25 November 2009

American Flags and Sovereignty on the Moon

I am listening to the podcast of your interview on The Space Show on 5 Oct 09 and have a question that has always bugged me about the Moon Landing. We see pictures of American flags on the Moon planted by the astronauts at the Apollo landing sites. Because the American flag is used to denote American sovereignty over a US embassy or a ship on the high seas (remember when we re-flagged oil tankers during the Iran-Iraq war in the late 1980s?) doesn't the planting of the American flag at the Apollo sites convey an intent for the US Government to claim (or perceive to have claimed) American sovereignty over those sites, in conflict with the Outer Space Treaty?

It's a good question. There are several things to consider.

First of all, there are a lot of nationally-owned and operated bases in Antarctica, and a lot of national flags flying over them. These are merely symbolic, as claims of national sovereignty over territory are counter to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959.

When the Soviet Union's Luna 2 spacecraft became the first spacecraft to reach the Moon in 1959, It carried a number of medallions depicting the Soviet Union's Coat of Arms, which was analogous to the Great Seal of the United States of America. The international law of outer space being very underdeveloped at the time, there was nothing to prevent the Soviet Union from claiming the Moon on that basis, yet it chose not to make any such claim. It would have been a very weak claim at best. Read the Wikipedia article of the 1932 Island of Palmas case:


It is not enough to see a place, or land there for a time, claim it, and move on. The claim is inchoate. If someone else comes along later, continuously occupies, and makes productive use of the resources of that place, that later person develops the better claim.

According to Article 2 of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, national appropriation is prohibited, whether by claim of sovereignty, use and occupation, or by any other means. The United States never intended to use its flag to denote a claim of sovereignty for national sovereignty on the Moon. At best, the American flags at the Apollo sites are symbols of the functional sovereignty that the United States exercised in the immediate area of the sites for the periods that those sites were occupied. By functional sovereignty, I mean that the United States had jurisdiction over its astronauts and was responsible for their activities, and the United States was entitled to be free of interference during the operation of the Apollo missions, which might imply a right to an undefined area of exclusion, but only for the duration of the surface operations at each site. The United States and Russia (the Soviet Union's primary successor state) own the equipment left on the Moon, but they have no claim to the territories on which they are located. The Antarctic bases have similar status.

03 November 2009

Technoeconomy vs. Technocracy dichotomies is the nugget in Gangale's Book

Saturday, October 31, 2009

From: Spaceports

BOOK REVIEW: Thomas Gangale's recent 2009 book entitled The Development of Outer Space: Sovereignty and Property Rights in International Space Law is a unique niche interest work worth the read for those who are fascinated by the prospects of multiple nations settling human outposts on celestial bodies' off-Earth.

Gangale provides critical yet constructive analysis of other international legal commentators on property rights in space. The primary thesis is focused on the premise that technology development is the barrier to outer space development, not the current state of international space law and treaties.

The book writer reviews the Moon Treaty at length discussing various aspects of property rights and the theory of "the common heritage of mankind." He takes a critical look of the writings of others in this legal niche and enables the reader to consider an alternative view to other commentators. Gangale is specifically critical of The Space Settlement Prize which seeks to propose American federal legislation requiring the recognition of extraterrestrial real property claims as flawed.

Gangale advocates inclusion of China in international space regimes so as to further embed the nation into current space operational legal regimes. He advocates an interplanetary political economy based upon market forces and advocates the adoption of the so-called Regency of United Societies in Space. The author notes that "we have yet to become a true spacefaring civilization; we are merely a space-capable civilization."

There is an acceptance of the technocratic model for initial development of outer space. He notes the need for balance between the "technoeconomy-technocracy" dichotomies associated with a push-pull relationship of space development that this reader found an extremely interesting insight on the rapidly growing national space program efforts around the world and within the American civil and commercial space sectors.

While this book is not for everyone, it certainly is worth the read for anyone having a strong interest in space law and the economic development regimes of the nascent space economy coming rapidly in the 21st Century. To those with the niche interest, I say buy this book. It will make you think.

Posted by JackKennedy at 12:12 PM

10 October 2009

Taylor Dinerman

Forty days and forty nights have passed, and still The Space Review refuses to publish my rebuttal to Taylor Dinerman's witless rant against my most recent book. Although patience is a virtue, perhaps not all things come to he who waits....

One afternoon during my current sojourn through the American Southwest, I was at a truck stop on Route 66 in the middle of New Mexico, and I became aware of a trickster playing a flute. There was also the spirit of someone who had rolled down that same road long ago. "If you can't join them, Beat them." A North Beach coffee house came to mind, but also drifting in was a four-chord Velvet voice from the Village.

Diner-man. Diner-man.
I don't know, some say that's not his real name
Diner-man, Diner-man
As a nom de plume just seems kind of lame
Diner-man, Diner-man
Maybe he was a low rent food critic
Diner-man, Diner-man
On a mission from Wantaugh to Bushwick
Diner-man, Diner-man
To write reviews of every greasy spoon
Diner-man, Diner-man
Knew every blue plate from there to the moon

Which decided him to reach for the sky
And give the far right Space Review a try

Diner-man, Diner-man
Tries to write like a libertarian
Diner-man, Diner-man
Comes off like a baby barbarian
Diner-man, Diner-man
Quick to criticize what he doesn't know
Diner-man, Diner-man
His ravings, not his reason, boldly go
Diner-man, Diner-man
English literature is not his thing
Diner-man, Diner-man
He doesn't know Coleridge from Kipling

The White Man's Burden is still on his back
Thinks knocking it is a racial attack

Diner-man, Diner-man
Though he fancies himself a journalist
Diner-man, Diner-man
You won't see him on the New York Times list
Diner-man, Diner-man
No, all he's got is a beef and a blog
Diner-man, Diner-man
But it isn't like falling off a log
Diner-man, Diner-man
It's a real tough job, yeah, and he's the man
Diner-man, Diner-man
He writes two words together when he can

Go back to the blue plate meals you once bought
Where your words might have been some food for thought

23 September 2009

National Sovereignty Over the Geostationary Orbit

A recent comment on my article, "Who Owns the Geostationary Orbit?" in the Annals of Air and Space Law, Vol. XXXI:

This is an excellent article and a very convincing argument – I’m definitely going to cite it in my upcoming works. I guess what’s particularly interesting to me is something you also point out in the article – although the reasoning behind the Bogota Declaration is clearly spurious (as your article shows so well) it seems to me that there is, however, something peculiar about the geostationary orbit. The GSO seems unlike other orbits to me in the sense that it seems to be much more of a kind of ‘fixed territory’ in the sense that there’s a limited amount of “space” (forgive the pun) there. Countries who’ve placed payloads into that orbit, it seems to me, “occupy” it in a de facto sense. I haven’t done any historical research into this whatsoever, but I imagine the Bogota Declaration was probably a poorly reasoned way of developing nations to stake a future “claim” on space in that orbit, despite the fact that they were/remain unable to utilize it. I imagine the equatorial states worry that by the time their countries have the economic means to deploy their own payloads into GSO, there will be no room left (I’ve read that GSO ‘slots’ will probably fill up in the next few decades). I think you’re right in pointing out that the closest land analogy to the orbit is Antarctica, but there’s a key difference: Antarctica isn’t going to be ‘filled up’ anytime in the foreseeable future, has little commercial potential, and has little military value. The GSO has all. This is certainly not a criticism of your article – I’m trying to get at a different question than the one you’ve raised. I’m interested in trying to think about the GSO as a kind of “territory” in precisely the way your article seems to suggest we should think about it.

Let's address some technical concerns first. A small equatorial state such as Ecuador could just as easily be served by a geostationary satellite positioned above a point in the Pacific Ocean a degree or two to the west of its territory: just point the ground antennas a few degrees to the west. The interests of Ecuador wouldn't be harmed or diminished in any substantive way. On the other hand, a large equatorial state such as Brazil has so large an arc of the GSO above its territory that it ought to be fairly easy to share that arc with other users. Of course, given more users, GSO slots will tend to fill up, all other things being equal. However, all other things are not equal. Using 1960s technology, the GSO slots would have filled up many years ago, but as satellite communications systems have become more capable, more utility has been extracted from each GSO slot.

Now to the legal issues. The "fixed territory" character of the geostationary orbit is an illusion, and therefore so is any claim over a segment of the GSO based on national territory. Imagine two automobiles traveling along a road side by side in adjacent lanes at the same speed. From the point of view of one, the other is stationary, yet neither one is stationary. One car has no claim over the space in the adjacent lane. The other auto has the right to pass through that adjacent space, or to remain in that space for some unspecified time.

The geostationary orbit is a consequence of the Earth's rotation; if the Earth did not rotate, there would be no GSO. Suppose there were a nation on the Moon centered at zero degrees latitude, zero degrees longitude, and extending for several degrees from this point north, south, east and west. There would be an object constantly occupying the arc of selenostationary orbit directly above this lunar state's national territory, and according to the reasoning of the Bogota Declaration, the object permanently occupying this selenostationary slot would be the national territory of this lunar state. That object is Earth.

The right to overfly national territory is absolute, regardless of the transit time. This right of overflight became instant customary international law with the launching of Sputnik 1 and the absence of objection by any overflown state. According to Article 2 of the Outer Space treaty, no part of space, including any segment of the GSO, is "subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means." Certainly, a satellite positioned in the GSO uses and occupies that position, but Article 2 prohibits neither use nor occupation, it only prohibits either of these as a means of national appropriation. The use and occupation of GSO slots is is clearly not national appropriation, since these slots are licensed by an international organization, the International Telecommunications Union.

I am not unsympathetic with the concerns of equatorial states, that they may become launching states in the future, and find that their national interests conflict with the interests of those of other entities who have satellites in the GSO above their national territory. These interests will need to find an equitable balance, which suggests that the rules of the ITU may need some adjustment in the future to accommodate new users of the GSO.

By the way, an unintended consequence, not considered by those who disparage the Article 2 principle and who would like to see successfully asserted claims to territory on the Moon, is that any such successfully asserted claim would jolt the life-force into the Bogota Declaration, setting loose a Frankenstein monster upon the international law regime of outer space.

21 September 2009

Response to "Habitat Hermit's" Comment

I thank you for your comment.

I submitted my rebuttal to The Space Review three weeks ago, and so far it has failed to publish my rebuttal. One ought to question why The Space Review would publish a piece that monstrously misrepresents an author's work, while not allowing the author the equal opportunity to correct the record. What is this publication's agenda?

Both the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Agreement are international law; they are both deposited with the United Nations, they are both open for signature, and they are both binding on the states that have ratified them. The distinction is that the Moon Agreement has few states parties.

While I take appreciative note of your apology for the third paragraph of your post in The Space Review as "scathing" and "entirely misdirected," let me nevertheless address some of the issues you raise.

When you state that my book "seems to base itself on an ultra-extreme statist interpretation of the OST that neither the former Soviet communists, nor the US, nor Russia, nor China, nor the EU, nor Japan would subscribe to," frankly, that doesn't even make any sense to me. And if any of that were true, is it credible that my work would have been approved by a committee that included a professor who teaches international law as well as a career US Foreign Service officer of ambassadorial rank who was on the negotiating team of strategic arms treaties, or that Aerospace Corporation analysts would have briefed my work to senior NASA managers?

Nor is my alleged "ultra-extreme statist interpretation" why "the author of the book thinks the Moon Treaty is a good idea." I think it is a good idea because I reach conclusions that are opposite to yours. You state that "in reality the OST and the Moon Treaty are in deep conflict because the Moon Treaty contradicts the OST on the issue of Earth-government authority over non-Earth assets; the OST argues against such authority while the Moon Treaty takes such authority for granted." Given your premise of "the inherent contradiction between the Outer Space Treaty on one side and the Moon Treaty/Moon Agreement on the other," how can you explain the fact that the same states that ratified the Outer Space Treaty between 1967 and 1979 apparently reversed themselves so completely in negotiating the Moon Agreement between 1972 and 1979? Nowhere in the scholarly literature have I seen anyone else make this assertion; rather, the weight of scholarly opinion is that the Moon Agreement adds specificity to the principles declared in the Outer Space Treaty. Cite chapter and verse if you think otherwise. Exactly where does the Outer Space Treaty argue against such authority? Meanwhile, the Moon Agreement does not take such authority for granted; it merely commits states parties to "undertake to establish an international regime, including appropriate procedures, to govern the exploitation of the natural resources of the moon as such exploitation is about to become feasible." Now, in international law, the word "regime" has special meaning. It does not mean "regime" in the sense of a sovereign government, complete with coercive mechanisms such as police and/or other armed forces. Rather, it means "a set of rules" established to govern specific activities. For instance, the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade was a regime (a set of rules) without an organization for four decades before the Uruguay Round of GATT established the World Trade Organization. It seems obvious that when the exploitation of the Moon and other celestial bodies is about to become feasible, there will need to be a set of rules to ensure that commercial operations do not interfere with each other, or are not interfered with by other entities. Indeed, a regime of legal certainty is conducive to a favorable investment environment. In my view, this provision of the Moon Agreement was meant to address this need.

Whether or not you agree with my positions on points of international law pertaining to outer space, I hope you will at least recognize that in the long run we want the same thing: the efflorescence of the human species into the cosmos. I believe in international law as a means to this end, and not a barrier to it.

02 September 2009

Convenient Untruths From a Space Priest

Taylor Dinerman's review of The Development of Outer Space: Sovereignty and Property Rights in International Space Law is full of misperceptions and distortions of my work.

"Thomas Gangale makes the case that it is now settled international law that there can be no private property on the Moon or on other bodies, at least as private property is understood here on Earth." Quite the contrary, I make the case that there can be a form of private property on the Moon and other celestial bodies under existing international law that ought to satisfy commercial interests.

"He makes the case that some sort of internationally recognized body, probably under UN control, will have to legitimate any commercial activity." This is untrue. No UN body is required to "legitimate" commercial activity. Obviously, disputes over conflicting interests may arise, and an international legal structure might be a preferred mechanism for resolving such disputes. Such a structure might develop organically along the lines that Declan O'Donnell envisions, rather than be imposed by new treaty law.

"He believes that there may be a way for private companies to harvest lunar resources without contravening the provisions of the OST, but he cannot clearly define how this would work." When the US and USSR returned samples from the Moon and their ownership of those samples went undisputed, it became instant customary law that extraterrestrial materials, once removed from their natural state, become property. Clearly defined, that is how it works. Furthermore, the Lockean principle of mixing soil and labor to create a property right was codified in the Moon Agreement.

"Gangale believes that the day of the nation-state is almost over...." This is untrue. I make the fairly obvious observation that the Westphalian nation-state system had a beginning only 360 years ago and is likely to have an end... someday. The weather forecast for tomorrow: the sky is not falling.

"He quotes former ultra-leftist German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer...." To use Dinerman's own intellectually penetrating question, "So what?" I quote a hundred people, including ultra-rightists who never held any position of trust in any country.

"Since there is no authoritative interpretation of the [Moon] treaty, or of the OST for that matter, he chooses to use the Law of Treaties to push for an interpretation depending on such things as 'preparatory work' and 'negotiating history'." Having repeatedly demonstrated his contempt for truth, here Dinerman exposes his contempt for international law. I point out a fact that opponents have conveniently ignored for thirty years, that the transmittal document that accompanied the Moon Agreement contained the authoritative interpretation of provisions of the agreement that were points of contention. As for the Law of Treaties, I choose nothing, push nothing. It is a fact that the US has had the long-standing practice of abiding by the Law of Treaties despite its failure to ratify the convention, which is quite typical of US behavior in international law. Thus the US “chooses" to be "pushed" by the convention's provisions, among which is a formula for the interpretation of treaties.

"If the US had signed the Moon Treaty it would indeed have been negotiating 'under the gun'." This is preposterous; which nation has the most guns?

"If and when a private organization begins operations on the Moon, the [Outer Space] Treaty will face either ruin or major revision." An interesting assertion, but where is the supporting legal argument? The Outer Space Treaty is a declaration of principles; specifically, which principles would come into conflict when a private organization begins operations on the Moon?

"A good case can be made that since space operations are an essential enabling technology for all modern military forces, the peaceful uses clause of the treaty has already been rendered, in effect, null and void." In that case, Dinerman should present his good case; I suspect that he cannot. The use of military communications satellites, surveillance satellites, geodetic satellites, and other enabling technologies for military forces preceded the Outer Space Treaty, and the treaty was never intended to prohibit such uses.

A lot of what Dinerman dredges up is relevant rhetoric about his dislike of the European Union, arms control, the Land Mine Treaty, climate control, et cetera. His review is more about his own world-view than about my work: "The truth is that international law has been losing its legitimacy for decades." From this premise, it is clear that Dinerman has no object other than to cast doubt on the legitimacy of any work on the subject of international law that does not conform to his opinion.

There is no "racial put-down" in my book, and Dinerman's misrepresentation is nothing other than a pathetic attempt at character assassination by playing a “race card,” for it is scarcely conceivable that he could have failed to recognize the allusion to Rudyard Kipling's infamous "white man's burden" justification for subjugating and exploiting non-Europeans. Dinerman's purpose is further revealed by his likening my views to those of "slaveowners of the Old South." This is despicable.

The most open-minded statements in Dinerman's review are "Gangale may have the law on his side" and "He may be right." Perhaps this is what frightens him. But I may also be wrong; one cannot embark on any worthwhile intellectual journey without assuming that risk. Most frightening of all must be the fact that I am an apostate; I put my blind faith in thirty years of propaganda against the Moon Agreement… until I made a thorough study of the agreement and its associated documents. I found these, and the arguments in favor, to be overwhelmingly persuasive, while the arguments against ranged from manifest misinterpretations to monstrous distortions. I did not set out to vindicate the agreement, but that is where the data led me.

I invite any serious student of international space law to make his or her own voyage of discovery, and to engage in thoughtful discourse. I wonder when the citizen pro-space community will undergo a Reformation and challenge the orthodoxy of the self-anointed priestly class that presumes to hand down Truth from on high. It is the province of every person who prizes free intellectual inquiry to ask, "What is Truth?" For me, it is a journey, and certainly not a predetermined destination.

13 August 2009

American Manned Spaceflight: Quo Vadis?

Five years ago, the George W. Bush administration concluded that not only was the Space Shuttle too expensive to operate, it also wasn't safe enough to continue operating. Actually, these are two things that all administrations since Ronald Reagan's should have acknowledged. Perhaps they did, but the alternative of ponying up the money to develop a replacement system was even more unpalatable. So, at least Bush announcing the obvious was a step in the right direction, albeit long overdue.

However, Bush's solution was problematic. It approved the development of a system that not only would replace the Space Shuttle's role in low Earth orbit transportation, but would also encompass elements that would be designed as part of an manned interplanetary system. The last time the US developed a manned space system that was designed to do a whole lot of different things, it wound up with the Space Shuttle. So, in a sense, Bush's decision to replace the Space Shuttle was itself a prisoner of the Space Shuttle paradigm: we must develop a new system that can do whatever we might later decide to do in space. A design for anything is optimized for nothing, but that is what we get in the absence of a strong national space policy commitment to do something specific.

Even worse, Bush's solution for replacing the Space Shuttle created a planned four-year gap, during which American astronauts would be forced to hitchhike on some other national human spaceflight system to the International Space Station. Consider the history of transitioning from one manned system to another. There was no planned gap between Mercury and Gemini, yet there turned out to be nearly a two-year gap. There was no planned gap between Gemini and Apollo, yet again there turned out to be nearly a two-year gap. Disregarding the Apollo Soyuz Test Project, because it was a deliberate "gap filler," the planned gap between Skylab and the Space Shuttle was four and half years; however, that gap ultimately grew to seven and a half years, as the Space Shuttle turned out to be more expensive to develop than anticipated, and Congress appropriated less funding than anticipated. So, it is little surprise that the initially planned four-year gap between the Space Shuttle and the Constellation system is beginning to look more like seven to twelve years as Constellation becomes more expensive and the funding environment becomes more stingy.

Problem: Ares I development costs are mushrooming and it has performance problems, the most reported of which is severe vibration.
Alternative: Upgrade existing, proven launch systems to assume Ares I missions.
Options: Atlas V, Delta IV, and/or Ariane 5, all commercially operated.

Problem: Orion is being designed to unoptimally operate in low Earth orbit, translunar space, and interplanetary space.
Alternative: Design an optimized manned system for low Earth orbit, and another optimized system for beyond.
Options: Manned upgrade of the Dragon and/or Automated Transfer Vehicle cargo systems.

Supported policy goals: Constrained budget, maintenance of American manned access to low Earth orbit, eventual development of American manned access to translunar and interplanetary space, and development of commercial manned LEO services.

Canceling the Ares I launch vehicle would liberate funds that could be applied to upgrading Dragon and/or ATV to an optimized manned low Earth orbit system, and to later upgrading Atlas V, Delta IV and/or Ariane 5 as launch vehicles for Orion, with possible competitive fly-offs in either case. With Dragon and/or ATV as LEO solutions, Orion can be deferred until it is needed to support Altair/Ares V lunar missions, resulting in additional near-term cost savings that can be invested elsewhere. Meanwhile, Orion can be optimized for manned translunar and interplanetary missions.

Additionally, this scenario gets NASA out of the manned LEO transportation business, a role it has filled for 50 years. Vacating this role would finally free NASA to reach beyond LEO, and would create opportunities for commercial ventures to compete for manned LEO services. As a matter of national space policy, I believe it is time for NASA to move on, to focus on sending humans into deep space, and to leave near Earth space to free enterprise. I certainly don't have access to the technical and budgetary information to make the calls regarding cost, schedule and performance issues of this scenario. This is just my back-of-the-envelope look at where we stand and where we can go from here.

12 August 2009

The Space Review: The Limits of Space Law

A Teamster leader once told a friend of mine, "You know you're having an impact when they write your name on the shit house wall."

The following book review is a case in point:

07 July 2009

Do You Think Thomas Gangale Has Ever Had Phone Sex?

Sonia J. Lee posed this question on Facebook yesterday, even going so far as to create a poll: "Do you think Thomas Gangale has ever had phone sex?" Like anyone should care! Anyway, my response was:

I've done far worse than that. I've had politics over the phone, and not only the receiver but the lines were slimy for days afterward. From now on, I'm wearing latex gloves.

I note with some interest that Sonia and I have a number of Facebook friends in common, some of them prominent members of the California Democratic Party. Here is a non-exclusive list, with whom I may or may not have had a phone conversation:

Alberto Torrico
Alex Gallardo-Rooker
Bill Lackemacher
Candi Easter
Christine Pelosi
Darrell Steinberg
David Greenwald
Dean Florez
Eric Bradley
Fiona Ma
George Miller
John Garamendi
John Vigna
Kamala D. Harris
Karen Bass
Mark Ridley-Thomas
Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer
Steve Westly
Tom Ammiano
Tom Torlakson
Zak Ford

Whether phone numbers for some of these people may be found in public necessaries, I have not researched.
Do You Think Thomas Gangale Has Ever Had Phone Sex? (Part 2)

30 June 2009

Claim of Ownership of 353 Extrasolar Planets and Their Stars

In observance of the occasion of the publication of my book, The Development of Outer Space: Sovereignty and Property Rights in International Law, I, Thomas Gangale, hereby assert the following claims of property rights on the basis of established precedents:

1) On the basis of the precedent established by Dennis Hope and the Lunar Embassy in claiming ownership of and the right to convey real property on the Moon and other celestial bodies of the Solar System, I assert ownership of and the right to convey real property on the planets specified infra.

2) On the basis of the precedent established by Joseph Resnick, Timothy R. O'Neill, and Guy Cramer in claiming ownership of and the right to convey mineral rights on the Moon and Mars, I assert ownership of and the right to convey mineral rights on the planets specified infra.

3) On the basis of the precedent established by Virgiliu Pop in claiming ownership of the Sun, I assert ownership of the central stars of the planets specified infra.

4) On the basis of numerous terrestrial precedents, I assert ownership of all forms of life on the planets specified infra.

The planets hereby claimed, together with their stars, are as follows:

CT Chamaeleontis b
OGLE235-MOA53 b
AB Pictoris b
2M1207 b
GQ Lupi b
SCR 1845 b
MOA-2007-BLG-400-L b
MOA-2007-BLG-192-L b
UScoCTIO 108 b
CoRoT-7 b
WASP-12 b
OGLE-TR-56 b
HD 41004 B b
WASP-4 b
OGLE-TR-113 b
CoRoT-1 b
WASP-5 b
OGLE-TR-132 b
CoRoT-2 b
WASP-3 b
Gliese 876 d
Gliese 876 c
Gliese 876 b
WASP-9 b
HD 86081 b
WASP-2 b
HAT-P-7 b
HD 189733 b
WASP-14 b
HD 212301 b
WASP-1 b
HD 73256 b
XO-2 b
GJ 436 b
HAT-P-5 b
55 Cancri e
55 Cancri b
55 Cancri c
55 Cancri f
55 Cancri d
HD 63454 b
HD 149026 b
HAT-P-3 b
HD 83443 b
HD 46375 b
HAT-P-4 b
HAT-P-8 b
HD 179949 b
WASP-10 b
HD 187123 b
HD 187123 c
OGLE-TR-10 b
Gl 581 e
Gl 581 b
Gl 581 c
Gl 581 d
XO-3 b
HAT-P-12 b
tau Bootis b
WASP-6 b
HD 330075 b
HD 88133 b
HD 2638 b
BD-10 3166 b
HD 75289 b
HD 209458 b
OGLE-TR-211 b
WASP-11/HAT-P-10 b
WASP-15 b
HD 219828 b
HAT-P-6 b
Lupus-TR-3 b
HAT-P-9 b
XO-1 b
HD 76700 b
OGLE-TR-182 b
OGLE-TR-111 b
CoRoT-5 b
HD 149143 b
HD 47186 b
HD 47186 c
HD 102195 b
XO-4 b
XO-5 b
51 Pegasi b
CoRoT-3 b
HD 40307 b
HD 40307 c
HD 40307 d
WASP-13 b
HAT-P-1 b
upsilon Andromedae b
upsilon Andromedae c
upsilon Andromedae d
GJ 674 b
HAT-P-11 b
HD 49674 b
WASP-7 b
HD 109749 b
HD 7924 b
HAT-P-2 b
HD 118203 b
HD 68988 b
HD 168746 b
HIP 14810 b
HIP 14810 c
HIP 14810 d
HD 185269 b
HD 217107 b
HD 217107 c
WASP-8 b
HD 162020 b
HD 69830 b
HD 69830 c
HD 69830 d
HD 285968 b
CoRoT-6 b
CoRoT-4 b
HD 181433 b
HD 181433 c
HD 181433 d
HD 160691 c
HD 160691 d
HD 160691 b
HD 160691 e
HD 130322 b
HD 108147 b
HD 38529 b
HD 38529 c
HD 4308 b
Gl 86 b
HD 99492 b
HD 190360 c
HD 190360 b
HD 16417 b
HD 27894 b
HD 33283 b
HD 195019 b
HD 102117 b
HD 17156 b
HD 6434 b
HD 192263 b
PSR 1257+12 b
PSR 1257+12 c
PSR 1257+12 d
HD 224693 b
HD 43691 b
HD 11964 b
HD 11964 c
rho Coronae Borealis b
HD 45652 b
HD 107148 b
HD 74156 b
HD 74156 d
HD 74156 c
HD 117618 b
HD 37605 b
HD 168443 b
HD 168443 c
HD 3651 b
HD 121504 b
HD 101930 b
HD 178911 B b
HD 16141 b
HD 114762 b
HD 145377 b
HD 80606 b
70 Virginis b
HD 216770 b
HD 52265 b
HD 208487 b
HD 102272 b
HD 102272 c
GJ 3021 b
psi Aquilae b
HD 231701 b
HD 93083 b
HD 37124 b
HD 37124 d
HD 37124 c
HD 154672 b
HD 11506 c
HD 11506 b
HD 219449 b
HD 81688 b
14 Andromedae b
HD 73526 b
HD 73526 c
HD 155358 b
HD 155358 c
HD 104985 b
HD 60532 b
HD 60532 c
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Signed: Thomas Gangale
Published on 30 June 2009

09 March 2009

Fear and Loathing in Afghanistan

[See my 30 May 2008 article on Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores, written as she started training for the U.S. Army's Human Terrain System program. I had imagined that my article would be the beginning of a series of stories about her experiences during a 13-month tour "downrange," the modern military euphemism for the war zones. For thousands of years young men have marched off to war full of patriotism and a sense of adventure. Marilyn, a middle-age woman, similarly stirred by the call to duty, found that the most immediate enemy was in her own foxhole... and in the Five-Sided Foxhole on the Potomac.  --TG]

copyright © 2009 by Thomas Gangale

For months now, the American public has heard the drumbeat of war: we need to ramp up our military presence in Afghanistan before the Taliban takes over the entire country... again. We've been riding around the countryside for seven years, it's been a long ride, and the kids are asking, "Have we lost yet? Have we lost yet? Have we lost yet?"

We have only one Army division at a time in Afghanistan, rotating in and out of country like attention-deficient tourists, waving from their humvees. Lately it's been the 101st Airborne Division, and they seem to think that they have the situation well in hand. The countryside was quiet enough that they had to create an insurgency right inside their Joint Operations Compound--their "jock"--just to keep life interesting. Must keep the occupiers occupied. So the division's senior staff decided to indulge in an orgy of cigars, sex discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and death threats, featuring a 500-pound stripper and presided over by a Serbian Orthodox priest.

The Reverend Doctor came to Bagram last summer as the team leader and senior social scientist of something called the Human Terrain System (HTS) program. They call it that because their primary function is to walk all over people working in it and grind them into the terrain. One of the Reverend Doctor’s first accomplishments upon arrival was to plagiarize the work of a lower level HTS unit and present it to the Hundred and Worst as his own. Of course, all of the other lower level HTS teams stopped sending reports.

Did this mean that the Reverend Doctor now had to do some work of his own? Not at all. Instead, he kept the senior staff of the Hundred and Worst plied with fancy cigars. In accordance with General Order One, there are no officers' clubs, no alcohol, on US military bases in Islamic countries. Thus tobacco has become the only legal drug of choice, and on Bagram the Reverend Doctor was enterprising enough to become, in accordance with General Order One, Drug Pusher One. The colonels didn't care that he wasn't producing any actionable information for them as long as he gave them their stogy fixes. Hey, it won’t hurt you, and the first one is free.

You know the sorts of things that can be done with cigars... just ask Monica Lewinsky. So here were these 20 or 30 lonely colonels, far away from home, each chomping down on the Reverend Doctor’s cigar....

...which probably gets boring after a while. It wasn’t long before this Fun Bunch of Brass Hats was jonesing for a new thrill. So the Human Terrain Team imported a 500-pound stripper. That really got the party rolling. Rolling, rolling, rolling....

Sources say that the Hundred and Worst actually requisitioned a 125-pound stripper, but somehow the requisition ended up as a line item in the stimulus bill, got loaded up with pork, and the result added to the bloated federal budget. Those profligate Democrats! Not to be outdone, however, Senate Republicans attached a rider to the bill, thus the 500-pound stripper was delivered to Bagram Air Base complete with a partially nude man riding on her back. When he dismounted, the colonels climbed on, usually one at a time, but sometimes not, as might be the momentary whim. Stimulus package, indeed.

But even a 500-pound stripper can only entertain the troops for so long before she wears out. Fortunately, to keep the party lively, there were a number of female members of the HTS at hand, middle-aged and not exactly Barbie dolls, to provide fresh diversions for the Senior Officer Corps. Reverend Doctor and the Colonels hung cowbells around their necks and mooed at them, with the social scientist on the team honored with the role of the alpha cow… summa cum loudly.

A Puerto Rican National Guard first lieutenant, usually indistinguishable from a feral teenager, got into an uncharacteristically intellectual frame of mind and launched himself on a quest to pen deathless prose, beginning his literary career on a dry erase board: "Mata la vaca." "Kill the cow."

At that point, a member of Congress got wind of this indecorous military ball and stopped the music. She pulled the chief cow out of Afghanistan and back to the safety of Stateside. That didn't save La Vaca's job, however. The Hundred and Worst has yet to respond to the congressional inquiry, yet the Human Terrain System program office terminated her contract for "inadequate performance." Maybe she should have jangled her cowbell louder?

So that's how the American Empire does it these days in Afghanistan, historically the graveyard of empires. If God is indeed on the side of the just, just whose side might that be? The symbol of Islam is the crescent moon, but the crescent is the sunlit side of the moon. We have met the Dark Side... and it is U.S.

How Professors Fight
Death Threat Tarnishes US Army Human Terrain System
Exposing the Information Operatives, Part One

26 February 2009

Death Threat Tarnishes US Army Human Terrain System

[See my 30 May 2008 article on Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores, written as she started training for the U.S. Army's Human Terrain System program. I had imagined that my article would be the beginning of a series of stories about her experiences during a 13-month tour "downrange," the modern military euphemism for the war zones. For thousands of years young men have marched off to war full of patriotism and a sense of adventure. Marilyn, a middle-age woman, similarly stirred by the call to duty, found that the most immediate enemy was in her own foxhole... and in the Five-Sided Foxhole on the Potomac.  --TG]

Death Threat Tarnishes US Army Human Terrain System
Mata La Vaca: Kill the Cow

by John Stanton

26 February 2009

Sources indicate that Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey of (D-California) awaits the results of an investigative report by the US Army 101st Airborne Command, stationed at Bagram AB in Afghanistan, into allegations of a death threat made against Dr. Dudley-Flores -- a former senior female Human Terrain Team (HTT) member deployed to Bagram -- by an active duty lieutenant in colusion with the HTT leader. The death threat was written on a white board and was included in a "to do" list. It read, according to sources, "Mata La Vaca" which translates into "Kill The Cow." Immediately after that incident, other female members of the HTT began to arm themselves apparently because they feared that male members of the HTT, along with a few in the 101st Airborne, were out to get them.

The death threat was the culmination of an effort, say sources, to malign Dudley-Flores credibility with fellow HTT members and the 101st Airborne, and put the women in their place. Sources allege that through the months of November and December 2008, Flores-Dudley and other HTT female members were deliberately put in harm's way by Milan Sturgis -- a former HTT leader -- who sent Flores-Dudley and female HTT members in known hot areas, like Qarabagh) where the Taliban was active, and, in one instance, knowingly had them wait for seven hours on a remote airstrip for a airlift back to Bagram, AB. Sturgis was nearly terminated for, copying wholesale, and changing the facts in a report authored by another HTS member. And, according to sources, Sturgis had mental health issues.

Further, the active duty lieutenant charged with protecting Dudley-Flores and female teammates acted with discredit by fleeing and not covering Dudley-Flores when she was fired upon (fire incident) and; in another incident, leaving his sidearm and other arms in a Humvee while a female HTT member was inside a structure interviewing Afghans who, it was later found out, were Taliban seeking intelligence.

Rat Fucking Campaign

Sturgis and the first lieutenant sought to falsify the after action report (AAR) on the fire incident and, it is alleged -- according to sources -- that Sturgis and the first lieutenant instructed Dudley-Flores to meet them alone in an isolated part of a building, apparently, to convince her to change her mind about what the AAR should look like. According to sources, fearing for her safety, Dudley-Flores went up the chain of command at Bagram in an attempt to avoid the meeting. It was at this point in late December 2008 that the females -- some on the advice of spouses and partners -- started to arm themselves.

Dudley-Flores and fellow HTT female members were also subjected to sexual harassment and abuse by Milan Sturgis and his cohorts. Sources say that Sturgis, in collusion with other HTT members (male) and individuals in the 101st Airborne led a "rat fucking campaign" against Dudley Flores. That campaign played on the fact that, according to sources, Dudley-Flores was overweight. The "rat fuckers" according to sources claimed that Dudley-Flores was unable to buckle her body armor or even get in and out of a Humvee. Further, because of her weight, Dudley-Flores was nicknamed by male HTT members and some in the 101st Airborne as "The Cow." In one instance, a picture of a 500-pound stripper on hands and knees with a midget on top was placed on her desk.

Dudley-Flores was called the Chief Cow by male HTT teammates and, according to sources, phrases like, "The HTT needs more cow bells," appeared on homemade posters around the HTT office. Dudley-Flores was also accused, falsely according to sources, of telling 101st Airborne officers (up to 20) that she was "the first infantry woman in the US Army." In late December2008/early January 2009, Dudley-Flores was terminated for non-performance.

Former US Army National Guard Lieutenant Dudley-Flores was the first certified woman combat mountaineer in the Alaska's US Army National Guard and has hundreds of hours of small arms training. She also worked in Pakistan during the USSR's occupation of Afghanistan helping refugees.

While she was at the University of South Carolina, she and her colleagues developed a rudimentary social networking/human terrain mapping-type program to assist victims of the war in Kuwait. That program, the Victim Assessment Database, was to be used in Kuwait after the first Gulf War but the US government showed no interest.

Sources claim that HTS management knew of many of these activities targeted at Dudley-Flores and did not act. In July 2007, in a briefing designed for LTG John Kimmons (http://www.dami.army.pentagon.mil/), HTS management knew it had personnel and organizational problems. Those apparently were ignored in favor of marketing the "concept". Once again, oversight of HTS program has been negligent resulting in the many problems already documented in past articles.[For a copy of the briefing to LTG Kimmons, contact cioran123[at]yahoo.com.]

In the end, Congresswomen Woolsey's staff had her pulled out of Afghanistan because they feared for her life.

How Professors Fight
Fear and Loathing in Afghanistan
Exposing the Information Operatives, Part One

18 February 2009

Soviet Shuttle Pondered for Plugging US Space Gap

By Thomas Gangale

With NASA set to retire its Space Shuttle fleet in 2010, and facing a five-year hiatus before its new Constellation system can be developed to replace it, a November 2008 Russian news article considered the possibility of solving the US space gap by reviving a Soviet space shuttle project that was shelved 20 years ago.

Soviet space shuttle could bail out NASA

The idea reads like "Plan 8 From Outer Space," not quite up to Ed Wood's high standards.

That one of the pilots who test-flew the Soviet space shuttle Buran would say the things attributed to him is only believable if he has spent the years since the project was canceled drowning his disappointment in cheap vodka. The news article quotes Magomet Talboyev as stating, "The Energiya-Buran programme was started to get the capability to attack the United States, just like the shuttle was able to attack the USSR. We also wanted to take the Skylab space station from orbit. Buran was supposed to put it in its cargo bay and deliver it back to Earth for studies."

First, a legal point: if the Soviet Union were to have taken Skylab without the permission of the United States government, under international law, it would have committed history's first act of piracy on the high frontier. But, the Soviets were always proud of their space "firsts." I can see the insignia on the Soviet shuttle now: a gold skull on a red field, with the crossed swords replaced by the crossed hammer and sickle. Argh! Johnny Depp is looking over the script, Pirates of the Korabl Buran.

Next, an historical point: if the Buran were intended "to take the Skylab space station from orbit," it faced severe schedule constraints. The first (and only) Buran unmanned orbital mission flew in November 1988, and its first manned flight was not expected before 1994. By then, the major components of Skylab had been sitting at the bottom of the Indian Ocean for 15 years; it fell out of orbit in July 1979.

Of course, noting the Soviet penchant for copying American technology, it's entirely possible that they were planning to fit the end of the Buran's remote manipulator arm with a claw-like device similar to the one that the Glomar Explorer used to pick up a section of a sunken Soviet submarine in July 1974. But, probably more technically feasible, and certainly just as legal, would have been to land the Buran on the Capitol Mall, steal the Skylab backup vehicle out of the National Air and Space Museum, and take off again (an atmospheric test vehicle version of the Buran was equipped with jet engines). Or, just buy an admission ticket... you can see whatever you want.

There are a number of other technical considerations.

The Buran's physical dimensions were nearly identical to the US Space Shuttle, whose payload bay has a 15-foot diameter; Skylab was 22 feet in diameter. If the payload don't fit... well, I don't know of any chop shops in space.

The only way I know of for a US Space Shuttle to "attack" a ground target is by raining all over it, a capability it demonstrated in February 2003 when Columbia "attacked" Texas.

But the main point of the article was reviving the Buran project and offering it to NASA. The US is retiring its own shuttle fleet, which is based on 1970s technology, but has nevertheless flown more than 120 successful missions. Why would it make sense to resurrect a program based on shoddy Soviet reverse engineering of 1970s US technology, and which was abandoned before it achieved a single manned flight?

Now, here we get back to schedule considerations: given that the first manned flight of the Soviet space shuttle was five years in the future at the time the program was suspended in 1979, it is difficult to see how a reconstituted program would be able to launch a manned mission less than five years from the turn-on date. The US plans to have the Constellation system flying by then, so what would be the point?

The Russian Federation... bringing you yesterday's technology tomorrow!

It would take a least a year to locate the old Buran engineers, pull them out of the bars, and run them through detox programs. And, you would really need to find these guys. Documentation was never as central to aerospace culture in the Soviet Union as it has always been in the United States; if you wanted to know how something worked, you had to go down the hall and ask Yuri. This is how Yuri protected his job security.

It didn't protect Buran, however. The Russian article mentions that the only Soviet shuttle that ever flew in space was destroyed in 2002 when a roof collapsed at Baikonur. Would you like to fly with guys who couldn't even built a decent hangar roof for one of their country's historical treasures? Dumayu, chto nyet!

I'm relieved that the article stated that "some American and Russian scientists are beginning to think of ways to revive the Buran programme." I'm glad he said "scientists;" if they were engineers, I'd be embarrassed. But it's appropriate to the name of Buran, which means "snowstorm," to propose such a scheme; if it were actually put over on NASA, it would be the snow job of the century.