Congress to investigate UFOs – or is it the other way round?

As Congress prepares to hold the first public hearing on UFOs in half a century, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies are feuding internally over how much to cooperate with demands to investigate and share what they know, according to current and former national security officials.

Pentagon officials are under increasing pressure to carry out Congress’ recent mandate to establish a permanent effort to coordinate research into reports of highly advanced aircraft of unknown origin intruding into protected airspace.

The law also requires regular classified and public reports to oversight committees on new incidents involving “unidentified aerial phenomena,” including previous information or investigations that are uncovered in government repositories or testimony…

“Without forcing peoples’ hand, it is going to be very difficult to uncover legacy ventures and programs that we know about based on oral interviews we dug up,” said a Defense Department official who is involved in the new effort but was not authorized to speak publicly. “There has to be a forcing mechanism.”

The official said there are people with knowledge of the phenomena who have yet to contribute to the oversight effort…“These people exist and they are protecting very interesting information,” the official said.

Over decades, experience tells me that even an official holding a tiny piece of information sought by Congress, the American public…will want a quid pro quo for speaking up. Even if they’ve not come forward because they believe their information useless. They can make it look like a hole card. Hidden value.

I’d be happy to get a science-based analysis of the history of UFO’s and learn whether or not public curiosity has value or not – or are we all chasing shadows?

China will 3D-Print a Dam 590-feet Tall

Chinese engineers will take the ideas of a research paper and turn it into the world’s largest 3D-printed project. Within two years, officials behind this project want to fully automate the unmanned construction of a 590-foot-tall dam on the Tibetan Plateau to build the Yangqu hydropower plant—completely with robots.

The paper, published last month in the Journal of Tsinghua University (Science and Technology), laid out the plans for the dam, as first reported in the South China Morning Post. Researchers from the State Key Laboratory of Hydroscience and Engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing explain the backbone of automation for the planned Yellow River dam that will eventually offer nearly five billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. (It’s worth noting that China’s Three Gorges Dam—a hydroelectric gravity dam spanning the Yangtze River, pictured above—is the world’s largest power station in terms of energy output.)

But it’s hard to tell what’s more ambitious: the fact that the researchers plan to turn a dam site into effectively a massive 3D-printing project, or that through every step of the process the project eliminates human workers as they go fully robotic.

Combining advanced technology, whether forming the segmented structures that will become the dam – or producing construction robots – this will be the infrastructure task of the century. I know we’ll get to see video as it moves into reality. I would love to watch something like this become usable reality. In context, this could be the first of the world’s newest pyramids.

VW ready for the EV Scout

Volkswagen is planning to resurrect the iconic “Scout” brand as an electric vehicle in the United States.

In a report…the Wall Street Journal said the German automotive giant was aiming to launch a “new Scout-branded electric sport-utility vehicle” as well as an electric pickup truck, also under the Scout name…

The Scout’s history dates back to the 1960s, when International Harvester — today known as Navistar International Corporation — started development.

According to Navistar, the Scout was “marketed as an all-terrain family recreational vehicle” before evolving into a “true SUV.” Production of the Scout ceased in 1980. Today, Navistar is part of the Traton Group, which is itself a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group.

In March 2021, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess…was asked if he would rule out any future deal with Elon Musk’s electric car maker, in which VW could manufacture its cars, or if the Tesla and VW brands would ever unite.

“No, we haven’t considered [that], we are going our own way,” he replied. “We want to get close and then overtake.”

I imagine they have the talent and funding to do just that. Gonna be a couple interesting years for car geeks.

What taxpayers get for $4.5 billion

Why the Zumwalt-Class Destroyers failed to meet the Navy’s expectations…


OK. They are bigger than they look. 610 feet long.

In January 2019, the Navy (commissioned) its second hi-tech Zumwalt-class stealth destroyer, the USS Michael Monsoor. The third and last, USS Lyndon B. Johnson was launched…December 2018 and will be commissioned in 2022…

…The Zumwalt’s Advanced Gun System didn’t…work that well, with two-thirds the forecast range (around 70 miles). Furthermore, its rocket-boosted LRLAP GPS-guided shells cost $800,000 dollars each—nearly as expensive as more precise, longer-range and harder-hitting cruise missiles. The Navy finally canceled the insanely expensive munitions, leaving the Zumwalt with two huge guns it can’t fire…

What were merely three DDG-1000s good for, despite their nifty stealth features and propulsion? The advanced destroyers lacked ammunition for their guns, anti-ship missiles, anti-submarine torpedoes, and long-range area-air defense missiles. Furthermore, the Zumwalt had fewer cells to pack land-attack missiles than Arleigh-Burke destroyers (96), Ticonderoga-class cruisers (122), or Ohio-class cruise-missile submarines (144)—all of which were cheaper, and the last of which is stealthier.

But, hey, the three only cost US taxpayers $13.5 billion. Chump change for a failed experiment…the way our military is run.

Ceramic jars may have been used to make hand grenades — 900 years ago!


Robert Mason/Royal Ontario Museum

A fragmented ceramic container uncovered in Jerusalem may be an early version of a hand grenade that warriors used during the Crusades around 900 years ago, a new study suggests.

Researchers studied fragments of jars known as sphero-conical containers — small, rounded vessels with a pointed end and an opening at the top. The sphero-conical shape was a common design for vessels in the Middle East at the time, the researchers said in a statement. The containers were used for a wide range of purposes, including to hold oils, medicines and mercury, to drink beer from, and more.

In the new study, researchers analyzed chemical remains found within four sphero-conical containers that were uncovered at a site called Armenian Gardens in Jerusalem and date to between the 11th and 12th centuries. The team found that one container was likely used to hold oil, another two stored scented materials, such as perfume or medicine, while the final container was laced with traces of explosive materials — hinting that it was used as a handheld explosive device.

This is not the first time researchers have suggested that hand grenades were used during the Crusades…First-hand accounts from Crusader knights and passages from Arab texts mention the use of handheld devices that exploded with loud noises and a flash of light during the conflicts.

Explosives, including gunpowder, were being used in warfare a century earlier than the potential use of these containers as hand grenades. The necessary addition was a reliable fuse. I’m certain they were around then, as well.

Three lawsuits filed against USPS over ICE-trucks

Three separate lawsuits were filed today against the U.S. Postal Service over the quasi-independent agency’s billion-dollar move to replace its aging delivery fleet with a majority of gasoline-powered vehicles (ICE = Infernal Combustion Engines).

The lawsuits say USPS failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, including by using inaccurate or outdated information about the emissions of gas-powered trucks and the cost of electric vehicles.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the United Auto Workers filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Earthjustice, CleanAirNow, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity filed their lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) led 14 other states and the District of Columbia in filing a separate lawsuit in the Northern District of California.

Bonta and James were joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, as well as the city of New York and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has said scaling up the agency’s purchase of electric vehicles would be too expensive in both the short and long term.

DeJoy is a liar. I don’t know or care which suits he’s sharing the money with. After he loses the lawsuit he should be forced to get an honest job. For once.

ISS transiting the Sun


Wang Letian

It’s not uncommon to spot the International Space Station as a light moving across the sky just after sunset or before sunrise, when the Sun’s light reflects off it. The view you see here, though, is far from common. Chinese astrophotographer Wang Letian used a solar telescope and specialized camera to capture this series of photos, combined into a single image of the ISS passing in front of the Sun. You can see several gaseous prominences around the edge of the Sun as well as a dark sunspot.

A labor of love. Unique beauty the result.

Text describing the photo is from the Planetary Society newsletter, The Downlink.