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Archive for July 7th, 2010

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a recent interview that his “foremost” mission as the head of America’s space exploration agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world.—Fox News

Suggestions for a New NASA Logo

(H-T) Michelle Malkin


 

NASA Chief: Next Frontier Better Relations With Muslim World

From Fox News

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a recent interview that his “foremost” mission as the head of America’s space exploration agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world.

Though international diplomacy would seem well outside NASA’s orbit, Bolden said in an interview with Al Jazeera that strengthening those ties was among the top tasks President Obama assigned him. He said better interaction with the Muslim world would ultimately advance space travel.

“When I became the NASA administrator — or before I became the NASA administrator — he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering,” Bolden said in the interview.

The NASA administrator was in the Middle East last month marking the one-year anniversary since Obama delivered an address to Muslim nations in Cairo. Bolden spoke in June at the American University in Cairo — in his interview with Al Jazeera, he described space travel as an international collaboration of which Muslim nations must be a part.

“It is a matter of trying to reach out and get the best of all worlds, if you will, and there is much to be gained by drawing in the contributions that are possible from the Muslim (nations),” he said. He held up the International Space Station as a model, praising the contributions there from the Russians and the Chinese.

However, Bolden denied the suggestion that he was on a diplomatic mission — in a distinctly non-diplomatic role.

“Not at all. It’s not a diplomatic anything,” he said.

He said the United States is not going to travel beyond low-Earth orbit on its own and that no country is going to make it to Mars without international help.

Bolden has faced criticism this year for overseeing the cancellation of the agency’s Constellation program, which was building new rockets and spaceships capable of returning astronauts to the moon. Stressing the importance of international cooperation in future missions, Bolden told Al Jazeera that the moon, Mars and asteroids are still planned destinations for NASA.

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Filner criticized the administration for taking more than three months to send out the letters after it discovered the faulty safety precautions in March.—Russell Berman

“[The] only way you can get accountability is if there is someone who actually pays a price for this.”—Representative Bob Filner (D-Calif.)


 

Veterans Affairs head blasts administration over hospital incident

By Russell Berman

The Democratic chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee lambasted the Obama administration over its handling of an incident at a St. Louis VA center in which more than 1,800 veterans were told they may have been exposed to HIV.

“It’s outrageous, one, that this happens, but even worse is this secretive, almost cover-up mode that they go into when something like this happens,” Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) said on CNN Monday.

The Department of Veterans Affairs last month sent a letter to 1,812 patients informing them that they could have been exposed to HIV and other deadly viruses because of dental equipment that was insufficiently sterilized over a period of 13 months. The agency said the risk of infection was “extremely low,” but urged patients to return for blood tests.

Filner criticized the administration for taking more than three months to send out the letters after it discovered the faulty safety precautions in March. “We should be much more caring not only about the procedures but the way we deal with them after they’re known,” the congressman said. He said it was “disgraceful” that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki did not know about the lapse until last week.

Filner said the “only way you can get accountability is if there is someone who actually pays a price for this,” although he did not explicitly call for Shinseki to be fired.

The Veterans Affairs Committee is holding a hearing on the issue next week.

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“Surprise, surprise, surprise!” 


 

One Question Survey

By Dr. Ron Hei  

MSNBC has been viciously critical of conservative Americans and conservative causes. Now they have an online poll asking if Arizona’s immigration law should be on the books.

I think MSNBC will be shocked at America’s response…

If you don’t do anything else today, please answer this MSNBC poll question and urge all of your friends to do the same. The silent majority must not be silent on this one.

Answer this ONE question!

Do you support Arizona’s tough new law on illegal immigration?

After you have voted, scroll down the page and check the results. We probably won’t be hearing anything about this on the MSNBC news programs! It doesn’t fit their story line.

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The Spill and Transparency

CNN’s Anderson Cooper reports that federal, local, and BP authorities are denying “journalists” access to the sites where the oil spill effects are most visible.

“We’re not the enemy here. … If we can’t show what is happening … no one will see what is happening, and that makes it very easy to hide failure and hide incompetence. … We are not the enemy here. … Two public broadcasting journalists reporting on health issues say they’ve been blocked again and again from visiting a federal mobile medical unit in … where cleanup workers are being treated. … We’re not talking about a CIA station here; we’re talking about a medical trailer that falls under the authority of … Thad Allen, the same Thad Allen that promised transparency all those weeks ago. We are not the enemy here.”—Anderson Cooper   


 

First Amendment Has been Suspended 4:38 Video

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[N]o incumbent is receiving as much air support from the drug industry as is [Dirty Harry] Reid, who championed a health care bill that pads drug company profits.

The health sector is [Dirty Harry] Reid’s prime source of PAC funds: half a million dollars already — and that doesn’t count the TV buys.—Timothy P. Carney

The drug lobby is pouring money in a keep the pugilist fighting TV blitz in Dirty Harry’s home state of Nevada. The money is the drug industry’s way of saying thank you for the corporate-welfare “reform” bill that he steered through the Senate.

Top drug lobbyist Billy Tauzin, former public enemy No. 1 for the Obama campaign and past president of the largest single-industry lobbying organization in the country, agreed to support Obamacare if the White House and the Democrats would keep its hands off the government handouts the drug industry was already receiving. Brother O agreed and Dirty Harry and the Democrats loaded up the bill with subsidies, mandates, and an unprecedented 12-year, government-enforced monopoly on complex drugs.


 

Drug lobby showers money on its hero Harry Reid

By Timothy P. Carney

No scalp would be as treasured by Republicans this fall as that of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. And no incumbent is receiving as much air support from the drug industry as is Reid, who championed a health care bill that pads drug company profits.

The drug lobby has begun a pro-Reid TV blitz in his home state of Nevada. One ad praises Reid for saving jobs and for understanding that “good jobs with good benefits [mean] a better future.” The narrator then instructs viewers to “call Harry Reid today; tell him to keep fighting for Nevada families.”

But “Nevada families” didn’t pay for the ad. The drug lobby did. And while the TV spot makes only passing reference to the health care bill passed in March, there’s no doubt this ad buy — and the rest of the drug industry’s generosity toward Harry Reid — is a big thank you for the corporate-welfare “reform” bill that Reid shepherded through the Senate.

Flash back one year to last July, when Democratic congressmen going home for the Independence Day recess began to hear from their constituents about Obamacare, with the result that “reform” was threatened. That’s when top drug lobbyist Billy Tauzin came to the rescue.

Tauzin was president of the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the largest single-industry lobbying organization in the country. He was also formerly public enemy No. 1 for the Obama campaign, which had held him up as the poster boy for Washington’s revolving door and “game playing.”

Last July, Tauzin visited the White House twice (and who knows how many meetings he had at nearby coffee shops?) and hashed out a deal on health care. As the Los Angeles Times first reported, Tauzin pledged to support Obamacare if the White House would keep its hands off the government favors the drug industry was already receiving. In addition, Democrats loaded up the bill with plenty more drug company goodies including subsidies, mandates and unprecedented 12-year, government-enforced monopolies on complex drugs.

In the end, PhRMA shaped “reform” as it wanted, and the group ran millions of dollars of ads supporting the bill. Reid passed it. Now PhRMA is doing heavy lifting for Reid, whose approval ratings are in the 30s.

Beyond the PhRMA-funded sappy TV spots, there are plenty more signs of the industry’s affection for Reid.

Right after Tauzin’s July 22, 2009, West Wing visit, for instance, drug industry political action committees began pumping cash into Reid’s endangered campaign.

Tauzin visited the West Wing on a Wednesday, and Eli Lilly’s $5,000 PAC check reached Reid on Friday. The following Monday, Reid got two $5,000 PAC checks: one from PhRMA and another from the nation’s largest drug maker, Pfizer. Within a week, drug giants Merck and Astra-Zeneca had ponied up, too. That’s at least $23,000 in pharmaceutical PAC money in 10 days.

When the bill became law in March, PhRMA, Pfizer, Lilly, the Biotechnology Industry Organization and other drug PACs all ponied up again.

Reid has received $154,000 from Pharma PACs as of May 30, making him the No. 2 recipient behind Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., whose base is in the Research Triangle. Reid is the only politician to get the maximum $10,000 contribution from PhRMA as of the end of May. He’s also the only senator to get the max from Eli Lilly’s PAC. The health sector is Reid’s prime source of PAC funds: half a million dollars already — and that doesn’t count the TV buys.

Reid’s lobbyist-bundlers (his volunteer fundraisers from K Street) also come from Big Pharma. Paul DiNino is a lobbyist at Cornerstone Government Affairs, which represents PhRMA, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis. DiNino also raised $23,950 for Reid last year alone.

Tony Podesta represents Amgen and Genzyme, and he has bundled at least $78,400 for Reid. William Singer, a Pfizer lobbyist, clocked $39,750 for Reid last year. DLA Piper — the K Street firm that cut ties with Republican former House Majority Leader Dick Armey because of his opposition to Obamacare — has a PAC that has raised at least $26,400 for Reid.

Reid this fall will likely follow Obama’s lead, and falsely paint himself as the scourge of the special interests — all on the drug lobby’s dime.

Timothy P. Carney, The Examiner’s lobbying editor, can be reached at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. He writes an op-ed column that appears on Friday.

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A United Kingdom jury found five “peace” activists not guilty of breaking into and sabotaging an arms factory that manufactured and sold military equipment.

Britain’s Fab Five acknowledged their crimes, but argued their actions were legally justified because they believed the factory was breaking export regulations by selling military components to the Israelis that would be used against the Palestinians in Gaza.

“The action was impulsive really,[sic] we just wanted to do something that would make a real difference to the people of Palestine.”—Robert Nicholls, activist

“I’m proud of what I’ve done. It was the right thing to do.”—Ornella Saibene, activist

The “joyful” anti-Semites are the latest group of peace and climate-change activists in the UK to successfully use the “lawful excuse” defense tactic, i.e., commit a crime to prevent a more serious crime.

I.M. Kane

(H-T) Ladd


 

Jury clears activists who broke into Brighton arms factory

By Bibi van der Zee and Rob Evans

Five found not guilty after arguing they were seeking to prevent Israeli war crimes in Gaza

Five activists who caused £180,000 damage to an arms factory were acquitted after they argued they were seeking to prevent Israeli war crimes.

The five were jubilant after a jury found them not guilty of conspiring to cause criminal damage to the factory on the outskirts of Brighton.

The five admitted they had broken in and sabotaged the factory, but argued they were legally justified in doing so.

They believed that EDO MBM, the firm that owns the factory, was breaking export regulations by manufacturing and selling to the Israelis military equipment which would be used in the occupied territories. They wanted to slow down the manufacture of these components, and impede what they believed were war crimes being committed by Israel against the Palestinians.

After being acquitted, one of them, Robert Nicholls, told the Guardian: “I’m joyful really, at being a free man. The action was impulsive really, we just wanted to do something that would make a real difference to the people of Palestine.”

Another, Ornella Saibene, said: “I’ve felt very peaceful all the way through the trial because I’m proud of what I’ve done. It was the right thing to do.”

They are the latest group of peace and climate-change activists to successfully use the “lawful excuse” defence – committing an offence to prevent a more serious crime – as a tactic in their campaigns. The acquitted are Nicholls, 52, Tom Woodhead, 25, Harvey Tadman, 44, Ornella Saibene, 50, all from Bristol, and Simon Levin, 35, from Brighton. They had decided to act last January after three weeks of Israeli military manoeuvres against Gaza in which many Palestinians were killed. According to a UN investigation by former South African judge Richard Goldstone, Israel committed war crimes by deliberately attacking civilians during the offensive known as Operation Cast Lead.

In his summing up, Judge George Bathurst-Norman suggested to the jury that “you may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered in that time”.

The judge highlighted the testimony by Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, that “all democratic paths had been exhausted” before the activists embarked on their action.

Hove crown court heard the activists had broken into the factory in the night. They had video-taped interviews beforehand outlining their intention to cause damage and, in the words of prosecutor Stephen Shay, “smash-up” the factory.

These statements were posted on the Indymedia website shortly after they were arrested. Dexter Dias, barrister for one of the defendants, accused Paul Hills, EDO MBM’s managing director, of lying in the witness box when he said his company did not supply components which were being used by the Israeli military. The jury is considering its verdict on two other defendants, Elijah Smith, 42, and Chris Osmond, 29 of Brighton.

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