Interesting Items 10/03

Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information.  Enjoy –

In this issue –

1.  DART
2.  Fentanyl
3.  Othering
4.  Lawton
5.  Cartel
6.  FBI

1.  DART.  Will start this week with a fun piece (at least to me).  A week ago, NASA slammed a spacecraft into an asteroid to see if they could change its orbit a bit.  The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) was the first test of a possible planetary defense capability.  The target was a double asteroid system Didymos and its moonlet Dimorphos.  The moonlet was the target, as it will be relatively easy over time to see how much the energy of impact changed its orbit.  Because they were orbiting one another, masses of both objects was well known, though actual composition and structure was not.  DART was launched last Nov on a SpaceX Falcon 9.  Spacecraft was relatively simple, with propulsion, attitude control, communication, and a camera.  It also carried a small Italian cubesat released a few weeks before impact to observe the impact.  The cubesat is currently relaying its photos back to Earth.  Mass at impact was 1,260 pounds, at a velocity of just under 4 miles/second.  DART relayed photos of its target all the way to just prior to impact.  This test had a significant gallery viewing it from Earth and space including a number of ground-based telescopes with Hubble and Webb observing in real time from space.  There is a follow-on European mission, Hera scheduled to launch in 2024 to fly by the system in 2026.  It will take a look at the crater left following the impact.  This is the second spacecraft that intentionally impacted a small body.  Deep Impact hit the comet Tempel 1 (9P/Tempel) in 2005.  That mission used a 220-pound copper impactor and a flyby spacecraft that watched the impact.  The goal was to attempt to see whatever was underneath the surface of a comet.  The impact blasted a crater far larger than expected, and the plume was far more vigorous than expected.  So, we found that comets react more poorly than asteroids do to this sort of abuse.  Not all asteroids are solid.  Many of the smaller ones are floating rubble piles, held together by their miniscule gravity.  This leads to problems sampling.  The OSIRIS-REX spacecraft took a sample from asteroid 101955 Bennu Oct 2020.  The sampling was supposed to be a brief, very light touch and go, with a spurt of nitrogen gas to stir up the regolith as it touched so the sampling arm was able to capture something.  What actually happened was that the spacecraft was almost buried in the asteroid, engulfed, before it backed out.  There was so much stuff captured that the sampling mechanism was jammed for a while.  They had to carefully shake the excess stuff off the spacecraft in the following weeks.  The sampling pass blasted a crater nearly 30’ across, throwing up a huge wall of debris, removing six tons of material from the touchdown site.  Tests of the sampling procedures on Earth barely stirred up a divot.  Regolith of small rubble pile asteroids behaves more like liquid than solid.  It is entirely possible that the DART impact gouged out a lot more stuff than anyone expected.  The impact is 1:14:00 into the following video.

Structural composition of these bodies is an important factor in moving them around.  How do you move a gravel pile with an explosive or any sort of impact?  Most firearms guys know that shooting burms of dirt is almost meaningless unless you want to simply stop the bullet.  And if you want to stand up a planetary defense capability, you are going to have to figure out how to move rubble piles hundreds of yards in diameter or larger. 

2.  Fentanyl.  One of the growing national issues is the prevalence of fentanyl in the drug trade.  It is literally everywhere these days, mixed in various levels with all the illegal drugs.  Yearly death rate for fentanyl is approaching 100,000/year, which makes it a weapon of mass destruction.  Original source was China which exported it to the Mexican cartels who ensured it got into the US.  After a bit of an uproar, the Chinese manufacturer switched from fentanyl to its precursors which are then cooked up in Mexican cartel labs for sale across the border.  We know who the Chinese source is.  We know where he is.  So does the CCP, which wouldn’t be tolerating and supporting what he is doing unless it benefitted their policy goals.  Consider it chemical warfare aimed at the United States and you are close to what is actually going on.  The drug is incredibly powerful, cheap to manufacture, and miniscule quantities are deadly, so it is easy to hide.  There is a growing call to do something about the availability of this deadly chemical, as the War on Drugs has clearly failed, and more importantly will continue to fail.  If what we have been doing isn’t working, what will?  Perhaps treating it on a national level as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is one such way.  In this, the governors are starting to step up.  Texas Governor Greg Abbott designated the Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations last week.  Fentanyl was primary reason, though one cannot discount the human trafficking aspect of the ongoing flood of illegals across the Texas border.  Legal Insurrection reported last week that several state attorneys general were calling for the feds to label it as a WMD.  No action as yet from the O’Bamaoids running Harris – Xiden.  Response to this at the federal level has been a complete disaster.  It was one of Trump’s worst failures.  It is a continuing failure of Harris – Xiden and congress.  Even the GOP’s new version of the Contract with America does not specifically address it.  My prediction is that halting fentanyl will require military action aimed directly at both Mexico and China.  The action against Mexico will be similar to rolling up other Mexican Banditos between 1848 – 1920.  It will use Special Operators and drones.  It will use negotiation directly with the cartels, giving them an offer they can’t refuse, essentially stop this or you are dead.  Treat them just like we treated ISIS under Trump.  In doing so, you end up treating Mexico as the failed state it is today.  Finally, kill the Chinese fentanyl manufacturer and destroy his facilities in China.  Then send the CCP a bill for our costs.  If they engage in warfare against the US using WMDs, we will remove that threat.  My prediction is that this happens sooner rather than later, most certainly in the administration of the next Republican.

3.  Othering.  One of the things that Brandon needs to quit doing is running his mouth about extreme MAGA Republicans, as it is giving the crazier denizens on his side of the political spectrum an excuse to tap into their inner AntiFa, shooting elderly pro-life women, running down teens in South Dakota, and burning down or otherwise vandalizing women’s health clinics that specialize in keeping the baby alive.  Last week’s example was a 17-year-old South Dakota teen murdered by a 41-year-old in a vehicular homicide.  The driver intentionally ran down the kid with his SUV following what the perp described as a political argument.  He told police that he murdered the teen because the teen was a Republican extremist.  The AP and CBS carefully left out the political rationale for the murder, specifically that the teen was a Republican.  The perp was released from jail on a $50,000 bond.  Contrast that with the $2 million bail inflicted on MN shooter Kyle Rittenhouse for defending himself during an AntiFa riot in Minneapolis.  Contrast also the treatment of this political murderer with federal treatment of every single one of the Jan 6 protesters currently languishing in the DC gulag.  Equal rights under the law?  Not anymore.  Certainly not for conservatives and Republicans.  Politicians have a responsibility to conduct themselves in such a matter so as not to inflame the black helo types on their side.  Not so for democrats anymore.  And this is going to be a problem. 

4.  Lawton.  One of the little games played during the 1992 election campaign took place in Florida, where then Governor Lawton Chiles refused to request FEMA assistance or a disaster declaration following a Hurricane Andrew’s hit on south Florida.  At the time, federal help was not possible until the governor requested assistance.  Unfortunately, President Bush 41 followed the law, which allowed Chiles (who was also a Friend of Bill) to let his people suffer for a week or two following the hit.  Of course, the media played it for all it was worth, painting Bush 41 as completely out of touch and disconnected from the problems of Americans.  Future Republican presidents were far more proactive, making declarations early and prepositioning FEMA assets for quick use.  This time around, the Biden WH appeared to be pulling a reverse Lawton, coordinating with at least three democrat mayors in Florida before Hurricane Ian hit without bothering to call Governor DeSantis.  Sounds like the plan was to coordinate political strategy and leave the state of Florida out of the discussion completely so that the media can then destroy DeSantis like they did Bush 41 for failing to do his job.  Nothing like politicizing natural disasters to make your political point.  DeSantis heard about the subterfuge and responded publicly, forcing Biden to make a few calls defusing the attempted hit job.  Must have worked, as the media was quickly on to Plan B, blaming DeSantis for failing to evacuate the Fort Meyers / Naples area before the storm hit.  They will play this until they can’t anymore.  The problem was that the original forecasts had the storm hitting the much more heavily populated Tampa – St Petersburg area. 

5.  Cartel.  Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) is a set of practices used by banks and other lending institutions to screen investments based on corporate policies and encourage companies to act responsibly.  The environmental piece looks at what the companies do for climate change; social is the entire woke pantheon, as is internal governance. If the investing houses and banks do not think the companies are conducting business with sufficient attention to ESG, they don’t get loans.  Their problem is that when all the banks and investment houses start putting their heads together and create widely agreed upon criteria for making loans, that is effectively a cartel, which is illegal under US Law (for whatever that means these days), especially when applied to the financial world.  Senator Tom Cotton (R, AR) went on CNBC Squawk Box Thursday with a warning that the Senate will investigate ESG practices by cartel groups like Black Rock that are contributing to $5/gal gasoline.  He pointed out the collusion between Black Rock with the Climate Action Partnership that essentially creates a climate cartel with the express purpose of suppressing investment in the fossil fuel industry.  He warned CEOs who have joined and who are thinking about joining to lawyer up, as their actions are most certainly a breach of their fiduciary duties, likely a civil violation of anti-trust laws, likely a criminal violation of the same laws.  There are real victims, which include anyone paying double for a gallon of gasoline, which will make constructing a class action lawsuit very easy.

6.  FBI.  This week’s story about the FBI concerns an FBI raid on US Privacy Vaults in Beverly Hills 18 months ago.  They claimed criminal activity via money laundering.  Using that claim, they misled a local judge in LA to approve a warrant that allowed them to root though 1,800 individual safe deposit boxes, copying materials and eventually seizing some $86 million in gold coins, jewels and other valuables, essentially forfeiting the property to the feds.  The justification for forfeiture was presumption that hundreds of unknown box holder owners were storing assets tied to unknown crimes.  Following the raid, they posted a notice on the vault location inviting anyone who wanted their property back to contact the local FBI office in LA.  Any contact would then invite the FBI to do a full forensic audit of the aggrieved to see what else they could find.  Like any good criminal enterprise, the FBI had the US attorney’s office block public disclosure of court papers.  A judge eventually ordered the warrants released to the public.  A number of box owners filed a class action lawsuit claiming the raid and seizure violated their property rights.  FBI agents during the raid violated restrictions on the warrant by searching through all boxes in search of crimes.  The warrant application did not attempt to argue there was probable cause to seize the property and forfeit it to the government.  A complicating fact is that US Private Vaults did plead guilty to conspiracy to launder drug money as part of an ongoing investigation.  The class action lawsuit is trying to get the raid designated as unconstitutional, forcing the FBI to return the property to its owners.  Property forfeiture is only allowed if the government has evidence that it was derived from criminal conduct or used to facilitate criminal activity.  Of course, such proof would require the FBI to have already investigated 1,800 individuals, which they weren’t apparently interested in doing.  Much easier to simply grab everything and run, not unlike what they did at Mar-a-Lago.  Not much difference anymore between the FBI and your basic criminal enterprise.  FBI delenda est.

More later –

– AG

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