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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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Wednesday Toon Roundup 1: T-day

Strange Numbers Found in Particle Collisions

By Kevin Hartnett

At the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, physicists shoot protons around a 17-mile track and smash them together at nearly the speed of light. It’s one of the most finely tuned scientific experiments in the world, but when trying to make sense of the quantum debris, physicists begin with a strikingly simple tool called a Feynman diagram that’s not that different from how a child would depict the situation.

Feynman diagrams were devised by Richard Feynman in the 1940s. They feature lines representing elementary particles that converge at a vertex (which represents a collision) and then diverge from there to represent the pieces that emerge from the crash. Those lines either shoot off alone or converge again. The chain of collisions can be as long as a physicist dares to consider.

To that schematic physicists then add numbers, for the mass, momentum and direction of the particles involved. Then they begin a laborious accounting procedure — integrate these, add that, square this. The final result is a single number, called a Feynman probability, which quantifies the chance that the particle collision will play out as sketched.

“In some sense Feynman invented this diagram to encode complicated math as a bookkeeping device,” said Sergei Gukov, a theoretical physicist and mathematician at the California Institute of Technology.


Trump Gets 25 Million Tax Write-Off For Trump University Settlement

Robert W. Wood , CONTRIBUTOR

President-elect Donald J. Trump has agreed to pay $25 million to settle lawsuits over Trump University. In paying off former students and their lawyers, he is admitting no wrongdoing. Yet, he has often said he would never settle. The plaintiffs alleged that they paid up to $35,000 in tuition for little in return. And the New York Attorney General complained too, which makes this package deal important for someone with bigger issues to deal with before January.

The deal resolves several pieces of Trump University litigation, including two federal class-action cases. Significantly, it also resolves a separate lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who said:

I am pleased that under the terms of this settlement, every victim will receive restitution and that Donald Trump will pay up to $1 million in penalties to the State of New York for violating state education laws. The victims of Trump University have waited years for today’s result, and I am pleased that their patience — and persistence — will be rewarded by this $25 million settlement.”

Of course, the real cost to Mr. Trump is after tax, not before it. And most business settlements are fully tax deductible. The only part that arguably may not be here is the $1 million in penalties. But barring express non-deductibility commitments, many penalties can be deducted, too. In general, fines and penalties paid to the government are not deductible. Section 162(f) of the tax code prohibits deducting ‘‘any fine or similar penalty paid to a government for the violation of any law.’’


Tuesday Toon Roundup 2: The Rest


Fake News






Mr Fish

Tuesday Toon Roundup 1- The White Way

Krugman: Build He Won't

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist, is a white supremacist and purveyor of fake news. But the other day, in an interview with, um, The Hollywood Reporter, he sounded for a minute like a progressive economist. “I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan,” he declared. “With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything.”

So is public investment an area in which progressives and the incoming Trump administration can find common ground? Some people, including Bernie Sanders, seem to think so.

But remember that we’re dealing with a president-elect whose business career is one long trail of broken promises and outright scams — someone who just paid $25 million to settle fraud charges against his “university.” Given that history, you always have to ask whether he’s offering something real or simply engaged in another con job. In fact, you should probably assume that it’s a scam until proven otherwise.

And we already know enough about his infrastructure plan to suggest, strongly, that it’s basically fraudulent, that it would enrich a few well-connected people at taxpayers’ expense while doing very little to cure our investment shortfall. Progressives should not associate themselves with this exercise in crony capitalism.


Toon: Point of Agreement

Bittersweet toon- How will we find out way?

Big banks are more excited about Donald Trump than any other president in almost 100 years

In the final few weeks of the US presidential campaign, Donald Trump warned that his rival, Hillary Clinton, “meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty.” Out on the trail, he suggested everyone from Goldman Sachs to the Federal Reserve were in on a conspiracy to keep America down.

But for all of his criticism of Wall Street before the election, under a Trump administration banks are in line for a bonanza. How can you tell? Since Trump won the vote, US bank stocks have rallied more strongly in the post-election, pre-inauguration period than for any other first-term president going back to Herbert Hoover.

On average, bank stocks have fallen by 2% at this point of the post-election period for first-term presidents going back to Hoover. Since Trump’s win, they’re up nearly 15%. That means a broad index of bank stocks is now up after Trump’s victory by as much as it was down after Obama won his first term, on the heels of Lehman Brothers’ collapse.


Donald Trumps Attorney General could terminate the rule that protects state-legalized marijuana

The US marijuana industry’s vibrant growth in the grey area of federalism could be threatened by president-elect Donald Trump and his preferred choice for Attorney General, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.

Sessions, an early backer of Trump’s presidential campaign and an outspoken critic of US immigration policy, is also an opponent of marijuana legalization. He has criticized the Obama administration’s approach to drug policy, including its tolerance of states where voters have approved the use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.

“It is false that marijuana use doesn’t lead people to more drug use,” Sessions argued in a speech earlier this year. (Researchers are split.) “It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal. I think we need to be careful about this.”

Marijuana is still considered a controlled substance under federal law, but a wave of states have relaxed or eliminated prohibitions on the plant and products derived from it. Some see a tipping point at hand on a national level; on election day, eight of nine major initiatives to legalize recreational or medical marijuana passed.

Yet the primary reason that the professional and well-publicized marketers of marijuana in these states won’t being arrested by federal agents and prosecuted in federal court are a policy put in place under president Obama. A 2013 memorandum (pdf) written by deputy Attorney General James M. Cole directed federal prosecutors to focus their efforts on criminal enterprises, with the implicit message to tolerate state-regulated marijuana dealers.

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