Morning Report: January 14, 2005

"Huygens has landed." The first human-made space probe to land on another planet's moon, Huygens has successfully touched down on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. This marks a milestone in the most ambitious phase of the Cassini/Huygens mission, a joint NASA/ESA/Italian venture. The European-built probe survived a descent through Titan's atmosphere, completing a 2.2-billion-mile journey. CNN reports: 'Grinning scientists watching from the ESA operations center in Germany said the first obstacle -- a tricky atmospheric entry -- had been a great engineering feat. Time will tell if all of Huygens' precious data will reach Earth. The probe will continue sending data until its batteries run out or Cassini, the satellite orbiting Saturn relaying Huygens' signal, passes over the moon's horizon in about two hours' time. "So far so good," said David Southwood, director of science for ESA. "The signal has been solid for a long time."' Earthlings on this side of the Atlantic have another reason to celebrate today: as Rand Simberg reminds us, 'it is also the first anniversary of the day that President Bush announced a new direction for our nation's space activities. I don't use the phrase "space program," because I hope that it will be much more than that. To paraphrase the Space Frontier Foundation's motto, it's a vision, not a program.' Simberg, an advocate of private space exploration and a frequent critic of NASA, believes that 'if we're going to be spending government funds on manned space, they're probably being spent more effectively now that they have been since the end of Apollo (and perhaps in the history of NASA).' Coming from him, this optimism about government space exploration carries a lot of weight. So as of today, humankind's future in space, and America's role in that future, seem very promising indeed. (CNN; Transterrestrial Musings)

Arrests in Baghdad governor assassination. Al-Sabah reports (January 13) that US forces have arrested several suspects in connection with the recent assassination of the governor of Baghdad province, Iraq, Ali al-Hadiri. 'The US forces announced on Jan 12 the arresting of six elements involved in assassination Baghdad's Governor Ali al-Hadiri. The Associated Press Agency said that 1st [Cavalry] Division has launched a raid against one houses in al-Huriya city and arrested the terrorist elements. The US Brigadier Jeffiri the Chief Assistant of Cavalry Division which in Baghdad said that he thinks that two terrorists had participated in the assassination. Notably, Al-Haidri is the most prominent Iraqi official had been assassinated after the assassination the former Governing Council Iz al-Dain Saliem (Abdul Zahra Othman) who had been assassinated on May, 2004. Al-Haidari was occupied the post of Education Undersecretary before assuming the responsibility of Baghdad's Governor in the beginning of the last year.' (al-Sabah English)

Soros backs Iran's islamist regime. WorldNetDaily reports that billionaire George Soros, fresh from losing millions in supporting John Kerry's failed presidential bid, has found a new sweetheart: the mullahs of Iran. 'On Jan. 13, 2005, the pro-mullah American-Iranian Council joined forces with George Soros's Open Society Institute to host Javad Zarif, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, to give a talk titled, "The View from Tehran." ... Soros invited Zarif to explain why Kerry was still right to insist that Iran deserves full economic and diplomatic recognition, as well as nuclear fuel, all the while trusting that they would keep their word and not make bombs.' The article, written by Jerome Corsi, rejects the notion that any "negotiations" between the US and the islamist entity can produce positive results, and notes that 'What this event signaled was that George Soros and the American far left were ready to spend millions more supporting America's enemies, including radical Islamic extremists from a terror-supporting rogue state like Iran.' Read the full article at the link. (WorldNetDaily via SMCCDI)