News: February 2006 Archives

NASA Dissing Continues

FEMA's Disaster Preparedeness Changes, The Onion

Editor's note: Note the last item on the list.

Editor's note: (Today) Monday, 27 Feb. 12:30 pm EST: NASA Update. Mike Griffin and Shana Dale will be speaking.

Mike Griffin: "Individuals [at NASA] are free to express their opinions provided that they are so labeled."

"There should never be any retribution for dissenting technical opinion [at NASA]"

On George Deutsch (although not specifically named): "One misguided individual was trying to insert his own religious beliefs ... and perhaps his political views ... into his work."

Scientists cite several instances of politics trumping research, SJ Mercury News

"The EPA, NASA and several other federal agencies have been accused recently of interfering with science."

Scientists complain of diminished role in policy under Bush, SJ Mercury News

"NASA climate scientist James Hansen triggered a series of charges last month when he accused Bush's political appointees of interfering with the release of information that conflicted with the administration's skepticism of the link between pollution and climate change."

Editor's update: As was reported last week, NASA is hiring yet another political appointee at the NASA HQ Public Affairs Office. Joe Pally, a former government PAO official, has now been formally hired. He has been given an email address [jpally at] - with his position listed as "Public Affairs Specialist" and has an assignment: SOMD (not ESMD as was earlier reported).

Marcia Smith's New Job

Editor's note: After 31 years of stellar service, Marcia Smith will be leaving the Congressional Research Office. Effective 1 March, she'll be in place at her new job: Director of the Space Studies Board at the National Academies of Science.

NASA OIG on JPL Audits

Future Science News

Captain Kirk's clone and the eavesdropper, University of York

"The first experimental demonstration of quantum telecloning has been achieved by scientists at the University of Tokyo, the Japan Science and Technology Agency, and the University of York. The work is reported in the latest issue of Physical Review Letters. Telecloning combines cloning (or copying) with teleportation (i.e., disembodied transport)"

PTO Requests Model of Warp Drive Invention, Patent Law Blog

"The Worsley-Twist warp drive does not depend upon traditional emissions of matter to create thrust. Rather, the drive creates a change in the curvature of the space-time continuum thus allowing travel by warping space-time. Worsley & Twist patent application recently suffered another setback. The Examiner has now requested a working mode."

China's virtual cops pinpoint web dissent, Financial Times

"With their big blue blinking eyes and their quirky personal websites, there is no denying the cuteness of the cartoon cops at the front line of China's battle for control of the internet. But the role played by Jingjing and Chacha, the animated online icons recently introduced by police in the southern Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen, is entirely serious."

Making Sacrifices for VSE

JPL Proposes To Buy Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena Independent

"JPL wants to acquire the street between the current temporary checkpoint for visitors and the lab entrance for increased security purposes. The lab has had the temporary guard station in place since 2002, with the citys permission."

Editor's note: An internal parody is circulating within JPL as to what management really wants to do with this land acquisition and how they are justifying it ...

NASA chief vows openness at agency, Orlando Sentinel

"After Thursday's hearing, Griffin told reporters that NASA was soliciting feedback from throughout the agency to find people who "have a gripe." At the same time, a team of scientists and public-affairs officers is reviewing current policies." ... "It will be done in a few weeks," Griffin said. "Half of our issue has been that people are butting heads who should be working as different parts of an overall team."

NASA to Draft New Rules for Media Office, Washington Post

"Griffin told reporters after yesterday's hearing that he has made it a policy that "technical people within NASA are not only allowed to speak their minds . . . we beg them to speak their minds." He cautioned, however, that the review of public information guidelines is not only about ensuring openness, but also seeks to establish "crisp" criteria for deciding when research is newsworthy. The review is, in part, about "adult supervision over which paper merits a news release," Griffin said. "And this is management 101, not politics."

House Panel Prods NASA for Improvement on Openness, NY Times

"The administrator has it exactly right," Dr. Hansen said. "We live in a free country and work for the taxpayer. We should provide useful information, not propaganda. But based on their recent remarks, public affairs still doesn't get it."

Editor's note: Mike Griffin - as heard on Thursday during a recess on a House Science Committee webcast in front of an open microphone a minute before the hearing resumed:

"We are making this a bigger story by not talking about it. I need to be more open with the media".

Climate change: On the edge - Greenland ice cap breaking up at twice the rate it was five years ago, says scientist Bush tried to gag, by Jim Hansen, The Independent

"Yet, a few weeks ago, when I - a Nasa climate scientist - tried to talk to the media about these issues following a lecture I had given calling for prompt reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases, the Nasa public affairs team - staffed by political appointees from the Bush administration - tried to stop me doing so. I was not happy with that, and I ignored the restrictions. The first line of Nasa's mission is to understand and protect the planet."

NASA 'folk hero' will speak, Albany Times Union

"The NASA scientist who charged the Bush administration tried to prevent him from speaking out about the dangers of global warming will address the issue of climate change in Albany this spring."

NYT on Openness at NASA

Call for Openness at NASA Adds to Reports of Pressure, NY Times

"David R. Mould, NASA's assistant administrator for public affairs and a political appointee, said none of the appointees had brought a political agenda to the agency. "We've received no marching orders from anyone," Mr. Mould said."

Editor's 13 Feb note: As you all know NASA HQ and ESMD have made certain that life sciences at ARC has been all but erased. Have a look at the location of the Ames life sciences website. I don't see anything. Go do a Google search for "life science ames NASA". Check out the top listing the comes back. Note the cached version of what was once there. It is as if NASA is trying to erase an entire research community - one that took decades to create. Next on the list for decimation: the NASA Astrobiology Institute - this time by Mary Cleave at SMD.

Editor's 15 Feb update: Someone at ARC apparently felt that a simple blank white page looked bad - so they tossed a few simple links on the page so that it isn't totally blank - just almost totally blank - but still useless.

Hansen Muzzling Update

Senators quiz NASA on muzzling scientist, UPI

"Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., wrote to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's chief administrator Michael D. Griffin about Jim Hansen, the chief of Goddard Space Flight Center's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Hansen recently concluded that 2005 was the warmest year on record, and discussed the effect that had on the rate and volume of atmospheric gases."

Editor's note: Note to UPI, NASA doesn't have a "chief" Administrator.

Someday the Sun Will Go Out and the World Will End (but Don't Tell Anyone), NY Times

"Last week my colleague Andrew Revkin reported that a 24-year-old NASA political appointee with no scientific background, George C. Deutsch, had told a designer working on a NASA Web project that the Big Bang was "not proven fact; it is opinion," and thus the word "theory" should be used with every mention of Big Bang."

Editor's 13 Feb note: (sigh) It would seem that the New York Times is now going to find a way to mention George Deutsch at least once a week. And if they don't, then the Washington Post will.

Editor's 15 Feb note: True to form, the Post invokes George again.

The Silencing Of Science, OpEd, Anne Applebaum, Washington Post

"One of the benefits of writing newspaper articles is that sometimes, instead of sending anonymous insults, readers call you up and tell you interesting things. Two weeks ago, after news broke that a NASA press officer had resigned amid revelations that he'd tried to muffle the agency's top climate scientist, I got several such calls."

Editor's note: You can email Anne at or call her at 800.627.1150 or 202.334.6000

NAC Presentations Online

Editor's note: NASA HQ Presentations from the NASA Advisory Council meeting 8-9 Feb 2006 are now online:

- Scott Pace, Associate Administrator, Program Analysis and Evaluation

- Brant Sponberg, Acting Program Executive, Innovative Procurements, Constellation Systems, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate

Troubles at CSA?

Head of space agency urged to step down, Globe and Mail

"The president of the Canadian Space Agency, Virendra Jha, is being urged to step down during a police investigation into alleged misappropriation of public funds involving a suspicious multi-million-dollar development contract."

Some grumble of politicization at NASA, Orlando Sentinel

"Public affairs is here to make sure that we put out intelligible, grammatically correct information in a way that is interesting and promotes what we do," spokesman Acosta said. "We do not get involved in any sort of censorship or changing of scientific data." [Senator] Nelson, who is running for re-election, needs more convincing. "You have to question whether or not the agency is starting to go off the rails because of political influence," Nelson said. "I think it's good that all of this has been exposed, and we need to get to the bottom of it. The last thing in the world that needs to be politicized is NASA."

Under Siege, Washington Post

"An information war is breaking out on multiple fronts, with journalists caught in the crossfire ... A larger example: James Hansen, NASA's top climate scientist, told the New York Times last month that agency officials tried to "censor" him by insisting on reviewing his lectures, papers and interviews, after he called for a reduction in greenhouse gases tied to global warming."

George Deutsch Daily Update

Censorship Is Alleged at NOAA, Washington Post

"There is no pressure or mandate, from the Bush administration or elsewhere, to alter or water down scientific data at NASA, period," Deutsch said, adding that after being tasked to work with Hansen, "I quickly learned one thing: Dr. Hansen and his supporters have a very partisan agenda and ties reaching to the top of the Democratic Party."

Ex-Press Aide for NASA Offers Defense, NY Times

"In the radio interview, Mr. Deutsch also criticized others within NASA who supported Dr. Hansen's view that he was being suppressed. Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer who told The Times of several conversations in which Mr. Deutsch said his job was to "make the president look good," said she would not comment on his assertions."

Editor's note: Oh c'mon George. This is getting silly. The only reason you got your job at NASA - and the only qualifications you had - was YOUR political connections to the top of the Republican party i.e. the White House. Waving your arms about someone else's supposed political connections and/or motivations is rather hypocritical to say the least.

Censorship Is Alleged at NOAA, Washington Post

"James E. Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who sparked an uproar last month by accusing the Bush administration of keeping scientific information from reaching the public, said Friday that officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are also muzzling researchers who study global warming."

NASA Crackberry Update

RIM's workaround revealed, C|Net

"BlackBerry maker Research In Motion on Thursday announced details of how its new software workaround, designed as a backup if U.S. courts impose an injunction later this month, will be released to customers."

NASA Crackberry Addicts Rejoice: DOJ To The Rescue (earlier post)

Life Imitating Art

NASA Image of SuitSat in Space

"Backdropped by the blackness of space and Earth's horizon, a spacesuit-turned-satellite called SuitSat began its orbit around the Earth after it was released by the Expedition 12 crewmembers during a session of extravehicular activity (EVA) on Feb. 3, 2006."

Editor's note: When I first saw the grainy TV imges of SuitSat deployment I was immediately reminded of an iconic image from the film "2001: A Space Odyssey". Now that NASA has posted better images, the comparison is even more obvious. See images below:

Bush Appointee Steps Down from Post at NASA, LA Times

"Acosta denied that Deutsch's resignation was prompted by recent allegations that Bush administration appointees in NASA headquarters were trying to censor agency scientists, in one case by threatening "dire consequences" against an outspoken climate scientist. Acosta said NASA was in the process of "revising our public affairs policies across the agency." "NASA ensures and supports full and open communication," he said. On Friday, NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin issued a memo stating that NASA must not hinder the free flow of scientific information to the public. One NASA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions, said that Deutsch had worked on Bush's reelection campaign before being appointed to NASA headquarters in Washington."

Remarks to the National Space Club by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin

"I do think that it is important to note that we are delaying missions, not simply abandoning them. We will still do the Space Interferometry Mission, the Terrestrial Planet Finder, and the Global Precipitation Monitoring mission. We will not do them right now. In making a decision concerning what to delay and what to keep on schedule to the extent possible, I determined that delays in starting SIM, TPF, and GPM would be less harmful to the space program overall than would further delays to the CEV program. I simply believe that further delays to CEV are strategically more damaging to this nation than are delays to other missions. I stand by this view."

George Deutsch Daily Update

An Aggie's big bang at NASA, Houston Chronicle

"It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator," Deutsch lectured the contractor. "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA."

Ex-Press Aide for NASA Offers Defense, NY Times

"We are both Christians, and I was sharing with him my personal opinions on the Big Bang theory versus intelligent design," Mr. Deutsch wrote to The Times. "What I said about intelligent design did not affect the presentation of the Big Bang theory in the subsequent Einstein Web story. This is a very important point, because I have been accused of trying to insert religion into this story, which I was not trying to do."

Editor's note: Let's see, George, you invoked religion in your memo while you were at NASA, then you make note to the NY Times of the fact that you and Hansen are "both Christians". Why are either of your religious beliefs relevant to anything at NASA? You've brought up the topic of religion yet again. And then you take issue with being accused of "trying to insert religion into this story" when indeed you did - and continue to do so.

Censoring Truth, Editorial, NY Times

"The Bush administration long ago secured a special place in history for the audacity with which it manipulates science to suit its political ends. But it set a new standard of cynicism when it allowed NASA's leading authority on global warming to be mugged by a 24-year-old presidential appointee who, quite apart from having no training on that issue, had inflated his rsum."

NASA Aide Who Resigned Over Warming Offers Defense, NY Times

"Mr. Deutsch said he resigned of his own volition because he was unhappy with the negative publicity he and NASA were receiving in the news media. "I was just sick of it," he said. "I was being smeared. My integrity and credibility was being questioned. And as a human being, as a human being, I just could not take it anymore."

Reader note: You can hear George say the word "agenda" a zillion times in some online interviews from WTAW radio.


Integrated Enterprise Management Program Contract Oversight Needs Improvement, NASA OIG

"The Office of Inspector General conducted an audit of NASA's oversight of its Integrated Enterprise Management Program (IEMP) contracts as part of an overall assessment of NASA's IEMP. The objective of this audit was to determine whether NASA performed sufficient ovrsight of contractor activities to ensure that IEMP products and services were procured in a satisfactory, cost-effective manner."

John Logsdon's World Tour

Editor's note: A few minutes ago, the NASA Advisory Council began a discussion of international participation in lunar exploration. The NAC's Executive Secretary walked over to John Logsdon and handed him a note. A few seconds later Logsdon got up and left the room. NAC chair Harrison Schmitt noted that Logsdon needed to leave the room due to a conflict of interest concern with a study he is conducting. Logsdon returned to the room once that discussion was finished. I am not sure what this accomplished since the NAC did not go into executive session - and anyone (i.e. the general public, media, etc.) in the room could hear, record, and write about the discussion.

NASA seeks partners as budgets tighten, New Scientist

"Logsdon is now in the process of travelling to Europe, Russia, Japan and Canada, on NASA's behalf, to assess which countries are interested in collaborating on such projects."

Editor's 1 Feb note: Word has it that NASA Advisory Council member - and former Kerry presidential campaign space advisor - John Logsdon has been tasked (under contract) by Mike Griffin to do a quick study to complement official NASA studies which look at possible international participation in the VSE. Logsdon is currently in Paris and is expected to make a number of stops around the world in connection with this task in the coming weeks.

The Politics of Science, editorial, Washington Post

"Far more important, several New York Times articles over the past week or so have exposed Mr. Deutsch as one of several White House-appointed public affairs officers at the agency who tried to prevent senior NASA career scientists from speaking and writing freely, especially when their views on the realities of climate change differed from those of the White House."

Bush Appointee Steps Down from Post at NASA, LA Times

"Acosta denied that Deutsch's resignation was prompted by recent allegations that Bush administration appointees in NASA headquarters were trying to censor agency scientists, in one case by threatening "dire consequences" against an outspoken climate scientist."

Editor's update: Uh, then why did he suddenly quit - and do so via an email message - Dean?

Securing the High Ground

Military role in space said set to expand, Reuters

"The military's role in deterring attacks on commercial satellites is set to be strengthened in the first broad overhaul of U.S. space policy in a decade, a U.S. official said on Wednesday. The policy would remove any ambiguity about official responsibility for figuring out who was behind any attack on U.S.-owned commercial satellites, said Air Force Col. Anthony Russo, head of the U.S. Strategic Command's space division."

Editor's 8 Feb update: On Tuesday I got my 6 February issue. Today (Wednesday) I got my 30 January issue. Otherwise, my mail delivery is normal. I have called the number Space News lists to call about such things several times since my earlier post and left messages - but no one has ever called me back. Maybe its time not to renew.

Editor's 25 Jan note: A week or two before Christmas I noticed that my copy of Space News was not showing up. After the holidays I noticed that it still had not shown up. I checked my records, and saw that my subscription had not lapsed. Several more weeks went by - still no Space News - and I was about to complain. Then today I went to my Post Office box and there was this week's copy - and copies for the previous two weeks - all nice, crisp, and unread. Curiously, there was nothing in my box yesterday afternoon - and my mail delivery has otherwise been quite normal.

George Deutsch Update

Editor's note: NASA Watch has learned that George Deutsch resigned his position at NASA today. NASA will not be commenting on this personnel issue.

George Deutsch, Up and Coming PAO Politico (earlier post)

George Deutsch Did Not Graduate From Texas A & M University, The Scientific Activist

- Bush man resigns NASA post in scandal, UPI
- NASA Public-Affairs Appointee Resigns in Disgrace, Slashdot
- Bush appointee at NASA resigns over censorship, The Independent
- Accused of censoring scientists, NASA vows reform, Reuters

"NASA, accused of censoring its scientists on global warming and the origin of the universe, pledged on Wednesday to reform its policies to ensure "open and full communications."

A Young Bush Appointee Resigns His Post at NASA, NY Times

"Mr. Deutsch's resignation came on the same day that officials at Texas A&M University confirmed that he did not graduate from there, as his rsum on file at the agency asserted."

NASA's Real Right Stuff

NASA's Real Right Stuff - A Review of "Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut" by Mike Mullane, SpaceRef

"I can't say that I have read every astronaut biography - but I've read a number of them. While many of these books are well crafted - with vibrant, riveting descriptions of life off world, Mullane's book distinguishes itself in this genre by focusing on all aspects of being an astronaut. Let me make that clear - ALL aspects."

NASA Chief Backs Agency Openness, NY Times

"In October, for example, George Deutsch, a presidential appointee in NASA headquarters, told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word "theory" after every mention of the Big Bang, according to an e-mail message from Mr. Deutsch that another NASA employee forwarded to The Times."

"... The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose rsum says he was an intern in the "war room" of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen's public statements."

"... The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator." It continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."

Editor's note: George Deutsch got his job at NASA was a reward for being a loyal young republican. Otherwise, based on his reported comments in this and other articles - and I'm just guessing folks - but it would seem that he did not take very many science classes in college - political science perhaps. Not exactly the ideal background for someone whose job it is to communicate science. Perhaps we can get George to detail his background for us - and why he thinks that he knows more about the topic than the people who actually do the research.

Has NASA's press office gone too far?, Nature

NASA Internal Memo: Message From the Administrator - Scientific Openness

"I want to make sure that NASA employees hear directly from me on how I view the issue of scientific openness and the role of public affairs within the agency. First, NASA has always been, is, and will continue to be committed to open scientific and technical inquiry and dialogue with the public. The basis for this principle is codified in the Space Act of 1958, which requires NASA to "provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof."

Editor's note: It is good that Mike Griffin sent this out. I am, however, utterly confused as to why it was not released to the media and general public - where the NASA credibility issue remains unaddressed.

Editor's note: 4 Feb Update: NASA has now posted Griffin's message on its main website.

Internal NASA Memo Regarding Administrative Investigation of NASA Inspector General

"The Integrity Committee of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency notified me that they have requested that the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development conduct an administrative investigation into allegations against me as the NASA Inspector General. According to the Integrity Committee's letter, the allegations are that I "failed to investigate violations of safety concerns and retaliation by whistle-blowers."

Investigator at NASA Faces Inquiry Over Safety, NY Times

"According to the Integrity Committee's letter, the allegations are that I 'failed to investigate violations of safety concerns and retaliation by whistle-blowers,' " he said in the e-mail message, first posted on the Web site. He went on to urge his staff to cooperate fully."

NASA's Inspector General Probed - Failure to Investigate Safety Violations Is Among the Charges, Washington Post

"An FBI-led watchdog agency has opened an investigation into multiple complaints accusing NASA Inspector General Robert W. Cobb of failing to investigate safety violations and retaliating against whistle-blowers. Most of the complaints were filed by current and former employees of his own office."

Editor's note: Between 2:45 AM and 5:30 AM EST Saturday we'll be offline due to ISP upgrades. We're having a small nuclear reactor installed so as to ensure that we are never offline.

Shana Goes Native

Editor's note: As many of you will recall, last summer, Mike Griffin responded [audio] to a question about how he deals with people by saying "I don't do feelings. Just think of me as Spock". Of course, as many starship captains have learned, you often need someone who is more sensitive to people's feelings to help smooth off the rough edges as you command. Hence the position of ship's counselor was created. A few months back Shana Dale, who worked at OSTP for the President's science advisor, joined NASA as its Deputy Administrator. Shana is also rather adept in Washington politics (another weak portion of Griffin's skill set). Alas, one thing many people fear when they learn that a co-worker is going to move to NASA is that they will "go native" after a few months at NASA. Well, based on this recent official portrait of Shana Dale, she has indeed "gone NASA". Click on image to enlarge.

Scotty: I Need That CEV in 2010 Or We're All Going to Die! (earlier post)

New TV Series to Feature JPL

Fox Green-Lights Beyond, SciFi Wire

"Fox on Feb. 1 gave a green light to the SF drama pilot Beyond, from writer David Self (Road To Perdition), Variety reported. Twentieth Century Fox TV and Imagine TV are behind the thriller, which takes place at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. A global crisis helps launch a new race to space as the show opens, the trade paper reported."

Editor's note: Gee, JPL certainly has uped the ante. Just watch as APL goes out and gets their own TV series. Alas, JPL certainly could have chosen better - Fox is the producer of the infamous "Moon Hoax" TV special that has rotted far too many minds.

Air Force One Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, John Marburger, and Claude Allen (NASA Excerpts)

"Q Scott, the President's moon/Mars mission, plan -- I mean, what's going to come of that? There's a lot of concern about the gap when the shuttle is retired and the new vehicle hasn't come into play yet.

DR. MARBURGER: There's lots of other science that's important, and there are lots of other initiatives in other agencies that are important for our country. This initiative focuses on things that we think have especially high leverage for future innovation. And that's what this is focused on. Space exploration is another issue, it's another important area for the country, but it's not part of this initiative.

Q Does this indicate any shifting of priorities away from that as a top priority?

DR. MARBURGER: No, there's no shift of priorities for the other areas."

U.S. to judge: Hold off on BlackBerry shutdown, Reuters

"The U.S. Justice Department urged a federal judge on Wednesday to refrain from any plans to shut the BlackBerry portable e-mail service over patent infringement until the government gets more assurances its users will be exempted."



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