaries, muddling one thing with the other. Let’s say her name is Montserrat Nebrera, who in fact appears at the end of the video, saying she is covering herself will a towel “because the script calls for it.”

And it seems impossible that two young women, to give an electoral boost to the Catalan Socialist candidate Montilla, should also moan forth their orgasms in a campaign video — as if you could only vote for someone who gives you the hots sexually. You would think it couldn’t happen.

But there it is, on YouTube. Another thing that it seems can’t happen, is what has just happened on a television channel paid for, with public money, by the regional government of Madrid. Here a well known journalist makes fun of women in general; of the young girls that he would like to feel up; and also of children in Spanish and Moroccan schools.

Grasping at straws that might seem to be extenuating circumstances, those who pay for this show (with our money) have yammered some excuses that are not without their funny side. First, that this happened during the commercial break, so that the journalist’s prolonged sally of boorish wit enjoyed the protection accorded to an utterance that is confidential and private; and second, that being a private utterance, the only people who could have an interest in leaking and divulging it (thus tending to embarrass and discredit the rightist politicos who paid for the program) were a pack of lefties, such as the labor unions and Grupo PRISA (which publishes EL PAÍS).

In other words, it happened in private. A strange kind of privacy: an audience, largely of children, in the studio; the microphone  doing his job; a number of other journalists witnessing the heady outpouring of verbal diarrhea — and the conversation was a private one. The Cuban writer Severo Sarduy once said: “I feel a bloody atmosphere around me.” All this should not be happening. Even talking about it is distasteful. But it happens.

“In my beginning is my end. In my end is my beginning.”