Thursday, October 30, 2014

How NASA is Picking Model T Technology to Compete in Grand Prix Space Race

This weeks explosion of the rocket carrying supplies to the space station revealed a deep flaw in NASA's system - but not the flaw you may think.  It shows a huge lack of common sense at the management level that smacks of gross incompetence and lack of sound judgment that jeopardizes our entire space program at a time when even China is beginning to pass us by.

NASA awarded a $ 2 billion contract to Orbital Sciences to help supply the space station -- a company that has zero manufacturing expertise! Furthermore, Orbital Sciences was not allowed to buy engines that companies like Boeing have sole (monopoly) access to.

As a result, Orbital Sciences had a $2 billion contract but could not perform without buying and "fixing up" 50 year old Soviet era engines in order to do the job. Who in NASA thought that awarding a contract to a company relying on ancient technology was a good idea?

                                         Photo: Obital Sciences 50 year old engines major malfunction

So, Orbital Sciences ended up using Soviet-era engines that were built in the 60's and 70's!

Does that sound "cutting edge" to you?  Imagine trying to win the Indy 500 using a car built forty years ago.  Should we be surprised that these engines blew up after sitting in a warehouse for decades?  How many Packards or Edsels have won the Grand Prix, even after a tune up?

The problem is not using private companies; the problem is the companies that NASA has been selecting -- they picked companies that a rationale citizen could determine were not qualified.

This is not an isolated incident.  NASA just awarded SpaceX and Boeing $6 billion in contracts for further space station supply flights. The difference? SpaceX has been building its own engines and has actually successfully flown several missions! That was a correct choice. However,  Boeing hasn't even made a test flight, yet it got 2/3's of the money and SpaceX only 1/3 (about $2 billion). How does this make sense? Was the decision based on merit, or politics?

So far NASA picked one winner who hasn't even flown a test flight (Boeing), and another which is using technology old enough to qualify for social security (Orbital Sciences.)

NASA's decision-making also lacks common sense in that it picked three designs which were all basically the same capsule designs. SpaceX, Boeing and NASA's own Orion are all capsules. NASA eliminated Sierra Nevada although it has developed a reusable "Space Plane" design called the Dreamchaser which can take off and land on an ordinary runway, vastly speeding up turn-around time and cutting costs and recovery effort.

All the capsules selected by NASA have to be fished out of the ocean, just like they were over fifty years ago. How is that an improvement?

                                        Photo: Sierra Nevada's "Dreamchaser" Space Plane
                                         - NOT picked by NASA

NASA's decisions lack common sense when they give billions to a company that brings nothing to the table and has to rely on ancient technology to perform a high risk job of launching cargo into space. NASA's decision lack vision by overlooking a mini-shuttle design like the Dreamchaser Space Plane that would bring down the costs of recovery and launching payloads.

There needs to be an investigation into NASA's contracting processes.  As a result of this launch failure, Orbital Sciences needs to have its contract revoked and replaced with Sierra Nevada's more modern design. Also, Space X should be getting the lion's share of the launch contract funds, not Boeing.

We need more decisions from NASA that result in more manufacturing of modern components in the United States instead of relying on foreign competitors and junk engines left over from the Soviet Union.

Write your Congress representative.  Demand that NASA start picking cutting edge technology instead of conducting an American space race with Model T technology.

We are not going to be No. 1 in space by following the road of mediocrity.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why a Travel Ban Would Make Ebola WORSE in the USA -

The GOP thinks we can "fix" Ebola without spending and with a travel ban? NUTS.
                                         Photo: Roberts International Airport, Monrovia, Liberia (W. Africa)

Put a travel ban on and what will happen is that they will go to a 3rd country and sneak in without being screened either there or here and suddenly we will have MORE cases popping up all over the U.S. Right now, they are identified and screened on BOTH sides. We have contact information, we can isolate people.
                                  Air routes connecting Liberia to Europe, India, South America, etc.
                                  Notice how many flights go to many parts of the world from Liberia
                                  Once a person is in any of those countries, they can then go to the USA
                                  undetected and un-monitored once they arrive

Institute a Travel Ban and all that goes out the window - we won't know WHO has it, WHO they touched and WHERE they are. It would be madness - the usual GOP solution sounds reasonable but is VOODOO and will make matters WORSE...

We MUST fix Africa or the whole world is in trouble if we can't contain it THERE.

Stay tuned on Updates here at Global American Values blog (click on the right to follow)...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Tracking American ISIS - Not So Easy Even with Passports. Tourists vs Terrorists & NSA

A good question came up on my Facebook page about Americans who leave to join ISIS in Syria as Jihadists. How can we know if they return?

My clever nephew suggested in a comment that they be on a "no fly" list.  Would that "fix" it?

Good idea -- except for one thing - we don't know who is going to be a jihadist or going as a tourist or to visit family.  I have been in Syria and Turkey. Am I a possible terrorist? I didn't even need a visa to get into Turkey because I arrived on a cruise ship.

                                               No, This is NOT me. But YES, it is likely an
                                              American with a U.S. Passport. No need to
                                             "sneak" across Mexico border as some politicians
                                             claim (proof that they don't know what they are
                                             talking about.)

Besides, the jihadists aren't traveling direct to Syria because it would be too obvious and it is a hot war zone even in Damascus. Assad's people control the airport so they would be detained most likely - to keep them from joining ISIS which is fighting Assad (along with everyone else they hate.)
I was in Syria for legal negotiations for a Texas mom whose 12 year old daughter was 70 miles away in Lebanon (closed to Americans at the time, but open today.)  Last December I was in Turkey as a tourist on vacation. Does that make me a potential terrorist? Should that put me on a "watch" list or a "no fly" list?

                                                       Michael Fjetland, Damascus, Syria
                                                       Do I look like a terrorist?
                                                       How do you know? How does our
                                                       government  know?

What about the many people who are legal residents or citizens of the U.S. who have FAMILY in those countries. Should they be suspects because they want to see their family?

The Jihadists are going through neighboring countries like Turkey--which I myself went to last December as a tourist. Should that put ME on the no fly list? See how crazy it could get - not everyone is an international lawyer as I have been. Americans may not realize it but many hyphenated Americans (Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Latin Americans) travel back and forth to see family or do business ALL the time! 

Here is a map to give you an idea what a problem this is (Syria is next door - the jihadists are going to Turkey and crossing that LONG border into Syria).
 Notice how Turkey, Syria and Iraq come together  and the long border Turkey has with Syria

The only way to find out "who is who" is if we DO have a NSA checking people out. So that is the rock and the hard place. Do I want them reading my email or monitoring my phone calls? No.

Do I want them monitoring the email of someone being recruited on the Internet by ISIS? Yes.

How do they tell the difference without looking at our stuff or having the FBI show up at the door?

Either we don't investigate to see who is going out of the U.S. to become a terrorist and who is traveling internationally as a tourist, as millions of innocent people do each year.

We need to decide the best way to handle this because not knowing the difference between normal international travelers like myself (13 million of us in 2009 alone) and terrorists-in-training will eventually prove to be deadly at some point.  I say that with my terrorism analyst hat on. 

I have watched Turkey's leader allow thousands of these young jihadists cross the Turkish border. I have watched Erdogen's tanks sit silent on a hill overlooking ISIS attacking the Kurdish town in Syria below, killing thousands.  The Turks never fired a shot as they stood watching through binoculars the men in black run across the stark desert sand.
                                         Turkish tank (with flag) overlooking Kobane across
                                         border, under attack by ISIS. Turks never fired a shot

 Turkey's President Erdogen supports President Assad in Syria (who has killed over 200,000 of his own citizens in shellings.) Erdogen is a Muslim and hates the Kurds, who happen to be related to the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey. So why would he care about the Kurds in Kobane?   ISIS hates EVERYBODY.

The Kurds are our best allies in Iraq but they have no heavy weapons like ISIS. ISIS didn't have any either until they overran Mosul in Iraq and stole our tanks from the Iraqis. That was a fumble by Iraq's leader Maliki who had replaced competent commanders with kiss-ass loyalists. When they fled, the soldiers did too, leaving ISIS free to just walk in and take countless American built tanks and heavy weapons. Those weapons are now killing Kurds, minority Christians and even Muslims all across Syria and Iraq.

         Photo: American tank with ISIS black flag - one looted from Mosul, Iraq
                            We need to reclaim it by blowing it up before it kills more civilians

Can you see what kind of problem we have here? Stay is far from over.

To get a flavor of Syria I saw, details are in "Better Times Ahead April Fool"

Friday, October 10, 2014

Why We Must Fight ELOBA There to Keep It Away from HERE!

Why We Must Fight ELOBA There to Keep It Away from HERE!

The thing about Ebola many people don’t realize is that we have to fight it in Africa to keep it from coming to America—ignoring it will result in more Americans being exposed.  Experts say that shutting down air flights would actually increase the potential of it coming to the U.S.  How is that?

Shutting off air travel would, for one, trap the doctors and aid going to Liberia and Sierra Leone  from being able to get out. The disease would explode beyond our ability to contain it. A major problem in war-ravaged Liberia is that the medical field is almost non-existent, many doctors and nurses have died or fled because they don’t have proper protection or tools.

Ebola cases double every three weeks. If we don’t speed up our actions, there could be over one million cases in Africa by December.  International response has been painfully slow. Even the U.S. Congress has had members sitting on appropriations needed to send medical supplies to Africa. That’s crazy.

Unless we contain Ebola in Africa, the chances of more travelers bringing it to the U.S. (Europe, etc.) increases significantly. It would become a pandemic on a scale not seen since the beginning of AIDS.

Many Americans don’t realize it but over 500,000 Liberians live in the United States following two civil wars in Liberia. Many are U.S. citizens. Denying the right to travel would keep them from doing what all Americans can freely do – travel the world to see family and friends. Some years ago I attended a church in Ft. Bend, Texas and one of the members was a nice lady from Liberia I will call “Grace.” It was common for her to travel back to Liberia to see family.

People in the United States are afraid of EBOLA, but should they be that worried? Ebola has killed only one person in the U.S. In 2010, over 53,000 people died from the FLU, also a virus.

Are we doing enough to contain Ebola? The GOP cut the President’s request for funding for CDC (Center for Disease Control) in half. They have refused to confirm his appointment for Surgeon General, leaving the U.S. without a chief medical doctor helping guide our response.  So we are making a bad situation worse by not acting soon enough or with enough resources.

If we can contain Ebola overseas, the threat remains there. Much more needs to be done. I encourage you to contact your Congress reps and let them now you want more action and less talk before this becomes a pandemic that spreads into the U.S.

For updates on Ebola, ISIS and other global events that impact Americans, follow the Global American Values blog at:

I have posted pictures I took of Syria before the civil war – and after.

Michael Fjetland
Global American Series
Author, Better Times Ahead April Fool

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Syria, Then and Now -

I came across some photos I took when I was in Syria in the late 90's on a child kidnapping case. Here is what Damascus looked like BEFORE the civil war and ISIS....

Here is what it looks like now:

Friday, October 3, 2014

If EBOLA is an Election Issue, GOP Gutting healthcare budgets looks STUPID

If EBOLA is an election issue, then here is what it means: The GOP has gutted budgets for healthcare, secret service, etc. -

They even drug their feet on Obama's sending medical services to West Africa, so it would keep the problem there. But once again, the GOP did the problem got worse. Even our own hospitals failed to follow health protocols on a known issue - you can't blame the President for hospitals not doing their jobs.

Now they blame the President. The blamers are the Congress that "works" only 100 days per year for big pay while they do NOTHING to fix it. 

You don't fix problems by not investing and spending money folks. Flats don't fix themselves, neither do cars - nor do the diseases that we have to control.

So WHO is the blame here?...