- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 1, 2010


First, “Star Wars”; now, gender wars. Consider that NASA has unveiled the amazing R2 — short for Robonaut 2 — a new astronaut “helper” robot that has been under development by the federal space agency and General Motors since 1997. Now, R2 is destined to dramatically rocket off to the International Space Station on Nov. 1, never to return. The 330-pound, gold helmeted, “humanoid” prototype has 32-inch-long arms with decidedly he-man biceps; the dexterous R2 is meant to give NASA “a deeper understanding of human-robotic interaction,” the agency says.

But jaunty robot and canny NASA handlers are way ahead. R2 is already Tweeting, taking questions from the public and reassuring people, “We’re not taking over — I’m here to help!” But wait. R2 also advised one female inquisitor, “Robots are non-gender by design. I’m an ‘it.’ “

Poor R2 - already dutifully and politically correct, neither Robert nor Roberta, Sam nor Samantha. Face it, well-meaning and hypersensitive NASA engineers: This is a boy robot. It’s OK. Really. Go ahead. The robo-curious should check out twitter.com/astroRobonaut; he — oh, sorry, we mean “it” — will take more questions at 11 a.m. Wednesday before “it” departs Johnson Space Center in Houston, bound for Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final testing and the big ride on Space Shuttle Discovery.


All right, everybody can relax now. Effective Monday, the Associated Press has been given Helen Thomas‘ much-coveted, front-row center chair in the White House briefing room, says the White House Correspondents’ Association. Fox News gets AP’s old chair. U.S. News & World Report lost its position, Politico and American Urban Radio Networks moved up to the third row, which now harbors a new spot for foreign news pool reporters. The Washington Times was moved from the third to the fourth row.

“It was a very difficult decision. The board received requests from Bloomberg and NPR in addition to Fox for relocation to the front row and felt all three made compelling cases. But the board ultimately was persuaded by Fox’s length of service and commitment to the White House television pool,” the committee said.

“These deliberations mark the third time in four years the board has tackled this issue, and we urge members to view seating room changes as an ongoing process that will be revisited again as our industry evolves.”


And speaking of gender issues, or the lack therein, Sarah Palin has no problem, well, spelling things out about a certain Arizona governor.

Jan Brewer has the cojones that our president does not have to look out for all Americans, not just Arizonans, but all Americans, in this desire of ours to secure our borders and allow legal immigration to help build this country, as was the purpose of immigration laws,” Mrs. Palin told “Fox News Sunday.”

“If our own president will not enforce a federal law, more power to Jan Brewer and 44 other states who are in line to help support Jan Brewer in state laws, state efforts, to do what our president won’t do,” she added.


“Have you seen this? Have you seen how much [expletive] this is? Do you think I should call [the British libel law firm] Carter-Ruck?” a vexed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, on reports that he had “blood” on his hands for publishing classified military files about the U.S. war in Afghanistan, to the Observer newspaper.

“In our four-year publishing history, no one has ever come to physical harm that we are aware of or that anyone has alleged.”


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once insisted that Congress needed to pass health care reform “so we can see what’s in it.” Five months later, Americans still don’t know what’s in the legislation. Out of a list of 18 “reform items” that included popular rumors, more than 2,000 respondents in a new Harris Poll could identify only four that were actually part of the new law. “What’s in it” remains a mystery.

“The level of ignorance and misinformation is sort of astounding. It seems people are still reacting to the rhetoric, not the substance of what is in the bill,” says Harris Poll chairman Humphrey Taylor.

“The problem for the Obama administration is healthcare reform is fiendishly complicated because the healthcare system is fiendishly complicated, and it is not politically feasible to tear up the system and build it again,” Mr. Taylor continues. “When you try to build on a fiendishly complicated system, you have fiendishly complicated reforms.”


*59 percent of U.S. voters favor the passage of an “Arizona-like” immigration law in their state.

*85 percent of Republicans agree.

*57 percent of Democrats oppose such a law.

*53 percent of voters overall trust states more than federal government to enforce immigration law.

*50 percent disagree with a federal judge’s decision to set aside portions of Arizona’s immigration law.

*77 percent of Republicans disagree with the decision, while 61 percent of Democrats approve it.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted July 28 and 29.

Tip line always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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