Branson and Boom out to build the next-gen supersonic plane

The next supersonic airplane could be built in metro Denver. And Richard Branson is banking on it.

Boom Technology Inc., a startup which departed Silicon Valley for Arapahoe County, has set up shop in a Centennial Airport hangar to develop a 40-seat aircraft that can travel to London from New York in 3.4 hours.

Branson’s Virgin Galactic has committed to provide development services for Boom and signed an option to buy 10 planes. Boom also said it has inked a similar deal for 15 planes with an unnamed European carrier…

Boom unveiled its design last week. If all goes as planned, the sleek little plane would use proven technology — carbon fiber composites, propulsion systems and airframe materials — to hit speeds of Mach 2.2, or 1,451 miles per hour, but burn fuel far more efficiently than the Concorde, which was mothballed in 2003.

At that pace, passengers could travel from New York to London in 3.4 hours, cutting flight time by more than half…

“Richard Branson has long expressed interest in developing high-speed flight and building high-speed flight R&D,” Virgin Group officials wrote in response to questions Monday. “We can confirm that The Spaceship Company will provide engineering, design and manufacturing services, flight tests and operations and that we have an option on the first 10 airframes. It is still early days and just the start of what you’ll hear about our shared ambitions and efforts.”

RTFA for early development schedule, prototype and goals. This is a class of passenger carrier which I think could fill a profitable, useful niche.

Republicans obsessed with Planned Parenthood expand their witch hunt

The federal investigation into the unfounded claim that Planned Parenthood profits off of fetal tissue donations has taken an even darker turn.

A House committee led by anti-abortion Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is on the verge of issuing 17 subpoenas to medical companies to gather the names of medical researchers, graduate students, laboratory technicians, and administrative staff who are in any way involved in fetal tissue research…

According to Blackburn: “We are going to review the business practices of these procurement organizations and do some investigating of how they have constructed a for-profit business model from selling baby body parts…”

The committee was John Boehner’s personal witch hunt against Planned Planned based on propaganda from scumbags [now indicted] who produced a counterfeit anti-abortion video.

The researchers and technicians in question fear this attack could effectively halt critical research that depends on fetal tissue samples — including researching cures for the Zika virus, Parkinson’s disease, HIV, and many other fatal conditions. Of course, many also fear that making the researchers’ names public could seriously endanger their lives.

Rep. Jerrod Nadler has warned her of the serious implications of her witch hunt…”The committee has no rules in place to protect the names of those subpoenaed — raising the possibility of Congress effectively painting targets on the backs of scientists and researchers for no particular reason other than the Republicans’ desire for a culture war,” he said…

The looming subpoenas are especially unsettling for universities, whose lead researchers and students are at risk. Some schools and organizations have blacked out the names of the researchers in documents already requested by the House committee — but this new round of subpoenas wouldn’t allow for this security measure.

Congressional Republicans are notorious for their 14th Century religious hangups, dedication to myth and ignorance. That they use their majority in Congress – undeserved and ill-acquired – to assault constitutional protections in parallel with witch hunts against women’s rights and science in general is especially contemptible.

Japan kills hundreds of pregnant whales

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Four Japanese ships returned from a 115-day Antarctic expedition this week on which they killed 333 minke whales, including 230 pregnant females, all under the auspices of scientific research. But according to National Geographic, the whaling expedition violated a 2014 ruling from UN International Court of Justice challenging the scientific legitimacy of such hunts and halting all Japanese whaling. Prior to that, since commercial whaling was banned in 1986, Japan had been skirting the ban by taking advantage of a scientific exemption which allows whales to be killed if it’s done for research, which for the Japanese meant using a little bit of a whale for science and then selling off the rest, which just so happens to be a Japanese delicacy. Japan had then briefly halted their scientific whaling following the 2014 ruling, only to start up again this season after attempting to bolster the scientific value of their expedition and supposedly reduce the number of whales they would kill, although they apparently just went ahead and killed about as many as they normally would.

Japan maintains that it must capture and kill juvenile and adult females in order to determine the age at which minke whales reach sexual maturity. Japan wants to use this data in its quest to demonstrate the minke whale population is healthy enough for regular whaling, Fuchs said. And because it’s breeding time in the southern seas, 90 percent of the females Japanese whalers killed were pregnant.

Thus, as NPR explains, Japan argues that it hasn’t violated the previous ban because the ICJ hasn’t yet ruled on the scientific legitimacy of their new “research” plan, even though the ICJ told them they couldn’t issue any further authorizations for whale hunts. In the meantime, environmentalists in Australia are furious that their government didn’t try to halt Japan’s new expedition, which may have killed minkes within the Australian Whale Sanctuary. Regardless, Australia may get another chance to intervene: Japan’s new whaling effort is just the beginning of a 12-year program designed to study – and then sell – 4,000 dead whales.

Lies and more lies and everyone in Japan knows they are lies. Whale meat isn’t even popular as a delicacy anymore. These criminals needs government subsidies to get rid of the meat through school lunch programs. The kids don’t like it either.

Just more of Japan’s stubborn unwillingness to turn loose from useless traditions.