The Rocket Boys
In the late 1930s, a group of Caltech graduate students were booted off campus after blowing up (part of!) their building during a rocket test gone awry. Unwilling to give up on the joy of semi-controlled explosions, the students and a few of their friends headed into the San Gabriel Mountains. They picked a deserted gully — Arroyo Seco — and got testing. This was about when their classmates starting calling the gathering the Suicide Club.
1936: Rudolph Schott, Apollo Milton Olin Smith, Frank Malina, Ed Forman and Jack Parsons: Rocket Boys, or Suicide Club?
Frank Malina studied aerodynamics at Caltech. Jack Parons was a high school drop-out and a self-taught chemist. Ed Forman was an excellent mechanic. Their first round of testing in October 1936 was less-than-successful: the last test of the day, they accidentally lit their oxygen line on fire. The line whipped around, a snaking hose of fire that somehow didn’t kill anyone. Undeterred, they kept trying. By November, their tests worked.
The New York Police Department has ended a program that sent plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop and spy on individuals, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
The unit, known to many as the Demographics Unit, would track where people ate, prayed and shopped, according to the Times. The police mapped neighborhoods and kept detailed files on where people in traditional Islamic clothing went both in and out of the city.
Through the program, the department aimed to identify spots where terrorists could blend in with other members of the community, according to the Times.
Civil rights groups have criticized the department’s surveillance practices, arguing that they created mistrust of law enforcement in Muslim communities.
“The Demographics Unit created psychological warfare in our community,” Linda Sarsour, of the Arab American Association of New York, told the Times. “Those documents, they showed where we live. That’s the cafe where I eat. That’s where I pray. That’s where I buy my groceries. They were able to see their entire lives on those maps. And it completely messed with the psyche of the community.”
The unit, created in 2003 during the Bloomberg administration, has been mostly inactive since William Bratton took over the NYPD as commissioner in January. The department decided to officially terminate the program in a meeting last week.
More at TPM
Earlier this month, lawmakers in Kansas ended this session’s debate over abortion on a surprisingly low-key note. The Republican leadership shepherded two minor tweaks to existing abortion policies through the legislature, while staving off a far more contentious measure: a bill that would criminalize abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill’s advocates say they are confident it would have passed, had it reached the floor; Kansas has strong anti-abortion majorities in both houses of the legislature and pro-life crusader Sam Brownback in the governor’s mansion. But the Republican leadership, prompted by the state’s most powerful pro-life group, Kansans for Life, used a legislative loophole to keep their more radical colleagues from attaching the fetal heartbeat proposal.
Why, in a state where nearly every strain of anti-abortion restriction has taken root with ease, are advocates of the fetal heartbeat ban facing such stiff opposition from their fellow abortion opponents? Similar battles played out in Ohio and Alabama this spring, where fetal heartbeat bills were introduced in Republican-controlled legislatures, only to be quashed by the leadership.
These struggles typify a deepening fissure in the pro-life movement. The largest and most powerful anti-abortion organizations are, by and large, incrementalists who favor precisely tailored laws designed to make abortion inaccessible—by closing clinics or creating hurdles for women seeking the procedure—but also stand up to court review. Texas’s law requiring abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals, a relatively mundane-sounding constraint that has nevertheless managed to close nearly two-dozen clinics in less than a year, is an example of this type of legislation.
Police Charge High School Student With Disorderly Conduct for Using an iPad to Prove He’s Being Bullied
Trigger-warning if you hate incompetent bureaucrats and the abuse of power.
Photography Is Not A Crime has flagged a story out of McDonald, Pennsylvania about a high school student whose attempts to prove he was the victim of bullying ended up landing him in front of a judge and charged with disorderly conduct.
According to reports, a high school sophomore at South Fayette High School had grown so sick of having teachers and administrators look the other way whenever he was being bullied that he decided to record some of the routine abuse with his iPad. When school administrators found this out, they took swift action — against him, not his bullies.
Officials at South Fayette High School allegedly told the student to delete the recording and threatened to have him arrested on charges of felony wiretapping. By the time the police arrived at the school, however, the student had already deleted the file.
Drug Aware is an organization in Australia that helps teens and youths with drug problems by teaching healthy living values, in case anyone was wondering why the strange name is used for a surf contest.
Call them the shoe truthers.
Some conservative media figures are openly wondering if Hillary Clinton staged an incident during a speech in Las Vegas on Thursday in which a woman in the audience threw a shoe at her. The shoe appeared to miss the rumored 2016 presidential hopeful, who ducked and made light of it, while the reported thrower, Alison Michelle Ernst, was booked by the authorities.
A blog post published Monday at the website of Fox News commentator Bernard Goldberg speculated that Clinton probably “calculated it beforehand,” as is “almost always true” with things that happen to her.
“So it would not be stretching logic to suppose that Hillary arranged to have the shoe thrown at her,” wrote Arthur Louis at Goldberg’s site. “Remembering the Bush incident [when an Iraqi journalist threw two shoes at President George W. Bush], she may have calculated that this would make her seem presidential. This would explain why Ms. Ernst was not pounded to a pulp by Hillary’s bodyguards, and why she seems on the verge of getting off scot free. Don’t be too surprised, the next time you visit Phoenix, if you see her sitting at a table in a downtown Hillary for President store front, stuffing and sealing envelopes.”
Even more has come out on the Kansas Jewish Center Shooting suspect. Turns out the SPLC interviewed him in 2013. No surprise, the racist mass murder Frazier Glenn Miller is also a believer in that laughable “white genocide” nonsense. Josh Glasstetter reports,
Last fall, the head of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, Heidi Beirich, spoke on multiple occasions with Frazier Glenn Miller (aka Frazier Glenn Cross), the suspect in Sunday’s deadly shootings at two Jewish community centers in Kansas. Miller, who once plotted to assassinate SPLC founder Morris Dees, wanted to invite Beirich on to a right-wing talk radio show and arrange a debate with her on the racist Vanguard News Network forum. During one of the calls, Miller reacted incredulously when she accused him of wanting to kill Jews.
Two thematically-related stories on the BBC at the moment:
UK drug company GlaxoSmithKline is facing a criminal investigation in Poland for allegedly bribing doctors, BBC Panorama has discovered.
Hundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for flu that works no better than paracetamol, a landmark analysis has said.
The fact is that drug companies exist to make a profit. Improving the health of people in countries in which they operate is not their primary goal - it is just one of the ways in which they make money.
If you want to improve public health in the most efficient way, drug companies need to be kept out of the decision-making process.
The existence of exotic hadrons — a type of matter that doesn’t fit within the traditional model of particle physics — has now been confirmed, scientists say.
Researchers working on the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) collaboration at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland — where the elusive Higgs boson particle was discovered in 2012 — announced today (April 14) they had confirmed the existence of a new type of hadron, with an unprecedented degree of statistical certainty. [Standard Model of Particle Physics Explained (Inforgraphic)]
“We’ve confirmed the unambiguous observation of a very exotic state — something that looks like a particle composed of two quarks and two antiquarks,” study co-leader Tomasz Skwarnicki, a high-energy physicist at Syracuse University in New York said in a statement. The discovery “may give us a new way of looking at strong-[force] interaction physics,” he added.
But the scene above took place four years before Monica, in 1994, long before Clinton handed his enemies a scandal on a platter that seemingly made such references acceptable. It was not at a Republican caucus or Christian Coalition meeting, but at a gathering of right-wing “Patriots” who had come to hear about forming militias and common-law courts and defending their gun rights — indeed, their families — from the New World Order. They numbered only a hundred or so and only half-filled the little convention hall in Bellevue, Washington, but their fervor saturated the room with its own paranoid energy. And the speaker, who could have passed even then for a local Republican public official — actually, he was nominally a Democrat — in fact was one of the nation’s leading Patriot figures: Richard Mack, then sheriff of Arizona’s mostly rural Graham County. As a leader in the fight against gun control (his lawsuit eventually led to the Supreme Court overturning a section of the so-called Brady Law), Mack was in high demand on the right-wing lecture circuit as he promoted the militia concept to his eager acolytes. He usually sprinkles his “constitutional” gun-rights thesis with his theories on church-state separation — it’s a “myth,” he claims — and “the New World Order conspiracy.”
This is one of the leaders of the “movement” with which respectable conservative voices and some Republican politicians allied themselves over the last two weeks. Personally, I think that the reason you didn’t hear from any of the prospective “human shields” here is that Mack didn’t have the guts to ask them.