Monday, December 12, 2011

 

....AND THE ROCKET'S RED GLARE

At this juncture it is still difficult to predict how our American friends and neighbours will ultimately react to plans by the Government of Canada to mark, note and celebrate every aspect of the bicentennial of the "War of 1812" which will be getting underway in earnest shortly after the clock strikes twelve on New Year's Day.

Despite the cutbacks and austerity measures which will kick-in in the immediate aftermath of the Federal Government's early spring budget, Mr. Harper's Government has earmarked millions of tax dollars for celebrations and commemoration of the war between the American States and British North American troops, French Canadian compatriots and First Nations' Aboriginals (who sided with the Empire) and fought-off and won against U.S. aggression between 1812 and 1814.

From the iconic Johnny Horton top 40 tune "The Battle of New Orleans" of the early 1960's all the way back to America's cherished national anthem "The Star Spangled Banner," written by poet Francis Scott Key as he witnessed the British/Canadian assault on Fort McHenry in 1814;  the defeat of the Americans in the War of 1812 strikes at the very "being" of the United States.

Perhaps fortunately for us north of the border, the commemorations about to get underway may be overshadowed by the lead-up to, the debates, the conventions, the campaigns and the confrontations of the crucial November 2012 next election of the President of the United States.

Not exactly as illustrated, but you get the idea!
Regardless, unlike tensions rising elsewhere on the planet,  the United-States has little to fear from the Harper Government's somewhat misguided efforts (American style) to encourage Canadian patriotism over the next 5 years leading to Canada's Sesquicentennial of 2017. On the other side of the world matters of far greater and immediate concern, including Vladimir Putin's campaign for the Russian Presidency; tensions with the rogue states of Iran and North Korea; ongoing irritants with Paskistan over the prosecution of the Afghan War; and the country's accumulating massive debt to China (a significant contributor to America's spiralling economic crisis) - and surely many other things in between, will end-up by default on the next President's agenda.

As with the case of the legendary Laura Secord, the Canadian milk maid of the aforementioned War of 1812, through Mata Hari, the Dutch exotic dancer of the Great War, and the U-2 spy-plane flown by Col. Francis Gary Powers which crashed 'intact' in Russia in 1960 - In matters of human conflict;  access to unprocessed, wholesome and relevant strategic information about your enemy is as important as prosecuting an offensive.  Thus, though publicly low-key, in official Washington there has been some consternation over the loss of the on-board secret technology of the pilot less drone spy-plane which crashed (apparently also intact) in Iran on December 4. - In the relentless campaign to unseat President Barack Obama from the White House next year, some Republican candidates are even advocating early military strikes against the Iranians...I digress!

A prototype of the X-37B after an initial test flight in 2010.
But whether it is in flights over its own borders with Canada and Mexico, or in spy-like missions flying over rogue states like Iran and North Korea; like its U-2 predecessor, America's reliance on the low-flying technology of pilot less drone aircraft is probably close to ending anyway. Behold the X-37B space drone...An ultra-secretive shuttle-like vehicle currently orbiting the planet at 17,000 miles per hour. The United-States Air Force confirmed just a few days ago that its initial 9-months "mission" is being extended. Of course the Air Force will not confirm the objective of the X-37B, but most skeptics think that the vehicle's mission is somehow defence and/or spy-related. In fact, amateur astronomers accidentally detected the orbital pattern of a prototype in May 2010. According to their data the X-37B's orbits included flyovers of, you guessed it: North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The manufacturer of the current variant of the X-37B, the Boeing Corporation, confirms that the space plane was launched from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida last March. Coincidentally just last month, NASA turned-over its "Orbiting Processing Facility No.3" to the Boeing Corporation. It's being described in the local press as a..."first-of-a-kind agreement allowing a private company to take over the government property." - Orbiting Processing Facility No.3 was previously used to ready the Space Shuttle for flight. A government austerity program ended the Space Shuttle program this past summer after more than 20 years.

In the spy business, staying just ahead of the competition is a daunting task. As pretty much everyone expected, but hoped against in the aftermath of the launch of "Sputnik" in October 1957, Space (the final frontier) has incrementally changed from an experimental planetary test laboratory to a giant "eye in our sky". We are no longer alone, indeed!













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