No Minister

STILL HERE … FINE BUT BUSY

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I was rung up by a friend a few days ago wanting to know if I were ok because I hadn’t been posting much on No Minister recently (probably of a concern to Rossco and Andrei too as my absence as their favourite National Party supporter to attack has left them with little to butt their heads against … I digress).

Truth be known the last little while has been incredibly busy. Late last year I was approached by a colleague veteran in some distress. He suffers from a range of service related disabilities (accepted conditions) including ischemic heart disease, prostate cancer, hearing loss, tinnitus, cervical spondylosis and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He is separated and lives alone in rented accommodation. His only income is NZ superannuation, his war disablement pension and the decorations allowance (he is he holder of a Military Cross for bravery). Veterans Affairs New Zealand (VANZ) had reassessed his wdp and reduced it by $2,370 p.a. and, in doing so, he also lost his entitlement to the Veterans Travel Concession paid to severely disabled veterans.

The Veterans Support Act mandates in s10 that anyone exercising authority under the legislation MUST exercise ‘benevolence’ in their decision making. This is unique to the VSA and is not seen in either the Social Security Act nor the legislation governing the ACC.

VANZ’s decision struck me as hugely wrong. There is no way that decision can be seen as exercising benevolence especially as, by any measure, he is a vulnerable person. With the help of Chris Penk MP, ex RNZN and RAN and lawyer, we challenged the decision appealing it to the Veterans Entitlement Appeal Board (military equivalent to the Social Security Appeal Authority). We were greatly assisted by Wayne Mapp (that should get Rossco going) who accessed for us the House of Lords judgement Homes-Moorhouse vs LB Richmond on Thames (2009)  UKHL 7 in which Lord Neuberger discussed what constituted a benevolent approach. He said ‘Accordingly, a benevolent approach should be adopted to the interpretation of  review decisions. The court should not take too technical view of the language used, or search for inconsistencies, or adopt a nit-picking approach, when confronted with an appeal against a review decision.’

Pretty straight forward and you need to be aware that House of Lords judgements have standing in our own courts. Short story … the VEAB dismissed the appeal and, in doing so, did not discuss or comment on the Neuberger decision.

The VSA provides for decisions of the VEAB to be appealed to the High Court on a matter of law only. We received legal advice that the interpretation and application of benevolence was a matter that certainly warranted testing in a superior court. However that is an expensive exercise and well beyond our ability to fund. We would be taking on VANZ (the Crown) where money is no object per courtesy of you, the taxpayer. Fortunately RNZRSA has come to the party and underwritten the cost provisionally assessed to be in the order of $60k. They too were concerned that, in recent times, VANZ appears to have hardened their stance on the exercise of benevolence. Counsel has been instructed and the appeal documents were filed in the High Court last Thursday. Lead counsel for the appellant is Jack Hodder QC who has considerable experience in like matters. He is an ex member of the Law Commission.

I am being relegated to the rear passenger seat working behind the scenes as is right and proper. My understanding is that RNZRSA will be looking to crowd-fund the appeal focusing on the wider veteran community and I certainly will be giving that my full support.

As I said, I’ve been rather busy given I’m still working in a couple of other jurisdictions.

Written by The Veteran

November 28, 2021 at 7:26 pm

NASA is dead

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So I’m sitting on the upper deck this morning, looking at a clear blue sky, and there it is: a waning half Moon, as clear as crystal in the sky, and I sigh and wonder how much longer I have to wait to see a part of my childhood relived with men standing on the surface of Lunar.

And then I see this from space buff Robert Zimmerman, NASA IG: Artemis manned lunar landing will likely not happen in ’25.

Plus this bonus, courtesy of the latest Inspector General Report (pdf)

We also project the current production and operations cost of a single SLS/Orion system at $4.1 billion per launch for Artemis I through IV (p 4).

I knew things were bad with NASA’s Artemis program.

But not this bad.

… although the Agency’s ongoing initiatives aimed at increasing affordability seek to reduce that cost (p. 4 of the report (pdf)).

Perhaps they intend to hand the work over to Nigerian princes?

The cost of the Apollo program was about $156 billion in 2019 dollars, $172 billion if you add in the preceding Gemini program, which you should because it was essential to Apollo’s success. Taking into account all the test and operational flights in both programs, plus four flights of surplus Apollo gear from cancelled Moon missions that was used for the Skylab program, I figure that at about $5.6 billion per flight.

Except that this was for an effort starting from scratch that did the job in less than ten years.

By contrast Artemis has come only to this point after seventeen years of developing the system, starting with its predecessor, the Constellation Program in 2005, which was little different. That’s one of the killer aspects of this failure; it was built on previous developments that should have saved time and money. The Aries V rocket became the SLS, which itself extends rocketry used for the Space Shuttle since the 1980’s; the Orion spacecraft is the same, plus new spacesuits (the report points to them for delaying the landing to 2025), and changes to the launchpad, LC-39B, first developed for Apollo more than half a century ago. As Robert Zimmerman says of the schedule:

NASA’s Artemis program will likely continue to have repeated delays, announced piecemeal in small chunks. This has been the public relations strategy of NASA throughout its entire SLS program. They announce a target date and then slowly over time delay it in small amounts to hide the fact that the real delay is many years.

The final kick in the guts is that the IG report firmly states that the per launch cost of SLS will make any robust lunar exploration program utterly unsustainable.

This crap is already having flow-on effects, although they will be positive if the objective is the human exploration of the Solar System. Scientists have already been given the green light by Congress that one space probe, the Europa Clipper (to study a very important moon of Jupiter, Europa) , can launch on a commercial rocket, after years of insisting it had to be launched on the SLS, a sign that Congress has finally (and quietly) realised the terrible truth. Zimmerman has tracked down another obscure “White Paper” where scientists effectively told NASA that its way of doing things can’t work any longer in the face of SpaceX:

With Starship, missions to the Moon and Mars will no longer be very constrained in terms of weight. Nor will launch schedules be slow and far between. Rather than plan a few billion dollar NASA unmanned missions taking a decade to plan and launch, using Starship NASA could have many planetary missions launching fast and for relatively little cost, with far greater capabilities.

The scientists recognize this, and wrote their paper in an effort to make NASA’s hide-bound management recognize it as well.

What I suspect is going to happen is that the scientists will eventually bypass NASA entirely. Because of the lowered cost provided by Starship, they will find other funding sources, many private, to finance planetary missions. Those other sources will also be much more capable than NASA for reacting quickly to Starship’s fast timetable and gigantic capabilities.

Why bust your gut over sending a 1 tonne rover to Mars every couple of years when you can dump a dozen on the planet in one go? The Earth-based logistics of building and supporting them is another question, but scientists would likely regard this as a happy problem.

One last note that’s not about NASA but a SpaceX competitor, Blue Origin. Their proposal to NASA for a lunar landing vehicle was rejected (along with others) in favour of a modified SpaceX Starship vehicle, so they lodged a complaint with the Government Audit Office (GAO). When they lost that appeal they took it to the US Court of Federal Claims, who announced their decision a couple of weeks ago:

The Court finds that Blue Origin does not have standing because it did not have a substantial chance of award but for the alleged evaluation errors. Its proposal was priced well above NASA’s available funding and was itself noncompliant. Blue Origin argues that it would have submitted an alternative proposal, but the Court finds its hypothetical proposal to be speculative and unsupported by the record. The Court also finds that several of Blue Origin’s objections are waived.

Even if Blue Origin had standing and its objections were not waived, the Court finds that it would lose on the merits. Blue Origin has not shown that NASA’s evaluation or its conduct during the procurement was arbitrary and capricious or otherwise contrary to law. NASA provided a thorough, reasoned evaluation of the proposals, and NASA’s conduct throughout the procurement process was not contrary to law.

Ouch. It doesn’t get worse than that. The synopsis is that Blue Origin submitted a weak, overpriced bid, and when it lost on the merits, whinged and said it would have done something different if only had it known. What bullshit.

Still, the silver lining of this failure is that it may spur Bezos to STFU and start building the space capabilities he’s been taking about for a decade.

================

See also my 2020 post, Wanderers. Here’s the video.

Written by Tom Hunter

November 28, 2021 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Aerospace, Space, USA

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Ho Ho Ho

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Written by adolffinkensen

November 28, 2021 at 4:36 pm

Posted in New Zealand

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WHEN WILL THEY WOKE UP?

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How much longer are we to be bombarded with “MAN”dates, I have always been a passionate and committed supporter of things female, excluding the freak shows from Gavin and co, so when will they sort out the male supremacy and work on a term a lot less discriminating, as Womandates is somewhat unwieldy, ain tit.

Written by Gravedodger

November 28, 2021 at 1:47 pm

Posted in New Zealand

THE WHEEL TURNS,

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Only in this instance the rat is running the wheel.

Does anyone recall the furore over Monsanto developing crop varieties resistant to “Roundup”tm, or genetic modification of Tomatoes to prolong shelf life and resilience to transport stress. Then there was anther threat to society in “Golden Rice” that largely blew starvation out of the waters of Asia.

With the adoption of genetic manipulation techniques in developing the inoculant to mitigate the lethal effects of The Rona by way of reducing the worst of bronchial destruction, it has been a month of Sundays since I saw or heard any comment on the great dangers of fiddling with genes.

Ah well I suppose it is an ill wind that blows away such trivia.

Written by Gravedodger

November 28, 2021 at 1:37 pm

Posted in New Zealand

IF YOU WANT SECURITY GUARDS … HIRE THEM

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Many of you will have seen the report on TV One news last night of unprecedented numbers quitting the military (particularly the Army) over their continued employment as security guards et al managing MIQ facilities. It left Chief of Army (MGEN Boswell … he of the write an essay calling out a fixation on wokeness in the Army and have your feet cut out from under you fame) lamenting that this mass exiting has serious implications on the ability of the Army to carry out its primary role. That warning was reinforced by a separate message from the Sergeant Major of the Army (WO1 Moffitt) imploring those leaving to think again for the good of the service.

Those joining the military do so for a variety of reasons … none of them being the expectation they will spend an extended period as a glorified security guard. Yes, you can argue that can be justified as a short term expedient while government negotiates with private security providers to provide long term cover …. but the use of the military in this role has clearly developed a degree of permanency and there is a price to be paid in doing that and the chickens are coming home to roost.

Question is …. does anyone care. Clearly the government doesn’t.

Written by The Veteran

November 28, 2021 at 11:33 am

Posted in New Zealand

Tagged with ,

The song that never ends

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The following fits in well with a previous post (Run Hamster, Run) about the seemingly never-ending sets of hoops that populations are being made to jump through to get to freedom, or even just some ordinary pre-2020 normality.

What we are seeing here is truly “progressive”.

But this little video captures the changing story even better, except in this case, as we count down from 100%. This is actually “Regressive”.

Written by Tom Hunter

November 28, 2021 at 12:03 am

At least the Internet has different ideas

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I’d only just finished posting the previous little ditty, “Welcome to the Internet”, which parodies all the 24/7 insanity of that world, when I came across something that’s actually even creepier.

The almost entirely unified voice of the MSM on whatever they want the Narrative of the day to be. As the video is titled, This is extremely dangerous to our democracy. Watch and … enjoy?

I feel like I’m watching one of those Star Trek episodes involving The Borg.

Written by Tom Hunter

November 27, 2021 at 1:39 pm

Posted in MSM, USA

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Welcome to the Internet

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“Could I interest you in everything all of the time?”

The song was only posted on YouTube in June but already has 56 million views.

Pure genius from this guy Bo Burnham.

Also scary. I can’t help thinking that when the histories of the Chinese Xi Snot pandemic are written, The Internet is going be a big part of the picture of hysteria.

Written by Tom Hunter

November 27, 2021 at 11:47 am

ON VACCINE MANDATES … THE UNTOLD STORY

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I suspect the vast majority of people are comfortable with front-line medical professionals being subject to a vaccine mandate. But there is an untold story which is being glossed over. As of Tuesday 1028 medical professionals had been stood down; 92 had resigned and 341 have had the employment terminated. Included in those totals were 52 doctors, 518 nurses and 90 midwives. Up here in the Far North I am reliably informed that the Northland DHB has had to let go 106 staff. In Kaitaia the hospital is no longer performing elective surgery.

Clearly there is a price to be paid for enforcing the vaccine mandate including the law of unintended consequences which could see the now fractured team of 5 million now having to live with a reduced level of medical care … and we won’t even talk about the new highly transmissible Omicron variant with scientists unsure the level of protection afforded by current vaccines.

But clearly this has the potential to wind back the clock to where we were at the end of March last year.

Written by The Veteran

November 27, 2021 at 10:20 am

Posted in New Zealand

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