Motto: The surest way to get a reputation for being a trouble maker these days is to go about repeating the very phrases that the Founders used in the struggle for independence.
-- C.A. Beard
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On last month's Fix;
the answer to last month's Fix,
"Should the US Manned space flight program, including participation in the International Space Station, be dropped?"
Okay, you knew this was coming. As in every other manned space disaster, talking heads are falling all over themselves to decide if NASA should continue to receive funding. You may recall in the Clinton era, the space agencies director, Dan Goldin, was forced to meet his objectives on a tighter and tighter budget. He even coined a phrase, "Faster, better, cheaper." Well, the cheaper part has certainly been born out. The truth is, the shuttle successor should have been being built by now. Columbia was 22 years old when she died, and that is a lot of life to expect from a device that was built by the lowest bidder, with mid-seventies technology and material science that made its living in the harshness of space.
The scenario played out in the movie Armagedden is real. There is almost a certainy that sometime in the next 2000-5000 years, Earth will be struck by a planet killing asteroid (as Jupiter was by Shoemaker-Levy a few years ago). NASA and the Feds are even now actively debating whether they would inform the public if a known planet killer was on it's way (to avoid useless panic).
The time for the human species to have all it's eggs in one Cosmic basket is over. We must colonize the outer planets and beyond. Our species survival requires it. And no amount of environmentalist hand-wringing will deter a Texas sized rock closing at 100,000 mph.
It began in the gangland era RICO laws, expanded under Reagen's war on drugs, and is thriving in the post 9/11 environment. The Bush Admin. and their AG with the help of Congress has been only to glad to strip US rights with the Patriot Act, and its coming successor - the "Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003". Described on the PBS Bill Moyers show, reporter Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity reports thath teh act will permit:
1. Permit the US AG to deport any resident alien, even those with lawful
2. Permit secret arrests and detainment of US citizens for an unlimited time for the first time in US history
3. Permit sectret conversations between US Fed prosecutors and judges
4. Permit the Feds to strip a person of citizenship if they gave contributions to a charity which was found years later to be a front for terrorists
5. Include domestic surveillance abilities 10 x's more invasive then the Patriot Act
Under current "law", consider the Bill of Rights suspended. The Pentagon, in cooperation wiht the FBI, has implemented the Total Information Awareness program that does for domestic eavesdropping what the NSA does for international spying. Under Clinton, the CALEA (Communications Assistence to Law Enforcment Act) permitted expedited wiretaps on all domestic phone service: via copper, fiber and cell. Bush had expanded that to cover all domestic internet traffic, hence the FBI Carnivore program has been expanded to all university and private ISPs. Thanks to the Patriot Act, FBI can even order wiretaps and force your local librarian to reveal what books you read - without a warrent. And if the librarian warns you of the investigation, they are guilty of a felony punishable by up to five years in a federal prison. Finally, the Feds used to demand under HIPAA that medical records be kept secure, but that is almost now being reversed to the point of engineering a plan that would require all Medicare recipients to carry a national health care card - and you can bet that the scope of that document will be increased to become a defacto national ID card - complete with biometrics.
Recall in the aftermath of the Towers the debate that ensued over the treatment of Arab suspects? Basically, military tribunals could be invoked on any non-citizens participating in anti-American activities. Only now that is not enough. Today, if a US citizen is declared a enemy combatant, they can be stripped of their US citizenship by a military officer, their Constitutional rights ignored, and treated as an enemy combatent. And since the "suspect" was likely not wearing a uniform, they can be treated as spies and not even afforded the protections of the Geneva convention.
Keeping law abiding citizens from carrying a nail clipper on an airplane does not make us safer. Having unified central databases of local, state and federal documentation covering taxes, medical records, gun purchases and reading habits does not make us safer. Monitoring every electronic voice and data communication of millions of citiziens does not make us safer. What would make us safer is infiltration into known terrorist organizations by our intelligence agencies, but it would appear that our elected officials would rather treat the entire populace as suspects instead - which seems the action of a totalitarian, not free, state.
"Some people tell me, what if one day we can clone Adolf Hitler? Let's supppose we can bring back his memory and personality. I think that's beautiful and the Jews - the Jews will be happy to judge him"
-- Rael, head of the Realians and Clonaid founder, speaking on the morality of cloning humans after his follower Dr. Bridgette Oisselier announced succesful human cloning.
Microsoft then clipped a news story referring to Ernie Ball's run-in with the BSA, an industry association it co-founded, and attached it to a letter to area businesses warning they could face similar fines. Ball paid the fine. Then he wiped Windows and Office off his firm's 80 personal computers and switched to "open-source code" software programs, which do much of what Microsoft's products do at a fraction of the cost.
Ball figures he has saved $80,000 so far, and expects to save more because he won't have to pay for Microsoft upgrades. "I used to be furious at Microsoft," says Ball, whose company is based in San Luis Obispo, Calif. "Now, I thank them because even with the fine, I'm way ahead." Microsoft wouldn't discuss Ball's situation but says it no longer sends out such letters.
NASA finally admitted the truth, and instead began arresting artifact
hunters under Federal evidence tampering charges.
It turns out that playright Normal Lear helped to write the scripts
for the Detroit Project ad, and San Francisco radio talk host Sean Hannidy
got both Lear and Huffington on his show last month. During the interview,
Hannidy asked how Ms. Huffington how she heats her 9000 square foot home
and fuels her jet - to which she replied "None of your business." Next,
Hannidy asked Lear how the lawsuit from his neghbors is progressing - the
one where they are irked by his construction of a multi-story 21 car garage
for his classic car collection. Oddly, the two earth champions cut the