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Gthaberlach's Public Library

about 13 hours ago


(Someday cultural historians will wonder if the lowered political standards that mark this year were at all connected to our national habit of watching mass entertainment in which our elites are presented as high-functioning psychopaths. Yes, that may have contributed to a certain lowering of real-world standards.)

But the real decadence Americans see when they look at Washington is an utterly decadent system.
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No, she was not given legal approval to conduct her business on the server. She was not given the impression it was fine. She did not comply with rules on storage and archiving. Her own office told U.S. diplomats personal email accounts could be compromised and they must avoid using them for official business. She was informed of a dramatic increase in hacking attempts on personal accounts. Professionals who raised concerns about her private server were told not to speak of it again.

It is widely assumed that Mrs. Clinton will pay no price for misbehavior because the Democratic president’s Justice Department is not going to proceed with charges against the likely Democratic presidential nominee.

This is what everyone thinks, and not only because they watch “Scandal.” Because they watch the news.

That is the civic decadence they want to see blown up.

about 15 hours ago

According to minutes of the October meeting, the hour-long conversation focused on shale gas; “geopolitical aspects”; EU plans to label tar sands as high-polluting; and a possible reconversion of ExxonMobil’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in the US to export crude to Europe. This would be “costly and may take two-three years,” the minutes said.

Heavily redacted records show that two officials from Exxon’s US and EU regions were present in the room with de Gucht, the then-trade commissioner, Claes Bengtsson, his cabinet member, and two other unidentified individuals.

According to a briefing paper for de Gucht, released to the Guardian under access to documents laws, the commission was keen to point out the advantages that a TTIP deal could offer ExxonMobil, with respect to countries not party to the trade deal.

“TTIP is perhaps more relevant as setting a precedent vis-a-vis third countries than governing trade and investment bilaterally,” the paper says. “We think that this third country element is in the interest of the energy sector, and especially globally active companies like Shell or Exxonmobil. After all, companies like Shell or Exxonmobil face the same trade barriers when doing business in Africa, in Russia or in South America.”

! ! ! ! ! The commission was in effect saying that once the trade deal was in place, other countries outside it would be progressively forced to adopt the same measures, making it easier for companies such as ExxonMobil to expand into their markets. ! ! ! !

. . . .
The briefing paper said that the TTIP talks were a unique chance to write a new rule-book for global trade that “could serve as a model for subsequent negotiations involving third countries”.

“The commission’s clear priority is establishing a template for all future deals,” Hilary said. “It is critical because it means that no countries will be able to tighten the regulatory regime on fossil fuel companies operating on their territories.”

about 15 hours ago

Tillerson said Exxon had invested $7bn in green technology, but the science and technology had not yet achieved the breakthroughs needed to compete with fossil fuels. "Until we have those, just saying 'turn the taps off' is not acceptable to humanity," he said. "The world is going to have to continue using fossil fuels, whether they like it or not."
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Tillerson’s presentation at the meeting showed that Exxon believes oil and gas will still provide about 60% of the world’s energy demands by 2040, even if countries adopt climate change proposals agreed in Paris last year.

. . .. More than 38% of Exxon’s investors rebelled against the company by voting for a proposal that would have required the company to publish an annual study of how its profits may be affected by public climate change policies, following the Paris climate agreement, to limit the global temperature rise to less than 2C (3.6F).

A similar vote at Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting, also held on Wednesday, showed 41% support from Chevron investors that cast ballots.

Edward Mason, head of responsible investment for the Church of England, who proposed the resolution, said he was delighted at the “very significant shareholder revolt on climate change”.
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“Given the significant resources Exxon spent fighting this proposal, such a strong vote is a real rebuke to company management,” said Andrew Logan, director of oil and gas for Ceres, a coalition of sustainable investment groups. “Investors have sent a clear message that meaningful 2 degree stress testing is the new normal, and companies like Exxon and Chevron can no longer act as if nothing has changed.”

about 18 hours ago

Donald Trump pledged to cancel the Paris climate agreement, endorsed drilling off the Atlantic coast and said he would allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be built in return for “a big piece of the profits” for the American people.

At an oil and natural gas conference in North Dakota on Thursday, just minutes after he had celebrated hitting the 1,237 delegate mark needed to formally clinch the party’s nomination, Trump gave a speech on energy policy that was largely shaped by advice from Kevin Cramer, a US representative from the state.

In a press conference before the event, Trump praised the advice of oil tycoon Harold Hamm. ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Hamm and Cramer then introduced him onstage. ! ! ! ! !

Oil money will be big for Trump

May 27, 16

Nucs still using 1970's floppy disks:

As it happens, a similar logic underpins the U.S. military’s continued use of floppy disks. The fact that America’s nuclear forces are disconnected from digital networks actually acts as a buffer against hackers. As Maj. General Jack Weinstein told CBS’s “60 Minutes” in 2014:

Jack Weinstein: I'll tell you, those older systems provide us some -- I will say huge safety when it comes to some cyber issues that we currently have in the world.
Lesley Stahl: Now, explain that.
Weinstein: A few years ago we did a complete analysis of our entire network. Cyber engineers found out that the system is extremely safe and extremely secure on the way it's developed.
Stahl: Meaning that you're not up on the Internet kind of thing?
Weinstein: We're not up on the Internet.
Stahl: So did the cyber people recommend you keep it the way it is?
Weinstein: For right now, yes.

In other words, the rise of hackers and cyberwarfare is exactly why even technologically obsolete systems can still serve a valuable purpose.

The Pentagon aims to install upgrades to its systems over the next year. And there are good reasons — even seemingly obvious ones — for doing so. But just as upgrading your laptop’s operating system on the first day can come with unexpected bugs, our nuclear commanders appear to take a similar caution to embracing the latest and greatest. Perhaps that’s for the best.

May 25, 16

ALBANY — It was to be the salvation of Buffalo, a billion-dollar godsend from the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo . . .one of the state’s key corporate partners — SolarCity, a power company backed by Elon Musk that intends to open a huge solar-panel factory on the Buffalo River — has watched its stock price plunge over the past year.

In the latest indication of the Buffalo Billion’s woes, state officials unexpectedly postponed approving an infusion of nearly $500 million for the SolarCity project last week, as legislators in Albany hinted they would exercise more oversight of the governor’s banner economic initiative.

. . . a federal inquiry, led by Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, has now metastasized across the state and reached all the way to the governor’s office. But its first stirrings became apparent in Buffalo last year, when prosecutors subpoenaed state institutions responsible for SolarCity and two other components of the Buffalo Billion program, seeking information about how government-funded projects were awarded and what role state officials played in selecting the winners.

A small group of densely interwoven figures linked to multiple projects and state entities has conceived, built and promoted most of the central Buffalo Billion initiatives,


May 25, 16

Mr. Thiel, who is now open about his sexual orientation, once described the Gawker-owned site Valleywag as “the Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda.”

May 25, 16

This is a bad day for Clinton's presidential campaign. Period. For a candidate already struggling to overcome a perception that she is neither honest nor trustworthy, the IG report makes that task significantly harder. No one will come out of this news cycle — with the exception of the hardest of the hard-core Clinton people — believing she is a better bet for the presidency on May 25 than she was on May 23. . . . . . Trump's task of casting her as "Crooked Hillary" just got easier.

May 25, 16

The inspector general, in a long awaited review obtained by The Post in advance of its publication, found that Clinton’s use of private email for public business was “not an appropriate method” of preserving documents and that her practices failed to comply with department policies.


May 25, 16

The State Department’s inspector general has sharply criticized Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, saying she had not sought permission to use it and would not have received it if she had.


May 25, 16

At one point this month renewable energy sources briefly supplied close to 90 percent of the power on Germany’s electric grid. But that doesn’t mean the world’s fourth-largest economy is close to being run on zero-carbon electricity. In fact, Germany is giving the rest of the world a lesson in just how much can go wrong when you try to reduce carbon emissions solely by installing lots of wind and solar.

After years of declines, Germany’s carbon emissions rose slightly in 2015, largely because the country produces much more electricity than it needs. That’s happening because even if there are times when renewables can supply nearly all of the electricity on the grid, the variability of those sources forces Germany to keep other power plants running. And in Germany, which is phasing out its nuclear plants, those other plants primarily burn dirty coal.
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Need MUCH better HVDC to do much better

May 24, 16


Myself, I don’t think the system is quite as corrupt as some Trump supporters believe or, perhaps more accurately, I lack their confidence that burning down the old house is the best way to build something new. But it would be equally wrong and perhaps more dangerous to take the view that there is nothing more fueling his rise than ignorance, racism and hate. The failure of the center-Left to transform its institutional and intellectual dominance into policy achievements that actually stabilize middle class life, and the failure of the center-Right to articulate a workable alternative have left a giant intellectual and political vacuum in the heart of American life. The Trump movement is not an answer to our problems, but the social instinct of revolt and rejection that powers it is a sign of social health. The tailors are frauds and the emperor is not in fact wearing any clothes: it is a good sign and not a bad sign that so many Americans are willing to say so out loud.

Those of us who care about policy, propriety and the other bourgeois values without which no democratic society can long thrive need to spend less time wringing our hands about the shortcomings of candidate Trump and the movement that has brought him this far, and more time both analyzing the establishment failures that have brought the country to this pass,

May 24, 16

A national system of electricity transmission could cut power-plant emissions by 80 percent.

May 24, 16

By Robert Reich
May 24, 2016

But in my travels around the country I’ve found many who support him precisely because of the qualities he’s being criticized for having.

. . . . .Political analysts have underestimated Trump from the jump because they’ve been looking through the rear-view mirror of politics as it used to be.

Trump’s rise suggests a new kind of politics. You might call it anti-politics.

The old politics pitted right against left, with presidential aspirants moving toward the center once they cinched the nomination.

Anti-politics pits Washington insiders, corporate executives, bankers, and media moguls against a growing number of people who think the game is rigged against them. There’s no center, only hostility and suspicion.

Americans who feel like they’re being screwed are attracted to an authoritarian bully – a strongman who will kick ass.
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By the same token, in this era of anti-politics, any candidate who appears to be the political establishment is at a strong disadvantage. . . . .
The old politics featured carefully crafted speeches and policy proposals calculated to appeal to particular constituencies. In this sense, Mrs. Clinton’s proposals and speeches are almost flawless.

But in the new era of anti-politics Americans are skeptical of well-crafted speeches and detailed policy proposals. They prefer authenticity. They want their candidates unscripted and unfiltered.

. . . In this era of anti-politics, it’s possible for anyone with enough ego, money, and audacity – in other words, Donald Trump – to do it all himself: declaring himself a candidate; communicating with and mobilizing voters directly through Twitter and other social media; and getting free advertising in mainstream media by being outrageous, politically incorrect, and snide. Official endorsements are irrelevant.

Donald Trump has perfected the art of anti-politics at a time when the public detests politics.

May 22, 16


a cryptocurrency start-up that has no legal standing and runs head-on into regulatory obstacles, yet might very well upend the mysterious world of virtual investing.

The start-up, a sort of venture capital fund that calls itself the Decentralized Autonomous Organization, has essentially come out of nowhere in the last month and attracted about $152 million, at last count, from investors around the world like Mr. Stern — making it the most successful crowdfunded venture ever, by a significant margin.

The venture, like so many things related to the digital currencies that cryptographers are creating on the Internet, is difficult to describe, and it may not be legal. But thousands of mostly anonymous investors have already heard about it through word of mouth and sent money — in the form of Ether, a freshly coded form of currency that has held itself out as a new and improved version of Bitcoin, the most popular virtual scrip.

For these investors, in some sense it is the digital equivalent of buying into a bakery with no baker, no menu and no assurance that the ovens will even be delivered. But among the crowd that has invested, faith in the computer code that governs the project appears strong enough to override all those concerns.

After it collects Ether from investors — the deadline to buy in is May 28 — the D.A.O. aims to put the money into other digital currency start-ups.

. . . The basic code was written by a 32-year-old German programmer, Christoph Jentzsch. But he is not set to have any continuing role, and the D.A.O. does not hold the money of investors; instead, the investors own D.A.O. tokens that give them rights to vote on potential projects. Mr. Jentzsch said on Wednesday in an interview that he thought the structure absolved him of any legal responsibility for what could happen with the project.
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Experts on virtual currencies say that Mr. Jentzsch and others involved have stepped into dangerous regulatory legal territory. American regulators have previously come down hard on entrepreneurs who sold investments using virtual currencies.

. . . . Mr. Jentzsch acknowledged that he did not anticipate the venture growing to anything close to the size it has reached. The biggest similar projects have attracted a few million dollars.

“If I would have known the size it has grown to, maybe the tester in me would say, ‘I need more testing,’” he said. “This is very risky. It’s all new land.”

May 21, 16

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May 20, 16

Floating solar arrays — they are often referred to as “floatovoltaics,” a term trademarked by one company — also have advantages over solar plants on land, their proponents say. Renting or buying land is more expensive, and there are fewer regulations for structures built on reservoirs, water treatment ponds and other bodies of water not used for recreation.

May 17, 16

Lots of good stuff - including the Gary Wills articles.

May 16, 16

Gary Wills

The Eisenhower years represented a tacit acceptance of limits, at odds with this aspiration toward universal control. That is what Senator Kennedy complained of when he said the country must get moving again (Walt Rostow's phrase). A new generation must take up again the torch that had guttered out. The massive-retaliation policy had become an excuse for inaction. Little challenges around our periphery of influence were being neglected, cumulative losses not redressed …

John Kennedy had different teachers on the nature of power. They thought that any recognition of limits signaled a failure of nerve.
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For men holding such views, Vietnam was an ideal place to try out new tools of power—a place to prove that development could be encouraged without colonial exploitation; a place where mobility and concentration of firepower could do more than enormous armies and huge weapons; a place where the infiltrating North Vietnamese could be interdicted. Jungle and swamp would train our new guerrillas for all kinds of conditions. Despite later talk of a “quagmire” that sucked us in, Americans actually charged into Vietnam—thinking, as we did of Cuba, that a few men brilliantly directed could swiftly wrap up the whole thing.

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