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Federal Election Commission is Deadlocked and can’t add new rules for Foreign-Influenced US Corporations and Anonymously Funded Political Organizations


From National Public Radio (NPR) today:

The four [Federal Election Commission–FEC] commissioners on Thursday deadlocked, again, on proposals to consider new rules, for example, for foreign-influenced U.S. corporations and for politically active entities that don’t disclose their donors.

“We have reason to think there are foreign actors who are looking for every single avenue to try and influence our elections,” said Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat who offered two proposals for new regulations.

Both proposals failed on partisan 2-2 votes.

And from March 18:

The Federal Election Commission, better known for deadlocks than decisions, has unanimously agreed to take a first step against anonymous political advertising on the internet.  The proposed rule deals with disclaimers — the “authorized by” taglines that are mandatory in print, television and radio ads that explicitly support or attack candidates.

Although the FEC is acting after Russian trolls spread advertisements through social media during the 2016 presidential election, the proposed rule wouldn’t have touched most of those ads. Disclaimers are required only for “express advocacy” messages that attack or support candidates. The Russian ads were not that direct, and many focused on issues without mentioning the candidates.

(image courtesy of and creozavr)


Katharine Hayhoe: “People ask me if I believe in global warming. I tell them, ‘No, I don’t,’ because belief is faith; faith is the evidence of things not seen. Science is [the] evidence of things seen.”


Just ran across this while surfing through the RationalWiki:

“”People ask me if I believe in global warming. I tell them, ‘No, I don’t,’ because belief is faith; faith is the evidence of things not seen. Science is evidence of things seen.
Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist and evangelical Christian[1]

A long exposition of who Katharine Hayhoe is was shown on the University of Toronto physics department website in 2012.  The reason I like it and find it resonating is that “faith is the evidence of things not seen” is a famous definition from the Bible, specifically Hebrews 11:1, which says (King James Version):

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

(photo courtesy of and geralt)

William “Cotton” Jarrell(coal miner): “…call and tell us you’re disappointed [that you missed your screening appointment for black lung disease]… I guarantee you we will make the next [appointment].”


MedPage Today reports on a resurgence of black lung disease, as described in an analysis presented at the annual conference of the American Thoracic Society:

“The confirmation of an increase in progressive massive fibrosis (PMF) across the coal mining industry follows several reports of outbreaks in isolated coal mining regions, including a 2016 CDC report of 60 PMF cases identified at a single radiology clinic in eastern Kentucky.

“Earlier this year, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported more than 550 cases of PMF occurring in three clinics in southwestern Virginia since 2013 — the largest cluster of advanced black lung disease ever reported in the U.S.

“The newly reported analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data on coal miners collected since 1970 identified 4,679 cases of PMF, with half occurring among miners presenting for evaluation after 2000.

“The analysis was presented May 22 at ATS 2018, the annual international conference of the American Thoracic Society.

“We have known about the clusters of PMF cases, but this study represents the first systematic attempt to assess the burden of PMF in former miners,” the study’s lead researcher, Kirsten Almberg, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, told MedPage Today.”

Additional nuggets from the MedPage Today report:

“The change may also be influenced by changes in mining practices in recent decades, [Almberg] said. Current mining practices, such as surface mining, typically expose miner to high levels of rock dust, including crystalline silica dust. ‘Silica is much more toxic to the lung than coal dust. And it is now profitable to sort out coal from rock, so that is increasingly part of the process.’ ”

“…39% of miners who applied for black lung benefits had never participated in surveillance during their careers.”

“Also at the session, a fourth-generation coal miner, William “Cotton” Jarrell of Peabody Energy, a Fortune 500 coal company, who now works in mining safety, addressed the challenge of getting miners to seek medical attention: “We don’t want to know, so a lot of us just don’t go to doctors,” he said.

“You can help us by not letting us cancel appointments. Instead of having a receptionist do it, the doctor should pick up the phone and call us with a simple ‘Hey buddy, I need you to get in for this appointment.’ That would make a huge difference. And if that doesn’t work call our wife. She’ll get us in there. And as a last resort, call and tell us you’re disappointed. We hate to disappoint people. If you tell us you’re disappointed that we missed an appointment, I guarantee you we will make the next one.”

(image courtesy of

Earth’s Orbit Varies From Nearly Circular to Slightly Elliptical Over 405,000 Year Cycle


Research reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (sorry, but everything except the abstract is behind a paywall) has confirmed that the Earth’s orbit varies over a 405,000 year cycle influenced by the masses of Jupiter and Venus, which takes it from a nearly circular orbit to a slightly elliptical orbit around the sun.  Currently, the Earth is in a nearly circular orbit.

The research was based on evaluation of lead-to-uranium ratios in a core drilled from rock in the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.  The core went back nearly 250 million years (give or take a few tens of millions) and far exceeded the length of previous cores– the maximum was 50 million years.

The New York Times reported that previous cores in the Northeast, 2,000 miles away, showed reliable climate cycles of 202,500 years but were unsuitable for determining uranium-to-lead ratios.

The new core will be a big help in dating fossils back to 250 million years ago, which just happens to be right after the worst disaster in Earth’s history (suspected but not proved to be due to runaway volcanism which produced the enormous lava fields known as the Deccan traps) and around the time the first dinosaurs and mammals appeared.

(photo courtesy of

Comment of the Day: “Our President is a criminal conman.”

Times Pick

We need to be patient.

We do not know what Mr. Mueller knows, but we do know that he has been far ahead of the news. For example, only in the last few days has George Nader’s name become so widely known. But Mueller has already spoken with Nader several times and Nader has testified before the grand jury; he is cooperating, which probably spells trouble for at least Don Jr. and Jared Kushner.

The problem with this investigation is that following the money only leads to more money. That’s why the process is taking so long. Mr. Muller is finding a boulder field of rocks to look beneath. It appears that in addition to Russia, two gulf nations were also willing to pitch in to help Trump win the election. And Don Jr. met with all interested parties along with more Trump campaign people. There’s a lot of smoke there, but this isn’t yet all of it.

Yes, this administration in Trump’s shadow has taken corruption to new levels. I believe the whole point of the Trump presidency is to exploit the nation for profit. What other reason could there be?

Donald Trump could care less about Making America Great Again. Donald Trump cares about Donald Trump. He attacks his own government and our historical allies while obsequiously sidling up to dictators.

This is not an American president. This is a concerted heist coupled with a flagrant disregard of the constitution and years of sound tradition.

My fellow Americans, our president is a criminal conman.

(illustration courtesy of and johnhain)

James Russell Lowell (writing of Abraham Lincoln): “The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinions.”


James Russell Lowell, in 1871, in “My Study Windows”, in a section about Abraham Lincoln, wrote: “The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinion.”

Theodore Roosevelt: “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”


“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.”

Theodore Roosevelt (May 1918 editorial “Sedition, a Free Press and Personal Rule” in “The Kansas City Star”)  See this entry in the web site “Quote Investigator”

(photo courtesy of and skeeze)

Addendum: Abraham Lincoln, 1864 (again according to “Quote Investigator”):

“Let the people know the facts, let them see the danger; but let every effort be made to allay public fears, to inspire the masses with confidence and hope, and, above all, to frown down every attempt to create a panic.”