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back to article NASA chief: Earth is DOOMED if we spot a big asteroid at short notice

Billions of dollars are needed to keep the Earth safe from asteroids like the one that smashed into Russia last month, experts have told the US government. Planetoid crashes into primordial Earth While NASA has made good progress cataloguing nearly 93 per cent of larger Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), smaller meteorites like the …

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Meh

Would we rather know we have only one hour left or would we like to be left in ignorance?

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Re: Would we rather know we have only one hour ...

Only those in the impact zone would be wiped out instantly. Some of those on the far side of the world may have years to live before their resources run out - assuming the government doesn’t just hand everything over to the banks to prevent a stock market crash.

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Happy

Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....

How this all works...

The Federal Reserve, "loans" digital money, to the US govt in exchange for "government bonds" at a specific interest rate.

Then 90% of this money is loaned to the banks, at an interest rate, who then loan 90% of it to customers and clients, at specified interest rates.....

So there interest rates on interest rates, on interest rates, on money that never existed.

This is why the USA owes so much on loans, that can never be repaid, with astronomical rates of compounding intererest.....

That is why the Americans go to war to get cheap oil to service their debts, and to profit, while the whole world goes down the gurgler with them.

This is why the Americans stir up wars by playing sides off against each other, selling arms and weapons to each side etc., to make even more profit.

There are no enemies, only people being forced to take sides on a round planet.....

The horrendous propoganda machine of the US industrial complex is totally out of control.

And so there is NO money being spent in converting all the nuke missiles into rapid response and deep space / long duration mission asteroid killers...

The principle is pretty simple - a 10 ton iron penetrator to lead the bomb by a certain distance, on the approach; followed by a HUGE bomb that detonates as it enters the hole created by the penetrator, thus maximising the blast energy inside the asteroid.

So there we go.

There is plenty of resources and willingness to build asteroid poppers, but with corrupt sociopathic shit heads calling the shots, all I can say is I hope the asteroids land on them.

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Re: Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....

If you think any size nuke on the planet is large enough to pop a civilization-threatening-size asteroid, you've been reading too many SF novels.

Even if it did, all that'd happen is a rain of "smaller" rocks (for some values of smaller ranging from "larger than city-busters", all the way down), as you're not noticeably changing the orbital trajectory of the mass.

(If we could steer asteroids, it'd be interesting to connect ceres to venus to see what happens next)

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Re: Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....

Not forgetting that the "smaller" rocks would probably also have gained a somewhat radioactive complexion into the bargain...

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Re: Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....

nukes asteroids has been exposed as a completely retarded concept decades ago....how about you do a minimum of study on the subject before defecating your nonsense

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Boffin

large asteroid deflection

Various approaches have been proposed. To be realistic you'd need a 10 year plan and execute period, preferably 20. Given that it's theoretically possible to cover a side of one of these with white or black paint, enough to use solar radiation to change its course ever so slightly, given enough years to change the course, a flyby at 100 km from the earth's surface resulting in a slingshot well out of range is much better than a direct hit.

What's important is to detect and catalogue everything above about 100 metres across in near earth orbit, starting with 500 metres across, which needs more and better telescopes on the job. Technology available is already nearly there, and it's something all advanced economies have a reason to contribute towards in connection with international scientific and space collaborations. If you think how much money is being spent in maintaining the ability to nuke the planet many times over, this one is much smaller change.

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Re: Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....

A nuke would work, if it was placed correctly before detonation. To the side and well off-centre. You'd blast a small chunk of asteroid off at high velocity in one direction and impart an equivalent and opposite amount of momentum in the opposite direction. It would work if the delta-V was sufficient to cause the asteroid to miss earth (so the more warning we had, the better). Lots of variables, of course, and causing fragmentation of the asteroid would make things worse (if they could be any worse, that is).

Radioactivity - pah. Compared to the environmental effects of an extinction-level impact event, the radioactivity released by a single nuke would be totally insignificant. We tested hundreds of them in the atmosphere, didn't we?

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Re: Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....

Ignoring the rest of that largely irrelevant post:

The principle is pretty simple - a 10 ton iron penetrator to lead the bomb by a certain distance, on the approach; followed by a HUGE bomb that detonates as it enters the hole created by the penetrator, thus maximising the blast energy inside the asteroid.

No. This is a really terrible idea, and if you'd listened to any half-qualified astrophysicist for ten minutes you'd know why. You "blow 'er out of the sky", you create a series of smaller asteroids, which come raining down on the planet, genius.

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Re: Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....

V is extremely high in an asteroid, so that even if delta V is large, (delta V)/V isn't. This is why one can't get an 100,000 ton rock into orbit just by exploding a nuclear weapon.

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Re: Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....

I believe the "blow it up into little bits" principle was attempted in a rather well documented clean up of a beached sperm whale.

IIRC, in hindsight, it was generally decided that it wasn't one of mankind's greatest moments.

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Well, it worked well for the dinosaurs.

If it's good enough for the dinosaurs, it's good enough for the US.

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Re: Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....

What a fascinating tirade against the lunatic asylum financial practices of the US financial system.

Somehow, it magically impacts every other financial system in the world, apparently, only the US has money and no other nation has their own financial system!

Meanwhile, you'd have a thermonuclear warhead spatter against an asteroid, which would either do nothing whatsoever, other than make an impressive light show or convert one incoming object into a shotgun effect, with the same mass of impact still striking the Earth and causing the same widespread damage.

But, at least we'd get an impressive light show before we join the dinosaurs and all of the species we've driven into extinction.

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Re: Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....

Actually, a decade out or so, a few thermonuclear warheads might have an effect. IF they are not detonating on the surface, but only using radiation pressure of the blast to push the asteroid into a less offending orbit.

That said, there are a dozen other methods that would be far more efficient, less error prone and hence, most likely to succeed than giving a rock a massive sunburn.

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Re: Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....

Well, that 10 ton, better yet, 10 tonne penetrator moving a really high velocity would shift its orbit by a fair amount. No need to turn one rock into gigantic buckshot to pepper us horrifically with.

Indeed, at high velocity, the penetrator would vaporize, along with a fair amount of the rock.

Assuming the offending asteroid isn't a loose collection of rubble, in which case, it'll be absorbed and even a nuclear warhead of any size wouldn't effect at all.

Of course, that same 10 ton or better, 10 tonne monster would be better served as a gravitational tractor, with thrusters to keep its distance and slowly drag the offending asteroid into a more innocuous orbit. Maybe into a lunar orbit or lunar impact.

Then, we'd have an asteroid to mine for useful metals at a convenient location in space.

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Re: Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....

True. They should've used a MOAB.

Same effect, but at least the meat would be well done. ;)

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Mushroom

Re: Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....

...Of course, that same 10 ton or better, 10 tonne monster would be better served as a gravitational tractor, with thrusters to keep its distance and slowly drag the offending asteroid into a more innocuous orbit. Maybe into a lunar orbit or lunar impact.

Then, we'd have an asteroid to mine for useful metals at a convenient location in space....

DON@T say that!!! Otherwise the US will realise that pulling an asteroid into Earth orbit would be quite possible, and then they would use it to threaten any country they didn't like with complete annihilation...

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Sil

Nothing new under the sun

I can remember reading an article in The Economist more than 2 decades ago making the case that such collisions were the most dangerous threat to life on earth and how an affordable investment in countermeasures would make sense.

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Big Brother

Re: Nothing new under the sun

Yeah but the Economist was also justifying the war on Afghanistan and on Iraq, so...

"Where do you want to your money to go today?"

Now there is a 15 trillion dollar debt carter and 120 trillion uncovered social security benefits (with the wealth increasingly going to political entrepreneurs). And that's just the US.

Asteroid deflection? Not soon.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nothing new under the sun

All you need is one large rock to hit a major city... at some point it will happen, either you're ready or you aren't. You prevent an entire population centre being wiped off the face of the planet or you saved a few billion pounds five decades ago.

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Holmes

Re: Nothing new under the sun

an affordable investment in countermeasures would make sense.

But no action will be taken until somewhere takes a real, destructive direct hit, or a major global city (ideally a US one) is menaced in the same way as Chelyabinsk. However, when a few windows are blown out in a Siberian donkey town, you can be sure that the current paltry enthusiasm will quickly die away. Which is a pity. At $20m a year we are spending nothing to combat a fairly significant threat – we know the scale of previous impacts, and you’d think that there’d be some enthusiasm to spend some serious money.

Even in these (supposedly) austere times it would be easy for any number of countries to rustle up a billion dollars. On its own that’s a fifty fold increase in detection funding, but if more countries put in you can start looking at asteroid defence. Who could find $1bn easily?

Well, for starters, even post sequestration the US defence budget is larger than the rest of the world’s put together. A mere 0.2% cut in that post sequestration spending would yield over $1bn. Or a 5% cut in the US department of energy’s “defence related” spending would pony up $1bn. In the UK, a 5% cut in Cameron’s bloated and ineffectual foreign aid programme would yield $1bn. China and Russia could both find $1bn each by a circa 3% cut in heating fuel subsidies. France could find $1bn by a 0.2% cut in its welfare budget that pays people to sit at home and do nothing. Germany could find $1bn simply by reducing the continuing “reunification” subsidies by a mere 1%. India spends something like 7% of its total budget on subsidies for fuel, food, transport. Even countries like Iraq, Eqypt, Venezuela and Indonesia could each find $1bn down the back of the sofa just by a 5% reduction in transport fuel subsidies. There are an absolute handful of countries that couldn't find $1bn, and if the larger economies actually contributed a more proportionate amount then the available cash is vast.

If properly co-ordinated all we’re talking about is transferring public spending through modest changes on often unproductive programmes, and the creation of new high value tech jobs of the sort that politicians always say they want. You could expect from a serious research programme that we'd get some good science and technology spinoffs as well. Using good management techniques work could be farmed out to the funding countries (to avoid poor countries paying rich ones), and the outputs openly monitored (to ensure that underperforming elements are addressed).

Sadly this won't happen until we get that direct hit. Fingers crossed it is a small one, and nowhere near me.

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FAIL

Re: Nothing new under the sun

The chance of a city being wiped out by a medium sized rock are probably quite remote. Most of the earth is ocean and most of the rest is relatively sparsely populated. Even at worst it is a little local difficulty. Most of the globe will only suffer from the news coverage. In other words thinking globally these are hits we can take and recover.

Whereas its the biggies that we really have to worry about. Those that it doesn't matter where they impact - the effect is global. Looks like we have a good fix on spotting them. Just the problem of stopping them.

That's where we need to focus and not be distracted by recoverable catastrophes when the real problem is the end of life as we know it.

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Re: Nothing new under the sun

"The chance of a city being wiped out by a medium sized rock are probably quite remote....and not be distracted by recoverable catastrophes "

Agreed that the risks are modest. But still feasible, given that we've had Tungunuska and Chelyabinsk roughly a century apart, and we've now got several billion people living in cities. In presuming that past known events risk equals future risk, we're also overlooking any asteroid events that did land in the sea or the poles in that time, and went undetected.

Given the expensive pantomime of "security" for air transport to avoid casualties of the order of a few thousand a year (eg $8bn a year for the US TSA) I'd argue that the risk from "minor" asteroid strikes is not dissimilar to the risks of aviation terror attacks, maybe greater, and justifies similar spending.

And the other thing is that the detection and defence probably relies on the same science and technology, so the cost of trying to counter an extinction event is probably the same as dealing with the more modest risks.

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Mushroom

Re: Nothing new under the sun

It won't matter where any km sized object hits, the climatic implications are enormous and will affect globally. 100 m - 1 km hitting land will do pretty much the same climate-wise whether it hits a city or not; an oceanic impact may also have a greater immediate risk due to tsunami.

We're all so wrapped up in whether or not we as people get hit directly or not (i.e. an impact to a city), it clouds our judgment. If we want to save lives, put the 'scopes up in inferior orbit and give people time to evacuate to whatever squalour they then must put up with for years to come (think Ike, Katrina, etc.).

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Re: Nothing new under the sun

Chelyabinsk is NOT a "donkey town" - it is basically students and industry thrown together.

Education

There are over a dozen universities in Chelyabinsk. The oldest, Chelyabinsk State Agroengineering Academy, was founded in 1930. It was followed by the Chelyabinsk State Pedagogical University in 1934. The main ones are South Ural State University, Chelyabinsk State University and Chelyabinsk Medical Academy. After the World War II Chelyabinsk became the main center of vocational education of the entire Ural region.

Economy

Chelyabinsk is one of the major industrial centers of Russia. Heavy industry predominates, especially metallurgy and military machinery, notably the Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Combinate (CMK, ChMK), Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant (CTZ, ChTZ), Chelyabinsk Electrode plant (CHEZ), Chelyabinsk Tube Rolling Plant (ChTPZ) and Chelyabinsk Forge-and-Press Plant (ChKPZ).

Transportation

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Coat

Re: Nothing new under the sun

"Who could find $1bn easily?"

Cyprus? Oh....

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Go

Re: Nothing new under the sun

Good idea in principle, but the usual stumbling block will be where in the world all this high tech investment goes. I don't see France, Germany, China never mind Venezuala coughing up without getting some of the action back into their own economies.

Cue years of horse trading a la LHC, reasearch Fusion reactor labs, and the rest. Chances are they'll still be squabbling about who gets what & how much the wonga when the "Big One" hits.

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WTF?

Re: Nothing new under the sun

...The chance of a city being wiped out by a medium sized rock are probably quite remote....

The chance of Climate Change causing any measurable problem at all is zilch.

But that doesn't seem to stop them spending trillions on it...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nothing new under the sun

"Who could find $1bn easily?"

Hey, Jeff Bezos, just think how much nerdy fun this would be, and the sheer scale of the historical publicity if you did it under an Amazon banner.. XD

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Re: Nothing new under the sun

Coming up with the money isn't hard. No new cannon for the military, the old ones are pretty good at blowing up the countryside already.

Retire half of the ICBM force, blanketing a continent once is more than enough. One can retire half of the boomers as well, see the ICBM force bit.

There went a supertanker full of money.

But, no. The US won't "waste money" that way and needs to be able to incinerate a continent three times over. And put armed men in schools and hospitals...

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Pish.

See title.

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Pint

Why one country ?

I really don't understand why topics such as these aren't carried over across multiple countries... Several countries have their own "space agency" yet it also seems as if all those several countries find no reason for cooperation.

Sure; a little competition is always good. And often doing it yourself can come with its own benefits.

But shouldn't topics such as these be addresses by an international organisation instead of just NASA? That way all the involved countries can contribute thus also making sure that even in rough financial times we don't need to cut back on issues which really matter on a global scale.

Or put differently: Now it seems as if NASA is has a leading role in all this, and although I have nothing against that they are fully dependent on whatever the US government can provide them with. But issues like these concern the whole world...

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Re: Why one country ?

"Now it seems as if NASA is has a leading role in all this,"

At current levels of spending the leading role is up for grabs. If the Yanks only want to spend $20m, the Russians could easily own the game within a couple of years by choosing to put in (say) $100m a year to a programme under their control. They've got space experience, launchers, and excellent technology skills. And if the Russians don't there's China, or India. At a push the ESA could step in, but that seems a long shot to me.

Even NASA don't care about asteroids. Next year they are launching the $500m MAVEN orbiter to study Mars' upper atmosphere. And in 2016 another half a billion mission of the InSight lander, again to Mars. Not sure what the annual spend on Mars is, but I guess including already landed programmes that it must be consuming around $300m a year.

We can certainly rely on NASA to be leader on Mars research. No so sure we can rely on them for asteroid detection and defences.

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Facepalm

Re: Why one country ?

"At a push the ESA could step in, but that seems a long shot to me."

And that, to me, is the remarkable thing in all of this. We expect the US, Russia, China and India to invest more in a space program that's tailor made for good old rich conservatory Europe. We have the money, and we have the expertise. Why are we expecting third parties to lead the way in this regard?

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Re: Why one country ?

"Why are we expecting third parties to lead the way in this regard?"

Because Europe has set its priorities as welfare and health spending. That's where the biggest chunk of pan-European public spending by all members goes (around a third of GDP, or over half of all public spending), into over-generous and unfunded pensions, into benefits to those who cannot or will not find work, into free at point of use healthcare. As noted earlier Europe could easily find the money, but you have to accept that this "state provision of services" model is a mindset, and one that doesn't have parallels in the other major economic blocs. Until asteroid defence is seen as a public service then Europe won't be doing it, and even then the ghost of Christmas future can be seen in the failure of the EU as a body to fashion common defence or foreign policies, preferring instead to spend billions of € on "social cohesion", competitiveness (what a laugh), and agricultural subsidies to please the frogs.

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Meh

Re: Why one country ?

There is this thing I like to call the Onion ring of human selfishness.

It starts off with oneself then moves to direct family, in direct family/friends, local area, region, country and finally continent.

People or things in the same layer or closer to the center take precedence over outer layers.

It's why and Englishman who support Man U and another Englishman who Man City hate each other, but when supporting England against another country are the best of friends. Or would support a European team over and Asian or US team.

Its human nature to protect oneself and then progress outward.

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Childcatcher

Re: Why one country ?

Its human nature to protect oneself and then progress outward.

Greed is also a part of human nature. If "tracking NEOs" could be rephrased as "discovering near-earth resources that could be mined for profit," it would become a lot easier to get funding.

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@ShelLuser Re: Why one country ?

I agree. I never thought I'd hear myself saying this about American policy, but, yes, other countries should be contributing to the NASA project too

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why one country ?

"..over-generous and unfunded pensions, into benefits to those who cannot or will not find work, into free at point of use healthcare.."

The Daily Mail is thataway --->

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Alert

Shouldn't the rest of the world help save the world?

It certainly seems as if, assuming a planet-killer were discovered on the way in, the rest of the world would immediately turn to the USA and start moaning about NASA letting the side down. You hear about NASA getting involved in asteroid-tracking but you don't hear so much about the rest of the world getting in on the act.

Perhaps its time for each country to donate some of their observatories time to asteroid spotting, as part of a worldwide (UN organised?) program.

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Mushroom

Re: Shouldn't the rest of the world help save the world?

>the rest of the world would immediately turn to the USA

Why? Might be a better idea to ask the Russians, if they by any change have another Tzar Bomba lying around... They also have a working heavy-duty rocket to launch it with, unlike the USA.

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Stop

Re: Shouldn't the rest of the world help save the world?

There is already an organisation called Spaceguard, which has tried to get international backing to track NEOs - some might remember Lembit Opik championing it a few years ago: http://www.spaceguarduk.com/

At European level: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Technology/NEO/Spaceguard_Central_Node

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shouldn't the rest of the world help save the world?

I'd trust the ESA/Russia & China as a team, more than i'd trust the USA to fix the problem...

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Pirate

Re: Shouldn't the rest of the world help save the world?

Maybe we should but we should also demand equal hero credits on the movie and no automatic making the asteroid a euro. I reckon a big fat world gobbler should be played by Eric Pickles a north american.

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Anonymous Coward

Obama's goals

Obama's goals are to destroy this country. that is why he has ended the space shuttle before we had any replacement, and why he is sending so much money to the muslim Brotherhood (200 Million) recently.

He is a muslim pretending to be a christian. figure it out.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Obama's goals

Why is Ann Coulter posting here?

And getting upvotes?

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Re: Obama's goals

That's not Ann Coulter, that's a sheeple.

Upvotes: More sheeple. IMO, anyway.

Sad that the proletariat can't think for themselves ...

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FAIL

Re: Obama's goals

Please check your facts Mr Troll.

The funding for the shuttles was cut by Mr Bush Jnr (he of the Republican persuasion) and the US has been propping up Egypt with about $200mil every year for the last 30 years. I didnt hear any complaints from republicans when it was that nice man Mr Mubarak in charge (he of the totalitarian, torturing persuasion)?

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