Abandon Ship!

What’s I say? This is what happens when you put all your eggs in the Russian technology basket and the basket falls apart.

Space station could be abandoned in November

Astronauts may need to temporarily withdraw from the International Space Station before the end of this year if Russia is unable to resume manned flights of its Soyuz rocket after a failed cargo launch last week, according to the NASA official in charge of the outpost.

Despite a delivery of important logistics by the final space shuttle mission in July, safety concerns with landing Soyuz capsules in the middle of winter could force the space station to fly unmanned beginning in November, according to Michael Suffredini, NASA’s space station program manager.

“Logistically, we can support [operations] almost forever, but eventually if we don’t see the Soyuz spacecraft, we’ll probably going to unmanned ops before the end of the year,” Suffredini said in an interview Thursday, one day after Russia lost a Soyuz rocket with an automated Progress resupply ship bound for the space station.

See also:
Will the Space Station be Abandoned?
International Space Station might be abandoned in November
Cargo Craft Loss Prompts ISS Concerns
NASA Sets Space Station Status Update Briefing for Monday
Roscosmos smarting after Progress loss
ISS crew safe despite supply failure: Russia, US
Matt Reed: After Russian crash, turn to the F-150 of American rockets
Progress Fails To Make Progress

Okay, so the Russian rockets are turning out to be piles of junk. Why can’t we launch the Progress cargo ship or the manned Soyuz capsule on top of the highly successful, dependable workhorse, Delta IV or Atlas V rockets? Where’s that old fashioned American ingenuity?

/and what about SpaceX, they’re already planning a rendezvous mission to dock with the ISS later this year, why can’t resources be poured into that and the schedule moved up?

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World’s Ugliest Dog I Am

And the 2011 winner is . . . Yoda!

Yoda is world’s ugliest dog

Yoda’s short tufts of hair, protruding tongue, and long, seemingly hairless legs were enough to earn it the World’s Ugliest Dog title at a Northern California fair.

The 14-year-old Chinese crested and Chihuahua mix won the honour at the annual contest at the Sonoma Marin Fair.

Owner Terry Schumacher of Hanford, California, says the 2lb (900-gram) dog has come a long way since she was found abandoned behind an apartment building. Ms Schumacher says she first thought the pooch was a rat.

See also:
She’s a bit ruff! Chinese-crested Chihuahua mix wins the World’s Ugliest Dog title
1.8 Pound Mutt Claims the 2011 World’s Ugliest Dog (R) Title at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma Tonight
Chinese crested from Hanford wins 23rd annual World’s Ugliest Dog Contest
Meet Yoda, the world’s ugliest dog
The World’s Ugliest Dog is announced.. as Yoda
14-yr-old chihuahua named Yoda wins ‘world’s ugliest dog’ title
Yoda crowned the world’s ugliest dog
World’s Ugliest Dog Crowned, Might Be So Ugly It’s Cute
Ugliest Dog Contest: Chinese Crested Chihuahua Mix Takes Top Prize
Pictures: 2011 World’s Ugliest Dog Contest
Yoda crowned world’s ugliest dog
World’s Ugliest Dog® Contest
World’s Ugliest Dog Contest

Congratulations to Yoda, but she may as well be Miss Universe compared to previous World’s Ugliest Dog winners like 2007’s Elwood . . .

. . . or three time champion Sam.

Hoo boy, them there dogs been beaten silly with the ugly stick!

/I’ll stick to cats

Egypt Votes, But For What Exactly?

Egypt had a free and fair vote to amend the Egyptian constitution, that’s a good thing, right? Not so fast.

Egypt Approves Amendments

Egyptians voted in overwhelming numbers to approve a set of constitutional amendments, setting the stage for Egypt’s first truly contested parliamentary and presidential elections in decades.

Saturday’s historic referendum on the amendments saw millions of enthusiastic Egyptians wait patiently for hours to cast ballots in what for almost everyone was a novelty—a vote in which the result wasn’t effectively predetermined.

The largely peaceful and fraud-free vote was a marked contrast to past elections and a glimpse of how much has changed in Egypt in the weeks since President Hosni Mubarak stepped down amid widespread unrest, ending decades of single-party, autocratic rule.

Yet Saturday’s referendum also offered early clues into the rifts likely to shape Egyptian politics in the coming months and years. Many of the largely secular liberals who led the revolution that ousted Mr. Mubarak were opposed to the amendments, strongly suggesting the protest leaders have fallen out of sync with the vast majority of Egyptians.

Protest leaders criticized the amendments as part of a rushed and problematic timeline for establishing democracy; approving the changes started the clock on a race they said they are unprepared to run because they are still setting up parties.

Almost alone among the political groups in support of the amendments were the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group outlawed under Mr. Mubarak, and the National Democratic Party, the former president’s ruling party. Both hope to capitalize on their already strong organizations in summer elections for parliament, which will then be charged with writing an entirely new constitution.
. . .

Journalists covering the announcement abandoned any pretenses of objectivity and yelled “Allahu Akbar!”—”God is Great!”—when the tallies were read out by officials.

See also:
How Egypt’s historic referendum could now bolster Islamists
Big majority vote for constitutional changes in Egypt
Egypt Backs Constitutional Changes That May Aid Brotherhood, Mubarak Party
Egypt: Constitution changes pass in referendum
Egyptians approve constitutional amendments in referendum
Egyptians overwhelmingly approve constitutional changes
Egyptians set for summer elections
Egyptian voters say ‘yes’ to speedy elections
Egypt’s Historic Referendum: Rushed But Moving
Egypt referendum results: 77.2 per cent say ‘Yes’ to the amendments
Egypt approves amendments, prepares for next step
Egyptians get taste of democracy in post-Mubarak era
Egyptians approve constitutional changes, clearing way for elections

Egypt has zero recent history of democracy or diverse political parties. So, obviously, whatever groups are already the most organized will benefit the most from the early elections just approved. And what’s the most organized group in Egypt? The Muslim Brotherhood. What happens if the Muslim Brotherhood comes to dominate the democratically elected parliament after this summer’s elections and, therefore, gets to write the new Egyptian constitution?

/it could very well turn out to be “one man, one vote, one time

The World’s Hottest New Vacation Destination

And by hottest, I mean radioactive hot. Forget the suntan lotion, bring a dosimeter.

Kiev Sees Chernobyl as Tourist Hot Spot

Ukraine’s government wants to turn Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, into a tourism hotspot.

Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Ministry said Monday it is working on a plan to open the area around the defunct plant—where a reactor exploded on April 26, 1986, spreading radiation across the then-Soviet states of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia—to visitors starting next month.

The ministry said radiation levels in certain parts of the so-called exclusion zone, which stretches 30 kilometers (19 miles) around the exploded reactor, were now returning to normal levels. Visitors will be able to take in views of the nuclear plant, as well as towns and villages that were abandoned in the disaster’s aftermath.

New official tour operators would have to meet strict criteria to be allowed to operate, said Yulia Yurshova, a spokesperson for the Emergency Situations Ministry, as straying from the route can be dangerous because of the threat of collapsing buildings and varying radiation levels.

“The Chernobyl zone isn’t as scary as the whole world thinks,” said Ms. Yurshova. “We want to work with big tour operators and attract Western tourists, from whom there’s great demand.”

See also:
Chernobyl: now open to tourists
Holiday in Chernobyl: Ukraine to lift restrictions on disaster site
Ukraine plans to open Chernobyl, site of massive nuclear disaster, open to tourists in 2011
Chernobyl to be ‘extreme’ tourism site
Ukraine to open Chernobyl zone to tourists
Tourists invited to holiday in Chernobyl
Chernobyl as tourist attraction
Ukraine’s newest tourist destination: Chernobyl
Chernobyl Accident
Chernobyl disaster

What’s not to like? There’s plenty of abandoned buildings and desolate landscape to see. It’s fun for the whole family, bring the kids! The souvenir shop is to die for.

/it’s bad enough that they’re going to let tourists into the exclusion zone to dose up on radiation, but just think of the poor tour guides that will have to go back in day after day to make a living