Saturday, February 20, 2010

Don't trust your eyes!

This has nothing to do with the Stargate franchise, it's an demo-reel for Stargate Studios Virtual Backlot which seem to offer some impressive VFX and compositing for TV shows.

It just goes to show how cheap these effects have become in comparison to setting up a location shoot.

Source: The Whitehouse

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What's on TV? Part 2: More New Shows

Apologies for the delay since Part 1, I will now continue this series...

Human Target [Fox]

Human Target, an adaptation of the DC comic book is certainly superior and more believable than it’s somewhat fantastical and idiotic short-lived ABC predecessor. Mark Valley who portrayed Anna Torv’s on-screen partner in the Fringe pilot was retained by Fox for something a bit more in line with his talents than J.J.’s cerebral sci-fi show. Valley now plays Christopher Chance, a bodyguard for hire with a mysterious past and it seems it’s there that the similarity between the new show and it’s predecessor ends - thankfully.

Gone are the daft Mission: Impossible type masks meaning a different actor would not be replacing Valley for half the episode as originally done with Rick Springfield. Fox opted instead for a more practical “bodyguard” who will literally draw out the assailant putting himself in the line of fire. It's a far more realistic premise then the comic book maintains where Chance actually replaces his subject in his life; acting like and looking like him in an effort to reveal his assassin. The deficiencies of that nonsense in a world now where women are just as likely to be an assassin’s target would have been awkward in the pilot episode. Chance’s first case was to protect a super-railway engineer played by Tricia Helfer [Sweet Lucas! Is that woman improving with age?] – if it was still an ABC show, we’d have had lantern-jawed Valley dressing up as a woman and attempting to be Helfer – or Helfer in a man-suit or some inane CGI solution (I shudder to think!) – thankfully Fox eschew cross-dressing deviants.

Christopher Chance is supported each week by Winston, a retired cop, Chance's mentor and boss played by Boston Public’s Chi McBride and their extremely shady and well connected tech dude Gurrera, excellently played by Watchmen’s Jackie Earle Haley. Early episodes are mixed but overall a promising start to a new Human Target - without a stealth bomber-office!

US - Fox, Wednesdays 20:00/19:00c


Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Starz]

Spartacus: Blood and Sand tries hard to be as good as a HBO show with full frontal nudity and lashings of blood but the Starz series comes off more as a poor bastard son of a night of dirty sex between Gladiator and 300. There’s enough swordplay, blood, death and dismemberment here though to retain my attention for a while at least as I so rarely get the opportunity to yell “OOoooooooh yeaaaaahh heh heh hehhhh!” at the TV as I would often do in the cinema.

Starring Andy Whitfield, John Hannah and Lucy Lawless as Lucretia

US - Starz, Friday 22:00 Eastern


Caprica [Syfy]

Caprica has begun to air its regular episodes after the pilot has been doing the Hulu and DVD rounds since April 2009. I’ll be perfectly honest, Battlestar Galactica is so good it’s on the shortlist for “The Whopper Awards of the Decade” for the best series of the past 10 years, even despite some of the esoteric religious angel nonsense towards the latter season. But one of the strengths of that series was the incredible opening, a mini-series of epic proportions which charted the downfall of human civilisation on 12 planets and scattered them out into space in the wake of nuclear explosions galore. There’s zero of that here, we do have an extraordinarily acted tale concerning religiously fuelled terrorism and the dangers of technology – but with no explosions in space, and I’d like things to explode in space…

Starring: Eric Stoltz, Alessandra Torresani and Esai Morales as Joseph Adama.

US - SyFy, Friday 21:00; UK/EIRE - Sky One, Tuesday 21:00


Steven Segal: Lawman [A&E]

I watch precious little unscripted television unless it’s late night talk shows [which in many cases can even then be scripted to a large extent] but there is one show that has appeared on the scene for some 12 weeks now and is simply one of the most bizarre and frightening things on TV. I spoke about it before, but I’ve seen it now and it’s real and raw – I speak of course of Steven Segal: Lawman. Segal has previously reported has apparently been a deputy sheriff in a parish of Louisiana for the past 20 years and has only revealed this fact now to the world. That’s right – no one arrested by or perhaps even who crossed paths with Deputy Segal ever attempted to present this story to TMZ or other media outlet, in the days of the Internet no one reported or took a photograph, nothing. I’ll say no more on that element, you decide.

Segal is presented here as some sort of Robocop who can slow down time as he scans the [disturbingly 99.9% Afro-American] potential offenders he encounters during his routine patrols. He takes part in the arrests of those that appear to have perpetrated crimes and often are mostly surprised and even delighted to see and recognise him “Steven Segal? What the *bleep*” and “My auntie watches all-o-your movies; uh-huh she sure does,” are just two of some such examples. Segal also takes part in the training, development and mentoring of the less experienced officers, he can apparently shoot the top off a cotton bud so as a marksmanship instructor he's most certainly utilised by the department. Needless to say the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s department personnel have a high probability of knowing the basics of Aikido when called upon to defend themselves.

As pure entertainment it’s practically second to none. Segal certainly outweighs every other officer of the department which supports the idea of a documentary as one can’t very well run too fast or too long with steady-cam and sound equipment after real cops so we never miss much of Segal trudging his now portly frame after the action, it’s unintentionally funnier than Reno 911. Long may this insanity continue.

US - A&E, Wednesday 23:00/22:00c; UK/EIRE - Crime [Sky553], Crime +1 [Sky554] and Crime HD [Sky555]


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

High price for Operation: Moshtarak

Some 15,000 troops are currently involved in Operation: “Moshtarak” (Together), the most ambitious effort yet to break the militants’ grip on Afghanistan ’s dangerous Southern region. It is the biggest joint operation since the 2001 US-led invasion of the country. The town of Marjah has become a focal point of the operation and on Sunday, US Marines and Afghan forces waded through intense sniper fire and a sandstorm that reduced visibility to a few feet.

Unfortunately during this battle, two rockets fired by a NATO High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) accidental struck civilian houses killing twelve civilians, 10 of whom were from the same family.

NATO commander General Stanley McChrystal ordered all use of the rocket system to be stopped while there was a possibility of civilian casualties. The general telephoned Afghan President Hamid Karzai to apologize for what he called the "unfortunate incident" and the latter called for an investigation. Civilian casualties are particularly sensitive during the joint NATO and Afghan Operation Moshtarak to force the Taliban out of their strongholds in Helmand.
Gen Aminullah Patiani, the Afghan Army's senior commander in the operation, told AFP news agency later on Monday "all of the areas of Marjah and Nad Ali have been taken by combined forces. They are under our control". He added: "The Taliban have left the areas, but the threat from IEDs [improvised explosive devices] remains." Brigadier General Larry Nicholson, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade commander said it could take weeks to completely reclaim Marjah, routing all insurgents and clearing IEDs.

Meanwhile on Monday a NATO air strike against suspected insurgents in Kandahar killed five civilians. The group was seen digging on a roadside and was thought to be planting bombs, NATO said. The incident is unrelated to Operation Moshtarak. ISAF deputy chief of staff Maj Gen Michael Regner USMC said "We regret this tragic accident and offer our sympathies to the families of those killed and injured. Our combined forces take every precaution to minimise civilian casualties and we will investigate this incident to determine how this happened."

Colonel “Whopper” Creedon, who is currently on detached service in the region with US Special Operations Command spoke some hard facts about the tragic civilian losses early Monday morning. ”There are always casualties in war” he began “otherwise war would be no more dangerous than a nasty argument. There are projected acceptable losses for both our forces and civilians, but we’ve not come close to that threshold yet so were technically doing great.” Creedon was then asked about whether an operation was being planned to free the two French journalists kidnapped recently in Afghanistan. “French?” Creedon grimaced, then he smiled “There are always casualties in war…”

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Wolfman: A mess of blood [or just a mess]

The Werewolf motif is one staple of the horror genre that Hollywood has not used to the point of near-exhaustion like Vampires or Zombies. So when a mainstream Werewolf movie is created, one tends to receive it with a greater anticipation.

Rather than create an entirely new take on the myth as say, Neil Marshall did with Dog Soldiers; director Joe Johnston set about recreating George Waggner's 1941 classic movie The Wolf Man. One has to be just as careful when retreading old ground when doing a remake of a classic as beloved as The Wolf Man because you could fall into one of two traps: One you could stay too much with the source material, and present something that reflects nothing more than a modernised tweaked version of the original. Or, you could try so hard to infuse so many new elements to differentiate it from the classic that you loose almost complete sight of what you're actually trying to accomplish. Sadly this movie does fall deep into the latter trap. It's a barely comprehensible, terribly executed mess, riddled with inconsistencies and plot holes.

When a movie goes through such a tumultuous production history as this; one expects it to be somewhat substandard but when something that reaches the level of crap that The Wolfman represents, one wonders what in the name of Lucas they were thinking in the first place. The movie was announced in 2006 and promised an updated remake using CGI and modern visual effects to craft a tale for modern audiences. After loosing Mark Romanek as director, Joe Johnston stepped in for the $85m movie. Sometimes an eyebrow is raised when any movie's intended release date is pushed back and it may disturb those of you that don't know - this movie's initial release date during production was November 12, 2008. It was pushed back to February 12, 2009 and later April 3, 2009. But even after this, Universal tied itself way down to November 9, 2009 to accommodate entire sequences being re-filmed in May 2009, but yet again that date was finally moved to February 12, 2010 some 15 months later than originally planned.

Benicio Del Toro, a "physically dirty-looking" Puerto Rican whom was first noticed as the youngest actor to play a Bond-villain in Licence To Kill has come a long way since his breakout performance in The Usual Suspects with parts in Traffic, 21 Grams, Snatch and Sin City. I genuinely feel sorry for him as it was widely publicised that he was not only a fan of the original The Wolf Man movie but a collector of it's memorabilia. Now he will have to hang his head in shame for bringing such discredit to the werewolf genre.

It's bizarre that with such as cast as Del Toro, Oscar-winner Sir Anthony Hopkins and the monotone Hugo Weaving that his can be so bad but the movie is so badly done that even if these actors gave their best performances ever, it'd still be nowhere near enough to save this. The actors have no emotional engagement with their characters and this results in their performances coming off as flat. The romantic sub-plot is just as unconvincing as the main "twist", a twist that unhitches the plot from the rest of the movie and we're forced to watch as it spirals off the edge of a cliff screaming into the abyss. The dialog is so truly awful that I'm very fearful now for Captain America as David Self is in the process of writing that movie too.

Johnston makes a vain attempts to stick to the groundings of the genre, deep a Victorian Gothic-horror setting but his treatment of it is amateurish as evident by more copious amounts of fog than you'd see on an F-grade film-school student's horror project. Furthermore, it's simply laden with far too many "jump-scares" which ridiculously appear 2 seconds after each other - I'm actually convinced these were put there to keep people awake least they had fallen asleep at Hopkins' expositionary speeches. There's also a "nightmare" sequence in the mix that has to be seen to be believed how woefully ridiculous it is.

I was extremely disappointed with the final look of the Wolfman itself. I'm sure Jack Pierce's original Wolf Man design terrified cinema-goers in the 1940's but some 70 years later it's honestly about as terrifying as Eddie Munster. This is a shame considering the movie's make up was handled by Rick Baker who came on board because he cited the original Wolf Man for getting into movies and his similar work on An American Werewolf In London earned him an Oscar after the category was actually created for his work that year! Despite some adequate use of CGI to show the transformations, they were just not as impressive as other modern efforts, hell even Neil Jordan had more innovative ideas in The Company Of Wolves in 1984. There is not as much gore and dismemberment as would be required here, if there had been, no matter how comical, it may have saved the movie somewhat. Sadly it's relegated to only about 3 or 4 parts of the movie including a gory scene in a campsite where we see comical dismemberment straight out of an Uwe Boll movie.

The film's score had a history as unfortunate as the movie. Originally given to legendary Danny Elfman, a veteran of dark-horror and fantasy movies, his work was rejected for in favour of the modern electronic stylings of Underworld and Crank composer Paul Haslinger. Now as much of a fan I am of Haslinger's work, never in a million years would I have chosen him to compose a Victorian-Gothic score for a movie that was seriously going to heed all the help it could get. Thankfully at the 11th hour they had orchestrator Conrad Pope shoehorn Elfman's original score into the now extensively re-cut movie. The score while far from Elfman's greatest works of Batman, Mars Attacks! or Planet Of The Apes, it's evocative of Wojciech Kilar's Dracula and easily the best thing about the movie.

Final Verdict: This movie sits firmly into the category of "Dear God Why?"

Colonel Creedon Rating: *1/2

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Beautiful Valentines Day Story

Little Melissa comes home from 1st grade and tells her father that they learned about the history of Valentine's Day that day. "Since Valentine's Day is for a Christian saint, and we're Jewish," she asks, "Will God get mad at me for giving someone a Valentine?"

Melissa's father thinks a bit, "No, I don't think God would get mad. Whom do you want to give a Valentine to?" he asks.

"Osama Bin Laden," she replies.

"Why Osama Bin Laden?" her father asks in shock.

"Well," she begins, "I thought that if a little American Jewish girl could have enough love to give Osama a Valentine, he might start to think that maybe we're not all bad, and maybe start loving people a little bit. And if other kids saw what I did and sent Valentines to Osama, he'd love everyone a lot. And then he'd start going all over the place to tell everyone how much he loved them, and how he didn't hate anyone anymore."

Her father's heart swells and he looks at his daughter with new found pride. "Melissa, that's the most wonderful thing I have ever heard," he says.

"I know, " Melissa says, "...and once that gets him out in the open, the Marines could shoot the bastard."

Source: Marnie

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Marines Lead The Way... Male Prostitution!

When one thinks of the United States Marine Corps, one may think of "the few, the proud," the force in readiness, "the first to fight and the last to leave". One may also consider Marine heroes like Smedly Butler, Presley O'Bannon and Chesty Puller. Even outside the Corps, Marines have made their mark on history like astronaut John Glenn, actor George Peppard and author Robert Ludlum. However most recently a former US Marine became first at something that, well, I guess it's not too surprising considering our prowess but it's still a bit of a shock to discover that the first legal male prostitute is a Devil-Dog!

Standing at 5' 9" and weighing 180 lbs, Markus Bestin [25] can be all yours ladies, for just $300 an hour. He is based at The Shady Lady Brothel a legal house of prostitution northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada; the one state in the country where paying for sex is permitted. Bestin is the one man among a thousand working women in Nevada's 24 brothels. You won't see him in a typical lineup, or in a cheesy themed room - he has his own turf out back, where he services only female clients. "If she's willing to step through these doors," said Bestin, "she'll have the best moment, hopefully, that I can provide for her in her entire life."

Bobbi Davis, the brothel's madam, says the slow economy and the demand for male prostitutes forced her to think outside of the box. "We've had requests with couples that wanted to add a girl and a guy, and we always add a girl in to the mix but we could never add the guy, and as we've had more and more requests for that, we decided to go ahead and at least try it," Davis said. Heidi Fleiss, the once infamous Hollywood madam, says it won't work. "We're not like men. Men will sleep with mud," said Fleiss. "Women, we're a little different. We want a spa-like environment, something first class. What I do think would work now is a male-male brothel," she said, "but I don't know if Nevada is ready."

A fundamental change of law was required before Bestin could become a gigolo. The law referred to all prostitutes requiring to undergo a cervical exam and Davis made the case this was discriminatory against males. Any cries of discrimination in civil law are of course dealt with lightening quick these days and so, the way was paved for Bestin to assume his new career as thus far, the lone gentleman in the world's oldest profession.

Cuddles, a lady of the night from a neighboring brothel, said she welcomed the new addition and dispensed advice "Just keep your head up, make your money, that's what it's about, like I tell everybody," she said. "It's about making money, that's why you start doing it for." Bestin however denies a mercenary attitude, "It's not about the money, I thoroughly enjoy the presence of women," he said. "They're like fine china."

The latest Marine to carve out his indelible mark on history may not be one placed in every USMC historical text from here on in (much as assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is sometimes "forgotten"), but it will be an achievement that no doubt Marines ourselves will hold most highly from now on.

Source: Constance / ABC Nightline [Full Report here]

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Mel returns from the Edge of career Darkness

Edge Of Darkness, a remake of an old BBC miniseries marks the return of Mel Gibson to the front of the camera lens after spending most of his time behind it for the past few years with The Passion Of Christ and Apocalypto. Other than the Lethal Weapon series or Braveheart, I’ve not regarded his work much, and only his performances in The Patriot or We Were Soldiers are of note in over a dozen years. It’s with great delight they I personally welcome Mel’s return to top-form here. There’s no What Women Want nonsense here. Mel’s cop character Thomas Craven isn’t a copy of Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon [before he got soft by Lethal Weapon 4] but it’s just as good – and that’s bloody brilliant.

Craven is motivated to in a cold-calculated investigation following the brutal and tragic murder of his daughter and this quickly degenerates into a revenge-spree, while far better than his Payback movie, it's not as intense as Pierre Morel's Taken from which some similarities have been drawn, but that's a good thing as Liam Neeson doesn't look anywhere near 57 but Gibson looks much older than 54 and wouldn't convincingly pull off an over the top action role anymore. Still Mel does provide a staggeringly good performance and is given a more than adequate script written by Andrew Bovell and William Monahan [who previously converted Infernal Affairs into The Departed for Scorsese] to work with as he shines under Martin Campbell's direction.

As Robert DeNiro exited the movie due to some "creative differences", British tough-guy Ray Winstone was drafted in with some 72 hours notice to play the enigmatic, Darius Jedburgh, a man, whom we assume is a freelance "fixer" of certain "problems." Despite Mel's excellent performance, you can't not also love Winstone with his world-weary dialogue along with a calm demeanour to appreciate good cigars and fine wines. Sadly we're somewhat robbed of any speculation about Winstone being the "big bad" as soon as Danny Heuston appears as Bennett, head of the mysteriously secretive Northmoor facility which may, somewhat laughably, easily draw comparisons to a Bond-villian-esque lair [complete with rocket].

Martin Casino Royale Campbell amazingly returns to direct this Hollywood movie remake of the British series that he actually directed himself back in 1985. Gone are all the ridiculous science-fiction elements of the original which dealt with the spirit of the earth punishing mankind for it’s rape of her environment. That sort of nonsense is best left back in the 80’s with Captain fucking Planet and was thankfully avoided here – plus we all remember SignsMel’s 2002 abysmal foray into the realm of sci-fi (shudder).

Final Verdict: A brilliant script supports some exceptional acting performances and despite some amazing flaws which produce some incredible laughs in completely inappropriate places; it’s nowhere near enough for that to detract much from this whole visceral experience of what I’m sure will be one of best thrillers of the year.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****

Monday, February 08, 2010

George Lee: Man of Honour or Whinging Bitch?

The political situation in Ireland is such that something interesting outside election or referendum time only happens when something goes horribly horribly wrong. It was Fine Gael's turn today as economist and former RTE personality George Lee resigned from Ireland's most formidable almost perpetual opposition party and his Dáil seat.

Lee cited reasons of being sidelined as a contributor to Fine Gael’s economic policy and simply being used as a crowd pleaser due to his former celebrity status for resigning. He saw little point in continuing with this treatment, “You don’t want to be making the tea” he said, when you could be contributing something more substantial.

A national figure running in a local by-election was a tremendous coup for Fine Gael when Lee secured landslide of 50% of his constituencies total vote, a phenomenal feat not achieved since Brian Cowen's overwhelming by-election victory back in 1984. It was Fine Gael's own initiative to approach Lee and made a widely publicised fuss about him, all but declaring him an "Economic Messiah." But according to Lee, despite his best efforts he had virtually no influence or input in shaping Fine Gael's economic policies.

Lee's former party, now clambering about like headless chickens after being struck by this PR disaster axe, are somewhat bemused by his dramatic and immediate departure from the Dáil, they wonder why he didn't take the time to learn the ropes, or trying to learn how to politically walk before he could politically run. Lee defended his position to them by saying that with the economy in such dire straits and thousands jobless - there wasn't all that time to loose and action had to be taken immediately.

83% of the listeners appeared to agree with his apparently "honourable" decision in a snap text-poll on the Joe Duffy radio show this afternoon, and many lambasted Fine Gael and party leader Enda Kenny in particular for treating Lee like crap and not using his extensive knowledge of economics to reform the party's opposition argument.

On the other hand, some say that Lee suffered from a tremendous naivete with regard to the expediency that he believed that his own voice would become the de facto party line and when he didn't get his way, he reverted to being a cry-baby about the fact that he’s being treated as the fat cross-eyed semi-retarded child left as last pick in P.E. class when he believes he’s actually the triathlon Olympic superstar.

Petulant child or one of the only politicians outside Fianna Fail with an ounce of decency. You decide.

But what about the man who is leader of Fine Gael, the man who can't tell you why he won't enter government with Sinn Fein or what his own party's policy is with regard to water metering? There's some "pretty large rumblings" according to Lee as he exited Dáil Éireann today, with regard to Kenny's continued leadership that are bound to become something much more loud after today.

Source: Alan Hurley / RTE News / Newstalk / The Irish Times

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Ireland in panic!

At abound 18:00 GMT this evening a blazing fireball was seen streaking across Ireland by hundreds of people from drivers in Tullamore, Co. Offaly to golfers in Ballybunion, Co. Kerry. Valentia Coastguard said it has had reports of sightings from people living in Mullingar, Limerick, and Bantry. David Moore, of Astronomy Ireland, said: "This is a huge event."

Astronomy Ireland confirmed that a meteor exploded in the atmosphere with the force of a nuclear explosion raining some debris don to many parts of the country. There are currently reports that the fireball has landed in a field near Crimlin in Co. Cavan. Astronomy Ireland says it is unlikely to have injured anyone as it would have slowed down when it hit the atmosphere.

One man told his local radio station: “I saw the ball of fire just above the trees. I rang the emergency services. I thought it was a helicopter.” Another said: “I thought it was a bright gas cylinder. It seemed to get brighter as it was approaching the ground.”

A UNETIDA spokesman, Captain "Cú Faoil" O'Muineachain reassured the public that it was a natural phenomenon as opposed to a precursor to an Extra-Terrestrial attack adding: "there's nothing at all like that happening here at all. T'was just a one of those space rocks. Feckit' we've just emerged from a mini-ice age here after we were almost washed away by floods, then we had - would you believe - an earthquake in Donegal a few weeks ago; Aye, so naturally there are people in a bit of a panic, but there no need to be at all."

"If that Marine fella was here now, t'would be a different kettle-of-fish altogether," Capt. O'Muineachain continued, presumably speaking of UNETIDA Special Operations Commander, Colonel "Whopper" Creedon. "Sure he'd be ordering all sorts of reports to be done and sending lads out to find bits of UFOs and everything. The longer he spends playing in the sand with his gang out in the desert, the better off we'll be around here, but don't tell him that sure you won't? If you'll excuse me now my pint is only gettin' warm...."

Source: The Irish Times / RTE News / Irishcentral / Eircom

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Did you think evil corporations in space would be Science Fiction forever?

In outlining new space priorities in the 2011 budget, President Barack Obama proposed a halt to NASA's ambition to return to the Moon - a goal set by former President George W. Bush - and set in motion the biggest fundamental change in space exploration in the past 50 years. Charles Bolden, NASA's administrator, a former astronaut and USMC Major General yesterday promised that this does not mean that the US is abandoning it's space ambitions.

The Constellation program, the heart of the push to the Moon envisioned to replace the space shuttle, has run over budget by almost $7 billion and is several years behind schedule. The White House said it wanted to ground Constellation because it was too costly, used outdated technology, and would not be ready to ferry humans to the moon before 2028.

The success of the Ares 1-X rocket in October last was overshadowed by the release of the Augustine Human Space Flight Review Committee's report. It recommended sweeping changes to the way NASA managed its human spaceflight program, claiming that it was "on an unsustainable trajectory." They estimated that the Constellation program would cost more than $100 billion and miss the 2020 Moon deadline by at least 10 years. In the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, continuing the program may not be seen as the best option but it's cancellation will certainly mark the end of an era in US space exploration.

This year will be the last for the space shuttles - of which only three remain. NASA will significantly slim down it's astronaut corps too as from next year US astronauts will spend the next five to 10 years hitching a ride on Russia's also ageing Soyuz spacecraft. [Why can I see a hilarious comedy movie starring Jack Black and Peter Stormare quite clearly as I write that?]

In the meantime, it's envisioned that NASA will team up with private enterprise, to support and encourage them to develop the spacecraft of the 21st century. "One way to renew NASA and have it play a key role in innovation as well as manned space flight is to get the private sector fully on board," Bolden stressed. No longer will NASA dictate what is to be built and how. If NASA personnel fly on planes built by private industry, drive cars built by private industry and use computers built by private industry; Why can't astronauts climb on board spacecraft designed and built by such private industry?

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, built by Scaled Composites, is expected to carry paying passengers on sub-orbital flights this year but falls a long way short of getting to low Earth orbit. SpaceX, which in 2009 successfully launched Falcon 1 into space but it's still a long way from carrying one, not a mind three, astronauts into space. Bolden has already announced he's giving $50m in grants to private companies like Sierra Nevada.

It's not as if these changes are just being unanimously accepted. Lockheed Martin expressed major disappointment but the industries that have relied on NASA and the space shuttle for the past 30 years could completely fail under the new proposals adding a significant amount to total joblessness in the US and the suffering of tourism to Florida's space coast. US Congresswomen and Senators from Texas, Alabama and Florida - the three states most reliant on NASA's human space flight program - have all voiced their opposition to Obama's proposed policy, vowing to block it. Democratic and Republican senators as well as Bolden's predecessor Michael Griffin, have criticized dropping Constellation saying it would spell an end to US leadership in space.

UNETIDA Special Operations Commander, Colonel "Whopper" Creedon speaking from an undisclosed middle-eastern location where he is conducting "training exercises" also expressed disappointment at the proposals. "I'm fearful that these changes are going to have a detrimental effect on the future of some of UNETIDA's more ambitious lunar initiatives like The SON Project" he said. "The only viable alternative that is being touted is private industry and the problem with dealing with that is that you're more often than not, dealing with stupid civilians with no military experience. These guys are out for number one and hardly put the safety and security of the planet first."

Some analysts suggest UNETIDA's future may in fact be far worse then Creedon suggests. "Obama's proposals to hamstring the space program, coupled with the recent much publicised British MOD move which closed it's UFO Investigations Unit at RAF Command, Buckinghamshire after 60 years does not bode well for the future of the international UN administrated entity," said a source speaking on condition of anonymity. "It's as if the imminent destruction of our entire planet by alien aggressors is being ignored in favour of saving money for jobs, education, health and the environment. Well I ask you: What good is having your health, being educated, having a job and breathing clean air today when you could be a Grattaliaan sex-slave tomorrow? Write to your congressman and prevent a travesty of epic proportions from coming to fruition."

Source: ABC, AFP, NASA, Fox News