Bill USA's Journal
Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 04:25 PM
Number of posts: 3,630
Number of posts: 3,630
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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Things go wrong in government. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. Sometimes it’s rank incompetence. Sometimes it’s criminal wrongdoing. Most of the time you never hear about it. Or, if you do hear about it, the media eventually gets bored talking about it (see warming, global).
But every so often an instance of government wrongdoing sprouts wings and becomes something quite exciting: A political scandal.
The crucial ingredient for a scandal is the prospect of high-level White House involvement and wide political repercussions. Government wrongdoing is boring. Scandals can bring down presidents, decide elections and revive down-and-out political parties. Scandals can dominate American politics for months at a time.
On Tuesday, it looked like we had three possible political scandals brewing. Two days later, with much more evidence available, it doesn’t look like any of them will pan out. There’ll be more hearings, and more bad press for the Obama administration, and more demands for documents. But — and this is a key qualification — absent more revelations, the scandals that could reach high don’t seem to include any real wrongdoing, whereas the ones that include real wrongdoing don’t reach high enough. Let’s go through them.
Posted by Bill USA | Thu May 16, 2013, 08:47 PM (15 replies)
The United States spends far more than any other country on defense and security. Since 2001, the base defense budget has soared from $287 billion to $530 billion — and that’s before accounting for the primary costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But now that those wars are ending and austerity is back in vogue, the Pentagon will have to start tightening its belt in 2013 and beyond. If Hagel gets confirmed as secretary of defense, he’ll have to figure out how best to do that.
Below, we’ve provided an overview of the U.S. defense budget — to get a better sense for what we spend on, and where Hagel might have to cut:
1) The United States spent 20 percent of the federal budget on defense in 2011.
All told, the U.S. government spent about $718 billion on defense and international security assistance in 2011 — more than it spent on Medicare. That includes all of the Pentagon’s underlying costs as well as the price tag for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which came to $159 billion in 2011. It also includes arms transfers to foreign governments.
(Note that this figure does not, however, include benefits for veterans, which came to $127 billion in 2011, or about 3.5 percent of the federal budget. If you count those benefits as “defense spending,” then the number goes up significantly.)
U.S. defense spending is expected to have risen in 2012, to about $729 billion, and then is set to fall in 2013 to $716 billion, as spending caps start kicking in.
Posted by Bill USA | Tue May 14, 2013, 08:30 PM (4 replies)
Now, here's some interesting research!
Holding a Gun Makes You Think Others Are Too, New Research Shows
Wielding a gun increases a person's bias to see guns in the hands of others, new research from the University of Notre Dame shows.
Notre Dame Associate Professor of Psychology James Brockmole, who specializes in human cognition and how the visual world guides behavior, together with a colleague from Purdue University, conducted the study, which will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.
In five experiments, subjects were shown multiple images of people on a computer screen and determined whether the person was holding a gun or a neutral object such as a soda can or cell phone. Subjects did this while holding either a toy gun or a neutral object such as a foam ball.
The researchers varied the situation in each experiment -- such as having the people in the images sometimes wear ski masks, changing the race of the person in the image or changing the reaction subjects were to have when they perceived the person in the image to hold a gun. Regardless of the situation the observers found themselves in, the study showed that responding with a gun biased observers to report "gun present" more than did responding with a ball. Thus, by virtue of affording the subject the opportunity to use a gun, he or she was more likely to classify objects in a scene as a gun and, as a result, to engage in threat-induced behavior, such as raising a firearm to shoot.
"Beliefs, expectations and emotions can all influence an observer's ability to detect and to categorize objects as guns," Brockmole says. "Now we know that a person's ability to act in certain ways can bias their recognition of objects as well, and in dramatic ways. It seems that people have a hard time separating their thoughts about what they perceive and their thoughts about how they can or should act."
Posted by Bill USA | Tue May 14, 2013, 06:37 PM (11 replies)
Researchers from The University of Texas at Arlington are pioneering a new method for using carbon dioxide, or CO2, to make liquid methanol fuel by using copper oxide nanowires and sunlight.
Illustration of copper oxide nanorods.
A schematic illustration of the two-step synthesis of CuO-Cu2O hybrid nanorod arrays.
The process is safer, simpler and less expensive than previous methods to convert the greenhouse gas associated with climate change to a useful product, said Krishnan Rajeshwar, interim associate vice president for research at UT Arlington and one of the authors of a paper recently published in the journal Chemical Communications. Researchers began by coating the walls of copper oxide, CuO, nanorods with crystallites made from another form of copper oxide, Cu2O. In the lab, they submerged those rods in a water-based solution rich in CO2. Irradiating the combination with simulated sunlight created a photoelectrochemical reduction of the CO2 and that produced methanol.
In contrast, current methods require the use of a co-catalyst and must be conducted at high operating pressures and temperatures. Many also use toxic elements, such as cadmium, or rare elements, such as tellurium, Rajeshwar said.
“As long as we are using fossil fuels, we’ll have the question of what to do with the carbon dioxide,” said Rajeshwar, a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and co-founder of the Center for Renewable Energy, Science & Technology, CREST, at UT Arlington. “An attractive option would be to convert greenhouse gases to liquid fuel. That’s the value-added option.”
Posted by Bill USA | Mon May 13, 2013, 08:17 PM (9 replies)
This is a great article to use for reference.. when commenting on sites for the lumpenproletariate.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged" fantasizes a world in which anti-government citizens reject taxes and regulations, and "stop the motor" by withdrawing themselves from the system of production. In a perverse twist on the writer's theme the prediction is coming true. But instead of productive people rejecting taxes, rejected taxes are shutting down productive people.
Perhaps Ayn Rand never anticipated the impact of unregulated greed on a productive middle class. Perhaps she never understood the fairness of tax money for public research and infrastructure and security, all of which have contributed to the success of big business. She must have known about the inequality of the pre-Depression years. But she couldn't have foreseen the concurrent rise in technology and globalization that allowed inequality to surge again, more quickly, in a manner that threatens to put the greediest offenders out of our reach.
Ayn Rand's philosophy suggests that average working people are 'takers.' In reality, those in the best position to make money take all they can get, with no scruples about their working class victims, because taking, in the minds of the rich, serves as a model for success. The strategy involves tax avoidance, in numerous forms.
Corporations Stopped Paying
In the past twenty years, corporate profits have quadrupled while the corporate tax percent has dropped by half. The payroll tax, paid by workers, has doubled.
Posted by Bill USA | Mon May 13, 2013, 08:10 PM (6 replies)
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Mary Jo White is Obama's new chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). She was a controversial candidate, given her and her husband's financial and legal connections to financial firms that are under SEC regulation.In fact, White's fitness for regulating Wall Street was the subject of a BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary on March 13 of this year, "Mary Jo White and the Incestuous Mutually Beneficial Relationship Between Regulators and Wall Street."
But White is likely to have an early chance to prove that she is not totally part of the elite revolving door that allows the financial and corporate world to, in essence, regulate themselves through having their own become the regulators. White will soon be presented with a proposed SEC rule (the drafting of the regulation preceded her arrival at the agency) which would help to undercut – although not eliminate – the democracy-weakening Citizens United decision.
According to a Tampa Bay Times editorial:
Shareholders in publicly traded corporations have a right to know if their investment is being spent on political campaigns. And voters have a right to know what interests are trying to persuade them. But three years after the U.S. Supreme Court opened the floodgates for American corporations to pour money into campaigns, the transparency it urged in that same decision does not exist. A proposed rule before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission offers the best hope yet that publicly traded corporations will have to fully disclose donations to political organizations.
A recent UPI article sheds more light on the possible SEC regulation:
A proposed federal regulation that would undo some of the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling has been languishing at the Securities and Exchange Commission for a year and a half, but there are signs the commission may be making a decision on it relatively soon.The regulation would force tens of millions of dollars in up-to-now secret political donations from corporate general funds into the light.SEC spokesman John Nester issued a statement last week that didn't contain specifics, but indicated the proposed regulation would be up to bat in the coming weeks or months.
Posted by Bill USA | Mon May 13, 2013, 08:01 PM (0 replies)
President Obama in a press conference on Monday shot back at Republicans trying to create a scandal out of his administration’s handling of the Benghazi terror attacks last September.
The Benghazi issue resurfaced in recent weeks after Fox News and House Republicans tried and failed to turn up new evidence of some kind of administration “cover-up” of its response to the attacks. And an ABC News report on Friday fanned the flames, purportedly uncovering damning evidence of the White House and State Department’s role in editing talking points on the attacks.
None of these efforts have resulted in any new information and when Obama was asked about it today, he appeared agitated, saying the issue has already been investigated and Benghazi has turned in to a “political circus.” The President also noted what a terrible job his administration is doing if it was trying to cover anything up on Benghazi:
OBAMA: If this was some effort on our part to try to downplay what had happened or tamp it down — that would be a pretty odd thing that three days later, we end up putting out all the information that in fact has now served as the basis for everybody recognizing that this was a terrorist attack and that it may have included elements that were planned by extremists inside of Libya.
Watch the entire response in the clip below:
Pickering, a former U.S. ambassador and co-chair of the independent review board on Benghazi, also criticized those claiming the administration is engaged in a cover-up. “I think the notion of a quote, cover up, has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction attached to it,” he said last week.
Posted by Bill USA | Mon May 13, 2013, 07:56 PM (1 replies)
...M$M doing their usual grovelling for the GOP... why everybody who is interested in being informed is fleeing to the internet.
MYTH: White House And State Department Edited References To Terrorism Out Of Talking Points For Political Purposes
FACT: CIA Signed Off On Talking Points For Tactical Safety, And President Had Already Referred To Attacks As An Act Of Terror
CIA Signed Off On The Changes For Tactical, Not Political Reasons. Gen. David Petraeus, former head of the CIA, reportedly testified in November that the intelligence community signed off on the final draft of the talking points, and that references to terrorist groups in Libya were removed in order to avoid tipping off those groups. The New York Times reported that "Petraeus made it clear the change had not been done for political reasons to aid Mr. Obama," according to Democrats who observed the testimony.
President Obama Had Already Referred To The Attacks As An Act Of Terror. On September 12, President Obama referred to the attacks as an act of terror when he spoke from the White House Rose Garden. One day later, Obama again referred to acts of terror at a campaign event. These comments undermine the myth that edits to a document that were made on September 14, after Obama had already labeled the attack an act of terror, demonstrate that the administration was trying to downplay the role that terrorism played.
MYTH: President Was "Absent" During Attack
FACT: Military Leaders Testified That Obama Was Fully Engaged Throughout The Attack
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Testified That The President Was In Contact And "Well-Informed" During The Attack. Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified during a February 7 congressional hearing that he had personally spoken to President Obama following the initial attack and that the White House was in contact with military officials and keeping the president "well-informed" throughout the attacks.
Gen. Martin Dempsey: Obama's Staff "Was Engaged With The National Military Command Center Pretty Constantly" Throughout The Attack. Dempsey testified during a February 7 congressional hearing that the president's staff was engaged with the military command center constantly during the attack, "which is the way it would normally work" (emphasis added):
Posted by Bill USA | Mon May 13, 2013, 07:45 PM (0 replies)
Robert Gates is calling out conservatives for the "cartoonish impression of the military" they promote when baselessly criticizing the Obama administration for not sending additional support during the September attack on diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
But Gates, who served as Secretary of Defense during the Bush and Obama administrations, debunked these claims and explained that he would have made the same decisions, during his May 12 interview on CBS' Face the Nation.
Gates explained that he "would never have approved sending an aircraft" due to fears it would get shot down, and that he would not have approved sending Special Forces due to a lack of information about what was happening on the ground:
from Face the Nation...
GATES: I think the one place where I might be able to say something useful has to do with some of the talk of the military response. And I listened to the testimony of both Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey, and frankly had I been in the job at the time, I think that my decisions would have been just as theirs were. We don't have a ready force standing by in the Middle East, despite all the turmoil that's going on with planes on strip alert, troops ready to deploy at a moment's notice. And so getting someone there in a timely way would have been very difficult if not impossible.
And frankly I've heard, well, why didn't you just fly a fighter jet over there to scare 'em with the noise or something. Given the number of surface to air missiles that have disappeared from Qaddafi's arsenals I would not have approved sending an aircraft, a single aircraft, over Benghazi under those circumstances.
And with respect to sending in Special Forces or a small group of people to try and provide help, based on everything I've read people really didn't know what was going on in Benghazi contemporaneously, and to send some small number of Special Forces or other troops in without knowing what the environment is, without knowing what the threat is, without having any intelligence in terms of what is actually going on on the ground, I think would have been very dangerous and personally I would not have approved that because we just don't -- it's sort of a cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces. The one thing our forces are noted for is planning and preparation before we send people in harm's way, and there just wasn't time.
Posted by Bill USA | Mon May 13, 2013, 07:32 PM (2 replies)
Ask Andrew Bocarsly about the innovation behind Liquid Light, a New Jersey startup company that turns carbon dioxide into fuels and industrial chemicals, and the Princeton University chemistry professor smiles ruefully. "The project goes back to the early '90s," he said. "But nobody cared about carbon dioxide at that time."
Today, carbon dioxide (CO2) is a hot topic. Scientists around the globe are searching for ways to store, dispose of, or prevent the formation of the greenhouse gas, which is a major driver of global climate change. Liquid Light hopes to take this concept one step further and harness waste CO2 as a source of carbon to make industrial chemicals and fuels.
Liquid Light lab
The technology behind the process is simple: Take CO2 and mix it in a water-filled chamber with an electrode and a catalyst. The ensuing chemical reaction converts CO2 into a new molecule, methanol, which can be used as a fuel, an industrial solvent or a starting material for the manufacture of other chemicals.
In Cole's setup, photons hit a gallium phosphide semiconductor and excite its electrons to travel to the semiconductor's surface and into the surrounding water. The catalyst then shuttles the electrons to the CO2. Those electrons attract hydrogen from the surrounding water to turn CO2 (one carbon and two oxygens) into methanol (one carbon, one oxygen and four hydrogens) with the release of oxygen.
Posted by Bill USA | Mon May 13, 2013, 07:15 PM (40 replies)