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Laser fusion experiment yields record energy at Lawrence Livermore's National Ignition Facility

Breanna Bishop, LLNL

LIVERMORE, Calif. -- In the early morning hours of Aug.13, Lawrence Livermore's National Ignition Facility (NIF) focused all 192 of its ultra-powerful laser beams on a tiny deuterium-tritium filled capsule. In the nanoseconds that followed, the capsule imploded and released a neutron yield of nearly 3x1015, or approximately 8,000 joules of neutron energy -- approximately three times NIF's previous neutron yield record for cryogenic implosions.

The primary mission of NIF is to provide experimental insight and data for the National Nuclear Security Administration's science-based stockpile stewardship program. The experiment attained conditions not observed since the days of underground nuclear weapons testing and represents an important milestone in the continuing demonstration that the stockpile can be kept safe, secure and reliable without a return to testing.

This newest accomplishment provides an important benchmark for the program's computer simulation tools, and represents a step along the "path forward" for ignition delivered by the NNSA to Congress in December 2012.

Early calculations show that fusion reactions in the hot plasma started to self-heat the burning core and enhanced the yield by nearly 50 percent, pushing close to the margins of alpha burn, where the fusion reactions dominate the process.

"The yield was significantly greater than the energy deposited in the hot spot by the implosion," said Ed Moses, principle associate director for NIF and Photon Science. "This represents an important advance in establishing a self-sustaining burning target, the next critical step on the path to fusion ignition on NIF."



Tea Party Now Covering News for Washington Post

By Jonathan Chait

The Washington Post’s lead Sunday news story is one of the weirdest, and most weirdly biased, news articles I’ve ever read in my life. The point of the story — headlined “After six budget showdowns, big government is mostly unchanged” — is that the federal government is too big, and we may think it’s getting smaller, but it’s not, really.

There are actually two points to the story. One is that government is not shrinking, or at least not shrinking very quickly. This point is clearly false. The author employs crude, badly deployed statistics, such as the shocking fact that the government is now spending $3.455 trillion a year, which is admittedly lower than in 2010, but “it is not down by that much. Back then, the government spent a whopping $3.457 trillion.”

Is that really “not down by much”? Given that some growth is required every year merely to keep pace with higher costs and a growing population, a cut in unadjusted dollar terms over three years is actually a lot. Government spending has actually dropped by 2 percentage points of gross domestic product since 2010. That’s a very fast drop, especially given the backdrop of an economy coping with the vast fallout from the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Indeed, the consensus of the macroeconomic forecasting field is that rapid government cutbacks are hampering the recovery, and thus prolonging the enormous human misery of high unemployment, though that consensus does not appear anywhere in the story.
The story proceeds to report that the federal workforce is not shrinking by much:
Measured another way — not in dollars, but in people — the government has about 4.1 million employees today, military and civilian. That’s more than the populations of 24 states.

Back in 2010, it had 4.3 million employees. More than the populations of 24 states.

Another way to put that fact would be that the federal workforce has declined by 4.65 percent over three years. Still another way to put it would be that, over the last several years, the federal workforce as a percentage of the population has continued its historic decline:



Drones that tag and track people using nanoparticle sprays

by David Hambling

The US Air Force is funding work to let drones tag suspects or cars with a spray that gives them a distinct spectral signature, making them easy to track

ON A dusty road in northern Pakistan, a nondescript vehicle rounds a corner. Fifty metres overhead, a tiny drone buzzes unseen, spraying a fine mist across the vehicle's roof as it passes below. The vehicle is now tagged, and can be tracked from many kilometres away by an infrared scanner on a larger drone.

This scenario may soon be played out now that Voxtel, a firm in Beaverton, Oregon, has won a US Air Force contract to develop a drone-based tagging system. Voxtel makes tagging materials – taggants – that can be used to discreetly label vehicles carrying smuggled goods, or people who are involved in civil disobedience or attempting to cross international borders illegally.

Interest in tagging technology has been driven in part by growing pressure on the White House over civilian deaths in US drone attacks. During a recent visit to Pakistan, US Secretary of State John Kerry stated that drone strikes there will end "very, very soon". Tagging by drones would allow people to be tracked for subsequent arrest.

Voxtel's taggants are based on quantum dots – semiconductor nanocrystals less than 50 atoms across. Because of quantum effects, they absorb and emit light at specific wavelengths. The company has demonstrated a taggant powder that, when illuminated with an invisible ultraviolet laser, can be detected by infrared cameras 2 kilometres away. The powder is delivered as an aerosol that clings to metal, glass and cloth, and batches can be engineered to have distinct spectral signatures.



The Leveraged Buyout of America

Giant bank holding companies now own airports, toll roads, and ports; control power plants; and store and hoard vast quantities of commodities of all sorts. They are systematically buying up or gaining control of the essential lifelines of the economy. How have they pulled this off, and where have they gotten the money?

by Ellen Brown
In a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke dated June 27, 2013, US Representative Alan Grayson and three co-signers expressed concern about the expansion of large banks into what have traditionally been non-financial commercial spheres. Specifically:

We are concerned about how large banks have recently expanded their businesses into such fields as electric power production, oil refining and distribution, owning and operating of public assets such as ports and airports, and even uranium mining.
After listing some disturbing examples, they observed:

According to legal scholar Saule Omarova, over the past five years, there has been a “quiet transformation of U.S. financial holding companies.” These financial services companies have become global merchants that seek to extract rent from any commercial or financial business activity within their reach. They have used legal authority in Graham-Leach-Bliley to subvert the “foundational principle of separation of banking from commerce”. . . .

It seems like there is a significant macro-economic risk in having a massive entity like, say JP Morgan, both issuing credit cards and mortgages, managing municipal bond offerings, selling gasoline and electric power, running large oil tankers, trading derivatives, and owning and operating airports, in multiple countries.

A “macro” risk indeed – not just to our economy but to our democracy and our individual and national sovereignty. Giant banks are buying up our country’s infrastructure – the power and supply chains that are vital to the economy. Aren’t there rules against that? And where are the banks getting the money?



For the Syrians’ sakes and for our own, we must not intervene



Whatever the truth behind this unforgivable crime, the likelihood of some form of Western intervention is greater than ever, as David Cameron, Barack Obama and France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius have made clear. The Cruise Missile Liberals, who casually call for other people’s children to fight their wars and for bombs to fall on the heads of those they will never meet, are beginning to cry for military action. It is perplexing indeed: these are the sorts of people who generally favour bombs to be dropped on the sorts of Islamist fighters taking on Assad’s forces. But it is a perfectly human response to look at toddlers in bodybags and want to do something. No dictatorship is a legitimate form of government – it is a gang of thugs whose violence begins with depriving the people of the right to choose who rules them.

But Western intervention would surely be disastrous. When protesters first took to the streets of Damascus, they were heavily secular and democracy-orientated. There are still such elements, such as the Syrian Democratic People’s Party. But rebel forces have become increasingly taken over by Islamic fundamentalists, bolstered by prestige in their courageous fighting and aid from wealthy Gulf elites. It is the region’s Western-backed fundamentalist monarchies such as Saudi Arabia who have armed the rebels. Remember Abu Sakkar, the rebel commander filmed cutting out and apparently eating the heart of a government soldier while ranting against Syria’s Alawite minority? His forces, the Farouq Brigades, are actually among some of the more moderate Islamist groupings.

There are now two powerful al-Qa’ida groupings operating. One is Jabhat al-Nusra, originally a spin-off from al-Qa’ida in Iraq, a resurgent movement responsible for some of the worst atrocities in the neighbouring country’s sectarian bloodbath. It took the first provincial capital, the city of Raqqa, earlier this year, giving it huge sway in the country’s north-east. It swiftly imposed strict Islamist laws, intimidating women and smashing up shops selling alcohol. Then there is ISIS, an even more zealous al-Qa’ida formation that has fired on secular protesters and harassed the civilian population of Aleppo. A “civil war within a civil war” beckons: members of the Farouq Brigades have spoken of a second revolution against al-Qa’ida if Assad falls, and Free Syrian Army Military Council member Kamal Hamami was allegedly killed in July by such elements. No wonder many of the secular Syrian activists who first took the streets now fear the revolution has been hijacked, and even fear the fall of Assad.

There is a frightening precedent. In the 1980s, Western arms to Afghan jihadis were funnelled by the Pakistani secret services to the most radical groups. When the Soviet-backed Afghan regime fell in 1992, the victorious rebel groups collapsed into internecine conflict, reducing Kabul to rubble and leading many to welcome the Taliban as restorers of order.



Note to media: Get used to calling Manning “she” because there’ll be many more like her

By Gideon Lichfield

The media tied themselves into knots on Thursday (Aug. 22) when the person they had known until then as Bradley Manning, sentenced a day earlier to 35 years for leaking government secrets to Wikileaks, announced that she was a woman named Chelsea. Reporting this, some newspapers ended up where you least expected them to be: the oh-so-liberal New York Times stuck doggedly to “Bradley” and male pronouns, while Britain’s conservative gossip rag the Daily Mail called her “Chelsea” and “she/her” throughout. One article from Reuters went to extraordinary lengths, writing “Manning” more than a dozen times and even breaking rules of grammar just to avoid using any pronouns at all.

Now, to be fair to the media, the organizations whose job it is to explain transgender issues to the public weren’t much help. Reporters who turned, as I did, to the websites of groups like GLAAD, TransEquality, the Human Rights Campaign, or the UK’s Trans Media Watch when the news about Manning broke would have found admonitions to use the pronouns a transgendered person asks you to use—but no advice on how to write about the very moment at which those pronouns changed, or about the person’s life before then. Should Manning be “Bradley” when writing about her (his?) tour of duty in Iraq? If not, why not?

In fact the answer is simple—”Chelsea”, always—and so is the reasoning, once you know it. To come out as transgender is to acknowledge the gender you have always had, regardless of what your body seemed to be. The gender you used to go by is something you never really were. In that light, for someone else to then keep on using it just looks like stubbornness, or malice.

So what are the media to do? “‘We can’t just spring a new name and a new pronoun’ on readers with no explanation,” a Times editor complained, when the paper’s public editor asked why it had stuck with “Bradley”. Well, indeed you can’t. But you can with explanation, and the explanation part really isn’t that hard.


China will soon have 40% more coal than the combined weight of humanity

By Gwynn Guilford

Years of excessive investment are catching up with China, and the latest example is coal. Its reserves now contain 220 million tons (200 million tonnes) of coal, as the Hao Hao Report notes. That puts China on track to have as much as 440 million tons by the end of 2013, according to the China National Coal Association (CNCA)—around 40% more than the combined weight of the entire human population.

This excess coal has driven prices down by half, compared with the same period last year. Now 24 of China’s biggest coal companies—nearly one-third—are losing money, says Jiang Zhimin, vice-chairman of the CNCA. ”All the enterprises in the provinces and municipalities of Heilongjiang, Jilin, Yunnan, Chongqing, Anhui and Jiangxi are experiencing losses,” adds Jiang.

How does a country amass that much unneeded coal? By pumping trillions of yuan into coal mines, for one. From 2000 to 2005, investment totaled only 200 billion yuan ($32 billion at the 2013 exchange rate). In 2012, even as the economy noticeably faltered, China invested 529 billion yuan ($86 billion in 2013 terms) in coal mining.



Could www.Vote.Republican Be a Porn Site Next Year?

By Ben Terris
August 26, 2013 | 6:00 a.m.

The first stage of the Internet gold rush is upon us. This means, of course, that speculators are already quibbling over property rights.
And the Republican Party is right in the thick of it.

Within the next year, the Internet is set to expand. Instead of just ending website URLs with the 20 or so generic domains (.com, .biz, .net, .org, etc.), or the about 200 country code domains (.us, .uk, .de, .cc), people will have the option of nearly 1,500 new endings (.bible, .tattoo, .WTF, .sucks, .porn). Last year, hundreds of people and businesses (including Google, Amazon, Nike, and many others) applied for these so-called top-level domains for various reasons. Some want to build out their brand; others want to keep competitors from getting their hands on them; and still others just want to make a profit by selling domains to third parties.

United TLD Holdco is a group in this last category. It has put in the $185,000 application fee for 26 different top-level domains, including .Ninja, .Actor, .Social, .Democrat, and .Republican. It's only the last one of these that has the Republican Party up in arms.

"It's not appropriate for them to run something that is called .Republican," says Chris Jankowski, the president of the Republican State Leadership Committee. "Part of the new Internet is about making sure the people who have the interest in the brand, in this case political parties, not just crass commercial interest



Invoking God in America

By Joseph Margulies

last 4 paragraphs:

...But Bellah knew only too well that America's civil religion "has not always been invoked in favor of worthy causes." As much as we may wish it otherwise, the religious language of national identity can just as easily sanctify something wretched as exalted. The language of civil religion has been invoked to justify every dark chapter in U.S. history, from the slaughter of Native Americans to discrimination and nativism to our periodic military misadventures.

Likewise, today's celebration of the civil rights era should not blind us to the reality of the times, when civil rights workers were threatened, beaten and killed by those who understood America's civil religion in far darker terms. Chambers found himself on the receiving end of this violence; his home, office and car were all firebombed.

America's civil religion will be with us always, but we must listen to the form it takes. Today, tens of millions of Americans merge an angry God with a chest-thumping nationalism to justify endless misadventures in the war on terror, thereby giving political cover for the apparently limitless expansion of the national security state.

As the late Sen. William Fulbright warned nearly 50 years ago, "power tends to confuse itself with virtue, and a great nation is peculiarly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God's favor." This is again the greatest challenge to America's civil religion, and if recent events are any indication, the future is ominous. Robert Bellah and Julius Chambers would have understood it perfectly well.

the rest


Everything's Bigger in Rick Perry's Texas, Except a Woman's Right to Equal Pay

Today is Women's Equality Day. The day is a celebration of the passage of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. The 19th Amendment became law in 1920. Almost 100 years later women are still fighting to be treated equally.

It was 1963, when I was only 6 years old, that the Equal Pay Act became the law. At the time women made 59 cents for ever dollar a man made. In the following fifty years that gender gap has only increased 18 cents, to 77 cents. That means that we have moved at a rate of about 1 cent per every 2 ½ years towards gender equality in pay. It also means that women in America, working in the same job as a man, doing the same quality of work as a man, work until April 9th for free. On average, women earn $10,000 less per year than men. Over a life-time that mean that a woman with a high school diploma will earn $700,000 less than a man with a high school degree. Woman who graduate from college will earn less than men with a college degree by over One Million Dollars, and Professional Women will earn less than a similarly educated man by roughly 2 Million Dollars.

The State of Texas is one of the bright hopes for the economy in America. Texas ranks second in the country for economic growth, at 4.8 percent. Texas GDP growth from 2009 to 2012 was 13 percent. Texas job creation is far ahead of the national average. Since 1995 the nation job growth has been 12% but Texas has been an impressive 31.5 percent. Even more impressive is the increase of high paying jobs in Texas. Texas has only 8 percent of the U.S. population but created 33 percent of the country's highest paying jobs, while the rest of the country lost 174,000 jobs in that category. Additionally the number of people moving to Texas is breathtaking. Houston has become the country's fifth largest metroplex, and the Dallas-Ft.Worth Metroplex was already the fourth-largest. For the first time since keeping records, two of the top five cities in population in the country lay within the borders of a single state. Add to that the fact that Austin ranked as the fastest growing city with more than 1 million residents.

Given this incredible rate of growth, it would be logical to conclude that Texas leads the country in favorable treatment of women in the work force. Women currently make up 46.9 percent of the work force, and hold 51.5 percent of the management, professional and related positions in America.

Yet women are still underpaid in Texas relative to their male counterparts. The wage gap in Texas in 18.2 percent.

- See more at: http://thecontributor.com/everything-s-bigger-rick-perry-s-texas-except-women-s-right-equal-pay
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