August 01, 2010

News Briefs

UK To Launch Mini-Satellites: The UK Space Agency has teamed up with British company Clyde Space to launch miniature satellites called CubeSat's. These new types of satellites are cheap and easy to produce, reducing the consequences of failed experiments. The use of this type of satellite technology will spur on innovation and creativity while also teaching the skills necessary to carry off more large scale projects.

There are a number of other companies within the UK which are gearing up for a commercial space market. EADS Astrium has fostered several relationships within the industry and within the academic community, making it one of the largest space companies in the UK. Space Systems Engineer for EADS, Dr. Ronan Wall, has said

"CubeSats provide a 'playground for innovation' by enabling us to test new technology that simply could not be tried on major risk-adverse missions. The concept also ensures that we can develop the next generation of space professionals, both in engineering and science, by giving them the ideal skill set to succeed in the industry"

Business is not the only investment the British people are making. According to SpaceRef The American Conrad Awards have recently partnered with ManSat Limited, an Isle of Man based global commercial space corporation, to bring the 2010-2011 'Spirit Of Innovation Awards' to its island. The SPOIA program is a competition that challenges students to create innovative new products that can be brought into the commercial marketplace. Hopefully the next SPOIA competition can expand into more than just two countries.

There is a growing international interest in space exploration, commercial space frontiers, and enriching our lives through science and education. America has long been a leader in a number of these fields, but we must step it up in order to enter the next stage. We will no longer be competing against other nations; we will be competing to see who can cooperate the best with other nations.

Social Experiment: Have you ever gotten sick and tired of people haranguing you and harassing you and telling you what to do all the time? Of course you have! Who hasn't? Well, probably Dan Brown. But he will have plenty of opportunity to do so over the next year. You see, Mr. Brown will not only be allowing people to see him as he does stuff, people will be telling him what to do, all the time, for one whole year. It's a project that Dan is calling Dan 3.0, and you can check it out and all of Dan's other videos at his YouTube channel.

Transparency In Political Advertising: A campaign finance bill aimed at introducing transparency into certain political ads is facing resistance from republicans in the senate. If this bill gets made into law then any organization that airs political ads independently of candidates and political parties will be forced to disclose their involvement with the ads.  In this way we can potentially see the motive behind the ad and judge it's worth accordingly.

Obama - "Nobody is saying you can't run the ads; just make sure the people know who in fact is behind financing the ads."

The largest disagreement with the bill is that companies and organizations that have large contracts with the government cannot put out political ads. This seems to fly in the face of the first amendment. Any person or organization has the right to free speech, even if they have a vested interest in the outcome of an election. At the heart of it, we all have a vested interest in the outcomes of political races, even if we're not directly receiving cash and contracts from a member of congress.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement Monday that the bill is designed to "protect unpopular Democrat politicians by silencing their critics and exempting their campaign supporters from an all out attack on the First Amendment."

Maybe a line needs to be drawn when those producing the ads have a vested personal interest in the success of the campaign. Maybe blocking a person's right to free speech is not the best way to root out corruption. We must choose which path we take wisely.

Distraction: This is ridiculously petty and a complete distraction from the real issues at hand. The Iowa state's GOP is spraying a cloud of ink into the water to blind us. What's worse is that if this bill does pass (I'm assuming no amendments are lost, but are simply bumped up a number) than anytime an American citizen earns a Nobel Prize they will no longer be an American citizen. How are we to be the best and brightest nation if our citizens are not allowed to receive the highest recognition of their work? Why make it impossible for an American to become a Nobel Laureate? Every minute spent arguing and debating this is a waste of time. 

Small Business Bill Being Slowed By GOP: A bill that had been under consideration for three weeks has been put aside thanks to the efforts of the republican party. This bill was aimed at opening up the small business lending market with cash and tax breaks, as well as reducing the capital gains taxes on long-term investment in small business. Republicans argue that though the bill had been on the floor for three weeks, they have not yet had all their considerations voiced. They want more time to discuss the bill before it gets put to a final vote. Richard Shelby (R-Ala) compared the measure to the bank bailout (which has been somewhat underwhelming) and warned that this could lead to the types of risky loans that got us here in the first place. The GOP likely wants to ensure that this works better than the bank bailout and that it minimizes risky loans.

House Set To Debate NASA Authorization Act: And for those of you interested, here's a rundown of the various competing NASA Authorization Bills before congress right now. While all have their merits and weakness's, with this you can at least give them a side-by-side comparison.

Certain enterprising individuals urged people to tell their representatives to support the senate version, as the senate version comes closer to President Obama's stated amount of $812 million to be used for commercial space flight. 

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