Bill USA's Journal
Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 05:25 PM
Number of posts: 5,334
Number of posts: 5,334
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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- 2014 (220)
- 2013 (390)
- 2012 (168)
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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)
When the early vote by mail was reported on election night in California, if you remember, Clinton got as much as 62% with around a 400,000 vote margin. That margin held for several hours as her percentage lead shrunk, with the candidates splitting the election day vote about evenly, but when Los Angeles County started catching up to other areas, her lead started growing again, to 438,537. By 5pm EDT June 8th, when most news sites stopped updating, Clinton led 1,940,580 to 1,502,043, 56% to 44%, but nobody knew how the vote would come in over the next few days. As Bernie said:
The Vermont senator said he would “of course” be competing in the final Democratic primary in Washington, D.C. next week, and that he looked forward “to the full counting of the votes in California which I suspect will show a much closer vote than the current vote tally.”
By 10pm EDT June 10th, the latest totals show Clinton leading 2,128,194 to 1,653,416, which means 338,937 more ballots for the candidates have been counted. Clinton got 187,614, Sanders 151,373, which works out to a 55% to 45% split in the late votes, growing Clinton’s lead by 36,241 to 474,778. In other words, it looks like the late votes being counted so far match earlier votes already counted. Maybe more Latino votes are being counted late, or maybe the mix of ballots mailed before versus on election day, but received after, is similar to the mix of early versus in person election day votes. Either way, Clinton is holding on to her 10 or 11 point vote margin, and her pledged delegate count.
UPDATE: Here is the latest information on the CA vote counting process from the Los Angeles Times:
For the politically curious, it's the best guessing game around: What's in the uncounted ballots from election day, and how many of them will change closely watched races across the state?
Posted by Bill USA | Sat Jun 11, 2016, 04:34 PM (15 replies)
Going to Extremes:The Senate GOP’s Unprecedented Record of Obstruction of President Obama’s Nominees
Going to Extremes: The Supreme Court and Senate Republicans’ Unprecedented Record of Obstruction of President Obama’s Nominees - Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Considering the nomination of a Justice to fill a
vacancy on the nation’s highest court is one of the
most solemn and consequential tasks performed by
the U.S. Senate. The obligation to provide “Advice
and Consent” is spelled out in the Constitution itself,
as is the President’s obligation to select a nominee.
The Constitution does not provide for exceptions to
On March 16, 2016, President Obama met his
constitutional duty when he nominated Judge Merrick
Garland to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court.
Even before the President announced his candidate
to serve on the Court, however, Senate Republicans
declared that they would not carry out their
constitutional obligation under any circumstances,
no matter who was nominated to fill the vacant seat.
They would hold no hearings; they would allow no
confirmation vote; many would not even agree to meet
with Judge Garland or any other candidate nominated
by President Obama. Put simply, they said they would
not do their job.
It was an unprecedented position, but it was only the
latest example of Senate Republicans’ overall approach
to Obama administration nominees. For seven years,
Senate Republicans have delayed or blocked votes on
key nominations, including district and circuit court
judges, key regulators, and foreign policy and national
This report examines the context of Senate Republican
opposition to the nomination of Judge Garland to the
Supreme Court, documenting its place in the long and
troubling history of the Republicans’ many other efforts
to block President Obama’s judicial and executive
Senate Republicans’ record of obstruction under
President Obama is unique in both its scope and
intensity. They have waged an unrelenting campaign
to keep key positions throughout government
empty as long as possible. Instead of working to
make government function more efficiently, Senate
Republicans have made it their priority to undermine
President Obama and to hamstring efforts to protect
consumers and workers, to hold large corporations
accountable, and to promote equality.
This refusal to carry out the basic tasks of
government—including the timely confirmation
of public servants—has created a breeding ground
for new and dangerous Republican extremism. By
advancing the idea that Senators sworn to uphold
the Constitution can simply decide not to do their
job for political reasons, they encourage ever more
outrageous behavior from other Republican leaders.
Now Republicans compete to demonstrate their own
willingness to disrupt the effective functioning of
our government. This extremism is on display daily
in the 2016 presidential campaign, but its origins
are firmly rooted in the sustained efforts of Senate
Republicans to reject President Obama’s legitimacy
and to abuse Senate rules in an all-out effort to cripple
the government under his leadership.
Senate Republicans are in a unique position to stand
up to those in their own party who are determined to
undermine the basic functioning of our government.
They can stop the rising tide of Republican extremism
that threatens to swamp both their party and this
nation. And they can respect their oath of office to
support and defend the Constitution, and put that oath
ahead of petty partisan politics. Senate Republicans
should have stood up to this extremism years ago—
but it is not too late to do so now. It just takes some
Posted by Bill USA | Fri Jun 10, 2016, 05:46 PM (0 replies)
Way back in August 2014, House Benghazi Committee chairman Trey Gowdy was guardedly optimistic that his committee’s investigation into the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack would be wrapped up in expeditious fashion. Gowdy anticipated that his committee’s inquiry – the eighth such inquiry into the attacks – would be completed by the end of 2015, “assuming cooperation from agencies, witnesses, and the administration,” he told the New York Times. Democrats, already suspicious of the motives behind the formation of the committee, were grumbling that Gowdy and the House Republicans were laying the groundwork to drag the investigation out into the 2016 election season and use it to do political damage to Hillary Clinton.
Those concerns were well-founded. Just a few months after predicting a 2015 wrap-up to his investigation, Gowdy announced that – wouldn’t you know it – administration stonewalling was forcing him to push off the committee’s findings until 2016. “Factors beyond the committee’s control, including witness availability, compliance with documents requests, the granting of security clearances and accreditations—all of which are controlled by the Executive branch—could continue to impact the timing of the inquiry’s conclusion,” Gowdy’s office said in a statement. But at the same time that Gowdy and his colleagues were complaining about the administration blocking their access, they were also boasting of the huge numbers of documents they were obtaining and new witnesses they were interviewing – indeed, Gowdy’s complaints about stonewalling were contradicted by his own committee’s published reports.
Gowdy was also busily breaking promises he’d made concerning transparency and oversight. “We are going to keep asking questions,” Gowdy declared in December 2014. “And to that end, we will have hearings in January, in February, and March and until.” Those monthly hearings never materialized; the committee has held only four public hearings in the 700+ days of its existence, and only one – the disastrously incompetent haranguing of Clinton herself – since the end of January 2015. At the same time that Gowdy was failing his self-imposed duty to conduct public oversight, his committee was enthusiastically feeding damaging, often false information about Clinton to the press and making a mockery of Gowdy’s self-congratulatory proclamation that “serious investigations do not leak information.”
Now we get news that the all-too-predictable result of this years-long campaign of cutesy deception is the planned release of the Benghazi Committee’s final report sometime in the next couple of months. As Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post, Gowdy’s team is already drafting the report and expects to have the classification review completed between July and September. How absolutely remarkable that the Obama administration managed to obstruct and delay Gowdy and his team just enough to ensure his committee’s report would drop right in the heart of the presidential campaign. An astounding coincidence, that.
Posted by Bill USA | Thu Jun 9, 2016, 06:35 PM (4 replies)
"The one thing that seems clear from the report is that Clinton’s email system was more secure than the one at the State Department."
"A lot of the information in the new report was disclosed in a February letter by the IG—a fact not mentioned in most of the current news articles—and answers to questions the IG said it could not resolve are in documents disclosed by congressional investigators last year."
That means there were problems—lots of them. Many employees at the State Department not only used personal email accounts, they refused to use their government-issued laptops because they were lousy. A 2011 email cited by the report underscored this point. Written by the department’s former policy planning director and sent to Clinton, it said, “State’s technology is so antiquated that NO ONE uses a State-issued laptop and even high officials routinely end up using their home email accounts to be able to get their work done quickly and effectively.”
With out-of-date equipment and poor support, plenty of mistakes were made. A good example is when Powell had a private internet line installed in his office so he could use his personal email account on his home laptop. Under the rules, the new line shouldn’t have been put in, but it was. Powell, like every other secretary of state, never read the entire Foreign Affairs Manual; he dealt with foreign crises, wars and international diplomacy while depending on the relevant staff to determine whether it was appropriate to put a jack in his wall.
If Clinton’s account arrangement for nonclassified emails did not fit within the confines of that rule, none of the experts told her so. Clinton had groups of people responsible for overseeing her email operations, including one specifically dedicated to the job with the title "Special Adviser to the Deputy Chief Information Officer." He worked for Clinton throughout her entire term as secretary of state. In addition, the chief operations officer knew about the account, as did the deputy chief of staff for operations.
Then there was the division specifically charged with overseeing all communications systems for the Office of the Secretary and Its Executive Secretariat, or S/ES in State Department lingo, which included Clinton and all of her direct staff. The group responsible for email, computers and the like is called S/ES Office of Information Resources Management, better known as S/ES-IRM. As the report makes clear, officials in S/ES-IRM knew about Clinton’s email arrangement and were in frequent contact with the official directly in charge of maintaining security on Clinton’s private server. Near the beginning of her time in office, the division prepared memos about her use of a private server, which was in the basement of her guarded home. S/ES-IRM staff met multiple times with the special adviser in charge of the private email account and server, and sent emails to Clinton’s senior staff describing technical issues that arose with the system and the actions taken to resolve them. The special adviser also met with the department’s Cyber Threat Analysis Division to discuss the email system and security issues. The bottom line is that Clinton’s email arrangement was not some dark secret—the staffers who spent their careers learning the sections of the Foreign Affairs Manual that relate to emails knew all about it. And the report cites nothing to suggest Clinton or her staff were told by the experts that there was any reason she shouldn’t use the system.
Should someone around Clinton have been told about these concerns? Probably. Was anyone told? Nope—at least not based on the information contained in the report. The inspector general writes that Clinton never sought permission from legal counsel for the email arrangement, nor did Powell or Rice's senior staff. After all, when you go to a new job and the technology specialists set up your systems, do you then run to the company’s lawyers to make sure what they are doing complies with the rules? Or do you depend on them to tell you if there is a problem with the system?
Posted by Bill USA | Wed Jun 8, 2016, 06:02 PM (20 replies)
Posted by Bill USA | Tue Jun 7, 2016, 08:11 PM (0 replies)