Saturday, February 08, 2003

Read David Warren's latest column. It is a must. Here are his predictions for the next 2 weeks:
1. The first is a dramatic last-minute concession to Hans Blix and Mohammad el-Baradei. This is what Saddam Hussein has always done with his back to the wall, and believe me there are people who are still impressed. They no longer include any members of the U.S. administration, so the trick is not going to work. Saddam will back down on spy-plane overflights (now that he has had the time to prepare for them), or offer up more scientists to be interviewed (privately, in Iraq, in bugged rooms), or even make a deathbed confession about certain hidden stockpiles (a small fraction of what he owns), in the hope of turning the tables on Mr. Powell. But that will no more sway the members of the "alliance of the willing" who are poised to strike him down, than Mr. Powell's chapter-and-verse presentation swayed Schroeder or Chirac. It will merely make whistling noises as it passes through the empty spaces between the ears of the liberal media. [Isn't this the funniest thing?]
2. The second is a major scare from North Korea. There may be a missile test (perhaps another over Japan), or a nasty incident at the DMZ (with GI casualties), or even a detectable underground nuclear explosion, I should think before next Friday. I would not be surprised to learn, eventually, that the regime of Kim Il-Jong was actually paid by Saddam in cold hard currency to perform such a stunt -- for it has a long track record of doing anything for cash. Those who think the present wild North Korean bellicosity is unconnected to developments in Iraq will be proved naïve.
3. A third possible surprise -- more likely from the week after -- will be a sudden missile attack or other attempt at a large-scale terrorist hit on Israel, directed from Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. This is a very substantial wild card, for whether its president, Bashir Assad, fully understands it or not, allowing this to happen would open a second front between Syria and Israel, either just before or after U.S. special forces have taken positions around Baghdad.

Is this guy good or what?
Of course, Annan-the-imbecile wants a consensus before taking any action against Iraq.
This is the man who heads the organization which has nominated Iraq to be...ready for this...chairing the UN Commission on Disarmament starting next May. Yes, this is correct. Iraq, the country which develops and uses chemical weapons on its own people will now provide the world with leadership on disarmament.
Does anyone thinks that Annan really has any credibility? For this matter, does the UN matter anymore? It is a bloated bureaucracy, it has been taken over by tyrants, anti-Americans and antisemites and it has consistently failed to prevent many conflicts from degenerating into genocide (Rwanda, Somalia, Kosovo, and so on). It is time to get rid of it and replace it with an organization to which only true democracies, ruled by the rule of law can belong. Any country failing the most basic tests of true democracy would be excluded until it cleaned out its act. This would avoid having Libya chairing the UN Commission on Human Rights or Iraq chairing the UN Commission on Disarmament. What a joke.
Some Liberals were 'persuaded'

Mary McGrory of the Washington Post writes:

I don't know how the United Nations felt about Colin Powell's "J'accuse" speech against Saddam Hussein. I can only say that he persuaded me, and I was as tough as France to convince.

Go read the rest of the column about how a Liberal just barely admitted she was wrong...

Friday, February 07, 2003

Student sues to get A+, not A

MEMPHIS, Michigan (AP) -- A high school senior says he earned an A+, not an A, and has sued to get the grade changed to bolster his chance at becoming valedictorian.

If the "A" actually hurts his chances of getting into college, I'm sure there's always room for him at Concordia....they seem to adore mediocrity.
Steyn on the UN and Katie Couric

Mark Steyn: Let's Quit The UN

Earlier this week, on NBC’s Today Show, Katie Couric, America’s favourite wake-up gal, saluted the fallen heroes of the Columbia: ‘They were an airborne United Nations — men, women, an African-American, an Indian woman, an Israeli....’

Steady on, Katie. They were six Americans plus an Israeli. And, if they had been an ‘airborne United Nations’, for one thing the Zionist usurper wouldn’t have been on board...

Miss Couric could have said the Columbia was an airborne America — the ‘Indian woman’, Kalpana Chawla, is the American Dream writ large upon the stars: she emigrated to the US in the Eighties and became an astronaut within a decade. But somehow it wasn’t enough to see in the crew’s multiple ethnicities a stirring testament to all the possibilities of her own country, so instead Katie upgraded them into an emblem of a far nobler ideal: the UN.

In the days before Miss Couric’s observation, there were two notable news items about the United Nations, informing us that: 1) The newly elected chair of the UN Human Rights Commission is Libya; 2) In May, the presidency of the UN Conference on Disarmament will pass to Iraq.


Read the rest. As usual, Steyn's column is fabulous.
Good stats

A snapshot of America’s mood shows increases in President Bush’s approval ratings and in the percentage of Americans ready to support military action against Iraq, according to an NBC News poll released Thursday and taken soon after Secretary of State Colin Powell laid out the U.S. case before the United Nations.

Below is a summary of the survey of 514 adults:

Bush ratings: Sixty-one percent approved; 31 percent disapproved. Last month, the ratio was 54 percent to 40 percent. Bush’s high was 81 percent in November 2001.

Military action against Iraq: Sixty percent felt it should happen; 27 were against it. That compares with 56 percent and 36 percent in January. The 27 percent mark was the smallest reading since the question was asked in polls dating to last April.
Must you bring God into this?

Rev. Richard "Rich" Weaver crashed the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton, breezing through the ballroom entrance without a ticket and handed President Bush what he later described as an eight-page typed "message from God" about Iraq.

Weaver told Montgomery that at one point he unhooked a rope in front of the head table, approached the president and handed him the letter, which warned: "If America does not repent, there will be 50,000 casualties and a six-month war" with Iraq. Bush had a look of attentiveness and "peace," Weaver added.


[via Drudge]

Thursday, February 06, 2003

A letter from Naomi Ragen to the family of Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut killed in the Columbia disaster.
To: Mrs. Ramon and family:
From: Naomi Ragen

It has taken me several days to understand what I want to say about Ilan Ramon. Beyond the traditional role of Western hero – the adventuring astronaut who embodies the Western world’s idea of courage, someone who dares to pioneer the limits of human understanding and human capability—there was something more. It is that “more” that has been so hard to define.

But finally, I think I do understand. The Jewish people sent Ilan Ramon as its representative, to join hands with the world in exploring a new frontier for the betterment and enlightenment of mankind. Despite the Holocaust, in which the Jewish people were separated out, vilified, brutalized, condemned, with Ilan, we Jews reached out to the world, to our fellow men, wanting so much to be part of the striving towards common good.

Whatever the distances between ourselves in Israel and our Jewish brethren abroad, every Jew knew Ilan Ramon represented him, or her. And he made us all so very proud. He wasn’t religious, but he asked for kosher food. He asked a Rabbi what time the Sabbath would come in and go out in space. He brought a Torah scroll, and the picture of a young Holocaust victim, who could only stare behind electrified fences at the stars. He went into space as a Jew and as an Israeli, someone who fought to protect the Jewish homeland; a pilot who was part of the Jewish air force that destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor, before it could destroy us, and the rest of the world. And in so doing, he united every Jew, reminding us all of our shared culture, our history, those things which connect us. And in so doing, he reached out the hand of our people towards mankind for the good.

The Jews of Israel have suffered indescribable losses. After two years of Intifada, that have brought the Jewish people once again face to face with what is worst in the human race—the instinct to kill and be killed, the sickening lies of hate-filled propaganda — Ilan Ramon managed to lift up our minds and hearts and to carry them with him as he flew towards heaven.

May God grant him a heavenly reward for sanctifying the Jewish people, and the name of God.

Naomi Ragen
Anne Coulter

Coulter's got a website! Cool eh? In her most recent column, she tears apart Liberals who are using the shuttle disaster to plug their anti-war cause.

The Gettysburg Address of liberal idiocy was a letter to the editor from a Jim Forbes of San Francisco two days after the crash. The Times titled his contribution to Liberalthink: "A Time of Mourning for Shattered Dreams: A Period of Healing." In full-dress sanctimony, Forbes wrote: "The loss of the space shuttle Columbia and its crew of seven is a national tragedy. Time is needed for Americans to mourn. I hope that President Bush will do the right thing by slowing down his march to war and focusing instead on the healing that such a blow to national pride requires."

Here was the pithiest concentration of the multiple idiotic things liberals were saying about the space shuttle, the insincerity, the audacity, the smarminess – he even worked in "the healing process." How he must have polished that little gem! The idea that liberals feel the shuttle explosion was a tragedy is patent nonsense. They were jumping for joy at this new excuse to denounce the "march to war." The nation is marching to war at such breakneck speed, it will be two years from 9-11 before we attack.
Cute



[via The Ville]
Reprint from Jeff Jacoby's Newsletter: What is keeping Jews from flocking to the Republican camp?
[My comment: Frankly, why any Jew would still vote democrat after the mess Clinton made in the Middle East and the fence sitting on Iraq, or vote Liberal in Canada, is beyond me. But then again, I think that Liberals are our society's biggest enemies for being appeasers and apologists.]

The popular Internet journal FrontPageMagazine.com recently invited me and four other members of the pundit class to take part in a symposium on Jews, Republicans, and American politics. Read the results in The Jews and President Bush. An excerpt:
Brooks: I think the previous barriers to Jews supporting the GOP are coming down -- fear of the Christian Right, previously strong support of Israel from the Democrats, a polarizing social agenda from the Republicans among other things- and as a result I believe we will see larger support for Republicans in the Jewish community going forward.

Weinstein: Longstanding historical habits are hard to break, but Jews are actually beginning to come to the Republican Party. Bush's support of the State of Israel and the fact he has taken the harsh edges off of the Republican agenda has helped. To the consternation of New York Democrats, George Pataki (not my type of Republican), actually got a majority of Jewish votes over Carl McCall. But it's not Jewish votes that are most significant to the political process; it's the political contributions Jews make and their voices in the media that matter far more than sheer electoral numbers. In both these categories, Bush is doing extremely well.

Jacoby: It's an old story. Part of the answer is history: Jews coming to America from Europe often brought with them the habit of associating parties of the left with tolerance and emancipation -- an association that made sense in a Europe where the most conservative parties were often the most anti-Semitic.

But part of the answer is also theological: Liberalism is the religion of many secular American Jews, who have convinced themselves that the essence of being Jewish is being a good liberal -- and of course to be a good liberal means to be a Democrat.

The perception that the Republican Party is the purview of the "Christian right" and that the "Christian right" is unfriendly to Jewish interests -- an old and mostly unfair shibboleth -- helps keep Jews away as well. Very slowly, this may be changing. I find a growing recognition among liberal American Jews that Christian conservatives are reliable friends on at least the one issue that many of them care about most: support for Israel.

Charen: Many Jews are liberals first and Jews second. Being liberal is part of their identity. They often claim that liberalism is the philosophy that springs more naturally from Judaism, but this is a dubious argument. Judaism teaches personal responsibility, traditional morality, law and order, and forbids abortion except to save the life of the mother.

Jews are also afraid of Christianity and believe that if the majority becomes more Christian, or expresses its Christian beliefs, life for Jews in America is diminished. Nearly every Jewish Democrat I know cites the so-called "religious right" as the main reason he/she could never vote Republican.
Let's see if the Gloat & Fail will publish these stats:
According to the IDF Spokesperson, on 5 February 2003, these are the statistics on Palestinian terrorism against Israel 29 September 2000 through 3 February, 2003.
5,063 Israelis injured, 724 killed, 16,347 attacks

Injured: 3,594 Civilians + 1,469 Security Forces = 5,063 Total Israeli Injured
Killed: 506 Civilians + 218 Security Forces = 724 Total Israeli Killed
Total Attacks: 7,230 West Bank + 8,455 Gaza Strip + 662 Home Front =16,347 Total
Send condolences to the families of the Columbia Astronauts
Here is the mailbox NASA setup for people to add their names to the condoleance book for the Columbia astronauts:
http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/feedback/condolence/
Please take a minute and show your moral support.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Pfft....conservative paper my a**!
This is why I have to laugh when people talk about the Globe and Mail as one of those "respectable conservative papers".

The Globe & Mail (Toronto) published a vile "poem" accusing Ariel Sharon of bloody war crimes. The article is called "Poetic Justice - The Angel Ariel." One stanza reads as follows:

It's said Sharon has changed his ways:
He's moderate, not like the days
When babies died and girls were raped
And, while the anguished journos gaped,
Israel's defender passed the time
By shifting blame for his war crime --
But now a bloody resume
Is just the thing to save the day.

Addition from Andre:
And when you have recovered from your fit of rage for this piece of trash, please let the Gloat & Fail Editor In Chief Ed Greenspoon know how you feel. Here's his e-mail:
egreenspon@globeandmail.ca
Mega-terror attack just around the corner?
Debka Files certainly thinks so and, unfortunately, they are often (not always) right.
According to DEBKAfile and DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s exclusive counter-terror and intelligence sources, six entities have come together to prepare this offensive, operating both together and independently. They are:
1. Iraqi military intelligence, or rather the dread Unit 999, which is an arm of the super-secret Fedayeen Saddam (Saddam’s Martyrs), commanded by the Iraqi ruler’s eldest son, Uday.
2. Al Qaeda’s top men.
3. Iraqi and Al Qaeda sleeper cells planted in the United States, Europe, the Persian Gulf and Israel.
4. Palestinian terrorists operating on West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinian terror groups and militias based in Damascus.
5. Hizballah security and intelligence bodies working in harness with al Qaeda.
6. Hizballah leaders and high officers under instructions from Tehran to open a second anti-American front from Lebanon or elsewhere in the Middle East, in support of Iraq.

[...]There are a number of possibilities:
1. A nuclear/mega attack on an American Gulf installation, such as bases in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, or even Saudi Arabia.
2. A multi-location mega/nuclear strike against a number of bases, oil fields, terminals or tankers.
3. A mega/nuclear attack against an Arab capital assisting in American war preparations, such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar or Oman, where heightened al Qaeda activity has been registered in the last weeks.
4. A mega/nuclear attack against one of Israel’s main cities. Israel is deep in preparations to meet such an attack, often disguised as measures to confront an Iraqi assault. Last month, Israel’s government hospitals signed contracts with a number of big hotel chains, especially along the Mediterranean coastline, for the lease of whole wings for conversion into hospital facilities in case of a terrorist attack of disastrous proportions. Large firms who rely on exports, like Intel, have been shipping inventories out of the country. Essential government offices, banks and large commercial firms have moved staffs and equipment to nuclear bomb shelters and especially built bomb-proof building complexes outside Tel Aviv and Haifa.
This menace was behind the warning issued Monday, February 3, by Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, the senior officer in charge of war information, when he said: “Israel must be ready for dangerous events of a one-time nature.” He added that Saddam Hussein, who already has bio-weapon capability, will do its utmost to procure nuclear weapons - and is not like to be put off this objective. Since the American attack is no more than weeks away, Iraq may be presumed to already have a nuclear option of some kind.
5. A mega/nuclear attack in London, which the British premier Tony Blair declared as a definite possibility in Parliament last month.
6. A mega/nuclear strike in a major American city.
All six might take the form of biological or chemical attack.

I would suspect that the 3rd possibility is the most likely as logically, an Arab capital would be where the terrorists could most easily find support. This is all very scary and I hope that Powell and Bush don't start losing their resolve. It is time we start decapitating Islamism by taking out the first of the many states who support, fund and sponsor this kind of abomination. Screw Chirac.
New York vies for first
Looks like Kuala Lumpur may lose the pride and joy of being home to the tallest building in the world.



Two architectural teams were named finalists Tuesday in the competition to design what will be built on the World Trade Center site, each proposing plans that would create the tallest structures in the world, easily dwarfing the twin towers destroyed in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Why aren't people jumping all over this one?

This is a picture taken at the funeral of one of the 7 Grade 10 students who died in an avalanche last Saturday in British Columbia (Canada). As widely reported, this accident happened roughly in the same area where 7 Americans perished just 10 days before from another avalanche.
Why isn't anyone being held accountable for this latest preventable disaster? The risk of avalanche was rated as "considerable" by Park authorities. Yet, apparently, the information was given to the kids who "collectively" decided to go ahead with the planned outing. So great was the risk that they were all given avalanche rescue equipment (shovels, beacons, etc...). Now the school says that this outdoor pursuit and the risks inherent in it are part of making these kids into leaders, and that the children collectively made a decision after carefully considering all the facts. They also said that during that week alone, over 140 people had gone through the same area with no incident. Why aren't the trip organizers and school officials in freaking jail already? They give kids a match to go and check if a tanker truck is full of fuel, the truck blows up and they are scot-free because they gave the kids a choice? Who is kidding whom here? These adults (parents, volunteers, teachers, administrators) were entrusted with the safety of these children and they failed. They were criminally negligent and they should be brought to justice. It will not bring these kids back but it will prevent more kids from dying at the hand of these unqualified idiots.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Has NASA become a total and complete yawn?
Charles Krauhammer thinks so and I totally agree. At least, they are really bad at PR. Without catering to the public's whim and desire for excitement, surely NASA can present itself as something better than a freight carrying company moving stuff between earth and the space station. I remember when the Rover landed on Mars and sent pictures in real time to earth. The excitement was incredible. It captured people's imagination. Instead, the most press coverage NASA got in the last 15 years was around 2 disasters most likely resulting from bureaucratic paralysis.
What gives? Why should the tax payers be stuck with a $15B tab for a trucking company? Where is NASA going? What is it trying to accomplish? What are the taxpayers getting out of it? I think that it can easily be shown that a lot of inventions and discoveries by NASA trickled into the everyday life of the average person. But what now? What does Joe Public have to look forward to? Space exploration is Man's destiny. Space trucking surely can't be. Let's get people excited once again about space so that politicians finally realize that space is part of our future and decent funding should support this effort. If not, NASA will remain stuck in this time warp using 20+ year-old vehicles.
Canada's health care sucks

Sally Pipes, of National Review Online, warns Americans against being too envious of the Canadian health care system. She's right, they shouldn't.

For example, Canadians have become outraged over the quality of and access to health care. In response, Prime Minister Chretien established in April 2001, a commission to investigate the system and come up with some viable cures. After 18 months of investigation, $15 million in costs, 357 pages, hundreds of studies and symposia, the commission report, "Building on Values: The Future of Health Care in Canada," has concluded, to no one's surprise, that there is nothing wrong with the troubled system that more money won't cure.

... Canada spends more on health care, on an age-adjusted basis, than any industrialized country. But the commission recommends a total $15 billion in new spending between now and 2006, which will further tax an already overtaxed populace. A Canadian earning $35,000 a year pays $7,350 for government health care that many regard as "free."

The Canadian health-care industry is already over-regulated, but the commission is calling for more regulations. Unlike those in Britain, Canadians enjoy few private alternatives. But the commission calls for fewer still, even as citizens face long waiting lists for surgery.

Additional spending has not reduced waiting lists, which are longest in Saskatchewan, the province once led by commission head Roy Romanow. In Saskatchewan, birthplace of Canada's government health care, median waiting times for surgery increased from 9.8 weeks in 1993 to 28.9 weeks in 2001.

Sicko



Hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza last night GLOATED over the shuttle disaster and rejoiced in the deaths of the seven astronauts.

The Muslim fanatic called the Columbia crew “thugs of space” who deserved to die. He denounced the team — made up of Americans, an Israeli and an Indian-born Hindu — as a “trinity of evil” punished by Allah.

The 45-year-old cleric said they were “criminals” bent on boosting military satellite technology so America could dominate the world. He claimed it was a sign from God that debris rained down on a Texas town named Palestine.

Hamza — banned from preaching his hate-filled sermons at London’s Finsbury Park mosque — said of the tragedy: “This was a divine act, a message for mankind.”


[via Drudge]

What a great photo!

Dennis does sarcasm

Despite all that, the left somehow recognized that a war against Iraq was really only a way to enrich my oil buddies. The left, whom I used to foolishly identify with appeasing and defending evil, have opened my eyes. They are right that nothing America does is out of a sense of mission to lead humanity in confronting evil. That was all a cover up for our true motivation -- more wealth. That is why we alone stand by Israel -- for all that oil in the Negev. That is why we protect Taiwan -- for Taiwan's bounteous natural resources. From now on, our moral model must be the Europeans who shape their Middle Eastern policies so as to be loved by 200 million Arabs rather than by a few million Israelis.
Y'know, I never thought about it that way

Limbaugh: Liberals Want Gun Control For You, Not Hussein

I think I may call some of my classmates on this next time the "leave Saddam alone" argument comes up.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Is it just me or does this seem a little odd?
Ron Dittemore, the NASA Flight Manager, was asked by a reporter whether the astronauts could have repaired damaged heat tiles (which protect the shuttle from excessive temperature during re-entry) had they known there might have been a problem. He answered 2 things: there is no way for the astronauts to repair any tile and there actually is no way to even look under the shuttle to see whether there is any damage to the tiles.
So effectively, here is the situation. Every life-sustaining system on the shuttle (air quality, temperature, hydraulics, electrical, etc...) are duplicated if not triplicated so that the odds of a catastrophic failure which would endanger the lives of the astronauts are very slim. But something as important as the protective shield which insures that the astronauts and the entire vehicle are not incinerated on returning to earth has no backup system. Regardless of what caused the Columbia disaster, I think that there is universal consensus that if enough tiles are damaged, the reentry into the atmosphere would be catastrophic. And there we have the Flight Manager telling us that in actual fact, if the heat shield is damaged, there is no way to know about it and certainly, there is nothing anyone can do about it once the shuttle has reached the point of no return. Huh????? Doesn't it seem remarkable that a "system" of such critical importance actually was designed and built as a single point of failure?
I'm back
Hi everyone. I just got home from the conference in Miami. Everything went well and I'm happy to get back to the real world. Warm oceans and sandy beaches just don't seem like reality in the middle of a school semester. Anyway, as expected, I was devastated to hear about the Columbia tragedy, and I was glued to the TV as much as possible. It was quite an experience to hear the news in the presence of a bunch of Israelis and North American Zionists. Everyone was depressed and at a loss for words. I hoped to get back to my usual blogging schedule as soon as I got home, but I do have a lot of work to catch up on. Also, some close friends of mine will be needing some help in the coming days because their apartment was broken into this morning and they lost a lot of their belongings. I hope to be of some help to them while they try and find the person who did this. Creep.

Dad, thanks for blogging while I was gone! Great job, partner!

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Is this a cliche? Did the astronauts die doing what they always dreamed about?
There is very little that can be said to alleviate the sadness that most feel at the thought of the 7 astronauts dying in such horrible fashion. The only thing I can think of is that these people obviously died living their dream. Being an astronaut clearly is a dream for these people. Many start by being pilots or scientists and all have the dream of going to space. They know that this dream may come at a very heavy price. They know that having the privilege of living this dream is a unique honor that most will never experience. And for this, they know that this "free lunch" may come with the willingness to sacrifice.
Think about it...when a truck driver dies at the wheel, is he living a dream? Hardly. When a fighter pilot is shot down in combat, is he living his dream? Most likely not. But when an astronaut dies in space, is he/she not in the midst of the most exciting fantasy? The wildest dream? I think so.
And for this reason, I think that we can feel a little less sad about what we witnessed yesterday.
The world goes on...
While the world is grappling with the terrible Columbia tragedy, unfortunately other people died, other people suffer. Yesterday, 7 Grade 10 students from a private school in Calgary died in a massive avalanche in British Columbia. This avalanche took place literally on the same mountain as the avalanche which killed 7 Americans 2 weeks ago, just a few miles away. Why did it have to happen? Why would anyone take young kids to such a dangerous area? An area known for the frequency and magnitude of avalanches. An area where many have already perished over the years. What criminal mind would even contemplate putting these kids at such a risk? They knew there was a terrible risk as they were all equipped with avalanche gear (shovels, flares, ropes, etc...) and they fanned out to spread the load across the mountain. But why do it in the first place? Astronauts are doing something dangerous for the betterment of science, of people, of knowledge. But taking chance in an avalanche area? Why? Can anyone explain it?
Was this predictable?
There are now many tidbits of information coming out which clearly point to a certain amount of predictability regarding the disaster. Apparently, an auditor's report (I will look for a link) identified as late as Friday that "they were more concerned than ever for the safety of manned Space Shuttle missions". There is actual footage of a piece of foam insulation falling off one of the external tanks and hitting the left wing of Columbia barely 60 seconds into the flight. NASA was aware of it and because the sensors did not report anything unusual, it was assumed that there was nothing to worry about. It turns out that there is no way for the astronauts to check the underside of the shuttle while in space, even if they are outside on a space walk. The tether cables are too short. Columbia was not equipped with a robotic arm which may have been used to go and visualize the underside of the Shuttle. And to top it off, even if they had been able to go and assess the damage to the shuttle, the astronauts had no way of repairing any damage to the heat tiles covering the underside of the shuttle. So, were the astronauts doomed the moment the shuttle was damaged? Maybe, maybe not. Surely, had NASA known the extent of the damage, they could have taken some sort of corrective action such as waiting for another shuttle to be ready to go and pick up the astronauts. But the problem is that NASA had no way of knowing. And they should have. Let's see what the investigation reveals.