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Thursday, May 25, 2017

You might not have heard of Rocket Lab, with the announcement on Thursday of a successful launch for the company's Electron rocket, the small New Zealand start-up changed the private space race.

What's special about Rocket Lab? The company is promising to put objects into space for less than $5 million per launch. That's about one-tenth as much as its nearest rival, SpaceX, which claims an average launch cost of $57 million, and a tiny fraction of the $225 million price tag for a launch by United Launch Alliance.

Sirius/XM started up an all-Beatles channel a week ago and they've reached out to Beatle's "super fans" for their favorite 4 Beatles songs. I thought that sounded like a nice departure from our standard weekly fare of eviscerating one another over politics and religion.

So here it is: list your favorite 4 Beatles songs.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

James Comey shed new light on his decision to go public about his agency's investigations into Hillary Clinton's emails, first in July 2016 and again, with devastating effect, in late October, 11 days before the election.

The specific reason he cited: Bill Clinton's decision to board Attorney General Loretta Lynch's plane in late June, when their planes were both on a tarmac in Phoenix. "The capper was -- and I'm not picking on Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who I like very much -- but her meeting with President Clinton on that airplane was the capper for me," Comey said. Comey decided to "step away" and announce, without consulting the Justice Department, that Hillary Clinton shouldn't be charged.

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Like a real horse and its rider, the hobby horse and its master form a team and become attached to each other. Similarly, the sports simulates traditional equestrian events including competing in dressage and show jumping, and is physically demanding.

Hobby-horsing has gained momentum outside Finland because of this year's release of the documentary "Hobbyhorse Revolution" by the Finnish Oscar-nominated director Selma Vilhunen. Over a year, she followed young hobby horse enthusiasts and their preparations for a competition.

Some actual horse riders may look down on hobby-horsing as childlike pastime not suitable for anyone aged over 10, but Fred Sundwall, the secretary general of the Equestrian Federation of Finland, disagrees.

"We think it's simply wonderful that hobby-horsing has become a phenomenon and so popular," Sundwall said. "It gives a chance to those children and teens who don't own horses to interact with them also outside stables and riding schools."

Thursday, April 27, 2017

President Donald Trump on Thursday plans to sign an executive order establishing a new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection in the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Secretary David Shulkin said Wednesday.

Among other things, Shulkin said, the new office will advise him on disciplining poor-performing employees.

The office will work, he said, to ensure "that we identify systemic barriers that prevent us from making the right decisions and also make sure that we're honoring the commitments that we have to our whistleblowers who've come forth and identified issues so that there's not retaliation."

But Shulkin told reporters that Congress also needs to change the law to allow the VA to more expeditiously discipline and fire problem employees.

The House has already passed legislation that would make it easier to fire or demote poor-performing VA employees, though it's unclear whether the measure can gain enough Democratic support to pass the Senate.


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