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Profile Information

Name: Steve
Gender: Male
Hometown: Florida
Home country: US
Current location: US
Member since: Sat Oct 16, 2004, 01:04 PM
Number of posts: 26,958

Journal Archives

What an 18th century non-war with France has to do with the Senate’s letter to Iran (Logan Act)


Technically, which is to say, legally, you and I are not allowed to travel to Tehran to try to work out a deal between the United States and Iran. There are a lot of reasons why that prohibition makes sense; your ability to gain an audience with the country's leaders being the least of the many difficulties.

But after a doctor named George Logan traveled to France in 1798 to try to prevent war between our two countries, it became illegal for anyone to freelance in that capacity. The law has never been enforced, but it has a habit of popping into the political conversation when someone -- say, most of the Republican conference in the Senate -- tries to influence foreign relations, say, by sending a letter to the Iranian opposition. Which, you're probably aware, has happened.

At the time of Logan's trip, the United States and France were building toward a war, as Michael McConnell, a former federal judge and professor of constitutional law at Stanford University, explained to me by phone. Logan went to France after an official delegation from the United States had been met with demands from anonymous French emissaries for a bribe, an incident known as the XYZ Affair. The Federalist Party of President John Adams was advocating for war, but Logan's visit prompted France to take some actions that defused the situation. Disappointment in Adams's subsequent ramping down of tensions led to the act that bears Logan's name.

As originally drafted, the Logan Act (as it is known) prohibits:

Any unauthorized United States citizen to carry on any verbal or written correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government with an intent to influence its measures or conduct in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States.

more at link

The 47 Republican Senators and their letter to Iran

I'm seeking feedback here. I see it as a blatant political ploy to the racist base back home, a way to "stick it to the black man in the White House". What do you think ?

TAFT CAUSES HOTEL DELUGE (caps in original at NY Times)

June 19, 1915

Tidal Wave from His Bathtub Floods Bankers in Dining Room.

CAPE MAY, N.J., June 18. — Ex-President Taft, who came here yesterday as the guest of the Pennsylvania Bankers' Association, took a bath in his apartments in the Hotel Cape May. He failed properly to consider the size of the average seashore hotel bathtub, however, with the result that when he got into the tub the water overflowed and trickled down upon the heads of the guests in the dining room.


A blast from the past, eh ?

Bloomberg: Did 47 U.S. Senators Just Commit Treason By Attempting to Sabotage Iran Deal?


News that 47 Republican senators sent a signed letter to Iran's leaders warning them against cutting a deal with the Obama administration had many Americans on Twitter openly questioning whether the action constituted treason.

The letter, organized by Senator Tom Cotton, a freshman from Arkansas, warned Iran that "...we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the letter's goal was to "undermine" negotiations with Iran, but also noted that if the Obama administration reached an agreement over Iran's nuclear program that it would not be a treaty subject to congressional ratification.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, meanwhile, said it was highly unusual for a political party to insert itself into a foreign policy negotiation in opposition to the president.

IMHO, the article author should have bypassed the whole treason debate and focussed on the Logan Act.

Tapper Grills Sen. Cotton: Are You Trying to ‘Sabotage’ Obama’s Iran Deal?


CNN’s Jake Tapper grilled Senator Tom Cotton today putting together an open letter to Iran with 46 of his Senate colleagues explaining to them how America’s government works and how a deal on nuclear power without Congress’ consent will not abide.

Tapper asked Cotton point-blank if he and his colleagues are “trying to sabotage this diplomatic effort.” Cotton insisted all he supports is a “good deal” that will absolutely keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but has waning confidence that President Obama will be able to pull it off.

Tapper brought up the unprecedented nature of the letter and asked how Republicans can say Obama (or any president) should have unlimited power to fight terrorists, but Congress should impose limits on the president’s ability to negotiate these kind of agreements. Cotton again insisted he’s just trying to “send the clear message that Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons.”

video at link

Satan straps on ice skates AGAIN! Twice in one day!

Obama mocks Republican letter to Iran over nuclear talks


US President Barack Obama has criticised a letter from Republican senators to Iran, accusing them of "interfering" in ongoing nuclear talks.

He said the 47 senators made an "unusual coalition" with Iran's hard-line religious leaders.

The letter reminds Iran that any deal is just an executive agreement unless it gets congressional approval.

Talks on Iran's nuclear programme are at a critical stage, with an outline agreement due on 31 March.

Five 2016 Republicans Oppose Net Neutrality


A rough consensus is emerging among the Republican presidential field against net neutrality.

Five major candidates for the 2016 nomination have come out against a recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission to regulate how cable companies handle Internet speeds.

The FCC decision would prevent cable companies from creating “fast lanes” on the Internet, holding to the current system in which all web traffic is treated the same. President Obama and likely Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton have backed the FCC’s moves on net neutrality.

The five Republican contenders, meantime, argued that the regulations are unnecessary at best and harmful to the free market at worst.

One more reason not to vote Republican.

interesting article on quantum mechanics


I am a heretic. There, I've said it. My heresy? I don't believe that quantum computers can ever work.

I've been a cryptographer for over 20 years and for all that time we've been told that sooner or later someone would build a quantum computer that would factor large numbers easily, making our current systems useless.

However, despite enormous amounts of money spent by research councils and government agencies, the things are stuck at three qubits. Factoring 15 is easy; 35 seems too hard. A Canadian company has started selling computers they claim are quantum; scientists from Google and NASA said they couldn't observe any quantum speed-up.

Recently, the UK government decided to take £200m from the science budget and devote it to found a string of new "quantum hubs". That might be a bad sign; ministerial blessing is often the last rites for a failing idea.

much more at link

U.N. Finds ‘Alarmingly High’ Levels of Violence Against Women


UNITED NATIONS — The evidence is ubiquitous. The gang rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi sets off an unusual burst of national outrage in India. In South Sudan, women are assaulted by both sides in the civil war. In Iraq, jihadists enslave women for sex. And American colleges face mounting scrutiny about campus rape.

Despite the many gains women have made in education, health and even political power in the course of a generation, violence against women and girls worldwide “persists at alarmingly high levels,” according to a United Nations analysis that the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to present to the General Assembly on Monday.

About 35 percent of women worldwide — more than one in three — said they had experienced physical violence in their lifetime, the report finds. One in 10 girls under the age of 18 was forced to have sex, it says.

The subject is under sharp focus as delegates from around the world gather here starting on Monday to assess how well governments have done since they promised to ensure women’s equality at a landmark conference in Beijing 20 years ago — and what to do next.

81 F in Florida, I'd say spring has started with a bang


Hopefully it's not 101 this summer!
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