Trump left isolated as Republican allies revolt over US withdrawal from Syria   


Trump left isolated as Republican allies revolt over US withdrawal from SyriaMitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham lead condemnation of foreign policy move that could prove ‘disaster in the making’Donald Trump with Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, in the Cabinet Room on Monday. Lindsey Graham said abandoning the Kurds would be ‘a stain on America’s honour’. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/APDonald Trump was dangerously isolated on Monday as, in a rare rebuke, some of his most loyal allies revolted against his decision to withdraw US troops from north-eastern Syria.Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell led a chorus of Republicans who, having defended the president on almost every other issue – including over impeachment – decided to draw a line in the sand.“A precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime,” McConnell said. “And it would increase the risk that Isis and other terrorist groups regroup.”He added: “As we learned the hard way during the Obama administration, American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal.”The criticism was significant because McConnell is usually at pains not to cross Trump even at his most capricious. Last week the Kentucky senator released a Facebook video promising to stop Democratic-led impeachment in its tracks.Article 1 of the United States constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power to initiate impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try impeachments of the president. A president can be impeached if they are judged to have committed "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" – although the constitution does not specify what “high crimes and misdemeanors” are.The process starts with the House of Representatives passing articles of impeachment. A simple majority of members need to vote in favour of impeachment for it to pass to the next stage. Democrats currently control the house, with 235 representatives.The chief justice of the US supreme court then presides over the proceedings in the Senate, where the president is tried, with senators acting as the jury. For the president to be found guilty two-thirds of senators must vote to convict. Republicans currently control the Senate, with 53 of the 100 senators.Two presidents have previously been impeached, Bill Clinton in 1998, and Andrew Johnson in 1868, though neither was removed from office as a result. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before there was a formal vote to impeach him.Martin BelamThe unusual fracture emerged on Sunday night when, shortly after a phone conversation between Trump and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the White House announced removal of US troops from the Syria-Turkey border area. “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” it added.Critics of all political stripes have long feared that the move could open the way for a Turkish strike on Kurdish-led fighters in the area. Kurdish groups have fought alongside a small US presence in Syria to drive Islamic State militants from the region.The Republican backlash was rapid and potentially unnerving for a president whose fate is tethered to the party and the assumption that it will acquit him in the Senate if, as widely expected, the Democratic-led House of Representatives votes for impeachment.Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, who has become an outspoken defender (and frequent golf partner) of Trump, did not acquiesce this time. Abandonment of the Kurds would be “a disaster in the making”, he said, and “a stain on America’s honour”.Graham told Fox News: “I hope I’m making myself clear how short-sighted and irresponsible this decision is. I like President Trump. I’ve tried to help him. This, to me, is just unnerving to its core.”Graham wrote on Twitter that if the plan goes ahead, he will introduce a Senate resolution opposing it and seeking reversal of the decision. He added: “We will introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria and will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the US in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate.”Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, whose attempts to defend Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president have provoked mockery, said: “If you make a commitment and somebody is fighting with you, America should keep their word.”Michael McCaul of Texas, the lead Republican on the House foreign affairs committee, also urged the president to reconsider. “The United States should not step aside and allow a Turkish military operation in north-east Syria,” he said. “This move will undermine our ongoing campaign to prevent an Isis resurgence and will ultimately threaten our homeland.“Additionally, the United States needs to stay engaged to prevent further destructive involvement in the region from our adversaries like the Assad regime, Putin and Iran.”Notably, senator Marco Rubio of Florida, reluctant to criticise Trump even when the president suggested that China investigate former vice president and 2020 election rival Joe Biden, was clear , describing the retreat as “a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria”And Nikki Haley, Trump’s former UN ambassador, admonished Trump without mentioning his name. “We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back,” she tweeted. “The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake. TurkeyIsNotOurFriend”Ominously for Trump, even conservative Fox News aired dissent. Host Brian Kilmeade described the pullout as “a disaster”, telling viewers of Fox & Friends: “Abandon our allies? That’s a campaign promise? Abandon the people that got the caliphate destroyed?”Republicans who have contradicted Trump before did so forcefully again. Utah senator Mitt Romney described Trump’s announcement as “a betrayal”, adding: “It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster.”Romney and Democratic senator Chris Murphy issued a joint statement insisting Trump’s administration “explain to the American people how betraying an ally and ceding influence to terrorists and adversaries is not disastrous for our national security interests”.Democrats also piled in but there was a lone voice of support for the president on Capitol Hill. Republican senator Rand Paul, long a critic of foreign intervention, said: “So many neocons want us to stay in wars all over the Middle East forever. [Trump] is absolutely right to end those wars and bring the troops home.”Trump himself was undeterred by the blowback. Speaking at the White House on Monday, he said he has “great respect” for the prominent Republican critics. And added: “People are extremely thrilled because they say it’s time to bring our people back home. We’re not a police force. They’re policing the area. We’re not a police force. The UK was very thrilled at this decision … many people agree with it very strongly.”


Dr. Richard Daystrom on (News Article):Here’s an Example of the Crazy Lengths NASA Goes to Land Safely on Mars.....   



Here’s an Example of the Crazy Lengths NASA Goes to Land Safely on Mars..........

15 years of work for 10 seconds of action.

ERIC BERGER - 10/7/2019, 9:08 AM

  • Over three weeks in April and May of 2019, NASA's Lander Vision System flew 17 flights attached to the front of a helicopter.
  • The vision system is an integral part of a guidance system called Terrain-Relative Navigation on the Mars 2020 rover.
  • The missions took place in the Mojave National Preserve as well as Death Valley.
  • While it is hotter than Mars, the terrain has a similar appearance.
  • The vision system took pictures and processed them as if it were coming into a landing on Mars.
  • The vision system performed well during these tests.

If all goes well, the Mars 2020 mission will launch toward the Red Planet next July. Then, after a six-month cruise to Mars, a lander carrying a 1-ton rover will detach from the spacecraft and attempt to make a soft landing in an ancient lake bed named Jezero Crater.

Most likely, it will all go well despite the enormous challenge of safely sending spacecraft to Mars. Historically, about 50% of missions have failed. But NASA has gotten pretty good at this stuff, and there's a reason for that. The agency works really hard at getting all of the details right.

Probably the most challenging part of the Mars 2020 mission involves putting the rover on the ground. It is true that NASA performed pretty much the same landing profile in August 2012 with the similarly sized Curiosity rover. However, there is one key difference—whereas Curiosity sought a safe landing site in the relatively smooth terrain of Gale Crater, the Mars 2020 mission will land in a more sporty location with boulders and other hazards.

To increase the odds of success, therefore, the Mars 2020 mission will have an added technology called Terrain Relative Navigation, essentially an autopilot. And this autopilot has been meticulously developed. An engineer named Andrew Johnson at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California has spent most of the last 15 years working on the technology that will guide the 2020 spacecraft's flight for just 10 seconds.

"These 10 seconds may make the difference in whether we land safely on Mars or not," said Johnson, who is responsible for the lander's vision system.

How it works

At 4.2km above the surface, as the lander is descending under parachute power, an on-board computer begins to rapidly take pictures of the Martian surface. Each image has a resolution of 6 meters per pixel, and the landing system is looking for features such as craters, cliffs, and large boulders to compare against previously captured orbital imagery. After the on-board computer has made 15 landmark "matches," it switches to a higher-resolution mode to fine-tune the landing positioning. Previously, a lander could estimate where it was on Mars to within about 3km. The new vision system seeks to bring this error down to 40 meters.

There's about a 10-second period in this sequence during which the on-board computer must assess the high-resolution imagery, calculate the expected landing position, compare this location to satellite imagery of the Martian surface, and determine whether to alter the vehicle's course. All of this must be done before the separation of the back shell, after which a rocket-powered diversion of up to 600 meters would no longer be possible.

 On Sept. 28, 2019, engineers and technicians working on the Mars 2020 spacecraft at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, look on as a crane lifts the rocket-powered descent stage away from the rover after a test.


Making all of this work requires both new hardware, including a "vision compute element," as well as a lander camera. And writing the software and creating algorithms for all of this has taken a long time, but Johnson knows the system must work. There are no do-overs. "This is what will allow us to land in a site of high scientific interest, like Jezero Crater," Johnson said.

Without the landing vision system, the rover would most likely still make it to Mars. There is about an 85% chance of success. But this is nowhere near good enough for a $2 billion mission. With the landing camera and software Johnson has led development of, the probability of success increases to 99%.

Test program

NASA, of course, can't test the landing vision system on Mars, so it has turned to the next best thing—the Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley. Johnson and other engineers developed a test program and, in April and May, participated in a series of drop tests to simulate landing on Mars, where the vision system has observed Mars-like terrain such as Kelso Dunes.

Working with Pursuit Aviation, Johnson would fly in a helicopter up to 5km above the Earth's surface, with the vision system attached to the front of the vehicle to take and process images. The vision system has flown more than 600 simulated Mars landings, and it has performed well in terms of identifying its location, assessing hazards, and finding safe landing sites.

"It's pretty incredible to watch these guys work," said John Tamburro, a pilot for the aviation company that flew the Airbus H125 helicopter used for the tests. "They dedicate their lives to this. It's incredible that Andrew has been on this project for 15 years. They are all in."



Washington beatdown gets intense (IANS Exclusive)    


The current whirligig comes 21 years after the last impeachment attempt against a sitting president - Bill Clinton. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Acts of 1990 and 1993 increased taxes and limited government spending. These created a budget surplus and an expanded economy. Bill Clinton survived impeachment challenges because he delivered a Goldilocks economy, an analogy to the Goldilocks and three bears story, where the microwave was serving the porridge for one and all. The economic policies of Bill Clinton, referred to by some as Clintonomics. In proposing a plan to cut the deficit, Clinton submitted a budget and corresponding tax legislation overseeing a very robust economy during his tenure. The US had strong economic growth (around 4 per cent annually) and record job creation (22.7 million).

As luck would have it, it was on this day 21 years earlier that the impeachment of Bill Clinton was initiated on October 8, 1998, when the United States House of Representatives voted to commence impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton, 42nd president of the United States, for "high crimes and misdemeanors", which were subsequently detailed in two articles of impeachment.

Wherever one goes in DC, a city of intrigue in the normal course, there is heightened conversation over President Trump's impeachment process. On Dassehra day back home, tension and suspicion play out in equal parts as the White House blocked EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland's Ukraine deposition to Congress. Trump has refused to allow Sondland's testimony because he thinks it will be a kangaroo court which will take a view on the matter. Calling it strong evidence of obstruction, his rivals have been baying for his blood. Further, the plan not to reveal additional text messages has come as a bigger damper. This came against the backdrop of the subpoena to Trump lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, for Ukraine documents. Democrats have requested information from three Rudy Giuliani associates - Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-American businessman who worked with Giuliani; Igor Fruman, a business partner of Parnas; and Semyon "Sam" Kislin, a former aide to Giuliani. Lawmakers are also warning they will subpoena the associates if they do not comply with their requests for documents and depositions.

And as if all this tension wasn't enough, Trump's decision to pull the plug on US forces in Syria blindsided the capital and all its players. Trump's growing aggression is seen typical of his persona as he now goes after ex-insider, veep Joe Biden. While Trump is cognisant of polls, impeachment is not a winner, the dynamic of change is rapidly taking root.

On December 19, 1998, Clinton became the second American president to be impeached (the other being Andrew Johnson who was impeached in 1868), when the House formally adopted the articles of impeachment and forwarded them to the US Senate for adjudication. The trial in the Senate began in January 1999 with Chief Justice William Rehnquist presiding. On February 12, Clinton was acquitted on both counts as neither received the necessary two-thirds majority vote of the senators present for conviction and removal from office - in this instance 67. On Article One, 45 senators voted to convict while 55 voted for acquittal. On Article Two, 50 senators voted to convict while 50 voted for acquittal. Consequently, Clinton remained in office for the balance of his second term.

As Trump remains surrounded, Democrats were taken by surprise with key witness Sondland being pulled out as they believe that a massive cover up has been initiated. With sands shifting, punters still aver that Trump will survive this catechism.

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