Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Why a Newt Gingrich presidency might help Mississippi

February 3rd, 2012 2 comments

Just sitting on your couch and listening, some of Newt Gingrich’s latest ideas might seem to be a little — OK, a lot — off the wall.
Amazingly enough, some of Newt’s ideas might actually be good for Mississippi’s economy in general and the Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, specifically.
In fact, many of Newt’s ideas aren’t new at all — specifically the one in which the Republican presidential candidate wants to create a lunar colony that he says could become a U.S. state.
Gingrich has been hammered everywhere, from the far right to the far left and everywhere in between, as having read too many science-fiction novels. But mainstream science experts, including some Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney supporters, say Gingrich isn’t off the mark at all — at least where it comes to having a “first permanent base on the moon.”
Returning to the moon and building an outpost there is not new. Until three years ago, it was U.S. policy and billions of dollars were spent on that idea.
Since 1969, staying on the moon has been a part of many president’s plans, including George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush.
That’s where Stennis Space Center comes in. George W. Bush, proposed a unar outpost, phased out the space shuttle program and spent more than $9 billion designing a return to the moon program.
Stennis had been a part of testing the rocket boosters for the shuttle program. Losing the shuttle program might have been devastating for Stennis.
Yet, NASA has already chosen Michoud, just across the line in Louisiana, to construct components of a next-generation, heavy-lift rocket being designed to transport astronauts to destinations like asteroids and Mars. Stennis, meanwhile, is test-firing the engines that will power that vehicle beyond low-Earth orbit and into deep space.
And the lunar colony?
George Washington University space policy director Scott Pace, who was NASA’s associate administrator in the second Bush administration and is a Romney supporter, said the 2020 lunar base date Gingrich mentioned was feasible when it was proposed in 2005.
The fact is it was President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel the program. Pace said it would be hard to figure out when NASA could get back to the moon, but that such a return is doable.
Neal Lane, former head of the National Science Foundation and White House science adviser during the Clinton administration, told the Associated Press that Gingrich’s proposals aren’t crazy, although he may disagree with some of them. Gingrich’s ideas and actions are “very pro-science,” said Lane, who credited Gingrich with protecting federal science research from budget cuts in the 1990s.
“He’s on the edge of mainstream thinking about big science. Except for the idea of establishing a colony on the moon, it’s not over the edge,” added Syracuse University science policy professor Henry Lambright.
NASA, understandably, wants to stay out of presidential politics and chooses not to comment on this particular issue.
However, there is no doubt a renewed interest in the space program — regardless of its genesis — could help the long-term health of NASA and Stennis, specifically.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at or (601) 364-1018

Even with bin Laden dead, memories remain

May 2nd, 2011 Comments off

Bleary eyed and not quite yet awake, and having missed any news after 10 last night, I looked at our iPad and the Associated Press app with the lead news of the day. The news of the U.S. killing Osama bin Laden wasn’t registering.

Is this right?

Finally, I forcibly blinked a couple times and gained my consciousness and re-read the story.

Osama bin Laden, the face of global terrorism and architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was killed in a firefight with elite American forces Monday, then quickly buried at sea in a stunning finale to a furtive decade on the run.

In the pre-dawn hours, alone in the quiet and mostly dark of my kitchen, I thought back nearly 10 years to the day all of us will remember forever.

It’s still hard to think about.

In fact, most times when images are shown on television, I will turn my head or focus on something else when the images come on the screen.

It was then that my wife (fiancee at the time) and I stood on the streets of New York and watched, in stunned silence, as the towers of the World Trade Center fell to earth.

They are images that are burned into my brain so indelibly that when similar images flash on a television screen, there is almost a sensory overload.

And while the footage and photos that have been and will be shown during this aftermath of U.S. forces having killed bin Laden that likely will focus on the destruction and the physical event of either the planes crashing into the buildings or the buildings crumbling to the ground, it is the rest of the day that I thought about this morning.

Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 11 in New York was like a ghost town. The usually bustling streets were reduced to a few lonely wanderers looking up and around.

After so much frightening activity that morning in which there were traffic jams and people running down the streets screaming and shouting, Tuesday afternoon was just plain eerie.

Nearly every business was closed with nearly everyone having retreated to their homes to see what was going to happen next, and asking, “Is there more to come?”

What was left was a scene straight out of a bad movie with blocks and blocks and blocks of near empty streets.

That night, we walked for, what seemed to be, miles just to find an open restaurant. The Blue Moon Mexican Cafe was packed to the gills. After we were seated, everything was almost normal. There was the roar of the voices in a packed restaurant, the racing around of the overworked waitresses trying to get to too many tables in a short amount of time.

But when President Bush appeared on the television screens in the restaurant, a hush fell across the room. I’ve never experienced such silence before and haven’t since. The only audible sounds were Bush’s voice and the occasional clink of a dish or silverware from the kitchen.

Every eye was fixed on the screens. Every ear locked onto his words.

We didn’t know what to expect, and, really, neither did he, but we listened.

When the president’s message concluded, the restaurant slowly reverted to it’s pre-speech activity, although slightly toned down.

After dinner, our walk was in near silence. There was the occasional person on the sidewalk and an occasional restaurant open, but New York had been brought to a standstill.

That’s what I remember today, the tension, the not knowing, the anticipation of the City That Never Sleeps on a night that was sleepless for many around the country.

There is a sense of relief with bin Laden gone, but there will be nothing that takes away from the memory of standing on the corner of Sixth and The Avenue of the Americas.


That and the sunlight reflecting off glass, like falling confetti, from the first tower as it collapsed on itself on that day in 2001.

Bigfoot, Trump never in the same place

April 29th, 2011 Comments off

No one loves a good folklore or conspiracy story like me.
I mean, my favorite headline of all time was in one of the grocery store tabloids.
“Bigfoot was my love slave.”
It’s not every day you see that.
So there is Bigfoot, The Loch Ness Monster, the Abominable Snowman or the Yeti Monster and many many more. The stories are fun, but we know, really, that they are not true.
Even conspiracy theories can be interesting. In my family, it’s told that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for a company that one of my great, great uncles founded. The story is that Oswald took a leave of absence from Reily Coffee Company to make a covert trip to Cuba just months before the assassination of President John Kennedy.
It is true Oswald had some sort of job at Reily Coffee Company in New Orleans, but who knows if the rest is true.
So, when the whole story with Barack Obama and his birth certificate came up forever ago, there was no urgency in my mind. There’s always someone coming up with some crazy story and some conspiracy theory.
But as the next two-and-a-half years have played out, it has become amazing there are so many people who really seem to believe the president, despite presenting a legal birth certificate during the election, believe — even now — that he was not born in the United States
Until this week, Hawaii officials said they wouldn’t release original birth records for anyone, under any circumstances. Even if it was President Barack Obama.
But with all the of the craziness surrounding the “birther movement” and supposed intelligent people going off the deep end to question the President’s legitimacy, state officials then decided to make an exception to a 2001 policy that prohibited anyone from getting a photocopy of an original birth certificate. They usually hand out computer-generated versions.
So, there it is. The original birth certificate of President Obama.
Donald Trump can quit yapping and the birthers can shut the hell up.
But, we know that won’t happen.
I mean it was just a couple of years ago that a new video popped up claiming to prove that the Loch Ness Monster really existed.
If that and the stories of aliens and Area 51 are still spawning History Channel and Discovery Channel events, the birth certificate saga could go on forever.
Hey, do you think Donald Trump really has a lock of hair from Big Foot on his head? Maybe he was Big Foot’s love slave?

Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at or (601) 364-1018.

More oil rigs in Gulf than before BP oil spill

February 4th, 2011 Comments off

According to The Times Picayune in New Orleans …

While a backlog of drilling permits in Washington continues to feed oil industry angst, new data shows that more rigs are in the Gulf of Mexico than before the BP oil spill, indicating that operators might have more confidence in the future than they are letting on.

While only 34 of the 125 rigs in the Gulf are actually working — half the total that were active before the Macondo well blowout — the vast majority of the idle rigs, particularly those slated for big-ticket jobs in deepwater, will remain under contract for the rest of 2011.

The latest tracking information from ODS-Petrodata, a Houston-based compiler of oil and gas data, shows there are 10 more rigs in the Gulf now than there were last April.

While only 34 of the 125 rigs in the Gulf are actually working — half the total that were active before the Macondo well blowout — the vast majority of the idle rigs, particularly those slated for big-ticket jobs in deepwater, will remain under contract for the rest of 2011.

In the shallow-water Gulf oil fields, where the government has never officially banned drilling but has issued few work permits in the past several months, activity has rebounded to near its pre-blowout levels.

There are 26 shallow-water rigs operating now, just 11 fewer than before the BP blowout, according to ODS-Petrodata. In December, the government issued seven shallow-water drilling permits, matching the monthly average from the year leading up to the BP disaster.

There are also signs of renewal in the more lucrative deepwater fields.

Haley’s been soaking his head in oil

June 5th, 2010 Comments off

Gov. Haley Barbour told a group of mostly native Mississippians today (Saturday) that the oil tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico isn’t as bad as the media is making it out to be.

“It’s really more of a nuisance,” he said.


Barbour made the comments at the Mississippi in the Park event at Central Park in New York City.

Does he really believe that?

Nearly 40 percent of the Gulf of Mexico is closed to fishing and boating; oil is inundating the marshes of Louisiana and is beginning to wash ashore in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

I suppose nuisance is one way to describe it, but I suspect only folks that are trying to downplay the effect of this tragedy would use that term.

Gov. Barbour has no sense of urgency about this event and hasn’t since Day 1.

While Mississippi has not seen the devastation to evironment and wildlife that Louisiana has to date, there is no guarantee those conditions will hold.

It really is quite striking that Gov. Barbour would even be in New York when he should be on the ground on the gulf coast monitoring the situation.

During the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Gov. Barbour was famous for going on national television and anywhere else, for that matter, and telling everyone how Mississippians are “hitching up their britches,” to get through the tragedy.

Maybe it’s time Gov. Barbour hitch up his britches and make sure the Mississippi Gulf Coast is protected from an event that could prove to be far more costly than Hurricane Katrina in the long run.

Back in the office, Northway to tell story of the Coast

May 6th, 2010 Comments off

Mississippi Business Journal senior reporter Wally Northway is back from a day on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where he talked with residents from bay St. Louis to Ocean Springs about the potential for disaster associated with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

He also spent the afternoon on a media boat that toured some of the affected waters.

“The fight to stave off the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and protect the Gulf Coast’s delicate ecosystem was more than evident,” Northway said.

Look for his story here Friday and in the print edition of the Mississippi Business Journal, which will be available in newsstands Friday afternoon.

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