NEW CUTS ADDED: The good, the bad and the undecided in the 2011 budget compromise bill.


Listen to Heart of America’s Radio program regarding the 2011 Budget Compromise, the cuts, the increases and who was the ultimate winner in the budget battle.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/hoa/2011/04/12/041211–heart-of-americas-2011-budget-compromise

UPDATE ON BILL STATUS AT END.

Overall Spending Limit: The final CR will include a total of $1.049 trillion in funding, nearly $40 billion worth of reductions from last year’s (fiscal year 2010) levels.

Pretty amazing, considering President Obama only wanted to freeze spending and not engage in real cutting.

This includes the $12 billion in reductions previously approved by Congress and for this bill:

Program Cuts; $36.5 billion cut + $2 billion cut for 1 wk continuing resolution = $38.5 billion cut.

** $13 billion from funding for programs at the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services

** Over $1 billion in a cut across non-defense agencies

** $8 billion in cuts to our budget for State and Foreign Operations

** $630 million in earmarked transportation projects

** At least $2.5 billion in transportation funding

** $35 million by ending the Crop Insurance Good Performance Rebate

** $30 million for a job training program that was narrowly targeted at certain student loan processors

** $1.9 billion from Homeland Security

** $354 million in funding for an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was cut.

** $325 million was cut for production of and modifications to Boeing Co.’s C-17 military transport plane.

**$1.6 billion was cut from the EPA’s budget.

** $2.9 billion for funding of Obama’s pet project of a  high-speed rail projects was reduced, wiping out funding for all such new projects and taking back money that remained unspent.

** $438 million from a Energy Department’s energy-efficiency and renewable-energy program.

** More than $1 billion would be cut from programs to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and viral hepatitis.

** $377 million cut from current levels on contributions to the United Nations.

** $433 million would be cut from the agriculture credit insurance fund.

**$3 billion cut from Agriculture, $64 million cut to Agricultural Research Service and $125.9 million cut from National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

** Only $1 billion for Food Safety and Inspection, which is $10 million below the fiscal year 2010 level, while allowing for uninterrupted meat, poultry, and egg products inspection activities of the agency.

** $10.9 billion reduction in Commerce, Justice, Science.

** $946 million cut for the Justice Department appropriations.

** $6.5 billion cut in the Commerce Department.

** $4.2 billion cut on Defense earmarks.

** $3.6 billion reduction in the Energy and Water section.

** $800 million reduces most Treasury and Executive Office of the President accounts and reduces funding for construction of new federal buildings.

**  In addition, the bill terminates two programs funded in ObamaCare (the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) and the Free Choice Voucher programs.

** Over $1 billion from the Department of Education

Programs “protected” in the 2011 budget compromise.

** Current levels of Head Start and Race to the Top enrollment

** Pell Grant’s maximum award at $5,550.

**  Title I grants leveled to districts at $14.5 billion, special education at $11.3 billion.

**  Teacher Incentive Fund is level-funded at $400 million.

** Strong investments to efficiently and effectively run Medicare and to implement the Affordable Care Act

** Strong investments in National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation and the Office of Science

** The bill also includes $18.5 billion for NASA and fully funds the newly authorized exploration program.

** The Department of Defense is funded at $513 billion in the CR – approximately $5 billion above last year and also includes an additional $157.8 billion for overseas contingency operations (emergency funding) to advance our missions abroad.  However; some defense spending was cut (such as the 2nd F35 alternative engine and defense earmarks etc).

[The Defense section of this legislation includes $126.7 billion for military personnel, providing for 1,432,400 active duty and 846,200 reserve troops. In addition, the bill contains a total of $165.6 billion for operations and maintenance, $102.1 billion for procurement, $75 billion for research and development, and $31.4 billion for Defense health programs.]

** The CR restores a long-standing provision against the use of federal and local funds for abortions in the District of Columbia.

** All critical operations for DHS – including Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Agency, the Coast Guard, and the Secret Service are sufficiently funded to meet mission requirements and sustain staffing levels. This includes funding for 21,370 Border Patrol agents, 33,400 ICE detention beds, and military pay and allowances for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Program funding increases

**  $13 million increase over last year for the Inspector General of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to provide oversight of the billions of dollars remaining in TARP assets and continues current funding for drug task forces and programs to assist small businesses

** The CR also includes the reauthorization of the DC Opportunity Scholarships, along with a $2.3 million funding increase, to stop the termination of the program and allow new students to participate.

** The legislation also eliminates four Administration “Czars,” including the “Health Care Czar,” the “Climate Change Czar,” the “Car Czar,” and the “Urban Affairs Czar.” Cost  savings; unknown.

** An Energy Department program to provide loan guarantees for renewable and alternative energy projects was spared. That means the Obama administration will be able to honor commitments such as a $967 million loan guarantee for a 290-megawatt Arizona solar power plant. First Solar Inc. is developing the solar farm and has agreed to sell it to NRG Energy Inc. The deal would have been scuttled without the loan guarantee.

** Plus, Head Start, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, got a boost of $340 million, bringing it to $7.57 billion.

** $100 million Educational Technology State grants, $19 million Literacy Through School Libraries and the $42 million Byrd Honors Scholarship made the cut. (The $88 million Smaller Learning Communities and $250 million Striving Readers program from 2010 remain unfunded).

Much speculation and discontent is being expressed by fiscal Republicans as they feel that the budget cuts presented (despite it being the largest budget cut in history) is too small.

I am getting a feeling that this budget could also reach a stalemate and so I am asking that the House of Representatives follow the Senate lead and bring HR 1297 to the House floor for an up/down vote to ensure that our military is paid in the event of a government shutdown.

There are some controversial measure that are still left to be discussed.

**  Funding for NASA’s Constellation exploration program, courtesy of Alabama’s Senator Richard Shelby. This is an absolute MUST as Obama is trying to stop our space exploration and hitch rides with Russia at $60+ million/a seat.

ESPECIALLY since Virginia based Orbtial Science has failed 2 launches- one back in March 2011 and another in 2010 and Orbital Sciences is one of the private companies NASA is counting on to lift cargo to the International Space Station when the shuttles are retired. We MUST have a back up plan and keeping NASA’S Constellation exploration program opened and funded is essential to ensure our lead in Space.

**California has posed serious restrictions on water usage and now they are wanting to limit the water usage again to preserve some fish species.

I dont live in California but have many friends who do that say that the water restrictions are creating a problem for people, California needs to look into a healthy balance. Why is this even being placed in the 2011 budget, this is a state issue.

** A program designed to prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases common among IV drug users is in the works of whether to fund them in DC and other states.

Considering that HIV and AIDS does not have a cure, if there is a preventive procedure available to lessen the possibility of an outbreak then, by all means, we should look into funding it on a federal level. The states cannot afford any additional financial stress.

** Homeowners associations want to apply for federal grants for pool and spa safety programs. THIS IS A WASTE OF TAX PAYER MONEY. Homeowners associations can take necessary measures to ensure that there pools and spas are safe for everyone without getting federal funding for it. This measure needs to be opposed.

** Environmental issues range from waiving the price cap for the federal government when it purchases a green vehicle (a price cap should hardly ever be waived, I support a tax credit but that is for everyone not just the federal government).

There are also several clean air provisions, beyond the EPA and CO2 measures that were not included in the broader bill (I support the Clean Air Act because I enjoy breathing in clean air as well as a provision that would exempt some ponds and creeks, particularly on farms, from being subject to the EPA’s “Navigable Waterways” restrictions.

Here’s hoping that we can reach an agreement to the 2011 budget so we can start focusing on the 2012 budget (which is for a much longer period of time as the 2011 budget runs out September 30, 2011 [funding for a little over 5 months] and the 2012 budget appropriations and get started on our talks of NOT raising the debt ceiling and bringing (S. 163 and H.R. 421),  The Full Faith & Credit Act which ensures that our debtors are paid if we do not raise the debt ceiling.

In the meantime, dont forget to contact your Representative and ask them to bring HR 1297, Ensuring our Military is Paid Act to the floor for an up/down vote to ensure that our military is paid and to keep our mission operational despite a possible government shutdown on April 15th.

**This list contains highlighted program cuts. This list is not comprehensive of all program funding levels in the legislation. In addition, the totals DO NOT reflect the overall across the board cut of 0.2% to all non-defense programs.**

For a list of additional highlighted cuts, please click HERE.

UPDATE ON BILL STATUS:

The 2011 Budget Compromise passed the House  260 to 167 and passed the Senate 81 to 19.

Also voted on was the controversial plan to end Title X funding for reproductive health care, money that Republicans complained goes predominately to Planned Parenthood as well as defunding the health care law implemented last year.

Although it passed the House it was defeated in the Senate 42 to 58.

The  amendment to defund health care reform was rejected 47 to 53.

Next up, the 2012 budget and the vote to raise the debt ceiling, two more highly charged congressional debates.

Copyright (c) April 10, 2011. All rights reserved.
Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 4:12 pm  Comments (1)  

Discovery shuttle leaves the International Space Station for the last time.


Discovery, the world’s most traveled spaceship, left the International  Space Station on Monday for the last time, getting a send-off by the dozen orbiting astronauts as well as “Star Trek’s” original Capt. Kirk.

The shuttle undocked from the station as the two craft sailed more than 200 miles above the Pacific, just north of New Guinea.

Station skipper Scott Kelly rang his ship’s bell in true naval tradition, as the shuttle backed away. “Discovery departing,” he called out.

This is the final flight for Discovery, which is due back on Earth on Wednesday.

The shuttle is being retired and sent to the Smithsonian Institution for display.

NASA’s two other shuttles will join Discovery in retirement, following their upcoming missions.

Discovery’s six astronauts got a special greeting in advance of their space station departure.

Discovery will have racked up nearly 150 million miles by trip’s end, accumulated over 39 missions and nearly 27 years, and spent 365 days total in space. It flew to the space station 13 times.Immediately after undocking, Discovery performed a victory lap around the orbiting outpost, where it spent the past nine days. 

The two crews beamed down breathtaking pictures of each other’s vessel, with the blue cloud-specked planet as the backdrop.

Close-up shots showed many of the individual compartments of the bigger-than-ever station.

“It looks beautiful,” Kelly said of the shuttle.

Discovery and its crew delivered a new storage compartment, as well as an equipment platform and the first humanoid robot in space.

Both of the large items were successfully installed, and the shuttle astronauts even did some extra chores during their two extra days at the station. It ended up being a 13-day mission for Discovery.

R2 the robot, short for Robonaut 2, has yet to be unpacked. The space station residents hope to get to it in the next week or two.

The addition of the 21-foot-long, 15-foot wide storage compartment left the space station 97 percent complete. The complex now has a mass of nearly 1 million pounds.

On the next shuttle flight, by Endeavour next month, a huge science experiment will be installed on the outside of the space station, wrapping up the U.S. contributions. Atlantis will blast off with supplies on the final shuttle mission at the end of June.

American astronauts, meanwhile, will continue hitching rides to the space station on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, at great expense of $50 million per seat.  The intent is for private U.S. companies to take over those ferry operations within a few years.

Copyright March 7, 2011. All rights reserved.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: $424 Million NASA Satellite Launch Fails


NASA’s Glory satellite ended up at the bottom of the southern Pacific Ocean early Friday morning, the victim of a failed launch that almost got the $424 million weather spacecraft into orbit.

All seemed to be going as planned at the 2:10 a.m. PT launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, until the final stage of the launch, when a fairing covering the satellite was supposed to be ejected. Because that protective cover stayed on, the configuration was too heavy and too slow to make it to orbit, said NASA launch commentator George Diller.

Glory was intended to monitor two aspects of the Earth’s climate. It was designed to give scientists a dynamic look at tiny particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, called aerosols, in hopes of determining how they affect the planet’s weather.

In addition, the satellite had instruments that measured variations in the amount of solar energy striking the highest regions of the Earth’s atmosphere.

I cannot believe the satellite failed to launch. How disappointing.

According to NASA launch director Omar Baez, “All indications are that the satellite and rocket are in the southern Pacific Ocean.”

This is especially bad news for Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp, makers of the Taurus XL rocket that lifted the spacecraft to near-orbit. According to the AP, a similar problem occurred in 2009 with a Taurus XL launch vehicle, where a fairing stayed on a satellite and the launch failed, with its satellite ending up in roughly the same place in the South Pacific near Antarctica.

Why is this a big deal? Besides the loss of $424 million of space hardware, Orbital Sciences is one of the private companies NASA is counting on to lift cargo to the International Space Station when the shuttles are retired.

Perhaps we should not have retired the shuttles after all.

Unless President Obama was conscious of the probably failure and planed it this way so that we would lose our space credentials and be reliant on other countries for a space taxi.

We need to get the Constellation and the space program back up and running.

Our space credentials and alternative living depends on it.

Copyright (c) March 4, 2011. All rights reserved.

Published in: on March 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Russia, Europe and China participate in a simulated launch to Mars as the US sits in the corner.


Why is the US NOT included amongst the six men—three Russians, two Europeans, and one Chinese—who volunteered for the project to travel to Mars? A feat that has yet to be accomplished? Where was the US when three astronauts in Moscow, on a simulated flight, landed on Mars on February 14, 2011?  Where were we? Excuses are not acceptable.

Meanwhile, Obama’s “hopes” that private contractors will step up to the plate for US space development while freezing NASA’s budget at the 2010 level, and called for a five-year freeze on new spending for the space agency.

However, the realistic time frame for private contractors to take the reigns would be no earlier than 2014.

Alot can happen within those 3 years and considering that we are solely dependent on Russia while Iran is threatening of sending spy satellites in orbit is very concerning.

Here is the simulated video. Since we could not be there in person, perhaps we could take notes from this simulated version of a Mars walk and perhaps, if we get our priorities in the right order- we could still be the first Country to take the first step on Mars.

Published in: on February 25, 2011 at 6:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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Did you miss Discovery’s last launch? Here’s a video of it. Long Live Space Exploration.


The Discovery’s last launch will be Thursday, then it will be “shuttling” off to the Smithsonian Institution.


NASA has begun counting down to the launch of space shuttle Discovery’s final mission to the International Space Station. The 39th flight of NASA’s most flown shuttle is scheduled to last 11 days, beginning at 4:50 pm EST on Feb. 24 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Discovery should have taken off on its final voyage in November 2010. However,  fuel tank cracks kept the shuttle grounded for 4 months for repair work.

NASA’s weather forecasts expect 80 percent chance of acceptable or favorable conditions at the launch time. The 11-day final flight will involve six-member crew delivering a storage module, a science rig and spare parts to the international space station.

The crew astronauts includes Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott. They will be accompanied by Robonaut 2 (R2), the first human-like android.

Bowen and Drew will conduct two spacewalks to install new components and perform maintenance. For both spacewalks, Bowen will be designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1), and will wear the suit bearing red stripes. Drew, who will be making his first two spacewalks on STS-133, will be extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2) and will wear the unmarked suit.

Discovery has flown more than any other shuttle with 38 flights, completed 5,247 orbits and has spent 322 days in orbit. Discovery’s current flight will be its 39th and final voyage into space before NASA retires its orbiter fleet later this year.

After the orbiter has retired, NASA will offer Discovery to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum for public display and preservation as part of the national collection.

Discovery is scheduled to land on March 7 at 11:50 am EST at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At the time of its landing, Discovery would have traveled more than 143 million miles over the course of 26 years.

After returning from the International Space Station, Discovery will be retired and sent to a museum. Its final destination is expected to be the Smithsonian Institution.

Only three shuttle missions remain, thanks to President Obama’s hopes that private contractors will take on the duty of making of space flight possible.

Copyright (c) February 22, 2011. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Massive solar flare gives a peek as to what we can expect in late 2012/early 2013. In related news, Obama defunds NASA.


A massive solar flare,which measured 8 times the size of the Earth, burst from the sun on February 14, 2011 (video below).

The class X solar flare – the most powerful kind of solar flare – unleashed a wave of charged particles that streamed immediately toward Earth, as well as coronal mass ejections, or blobs of plasma, that took days to arrive here.

When they did, they interacted with Earth’s magnetic field to cause geomagnetic storms that wiped out radio communications in the Western Pacific Ocean and parts of Asia, and caused airlines to reroute some polar flights to avoid radio outages.

Right after the mega solar flare, a first wave of radiation hit Earth.

Did you feel it?

With 8 minutes of the initial solar flare, jamming effects were conducted on radio communication and GPS systems,” said Phil Chamberlin, deputy project scientist for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

Massive flares such as this,  also churn out streams of protons and electrons called coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that can take 24 hours or more to reach Earth- making it possible for us to still be feeling the after effects of the flare up.

“These alerts are sent out to electrical power grid companies, airlines, GPS, military, ocean shipping routes, just to name a few industries that may be affected by the impacts of a solar flare and associated coronal mass ejection (CME) like the one we just had,” Chamberlin told SPACE.com.

Despite the federal government continually disregard of the seriousness of solar activity, the concern is still very real.

Last autumn, NASA warned that sun is ramping up activity as part of its normal 11 year circle with a peak in the solar activity in 2013 could cause serious geomagnetic storms.

The difference between 2012’s solar flares and past solar flares? The sun will be in a position where spiraling beam of solar particles would have a direct chance of hitting the Earth unlike February 14’s eruption which passed behind the Earth yet still causing disruption to our satellite communications.

Space weather hasn’t posed quite such a threat before, because during the last solar maximum, around 10 years ago, the world wasn’t as dependent on satellite telecommunications, cell phones and global positioning system (GPS) – all technologies that could be disrupted by solar flares.

“Many things we take for granted today are so much more prone to the effects of space weather than was the case during the last maximum.  The problem is likely to get even worse as the world could likely become more technologically dependent by the time the next solar maximum rolls around, and the next.”

Back in 2010, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) promised unprecedented views of the sun, uninterrupted measurements of solar activity, and high- resolution images that showcase our parent star in spectacular detail.

With SDO constantly gazing at the sun, the observatory’s instruments are able to collect a wealth of information about our nearest star. The spacecraft records a new image every second, and transmits a staggering 1.5 terabytes of data to Earth every day.

The main goals of the SDO mission are to study the sun’s active regions, and the violent solar events that trigger effects in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Over the course of the spacecraft’s five-year nominal mission, it will also observe the sun as it progresses through the 11-year solar cycle. These observations will help scientists better predict the sun’s activity as it waxes and wanes over the cycle.

“One of the big studies SDO was designed for was to look at eruptive events, like solar flares, jets and spicules,” Chamberlin said. “With the big eruptions, we’re seeing every part of their evolution. We’re able to see the buildup below the surface and how much output from the sun goes into the Earth’s upper atmosphere. We’re getting the complete picture for the first time. If there’s an event on the sun, we see everything we need to see. There’s no data gap.”

Perhaps a 2009 report from NASA influenced the creation of the SDO.

Back in 2009, by a panel of scientists assembled by NASA said that a sustained and powerful solar flare outbreak could overwhelm high-voltage transformers with electrical currents and short-circuit energy grids.

The report, titled “Severe Space Weather Events — Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts” warned that such a catastrophic event could cost the United States alone up to two trillion dollars in repairs in the first year — and it could take up to 10 years to fully recover.

While it is said that the solar flares will not cause bodily harm, it does have the potential to wreak havoc on our communicative  way of life. Not too mention that this valid concern is not even acknowledged by the Obama administration and could add up to $20 trillion over 10 years to our national debt which is $6 trillion more in debt that we are currently facing.

We need to take proactive steps NOW to reinforce our power grid and satellites so that we are not left scrambling in late 2012/early 2013 if solar flares collide with Earth’s magnetic field.

One can only hope that Congress and President Obama wake up to the importance and significance of space research and exploration before it’s too late.

To read about how Obama is sitting on his hands in hopes of commercial contractors for NASA, please visit:  https://theheartofamerica.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/2012-budget-nasa-obama-kicks-the-funding-to-the-curb-sits-on-his-hands-in-the-hopes-of-commercial-contractors/

In my radio show, I mention Obama cutting $289 million from NASA and transferring it to a local COPS program and my thoughts on this abusive crossing of federal/state powers.  Please listen: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/heart-of-america-radio/2011/02/19/heart-of-america-united-we-stand-divided-we-fall

Copyright (c) February 21, 2011. Al rights reserved.

NASA Exploration Index


2012 Budget Review- NASA: Obama sits on his hands in the hopes of commercial contractors.

Another NASA job reduction, courtesy of President Obama.

Senate Commerce Committee Members push for heavy lift rocket and capsule.

Published in: on February 16, 2011 at 1:29 am  Leave a Comment  

2012 Budget Review- NASA: Obama sits on his hands in the hopes of commercial contractors.


Faced with reduced funding and an uncertain outlook, NASA’s $18.7 billion fiscal 2012 budget prioritizes the Obama administration’s major goals and objectives – focusing on maintaining the International Space Station, spur development of commercial manned spacecraft and retire shuttle missions.

The budget follows the administration’s proposal to freeze federal funding  at 2010 levels for NASA in the next 5 years, resulting in a $276 million decrease when taking inflation into account.

The budget also funds congressional mandated Space Launch System heavy lift rockets and the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle at roughly the same levels that were authorized in the 2011 budget: $1.8 billion for the rocket and $1 billion for the crew capsule, despite NASA vehemently denying the ability to create a heavy lift rocket for that amount of allotted money.

To add salt to the wound, Florida Senator Bill Nelson indicates that, “the president’s budget does not follow the bipartisan NASA Law Congress passed late last year. The Congress will assert its priorities in the next 6 months.”

To all my Kennedy Space Center and NASA friends, keep the faith- there’s still hope.

Meanwhile, between the shuttle’s retirement and the emergence of a new manned rocket system, U.S., European, Japanese, and Canadian astronauts will be forced to hitch rides on Russian Soyuz rockets at more than $50 million a ticket.

While I am all for privatizing the space industry, we cannot sit by for 3 years and watch others replace us as leaders in the space industry while we give our tax money to other countries and use them as our space taxi. It’s a waste of money and a waste of time.

Copyright (c) February 15, 2011. All rights reserved.

Published in: on February 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

NASA Exploration Index


Another NASA job reduction, courtesy of President Obama.

Senate Commerce Committee Members push for heavy lift rocket and capsule.

Published in: on February 13, 2011 at 8:00 pm  Leave a Comment