Monday, November 20, 2017

Russian money connections paying for Trump's legal defense against illegal activities with Russians

Yes, I think it's a problem:

According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, the Republican National Committee has paid more than $400,000 in personal legal fees for Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. in connection with the investigations into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. At least $12,000 of those funds came from a Ukrainian-born billionaire with ties to Vladimir Putin.

It's a problem that any political party money provides direct financial benefits to electeds - that creates a pathway for anyone who's rich to put money in the pocket of the president.* Money with shadowy connections to a hostile government is even more disastrous. I'll concede that $12,000 isn't a lot, but that's just what we know about now.

Maybe this one money connection to Russia will be cut off - CNN says Trump is planning to stop taking RNC money for his own legal defense and may funnel his own money to his staff's defense. Of course when it comes to promises to spend his own money, what Trump says he'll do and what he actually does are different worlds. If it does come true though, it seems to be a sign of fear.



*I might reluctantly have a different opinion if a non-rich person is ever again elected president, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Tom's Trick Works and Things Are Worse Than They Seem

Some time ago Eli referred to the US Climate Reference Network as Tom Karl's Trick in that it offered an elegant way of evaluating the data and homogenization of the US Historical Climate Network and by extension the global networks of climate stations

 Its primary goal is to provide future long-term homogeneous observations of temperature and precipitation that can be coupled to long-term historical observations for the detection and attribution of present and future climate change. Data from the USCRN will be used in operational climate monitoring activities and for placing current climate anomalies into an historical perspective. The USCRN will also provide the United States with a reference network that meets the requirements of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS).
The Bunny's take on this was here is a sensible way of checking the accuracy of older climate networks in the past and calibrating them in the future.  But there was a point that was missed, perhaps even by the designers.  They sensible paired USCRN stations with USHCN ones for evaluation.  Because of this it was implicit in the design that significantly less than the generic 30 climate data evaluation period would be needed to draw conclusions, and that those conclusions would extend back over the entire USHCN period.

Zeke Hausfather, Kevin Cowtan, Matthew J. Menne, and Claude N. Williams, Jr published a short paper on this, Evaluating the impact of U.S. Historical ClimatologyNetwork homogenization using the U.S. Climate Reference Network (open version) where they showed that the USHCN, the historical network, slightly UNDERESTIMATES the warming trend as measured by the USCRN, the optimal network, especially for maximum daily temperatures


Their conclusion was understated, as one would expect
During the period of overlap between the USHCN and USCRN networks, we can confidently conclude that the adjustments to the USHCN station records made them more similar to proximate homogenous USCRN station records, both in terms of trends and anomalies. There are no systematic trend biases introduced by adjustments during this period; if anything adjusted USHCN stations still underestimate maximum (and mean) temperature trends relative to USCRN stations. This residual maximum temperature bias warrants additional research to determine the exact cause.
 The paper also shows that homogenization narrows the distribution of raw data from USHCN stations while leaving the means unchanged which pretty much kills the loud claims of fake data from the peanuts' gallery, but the systematic difference between the USCRN and USHCN warrants further study and a bit more worry.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Manufactured Russia scandal is a nothing burger

My distinguished colleagues on this site, Eli Rabbet and Brian, are convinced that the ruling-class media (NY Times, Washington Post, MSNBC) is hot on the trail of a major scandal. According to the mainstream media, the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to smear Hillary Clinton’s campaign and allow Trump to win.

I respectfully dissent.

Allegation: A server holding a large collection of emails by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was hacked by the Russians, which then leaked the emails to the US media, to the great embarrassment of the DNC and Hilary’s campaign.

Rebuttal: A group of retired spooks, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) has performed forensic investigations of the metadata. The VIPS determined the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceed an internet capacity for a remote hack. Forensics also shows that the copying was performed on the East coast of the US.

I readily admit that I have no expertise in this area. But the VIPS do have such expertise. I have not seen any coverage by the MSNBC, the NYTimes, or the Washington Post that addresses the claims made by the VIPS. Instead, the Establishment aims to drown out the opposition by dint of constant repetition. The summary of the VIPS study, entitled

Was the Russian Hack an Inside Job?

can be found at www.counterpunch.org/2017/07/25/was-the-russian-hack-an-inside-job

Allegation: Russia colluded with the Trump campaign to subvert the democratic election.

Rebuttal: A recent book on the 2016 election, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign by journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. In the book’s final pages, the authors describe the utter shock experienced by the top campaigners, who never dreamed that Hillary could lose the election. At the same time, the top campaigners were staggered by the unflattering revelations of the leaked DNC emails. Allen and Barnes describe how Hillary successfully changed the subject: Instead of inquiring into the content of the emails, Hillary staffers asked, WHO hacked the DNC server. The answer of the Hillary campaign? Russians hacked the emails.

See link at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shattered:_Inside_Hillary_Clinton%27s_Doomed_Campaign

Gary Leupp, history professor at Tufts University, does not agree with the official line that

“Russia had rigged the election by providing stolen DNC emails to Wikileaks, using them to discredit Hillary. (It’s rarely mentioned how, precisely, they had done that, by showing that the DNC under Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had rigged the primaries against Bernie Sanders.)”

See link at www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/20/manafort-news-a-blockbuster-or-nothingburger

Journalist Chris Floyd scoff at the anti-Russian hysteria.

Floyd has actually looked at some of the online advertisements that the Russian government (supposedly) bought.

“What did we see? Hillary Clinton in a devil costume boxing with Jesus. A Clinton-backing Satan arm-wrestling with Jesus. Pro-gun memes. Anti-immigrant memes. Memes about military-hating Democrats. Basically, the same sort of things your cranky uncle or Foxicated cousin has been sending around on email for the past 20 years. The idea that someone could be dissuaded from voting for Hillary Clinton because of something like this is absurd.” See link at www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/20/manafort-news-a-blockbuster-or-nothingburger

Consider the careful work by the journalist Robert Parry, cited by Norman Solomon.

Stripping the 25-page DNI (Director of National Intelligence) report down to its essence, Parry pointed out that it “contained no direct evidence that Russia delivered hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta to WikiLeaks.” Parry added: “The DNI report amounted to a compendium of reasons to suspect that Russia was the source of the information — built largely on the argument that Russia had a motive for doing so because of its disdain for Democratic nominee Clinton and the potential for friendlier relations with Republican nominee Trump. But the case, as presented, is one-sided and lacks any actual proof.”

Solomon concludes that Democrats are playing with fire.

See link at www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/10/democrats-are-playing-with-fire-on-russia

Aaron Mate writes in the Oct 6, 2017 issue of The Nation magazine that

Russiagate is More Fiction than Fact

From accusations of Trump campaign collusion to Russian Facebook ad buys, the media has substituted hype for evidence, Mate writes.

“Since Election Day, the controversy over alleged Russian meddling and Trump campaign collusion has consumed Washington and the national media. Yet nearly one year later there is still no concrete evidence of its central allegations.”

See link at www.thenation.com/article/russiagate-is-more-fiction-than-fact

Journalist Max Blumenthal addresses a headline in The Washington Post on Sunday Nov 5, 2017. The scare headline reads

At least nine people in Trump’s orbit had contact with Russians during campaign and transition

Wow! Pretty scary! Until Max Blumenthal puts it in perspective.

“Many of these forbidden contacts consisted of meetings with Russian diplomats.”

The Wa Po story authored by Rosalind S. Heiderman, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig

Blumenthal goes on to comment sarcastically “Diplomacy must cede to brinksmanship if not all out war.”

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Green Plate Challenge


Izen has turned the Green Plate Effect and his animation into a video just in time for the bunnies to show it to their uncles at Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Copy this onto your smart phone for future use



and Science of Doom has issued a challenge to the back radiation deniers.


Friday, November 03, 2017

The Lysistrata Solution - Do not cite, do not quote, do not review


The latest is that Mark Jacobson has filed a lawsuit against the National Academy of Sciences, the Proceedings of same and Christopher Clack for badmouthing, mopery and no takebacks.  There are important issues at play, for example, can renewable energy get to 100% of what is needed (Jacobson) or only 80% (Clack) without nuclear, and a lot of talmudic stuff about how to interpret what was written by the various parties to justify their positions and whether the other parties interpreted what the parties of the first wrote correctly or cherry picked with malice and aforethought.

These are policy driving questions but both sides advocate strong and immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions starting twenty years ago and certainly now.

What is also clear is that Jacobson in filing this suit has pushed the norms out the Overton window in a way that could quickly lead to no good things and that many are concerned.

Eli, in his usual way has a simple solution.  Those who are troubled, indeed angered by this suit have a simple way of making their concern clear.

Publicly tell Mark Jacobson that they will no longer cite, quote or review his papers and grant proposals until the suit is withdrawn.

Beyond this it may be necessary to ask editors and program managers not to send their work to Jacobson for evaluation and review.

Oh yes, one other tell in this whole mess is the addendum to the initial order summoning the parties attached by the Chief Judge Robert Morin of the DC Court which makes the suit subject to the DC Medical Malpractice Proceedings Act

After an action is filed in the court against a healthcare provider alleging medical malpractice, the court shall require the parties to enter into mediation without discovery or, if all parties agree with only limited discovery which shall not interfere with the completion of mediation within 30 days of the Initial Scheduling and Settlement Conference (ISSC) prior to any further litigation in an effort to reach a settlement agreement.
A report has to be filed ten days after the mediation session.  Eli is holding tryouts for the mediator position.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Eli Takes a Bow

While Eli is not the world's most accurate news source, allow the Bunny to take a bow.  Back in July 2016 the observant readers read


. . . . . .

These questions include why the US Congress is not mounting a full bore investigation into why the Russians are "helping" Mr. Trump out.  There is a good argument that without Russian money Trump is flat broke and two of the advisors closest to him, Paul Manafort and Carter Page, are mobbed up with Putin.  Eli uses the term mobbed up with intent.  Russia is not an autocracy, it is a kleptocracy.

Ms Rabett, who has some experience in such matters on the compliance side of the fence, points out that money laundering violations define the expensive real estate market in places like NY and SF, as brokers have accept money from peculiar sources.  It is certain that the Trump Organization has accepted the money.  What is not certain until law enforcement serves papers, is whether they did their due diligence and reporting.  Eli suspects not, and if systematically done, which Eli suspects so, that is a RICO violation.

Eli must also ask whether Wikileaks is a front for Russian intelligence. Julian Assange more or less admitted that with the usual, you can't prove it That puts a different twist on a whole bunch of things they have done in the last five years.  Or perhaps they are just stooges for the Russians, sort of like the dead end Bernie Bros.

This story is moving fast and the reaction of the Benghazi crazed Republicans in the US Congress will provide some interesting tales.  For example, Trump has conceded that his Russian "friends" were behind the hack.

Dear Lord.
. . . . . . .

Rabett Run where you read it before it happens

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Electric Buses Charging Ahead

Nice article by David Roberts on electric buses. A similar range of opinion that we see on passenger EVs - they're coming, and someday they'll take over, but medium terms predictions are all over the map.

Roberts is on the bullish end, saying electric will dominate by 2030. I agree with the fact that in the US, federal support for capital costs shifts the incentives strongly to cheap O&M for local governments, and that's where electric shines. Why should they buy non-electric?

I can give one reason - when I was on the board of a water district, I pushed for an internal EV mandate. Our O&M staff pushed back, saying our service bay already was too small and they couldn't service two types of vehicles (I think they've since added them). So inertia is a problem.

Roberts is putting a lot of his optimistic eggs in a single basket, the Proterra electric bus maker. Let's hope they and their competitors succeed in a revolution, but it's still early days.

My guess is that Roberts is likely right. Financial incentives and pollution incentives are strong. I think Roberts also underplayed the convenience factor. EV buses have more torque, so you can redesign and accelerate your routes and get your passengers to destinations faster, especially hilly routes or ones with lots of stops - but only if all the buses on the route are electric. Cities will be incentivized to switch to all-EV buses.

An early test of these predictions is whether bus manufacturers slow down on the R&D for ICE buses. We should see that in less than 10 years if EV buses really are going to be predominant-to-exclusive by 2030.


On a personal note, my wife and I are very slowly getting more used to buses. Going down to one car between us is a good incentive. The train is great, but I still tend to put my bike on the train or use GoBike rather than find a bus at the end of the train route. Despite that, there's a great bus route to San Francisco Airport that's far more convenient and cheaper than parking a car there, and another along the main drag here in San Mateo County that's also pretty good for shorter trips. Maybe faster EV buses would get us onboard more.
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Here ya go Brian.  Already in service in Krakow Poland Solaris Urbino 8.9.  100 km range, 4 hour charge time - Eli