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Bill USA

Profile Information

Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 05:25 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

Michael Flynn died in the Bowling Green massacre



more: http://politicalfun.blogspot.com/2017/02/political-posters_14.html

Donald Trumps Russia Scandal Is Just Getting Started

The White House says Mike Flynn was going rogue, but there’s no good reason to believe that.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/14/donald-trumps-russia-scandal-is-just-getting-started/


Donald Trump’s administration has now completed its first full personal scandal cycle. It began with the revelation of Mike Flynn’s discussions with the Russian ambassador to the United States and the subsequent claims that Vice President Mike Pence’s defense of Flynn stemmed from false information provided by the then-national security advisor, followed on Monday night by Flynn’s resignation. Since Flynn’s story has a neat beginning, middle, and end, it’s tempting to treat the underlying scandal as essentially complete and to begin focusing on the avalanche of other controversies spilling out from the Trump White House.

That would be a grave mistake. The Trump-Russia file, which concerns fundamental questions of national security, is far more deserving of close scrutiny by Congress, the media, law enforcement, and the public than any of the White House’s many other alleged misdeeds. And the Flynn phone calls are only the beginning, not the end, of the scandal in question.

When news first emerged last month that Flynn spoke to Ambassador Sergei Kislyak during the transition, he and other White House officials — notably Vice President Pence — insisted that the talks did not include any discussion of sanctions. Now Flynn has all but declared that he lied to Pence, assuming sole responsibility for both the possible illegal conversations and the lies the administration proffered to the American public. But why should we believe that version of events when this White House has given us so many reasons for doubt? It is just as reasonable to believe that Flynn, rather than freelancing during the phone calls, was acting with approval, in accordance with the Trump team’s Russia policy.

And that raises the question of what motivates Trump’s Russia policy in the first place. The famed dossier compiled by former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele, alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin cultivated Trump over several years as part of a plan to subvert the West, contained some errors, but U.S. officials have told CNN that they have corroborated some of its information. Trump and Putin have dismissed the dossier’s allegations, but Trump was vehement during the campaign about the need to transform relations with Putin’s regime and perhaps lift all sanctions against Russia.
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The biggest beneficiaries of the government safety net: Working-class whites

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/02/16/the-biggest-beneficiaries-of-the-government-safety-net-working-class-whites/?tid=hybrid_collaborative_2_na&utm_term=.be51db06c6c8


Working-class whites are the biggest beneficiaries of federal poverty-reduction programs, even though blacks and Hispanics have substantially higher rates of poverty, according to a new study to be released Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Government assistance and tax credits lifted 6.2 million working-class whites out of poverty in 2014, more than any other racial or ethnic demographic. Half of all working-age adults without college degrees lifted out of poverty by safety-net programs are white; nearly a quarter are black and a fifth are Hispanic.



The result does not simply reflect the fact that there are more white people in the country. The percentage of otherwise poor whites lifted from poverty by government safety-net programs is higher, at 44 percent, compared to 35 percent of otherwise poor minorities, the study concluded.

Among working-class minorities, blacks also benefit significantly from government programs, with 43 percent of otherwise poor blacks being lifted from poverty by the safety net. Only 28 percent of otherwise poor Hispanics were lifted from poverty by these programs.
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The House just voted to make it easier for states to defund Planned Parenthood, and clinics like it

Planned Parenthood will survive — but a lot of women will lose access to birth control.


http://www.vox.com/identities/2017/2/16/14598032/congress-states-defund-planned-parenthood-title-x

Before former President Obama left office, he made a last-ditch effort to protect Planned Parenthood’s state funding from conservative governors and state legislatures that might seek to take it away.

But Republicans in Congress are working to block that effort using an obscure law called the Congressional Review Act, which lets Congress fast-track a resolution to disapprove of new federal agency rules within 60 days of their passage.

On Thursday, the House voted 230-188 to overturn a rule Obama signed in December that would prohibit discriminating against family planning providers for reasons other than the quality of care they offer.

The resolution of disapproval now moves to the Senate, where it will probably pass because it only requires a simple 51-vote majority, and President Trump will probably sign it, since he supports defunding Planned Parenthood.

To be clear, this vote isn’t about the big federal “defund Planned Parenthood” bill that Republicans have promised to pass at the same time as they repeal the Affordable Care Act. That bill, which has yet to be introduced, would block Planned Parenthood from accepting hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicaid reimbursements.
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Evelyn Farkas was the Pentagons top Russia expert. Now she wants Trump independently investigated.


“The fundamental question is: Are you susceptible to blackmail from a foreign entity or individual?”

http://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/2/16/14630856/evelyn-farkas-trump-russia-flynn


From 2012 to 2015, Evelyn Farkas served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia. Since leaving office, she’s been raising the alarm that there was more to the strange relationship between Trumpland and Russia than the public knew. Maybe even much more. This week, she was proven right.

We spoke Wednesday, and the relief was evident in her voice. Far from being concerned over the new revelations, she’s comforted that the ties are finally being made public and broad pressure is finally being applied for more investigations. “I didn’t think it would happen this fast,” she says.

The investigation we need, Farkas continues, is the equivalent of running “a security clearance on the president.” The core question is, “Are you susceptible to blackmail from a foreign entity or individual?”


Farkas, who served as the executive director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, thinks Congress needs to create an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate Russia’s ties to the Trump administration and role in the election. In this interview, which is edited for length and clarity, she explains why.

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DT's combative, freewheeling, "fake news" press conference, explained - VOX.com


.. interesting how often "fake news" is proclaimed by the most dedicated fraud, synthetic phony ever to get into the WH. Richard "the Plastic man" Nixon pales in comparison.


http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/16/14640364/trump-press-conference-fake-news



The fourth week of Donald Trump’s presidency has been tumultuous, with his top national security official being forced out due to scandal, reports that members of his campaign staff and associates had contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials last year, and various factions of his White House apparently knifing each other in the press. Meanwhile, an initial flurry of new policy actions has slowed to a crawl, his major immigration order remains blocked in the courts, and a significant legislative achievement remains far away.

So on Thursday, Trump tried to change the narrative by giving an impromptu press conference — and what a press conference it was.

Trump made the case that his administration was “running like a fine-tuned machine,” and that he’s made “incredible progress” on fixing the nation’s problems so far. He made a case to “the American people” that he was keeping the promises he made on the campaign trail. He also made a plethora of false claims on matters from the size of his Electoral College win to just what his executive actions actually did.

But the larger strategic goal of the presser became clear with one theme Trump repeatedly returned to — the alleged “dishonesty” of the media, an institution that, it is now clear, Trump has decided to fully elevate as his most important foe.
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Report February 8, 2017 Code-Dependent: Pros and Cons of the Algorithm Age - PEW Research

.. this is a kindof long, but thought provoking read...



Algorithms are aimed at optimizing everything. They can save lives, make things easier and conquer chaos. Still, experts worry they can also put too much control in the hands of corporations and governments, perpetuate bias, create filter bubbles, cut choices, creativity and serendipity, and could result in greater unemployment

http://www.pewinternet.org/2017/02/08/code-dependent-pros-and-cons-of-the-algorithm-age/

Algorithms are instructions for solving a problem or completing a task. Recipes are algorithms, as are math equations. Computer code is algorithmic. The internet runs on algorithms and all online searching is accomplished through them. Email knows where to go thanks to algorithms. Smartphone apps are nothing but algorithms. Computer and video games are algorithmic storytelling. Online dating and book-recommendation and travel websites would not function without algorithms. GPS mapping systems get people from point A to point B via algorithms. Artificial intelligence (AI) is naught but algorithms. The material people see on social media is brought to them by algorithms. In fact, everything people see and do on the web is a product of algorithms. Every time someone sorts a column in a spreadsheet, algorithms are at play, and most financial transactions today are accomplished by algorithms. Algorithms help gadgets respond to voice commands, recognize faces, sort photos and build and drive cars. Hacking, cyberattacks and cryptographic code-breaking exploit algorithms. Self-learning and self-programming algorithms are now emerging, so it is possible that in the future algorithms will write many if not most algorithms.

Algorithms are often elegant and incredibly useful tools used to accomplish tasks. They are mostly invisible aids, augmenting human lives in increasingly incredible ways. However, sometimes the application of algorithms created with good intentions leads to unintended consequences. Recent news items tie to these concerns:

>> The British pound dropped 6.1% in value in seconds on Oct. 7, 2016, partly because of currency trades triggered by algorithms.

>> Microsoft engineers created a Twitter bot named “Tay” this past spring in an attempt to chat with Millennials by responding to their prompts, but within hours it was spouting racist, sexist, Holocaust-denying tweets based on algorithms that had it “learning” how to respond to others based on what was tweeted at it.

>> Facebook tried to create a feature to highlight Trending Topics from around the site in people’s feeds. First, it had a team of humans edit the feature, but controversy erupted when some accused the platform of being biased against conservatives. So, Facebook then turned the job over to algorithms only to find that they could not discern real news from fake news.

>> The White House released two reports in October 2016 detailing the advance of algorithms and artificial intelligence and plans to address issues tied to it, and it issued a December report outlining some of the potential effects of AI-driven automation on the U.S. job market and economy.



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Is Mitch McConnell stonewalling an independent investigation into Trump/Russia to save his own skin?

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/2/15/1634152/-Is-Mitch-McConnell-stonewalling-an-independent-investigation-into-Trump-Russia-to-save-his-own-skin


Let's just keep this in mind as Mitch McConnell continues to stonewall an independent inquiry—which would be far more public than current investigations—into Donald Trump's Russia ties: McConnell was briefed about Russia's interference in the election last fall and he lobbied to keep that information from voters.

In September, during a secret briefing for congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to officials present. [...]

McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the [Obama] administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics. [...]

McConnell’s office did not respond to a request for comment. After the election, Trump chose McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, as his nominee for transportation secretary.


McConnell has finally been backed into a corner on needing to extend the current probes in the House and Senate into examining ties between the Trump camp and Russian officials. But he and Paul Ryan still exercise an enormous amount of control over which parts of those investigations go public, so long as they aren't conducted by an independent body.

Look, if this thing really goes south, McConnell will have played a role in covering up the information prior to the election. Depending on what was shared in those briefings, it could prove as "explosive" for McConnell now as Harry Reid said it was last October. Remember the letter (i.e. distress signal) Reid sent to FBI director James Comey last October?

We should not and cannot trust this man." A CIA vet on Trump's feud with US spies. - Vox.com

this is taken from Sean Illing's (VOX.com) interview with "Glenn Carle, a 23-year veteran of the CIA and a former deputy officer on the National Intelligence Council."

“We’re facing the gravest threat to our institutions and our government since 1861."

http://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/2/15/14623636/donald-trump-michael-flynn-russia-putin-cia-white-house


Glenn Carle: Well, I think the talk of a "shadow war" diverts from the real issue because it focuses attention on some coherent, organized bureaucratic or institutional campaign to oppose the president. But none of that's the case. The issue is that Trump and his entourage, for a long period of time, have been associating with, meeting with, involved with, or working somehow with Russian intelligence.

Now, I've been aware of this for about a year. I've been jumping up and down, and I'm not the only one. And if I can figure it out as a professional intelligence officer who's no longer in service, then obviously active intelligence officers can figure it out too.


Sean Illing: So how would you characterize this rift?

Glenn Carle: What's happened is that the organs of government sworn to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States have been trying to do their jobs. Intelligence professionals take their responsibilities seriously. Whatever they do, they do it because they believe it is necessary, because they believe duty demands it. They’re not playing political games.

Sean Illing: Have we entered uncharted territory?

Glenn Carle: The narrow answer is yes, but it's much more than that. The real issue is what I've been saying [here and here] in public for many months: We are facing the gravest threat to our institutions and our government since 1861, since the country broke in half. This is a graver crisis than Watergate, which was about corruption, not the usurpation of our laws and our checks and balances. It's graver than World War II, when Hitler never actually threatened our institutions or occupation of Washington.

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The Daily 202: Its bigger than Flynn. New Russia revelations widen Trumps credibility gap.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/02/15/daily-202-it-s-bigger-than-flynn-new-russia-revelations-widen-trump-s-credibility-gap/58a3c5b9e9b69b1406c75cb4/?utm_term=.b8d90765024e


THE BIG IDEA: The credibility gap — maybe chasm is a better word at this point — keeps widening for Donald Trump and his White House.

Two days after Trump’s victory, Russia’s deputy foreign minister told a reporter in Moscow that “there were contacts” between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. “Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage,” he said. That prompted a vigorous denial from Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks, who insisted there had been “no contact with Russian officials.”

>> On Jan. 11, an NBC reporter asked Trump whether members of his staff were in contact with Russian officials during the campaign. “No,” he replied.

>> On Jan. 15, Mike Pence was asked basically the same question on two Sunday shows. “Of course not,” he replied on Fox and CBS.

>> Yesterday afternoon, Sean Spicer stood by Trump’s earlier denials during the daily briefing when questioned by ABC.


Fresh reporting continues to cast doubt on these and many other claims:

-- From the lead story in today's New York Times: “Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials. American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee.… The officials said the intercepted communications were not limited to Trump campaign officials, and included other associates of Mr. Trump. On the Russian side, the contacts also included members of the government outside of the intelligence services, they said….

“The call logs and intercepted communications are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I. is sifting through as it investigates the links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russian government, as well as the hacking of the D.N.C. … As part of its inquiry, the F.B.I. has obtained banking and travel records and conducted interviews….


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