Month: January 2020

Russian Spacecraft Stalks Secret U.S. Spy Satellite

A mysterious Russian spacecraft has maneuvered into a new orbit around Earth right behind a secret U.S. spy satellite. The unusual move by Russian Cosmos 2542 on Jan. 20 allows it to closely watch the American KH-11, a $4 billion orbital telescope staring down at Earth. And there’s not much that U.S. space operators can do about it. For the Americans, getting tailed by the Russians in peacetime is annoying. During wartime, it could be a prelude to an attack. Cosmos 2542 is what space operators call an “inspection satellite.” Fitted with sensors and thrusters, the mini-fridge-size satellite can maneuver close to other spacecraft and scan them. Some inspection-sats could double as weapons, tampering with or even destroying enemy spacecraft. The inspection-sat launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome north of Moscow back in November. Riding atop a Soyuz rocket, Cosmos 2542 settled into orbit between 250 miles and 550 miles over Earth’s surface. “The purpose of the experiment is to continue work on assessing the technical condition of domestic satellites,” the Russian defense ministry stated. But it was apparent early on that an American satellite that trackers call USA 245 was the real target. Cosmos 2542’s original orbit allowed it to pass within a few hundred miles of the KH-11 every 11 or 12 days, noted Michael Thompson, an American graduate student who moonlights with a small space company and, in his spare time, tracks satellites. It’s surprisingly easy to do. Amateur sat-trackers all over the world use telescopes and government data to keep track of many of the world’s roughly 2,200 active satellites, more than half of which are in low orbit between 100 and 1,200 miles above Earth. Between November and January, Cosmos 2542 mostly stayed a respectful distance from the KH-11 as the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office satellite went about its business snapping high-resolution photographs of America’s rivals. Then in mid-January, Cosmos 2542 passed close to the spy satellite—and made its move. Instead of drifting away like it usually did, Cosmos 2542 performed a series of maneuvers between Jan. 20 and Jan. 23 and essentially matched orbits with USA 245. Sat-tracker Nico Janssen noticed the maneuver and fed data to Thompson, who performed his own analysis, then started tweeting. “Cosmos 2542 is loitering around USA 245 in consistent view,” Thomspon tweeted Thursday. “As I’m typing this, that offset distance shifts between 150 and 300 kilometers [93 and 186 miles] depending on the location in the orbit.” At that range, Cosmos 2542 can probably take pretty detailed photos of KH-11. “The relative orbit is actually pretty cleverly designed,” Thompson tweeted. “Cosmos 2542 can observe one side of the KH-11 when both satellites first come into sunlight, and by the time they enter eclipse, it has migrated to the other side.” It’s not clear how much Russia can learn from photographing the KH-11. “Personally, I think the intelligence value of observations of optical spy satellites like this one are probably marginal,” Thompson tweeted. The NRO reportedly operates four KH-11s. They traditionally maintain orbits that dip as low as 160 miles and climb as high as 620 miles, allowing the satellites to modulate between viewing huge swathes of Earth at low resolution and much smaller sections of the planet at high resolution. By coordinating the orbits of the KH-11s, the NRO can maintain simultaneous wide and narrow surveillance. This is obvious to the world’s satellite-trackers. The NRO never comments on the KH-11s’ operations, but the shipping-container-size sats aren’t hard to see from the ground. And since it’s public knowledge that the KH-11s use the same kind of lens that forms the basis of NASA’s Hubble space telescope, anyone with expertise in optics can estimate the KH-11s’ capabilities. Spying on the spy satellite might not be the point. Russia has deployed several mysterious inspection satellites since 2014. China, Japan, Sweden, and the United States have launched their own inspection craft. The U.S. Air Force’s mysterious X-37B robotic mini-shuttle might be the most famous spacecraft with inspection capabilities. All of these craft have had potential as weapons. “You can probably equip them with lasers, maybe put some explosives on them,” Anatoly Zak, an independent expert on Russian spacecraft, told The Daily Beast in 2015. “If [one] comes very close to some military satellite, it probably can do some harm.” In maneuvering Cosmos 2542 to closely tail an American spy satellite, Russia could be practicing for war. KH-11s aren’t known to possess any defensive systems. Not that they would be useful during peacetime. Thompson said there’s not much the NRO’s satellite-operators can do about the Russian interloper “besides grumble at the U.N.”

Oh..  As someone who spent a couple years in the space industry as a “field grade” Army officer, I can tell you its far more nuanced than that.  This is something that is probably being addressed through diplomatic back-channels already.

Trump to Roll Back Obama-Era Ban on Military Land Mines

The Trump administration is loosening an Obama-era ban on certain kinds of land mines in an effort to give the U.S. military another tool on the battlefield, U.S. officials said. The move, expected to be announced by the White House and at the Pentagon on Friday, will partially reverse the ban the U.S. unilaterally instituted in 2014 to prevent the acquisition and use of land mines. The Obama White House also directed the Pentagon to study viable alternatives that would comply with a 1997 international treaty, signed by 160 countries, that banned the weapons altogether but of which the U.S. wasn’t a signatory. The move opens the Trump administration to criticism from human rights groups and others who believe the administration is resorting to dangerous tactics that other countries view as illegal to achieve ends on the battlefield. Under the change, military commanders would have more latitude in allowing mines on the battlefield to kill opposing troops or force changes in their movements during conflict, officials said. The U.S. will allow its military commanders to use new kinds of land mines that are deployed above ground and can be programmed to self-destruct in 30 days, officials said. White House, State Department and Defense Department officials declined to comment. Defense Secretary Mark Esper acknowledged Thursday that there would be a change in policy.

This is smart.  We (i.e. the United States) never signed that treaty 22 years ago, when Clinton (a Democrat) was President.  So, undoing Obama’s unilateral, touchy feely, anti-U.S. military ban on such mines is entirely reasonable.  Further, it gives our fighting men and women, and their commanders, another tool with which to fight our enemies on the battlefield.  Kudos to Sec. Esper and the White House for this common sense decision.

Gallup Reports Americans’ Satisfaction with Race Relations Has Increased 14 Percent Since Trump’s Inauguration

A new Gallup poll released Monday found that Americans have become considerably more optimistic about the state of race relations since Trump took office, with a 14-point increase over just three years. Satisfaction on “the state of race relations” in the country rose from a mere 22 percent in January 2017, just before Trump took office, to 36 percent in January 2020, just weeks before Trump’s State of the Union address. Race relations optimism still remains 8 points lower than it was in 2001, and a survey of the population from January 2 to January 15 showed that 58 percent of Americans were still dissatisfied with the state of race relations. Respondents’ satisfaction with “the position of blacks and other racial minorities in the nation” also rose nine points over three years to 46 percent in 2020, as part of a larger trend which showed that Americans overall satisfaction with the direction of the country was at its highest point since 2005. Eighty-four percent of respondents reported satisfaction with their overall quality of life, a four-point increase from 2017, and public opinion on the state of the nation’s economy has risen 22 points to 68 percent satisfaction under the Trump administration. Trump repeatedly touts strong economic numbers, particularly for blacks and Hispanics, as evidence of his minority support. “African-American Unemployment is the LOWEST in the history of our Country, by far. Also, best Poverty, Youth, and Employment numbers, ever. Great!” Trump tweeted on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Clearly there is a correlation between lower unemployment in minority communities and improved race relations.  So, the President should absolutely tout that.  After all, unemployment for Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians is at their lowest level ever recorded.  For women, its at a 65 year low.  Just more great news, and it’s driving Democrats and the liberal media nuts.    🙂

Tucker Carlson says ‘fascist’ Elizabeth Warren is pitching her own Ministry of Truth

Tucker Carlson harshly criticized Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s call to implement criminal and civil penalties for spreading disinformation regarding U.S. elections Wednesday, calling her proposal “fascist” and noting the “irony” that a political figure who many criticize for not being truthful wants to address disinformation. “Warren’s decided to go full fascist because that’s who she is and has always been,” Carlson said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “Try to ignore the redolent irony here. This is the person who for years posted false claims online that she was a Cherokee Indian to sway voters. This is the candidate who pretended she lost her job for being pregnant and her kids went to public school. Now, this very same person is threatening to send you to prison for telling tall tales.” “The most florid liar in the race, someone the New York Times once euphemistically described as a ‘gifted storyteller,’ says she’s going to criminalize lying,” Carlson said. “Paging Dr. Freud. That is more than hypocrisy. It’s a sickness.” Earlier Wednesday, Warren announced her plan to protect elections from Russian interference and other forms of disinformation, saying in a statement: “The stakes of this election are too high — we need to fight the spread of false information that disempowers voters and undermines democracy.” As part of her plan, Warren vowed to “push to create civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating false information about when and how to vote in U.S. elections,” claiming that such information “has the explicit purpose of undermining the basic right to vote” and that such efforts targeted “chiefly Black voters” in 2016. Carlson blasted Warren saying she was dreaming of establishing a “Ministry of Truth,” a la George Orwell’s “1984.” “But what does that [her plan] mean?” the host asked. “Well, it means that when people say things that Elizabeth Warren doesn’t like or that impede her attempts to accumulate power, they should go to jail. Warren isn’t the first person to fantasize about this. Of course, all megalomaniacs dream of running their own ministries of truth.”

Yeah..  No kidding!  Tucker absolutely nails it here.  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is not only a self-serving, self-righteous fascist, but she’s also a well-documented, pathological liar and a brazen hypocrite.  To even have the nerve to bring something like this up shows just how dangerously clueless, and out of touch with reality she really is.  Tucker is right.  She’s sick.

Abigail Disney calls Kobe Bryant ‘a rapist’ and is swiftly met with backlash

Documentary filmmaker Abigail Disney spoke publicly about the ongoing conversations surrounding Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant’s legacy after the basketball star and his daughter Gianna were among nine killed in a devastating helicopter accident on Sunday. Disney’s tweet on Wednesday follows remarks by actress Evan Rachel Wood, who wrote in a since-deleted tweet that although Bryant is heralded as a sports icon, “he was also a rapist.” Wood’s tweet was met with intense backlash, with many on social media arguing that the “Westworld” actress’ comments were made much too soon and were in bad taste. Now Disney is being taken to task for her remarks, which came in response to a Washington Post op-ed remembering Bryant’s life — including a 2003 incident outlined in a 2016 article from The Daily Beast in which a 19-year-old woman accused Bryant of choking and sexually assaulting her in a Colorado hotel room. The Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker echoed Wood’s sentiment. “I haven’t said anything about Kobe so far because I felt some time needed to pass before weighing in. But yes, it’s time for the sledgehammer to come out. The man was a rapist. Deal with it,” she wrote, before many Bryant fans responded to her statement in fury. “Each of us is more than our worst deeds, and less than our best. People aren’t easily divided into good and bad. I won’t excuse or defend what KB may have done that night, but if you aren’t moved by the hundreds of stories of his generosity and kindness, you aren’t paying attn,” one person tweeted. “This is unfair and not ok. Feel how you will about him but his wife lost her husband, his daughters lost their father. If you must go down this road, educate yourself fully on that situation first, you just may feel a bit differently,” wrote another user. “Damn some people have no respect for the dead. Kobe literally lost his life along with his daughter a few days ago. Its national news when a ‘black’ athlete makes a mistake but when Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and get a 6 month sentence and served 3,” said another poster. Meanwhile, an additional Twitter user simply asked Disney point-blank, “Serious questions for you: Can people redeem themselves, reform, or are we forever to be judged by our past actions?” Disney, whose grandfather Roy O. Disney co-founded The Walt Disney Company, did not respond to the question posed to her by the Twitter user. However, despite her stance, Disney’s response was also met with praise by some who were in agreement. “Thank you I’ve been wondering about the deafening silence on this,” one tweet read. “Thank you, while this is tragic for all the passengers on board and his family. It’s hard to hear him being celebrated as a hero when he’s a rapist,” another Bryant detractor added. And one social media commenter said this to Disney: “I can see where he tried to mend his ways after that episode in his life. But you also cannot write his obituary without mentioning this episode either.” Disney and Wood are not the first people to be criticized for their responses in the days since the helicopter crash. A Washington Post reporter and a CNN reporter have both been criticized for bringing up The Daily Beast article and reminding the public that Bryant faced a rape charge. Bryant was arrested and charged with sexual assault and false imprisonment at the time, but the criminal case was ultimately dropped when the accuser refused to testify and agreed to hear Bryant issue a formal apology in court, which he had his lawyer read. At the time, the NBA star admitted to cheating on his wife but said the encounter was consensual. Bryant and the accuser went to court in a civil case over the matter, which was settled in 2005 for an undisclosed amount.

Normally here at The Daily Buzz we don’t report on celebs.  Frankly its mostly boring and covered to death by the dominantly liberal mainstream media…and available in your grocery checkout lanes.  But, we’ll make an exception here because of this interesting twist.  When this story broke, it continued to break for almost three straight days.  The unending, drooling, slobberfest by the media elite and those in the sports world was nauseating.  They treated Kobe’s passing as if Mother Teresa had passed.  Was it tragic?  Yes.  And, we’re sorry his daughter also perished.  But…who were the other passengers on the helicopter who died?  I don’t know.  Do you?  I didn’t see a single news report mentioning even the names of the other victims.  And that’s awful.  It goes to show that it’s all what the media feeds you.  Was Kobe a gifted b-ball player?  Absolutely.  But, c’mon..let’s be honest.  He was no saint.  At BEST (and this is giving him every benefit of the doubt), and by his own admission, he had an aggressive, extramarital sexual encounter with a teenage girl hotel employee in his hotel room in Eagle County, Colorado.  Again, he admitted to the extramarital encounter with this teenage girl, and paid her a settlement out of court.  At worst, he raped her.  So, Abigail may be correct.  Sorry if it hurts the tender sensibilities of Kobe’s fans.  To be fair, we weren’t there.  Only he and the girl know what really happened.  However, regardless..  He got away with it…and the media which has been drooling all over him, has been doing everything it can to dismiss, or otherwise bury, that part of his personal story.  Why is that, exactly?  Had this been some conservative icon, that’s ALL they would be talking about…and we all know it.  Again, more duplicity from the dominantly liberal mainstream media.  Kudos to Ms. Disney, and others, for reminding us that Kobe wasn’t all the media has made him out to be.

Opinion/Analysis: Trump’s conviction in impeachment trial not justified even if Bolton claims are true

After sitting on their hands and listening to arguments for a week in President Trump’s impeachment trial, senators were finally allowed to pose their own questions Wednesday. It proved to be illuminating. As is often the case, the first question was the most penetrating and important one. It got to the heart of the Democrats’ principal accusation regarding why they contend the president should be removed from office. Democrats claim that when Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into what Trump called troubling actions by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, Trump was seeking a political advantage against a prospective opponent in the November presidential election. This, argue Democrats, was an impeachable “abuse of power,” and was the basis of the first article of impeachment approved by House Democrats in December. Trump’s legal team has countered that the president had every right to ask Ukraine to examine and produce any evidence of a potentially corrupt act by a U.S. public official. The act to be examined was Joe Biden’s demand that Ukraine fire a prosecutor who was allegedly investigating Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company that employed his son. By any reasonable and objective standard, Hunter Biden’s employment was highly suspicious and unusual. At a time when his father was serving as vice president and in charge of Ukraine policy for the Obama-Biden administration, Hunter Biden was being paid $83,000 a month to sit on the natural gas company’s board – despite having absolutely no experience in the energy sector and no experience in Ukrainian affairs. The question put to Trump’s defense team by Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah was: “If President Trump had more than one motive for his alleged conduct such as the pursuit of personal political advantage, rooting out corruption and the promotion of national interest, how should the Senate consider more than one motive in its assessment of Article 1?” More than any other question, this one needed answering. Setting aside whether Trump was genuinely motivated by electoral gain, Deputy White House Counsel Patrick Philbin explained that presidents often make decisions that have multiple or “mixed motives.” This is an obvious truth. As I argued in my last column, nearly all presidential actions involve some ancillary political calculation. Sometimes there is a dual or overlapping purpose. History is replete with examples of how presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, have rendered decisions that benefited themselves and the nation simultaneously. This does not mean their judgments constituted an abuse of power. If it were otherwise, nearly all presidents would be impeached and evicted from office. Philbin reasoned that all elected officials are mindful of how their conduct will affect their political standing because “there’s always some personal interest in the electoral outcome of policy decisions.” In asking President Zelensky to look into then-Vice President Biden’s threat to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid from Ukraine unless the prosecutor allegedly investigating Burisma was fired, Philbin explained that Trump had a legitimate public purpose. “If there were a motive that was of public interest, but also some personal interest, it follows more clearly that it cannot possibly be the basis for an impeachable offense,” Philbin said. He added that “lots of their own witnesses from the State Department said that, on its face, it (Joe Biden’s actions) appeared to be a conflict of interest.” Constitutional law professor Alan Dershowitz was even more animated in defense of the multiple motives argument when he spoke in President Trump’s defense at the impeachment trial. “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest,” Dershowitz said. “And, mostly, you’re right. Your election is in the public interest. And if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” Dershowitz again cited the example of President Lincoln, who encouraged General William T. Sherman to grant his men leave from the battlefield to return to Indiana to cast votes for Lincoln’s reelection in 1864. Did Lincoln use the power of his office for personal and/or political gain? Of course, he did. Was it an impeachable “abuse of power?” No, said Dershowitz, “because the president believed it was in the national interest. He believed that his own reelection was essential to victory in the Civil War.” The retired Harvard Law School professor added: “Everybody has mixed motives, and for there to be a constitutional impeachment based on mixed motives would permit almost any president to be impeached. How many presidents have made foreign policy decisions after checking with their political advisers and their pollsters? If you’re just acting in the national interest, why do you need pollsters? Why do you need political advisers? Just do what’s best for the country.” Dershowitz tied his constitutional analysis together by stating: “For it to be impeachable, you would have to discern that he [the president] made a decision solely on the basis of, as the House managers have put it, a corrupt motive and it cannot be a corrupt motive if you have a mixed motive that partially involves the national interest and partially involves electoral interests.” Only an unlawful act by the president would be impeachable, Dershowitz concluded. Yet, House managers have not alleged a crime or violation of the law in their articles of impeachment. The defense argument – blending history, precedent and common sense – renders the prospect of the Senate calling new witnesses, such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton, superfluous. For the sake of argument, let’s assume – as The New York Times has reported – that Bolton’s upcoming book recounts how Trump mentioned in a conversation that he “wanted” to withhold $391 million in U.S. security assistance from Ukraine unless that nation investigated the Bidens. Let’s further assume that Trump’s motive was, in part, political. This still does not meet the proper impeachable standard for several reasons. First, can anyone truly argue that the behavior of the Bidens was not suspicious enough to merit an investigation? Democrats’ own witnesses said it posed a serious conflict of interest. Evidence produced by Republicans during the Trump impeachment trial has raised the specter of influence peddling and self-enrichment. Video clips were played of the media asking persistent questions regarding the Bidens and airing stories suggestive of corruption. This demonstrates that President Trump had a legitimate basis to ask Ukraine to scrutinize what happened. It was a matter of public interest. Even accepting that the leaked story about the Bolton book is accurate, a president wanting to do something and actually doing it are two very different concepts. Lots of presidents want to do things they never choose to do. After delaying U.S. military aid to Ukraine, Trump released the funds to the nation without any strings attached. No “quid pro quo” ever came to fruition. The idea – if there ever was one – was discarded. Importantly, President Zelensky and his foreign minister both stated they were never pressured to investigate anything and had no idea that American aid was temporarily halted until well after the fact. President Trump may have talked with Bolton about conditioning aid to Ukraine on an investigation of the Bidens, but such action never occurred. To remove Trump from office for merely discussing something with a senior aide is to turn Congress into the “thought police” where contemplation is tantamount to an impeachable offense. Finally, there’s the matter of Bolton’s suspected breach of confidential communications with Trump and the disclosure of classified material. Presidents have the right to obtain confidential advice and to engage in private deliberations without the intrusion of the legislative branch. The principle of executive privilege has been recognized and respected since President George Washington invoked it more than two centuries ago. It is a paramount privilege when matters of national security are at stake. Trump’s conversation with his national security adviser is most likely covered by the privilege. It is deeply disturbing that Bolton would have the temerity to write a book that would breach this privilege and profit by it financially. Three days before The New York Times reported its story based on (you guessed it) anonymous sources, a senior director at the National Security Council sent a letter to Bolton’s lawyer. The letter warned that the manuscript submitted to the council contains “significant amounts of classified information,” including some “at the TOP SECRET level.” Under federal law, and perhaps as well as under the nondisclosure agreement that Bolton signed as a condition to his employment, publication of the existing manuscript could subject him to criminal charges. The Times reports that Bolton has already circulated his book manuscript to “close associates” – something Bolton denies doing. If the newspaper report is correct and those individuals did not have the highest security clearance, the law may already have been broken. Whoever leaked to the Times could also be prosecuted if the information conveyed was deemed classified. Regardless of the security issues, senators are still not entitled to pierce the veil of executive privilege unless Trump waives the privilege or the federal courts determine that it does not apply. Is it really worth a protracted legal battle for the Senate to gain access to a purported presidential discussion of a “quid pro quo” that, in the end, never actually happened? To pose the question is to answer it.

Indeed…and well said, Gregg.  Gregg Jarrett is the author of that excellent legal analysis.   He is a former defense attorney and adjunct law professor, and the author of the No. 1 New York Times best-selling book “The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump.” His latest book is the New York Times bestseller “Witch Hunt: The Story of the Greatest Mass Delusion in American Political History”  Excellent!    🙂

Trump lawyer: ‘Quid pro quo’ isn’t inherently unlawful

Trump defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz said on Wednesday that a “quid pro quo” involving a U.S. president isn’t inherently unlawful and that one of the goods or services exchanged has to be illegal in some way. Mr. Dershowitz posited a case where a Democratic president told Congress he was withholding financial assistance to Israel or Palestine unless the countries met certain requirements on settlements or terrorism. “And the president said, ‘quid pro quo — if you don’t do it, you don’t get the money. If you do it, you get the money,’ ” Mr. Dershowitz said. “There’s no one in this chamber that would regard that as in any way unlawful. The only thing that would make a quid pro quo unlawful is if the quo were, in some way, illegal.” He said politicians can have several motives for taking action: a motive in the public interest, a motive in their own political interest and a motive in their personal financial interest. “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest. And mostly you’re right — your election is in the public interest,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “And if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” He said it would be a different story if a president told a foreign leader to build a hotel with his name on it “and unless you give me a million-dollar kickback, I will withhold the funds.” “That’s an easy case — that’s purely corrupt and in the purely private interest,” he said. Mr. Dershowitz was speaking at President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial on the first day senators were allowed to pose questions to the House impeachment managers and to Mr. Trump’s team.

I had the pleasure of seeing Professor Dershowitz’s fiery defense earlier today on tv, and his whole explanation of “maladministration” was awesome.  He looked directly at the Democrat House Managers and basically said, “you’re wrong.”…and here’s why…and preceded to destroy their argument.  It was like Mastercard; “priceless.”  We need to see more of his animated history lessons.    🙂