I am working on the template of this blog today in order to chase down some problems that have developed with my template and widgets.

Macon County Commissioners

Coverage of the meetings of the Macon County Board of County Commissioners.

Franklin Town Board of Aldermen

Coverage of the meetings of the Franklin Town Board of Aldermen.

Macon County School Board

Coverage of the meetings of the Macon County School Board.


Photos from my photoblog.

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nullspace for future use


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Macon County Commissioners January 2011 Work Session
Live Coverage

The Cecil Groves Building located on Siler Farm Road in Franklin, NC 
Photo by Bobby Coggins

The Macon County Commissioners will be meeting for an all-day work session in the Cecil Groves building on the Macon County Campus of Southwestern Community College on Siler Farm Road in Franklin, NC on Saturday, January 29th, 2011.

During the meeting, the past year will be reviewed and plans will be discussed concerning 20111 and 2012.

I will be there throughout the morning session taking notes and anticipate being able to be there for the afternoon session as well, although it is not a certainty. Due to the location and length of the meeting, I will not be streaming the meeting live, but will be providing occasional updates via my cell phone to twitter using the #MaconGov hashtag.  You may track it via your favorite twitter client or below on this widget:

Here is the agenda for the work session:

January 29th, 2011 – 9:00 A.M.


9:00 – 9:15 Welcome- Chairman, (Brian McClellan)

9:15 - 9:45 Macon County 2010, Year in Review (Jack Horton)

9:45 – 10:30 Mid-Year Financial Review (Evelyn Southard)

10:30 – 10:45 Break

10:45 - Noon Proposed Budget Calendar Fiscal year 2011/12 (Jack Horton)

Budget challenges and goals for FY 2012

  • NCACC Legislative goals (Ronnie Beale)

  • The state is facing a 3.7 billion dollar shortfall, what will this mean for counties?

  • Public Schools (possible cut in state funding for current expense, and redirecting state revenues (ie) lottery etc

  • Human Services (possible shift admin. Expenses DSS/Health/ Mental Health) along with more clients to serve in these areas

  • Highway maintenance shift from the state to counties

Noon - 12:45 LUNCH
12:45 - 1:15 Employee Health Insurance update and options
(Brian McClellan)

1:15 - 1:45 Mental Health Services update, Smoky Mountain
LME /Evergreen etc. (Ronnie Beale)

1:45- 2:15 Goals and expectations for next year?
(What do we want to accomplish?)

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Egyptian Uprising:
Protests Spread to Egypt,
Mubarak Dismisses Government

**4.16am** Upon watching the Al Jazeera coverage today, I can't help but notice that the Al Jazeera anchors and reporters seem to be using incendiary language in their descriptions, almost as if they were designed to inflame opinion. I can't help but wonder what they are saying, and how they are saying it, in Arabic. It's something to consider keeping an eye on. I bring this up because yesterday, the anchors didn't refrain from mocking Obama's Press Secretary while he was giving a presser yesterday and even mocked Obama, and there were two occasions were an anchor accidentally called Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian President, Barak Obama

Egyptian rioters burn cars in the streets of Cairo

As things stand now, it looks like the Egyptian protests will continue today (Saturday) and it will be interesting to see how things unfold, and if the Egyptian military forces side with the government or the protesters.

After the protests in Tunisia successfully toppled the government and forced the President to flee to Saudi Arabia [Wikipedia], similar events have begun in Egypt.

The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police.
On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011.
The secret document in fullHe has already been arrested by Egyptian security in connection with the demonstrations and his identity is being protected by The Daily Telegraph.

Source: The Telegraph

I spent a few hours yesterday watching the riots unfold via the Al Jazeera livestream, reading their liveblog, reading tweets from Egyptians and others in the area. The rioters seemed to make a clear distinction in how they respected the military as opposed to the police forces. When Army Troops were introduced into the streets, they were often (not always) welcomed with cheers and escorted by mobs through to their destination. I saw several instances where rioters climbed onto tanks and armored personnel carriers and hitched rides. The police, however, were met with rocks and Molotov Cocktails.

Graphic showing the Internet Kill Switch in use in Egypt in an attempt to stop anti government protesters from being able to network their activities

The Egyptian government used its Internet Kill Switch (similar to what Obama has been seeking) in an attempt to deny rioters the means to organize. The above graphic shows the precipitous drop in Internet traffic when that was accomplished. All cell phone providers were also instructed to suspend cell phone service in Egypt. I note that most of the organizing activity for these riots were taking place in and near the mosques before and after prayers.

Here are a few videos to give you a taste of how things went yesterday...

In this clip, reported to be from Wednesday, and records a protest that took place in the 'Gamal Abd El Nassar' station and was posted to Ahmed Ajjur's blog, which includes instructions for Egyptians to circumvent the attempts of the Egyptian government to shut down Internet access to the protesters.

This is the first video uploaded to the Al Jazeera You Tube Account from their live coverage. In this clip, police fire barrages of tear gas at protesters gathered in front of the high-end Ramses Hilton hotel.

In this clip, rioters in Suez light several fires during their protests calling for an end to Mubarak's 30 year Presidency.

In this clip, police in Cairo use tear gas to disperse mobs of protesters.

In this clip, Police hold their fire while protesters perform their evening prayers. Praying five times a time at prescribed times is one of the five pillars of Islam.

In this clip, Protesters welcome the introduction of Egyptian military assets into the streets of Cairo.

Reactions to the protests and riots are varied. The Iranian government is hopeful that the riots across the Middle East result in pro-Western governments being toppled and replaced with hard line Islamic governments that will be friendly to Iran and less friendly to Israel and the United States. See article in the New York Times.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has responded by dismissing his top government ministers and has called for the formation of a new government...with him still as President.

Here are the latest updates to the Liveblog being run by Al Jazeera as I prepared this post (all times are local):

6:48 am Japan upgraded its security warning for Egypt on Saturday, advising travellers to Egypt to postpone journeys.

6:38 am Internet and mobile phone networks are still down in Egypt.
6:30 am The headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party in Cairo are still on fire.
6:04 am Al Jazeera's Jane Dutton, reporting from Cairo, says the National Museum in the capital has not been damaged by the fire that destroyed the neighboring office of the National Democratic Party last night.  
5:29 am Associated Press news agency is reporting that China has blocked the word "Egypt" from the country's wildly popular Twitter-like service, while coverage of the political turmoil has been tightly restricted in state media.
5:13 am The Egyptian army secured Cairo's famed antiquities museum early on Saturday, protecting thousands of priceless artifacts, including the gold mask of King Tutankhamun, from looters.
4:17am Al Jazeera's Amyman Mohyeldin says the streets of Cairo are "still abuzz" but peaceful. The curfew, which thousands have defied since it came into effect at 6pm yesterday, is in place until 7am.
3:25am: PJ Crowley, the US state department spokesman, wrote this on Twitter a short while ago:  As President #Obama said, ideas in #Egypt cannot be suppressed. The people want change and the government must respond to that aspiration.
3:06am: A senior Muslim Brotherhood official tells Al Jazeera that Mubarak must resign immediately and that it's time for the army to intervene and "save the country".
3:00am Mubarak's decisioon to sack the government does not seem to be enough to appease protesters. "The problem is he is a corrupt president and had a corrupt government and if he brings a new government is will also be corrupt since the system is all corrupt", a man in Cairo tells Reuters. "It was never the government, by God, it is you that has to go, it is enough what you have done to the people," says another protester.

Here are snippets of how the events in egypt are being reported around the Arab world:

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian Foreign Ministry urged the Egyptian officials to avoid using violent methods against the popular demonstrations in the country.

"It seems more appropriate that Egyptian officials fulfill the people's demands and avoid violence caused by military and security officials against this popular uprising," an informed source with the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.

Egypt's popular uprising is based on the religious teachings and vigilance of the Muslims in the Middle East region, the source added.

This uprising aims to return Egypt to its original place in the regional and international political scenes, the source said.

"The Egyptian people deserve higher and more influential status" in the Middle East and the Muslim world, the source added.

The Egyptian government has cut all cell phone and Internet services amid anti-government demonstrations that began after the Friday prayers.

The army was brought in and military vehicles could be seen on the streets of the capital following violent clashes between police and protesters.

Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei was among top opposition figures who attended the rally. 

From Al Arabiya

CAIRO (Al, Agencies)
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in his capacity as military ruler, extended on Friday a curfew to Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, state TV reported, following countrywide protests calling for the president to step down. State TV had earlier said the curfew would be imposed nationwide.

Mubarak ordered the Egyptian military to aid the security forces in controlling the growing protests nationwide, the Egyptian state TV said.

"According to what some provinces witnessed in terms of riots, lawlessness, looting, destruction, attack and burning of public and private property including attacks on banks and hotels, President Mubarak decreed a curfew as a military ruler," a state TV announcer said.

Tanks began deploying around Cairo, Alexandria and Ismailia and Suez, the official MENA news agency reported, after a day of violent clashes between police and protesters demanding an end to Mubarak's rule.

This is from Al Hayat in Beirut:

Fri, 28 January 2011
Husam Itani
The Egyptian authorities have missed the train of reforms, and it is the case of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s government before them. Now, President Hosni Mubarak can only resort to boundless power and oppression to maintain his authority, knowing that if he does so, it would be as though he was pushing himself toward the brink of the abyss.
Reforms, regardless of their depth and scope, are no longer enough. Indeed, the course adopted by the rule during the last thirty years can be summarized by the instatement of stalemate at the level of foreign, internal and economic policies. Moreover, it was characterized by the refusal to deal with the sensitive issues such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, the distribution of national wealth, the transformation of the ruling party into a bloc for those benefitting from the privileges of the regime, the dissemination of the consumption facet over the economy and the position toward the Islamization of the community, with all that these factors carried in terms of repercussions on the values, the culture and the general behavior.
This approach caused massive losses in all various aspects of life. Egypt’s status around the world and among the Arab countries thus retreated, after it turned out that the mediation role that Cairo wanted to play between Israel and the Arabs required capabilities and competences which the Egyptian authorities did not enjoy. Moreover, Egyptian economy became exposed to harsh external transformations, due to its exposure to financial markets, without having any actual production force. In the meantime, social polarization deepened in parallel to the undermining of the tools of unionist, partisan and media expression. Thus, mini-states, which were never taken into consideration by anyone a few years back, became capable of defying the Egyptian role on many arenas that Egypt had monopolized.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

The John Batchelor Show for January 27, 2011
Monitoring and Commenting Upon World Events

The John Batchelor Show monitors the events on the earth and the universe

The John Batchelor Show is an essential tool for understanding the new order in the 21st Century. The world is now facing a dangerous and fanatical enemy determined to destroy Western civilization on both political and military fronts. In this, the first great ideological battle of the new millennium, it is imperative to know the major players and the theaters in which they operate.

The John Batchelor Show features a multitude of distinctive elements. John's themes cover every detail - from military battles, presidential campaigns, planetary exploration, and Hollywood politicos to his own international travel. John has broadcast from many corners of the world and in his program he calls out to all points, including New York, Jerusalem, Des Moines, Kazakhstan, Orlando, Manchester, Morocco, Boston, Taipei, Washington, and Baghdad.

Needless to say, The John Batchelor Show is my favorite Radio Show, and a useful tool for gaining insight on world events via the discussions and interviews conducted by John Batchelor. Below you will find the audio of last night's show for your edification...

Hour One

Hour Two

Hour Three

Hour Four

For more information on The John Batchelor Show, please visit the following websites:

Listen Live on WABC Radio from 9pm to 1am 7 nights a week

The John Batchelor Show website

The WABC Radio Podcast webpage (you can download the show yourself, as I do every morning)

Wikipedia Article on John Batchelor

Facebook Page (for fans)

Twitter Account

My previous articles on the show

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

NC General Assembly
01-27-2010 Legislative Calendar

The new session of the North Carolina General Assembly is underway and here is the schedule for today. (I have yesterday's opening session recorded, and will be putting them online later this week). 

I will also try to record the House Judiciary Meeting regarding the Protect health Care Freedom bill and make that available to you as well. (I will add that to this post if I am able to record the meeting).

10:00 AM
Session Convenes (House) Listen Live

House Chamber
11:00 AM
Session Convenes (Senate) Listen Live 

Senate Chamber
Judiciary (House) Listen Live
Protect Health Care Freedom. (H2)
544 LOB

**Audio added 2.06pm** I apologize for the audio of the NC House Judiciary debate concerning House Bill 2 not being available. I screwed up and apologize for the inconvenience. It was a lively committee meeting. 

NC Senate Session for 01-27-2010

NC House Session for 01-27-2010

**1.00am 01-28-2011** Voter Radio has uploaded their recording of the Judiciary Committee Meeting. Download an MP3 copy.

Here is the NC House Calendar for today:

2nd Legislative Day
Thursday, January 27, 2011
House Convenes at 10:00 a.m.
Thom Tillis, Speaker
(Reminder: Members have until 24 hours for electronic cosponsorship after Thursday’s session to cosponsor introduced bills)
HB 2 Stam, Barnhart, Hollo and Murry (Primary Sponsors) 

HB 3 Stam, Ingle and Faircloth (Primary Sponsors) 

HB 4 Ross, Weiss and Jackson (Primary Sponsors) 


HB 6 Starnes, Howard, Barnhart and Steen (Primary Sponsors) 
Ingle, Cleveland and McCormick (Primary Sponsors) - COMMUNITY COLLEGES/OPT OUT OF FEDERAL LOAN PROGRAM.

HB 8 Stam, Lewis and McGrady (Primary Sponsors) 

HB 9 Dollar, LaRoque, L. Brown and R. Brown (Primary Sponsors) 

The NC Senate Calendar is as follows:

Thursday, January 27, 2011
Legislative Day 2
11:00 A.M.
Lt. Governor Walter Dalton, President

The Reverend Peter Milner, Senate Chaplain






Here is the piece of legislation under consideration in the House Judiciary Meeting today, a bill called Protect Health Freedom:

H2v0 Protect Health Freedom

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NASA Day of Remembrance
The Columbia Crew

NASA Day of Remembrance

Each January, we honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, as well as other members of the NASA family who lost their lives supporting NASA’s mission of exploration. We thank them and their families for their extraordinary sacrifices in the service of our nation. 

On this Day of Remembrance, as we remember our fallen heroes with tributes and public ceremonies, I will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Across the country, all flags at NASA Headquarters and the NASA centers will be flown at half-mast in their memory. 

Space exploration is a difficult and dangerous endeavor. We recognize these pioneers’ sacrifices each day with our ongoing commitment to safety. As an agency, we know the risks inherent in each mission. Ensuring the safety of our employees is our highest priority. 

The legacy of those we have lost is our ongoing work and the inspiration of generations of new space explorers. Every day, with each new challenge we overcome and every discovery we make, we honor these remarkable men and women. Please join me in working to fulfill their dreams for the future. 

Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
NASA Administrator

Link to Articles

Apollo One



A tribute to the heroes of STS-107 Columbia

The Crew of the Columbia 
Seated in front are astronauts Rick D. Husband on the left, mission commander, Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist, and William C. McCool, pilot. Standing are, from the left, astronauts David M. Brown, Laurel B. Clark, and Michael P. Anderson, all mission specialists, and Ilan Ramon, payload specialist representing the Israeli Space Agency.

The Columbia breakup happened on Saturday, February 1, 2003. It disintegrated over Texas stretching from Trophy Club to Tyler and into parts of Louisiana during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the death of all seven crew members, shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107.
The loss of Columbia was a result of damage sustained during launch when a piece of foam insulation the size of a small briefcase broke off the Space Shuttle external tank (the main propellant tank) under the aerodynamic forces of launch. The debris struck the leading edge of the left wing, damaging the Shuttle's thermal protection system (TPS), which protects it from heat generated with the atmosphere during re-entry. While Columbia was still in orbit, some engineers suspected damage, but NASA managers limited the investigation, on the grounds that little could be done even if problems were found. 

NASA's original Shuttle design specifications stated that the external tank was not to shed foam or other debris; as such, strikes upon the Shuttle itself were safety issues that needed to be resolved before a launch was cleared. Launches were often given the go-ahead as engineers came to see the foam shedding and debris strikes as inevitable and unresolvable, with the rationale that they were either not a threat to safety, or an acceptable risk. The majority of Shuttle launches recorded such foam strikes and thermal tile scarring. During re-entry of STS-107, the damaged area allowed the hot gases to penetrate and destroy the internal wing structure, rapidly causing the in-flight breakup of the vehicle. An extensive ground search in parts of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas recovered crew remains and many vehicle fragments.

Initial NASA TV Coverage of Columbia Accident

Amateur video shot of the final moments of the Columbia

Cockpit video of the momets leading up to the destruction of the Columbia.

US Apache Helicopter crews were on a training mission with foreign pilots on the morning of February 1, 2003. Gun-camera footage picks up the shuttle as it enters the atmosphere over Central Texas. The footage was released a couple of days after the crash. Video is courtesy of Fort Hood and DOD.

An audio podcast discussion accompanied by photos of the Cloumbia breakup and recovery.

Here is a video playlist of live coverage of the accident and immediately thereafter by NASA, CNN and other TV Networks.

For more information regarding the Columbia accident, please visit these websites:

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NASA Day of Remembrance
The Challenger Crew

NASA Day of Remembrance

Each January, we honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, as well as other members of the NASA family who lost their lives supporting NASA’s mission of exploration. We thank them and their families for their extraordinary sacrifices in the service of our nation. 

On this Day of Remembrance, as we remember our fallen heroes with tributes and public ceremonies, I will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Across the country, all flags at NASA Headquarters and the NASA centers will be flown at half-mast in their memory. 

Space exploration is a difficult and dangerous endeavor. We recognize these pioneers’ sacrifices each day with our ongoing commitment to safety. As an agency, we know the risks inherent in each mission. Ensuring the safety of our employees is our highest priority. 

The legacy of those we have lost is our ongoing work and the inspiration of generations of new space explorers. Every day, with each new challenge we overcome and every discovery we make, we honor these remarkable men and women. Please join me in working to fulfill their dreams for the future. 

Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
NASA Administrator

Link to Articles

A tribute to the heroes of STS-51L Challenger

The crew of the Challenger
Back row L to R  Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik 
Front row L to R Michael J Smith, Francis Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair

The Challenger Accident was different from the Apollo 1 Accident because it happened during the launch, and many people witnessed the explosion. I had stayed home from school in order to watch the launch because they had become so routine, there was no effort made by the school to allow students who were interested to watch them or integrate them into lesson plans.

Apparently, network television had the same idea about spaceflight becoming routine, because they did not cover the launch, and I did not have satellite TV so I couldn't watch it on the NASA Channel or even CNN, which was the only network to carry it live. (This was in the days before broadband Internet). So I was digging through the shortwave radio stations, trying to find one that was covering it when my dad called from work. He told me the shuttle had blown up. I didn't believe him at first because I thought he was teasing me, and he told me to cut the TV on and see. I did, and I saw.

Video courtesy: NASA

NASA documnetary detailing the events surrounding the loss of OV-099, Space Shuttle Challenger, shortly after the launch of the 25th flight of the Space Transportation System, Mission STS-51L, on 28 January, 1986, and the subsequent investigation into the loss of the vehicle and its crew of seven. The investigation shows that the Solid Rocket Booster field joints were of an insufficiently fault-tolerant design and when the vehicle was launched at below-normal temperatures, hot exhaust gasses leaked on ignition, damaging the integrity of the field joint, leading to a breach in the external tank and destruction of the orbiter.

This is a video of the live CNN broadcast of the launch, the only network to carry it live.

This is a live television feed of the accident that was involved in gathering B-Roll from the viewing stand for guests of NASA during the launch, including families of the crew.

Amateur Video of the Launch from Central Florida (ABC News)

Here are the unforgettable words of President Ronald Reagan memorializing the Challenger crew.


We come together today to mourn the loss of seven brave Americans, to share the grief we all feel and, perhaps in that sharing, to find the strength to bear our sorrow and the courage to look for the seeds of hope.
Our nation's loss is first a profound personal loss to the family and the friends and loved ones of our shuttle astronauts. To those they have left behind - the mothers, the fathers, the husbands and wives, brothers, sisters, and yes, especially the children - all of America stands beside you in your time of sorrow.

What we say today is only an inadequate expression of what we carry in our hearts. Words pale in the shadow of grief; they seem insufficient even to measure the brave sacrifice of those you loved and we so admired. Their truest testimony will not be in the words we speak, but in the way they led their lives and in the way they lost those lives - with dedication, honor and an unquenchable desire to explore this mysterious and beautiful universe.

The best we can do is remember our seven astronauts - our ChallengerSeven - remember them as they lived, bringing life and love and joy to those who knew them and pride to a nation.
They came from all parts of this great country - from South Carolina to Washington State; Ohio to Mohawk, New York; Hawaii to North Carolina to Concord, New Hampshire. They were so different, yet in their mission, their quest, they held so much in common.

We remember Dick Scobee, the commander who spoke the last words we heard from the space shuttle Challenger. He served as a fighter pilot in Vietnam, earning many medals for bravery, and later as a test pilot of advanced aircraft before joining the space program. Danger was a familiar companion to Commander Scobee.

We remember Michael Smith, who earned enough medals as a combat pilot to cover his chest, including the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals - and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star, in gratitude from a nation that he fought to keep free.
We remember Judith Resnik, known as J.R. to her friends, always smiling, always eager to make a contribution, finding beauty in the music she played on her piano in her off-hours.
We remember Ellison Onizuka, who, as a child running barefoot through the coffee fields and macadamia groves of Hawaii, dreamed of someday traveling to the Moon. Being an Eagle Scout, he said, had helped him soar to the impressive achievement of his career.

We remember Ronald McNair, who said that he learned perseverance in the cotton fields of South Carolina. His dream was to live aboard the space station, performing experiments and playing his saxophone in the weightlessness of space; Ron, we will miss your saxophone and we will build your space station.
We remember Gregory Jarvis. On that ill-fated flight he was carrying with him a flag of his university in Buffalo, New York - a small token he said, to the people who unlocked his future.

We remember Christa McAuliffe, who captured the imagination of the entire nation, inspiring us with her pluck, her restless spirit of discovery; a teacher, not just to her students, but to an entire people, instilling us all with the excitement of this journey we ride into the future.

We will always remember them, these skilled professionals, scientists and adventurers, these artists and teachers and family men and women, and we will cherish each of their stories - stories of triumph and bravery, stories of true American heroes.

On the day of the disaster, our nation held a vigil by our television sets. In one cruel moment, our exhilaration turned to horror; we waited and watched and tried to make sense of what we had seen. That night, I listened to a call-in program on the radio: people of every age spoke of their sadness and the pride they felt in `our astronauts.' Across America, we are reaching out, holding hands, finding comfort in one another.

The sacrifice of your loved ones has stirred the soul of our nation and, through the pain, our hearts have been opened to a profound truth - the future is not free, the story of all human progress is one of a struggle against all odds. We learned again that this America, which Abraham Lincoln called the last best hope of man on Earth, was built on heroism and noble sacrifice. It was built by men and women like our seven star voyagers, who answered a call beyond duty, who gave more than was expected or required, and who gave it with little thought to worldly reward.

We think back to the pioneers of an earlier century, and the sturdy souls who took their families and the belongings and set out into the frontier of the American West. Often, they met with terrible hardship. Along the Oregon Trail you can still see the grave markers of those who fell on the way. But grief only steeled them to the journey ahead.

Today, the frontier is space and the boundaries of human knowledge. Sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short. But we must pick ourselves up again and press on despite the pain. Our nation is indeed fortunate that we can still draw on immense reservoirs of courage, character and fortitude - that we are still blessed with heroes like those of the space shuttle Challenger.

Dick Scobee knew that every launching of a space shuttle is a technological miracle. And he said, if something ever does go wrong, I hope that doesn't mean the end to the space shuttle program. Every family member I talked to asked specifically that we continue the program, that that is what their departed loved one would want above all else. We will not disappoint them.

Today, we promise Dick Scobee and his crew that their dream lives on; that the future they worked so hard to build will become reality. The dedicated men and women of NASA have lost seven members of their family. Still, they too, must forge ahead, with a space program that is effective, safe and efficient, but bold and committed.

Man will continue his conquest of space. To reach out for new goals and ever greater achievements - that is the way we shall commemorate our seven Challenger heroes.

Dick, Mike, Judy, El, Ron, Greg and Christa - your families and your country mourn your passing. We bid you goodbye. We will never forget you. For those who knew you well and loved you, the pain will be deep and enduring. A nation, too, will long feel the loss of her seven sons and daughters, her seven good friends. We can find consolation only in faith, for we know in our hearts that you who flew so high and so proud now make your home beyond the stars, safe in God's promise of eternal life.

May God bless you all and give you comfort in this difficult time.

A performance of the song written by John Denver in tribute to the crew of the Challenger. He was originally considered for the flight and underwent training before a teacher was selected.

I still think it is a good idea to send gifted artists into space so that they might use their talents to share with the rest of humanity what it is like.

Here is a discussion on the findings of the Presidential Commision that was broadcast on satellite TV Worldnet. 

For more information on the Challenger accident, please visit the following websites:

Report of the PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident

NASA webpage of links to information on the Challenger accident

TV Coverage of the Challenger Accident (54 videos encompassing several hours of archived live video)

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