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MARK STEYN: Americans are tougher about these things now
The Sunday Telegraph ^ | February 2, 2003 | Mark Steyn

Posted on 02/01/2003 4:45:09 PM PST by MadIvan

The last early-morning Texan television viewers saw was a beautiful shot of the Shuttle Columbia streaking across a clear blue sky over Dallas, caught by the cameras at WFAA-TV. It sums up the marvels of the age - not only the extraordinary technology that enables man to return from a trip to space, but the ordinary everyday technology that lets a cameraman from a local television station capture the scene as it is happening overhead at 12,000 miles per hour. It's not just that most countries can't do the former, they can't manage the latter, either: everything about the moment sums up the remarkable pre-eminence of America.

Four decades ago, the space programme was the only romantic thing about an unromantic war - the competition between two high-tech superpowers to put a man on space, and then on the Moon. Now there is no one to compete with, and for America's new enemies in a new war "victory" means no more than American failure.

You can't take down a spaceship at 200,000 feet with a shoulder-launched missile. Even the Americans would have difficulty blowing the Shuttle out of the sky, though the missile defence system currently under development will be able to do it. Al-Qa'eda can't, and nor can the French or anyone else.

These days, American technology has to pace itself. But you don't have to believe, as NASA fretted in the weeks before launch, that this Shuttle could be a terrorist target to marvel at the almost perfect symbolism of Saturday's tragedy: the Columbia's crew included the first Israeli astronaut, Colonel Ilan Ramon; better yet, he was an Israeli who had participated in the successful raid on the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, back in the 1980s in those dark days before the policing of Saddam's nuclear programme was entrusted to Hans Blix; and, of course, the Shuttle came down over Texas, home state of the President and in the European press the favoured shorthand for what they see as the swaggering cowboy braggadocio of the US.

Indeed, you don't even have to be some Islamist death-cult loser in Ramallah to be dancing up and down in the street. Within an hour of the Shuttle's loss, a Canadian Broadcasting Corportation interviewer was gleefully asking her alleged expert whether the failure was due to American "arrogance", the same "arrogance" the Americans are currently demonstrating in the Middle East. The "expert" - a sci-fi writer - said no, it wasn't "arrogance". But an hour later the CBC was apparently citing mysterious "space experts" who thought "over-confidence" arising from Iraqi war fever had led Nasa to go ahead with the flight.

What happened yesterday is a personal tragedy and a symbolic disaster - in 42 years of manned flight, Nasa has never lost a crew during landing or the return in orbit. It is also a setback for Washington, which had plotted this week as a projection of American resolve: the State of the Union, Bush's meetings with Silvio Berlusconi and Tony Blair, all working up to Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations Security Council. Now, instead of steely determination, the television screens will be filled with funerals, elegies, interviews with neighbours, mounds of flowers and teddy bears: it enables the networks to slip in to their preferred mode, of America as victim, weak and vulnerable, which is why ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN were so good on September 11 and, for the most part, so bad in the months since.

You can't blame the news shows for their priorities: for most Americans, this will be the only attention they have paid to the space programme since the last disaster - the disintegration of the Challenger on take-off in 1986. Nothing in between has captured the public imagination - pictures from Mars? Yawn. There's something very American about the presumption of success, about the way something unprecedented quickly becomes routine - unless it all goes wrong.

In 1986, President Reagan, eulogising the dead astronauts, said that they had "slipped the surly bonds of earth and touched the face of God". President Bush, whom commentators have increasingly compared to Reagan in recent months, is not so comfortable with grandiose poetic rhetoric; he is a more openly emotional man, and it will be the smaller human elements in the story that touch him - men and women in their early 40s, leaving behind young children. They were an American crew - four men, one black; two women, one born in India.

Nonetheless, this will not be as traumatisingly mesmeric as the Challenger disaster. The yellow-ribbon era died with September 11: even if their television networks haven't quite adjusted, Americans are tougher about these things; this is a country at war and one that understands how to absorb losses and setbacks.

What happened happened most likely because the Columbia was just so damn old and rusty. If anything, it symbolises not American "arrogance", but what happens when the great youthful innovative spirit of the country is allowed to atrophy: the entire space programme is now dependent on a transit system a generation old. If Mr Bush really wanted to emphasise the gulf between his country and both the Islamist cave dwellers and "Old Europe", he would announce a major renewal of the space project. A frontier is part of the US character.

Two weeks ago, when the Shuttle was launched, the enterprising internet commentator Charles Johnson posted an almost note-perfect parody of an Arab news report denouncing the presence of Colonel Ramon: "'This is surely but the first step towards complete and outright illegal Zionist occupation of space,' said the Arab League spokesman Abr Souffla. Sheikh Yermani-Makr, appearing on Palestinian television, said, 'It is not enough that the unbelievers have come on our land, but now they also take our heavens?' In New York today, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that an Israeli presense in space is 'unhelpful' and would only serve to further aggravate tensions between Israelis and Arabs."

A couple of days later, the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reprinted the internet story, apparently taking it for real. In an odd way, the world's reactions are beyond parody now. No doubt in the big-time mosques the A-list imams really will regard what happened as the judgment of Allah on the American-Zionist plan to seize the heavens. The rest of us will mourn the dead and urge Nasa to get on with the next flight. That's the American way.


TOPICS: Canada; Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events; US: District of Columbia; US: Florida; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: america; columbia; disaster; marksteynlist; steyn
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Steyn understands.

Regards, Ivan

1 posted on 02/01/2003 4:45:10 PM PST by MadIvan
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To: Pokey78; carl in alaska; Cautor; GOP_Lady; prairiebreeze; veronica; SunnyUsa; Delmarksman; ...
Bump!
2 posted on 02/01/2003 4:45:27 PM PST by MadIvan
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To: MadIvan
Get tough on this:

Iraqis Call Shuttle Disaster God's Vengeance
Sat February 1, 2003 03:24 PM ET
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Immediate popular reaction in Baghdad on Saturday to the loss of the U.S. space shuttle Columbia and its seven-member crew -- including the first Israeli in space -- was that it was God's retribution.
"We are happy that it broke up," government employee Abdul Jabbar al-Quraishi said.

"God wants to show that his might is greater than the Americans. They have encroached on our country. God is avenging us," he said.

Iraqis are braced for a possible U.S.-led war to rid their country of any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons it may possess. Iraq denies it has such weapons.

Car mechanic Mohammed Jaber al-Tamini noted Israeli air force Colonel Ilan Ramon was among the dead when the shuttle broke up over the southwestern United States 16 minutes before its scheduled landing.

The 48-year-old Israeli astronaut was a fighter pilot in the Israeli air force. He was the youngest pilot in a team that bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. Israel said the reactor was intended to develop nuclear weapons.

"Israel launched an aggression on us when it raided our nuclear reactor without any reason, now time has come and God has retaliated to their aggression," Tamini said.

There were no such signs of jubilation over the shuttle disaster in any of the Palestinian territories. The official response from the Palestinians was one of condolence.

"President (Yasser) Arafat and the Palestinian Authority offer their condolences to the six American families and the Israeli family who lost their loved ones in the catastrophe," Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official and spokesman, told Reuters.

Erekat said Arafat had sent President Bush a message of condolences over the loss of the NASA space agency's shuttle. The United States, Israel's closest ally, is the chief Middle East peace broker.
3 posted on 02/01/2003 4:47:47 PM PST by Nick Thimmesch
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To: MadIvan
Thanks again MI

Deepest Regards

alfa6 ;>{
4 posted on 02/01/2003 4:50:48 PM PST by alfa6 (Let us rest our eyes on the friendly skies, And the cool, green hills of Earth RAH)
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To: MadIvan; Howlin; riley1992; Miss Marple; deport; Dane; sinkspur; steve; kattracks; JohnHuang2; ...
Thanks MI!


5 posted on 02/01/2003 4:51:19 PM PST by Pokey78
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To: MadIvan
Steyn bump.
6 posted on 02/01/2003 4:52:36 PM PST by Republic of Texas (Sarcasm detectors on sale now in the lobby)
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To: MadIvan
Mark Steyn Bump.
7 posted on 02/01/2003 4:55:27 PM PST by rs79bm
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To: MadIvan
Is anyone out there able to answer this technical question? When I was a kid during the 1960s space shots, there were several minutes of radio silence/no telemetry transmission when the capsule was undergoing re-entry into the earth's atmosphere and communications were blocked. Now, there seems to be no break in shuttle/NASA communications during such reentry, as this morning's flight evidenced from the point they started their descent until the tragedy occurred. A) Is the latter true, i.e, that there is no longer a communications blackout during reentry?, and B) if it is, what technological breakthrough occurred enabling communications even during reentry?
8 posted on 02/01/2003 4:55:52 PM PST by laconic
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To: MadIvan
Steyn is the best.
9 posted on 02/01/2003 4:59:22 PM PST by The Right Stuff
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To: MadIvan
A frontier is part of the US character.

bttt.

10 posted on 02/01/2003 5:01:21 PM PST by irv
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To: Nick Thimmesch
"We are happy that it broke up," government employee Abdul Jabbar al-Quraishi said."

"God wants to show that his might is greater than the Americans. They have encroached on our country. God is avenging us," he said.

Abdul, you're about to have the Iraqi definition of "vengeance" rewritten in ways you can't begin to comprehend. Once again the Religion of Peace is exulting over the violent deaths of others.....

11 posted on 02/01/2003 5:02:09 PM PST by yooper
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To: Republic of Texas
Look at this outrage...

Within an hour of the Shuttle's loss, a Canadian Broadcasting Corportation interviewer was gleefully asking her alleged expert whether the failure was due to American "arrogance", the same "arrogance" the Americans are currently demonstrating in the Middle East.

Fire the witch!

12 posted on 02/01/2003 5:04:39 PM PST by Dog ( STS 107......They have slipped the surly bonds of earth..........to touch the face of God.)
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To: laconic
I have no idea, but ill take a layman's guess. Could it be that the communications network is much denser now? Kind of like the fact that practially every square inch of the country is covered for cell phone use, when only 5 years ago, it wasnt? Just a guess...JFK
13 posted on 02/01/2003 5:10:05 PM PST by BADROTOFINGER
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To: Nick Thimmesch
The official response from the Palestinians was one of condolence.

The unofficial response in the streets of Judea and Samaria and Gaza was effusive joy.

The same as in every devout Muslem all over the world.

Gimme a break, Reuters, with the 'Iraq is the only American hating Islamacist' bull!

14 posted on 02/01/2003 5:11:17 PM PST by Taiwan Bocks
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To: laconic
The capsules used in the 60s and 70s used a heat shield that melted and vaporized during re-entry. This surrounded the capsule with a cloud of ionized gas that blocked radio waves. The underside of the shuttle is covered with ceramic tiles that do not vaporize, but absorb the heat of re-entry and dissipate it afterward.
15 posted on 02/01/2003 5:11:20 PM PST by Arthur McGowan
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To: Dog
I heard about this when it happened. Horrifying. Somebody should notify O'Reilly. I think I will send him an email.
16 posted on 02/01/2003 5:12:09 PM PST by GROOVY
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To: MadIvan
Thanks again, Ivan,

Farewell sweet princes and prencesses. May bands of angels wing thee to thy rest.

Farewell shipmates, keep the bar stools warm and a pint cold. I'll be there in due time.

Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)

LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)

17 posted on 02/01/2003 5:13:47 PM PST by LonePalm (The Son of a Son of a Sailor.)
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To: laconic
They touched on this topic today. One of the experts pointed out that it was the advent of satellite communications that reduced/eliminated the 'black-out' period. NASA doesn't have to rely soely on UHF transmissions for communications any longer. At least that's what the fellow said....
18 posted on 02/01/2003 5:14:55 PM PST by chief_bigfoot
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To: LonePalm
prencesses = princesses

Damn, I can't type through the tears.

We are singing Eternal Father, Strong to Save tomorrow in church and I will read the names and biographies of the Columbia crew beforehand.

Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)

LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)

19 posted on 02/01/2003 5:16:48 PM PST by LonePalm (The Son of a Son of a Sailor.)
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To: MadIvan
bttt.
20 posted on 02/01/2003 5:20:10 PM PST by RobFromGa (Space Is The Final Frontier...)
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To: MadIvan
Reaching Higher Ground

Descending, only to rise!
Leaving pull
Of God's green Earth
In a blaze of fire!

Worldly friction didn't win
Every trouble fades
On that heavenly high

Pushing out further
Than man has ever been
On the frontier
Of the deep dark night

Pushing the limits
Of this mortal life
We will never know
Unless we strive

The brave live forever
Seared into our hearts
Not knowing they were heroes
Just doing their part

But they'll not be forgotten
In the troubled times ahead
By courageous example
They have forever led

Elijah's chariot
Came to carry them away
To their eternal home
In God's eternal sky

EV

Dedicated to the crew of Columbia - 2/1/03


21 posted on 02/01/2003 5:22:35 PM PST by EternalVigilance
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To: Pokey78
President Bush, whom commentators have increasingly compared to Reagan in recent months, is not so comfortable with grandiose poetic rhetoric; he is a more openly emotional man, and it will be the smaller human elements in the story that touch him - men and women in their early 40s, leaving behind young children. They were an American crew - four men, one black; two women, one born in India.

R.I.P.

22 posted on 02/01/2003 5:26:40 PM PST by nicmarlo
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To: MadIvan
Within an hour of the Shuttle's loss, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation interviewer was gleefully asking her alleged expert whether the failure was due to American "arrogance", the same "arrogance" the Americans are currently demonstrating in the Middle East.

A pox upon Canada and the CBC.

23 posted on 02/01/2003 5:28:15 PM PST by Eala (Columbia crew, requiescat in pace)
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To: MadIvan
Yes he does. And so do our stalwart British allies.
24 posted on 02/01/2003 5:31:36 PM PST by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
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To: laconic
There still is a communication blackout upon re-entry and actually other parts of orbit. Mainly, when the shuttle approaches extreme temperatures (in excess of 3,000 degrees Fh) there is a blackout and also a small blackout on the initial launch. I'm sure if you talked to a NASA official, he could give many more periods when there are blackouts.
25 posted on 02/01/2003 5:42:30 PM PST by rs79bm
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To: Pokey78
Thanks, Pokey.
26 posted on 02/01/2003 5:49:10 PM PST by metesky
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To: rs79bm
Correct...still some periods of blackouts, which is why
NASA didn't freak immediately upon losing contact.
27 posted on 02/01/2003 5:52:09 PM PST by chiller (could be wrong, but doubt it)
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To: Eala
Within an hour of the Shuttle's loss, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation interviewer was gleefully asking her alleged expert whether the failure was due to American "arrogance", the same "arrogance" the Americans are currently demonstrating in the Middle East.

Doubtless this same sentiment was heard on media outlets all over Europe. And then these people actually wonder why we Americans hold them in such contempt.

28 posted on 02/01/2003 5:54:08 PM PST by CFC__VRWC
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To: Eala
This Canadian reporterette sounds a bit envious of US supremacy? Jealous, perhaps? Stupid bitch.
29 posted on 02/01/2003 5:55:06 PM PST by chiller (could be wrong, but doubt it)
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To: MadIvan
* It is also a setback for Washington, which had plotted this week as a projection of American resolve:*

There's truth in this. Been thinking about this very thing in the back of my mind today. "What will it do to the process? What will it mean to the military, the Allies, etc. etc.?"

Bush declared a week of flags being lowered. This is bound to knock the wind out of the sails for a bit I think
30 posted on 02/01/2003 5:55:48 PM PST by prairiebreeze ("We won't deny, ignore or pass our problems along to other Presidents" --GWBush)
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To: Eala
Within an hour of the Shuttle's loss, a Canadian Broadcasting Corportation interviewer was gleefully asking her alleged expert whether the failure was due to American "arrogance", the same "arrogance" the Americans are currently demonstrating in the Middle East. The "expert" - a sci-fi writer - said no, it wasn't "arrogance". But an hour later the CBC was apparently citing mysterious "space experts" who thought "over-confidence" arising from Iraqi war fever had led Nasa to go ahead with the flight.

I think Ann Coulter would say we should not use ALL of our extra bombs on France.

31 posted on 02/01/2003 5:57:04 PM PST by the_doc
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To: prairiebreeze
Don't agree. Onward and upward, gang...just as Mr. Steyn so properly explained.

Space travel isn't covered by Triple AAA auto.

32 posted on 02/01/2003 5:59:25 PM PST by chiller (could be wrong, but doubt it)
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To: MadIvan
I watched the Columbia land April 1981. We were building a house for the retired head of Sandia Labs and he called us in for "a historic moment".

These risked all for the benefit of all.

They showed the best of the American spirit: to have the sophistication and daring to seek knowledge on the dangerous path.

Steyn notes the predictable schadenfreude of America haters.

God receive those who today gave all for the benefit of all mankind.

Godspeed those who now go to safeguard our God-given freedoms.

. . .tougher about these things now. . .

33 posted on 02/01/2003 6:00:36 PM PST by PhilDragoo
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To: the_doc
Now there's a good thought. What's this Canadian bimbo's name,btw? I want to know. I want everyone to know.
34 posted on 02/01/2003 6:03:03 PM PST by chiller (could be wrong, but doubt it)
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To: prairiebreeze
Bush declared a week of flags being lowered. This is bound to knock the wind out of the sails for a bit I think

I'm going to get the extra-large barf bags ready. We're going to need them this next week while we watch the Rats shamelessly spin this for political gain.

35 posted on 02/01/2003 6:06:02 PM PST by CFC__VRWC
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To: MadIvan
Mark Steyn makes the point technology can fail us at times. But he also reminds us the greatness of America as a country is its willingness to go where no one else dares. In our exploration of the heavens we will after we mourn our dearly departed dead to continue bringing back what they wanted to share with us - the excitement of new discoveries on the final frontier. As Ronald Reagan so justly said once America's best days are still to come and that is even more true now than ever.
36 posted on 02/01/2003 6:08:36 PM PST by goldstategop
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To: prairiebreeze
On the contrary, America is in no mood for any more stalling and bullship from the UN.
37 posted on 02/01/2003 6:13:08 PM PST by OldFriend (SUPPORT PRESIDENT BUSH)
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To: MadIvan
After Hitler had lost hope in his army, he turned for comfort to sendings from his familiar demons, and the signs, portents and auguries of astrology. He saw in Roosevelt's death the impending breakup of the alliance. These delusions, combined with drugs, kept him going until the last hours in the bunker.

I for one, am glad that the Islamists must, like Richard Reid, hope in the a last judgement by Allah to save them. They know in their hearts that their suicide warriors, their Osama Bin Ladens and their mighty armies have been snapped like a rotten twig. Yet they blaspheme to think that any just God, called Allah or not, will intervene to continue their program of murder. Perhaps they are right in this: God is rendering the Last Judgement and they are in the dock.
38 posted on 02/01/2003 6:15:21 PM PST by wretchard
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To: laconic
One of the network commentators alluded to TDRSS, the "Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System", as the key to maintaining communication through the descent through the upper atmosphere. See http://nmsp.gsfc.nasa.gov/tdrss/
39 posted on 02/01/2003 6:24:44 PM PST by The Electrician
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Comment #40 Removed by Moderator

To: Dog
While I understand that every nation has a "voice" that feels it is necessary to deride the USA for its never-ending glories (today's tragedy is, in reality, a result of another in a long line of glorious accomplishments), why is it that the words uttered in ignorance by our "neighbors" or "friends" sting the most?

Perhaps worse is the silence that echoes from the lips of the populace who do not recant the slanderous comments.

May God bless the souls that were lost today - and protect the souls of those who continue to live our dreams and fight for our freedom.

J.Q.

41 posted on 02/01/2003 6:39:10 PM PST by jqpublic (If we are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk; we must act big. T. Roosevelt)
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To: laconic
If you can find something from ACBWG (Apollo Reentry Communications Blackout Working Group) they might be able to help you with your questions.
Glossary of Abbreviations
42 posted on 02/01/2003 6:45:09 PM PST by philman_36
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To: Eala
The CBC is as socialist and anti-american as is possible to be. It is DU in drag.

The CBC is also ignored by most Canadians, if it wasn't for liberal, socialist anti-american politicians shoveling money to them, they would have gone belly up ages ago.
43 posted on 02/01/2003 6:49:39 PM PST by Grig
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To: GROOVY
Please do. Thanks.
44 posted on 02/01/2003 6:59:47 PM PST by VaBthang4
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To: MadIvan

Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster Archive ^

45 posted on 02/01/2003 7:04:34 PM PST by petuniasevan (RIP Columbia crew - you were the "right stuff")
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To: BADROTOFINGER; laconic
I think it is still normal to have a brief interruption in downlink. I'm just a geeky layman, but that's th eimpression I'm under.
46 posted on 02/01/2003 7:16:27 PM PST by Britton J Wingfield
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To: prairiebreeze
This is bound to knock the wind out of the sails for a bit I think

I think it will stiffen our resolve, if anything. We've learned to take a punch and keep hitting, so to speak.

47 posted on 02/01/2003 7:22:01 PM PST by Britton J Wingfield
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To: Grig
Man, some of those idiots over at DU dont know when to quit.
48 posted on 02/01/2003 7:25:37 PM PST by VaBthang4
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To: MadIvan
BUMP
49 posted on 02/01/2003 7:27:43 PM PST by RippleFire (Hold mein bier!)
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To: MadIvan
If Mr Bush really wanted to emphasise the gulf between his country and both the Islamist cave dwellers and "Old Europe", he would announce a major renewal of the space project. A frontier is part of the US character.

Thank you Mark, for understanding us, these days it's rare indeed. President Bush should announce a renewal of the space project that will enhance his program of developing hydrogen fuel. One of the best things about the space program was the leaps and bounds that were made in the technology that enhanced our everyday lives. Let's not just renew the program, let's seek truely innovative solutions that can be applied to current problems.

God, I love America, and I love our people.

50 posted on 02/01/2003 7:42:17 PM PST by McGavin999
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