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Hometown: Atlanta
Home country: US
Member since: Sat Jun 1, 2013, 01:19 AM
Number of posts: 3,978

Journal Archives

'Melania' rockets up list of most popular baby names

Source: The Hill

“Melania” is one of the fastest-rising baby names in the country in terms of popularity.

The first lady’s given name came in fifth among the fastest-growing girls’ names from 2016 to 2017, according to a ranking released Friday by the Social Security Administration.

The name jumped a whopping 720 spots among the most popular girls’ names in the United States, from the 1,650 slot in 2016, to the 930th position last year.

“Melania” is of Spanish and Greek origin and means “black,” according to baby name site Nameberry.com.

The baby name news comes on the heels of a CNN/SSRS poll this week that showed Melania Trump's popularity with Americans was soaring. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed said they had a favorable view of the 48-year-old first lady, compared to 47 percent in January.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/in-the-know/387283-melania-rockets-up-list-of-most-popular-baby-names

Please just shoot me.

Mueller will not charge Trump

Having recently left a position as a federal fraud and corruption prosecutor in Washington, D.C., to return to private practice, I have marveled at the many legal experts who have spent significant time debating whether a sitting president can be indicted and even what charges special counsel Robert Mueller may bring against President Trump. While these might be interesting legal questions, they are purely hypothetical. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has a longstanding policy stating that criminally prosecuting a sitting president is "unconstitutional."

That is a massively strong, mountainous statement, and the special counsel as a DOJ entity, subject to departmental policy and supervision, cannot overcome it.

But the experts like to posit: maybe that DOJ policy position is wrong (it has not been tested in court), and so what if the special counsel went rogue? The problem there is that visible federal prosecutors do not go rogue in violation of DOJ policy. It does not happen.


Any prosecutor knows that reaching the top of the chain in a significant conspiracy (i.e., "collusion" case is incredibly rare and that doing so requires the equivalent of a perfect game. A cooperator, or even a series of cooperators, is nothing more than a hitless first inning, given that humans are notoriously biased and unreliable. In the best of cases, a cooperating witness is a turncoat motivated to save his own skin. In the worst of cases - with which every prosecutor has dealt at some point - the witness takes the stand and is either too scared or confused to be believable, or denies critical facts or prior statements, leaving the government to impeach its own witness in a desperate attempt to save its case.

Given that flipped criminal cooperators are not enough, a prosecutor in a fraud or corruption case will, at a minimum, want strong and consistent documentary proof of both intent/knowledge and actions taken, and strong proof that the target individual is the one behind those documents. The difficult reality in significant organized conspiracy cases is that the boss at the top naturally does not leave a trail like this. If damning documentary evidence existed, the special counsel's office undoubtedly would have found it - and likely would have taken some significant action by this time.

I doubt the special counsel would sit on incredibly clear evidence of crimes, the kind sufficient to bring criminal charges, and not at least prepare a report to Congress on an expedited basis to seek to relieve us of an active provable international conspirator on the job.

While some folks might think that this president is the rare breed who could have recklessly left behind clear, uncontroverted evidence of corruption, prosecutors know that loose-cannon defendants present an even harder challenge. Intentions become very hard to establish when the mind of the actor is a demonstrably moving target.


But do not just take my word for it. I have privately asked many seasoned, trustworthy prosecutors and federal agents whether they think any charges could result from this investigation. The nearly universal answer? No chance.


A frustrating read on the Trump case, by someone more knowledgable than I am. And this guy was a district attorney for Obama.

U.S. job openings hit record high, more workers quitting

Source: Reuters

U.S. job openings surged to a record high in March, suggesting that a recent slowdown in hiring was probably the result of employers having difficulties finding qualified workers.

The monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, released by the Labor Department on Tuesday also showed more workers voluntarily quit their jobs in March, a sign of confidence in the labor market that economists believe will help to push up wage growth this year.

The JOLTS report bolsters expectations that inflation will accelerate and keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates at least two more times this year. The U.S. central bank hiked interest rates in March.

“The labor market is hot and getting hotter by the day so central bankers need to continue to take the punch bowl away because higher wages and greater inflation are on the way,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-jobs/u-s-job-openings-hit-record-high-more-workers-quitting-idUSKBN1I91YV

Judge rejects Mueller's request for delay in Russian troll farm case

Source: Politico

A federal judge has rejected special counsel Robert Mueller’s request to delay the first court hearing in a criminal case charging three Russian companies and 13 Russian citizens with using social media and other means to foment strife among Americans in advance of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In a brief order Saturday evening, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich offered no explanation for her decision to deny a request prosecutors made Friday to put off the scheduled Wednesday arraignment for Concord Management and Consulting, one of the three firms charged in the case.

The 13 people charged in the high-profile indictment in February are considered unlikely to ever appear in a U.S. court. The three businesses accused of facilitating the alleged Russian troll farm operation — the Internet Research Agency, Concord Management, and Concord Catering — were also expected to simply ignore the American criminal proceedings.

Last month, however, a pair of Washington-area lawyers suddenly surfaced in the case, notifying the court that they represent Concord Management. POLITICO reported at the time that the move appeared to be a bid to force Mueller’s team to turn over relevant evidence to the Russian firm and perhaps even to bait prosecutors into an embarrassing dismissal in order to avoid disclosing sensitive information.

Read more: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/04/mueller-russia-interference-election-case-delay-570627

Judge is appointed by Trump.

Dem congressman: Force gun owners to get rid of assault weapons

Source: NBC News

A Democratic congressman has proposed outlawing “military-style semiautomatic assault weapons” and forcing existing owners to sell their weapons or face prosecution, a major departure from prior gun control proposals that typically exempt existing firearms.

In a USA Today op-ed entitled “Ban assault weapons, buy them back, go after resisters,” Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., argued Thursday that prior proposals to ban assault weapons “would leave millions of assault weapons in our communities for decades to come.”

Swalwell proposes that the government should offer up to $1,000 for every weapon covered by a new ban, estimating that it would take $15 billion to buy back roughly 15 million weapons — and “criminally prosecute any who choose to defy [the buyback] by keeping their weapons.”

In the past, Democrats and gun safety groups have carefully resisted proposals that could be interpreted as “gun confiscation,” a concept gun rights groups have often invoked as part of a slippery slope argument against more modest proposals like universal background checks.

Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/dem-congressman-force-gun-owners-sell-assault-weapons-n871066

Democratic Midterm Momentum Has 'Stalled,' Top Party Pollster Warns

Source: Huffington Post

A top Democratic pollster is warning his party’s candidates not to buy into the GOP’s rosy messaging on the economy and tax cuts, arguing they need to spotlight the economic headwinds and rising health care costs their base voters still face heading into the midterm elections.

The advice stems from new polling provided exclusively to HuffPost from Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, Greenberg Research, and Democracy Corps. The polls, conducted by phone and web panel, surveyed more than 3,000 registered voters in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin – all states with contested governor and/or Senate races, as well as competitive House contests.

“Democrats must not be distracted by the macro-economic and jobs-report numbers” Republicans have been touting, pollster Stan Greenberg wrote in a memo, authored with Democracy Corps’ Nancy Zdunkewicz and Page Gardner, president of the Women Voices Women Vote group. “It is a mistake to accept that GOP narrative and attribute credit to [former] President [Barack] Obama or insist it’s despite [President Donald] Trump and Republicans.”


The trio wrote that Democratic “momentum has stalled” in recent months because the party has failed to focus on “the economic and health care battles that most engage anti-Trump voters,” and because “Republican base voters, especially white working-class men, could finally point to a signature conservative policy achievement in the new tax cut law.”

Read more: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/democratic-momentum-poll_us_5ae789a7e4b055fd7fcedaac

NASA Completes early tests of mini nuclear fission Reactor which could Power human Settlements on Ma

Source: Newsweek

NASA has successfully completed tests of a miniature nuclear reactor which could one day power long-term human settlements on the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Kilopower, as the system is known, is a small, lightweight fission reactor which will be capable of producing up to 10 kilowatts of electrical power—enough to run several households continuously for 10 years. Just four of these reactors would be sufficient to power a Martian outpost, according to NASA.

A reliable and efficient power system will be an essential part of future space missions as humans begin to settle other worlds, enabling outposts to be self-sufficient. The new reactor will provide the power for lighting, water and oxygen, as well as for running experiments and producing fuel. This capability will mean astronauts won't have to take all the resources they need with them, opening up new possibilities for exploration.

The reactor will be especially useful in the challenging environments of places such as the Moon and Mars where generating power using solar panels can be difficult. On Mars, for example, sunlight is limited by seasonal variation and periodic dust storms which can last for months. Meanwhile, night time on the Moon lasts around 14 days.

Read more: http://www.newsweek.com/nasa-completes-early-tests-mini-nuclear-fission-reactor-which-could-power-909237

Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier Might Be Unstable, and Scientists Are About to Find Out for Sure

Source: The Weather Channel

Scientists from the United States and United Kingdom announced a massive five-year study aimed at finding out how stable a key Antarctic glacier really is – or isn't.

They'll be focused on the Thwaites Glacier, located on the western side of Antarctica. It has lost a huge amount of ice recently – enough to contribute about 4 percent of overall sea level rise – and a complete collapse of the Florida-sized glacier would push sea levels up as much as 3 feet, according to Public Radio International.

The new study will be an attempt to learn more about the glacier in hopes that it'll lead to better modeling and a more exact projection of what might happen in the future.

"Really, the whole program is about understanding that extra uncertainty attached to sea level rise and doing what we can to remove it, allowing people to protect their coastal environments and to prepare property to protect their populations," David Vaughan, the director of science at the British Antarctic Survey, told reporters on Monday.

Read more: https://weather.com/science/environment/news/2018-05-01-thwaites-glacier-antarctic-expedition

TESS prepares for launch on a mission to search for near-Earth exoplanets

Source: NASA Space Flight

NASA and SpaceX are in final preparations for the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS. The planet-hunting observatory will be launched by a brand new Block 4 Falcon 9 rocket from SLC-40 into an orbital resonance with the moon that will allow it to perform a near all-sky survey to find and categorize the number and types of exoplanets within 300 light years of Earth. Liftoff is targeted for a 30 second window that opens at 18:32:07 EDT (22:32:07 UTC) on Monday, 16 April.

TESS background/overview:

The original idea for TESS goes back to 2005 when Dr. George Ricker was the Principle Investigator High Energy Transient Explorer (HETE) – the first satellite mission dedicated to the study of gamma-ray bursts. Slowly, the idea evolved in 2008 and 2009, with Dr. Ricker, now TESS’s Principal Investigator at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), saying “We wanted to initially try to do this as a privately funded system, and MIT was very helpful for us. We had support from Google for some of the studies that were originally going to be done.”

That led to a collaboration with NASA Ames to create a proposal for a small-class explorer exoplanet mission that was ultimately not selected for flight. That then led to a partnership with Orbital ATK and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for a revised mission proposal over 2011 and 2012.

Read more: https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/04/tess-launc

This is going to be awesome. I cannot wait for this satellite to start producing real science.

A Star Grazed Our Solar System 70,000 Years Ago, and Early Humans Likely Saw It

Source: Space.com

Some distant objects in our solar system bear the gravitational imprint of a small star's close flyby 70,000 years ago, when modern humans were already walking the Earth, a new study suggests.

In 2015, a team of researchers announced that a red dwarf called Scholz's star apparently grazed the solar system 70,000 years ago, coming closer than 1 light-year to the sun. For perspective, the sun's nearest stellar neighbor these days, Proxima Centauri, lies about 4.2 light-years away. The astronomers came to this conclusion by measuring the motion and velocity of Scholz's star — which zooms through space with a smaller companion, a brown dwarf or "failed star" — and extrapolating backward in time.

Scholz's star passed by the solar system at a time when early humans and Neanderthals shared the Earth. The star likely appeared as a faint reddish light to anyone looking up at the time, researchers with the new study said.

The new study bolsters the 2015 analysis with a different type of evidence. A research team led by Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, of the Complutense University of Madrid, analyzed 339 known solar system bodies with hyperbolic orbits — paths through space that are V-shaped, rather than circular or elliptical.

Read more: https://www.space.com/40043-star-grazed-our-solar-system-disrupted-orbits.html
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