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Bill USA

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Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 04:25 PM
Number of posts: 6,436

About Me

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

Journal Archives

Supreme Court Pushes the boundaries on sleaze: Our view - USA Today

"Court ruling opens the door to more corruption"


http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/06/28/mcdonnell-supreme-court-bribery-corruption-editorials-debates/86484302/

Politicians who lack an ethical compass just got permission from the Supreme Court to push the envelope on sleazy actions a little further. In vacating the conviction of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell on corruption charges, the court made it more difficult for federal prosecutors to secure bribery convictions.

The court’s unanimous action underscores the need for criminal statutes to be clear so everybody, including public officials, knows when they cross the line into illegality. And federal prosecutors should not overreach, as the court found they had in the McDonnell case, referring to the government’s “boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute.”

The ruling leaves more room for public officials to act in ways that ordinary citizens find sleazy and frankly crooked but which have too often become business as usual from city halls to governors’ mansions to the U.S. Capitol.

There was no question that McDonnell, once a rising Republican star, and his wife took $175,000 worth of gifts and loans from a Virginia businessman, including wedding catering, a New York shopping spree and a Rolex. There was no question the episode was, as the court put it, “tawdry.”
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Big US companies spearhead renewable energy drive

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e230d280-15e2-11e6-b197-a4af20d5575e.html#axzz4D6o3bn00


... five months ago the US carmaker did something very different, signing a 14-year agreement with a wind farm company, EDP Renewables North America, for enough electricity to make more than half the trucks it produces each year.

The deal makes GM one of a fast-growing number of big US companies buying green power to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide, and potentially make savings on their energy bills. In doing so, these groups are reshaping the way renewable energy is purchased, and helping green power generators build more projects than they otherwise might have done.

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Silicon Valley technology companies led by Google were the first in the US to plough into green energy in a significant way, but now the trend has spread to some of the country’s biggest manufacturers and retailers, including GM, Lockheed Martin, Amazon and Walmart.

In total, 24 large US companies bought 3.6 gigawatts of power in 2015 and the first quarter of this year — more than three times the amount purchased by seven groups in 2014, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a US non-profit organisation trying to accelerate these renewable energy agreements.
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Benghazi: "this inquest was never meant as fact-finding & constructive criticism" - USA Today

[font size="3"]
"The inquiry found virtually nothing about Clinton’s actions that had not been previously reported"[/font]

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/06/29/benghazi-committee-report-trey-gowdy-hillary-clinton-editorials-and-debates/86512782/
(all emphases my own)
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The attacks on two U.S. diplomatic compounds in Benghazi, Libya, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, were another matter altogether. With Hillary Clinton serving as secretary of State at the time, House Republicans saw the tragic event as a chance to raise questions about her record.

To that end they created a select committee to investigate Benghazi, even after seven less politicized congressional panels and one State Department commission had already done so. The result is an 800-page report (longer than the 9/11 commission’s findings) released Tuesday.

Thickness should not be confused with revelation. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a bigger waste of government resources or a greater indication of Congress’ oversight role devolving into rank partisanship.

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Did the investigation find reasons to be critical of the government’s actions before, during and after the attacks that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead? Sure. It’s impossible to spend two years and $7 million probing government and not find fault. [font size="+1"]But this inquest was never meant as fact-finding and constructive criticism. It was fashioned as way of tarnishing Clinton's presidential prospects.[/font]
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I often listen to collections such as th Best of Baroque, but does anybody know of such compilations

which at least show you the titles and composers of the selections that are playing? I'm no expert on music and don't know every piece of Classical music I hear.

any help appreciated - I'd like to know what and who I'm listening to.

(" target="_blank">here's what I'm listening to right now - in case there are some settings which could do what I'm asking for)

Crop-Based Biofuels Don’t Harm Food Supplies, New Report Finds

Crop-Based Biofuels Don’t Harm Food Supplies, New Report Finds

The report was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the World Bank and other groups.

“The high-profile expansion of ethanol production in the United States and Brazil, in tandem with a global price spike in food and commodities in 2007–2008, led many to contend that a causal relationship exists between biofuels expansion and food insecurity,” according to the report. “The apparent short-term correlations are often cited as evidence of negative impacts of biofuels on food security. There are several problems with such assertions. First, many studies attribute the food price spikes in 2008 primarily to other factors such as oil prices, economic growth, currency exchange rates and trade policies. Speculation in food commodities also contributed to price spikes in 2008 and 2011. Second, the correlations did not persist as global biofuel consumption continued to grow and cereal prices fell or showed distinct patterns over the last six years, driven by oil price, national agricultural policies and exchange rates,” the report found.

Among other conclusions, the report noted that while the 2012 U.S. drought caused some ethanol plants to reduce output or temporarily shut, “(t)hanks, in part, to the ethanol ‘supply cushion’ and market flexibility, there was not a notable jump in commodity prices as the 2012–2013 crop was harvested, despite a drought affecting 80% of U.S. agricultural land.”

“These findings reflect what many in the academic community and biofuels sector have been saying for some time — there is no meaningful relationship between growth in biofuels production and food security or food prices,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “U.S. farmers have produced the three largest corn crops in history in the last three years and global grain supplies are at record levels. More grain is available for food and feed use globally today than ever before. Further, one-third of every bushel of grain that enters the ethanol process is enhanced and returned to the feed market in the form of protein-rich distillers grains.”
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http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcbb.12366/full
Abstract

Understanding the complex interactions among food security, bioenergy sustainability, and resource management requires a focus on specific contextual problems and opportunities. The United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals place a high priority on food and energy security; bioenergy plays an important role in achieving both goals. Effective food security programs begin by clearly defining the problem and asking, ‘What can be done to assist people at high risk?’ Simplistic global analyses, headlines, and cartoons that blame biofuels for food insecurity may reflect good intentions but mislead the public and policymakers because they obscure the main drivers of local food insecurity and ignore opportunities for bioenergy to contribute to solutions. Applying sustainability guidelines to bioenergy will help achieve near- and long-term goals to eradicate hunger. Priorities for achieving successful synergies between bioenergy and food security include the following: (1) clarifying communications with clear and consistent terms, (2) recognizing that food and bioenergy need not compete for land and, instead, should be integrated to improve resource management, (3) investing in technology, rural extension, and innovations to build capacity and infrastructure, (4) promoting stable prices that incentivize local production, (5) adopting flex crops that can provide food along with other products and services to society, and (6) engaging stakeholders to identify and assess specific opportunities for biofuels to improve food security. Systematic monitoring and analysis to support adaptive management and continual improvement are essential elements to build synergies and help society equitably meet growing demands for both food and energy.


Dems Refuse to Back GOP Zika Bill that Attacks Women, Vets, Obamacare, and Clean Water

... better get a bucket before you read this and hurl....


http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/06/28/dems-refuse-back-gop-zika-bill-attacks-women-vets-obamacare-and-clean-water

"In a 52-48 vote, the Senate fell eight votes short of moving past a procedural hurdle against the House-Senate conference report on a military and veterans spending bill, which includes $1.1 billion to fund the Zika virus research," The Hill reports.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) reportedly broke with his party and voted for the deal while GOP Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voted against. As The Hill notes, "McConnell's 'no' vote allows him to bring the measure back up for another vote."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took to social media to express her disgust for the legislation and lawmakers behind it.

According to Warren, not only does the bill provide $800 million less than the White House had requested—stealing money from both the Ebola response fund and the Affordable Care Act healthcare exchanges—but it also "blocks Planned Parenthood from receiving birth control grant money that would help poor women with Zika avoid having deformed babies," rolls back Clean Water Act requirements designed to keep pesticides out of drinking water, and slashes U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs funding by $500 million.
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The GOP’s House Majority Is Safe...Right? -- Cook Political Report

http://cookpolitical.com/story/9710


House Democrats probably need a Donald Trump loss of historic proportions to have any chance at a three-part (White House, Senate, House) sweep. But not even a Clinton rout would guarantee that scenario thanks to structural factors and because voters skeptical of both nominees could well anticipate such an outcome and respond to a Republican message of “checks and balances” — a tactic that’s worked before.

Republicans hold their largest House majority — 247 seats to 188 for Democrats — since the 1928 election, in part because they have some tremendous built-in geographical advantages, both natural and engineered, that their counterparts in the Senate don’t share.

First, Democratic voters have never been more concentrated in big urban areas than they are now. In 2012, President Obama won by 126 electoral votes while carrying just 22 percent of America’s counties — even fewer than losing Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis’s 26 percent in 1988. That means Democrats are wasting more votes than ever in safe congressional districts they already hold. For example, an additional straight Democratic ballot cast in Chicago or Madison might help defeat GOP Sens. Mark Kirk in Illinois or Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, but it’ll do zip to put a dent in Speaker Paul Ryan’s House majority, because Democrats already hold all the House seats anchored by those cities.

Second, Republicans’ astounding state legislative gains in the 2010 midterms — the year before the decennial redistricting cycle — allowed them to redraw four times as many congressional districts as Democrats in 2011 and 2012, stretching their geographical edge even further. As a result, in 2012, Democrats won 51 percent of all major-party votes cast for House candidates but just 47 percent of all seats. In 2014, Democrats won 47 percent of all major-party votes but just 43 percent of the seats. Amazingly, just 16 of 247 House Republicans won their races by fewer than 10 percentage points.
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[font size="3"] It's a bit of a longshot, given the strength of GOP Gerrymandering, but isn't it good to set challenging goals?[/font]



Another Threat to Tuna: Ocean Acidification

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/tuna-ocean-acidification/
More acidic oceans could soon start dissolving tuna fish as they swim, long before they make it to consumers’ plates.

This worrying news comes from a study published last month in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology which found that increasing acidification in the Pacific Ocean—a function of climate change—will cause staggering levels of damage to multiple organs in yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) larvae. The injuries, researchers found, will lessen the tunas’ ability to grow to full size and dramatically reduce their rates of survival.

Yellowfin tuna are already heavily overfished in some parts of the world, so this presents one more challenge to their survival.

For this study, researchers from the University of California at Santa Barbara, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission and other organizations collected yellowfin larvae from a commercial aquaculture bloodstock which is normally exposed to pH levels between 8.27 and 7.74. That’s slightly less acidic then neutral water, which has a pH of 7, but also less acidic than many natural conditions. The larvae were taken then taken to a lab and exposed to waters with four different levels of carbon dioxide, which changed the pH. The first tank, considered the control, had a pH of 8.1. The second had a pH of 7.6, which matches global warming projections for the year 2100, while the third had a pH of 7.3, matching projections for the year 2300. A fourth pH level of 6.9 was considered the “lowest projection for the Pacific Ocean.”
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Clinton Opens 12-Point Lead on Trump as Two-Thirds See Him as Biased - ABC/WaPo poll

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/clinton-opens-12-point-lead-trump-thirds-biased/story?id=40114224


Hillary Clinton surged to a broad advantage against Donald Trump in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, capitalizing on Trump’s recent campaign missteps. Two-thirds of Americans see him as biased against groups such as women, minorities or Muslims, and a new high, 64 percent, call Trump unqualified to serve as president.

These and other doubts about Trump have produced a sharp 14-point swing in preferences among registered voters, from +2 points for Trump in mid-May, after he clinched the GOP nomination, to +12 points for Clinton now, 51-39 percent. That snaps the race essentially back to where it was in March.
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How the U.S. became one of the world’s biggest tax havens

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/04/05/how-the-u-s-became-one-of-the-worlds-biggest-tax-havens/

...one of the least recognized facts about the global offshore industry is that much of it, in fact, is not offshore. Indeed, some critics of the offshore industry say the U.S. is now becoming one of the world’s largest “offshore” financial destinations.

“We often say that the U.S. is one of the easiest places to set up so-called anonymous shell companies,” says Mark Hays, a senior advisor with Global Witness, an NGO that advocates for financial transparency.

Offshore isn’t so much a destination anymore as “a set of capabilities,” which include ensuring secrecy, minimizing taxes, managing assets, and providing clients security and access to their wealth from anywhere in the world, James Henry, a senior adviser to the Tax Justice Network and former chief economist of McKinsey & Co, wrote in a 2012 report. The Tax Justice Network ranks the U.S. third in terms of the secrecy and scale of its offshore industry, behind Switzerland and Hong Kong but ahead of the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg.

A 2012 study in which researchers sent more than 7,400 email solicitations to more than 3,700 corporate service providers -- the kind of companies that typically register shell companies, such as the Corporation Trust Company at 1209 North Orange St. -- found that the U.S. had the laxest regulations for setting up a shell company anywhere in the world outside of Kenya. The researchers impersonated both low- and high-risk customers, including potential money launderers, terrorist financiers and corrupt officials.
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