Bill USA's Journal
Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 05:25 PM
Number of posts: 5,167
Number of posts: 5,167
Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that
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I spent four decades of my professional life in a subset of American society that very tightly controlled access to guns. Certainly, there were many guns and other weapons around, and at times they were quite visible. But within this society, there was also a comprehensive understanding that guns were dangerous and could be the central component of unfortunate — even fatal — circumstances, especially when combined with alcohol, drugs, heightened emotions or misplaced loyalties.
Because of this recognition, in this society where I was privileged to live and work, we controlled guns. Anyone who touched one had to be trained and, in effect, licensed. Guns had to be registered with a federal authority. Ammunition was tightly controlled and without exception fully accounted for. Should anyone show signs of mental or emotional distress, his weapons were typically withheld and only returned when there was high confidence that any troublesome problems had been controlled or cured.
What was this society that exercised a high degree of gun control? Well, it was the U.S. Army.
There is an image held by many that in the military, all servicemen and servicewomen have a weapon mounted on a rack above their bunk, ready for them instantly to reach up and grab when the alert siren sounds. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, when I was in the Army, all military weapons not in use for official duties were locked in a rack, which was chained to the floor, which was in a room secured by double doors, which were bolted shut with high-security locks. In addition, the room was monitored with alarm systems and checked hourly to ensure all security measures were in place and functioning.
First, there must be a renewal of the ban on assault weapons. Second, related to this ban should be a ban on large-volume ammunition magazines. Unless in an active combat zone, the military stores its large ammunition magazines separately from weapons.
Posted by Bill USA | Wed Jun 15, 2016, 05:27 PM (5 replies)
Christopher Hare and Robert Lupton have challenged our claim that most commentators “greatly exaggerated” the role of policy preferences in explaining Bernie Sanders’s surprising success in this year’s Democratic nomination contest. How can Sanders’s supporters not be liberals, they ask, when roll call voting scores and campaign rhetoric put Sanders well to the left of his primary opponent, Hillary Clinton? Hare and Lupton attribute our “surprising findings” to a quirk in one of the surveys we analyzed, which asked Republican as well as Democrats and independents which Democratic candidate they preferred.
In fact, however, the difference between their interpretation of the evidence and ours is mostly due to misunderstandings of our analysis and to a slip in their re-analysis of the same data, which resulted in their double-counting “very liberal” Sanders supporters.
We argued that support for Sanders hinges on social identity more than ideology
The main point of our essay was that support for Sanders hinged less on ideology and issues, and more on social identities and group attachments, than common wisdom has suggested. In support of that point, we noted that exit polls of Democratic primary voters reveal much wider gaps in Sanders’s support between women and men, non-whites and whites, and Democrats and independents than between ideological liberals and moderates.
We also noted that data from a pilot survey conducted in January as part of the 2016 American National Election Study suggest that Sanders supporters were actually less likely than Clinton supporters to favor key policies Sanders has advocated on the campaign trail, including a higher minimum wage, increasing government spending on health care, and an expansion of government services financed by higher taxes.
“It is quite a stretch,” we suggested, “to view these people as the vanguard of a new, social-democratic-trending Democratic Party.”
Posted by Bill USA | Tue Jun 14, 2016, 08:04 PM (71 replies)
one of the duties the Secretary of State:"Negotiates, interprets & terminates treaties & agreements"
see: Duties of the Secretary of State
Under the Constitution, the President of the United States determines U.S. foreign policy. The Secretary of State, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, is the President’s chief foreign affairs adviser. The Secretary carries out the President’s foreign policies through the State Department and the Foreign Service of the United States.
However, as is the case with all trade agreements, such as the Transpacific Partnership, the Office of the United States Trade Representative has takes the lead in the negotiations of these agreements. Note that The Office of the United States Trade Representative is part of the Executive Office of the President. That means that The Office of the United States Trade Representative - is answerable directly to the President. Meaning it is the President who determines what the foreign policy, including trade agreements, of the United States will be.
Posted by Bill USA | Tue Jun 14, 2016, 06:43 PM (2 replies)
"Staged industrialization process” beginning; exotic yields from an exotic organism that uses CO2, water and nutrients and secretes ethanol or diesel.
For fans of the “solar renewable fuels” company Joule, there’s significant news from Bedford: the company has announced that it will undertake a “staged industrialization process”, to culminate in a 1000-acre production plant starting construction in 2017.
Now, you might think that a 1000 acre facility — not much larger than say, a single commercial scale farm, might not be all that significant. But take into account the extraordinary productivity that is expected from a commercial Joule renewable fuels operation.
The company has previously indicated that it could produce up to 15,000 gallons of diesel fuels, per acre per year, and as much as 25,000 gallons per acre per year of ethanol — so think in terms of 15 million to 25 million gallons for this first commercial facility, as an ultimate nameplate capacity.
The novel CO2-to-liquids conversion requires only sunlight, non-potable water and engineered bacteria that function as living catalysts to produce specific products, including ethanol and hydrocarbon fuels that are inherently compatible with existing infrastructure.
Posted by Bill USA | Tue Jun 14, 2016, 05:43 PM (2 replies)
A Harvard professor says he can cure aging, but is that a good idea?
At the gene-editing summit, you can’t miss George Church. He’s the big guy with the bushy beard and wavy hair, someone who looks like he stepped out of an 18th century painting of “natural philosophers.” Church, who is 61, is among several hundred scientists, policymakers and thinkers on hand to discuss the powerful technology known as CRISPR, a new method for editing genes. The technique was invented in the past four years, and Church is among those who can claim at least partial credit for the innovation (there’s an intense legal battle over patents — a story for another day).
I mentioned to Church that this is the kind of work for which Nobels are awarded. He quickly responded that there are more important things in the balance than prizes. There are cures for human diseases, he said.
Church thinks that one of the ailments he can cure is aging. When I met him early this year, in his laboratory at Harvard Medical School, where he is professor of genetics, he expressed confidence that in just five or six years he will be able to reverse the aging process in human beings.
“A scenario is, everyone takes gene therapy — not just curing rare diseases like cystic fibrosis, but diseases that everyone has, like aging,” he said.
Easy DNA Editing will change the World - Buckle Up
The stakes, however, have changed. Everyone at the Napa meeting had access to a gene-editing technique called Crispr-Cas9. The first term is an acronym for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” a description of the genetic basis of the method; Cas9 is the name of a protein that makes it work. Technical details aside, Crispr-Cas9 makes it easy, cheap, and fast to move genes around—any genes, in any living thing, from bacteria to people. “These are monumental moments in the history of biomedical research,” Baltimore says. “They don't happen every day.”
Using the three-year-old technique, researchers have already reversed mutations that cause blindness, stopped cancer cells from multiplying, and made cells impervious to the virus that causes AIDS. Agronomists have rendered wheat invulnerable to killer fungi like powdery mildew, hinting at engineered staple crops that can feed a population of 9 billion on an ever-warmer planet. Bioengineers have used Crispr to alter the DNA of yeast so that it consumes plant matter and excretes ethanol, promising an end to reliance on petrochemicals. Startups devoted to Crispr have launched. International pharmaceutical and agricultural companies have spun up Crispr R&D. Two of the most powerful universities in the US are engaged in a vicious war over the basic patent. Depending on what kind of person you are, Crispr makes you see a gleaming world of the future, a Nobel medallion, or dollar signs.
The technique is revolutionary, and like all revolutions, it's perilous. Crispr goes well beyond anything the Asilomar conference discussed. It could at last allow genetics researchers to conjure everything anyone has ever worried they would—designer babies, invasive mutants, species-specific bioweapons, and a dozen other apocalyptic sci-fi tropes. It brings with it all-new rules for the practice of research in the life sciences. But no one knows what the rules are—or who will be the first to break them.
As it happened, the people who found it weren't genome engineers at all. They were basic researchers, trying to unravel the origin of life by sequencing the genomes of ancient bacteria and microbes called Archaea (as in archaic), descendants of the first life on Earth. Deep amid the bases, the As, Ts, Gs, and Cs that made up those DNA sequences, microbiologists noticed recurring segments that were the same back to front and front to back—palindromes. The researchers didn't know what these segments did, but they knew they were weird. In a branding exercise only scientists could love, they named these clusters of repeating palindromes Crispr.
Then, in 2005, a microbiologist named Rodolphe Barrangou, working at a Danish food company called Danisco, spotted some of those same palindromic repeats in Streptococcus thermophilus, the bacteria that the company uses to make yogurt and cheese. Barrangou and his colleagues discovered that the unidentified stretches of DNA between Crispr's palindromes matched sequences from viruses that had infected their S. thermophilus colonies. Like most living things, bacteria get attacked by viruses—in this case they're called bacteriophages, or phages for short. Barrangou's team went on to show that the segments served an important role in the bacteria's defense against the phages, a sort of immunological memory. If a phage infected a microbe whose Crispr carried its fingerprint, the bacteria could recognize the phage and fight back. Barrangou and his colleagues realized they could save their company some money by selecting S. thermophilus species with Crispr sequences that resisted common dairy viruses.
Questions and Answers about CRISPR
Q: What is “CRISPR”?
A: “CRISPR” (pronounced “crisper”) stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which are the hallmark of a bacterial defense system which forms the basis for the popular CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. In the field of genome engineering, the term “CRISPR” is often used loosely to refer to the entire CRISPR-Cas9 system, which can be programmed to target specific stretches of genetic code and to edit DNA at precise locations. These tools allow researchers to permanently modify genes in living cells and organisms and, in the future, may make it possible to correct mutations at precise locations in the human genome to treat genetic causes of disease. In September 2015, the Zhang lab demonstrated successful harnessing of a different CRISPR system for genome editing, called CRISPR-Cpf1, which has the potential for even simpler and more precise genome engineering.
Q: Where do CRISPRs come from?
A: CRISPRs were first discovered in archaea (and later in bacteria), by Francisco Mojica, a scientists at the University of Alicante in Spain. He proposed that CRISPRs serve as part of the bacterial immune system, defending against invading viruses. They consist of repeating sequences of genetic code, interrupted by “spacer” sequences – remnants of genetic code from past invaders. The system serves as a genetic memory that helps the cell detect and destroy invaders (called “bacteriophage”) when they return. Mojica’s theory was experimentally demonstrated in 2007 by a team of scientists led by Philippe Horvath.
In January 2013, Feng Zhang at the Broad Institute and MIT published the first method to engineer CRISPR to edit the genome in mouse and human cells.
Posted by Bill USA | Mon Jun 13, 2016, 08:18 PM (7 replies)
YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP!!!
Donald Trump's broke presidential campaign is resorting to threatening Republican donors that either they give Trump cash, or he will put celebrities like Gary Busey on the Supreme Court.
Buzzfeed reported on Donald Trump’s top fundraiser, Anthony Scaramucci, shaking down Romney donors:
Let me ask you one other question,” he said. “What if he wins?”
“Do you want Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs to be the secretary of state and Gary Busey to be on the Supreme Court?”
This, Scaramucci suggested, is what Republicans can expect if they don’t get on the Trump Train now. (Combs and Busey — who Trump fired in 2013 on Celebrity Apprentice — support Trump. However, the candidate’s actual appeal to Republicans is how very very responsible he will be about Supreme Court appointments.)
Posted by Bill USA | Mon Jun 13, 2016, 07:16 PM (10 replies)
Conservative Media Run wth Faulty ABC Report Alleging HRC “Sold A Seat” On Intelligence Advisory Brd
Conservative Media Run With Faulty ABC Report To Allege Hillary Clinton “Sold A Seat” On An Intelligence Advisory Board
Conservative media figures are running with an ABC News report to claim that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “sold a seat” on the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) to Rajiv K. Fernando, a donor to the Clinton Foundation who was allegedly unqualified for the position. But the appointee in question is an expert in financial systems and serves on other national security boards. Contrary to ABC News’ implications, ISAB’s work includes financial security, and a general who works works with Fernando -- and who also currently sits on the ISAB -- says Fernando’s ”expertise in cyber-security is a great asset to our national security.”
ISAB Charter States The Board “Shall Reflect A Balance Of Backgrounds.” The board’s charter, posted on the State Department’s website, states of its membership: “The ISAB shall reflect a balance of backgrounds, points of view, and demographic diversity and shall include a wide variety of scientific, military, diplomatic, and political backgrounds. All members shall hold a Top Secret security clearance.” (State.gov, accessed 6/11/16)
Contrary To ABC's Suggestion, ISAB's Work Covers Financial Security Issues, Not Just Arms Control
ABC: Fernando Was “Placed On A Sensitive Government Intelligence Advisory Board Even Though He Had No Obvious Experience In The Field.”
But Recent ISAB Report Covered Cybersecurity In Financial Industry. A 2014 ISAB report covered cybersecurity in the financial industry. From the report’s conclusion:
The open nature of cyberspace, the access to information it enables, and the creativity that results, encourages a growing potential for a unique and accelerating process of innovation. This process also threatens individual privacy and the function of national infrastructure and financial systems in an historically unprecedented way. As the National Academy of Sciences points out, “cybersecurity is important to the United States, but the nation has other interests as well, some of which conflict with the imperatives of cybersecurity. It is important to recognize that tradeoffs are inevitable, and the nation’s political and policymaking bodies will have to decide on a case-by-case basis which national interests supersede increased cyber security.” By encouraging best practice, supporting and promulgating a modified theory of deterrence, and fostering international consensus on conduct in cyberspace among allies and friends, the Department can help in the national effort to allow the greatest utility from cyberspace in ways that do no harm. (State.gov, 7/2/14)
Fernando Serves On Multiple National Security And Foreign Policy Boards
ABC Acknowledged That Fernando Is Now A Board Member Of The American Security Project. ABC wrote:
Fernando is now a board member of a private group called the American Security Project, which describes itself as “a nonpartisan organization created to educate the American public and the world about the changing nature of national security in the 21st Century.” He also identifies himself online as a member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and says he's involved with a Washington think tank. (ABC News, 6/10/16)
Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney And Current ISAB Member: Fernando’s “Expertise In Cyber-Security Is A Great Asset To Our National Security.” Retired Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney is the CEO of the American Security Project, where Fernando is a board member. He tweeted of Fernando: “I serve on the ISAB. #RajFernando expertise in cyber-security is a great asset to our national security.” (Twitter.com, 6/11/16)
Fernando Also “Serves On The Foreign Policy Program Leadership Committee At The Brookings Institution And Is A Member Of The Chicago Council On Global Affairs.” (American Security Project, accessed 6/11/16)
Brookings VP: "I’ve Always Valued His Foreign Policy Insights." Brookings executive vice president and former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk promoted Stephen Cheney's praise of Fernando, adding, "Can’t speak to #RajFernando role on ISAB but I’ve always valued his foreign policy insights." (Twitter.com, 6/11/16)
International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) Charter
3. Objectives and Scope of Activities
The ISAB will provide the Department of State with a continuing source of independent insight, advice, and innovation on all aspects of arms control, disarmament, nonproliferation, and international security and related aspects of public diplomacy. It will avail itself of the resources of all the Department’s bureaus and offices as directed by the Department. At the same time, the Board will seek to make its own resources available to the Department’s bureaus and offices on a cooperative basis on projects of mutual interest.
4. Description of Duties
The Department of State has concluded that a single advisory board, dealing with the scientific, military, diplomatic, political, and public diplomacy aspects of arms control, disarmament, international security, and nonproliferation, would provide valuable independent insight and advice and thereby meet an important requirement of the Department. The duties of the ISAB are advisory only.
Posted by Bill USA | Mon Jun 13, 2016, 06:05 PM (15 replies)
Light-matter interplay probed: Physicists achieve quantum Hall state with light: mindblowing article
(emphases my own)
These three false-color images represent the quantum Hall state that University of Chicago physicists created by shining infrared laser light at specially configured mirrors. Achieving this state with light instead of matter was an important step in developing computing and other applications from quantum phenomena. In this quantum Hall state, particles of light mimic the orbital action of electrons in more standard experiments that involve powerful magnetic fields and ultra-cold conditions of near absolute zero (minus 459.6 degrees Fahrenheit)
In work published online June 6, 2016, in the journal Nature, Simon's group presents new experimental observations of a quantum Hall material near a singularity of curvature in space.
Quantum effects give rise to some of the most useful and promising properties of materials: they define standard units of measurement, give rise to superconductivity, and describe quantum computers. The quantum hall materials are one prominent example in which electrons are trapped in non-conducting circular orbits except at the edges of the material. There, electrons exhibit quantized resistance-free electrical conduction that is immune to disorder such as material impurities or surface defects.
Furthermore, electrons in quantum Hall materials do not transmit sound waves but instead have particle-like excitations, some of which are unlike any other particles ever discovered. Some of these materials also exhibit simultaneous quantum entanglement between millions of electrons, meaning that the electrons are so interconnected, the state of one instantly influences the state of all others. This combination of properties makes quantum Hall materials a promising platform for future quantum computation.
Researchers worldwide have spent the past 35 years delving into the mysteries of quantum Hall materials, but always in the same fundamental way. They use superconducting magnets to make very powerful magnetic fields and refrigerators to cool electronic samples to thousandths of a degree above absolute zero.
In a new approach, Simon and his team demonstrated the creation of a quantum Hall material made up of light. "Using really good mirrors that are pointed at each other, we can trap light for a long time while it bounces back and forth many thousands of times between the mirrors," explained graduate student Nathan Schine.
How does anybody write science fiction any more? What researchers are doing sounds like science fiction come to life!
Posted by Bill USA | Mon Jun 13, 2016, 05:22 PM (1 replies)
Hillary Clinton Outlasts Neo-McCarthyism Era in Congress - Yeah, well it's still alive & well on DU!
Hillary Clinton outlasted her numerous haters when a Fox News interview unexpectedly sent the Neo-McCarthyism Era in Congress to an end.
Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy abruptly dropped out of the race to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House of Representatives after admitting the truth about the House Benghazi investigation’s real intentions: dragging down Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers before the 2016 presidential primary season. This is the end of McCarthy’s political rise which coincided with the Tea Party era and the creation of the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
Unlike the original McCarthy era, which cast a wide net, the Neo-McCarthyist Republicans in congress last week focused their efforts on one political foe in an unprecedented persecution of a single political opponent who isn’t even currently in office.
In the wake of the revelation, Rep. Kevin McCarthy made a surprise announcement even causing the vote for a new Speaker of the House to be delayed altogether because Republicans are having trouble finding qualified candidates from their caucus to run for the position.
McCarthyism is defined in Wikipedia as “the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence. It also means ‘the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism.’”
But it's alive and well on DU: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1016160272
Posted by Bill USA | Sat Jun 11, 2016, 05:28 PM (6 replies)
Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will "protect your job." But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.
At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.
Trump’s companies have also been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005 for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. That includes 21 citations against the defunct Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and three against the also out-of-business Trump Mortgage LLC in New York. Both cases were resolved by the companies agreeing to pay back wages.
In addition to the lawsuits, the review found more than 200 mechanic’s liens — filed by contractors and employees against Trump, his companies or his properties claiming they were owed money for their work — since the 1980s. The liens range from a $75,000 claim by a Plainview, N.Y., air conditioning and heating company to a $1 million claim from the president of a New York City real estate banking firm. On just one project, Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, records released by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in 1990 show that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time, including workers who installed walls, chandeliers and plumbing.
Posted by Bill USA | Sat Jun 11, 2016, 04:37 PM (5 replies)