Education Out Of Control

Is it just me or does anyone else find it extremely disturbing that the U.S. Department of Education has their own heavily armed entry teams breaking down the doors of private residences and conducting S.W.A.T. style police raids?

Education Department S.W.A.T. team raids California home

A S.W.A.T. team with orders from the U.S. Department of Education broke into a California home at 6 a.m. Tuesday and reportedly roughed up a man because of a student aid issue involving his estranged wife. His wife was not present.

In 2010, the Post’s Valerie Strauss reported that the Education Department was purchasing 27 Remington Brand Model 870 police 12-gauge shotguns to replace old firearms used by Education’s Office of Inspector General, which is the law enforcement arm of the department. DoE said the guns were necessary to help enforce “waste, fraud, abuse, and other criminal activity involving Federal education funds, programs, and operations.”

Kenneth Wright says his house was raided because of his wife’s unpaid loans. One blogger speculated that we finally know what those guns are being used for.

But the Department of Education told Reason Magazine Wednesday that the SWAT team raided the house because of a criminal investigation, not a student loan.

See also:
Failure to pay student loan brings SWAT team kicking in debtor’s door
SWAT Team Raids Man’s Home Over Student Loans
Federal agents search Stockton home
‘Unpaid Student Loan’ Raid Claim Refuted as Feds Target California Couple in Fraud Probe
Feds defend Department of Education raid on a home
OK, Education Dept. raid is not a hallmark of liberty
These Are the Charges That Require the Department of Education to Send a Dozen Armed Agents to Kick Through Your Front Door
DoE Releases Partial Search Warrant Related to Yesterday’s Raid
Update on Department of Education SWAT raid in Stockton
Reading, Writing, Breaking, Entering
Office of Inspector General

You know, I don’t really care why a U.S. Department of Education S.W.A.T. team is breaking down doors and conducting raids. What I care about is that the U.S. Department of Education has a S.W.A.T. team and law enforcement arm in the first place. Seriously, what the hell, isn’t conducting raids and making arrests like this why we already have the FBI?

This is totally out of control and way beyond the pale, is this what legislators had in mind when they set up the Department of Education in 1979, military style police raids on private residences? The U.S. Department of Education is operating well beyond it’s original mandate. The DoE should be abolished, we’d save billions of dollars annually and it wouldn’t even be missed.

/when I graduated from high school, there was no Federal Department of Education and we all survived and made it through school just the same, and arguably with a better education too

Big Frickin’ Laser Beams, Without The Sharks

Scientists take another stab at nuclear fusion

After more than a decade of work and an investment of $3.5 billion, scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory say they have created a super laser that will enable them to build a miniature sun within the lab in the next two years.

The U.S. Department of Energy certified the world’s largest laser on Tuesday, an instrument that will test the reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, explore the origins of the universe and seek to create nuclear fusion energy.

Nuclear fusion is the National Ignition Facility’s biggest goal.

By 2010 or 2011, the lab’s scientists hope to achieve ignition – that is, produce the first tiny thermonuclear explosions inside their capsule targets in hopes of ultimately creating a limitless source of fusion energy, the kind of energy that powers the blazing heat of the sun and stars.

“It’s an extremely exciting prospect,” said Edward Moses, director of the laser project. “The search for fusion energy has been a long haul. Some people say it’s better than you can believe, but based on everything we know, the question now is more ‘when,’ not ‘if.’ ”

Researchers have dreamed for more than half a century of tapping the potential of nuclear fusion as a clean, cheap power source. If successful, nuclear fusion energy could be a game-changer for meeting the world’s energy needs. Current nuclear power plants rely on nuclear fission, or the splitting of atoms, a chain reaction that produces large quantities of deadly radioactive waste.

But if this costly experiment at Lawrence Livermore fails, it could kill U.S. fusion research for good. Since the 1950s, scientists have tried different processes to create nuclear fusion but have failed. For all the money spent on research, fusion has yet to power a light bulb.

500 billion watts

The National Ignition Facility is 10 stories tall and three football fields in length, and its 40-foot-tall target chamber is shaped like a golf ball. Nearly 200 powerful laser beams are guided by a switchyard of mirrors to arrive at once at the target chamber. The goal is to ignite a tiny hydrogen fuel pellet and produce a burst of energy of up to 500 billion watts of power.

“This is the first time that we’ve built a laser that is capable of reaching the energy and power conditions that can drive the fusion process,” Moses said. “We’re going to be able to create temperatures inside these small targets of over 100 million degrees. That’s hotter than the center of the sun, and very high pressures and densities are needed for fusion to occur.”

Supporters say fusion holds no risk of a nuclear meltdown and will generate insignificant waste byproducts. But fusion’s prospects have been greeted with skepticism.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, the nuclear physicist who previously headed the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, joked to an audience at an energy conference at Stanford University in 2006 that “I’m going to skip (discussing) fusion because it will probably skip the 21st century.”

The super laser project has been subject to repeated delays and cost overruns since the lab broke ground in 1997. It initially was budgeted at $1.2 billion and scheduled for completion in 2002.

Reliability experiments

Scientists also plan to use the giant laser to conduct experiments to gauge the reliability of the nation’s aging nuclear weapons stockpile. The United States has not deployed any new nuclear weapons in more than 20 years nor conducted an underground nuclear test since 1992.

“Protecting the safety, security and reliability of our nuclear deterrent in a world without nuclear testing is one of the most important things we do,” said Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the National Nuclear [Security] Administration.

Additionally, scientists plan to use the Livermore laser to explore the origins of the universe, including the makeup of stars and planets within and outside our solar system. They will examine how materials behave at temperatures and pressures like those at the center of a star.

But perhaps the most critical use of the laser will be the search for nuclear fusion, lab officials said.

A nuclear fusion demonstration project could be up and running in 10 to 12 years, they say, bringing fusion energy a step closer toward commercialization.

“Now, the science can start in earnest,” LaVera said. “The research really begins.”

See also:
World’s Most Powerful Laser Powers Up
World’s largest laser completed: Nuclear fusion, Death Star battle stations next?
Lawrence Livermore Shows Off Its Fusion Power Laser
Giant Livermore laser project ready
Fusion catches fire
Reinventing Nuclear Power
Countdown to Nuclear Fusion: National Ignition Facility Warms Up
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
National Ignition Facility & Photon Science – The Power of Light
National Ignition Facility
National Nuclear Security Administration
National Nuclear Security Administration

Whether it’s hot or cold, fusion suddenly seems to be all the rage these days. All I can say is bring it on!

/abundant and cheap energy, more, faster, please

One Leg Of Our Nuclear Triad Almost Lost In A Fogbank

For want of polystyrene foam, albeit highly specialized polystyrene foam . . .

Nuclear-Warhead Upgrade Delayed; Government Labs Forgot How to Make Parts

The Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration had to wait more than a year to refurbish aging nuclear warheads — partly because they had forgotten how to make a crucial component, a government report states.

Regarding a classified material codenamed “Fogbank,” a Government Accountability Office report released this month states that “NNSA had lost knowledge of how to manufacture the material because it had kept few records of the process when the material was made in the 1980s and almost all staff with expertise on production had retired or left the agency.”

So the effort to refurbish and upgrade W76 warheads, which top the U.S. Navy’s (and the British Royal Navy’s) submarine-launched Trident missiles, had to be put on hold while experts scoured old records and finally figured out how to manufacture the stuff once again.

According to the Sunday Herald of Glasgow, Scotland, Fogbank is “thought by some weapons experts to be a foam used between the fission and fusion stages of a thermonuclear [hydrogen] bomb.”

The National Nuclear Security Administration is a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy. It is responsible for the manufacture and upkeep of the nation’s nuclear weapons.

A new facility was built at the Y-12 National Security Complex near Oak Ridge, Tenn., to begin production of Fogbank once again, but was delayed by poor planning, cost overruns and an failed effort to find an alternative to Fogbank.

Refurbished W76 Warhead Enters U.S. Nuclear Weapon Stockpile

The first refurbished W76 nuclear warhead has been accepted into the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile by the Navy, according to a senior official at the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). This culminates a ten year effort to ensure that the aging warhead, already years beyond its original intended life, can continue to be a reliable part of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

“This is another great example of the unsurpassed expertise throughout NNSA’s national security enterprise,” said William Ostendorff, NNSA’s principal deputy administrator. “It becomes more and more challenging each time we extend the life of our nuclear weapons. I am proud that our dedicated scientists and engineers were able to once again meet this unique responsibility.”

Most nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile were produced anywhere from 30 to 40 years ago, and no new nuclear weapons have been produced since the end of the Cold War. Integrated into the Department of the Navy’s Trident II “D5” Strategic Weapon System, the first W76 entered the stockpile in 1978.

Of course, this is just a symptom of a much larger problem, all our nuclear warheads are many decades old and their reliability is becoming a serious issue.

Sure, the DOD and DOE have been pushing inventory modernization and replacement for what seems like forever, but guess what? The Democrats have blocked it every step of the way. And, rest assured, Obama doesn’t want anything to do with anything that contains the word nuclear, not nuclear power plants and especially not nuclear weapons. No Nukes . . . For US

See also:
How the US forgot how to make Trident missiles
Audit: Problems at Y-12
NNSA and DOD Need to More Effectively Manage the Stockpile Life Extension Program
Trident missiles delayed by mystery ingredient
Teller-Ulam design
W76-0/Mk4 / W76-1/Mk4A
Trident II D-5 Fleet Ballistic Missile
SSBN-726 Ohio-Class FBM Submarines
Y-12 National Security Complex
National Nuclear Security Administration
Department of Energy
Department of Defense
Government Accountability Office

The bottom line is that the United States needs to get serious as to whether or not it wants to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent, the kind of nuclear deterrent that has prevented a thermonuclear exchange for over 60 years now. Yes, this country has other issues and problems that weigh more heavily at the average citizen’s kitchen table.

/just remember, without national security we have absolutely nothing and all the rest means diddley squat