Hidden Nook

"Because in Cyberspace, no one can hear you scream."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Iran In Space?

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(Red Orbit) Iran's space agency is trying to snap up technology from abroad as fast as possible for its satellite program, fearing the West will seek to impose restrictions like those put on the Iranian nuclear program.

Iran has major ambitions in space, looking to show off its technological abilities, monitor its neighborhood - where the United States has hundreds of thousands of troops - and establish itself as a regional superpower.

Iran is determined to establish itself as a regional power, probably in order to counter the "evil crusaders and Zionists" which it views as agents seeking its destruction. Although advocating peaceful means for developing this technology, an Iranian space power would allow the regime to have a birds eye view of its neighbors (friend and foes) as well as give it an edge in an already tense region.

(Red Orbit) Iran joined the space club last month when it launched its first small satellite, the Sina-1, aboard a Russian rocket.

That orbiter was Russian-made, but Iran built its second satellite, the Mesbah, with help from the Italian company Carlo Gavazzi Space. Mesbah is due to be carried into space by a Russian rocket in about two months. [...]

Iran's next goal is to launch a satellite with one of its own rockets. Iranian officials say they are developing a Shahab-4 missile that could lift a satellite into orbit, but have not given details on when it will be ready.

Image Credit: Red Orbit

Iranian officials pointed out that space technology would not only aid in monitoring natural disasters and telecommunications, but also help secure their borders as they mentioned America's use of satellites before the Afghan and Iraqi wars. The Persian nation is determined to be the dominant space power in the region within 20 years, and is receiving assistance from the Russians (who are probably more interested in commercialising space than in the potential crisis of an Iranian space power).

By Darnell Clayton • 11:35 PM • Email Post • •


Mother Russia Space Tourist Hub?

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(Interfax) "There are many countries interested, above all it is worth mentioning the United States, participant countries of the European Space Agency, Japan, China, Brazil, Malaysia, South Korea and others," Alexei Krasnov, head of Roskosmos's piloted programs department, told an Internet briefing whose transcript is published on the Roskosmos website.

Unlike its capitalistic American friends overseas, Russia has been courting the commercial space industry heavily, something NASA is just considering, although they are beginning to see the potential the private sector has to offer them. Although NASA probably is better at planning round trips towards the stars, Russia it appears is more willing to embrace the challenge, despite the risks involved.

Related Links:

By Darnell Clayton • 11:13 PM • Email Post • •


(EBA) Ahmad's Flight Towards Turkey

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Emergency Blog Alert via the Committee to Protect Bloggers

(From S'Can-Iranic Blog) Seraji, in an interview with Tabriz News Agency's Human Rights Bureau (here), confirmed that he had escaped Iran to Turkey illegally, as he did not possess any valid passport. He has already approached the United Nations High Commissioner's office in the city of Van, in eastern Turkey. [...]

More importantly, Seraji added that during his arrest, in the summer of 2005, he was kept in the same part of the prison with inmates who were accused of murder, drug-trafficking, and other crimes. Later on, he was moved to another detention centre and was beaten up and tortured. His torturers told him that they could easily cut his veins so that it would appear that he had committed suicide!

Editor's note: If anyone has any contacts inside of Turkey that would be willing to help Ahmad out, please email .

Here is a brief bio about Ahmad:

According to adnkronosinternational, "A young Iranian blogger, Ahmad Seyyed Saraj, who has been imprisoned since 29 June in a jail in Tabriz, the capital of Iranian Azerbaijan, has received 30 lashes of the whip as part of his sentence. Seyyed Saraj has been charged with offending the authorities and revived a sentence of 30 lashes, while for the accusation of attacking the security of the state, he is still awaiting judgement."

(Media Source*)

Editor's note: Also if there are any faith bloggers out there, please keep Ahmad in your prayers.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:55 PM • Email Post • •


Add Me To Google?

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Following the footsteps of its rivals, Google has finally pursued the "add me" button which will allow users of Google Reader or Personalized Google to subscribe via one click.

(Google Reader Blog) In recent days we added a little button to the button zoo. Google is now offering a little "Add to Google" button which you can put on your site, blog, or corner of the web that can make it easy for people to subscribe to your feed.

Google should probably go one step further and integrate this inside Google News as well. The same would be suggested for Google Groups although to this authors knowledge most feeds will not function inside of Google Reader (although ironically Yahoo has no problem reading these feeds).

By Darnell Clayton • 10:44 PM • Email Post • •


Sunday, November 27, 2005

KKK In Syria?

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(Ynet News) The notorious Louisiana-based white supremacist leader, David Duke, has visited Syria last week, where he delivered an anti-Semitic speech attacking 'Zionists occupying New York' and the State of Israel. The speech was carried by Syrian state television. [...]

Duke, who was once a "grand wizard" of the Klu Klux Klan, addressed a cheering crowd waving Syrian flags, saying: "I come from the peace-loving people in America to the peace-loving people of Syria."

According to the "world of Duke," Zionists are the true war mongers while the men in white sheets (who apparently represent the USA according to this moonbat man) desire only peace, love and security. Some may consider this a "strange gathering," (as one would assume that the KKK generally hate all those who carry a darker complexion) although apparently the Arab proverb is true--"the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

(Ynet News) According to the Anti-Defamation League, in an article entitled "The black plague," Duke once wrote in an editorial: "(A) black...gets a job with a white-owned company. He is the only black at the firm. He works hard, but he's fighting a losing battle against his genes."

Duke’s latest website entry contains a pro-Holocaust denial message in which he laments the "Zionists who use the Holocaust as the sword and shield of the racial-supremacist state of Israel."

Editor's note: Not much more attention will be devoted towards Duke on this site, although if one desires to view the video of him making foolish remarks, they can simply click here.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:56 PM • Email Post • •


Oil For Nukes?

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(Monster Sand Critics) Iran is seeking to strengthen its ties with North Korea by offering Pyongyang a comprehensive economic aid programme as part of co-operation between the two countries on rocket development, the weekly Spiegel reported Saturday.

Teheran wants to work together with North Korea on the development of nuclear-armed rockets, Spiegel reported citing western intelligence sources.

While the western powers debate how to tell Iran "how naughty they are," the Mullahs seem to be making strategic moves militarily, by attempting to secure technology for oil (which probably will be used for making a better bomb). Europe (it seems) prefers discussion over confrontation, despite the fact that Iran has no intention of halting its nuclear activities.

(Xinhua) However, the spokesman said Iran reserves the right to re-commence uranium enrichment for "research and development" purposes.

He insisted, unlike the question of nuclear fuel production, nuclear-related activities in general are not up for negotiation.

These talks will probably end up in failure resulting in a nuclear armed Iranian regime who shows little regard for the state of Israel. If the current Administration does not take an active involvement in convincing Iran to relieve itself of the nuclear option, all that they have fought for in Iraq will end up glowing from radioactive fall out from a possible future Persian-Israeli war.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:38 PM • Email Post • •


China Lunar Colony By 2020

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(Space.com) Budget permitting, China wants to be able to put a man on the moon and build a space station in 15 years, a space program official said Sunday.

"I think about 10 to 15 years later, we will have the ability to build our own space station and to carry out a manned moon landing," Hu Shixiang, deputy commander in chief of China's manned space flight program, said in Hong Kong.

It seems as if China is becoming realistic about space travel, after they previously announced plans to establish a lunar colony by 2017, mainly due to the new energy source discovered upon its surface. China seems eager to establish its presence as a space power, although they are denying any attempts to fuel the new space race between itself and western powers.

"It's not the competition of the Cold War era," he said. [...]

Hu stressed that China intends to explore space for peaceful purposes, saying Beijing "is willing to work hard with people around the world for the peaceful use of space."

Some analysts are wondering if China can afford sending men to the moon, although Hu dismissed these suggestions towards the media. China is wise by immersing itself within the space industry, as it is shaping how the world views this nation of a billion people as well as establishing itself as the next Asian space power.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:23 PM • Email Post • •


Blog Exploration (Food, Faith And Funk)

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Editor's note: Exploring the blogosphere can be a relaxing phenomenon, something that can help relieve blogger's block as well as increase ones worldview elsewhere.

While surfing the blogosphere, apparently someone has photo blogged instructions on how to make bread pudding. Apparently the author (The Cili Padi) thinks bread pudding is delicious, although this author thinks bread pudding is entirely disgusting. Ick.

Our next blog features Texas Michelle who is attempting to live out her faith as a real Christian by loving everyone around her. Perhaps if she meditates upon this verse, she may yet achieve this.


Our next blog features a blogger blogging about another blog. (Editor's note: Sound confusing?). The post is fairly interesting, although it may be better to check out the post for ones self.

Pop Goes the Music has just concluded that Madonna is evil while Grades of Honor gives his spiel about the prison system, and the lack of godly character by some ministering groups. Perhaps him and Michelle could engage in some constructive discussion.


Seratonin Man is looking for some great books for 13 year olds while it seems that there are professionals using blogger's technology, as Filmmaker Magazine demonstrates.

Last but not least, a baby blogger fairly young blog has been discovered, although apparently they have started two different blog sites. Strange.


Blog Exploration takes a look at what average bloggers are discussing throughout the blogosphere and was edited (or censored according to the ACLU) by this author in order to make this moment "family friendly."

By Darnell Clayton • 9:39 PM • Email Post • •


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Giving Thanks (Blogosphere)

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Editor's note: Happy thanksgiving to everyone, and try not to gobble down too many turkeys, as it may increase ones circumference and force one to purchase new clothes. ;)

This blogger gives thanks to God for all of His blessings, to Google for making the internet a friendlier place to surf, to Democrats and Republicans for a spirited debate, and for the soldiers everywhere defending this author's freedom so that he doesn't have to.

Below are some other bloggers giving thanks in their own "blog ways." God bless!

Mark Noonan from Blogs for Bush:
Some of us, especially myself, do take everything for granted...we concentrate on our own pathetic little problems and whine, essentially, about how the whole world isn't built to make our lives better. We need this day, once a year, to step back a bit and remember what we've got.

Mihai Ionescu, (Software Engineer) from Inside Google Desktop:
In the US, we're preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving. It's the perfect time to say thanks to our users and developers from all over the world. Your continued feedback, support and contributions have helped us grow and improve considerably.

Sgt. Missick from Web of Support:

Although their isn't a mention on the Google Blog (as of this post) about Thanksgiving, Dennis Hwang (Webmaster) give thanks to some Victoria Doodlers:
Last week Google opened our new office in the Victoria area of London, and to mark the occasion we invited students from nearby schools to create their own Google Doodles from our logo. [...] In the end, I was simply blown away by the amazing quality of the work, especially from younger artists up to around age 11 (the bunnies drawn by 5-year-olds were simply awesome).

Blake from Inside Adwords writes:
But before we embark on a four day weekend, involving turkey, friends, and family (although not necessarily in that order), we wanted to say thanks to our ever-growing family of loyal Inside AdWords readers. The fact is, we have a great time with this blog, but it wouldn't mean a thing without all of you. We truly appreciate your interest.

Retrophisch from God Blog:
Despite the financial hardships and the extended family dysfunctional, I have an incredible amount of things to be thankful for again this year. I pray you do, too.

Cao on her blog has an interesting snipet from President John Hanson, 1782
IT being the indispensable duty of all Nations, not only to offer up their supplications to ALMIGHTY GOD, the giver of all good, for his gracious assistance in a time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner to give him praise for his goodness in general, and especially for great and signal interpositions of his providence in their behalf...

Last but not least, Peter over at Pro Life Blogs gives his thanks:
Thank you Lord for all the Pro-Life individuals and organizations who who put forth their efforts to save your children.

This author would like to thank all of the readers of this blog, regardless of faith, creed or political affiliation. God bless you all and have a wonderful thanksgiving!

By Darnell Clayton • 12:11 PM • Email Post • •


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Blog Exploration (Exploring Your World)

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Editor's note: One way for a blogger to explore other ideals, opinions, perspectives of life is to explore the blogosphere every once in a while. Formally called Blogger Delights, the purpose of this exploration is to post what this author discovers on other peoples minds.

Either End of the Curve has an interesting rant about a community selling its soul out towards commercialism while Mindjet Labs has discovered an error with Google Desktop (Editor's note: anyone else receiving the same thing?).

Klug Bennets News posts from down under while Alley seems to have started a blog out of rage. Scary.

The Official Blog of the Membership (Editor's note: who's that?) is thinking about changing their template design. Perhaps they should consider Blog Skins, Blogger Templates or the person who helped design this blog layout, Ehsany.


Venus Rising has a very nice template design, and this author could be wrong but it seems as if her uncle has passed away. Deepest sympathies for her and her family.

Nathan seems obsessed with coffee at the moment (Editor's note: very, very scary) while Sacred Space is asking for prayer for a friend who is recovering from a dramatic accident (Editor's note: prayer request noted).


Go Ahead with your own Life gives an update about hers while Passionate Flowers has a very unique skin design. Perhaps this legal mind could adopt a similar one on his site (Editor's note: which by the way may make you laugh...if you are a lawyer that is).

Finally, Jace Race gives the latest update on life and it appears that we have photo blog by Bruce and Kathleen which is entitled Don't Eat That.


Blog Exploration takes a look at what average bloggers are discussing throughout the blogosphere and was edited (or censored according to the ACLU) by this author in order to make this moment "family friendly."

By Darnell Clayton • 11:45 PM • Email Post • •


Vatican Says No To Gay Priests

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(MSNBC) The Vatican says homosexuals who are sexually active or support "gay culture" are unwelcome in the priesthood unless they have overcome their homosexual tendencies for at least three years, according to a church document posted on the Internet by an Italian Catholic news agency.

This will probably receive a negative response from the gay community, although one should realize that they are only following what already has been laid down in their text. Some people will probably object to this ruling, and if offended they probably should shop around for other churches within their communities.

(MSNBC) "Those people find themselves, in fact, in a situation that presents a grave obstacle to a correct relationship with men and women. One cannot ignore the negative consequences that can stem from the ordination of people with deeply rooted homosexual tendencies," it said.

"If instead it is a case of homosexual tendencies that are merely the expression of a transitory problem, for example as in the case of an unfinished adolescence, they must however have been clearly overcome for at least three years before ordination as a deacon."

Clearly the Vatican is attempting to avoid the infamous sex scandals that have been a burden in the United States (if not the world). The best way they can resolve this issue is to create an environment free from sexual temptation (regardless of orientation) which will help restore trust back into the priesthood.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:49 PM • Email Post • •


Is Google Winning The Search Engine War?

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(Hat Tip: Life Hacker)

Apparently Google is in the lead, followed by its rival Yahoo and it's nemesis Microsoft. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top in the coming months, although it will come as a shocker if anyone de-thrones Google in the near term future (after all, the phrase "Google It" is pretty much universal as far as the net goes).

By Darnell Clayton • 10:38 PM • Email Post • •


Making Computers Radiation Resistant

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(Universe Today) Modern spaceflight is dependent on reliable computers to handle navigation, life support, and other functions. The problem is that radiation in space, such as cosmic rays can cause computer chips to calculate incorrectly. NASA is working a solution that would run multiple redundant computers to do the same calculation several times over and then vote on which is the correct result.

Currently NASA is using "Rad-hard" chips which, although highly resistant towards cosmic radiation, they are about ten times slower than a personal computer making them extremely inefficient from a technology stand point. Although the "chip election" idea seems noble, having a democratic system within life support may not be as appealing, especially if all of the chips have different results!

(Universe Today) Team member Raphael Some of JPL explains: "One way to use faster, consumer CPUs in space is simply to have three times as many CPUs as you need: The three CPUs perform the same calculation and vote on the result. If one of the CPUs makes a radiation-induced error, the other two will still agree, thus winning the vote and giving the correct result."

This works, but often it's overkill, wasting precious electricity and computing power to triple-check calculations that aren't critical.

Although many have suggested alternatives, such as using Rad-hard chips for life support and multiple "voting chips" for other systems, it may be wiser for NASA to invest in perhaps lead shielding around the shuttle which would act as a barrier between the radiation and the computer systems (not to mention the humans as well).

Although this would probably add an immense weight physically and financially towards the space rocket, it would probably save money in the long run and allow scientists to actually run computers that can out perform a play station.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:14 PM • Email Post • •


Are US Weather Satellites In Trouble?

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(New Scientist Space) The next generation of US weather satellites is woefully behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

This could potentially lead to a four-year gap in polar-orbiting satellite coverage for the US. If existing satellites break down during this period, the US may have to rely on European satellites to supplement its weather forecasting ability.

Polar satellites are responsible for approximately 90% of the civilian and military weather model data and their loss may be felt more on Weather.com than in the deserts of Iraq (although that last line of thought is debatable). Representatives of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have hinted that this may impact weather reports for the American public, and unless either NASA or Europe helps resolve the issue the US may be in for some "fuzzy weather."

(New Scientist Space) NOAA Administrator Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher told Congress it is difficult to assess the impact how such a gap in polar satellite coverage could affect the accuracy of weather forecasts because weather is so localised. Depending on where extreme weather condition occur, accuracy may only be reduced by a few percentage points, but it might also drop by as much as 50%

Since most weathermen are "generally off" about weather conditions (perhaps the only job where one can be consistently be wrong and still receive a pay check) this should not be as disastrous as some may fear. Although the US economy is recovering from Katrina and Rita, Congress will probably give NASA the necessary funds to resolve this issue. After all, what American wants to receive their weather reports from Europe?

By Darnell Clayton • 12:40 AM • Email Post • •


Presbyterian Church USA Is Gay Friendly

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(AgapePress) Yet another congregation in the Presbyterian Church (USA) has defied scriptural requirements and the denomination's official stance on homosexual ordination. South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry, New York, recently ordained a homosexual man who refuses to abide by the denomination's ban on practicing homosexuals in the ministry.

Editor's note: Apparently this denomination has decided to ignore the obvious and defy their own text. After all, why follow a faith that disapproves of a behavior you thoroughly enjoy, especially if it clearly condemns it?

(AgapePress) Dr. Parker T. Williamson with the Presbyterian Lay Committee says the Dobbs Ferry church is no stranger to controversy, having conducted same-sex weddings in the past. "Our highest court ruled in the year 2000 that Presbyterian ministers are prohibited from conducting same-sex marriages," he notes.

However, Williamson asserts, the officials on the church court "kind of hedged it a little bit," in that "they said [ministers] can conduct 'blessings' if they want too, as long as the blessing ceremonies don't look like marriages." He adds, "I don't know how much of a victory it was -- but, anyway, that was the same church."

As the Presbyterian Church (USA) continually demonstrates its liberal philosophies publicly, one may wonder when this body of believers (Editor's note: assuming that there are any left) will finally join the ranks of other institutions labeled as cultic by the mainstream Christian community. After all, if a church body is unable to clearly interpret scripture as well as explain the reasons behind them, then do its members retain the right to call themselves Christians?

By Darnell Clayton • 12:17 AM • Email Post • •


Monday, November 21, 2005

Private Sector Lowers Lunar Cost

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(Space.com) A newly released study has focused on how best to return people to the Moon, reporting that future lunar missions can be done for under $10 billion - far less than a NASA price tag.

The multi-phased three-year study was done by a private space firm, SpaceDev of Poway, California, and concluded that safe, lower cost missions can be completed by the private sector using existing technology or innovative new technology expected to be available in time to support human exploration of the Moon in the near-future.

With NASA estimates running over a $100 billion over the next 13 years this news comes as a blessing for the American tax payer who usually has to borne the brunt of these projects. Although these reports will probably not convince NASA from "charting the way" towards the lunar surface, they may want to partner with these corporations and simply outsource its space ingenuity.

After all, not only have these companies found a cheaper method of getting there, but also a more ingenious way as well.

Image credit: Photo from Space.com

(Space.com) According to SpaceDev's chief, Jim Benson, the private group has found that a more comprehensive series of missions could be completed in a fraction of the time and for one-tenth of the cost of the NASA estimate.

Each mission, as envisioned by SpaceDev, would position a habitat module in lunar orbit or on the moon's surface. The habitat modules would remain in place after each mission and could be re-provisioned and re-used, thus building a complex of habitats at one or more lunar locations over time, according to a press statement on the study findings.

Placing these modules on the surface would probably be wiser, in order to avoid them accidentally crash landing on the surface. Nevertheless, recycling these modules, although simplistic is a novel idea which will enable humanity to focus on other needs (such as mining fuel, oxygen and making the moon dust more friendly).

By Darnell Clayton • 11:49 PM • Email Post • •


Watching America (International Perspectives)

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(Watching America About Page) WatchingAmerica reflects global opinion about the United States, helping Americans and non-Americans alike understand what the world thinks of current issues that involve the U.S. This is done by providing news and views about the United States published in other countries.

It is not our purpose to find favorable or unfavorable content, but to reflect as accurately as possible how others perceive the richest and most powerful country in the world. We have no political agenda.

Editor's note: Watching America is one of the unique news portals out there for readers who are curious to how China, The Netherlands, or even South Korea view the world's only super power. Having recently revamped their site to make it more aesthetic to the eyes, the site is a "must see" and recommended for any American who has never traveled beyond their own state borders (let alone the national ones).

Nothing else to see...except for this.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:17 PM • Email Post • •


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Preventing Armageddon

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(Editor's note: Not this Armageddon, but rather this Armageddon)

(New Scientist Space) NASA scientists have come up with a surprisingly simple yet effective way to deflect an Earth-bound asteroid--park a large spacecraft close by and let gravity do the work. [...]

"Most people think of the Hollywood treatment--throw a nuclear weapon at it," says Edward Lu, a NASA scientist and astronaut who developed the idea. But this would produce shattered pieces, some of which might still head towards Earth. "That's the blast-and-hope strategy," Lu adds.

Although this proposal might dash the hopes of the Pentagon, as well as Hollywood's proposed solution (debunked over here) it would provide a more realistic way in dealing with "earth killing" asteroids. NASA currently has the technology to build a spacecraft of enormous size, as evidenced by Prometheus programme, and reassuringly, also has the details mapped out to deal with these deadly objects.

(New Scientist Space) For a 200-metre-wide asteroid, the spacecraft would need to weigh about 20 tonnes and lurk 50 metres from its target for about a year to change its velocity enough to knock it off course.

"This is hands down the best idea I have seen," says Erik Asphaug, a planetary scientist at the University of California at Santa Cruz. "This will work, but you need to put a large enough spacecraft out there at the right time." [...]

The strategy crucially relies on our ability to detect an asteroid threat about 20 years in advance. For larger asteroids this is realistic.

Other ideas outside nuking the impending object were painting the asteroid white, which (in theory) would change the amount of energy the object radiated and change its coarse. Although also a noble idea, it would not only be quite expensive but would not guarantee any success as the sun could send the object an a more direct path towards Earth dooming the entire population.

With its budget restraints, NASA would probably pursue the "gravitational plan" as any object over one kilometer will probably be discovered by either an amateur astronomer or by NASA's NEO Program. After all, the closest threat right now only has a 3 percent chance of hitting Earth. What is there to fear?

Image Credit: Photo from New Scientist Space.

By Darnell Clayton • 12:20 PM • Email Post • •


Holocaust Denier Deported

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Editor's note: Good riddance.

(Ynet News) A man who published a study that he said proved the Nazis did not gas Jews at Auschwitz was deported from the United States to his native Germany on Tuesday to serve a prison term for Holocaust denial, prosecutors in the city of Stuttgart said.

It is sad that people like these still exist in the world today. "Ignorance is bliss," must be their motto, although one could fall into this mindset if they simply ignored a significant portion of history.

By Darnell Clayton • 12:04 PM • Email Post • •


Lunar Lawnmowers?

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(New Scientist Space) [L]unar astronauts have complained of dust sticking to their space suits and getting into seals. Several even reported respiratory problems and itchy eyes as a result of exposure to dust carried into lunar landers. The dust also caused problems for mechanical and electronic equipment.

Fortunately for future colonists, Lawrence Taylor, a planetary geologist at the University of Tennessee, US, has devised a way to combat this Moon menace - a "lunar lawnmower".

Although this may sound like a silly space chore to most people, this "lunar lawnmower" could make the difference between having a hospitable world or a hostile one on the lunar surface. The "lawnmower" does not cut anything, rather it uses microwave energy in order to fuse the dust particles together. Whether pushed by a disobedient astronaut or strapped behind a rover, this invention would help reduce the irritation of establishing a colony on the moon.

(New Scientist Space) Taylor tested genuine lunar dust in a 250-watt microwave oven on Earth and discovered that, after just 30 seconds, the grains fused together. This is because there are nanometre-sized particles of iron present on nearly every grain of lunar soil and microwaves cause the iron particles to couple together.

With NASA planning on colonizing the moon around 2018, (and China 2017) this device will make development a whole lot easier, as the lawnmower would help smooth out the surface enabling colony sites, telescopes, etc. to be easily constructed on the surface. NASA is looking at other ways to remove the dust irritant, and if successful here, they may be able to figure out a way to deal with the Martian dust as well.

By Darnell Clayton • 8:57 AM • Email Post • •


NASA Seeking Space Ferries

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(New Scientist Space) NASA is looking to private companies to launch both supplies and astronauts to the International Space Station, it announced this week. [...]

"It's not cost-effective doing station flights while at the same time focusing on getting back to the Moon," says Brett Alexander, vice-president of Transformational Space, one of the companies hoping to launch astronauts to the ISS.

NASA intends upon retiring the space shuttles in 2010, which only leaves it with 18 flights towards the ISS. Outsourcing these responsibilities would be a wise alternative, considering the accomplishments of the private sector regarding the space elevator. Although some may praise this as an opportunity for the private sector to finally serve the public good, NASA seems hesitant about turning over the reigns to the corporate world.

(New Scientist Space) On 3 November, NASA administrator Michael Griffin told the US house science committee that the agency expects to invest about $500 million in the commercial cargo and crew project over five years. "That kind of a financial incentive [...] will be sufficient to allow substantial providers to emerge," Griffin said.

"I hope that industry, if put to the test, can do better [than the government], but I do not expect it," Griffin added.

Only time will reveal whether Griffin's expectations are either exceeded or confirmed. But seeing how the private sector has been able to successfully transport civilians to the ISS (at about a fifth of the cost), it would come to no surprise if corporate America was able to out perform their bureaucratic friends in government.

By Darnell Clayton • 8:36 AM • Email Post • •


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Israeli Troops As UN Peacekeepers?

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(Hat Tip: UN Dispatch)

(Scotsman.com News) ISRAEL is in talks over the country's troops joining United Nations peacekeeping forces. Israel is not among 117 nations to field peacekeepers in foreign conflict zones. [...]

"In light of our improved standing at the United Nations, we are exploring greater membership and involvement in a number of UN agencies. These talks are preliminary only," Mr Regev [a spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry] said.

Despite the recent political advances by the Jewish State, an Israeli presence within the UN Peacekeeping forces may not be acceptable in places like Saudi Arabia where even praising Hebrews can earn someone 700 lashes. Under Sharon, Israel has received praise for its actions regarding the Gaza territory, and although he is eager to continue the momentum of Israeli influence abroad, he will have to jump a few hurdles in order to make this a reality.

(Scotsman.com News) Mr Regev said Israeli troops, seasoned by several Middle East wars, could be especially useful in areas such as mine-clearing. [...]

Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli newspaper, said any decision to deploy troops with UN peacekeepers would require changing laws that currently limit the military's mandate to national security.

This may not be an easy task to accomplish for Ariel Sharon, whose government is already facing early elections from a newcomer to the political scene, Amir Peretz, who may not be as open to this idea as the current Prime Minister. If Sharon is able to tackle both of these domestic problems, then Israel may find itself being accepted by the international community rather than shunned from it.

By Darnell Clayton • 11:24 PM • Email Post • •


New Google Feature For Web Stats

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(Hat Tip: Google Blog)

(Google Press) Today, Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced that its hosted web analytics service, Google Analytics, is now free. Formerly known as Urchin from Google, Google Analytics helps businesses use performance data to improve their online marketing campaigns and websites. With Google Analytics, businesses can determine what keywords attract the most visitors, which email campaigns create more customers, and how to design web pages that hold people’s attention.

This new feature by Google will certainly be useful for not only e-businesses and those who market via the net but also for bloggers as it will help them understand who, what and where their traffic is coming from. Google Analytics seems to be nothing more than a stepping stone for the Mountain View Giant, as it enters the world of stats that have previously been dominated by companies such as Stat Counter and Site Meter.

(Google Press) Google Analytics runs on the same computing infrastructure that powers Google.com so it can support the traffic demands of any site, from those with a few visitors a week to hundreds of millions.

For those desiring more advanced features, there is the pro version although the price tag on that may be hefty. For the average blogger, this may be useful to install within ones site, especially if you already lack a web counter previously mentioned above.

By Darnell Clayton • 11:08 PM • Email Post • •


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Israel Rejects Gay Marriage?

[Expand Full Post] [Media Source*]

(Ynet News) The state of Israel does not recognize same-sex marriage, and therefore will refuse to register as married same-sex couples who got marries abroad, the State wrote in response to a petition on the matter filed to the High Court of Justice Sunday.

Although this may seem like a rejection of homosexual rights by the Jewish state, apparently Israel does recognize "partners" for financial and social reasons. The couple who pushed this case forward were from Canada, who tried to use their marriage their to force consent amongst the Israeli government.

Homosexuality is considered an abomination by Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths within the region, and such a law may have erupted violence within the region amongst some of the groups. But should Israel recognize same-sex marriages from other nations? Or should it respect the views of its citizens who hold towards certain faiths?

By Darnell Clayton • 11:15 PM • Email Post • •


Buddhist Upset About Islamic Marriage

[Expand Full Post] [Media Source*]

(The Buddhist Channel) Buddhist youths today forced closure of shops in Leh market protesting what they alleged the marriage of a Buddhist girl with a Muslim after her forcible conversion.

Activists of the youth wing of the Ladakh Buddhist Association enforced the shutdown and pelted stones at several shops and offices asking authorities to facilitate quick return of the 20-year-old Buddhist girl.

Aside from the stone casting, these protests have been mostly peaceful, which is an amazing thing when one compares and contrasts the religious riots in France. Hopefully the authorities can resolve the issue, otherwise some of the protestors will take matters into their own hands.

(The Buddhist Channel) "So far, we have been carrying out peacedul protests but if no action is taken soon, the law and order situation will deteriorate," [Ladakh Buddhist Association] President R P Dorje said. [...]

Inter-religious marriages have been a source of tension in the past also. The Association has started an agitation against such wedlocks and later entered into an agreement with the Ladakh Muslim Association to prevent such happenings.

Editor's note: Does Islamic law permit the return of a bride in these circumstances? Hmm...

By Darnell Clayton • 11:03 PM • Email Post • •


Is A Security Fence Neccessary?

[Expand Full Post] [Media Source*]

(Ynet News) "This is not against the Palestinian people," Clinton, a New York Democrat, said during a tour of a section of the barrier being built around Jerusalem. "This is against the terrorists. The Palestinian people have to help to prevent terrorism. They have to change the attitudes about terrorism."

Does a fence make good neighbors? Apparently so, according to Senator Clinton whose latest statement echoes with clarity and reason, something her party seems to lack as elections approach in 2006. But does building a wall to protect ones citizens justify the potential hurt (economically) of their neighbor next door? India would think so.

(Times Online) INDIA is accelerating the construction of a 2,500-mile fence to seal its border with Bangladesh amid growing fears that its Muslim neighbor could become "a new Afghanistan".

Indian officials and western diplomats have been alarmed by an increase in terrorist attacks by militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda and by the Dhaka government's failure to crack down on them. (Media Source*)

Hat Tip: The Black Kettle

Critics will probably dispute the need of a security fence in both India and Israel, claiming that such structures aid in the poverty of those nations. Even if this were the case, it is not the responsibility of Israel or India to look after another nation financially to the destruction of their own. Israel has seen the benefit of these fences (as they have thwarted terrorist attacks) and it may be in India's best interest to complete their own.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:37 PM • Email Post • •


Israel Improves Relations With India And Saudis

[Expand Full Post] [Media Source*]

(Ynet News) In yet another sign of warming relations between Israel and India, the two countries recently signed an agreement allowing Israel to launch a sophisticated spying satellite from Indian territory. [...]

The agreement is beneficial for Israel because of cheaper expenses and the prospect of improved military cooperation and warmer diplomatic relations with India.

With the rest of the world trying to figure out how to restrain Iran, Israel seems to be positioning itself by not only helping out allies economically, but militarily as well. Although such news may not surprise some, it seems that Israel has succeeded in not only improving relations amongst its allies but also with a long time rival of theirs--Saudi Arabia.

(Ynet News) Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia was officially
accepted to the World Trade Organization, capping 12 years of negotiations slowed by Riyadh’s adherence to a decision by the Arab League to boycott Israel.

The membership means that Saudi Arabia will open its markets to foreign investors and will abide by the rules of the WTO which include "not having a boycott against anyone else inside the organization," including Israel.

It seems that the economic doors are finally opening up towards this tiny Jewish state, who has long been viewed as a "major stumbling block" towards peace by diplomats around the world. With Saudi Arabia's official close of the boycott, Israel may soon find itself in another market and hopefully will be able to display that its existence is not a threat towards Saudi citizens, something desperately needed in order to bring about peace within that region.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:01 PM • Email Post • •


Israel Allowing PA Workers To Return

[Expand Full Post] [Media Source*]

(Xinhuanet) A Palestinian official in the ministry of civil affairs confirmed Israeli media reports on Sunday that Israeli army allowed 10 thousand Palestinian laborers and traders from the Gaza Strip and West Bank to enter Israel.

In addition, some 400 employees working for foreign institutions and unspecified number of Palestinian National Authority (PNA) employees would be able to move between Gaza and West Bank areas, the Palestinian official told a local radio on condition of anonymity.

Although some may disagree with this measure, this precedent comes as good news as many Palestinians have been unable to provide financially toward their families due to the violence surrounding the region (which probably came as a result of "certain politics" within Palestine rather than with Israel).

Some may criticize the economic sanctions by Israel as cruel and inhuman, but those who do often forget that Israel's responsibility is towards the safety of its citizens first and not the financial security of their neighbors.

One thing that the Palestinian Authority can learn from their Jewish neighbors is that it is in their economic interests to fight off factions endorsing terrorism. Such measures often lead towards future investments within the national economy by outside corporations, as this example shows.
(Haaretz) Shamrock Capital Advisors, the California-based investment arm of the Roy Disney family, said yesterday that it is launching a new $125 million fund to invest in Israel over a four-year period. [...]

The fund plans to make investments of $5 million to $20 million, with emphasis on export-oriented middle-market businesses that require capital for international expansion or acquisitions. It is hoping to earn its investors an annual return of some 30 percent. (Media Source*)

Hat Tip: Israpundit

In order for Palestine to become economically independent, they will have to attract companies like Disney to invest within their borders, an idea which is highly unlikely as long as their are factions advocating the destruction of Israel. Palestine has potential economically, as one can see by visiting places such as the Elisha springs inside Jericho or the place of Christ's birth inside of Bethlehem.

But until terrorism settles down within the region, they will continue to have to depend upon Israeli good will in order to provide bread on the table.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:28 PM • Email Post • •


Russian Comeback In Space Arena

[Expand Full Post] [Media Source*]

(ISN Security Watch) Europe plans to take a ride on the successor to Russia’s famed Soyuz spacecraft with the Clipper, a new six-person reusable orbiter in which the Europeans intend to secure at least two seats in every mission, according to Alan Thirkettle, head of the Human Spaceflight Development Department at the European Space Agency (ESA).

In fact, during an upcoming 5-6 December ministerial meeting, the ESA will ask EU member states to join forces with Moscow and fund a preparatory study of the new spacecraft to the tune of 30 million [euro] to 40 million [euro].

Apparently Christmas has come early for Russia as this is the second major western power that has decided to use Russian technology rather than develop their own (Japan was first). This new deal brings benefits to both sides, as the European funding will help bring back Russia's struggling space industry into the scene again and allowing Europe to gain much needed experience exploring the "final frontier."

But if this new alliance was not surprising enough for those interested in space travel, perhaps NASA's deal with Russia may come to a shock, especially for those who have outlived the cold war era.

(MSNBC) The U.S. Senate has approved amendments to the Iran Nonproliferation Act, clearing the way for NASA to pay for Russian launches and spacecraft to support the international space station. [...]

"NASA appreciates the efforts of Congress to resolve restrictions placed on our partnership with Russia," NASA chief Michael Griffin said in a statement. "Congress' action helps to ensure the continuous presence of U.S. astronauts on the International Space Station." (Media Source*)

Despite losing both the cold war as well as the space war (after all, the US did beat Russia to the moon) it seems that Russian technology, not American, may dominate the future of human exploration into the cosmos. With Europe, Japan and now NASA becoming more dependent on the ancient, yet durable Russian space technology, (as least so far) the future lunar colony may become another conquered domain of the former USSR--that is if China doesn't beat them to it first.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:01 PM • Email Post • •


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Is Islamic Feminism Gaining Ground?

[Expand Full Post] [Media Source*]

(Muslim Wakeup!) The impromptu prayer came after Wadud, professor of Islamic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, was invited to lead a congregation by several Muslim women during a question and answer period following a talk by Wadud at the International Congress on Islamic Feminism.

After answering a slew of questions on the historic mixed-gender prayer she led earlier this year in New York City, members of Spain’s Muslim community quickly organized a makeshift prayer in a conference room at the Alimera Hotel in Barcelona, where the Congress was being held.

About 30 worshipers attended this event, which was led by Dr. Amina Wadud, who led a similar session involving 100 worshipers in the US. Although the event in Spain was suppose to be televised, several worshipers refused to be filmed by the media, which probably reveals a certain fear of being identified amongst such a crowd (something understandable in todays climate).

(BBC UK) Activists representing the Islamic feminist movement are in Barcelona to counter that view and discuss ways of achieving female equality in an Islamic context. [...]

Islamic Feminism argues that the inferior legal and social status of women in Muslim countries is a result of misogynistic distortions of the teachings in the Koran.

Organisers say they want more collaboration with western feminists but say non-Muslim feminists need to challenge their anti-Islamic stereotypes. (Media Source*)

(Hat Tip: Dhimmi Watch)

Although women in Islam may desire more liberties (at least faith wise) they will probably never achieve these goals under an Islamic regime where the Koran is law of the land. Unless these women are able to exert external pressure by partnering with "sisters in the west," (something this author has not seen at all) then all their actions will simply be in vain and their cries will fall upon the deaf ears of their Muslim brothers.

After all, the Koran (according to Dhimmi Watch) does specifically point out that a woman retains half of the value of a man legally, and if they are unable to find a way to reinterpret this verse, women's rights within Islam may die an early death.

Photo credit: Dr. Amina Wadud smiling, Image from Muslim Wakeup.

By Darnell Clayton • 11:40 PM • Email Post • •


Emergency Blog Alerts (Must Read)

[Expand Full Post]

Via the Committee to Protect Bloggers

Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman is a 21 year-old Egyptian student of law at the Azhar University, Damanhour Campus, a women's-rights activist and a correspondent for Copts United. In addition to writing at Civic Dialogue, he also publishes a blog as "Kareem Amer."

On Wednesday 26 October 2005, Egyptian State Security took Abdolkarim from his home, and confiscated hard copies of his writings. He is now on his way to an unknown detention.

Editor's note: A petition is being organized not only for Seliman but for Omid Sheikhan and Mojtaba Saminejad as well (who were both arrested for expressing their opinions online via weblogs). How ironic that both of these cases involve citizens being punished for criticizing political figures in regions practically endorsing theocratic style governments. Although this may have more to do with the socialistic nature of these regimes, as this next case shows.

(CNet) Libya has sentenced a blogger to a year and a half in prison after he criticized the government in his online articles, according to Human Rights Watch. [...]

The arrest came after al-Mansuri published some 50 articles on the U.K.-based Web site akhbar-libya.com, in which he criticized Libyan society and government. The arrest was carried out by the Internal Security Agency, who confiscated his computer, papers and compact discs and questioned him about his articles, he told Human Rights Watch. (Media Source*)

Editor's note: Although freedom of speech is taken for granted in many western nations (not to mention those in the process of being westernized), such privileges are unfortunately scarce in regions where the governments main concern is not enabling their people but retaining power for itself.

These Emergency Blog Alerts are broadcasted as a public service announcement in order to enlighten audiences about the conditions of political freedoms of citizen journalists worldwide.

Photo credit: Image of Abd al-Raziq al-Mansuri from the Committee to Protect Bloggers.

By Darnell Clayton • 11:19 PM • Email Post • •


China Colonizing The Moon For Fuel?

[Expand Full Post] [Media Source*]

(Red Orbit) China, which launched its first manned space mission just two years ago, plans to put a man on the moon around 2017 and investigate what may be the perfect source of fuel, a newspaper reported on Friday. [...]

The project also includes setting up a moon-based astronomical telescope, measuring the thickness of the moons soil and the amount of helium-3 on the moon -- an element some researchers say is a perfect, non-polluting fuel source.

If helium-3 is indeed the "perfect fuel" as some researchers are claiming, then according to estimates there is enough of this element on the lunar surface to power the world for thousands of years. China is planning on establishing a colony upon the moons surface a year in advance of NASA's time table, which can only mean one thing--the space race is now on.

(Space.com) Scientists estimate there are about 1 million tons of helium 3 on the moon, enough to power the world for thousands of years. The equivalent of a single space shuttle load or roughly 25 tons could supply the entire United States' energy needs for a year, according to Apollo 17 astronaut and FTI researcher Harrison Schmitt. [...]

"Helium 3 could be the cash crop for the moon," said Kulcinski, a longtime advocate and leading pioneer in the field, who envisions the moon becoming "the Hudson Bay Store of Earth."Today helium 3 would have a cash value of $4 billion a ton in terms of its energy equivalent in oil, he estimates. "When the moon becomes an independent country, it will have something to trade." (Media Source*)

(Editor's note: article edited for grammatical errors)

If this is true then it would be in the best interests of the United States not to allow China (or any other potential rival) to dominate the lunar surface in the near future. Establishing a colony on the moon as soon as possible should be NASA's priority as a base there would ensure adequate supply of fuel towards nations of the free world instead of being controlled by OPEC, a block of nations not known for their appreciation of human rights and free market systems.

Photo credit: Image from Red Orbit.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:27 PM • Email Post • •


Two Moons Discovered Around Pluto

[Expand Full Post] [Media Source*]

(Earth Times) The two new moons were found on May 15 and May 18 respectively and were named S/2005 P1 and S/2005 P2. While S/2005 P1, whose orbit is around 40,000 miles away from Pluto, is 100 miles wide, S/2005 P2 is believed to be smaller and around 30,000 miles away from its parent planet. Charon orbits around 12,000 miles away from Pluto.

Although these moons are merely "planetoid-like" objects, their presence raises questions such as how were these bodies captured in the first place and do other Kuiper belt objects (such as Xena) have minor bodies orbiting themselves as well. Although this discovery probably is not a major event as far as astronomy goes, star gazers everywhere will probably be hunting for more lunar objects in order to cement their place in history.

(Earth Times) In-depth analysis of the images has revealed that Pluto's three moons are in resonance with each other. With each 12 circles that Charon takes around Pluto, S/2005 P1 revolves twice and S/2005 P2 thrice. Through this resonance, the NASA team hopes to crack the mystery of the moons' origin. "This is very important for New Horizons, because we will be able to plan a lot more," Stern said.

Although Pluto will probably not be a highlight for human visitation for the next fifty years, if humanity decides to pop by and visit, these asteroids would make great "rest stops" (that is if a ship were to travel beyond the Kuiper belt). As technology improves our telescopic abilities more worlds will probably be discovered, allowing us to see new worlds and begin the first steps towards conquering our "final frontier."

By Darnell Clayton • 9:01 PM • Email Post • •


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