Daily Archives: June 10, 2017

Solving systems of linear equations with quantum mechanics – Phys.Org

Posted: June 10, 2017 at 7:35 pm

June 9, 2017 by Lisa Zyga feature (Left) False color photomicrograph and (right) simplified circuit diagram of the superconducting quantum circuit for solving 2 2 linear equations. The method uses four qubits, marked Q1 to Q4, with four corresponding readout resonators, marked R1 to R4. Credit: Zheng et al. 2017 American Physical Society

(Phys.org)Physicists have experimentally demonstrated a purely quantum method for solving systems of linear equations that has the potential to work exponentially faster than the best classical methods. The results show that quantum computing may eventually have far-reaching practical applications, since solving linear systems is commonly done throughout science and engineering.

The physicists, led by Haohua Wang at Zhejiang University and Chao-Yang Lu and Xiaobo Zhu at the University of Science and Technology of China, along with their coauthors from various institutions in China, have published their paper on what they refer to as a “quantum linear solver” in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.

“For the first time, we have demonstrated a quantum algorithm for solving systems of linear equations on a superconducting quantum circuit,” Lu told Phys.org. “[This is] one of the best solid-state platforms with excellent scalability and remarkable high fidelity.”

The quantum algorithm they implemented is called the Harrow, Hassidim, and Lloyd (HHL) algorithm, which was previously shown to have the ability, in principle, to lead to an exponential quantum speedup over classical algorithms. However, so far this has not been experimentally demonstrated.

In the new study, the scientists showed that a superconducting quantum circuit running the HHL algorithm can solve the simplest type of linear system, which has two equations with two variables. The method uses just four qubits: one ancilla qubit (a universal component of most quantum computing systems), and three qubits that correspond to the input vector b and the two solutions represented by the solution vector x in the standard linear system Ax = b, where A is a 2 x 2 matrix.

By performing a series of rotations, swappings of states, and binary conversions, the HHL algorithm determines the solutions to this system, which can then be read out by a quantum nondemolition measurement. The researchers demonstrated the method using 18 different input vectors and the same matrix, generating different solutions for different inputs. As the researchers explain, it is too soon to tell how much faster this quantum method might work since these problems are easily solved by classical methods.

“The whole calculation process takes about one second,” Zhu said. “It is hard to directly compare the current version to the classical methods now. In this work, we showed how to solve the simplest 2 x 2 linear system, which can be solved by classical methods in a very short time. The key power of the HHL quantum algorithm is that, when solving an ‘s-sparse’ system matrix of a very large size, it can gain an exponential speed-up compared to the best classical method. Therefore, it would be much more interesting to show such a comparison when the size of the linear equation is scaled to a very large system.”

The researchers expect that, in the future, this quantum circuit could be scaled up to solve larger linear systems. They also plan to further improve the system’s performance by making some straightforward adjustments to the device fabrication to reduce some of the error in its implementation. In addition, the researchers want to investigate how the circuit could be used to implement other quantum algorithms for a variety of large-scale applications.

“Our future research will focus on improving the hardware performance, including longer coherence times, higher precision logic gates, larger numbers of qubits, lower crosstalk, better readout fidelity, etc.,” Wang said. “Based on the improvement of the hardware, we will demonstrate and optimize more quantum algorithms to really show the power of the superconducting quantum processor.”

Explore further: Physicists uncover similarities between classical and quantum machine learning

More information: Yarui Zheng et al. “Solving Systems of Linear Equations with a Superconducting Quantum Processor.” Physical Review Letters. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.210504. Also at arXiv:1703.06613 [quant-ph]

2017 Phys.org

(Phys.org)Physicists have found that the structure of certain types of quantum learning algorithms is very similar to their classical counterpartsa finding that will help scientists further develop the quantum versions. …

Physicists have developed a quantum machine learning algorithm that can handle infinite dimensionsthat is, it works with continuous variables (which have an infinite number of possible values on a closed interval) instead …

IBM scientists have achieved an important milestone toward creating sophisticated quantum devices that could become a key component of quantum computers. As detailed in the peer-review journal Nano Letters, the scientists …

(Phys.org) A research team composed of members from China, Singapore and Canada has built a simple quantum computer that has proven a quantum algorithm developed in 2009. In their paper published in Physical Review Letters, …

While technologies that currently run on classical computers, such as Watson, can help find patterns and insights buried in vast amounts of existing data, quantum computers will deliver solutions to important problems where …

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bristol, UK, and the University of Queensland, Australia, has demonstrated a quantum algorithm that performs a true calculation for the first time. …

(Phys.org)Physicists have experimentally demonstrated a purely quantum method for solving systems of linear equations that has the potential to work exponentially faster than the best classical methods. The results show …

Flowing particles in liquids act as a filter to suppress long-wavelength waves but allow short-wavelength ones to be supported, according to physicists at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the Ruhr-Universitt Bochum have developed numerical “tweezers” that can pin a nucleus in place, enabling them to study how interactions between protons and neutrons produce …

To anyone but a physicist, it sounds like something out of “Star Trek.” But lepton universality is a real thing.

The Standard Model of particle physics describes the properties and interactions of the constituents of matter. The development of this theory began in the early 1960s, and in 2012 the last piece of the puzzle was solved …

Neutron scattering has revealed in unprecedented detail new insights into the exotic magnetic behavior of a material that, with a fuller understanding, could pave the way for quantum calculations far beyond the limits of …

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I don’t know why people say there are no quantum computers. And this one executes not a niche function like simulated annealing but the highly applicable system of linear equations. It really is a breakthrough.

Interesting but not much advanced beyond analog computers of the 1970s.

Description not clear nor sufficient for analysis without doing some research on the methodology. If this is a superconducting circuit, is it cooled to near absolute zero, or is there some other method? With inductors and capacitors, this implies electron currents, in which case, are we dealing with just one electron? If so, the methodology is even more fuzzy. If these are electronic circuits, as the diagram seems to show, then this is not a QM system. ?????????????????????????????????

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Solving systems of linear equations with quantum mechanics – Phys.Org

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Justice Department: Trump Can Take Payments From Foreign Governments – TIME

Posted: at 7:34 pm

The Department of Justice is trying to persuade a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit claiming that President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments without congressional approval.

A Friday filing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan represents the first legitimate response from the Trump Administration to a number of suits that insist that the President has significant conflicts of interest within his real estate empire since taking office.

“Historical evidence confirms that the Emoluments Clauses were not designed to reach commercial transactions that a President (or other federal official) may engage in as an ordinary citizen through his business enterprises,” the Justice Department argued in a motion to dismiss a case first brought by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in January, three days after Trump’s inauguration. “At the time of the Nations founding, government officials were not given generous compensations, and many federal officials were employed with the understanding that they would continue to have income from private pursuits.”

The federal government’s argument cites American history throughout its brief numerous times, noting that President George Washington sold crops to England, Portugal and Jamaica.

“Neither the text nor the history of the clauses shows that they were intended to reach benefits arising from a Presidents private business pursuits having nothing to do with his office or personal service to a foreign power,” the filing reads. “Were plaintiffs’ interpretation correct, Presidents from the very beginning of the Republic, including George Washington, would have received prohibited ’emoluments.'”

In order to eliminate conflicts of interest, Trump announced he would hand over operation of his businesses to his sons, Eric and Donald Jr., and Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg. The Trump Organization also pledged not to make any business deals outside of the U.S. while Trump was still President. But a number of critics like CREW say that Trump’s lines continue to blur between President and business mogul.

“Its clear from the governments response that they dont believe anyone can go to court to stop the President from systematically violating the constitution,” CREW said in a statement. “We heartily disagree and look forward to our day in court.”

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Justice Department: Trump Can Take Payments From Foreign Governments – TIME

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The Worst of Donald Trump’s Toxic Agenda Is Lying in Wait A Major US Crisis Will Unleash It – The Intercept

Posted: at 7:34 pm

During the presidential campaign, some imagined that the more overtly racist elements of Donald Trumps platform were just talk designed to rile up the base, not anything he seriously intended to act on. But in his first week in office, when he imposed a travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries, that comforting illusion disappeared fast. Fortunately, the response was immediate: the marches and rallies at airports, the impromptu taxi strikes, the lawyers and local politicians intervening, the judges ruling the bans illegal.

The whole episode showed the power of resistance, and of judicial courage, and there was much to celebrate. Some have even concluded that this early slap down chastened Trump, and that he is now committed to a more reasonable, conventional course.

That is a dangerous illusion.

It is true that many of the more radical items on this administrations wish list have yet to be realized. But make no mistake, the full agenda is still there, lying in wait. And there is one thing that could unleash it all: a large-scale crisis.

Large-scale shocks are frequently harnessed to ram through despised pro-corporate and anti-democratic policies that would never have been feasible in normal times. Its a phenomenon I have previously called the Shock Doctrine, and we have seen it happen again and again over the decades, from Chile in the aftermath of Augusto Pinochets coup to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

And we have seen it happen recently, well before Trump, in U.S. cities including Detroit and Flint, where looming municipal bankruptcy became the pretext for dissolving local democracy and appointing emergency managers who waged war on public services and public education. It is unfolding right now in Puerto Rico, where the ongoing debt crisis has been used to install the unaccountable Financial Oversight and Management Board, an enforcement mechanism for harsh austerity measures, including cuts to pensions and waves of school closures. This tactic is being deployed in Brazil, where the highly questionable impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 was followed by the installation of an unelected, zealously pro-business regime that has frozen public spending for the next 20years, imposed punishing austerity, and begun selling off airports, power stations, and other public assets in a frenzy of privatization.

As Milton Friedman wrote long ago, Only a crisis actual or perceived produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable. Survivalists stockpile canned goods and water in preparation for major disasters; these guys stockpile spectacularly anti-democratic ideas.

Now, as many have observed, the pattern is repeating under Trump. On the campaign trail, he did not tell his adoring crowds that he would cut funds for meals-on-wheels, or admit that he was going to try to take health insurance away from millions of Americans, or that he planned to grant every item on Goldman Sachs wish list. He said the very opposite.

Since taking office, however, Donald Trump has never allowed the atmosphere of chaos and crisis to let up. Some of the chaos, like the Russia investigations, has been foisted upon him or is simply the result of incompetence, but much appears to be deliberately created. Either way, while we are distracted by (and addicted to) the Trump Show, clicking on and gasping at marital hand-slaps and mysterious orbs, the quiet, methodical work of redistributing wealth upward proceeds apace.

This is also aided by the sheer velocity of change. Witnessing the tsunami of executive orders during Trumps first 100 days, it rapidly became clear his advisers werefollowing Machiavellis advice in The Prince: Injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that, being tasted less, they offend less. The logic is straightforward enough. People can develop responses to sequential or gradual change. But if dozens of changes come from all directions at once, the hope is that populations will rapidly become exhausted and overwhelmed, and will ultimately swallow their bitter medicine.

But heres the thing. All of this is shock doctrine lite; its the most that Trump can pull off under cover of the shocks he is generating himself. And as much as this needs to be exposed and resisted, we also need to focus on what this administration will do when they have a real external shock to exploit. Maybe it will be an economic crash like the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. Maybe a natural disaster like Superstorm Sandy. Or maybe it will be a horrific terrorist attack like the Manchester bombing. Any one such crisis could trigger a very rapid shift in political conditions, making what currently seems unlikely suddenly appear inevitable.

So lets consider a few categories of possible shocks, and how they might be harnessed to start ticking off items on Trumps toxic to-do list.

Police officers join members of the public to view the flowers and messages of support in St. Anns Square in Manchester, England, on May 31, 2017, placed in tribute to the victims of the May 22 terror attack at the Manchester Arena.

Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Recent terror attacks in London, Manchester, and Paris provide some broad hints about how the administration would try to exploit a large-scale attack that took place on U.S. soil or against U.S. infrastructure abroad. After the horrific Manchester bombing last month, the governing Conservatives launched a fierce campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party for suggesting that the failed war on terror is part of what is fueling such acts, calling any such suggestion monstrous (a clear echo of the with us or with the terrorists rhetoric that descended after September 11, 2001). For his part, Trump rushed to link the attack to the thousands and thousands of people pouring into our various countries never mind that the bomber, Salman Abedi, was born in the U.K.

Similarly, in the immediate aftermath of the Westminster terror attacks in London in March 2017, when a driver plowed into a crowd of pedestrians, deliberately killing four people and injuring dozens more, the Conservative government wasted no time declaring that any expectation of privacy in digital communications was now a threat to national security. Home Secretary Amber Rudd went on the BBC and declared the end-to-end encryption provided by programs like WhatsApp to be completely unacceptable. And she said that they were meeting with the large tech firms to ask them to work with us on providing backdoor access to these platforms. She made an even stronger call to crack down on internet privacy after the London Bridge attack.

More worrying, in 2015, after the coordinated attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, the government of Franois Hollande declared a state of emergency that banned political protests. I was in France a week after those horrific events and it was striking that, although the attackers had targeted a concert, a football stadium, restaurants, and other emblems of daily Parisian life, it was only outdoor political activity that was not permitted. Large concerts, Christmas markets, and sporting events the sorts of places that were likely targets for further attacks were all free to carry on as usual. In the months that followed, the state-of-emergency decree was extended again and again until it had been in place for well over a year. It is currently set to remain in effect until at least July 2017. In France, state-of-emergencyis the new normal.

This took place under a center-left government in a country with a long tradition of disruptive strikes and protests. One would have to be naive to imagine that Donald Trump and Mike Pence wouldnt immediately seize on any attack in the United States to go much further down that same road. In all likelihood they would do it swiftly, by declaring protests and strikes that block roads and airports (the kind that responded to the Muslim travel ban) a threat to national security. Protest organizers would be targeted with surveillance, arrests, and imprisonment.

Indeed we should be prepared for security shocks to be exploited as excuses to increase the rounding up and incarceration of large numbers of people from the communities this administration is already targeting: Latino immigrants, Muslims, Black Lives Matter organizers, climate activists, investigative journalists. Its all possible. And in the name of freeing the hands of law enforcement to fight terrorism, Attorney General Jeff Sessions would have the excuse hed been looking for to do away with federal oversight of state and local police, especially those that have been accused of systemic racial abuses.

And there is no doubt that the president would seize on any domestic terrorist attack to blame the courts. He made this perfectly clear when he tweeted, after his first travel ban was struck down: Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. And on the night of the London Bridge attack, he went even further, tweeting: We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety! In a context of public hysteria and recrimination that would surely follow an attack in the U.S., the kind of courage we witnessed from the courts in response to Trumps travel bans might well be in shorter supply.

This April 7, 2017, photo shows the USS Porter launching a tomahawk missile ata Syrian air base.

Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via AP

The most lethal way that governments overreact to terrorist attacks is by exploiting the atmosphere of fear to embark on a full-blown foreign war (or two). It doesnt necessarily matter if the target has no connection to the original terror attacks. Iraq wasnt responsible for 9/11, and it was invaded anyway.

Trumps likeliest targets are mostly in the Middle East, and they include (but are by no means limited to) Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and, most perilously, Iran. And then, of course, theres North Korea, where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declared that all options are on the table, pointedly refusing to rule out a pre-emptive military strike.

There are many reasons why people around Trump, particularly those who came straight from the defense sector, might decide that further military escalation is in order. Trumps April 2017 missile strike on Syria ordered without congressional approval and therefore illegal according to some experts won him the most positive news coverage of his presidency. His inner circle, meanwhile, immediately pointed to the attacks as proof that there was nothing untoward going on between the White House and Russia.

But theres another, less discussed reason why this administration might rush to exploit a security crisis to start a new war or escalate an ongoing conflict: There is no faster or more effective way to drive up the price of oil, especially if the violence interferes with the supply of oilto the world market This would be great news for oil giants like Exxon Mobil, which have seen their profits drop dramatically as a result of the depressed price of oil and Exxon, of course, is fortunate enough to have its former CEO, Tillerson, currently serving as secretary of state. (Not only was Tillerson at Exxon for 41years, his entire working life, but Exxon Mobil has agreed to pay him a retirement package worth a staggering $180 million.)

Other than Exxon, perhaps the only entity that would have more to gain from an oil price hike fueled by global instability is Vladimir Putins Russia, a vast petro-state that has been in economic crisis since the price of oil collapsed. Russia is the worlds leading exporter of natural gas, and thesecond-largest exporter of oil (after Saudi Arabia). When the price was high, this was great news for Putin: Prior to 2014, fully 50 percent of Russias budget revenues came from oil and gas.

But when prices plummeted, the government was suddenly short hundreds of billions of dollars, an economic catastrophe with tremendous human costs. According to the World Bank, in 2015 real wages fell in Russia by nearly 10 percent; the Russian ruble depreciated by close to 40 percent; and the population of people classified as poor increased from 3 million to over 19 million. Putin plays the strongman, but this economic crisis makes him vulnerable at home.

Weve also heard a lot about that massive deal between Exxon Mobil and the Russian state oil company Rosneft to drill for oil in the Arctic (Putin bragged that it was worth half a trillion dollars). That deal was derailed by U.S. sanctions against Russia and despite the posturing on both sides over Syria, it is still entirely possible that Trump will decide to lift the sanctions and clear the way for that deal to go ahead, which would quickly boost Exxon Mobils flagging fortunes.

But even if the sanctions are lifted, there is another factor standing in the way of the project moving forward: the depressed price of oil. Tillerson made the deal with Rosneft in 2011, when the price of oil was soaring at around $110 a barrel. Their first commitment was to explore for oil in the sea north of Siberia, under tough-to-extract, icy conditions. The break-even price for Arctic drilling is estimated to be around $100 a barrel, if not more. So even if sanctions are lifted under Trump, it wont make sense for Exxon and Rosneft to move ahead with their project unless oil prices are high enough. Which is yet another reason why parties might embrace the kind of instability that would send oil prices shooting back up.

If the price of oil rises to $80 or more a barrel, then the scramble to dig up and burn the dirtiest fossil fuels, including those under melting ice, will be back on. A price rebound would unleash a global frenzy in new high-risk, high-carbon fossil fuel extraction, from the Arctic to the tar sands. And if that is allowed to happen, it really would rob us of our last chance of averting catastrophic climate change.

So, in a very real sense, preventing war and averting climate chaos are one and the same fight.

A screen displays financial dataon Jan. 22, 2008.

Photo: Cate Gillon/Getty Images

A centerpiece of Trumps economic project so far has been a flurry of financial deregulation that makes economic shocks and disasters distinctly more likely. Trump has announced plans to dismantle Dodd-Frank, the most substantive piece of legislation introduced after the 2008 banking collapse. Dodd-Frank wasnt tough enough, but its absence will liberate Wall Street to go wild blowing new bubbles, which will inevitably burst, creating new economic shocks.

Trump and his team are not unaware of this, they are simply unconcerned the profits from those market bubbles are too tantalizing. Besides, they know that since the banks were never broken up, they are still too big to fail, which means that if it all comes crashing down, they will be bailed out again, just like in 2008. (In fact, Trump issued an executive order calling for a review of the specific part of Dodd-Frank designed to prevent taxpayers from being stuck with the bill for another such bailout an ominous sign, especially with so many former Goldman executives making White House policy.)

Some members of the administration surely also see a few coveted policy options opening up in the wake of a good market shock or two. During the campaign, Trump courted voters by promising not to touch Social Security or Medicare. But that may well be untenable, given the deep tax cuts on the way (and the fictional math beneath the claims that they will pay for themselves). His proposed budget already begins the attack on Social Security and an economic crisis would give Trump a handy excuse to abandon those promises altogether. In the midst of a moment being sold to the public as economic Armageddon, Betsy DeVos might even have a shot at realizing her dream of replacing public schools with a system based on vouchers and charters.

Trumps gang has a long wish list of policies that do not lend themselves to normal times. In the early days of the new administration, for instance, Mike Pence met with Wisconsin Gov.Scott Walker to hear how the governor had managed to strip public sector unions of their right to collective bargaining in 2011. (Hint: He used the cover of the states fiscal crisis, prompting New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to declare that in Wisconsin the shock doctrine is on full display.)

Taken together, the picture is clear. We will very likely not see this administrations full economic barbarism in the first year. That will only reveal itself later, after the inevitable budget crises and market shocks kick in. Then, in the name of rescuing the government and perhaps the entire economy, the White House will start checking off the more challenging items on the corporate wish list.

Cattle menacedby a wildfire near Protection, Kansas, on March, 7, 2017.

Photo: Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/TNS/Getty Images

Just as Trumps national security and economic policies are sure to generate and deepen crises, the administrations moves to ramp up fossil fuel production, dismantle large parts of the countrys environmental laws, and trash the Paris climate accord all pave the way for more large-scale industrial accidents not to mention future climate disasters. There is a lag time of about a decade between the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the full resulting warming, so the very worst climatic effects of the administrations policies wont likely be felt until theyre out of office.

That said, weve already locked in so much warming that no president can complete a term without facing major weather-related disasters. In fact, Trump wasnt even two months on the job before he was confronted with overwhelming wildfires on the Great Plains, which led to so many cattle deaths that one rancher described the event as our Hurricane Katrina.

Trump showed no great interest in the fires, not even sparing them a tweet. But when the first superstorm hits a coast, we should expect a very different reaction from a president who knows the value of oceanfront property, has open contempt for the poor, and has only ever been interested in building for the 1percent. The worry, of course, is a repeat of Katrinas attacks on public housing and public schools, as well as the contractor free for all that followed the disaster, especially given thecentral roleplayed by Mike Pence in shaping post-Katrina policy.

The biggest Trump-era escalation, however, will most likely be indisaster responseservices marketed specifically toward thewealthy. When I was writing The Shock Doctrine, this industry was still in its infancy, and several early companies didnt make it. I wrote, for instance, about a short-lived airline called Help Jet, based in Trumps beloved West Palm Beach. While it lasted, Help Jet offered an array of gold-plated rescue services in exchange for a membership fee.

When a hurricane was on its way, Help Jet dispatched limousines to pick up members, booked them into five-star golf resorts and spas somewhere safe, then whisked them away on private jets. No standing in lines, no hassle with crowds, just a first-class experience that turns a problem into a vacation, read the companys marketing materials. Enjoy the feeling of avoiding the usual hurricane evacuation nightmare. With the benefit of hindsight, it seems Help Jet, far from misjudging the market for these services, was simply ahead of its time. These days, in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street, the more serious high-end survivalists are hedging against climate disruption and social collapse by buying space in custom-built underground bunkers in Kansas (protected by heavily armed mercenaries) and building escape homes on high ground in New Zealand. It goes without saying that you need your own private jet to get there.

What is worrying about the entire top-of-the-line survivalist phenomenon (apart from its general weirdness) is that, as the wealthy create their own luxury escape hatches, there is diminishing incentive to maintain any kind of disaster response infrastructure that exists to help everyone, regardless of income precisely the dynamic that led to enormous and unnecessary suffering in New Orleans during Katrina.

And this two-tiered disaster infrastructure is galloping ahead at alarming speed. In fire-prone states such as California and Colorado, insurance companies provide a concierge service to their exclusive clients: When wildfires threaten their mansions, the companies dispatch teams of private firefighters to coat them in re-retardant. The public sphere, meanwhile, is left to further decay.

California provides a glimpse of where this is all headed. For its firefighting, the state relies on upwards of 4,500 prison inmates, who are paid a dollar an hour when theyre on the fire line, putting their lives at risk battling wildfires, and about two bucks a day when theyre back at camp. By some estimates, California saves a billion dollars a year through this program a snapshot of what happens when you mix austerity politics with mass incarceration and climate change.

Migrants and refugees gather close to a border crossing near the Greek village of Idomeni, on March 5, 2016, where thousands of people wait to enterMacedonia.

Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

The uptick in high-end disaster prep also means there is less reason for the big winners in our economy to embrace the demanding policy changes required to prevent an even warmer and more disaster-prone future. Which might help explain the Trump administrations determination to do everything possible to accelerate the climate crisis.

So far, much of the discussion around Trumps environmental rollbacks has focused on supposed schisms between the members of his inner circle who actively deny climate science, including EPA head Scott Pruitt and Trump himself, and those who concede that humans are indeed contributing to planetary warming, such as Rex Tillerson and Ivanka Trump. But this misses the point: What everyone who surrounds Trump shares is a confidence that they, their children, and indeed their class will be just fine, that their wealth and connections will protect them from the worst of the shocks to come. They will lose some beachfront property, sure, but nothing that cant be replaced with a new mansion on higher ground.

This insouciance is representative of an extremely disturbing trend. In an age of ever-widening income inequality, a significant cohort of our elites are walling themselves off not just physically but also psychologically, mentally detaching themselves from the collective fate of the rest of humanity. This secessionism from the human species (if only in their own minds) liberates the richnot only to shrug off the urgent need for climate action but also to devise ever more predatory ways to profit from current and future disasters and instability. What we are hurtling toward is a world demarcated into fortified Green Zones for the super-rich, Red Zones for everyone else and black sites for whoever doesnt cooperate. Europe, Australia, and North America are erecting increasingly elaborate (and privatized) border fortresses to seal themselves off from people fleeing for their lives. Fleeing, quite often, as a direct result of forces unleashed primarily by those fortressed continents, whether predatory trade deals, wars, or ecological disasters intensified by climate change.

In fact, if we chart the locations of the most intense conflict spots in the world right now from the bloodiest battlefields in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Iraq what becomes clear is that these also happen to be some of the hottest and driest places on earth. It takes very little to push these regions into drought and famine, which frequently acts as an accelerant to conflict, which of course drives migration.

And the same capacity to discount the humanity of the other, which justifies civilian deaths and casualties from bombs and drones in places like Yemen and Somalia, is now being trained on the people in the boats casting their need for security as a threat, their desperate flight as some sort of invading army. This is the context in which well over 13,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach European shores since 2014, many of them children, toddlers, and babies. It is the context in which the Australian government has sought to normalize the incarceration of refugees in island detention camps on Nauru and Manus, under conditions that numerous humanitarian organizations have described as tantamount to torture. This is also the context in which the massive, recently demolished migrant camp in Calais, France, was nicknamed the jungle an echo of the way Katrinas abandoned people were categorized in right-wing media as animals.

The dramatic rise in right-wing nationalism, anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, and straight-up white supremacy over the past decade cannot be pried apart from these larger geopolitical and ecological trends. The only way to justify such barbaric forms of exclusion is to double down on theories of racial hierarchy that tell a story about how the people being locked out of the global Green Zone deserve their fate, whether its Trump casting Mexicans as rapists and bad hombres, and Syrian refugees as closet terrorists, or prominent Conservative Canadian politician Kellie Leitch proposing that immigrants be screened for Canadian values, or successive Australian prime ministers justifying those sinister island detention camps as a humanitarian alternative to death at sea.

This is what global destabilization looks like in societies that have never redressed their foundational crimes countries that have insisted slavery and indigenous land theft were just glitches in otherwise proud histories. After all, there is little more Green Zone/Red Zone than the economy of the slave plantation of cotillions in the masters house steps away from torture in the fields, all of it taking place on the violently stolen indigenous land on which North Americas wealth was built. And now the same theories of racial hierarchy that justified those violent thefts in the name of building the industrial age are surging to the surface as the system of wealth and comfort they constructed starts to unravel on multiple fronts simultaneously.

Trump is just one early and vicious manifestation of that unraveling. He is not alone. He wont be the last.

Residents of the Mangueira favela community, foreground, watch fireworks explode over Maracana stadium during opening ceremonies for the 2016 Olympic Games on Aug. 5, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro.

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

It seems relevant that the walled city where the wealthy few live in relative luxury while the masses outside war with one another for survival is pretty much the default premise of every dystopian sci-fi movie that gets made these days, from The Hunger Games, with the decadent Capitol versus the desperate colonies, to Elysium, with its spa-like elite space station hovering above a sprawling and lethal favela. Its a vision deeply enmeshed with the dominant Western religions, with their grand narratives of great floods washing the world cleanand a chosen few selected to begin again. Its the story of the great fires that sweep in, burning up the unbelievers and taking the righteous to a gated city in the sky. We have collectively imagined this extreme winners-and-losers ending for our species so many times that one of our most pressing tasks is learning to imagine other possible ends to the human story in which we come together in crisis rather than split apart, take down borders rather than erect more of them.

Because the point of all that dystopian art was never to act as a temporal GPS, showing us where we are inevitably headed. The point was to warn us, to wake us so that, seeing where this perilous road leads, we can decide to swerve.

We have it in our power to begin the world over again. So said Thomas Paine many years ago, neatly summarizing the dream of escaping the past that is at the heart of both the colonial project and the American Dream. The truth, however, is that we donothave this godlike power of reinvention, nor did we ever. We must live with the messes and mistakes we have made, as well as within the limits of what our planet can sustain.

But we do have it in our power to change ourselves, to attempt to right past wrongs, and to repair our relationships with one another and with the planet we share. Its this work that is the bedrock of shock resistance.

Adapted from the new book by Naomi Klein,No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trumps Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, to be published by Haymarket Books on June 13. http://www.noisnotenough.org

Top photo: Firefighters from across Kansas and Oklahoma battle a wildfire near Protection, Kansas, on March 6, 2017.

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The Worst of Donald Trump’s Toxic Agenda Is Lying in Wait A Major US Crisis Will Unleash It – The Intercept

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Boy Scout James Comey is no match for Donald Trump – Washington Post

Posted: at 7:34 pm

(Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

As it turns out, Donald Trump is the hope-and-change president.

According to James B. Comey, Trump hoped that the then-FBI director would find a way to drop his investigation of ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and help blow away the cloud concerning the Trump campaigns possible ties to Russia. When Comey didnt, Trump changed Comey right out of a job.

Youre fired, the apprentice-president bravely conveyed to Comey via the very news media he so abhors, except when he doesnt. Was Trumps hope a direction, as Comey testified Thursday that he took it to mean? As in, The Don hopes ol Jimmy does the right thing? Or was it simply hope? As in, good golly, I hope it doesnt rain this weekend?

If one were a young child, one might go for the weather-forecast interpretation because what child wants it to rain on his or her parade? If one were an adult with full knowledge of the presidents pre-political history and the common sense of an investigator, one might reasonably conclude that the hoper in chief was making a strong suggestion, the ignoring of which could have dead-horse-in-your-bed consequences.

Comey, obviously, smelled a dead horse.

In his exchanges with the president, he carefully selected his words and took mental notes, after which he wrote down his recollections.

But Comeys concentration on the presidents hope may have doomed him. Not only did he lose his job, but also his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee seemed weak tea in the broader context of the presidents potential criminality. Expressing hope a word thats open to interpretation and nowhere near evidence of obstruction of justice is clearly not a crime.

In his testimony, Comey further revealed that he personally had leaked his memos, again to the benighted media via a Columbia University law professor and friend. Comey said he was concerned that Trump might lie about their discussions and other details leading up to his firing.

Regarding the two men and whose word to trust, theres no contest. But often what is obviously wrong isnt necessarily illegal. I dont doubt that Trump essentially threatened Comey, because thats what Trump does. (Count his lawsuits if you have a few free months.) Even as Comey testified, the president was regaling the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference with scripture and tough talk: We know how to fight better than anybody and we never, ever give up we are winners and we are going to fight. (Please, please, please read Elmer Gantry.)

During the hearing, several senators pressed Comey about why he didnt ask obvious follow-up questions, as when Trump allegedly said to the director, We had that thing. What thing? Comey also might have queried, Mr. President, what do you mean when you say you hope? Or, as various commentators have suggested, why didnt Comey say, Im sorry, Mr. President, but this is highly inappropriate and Im going to have to excuse myself?

Ask any reporter, whose skills are essentially investigative, and the answer is: You dont ever interrupt when the subject is spilling beans. Remember that Flynn was under investigation at the time, as was Trumps campaign, though apparently not Trump himself. All of this was surely in Comeys mind when Trump allegedly expressed his hope.

In real life, we rely upon our instincts, experience, interpretation of facial expressions and body language, and historical knowledge to make judgments and instruct our words and actions. We do this usually without conscious effort unless were driven by a purpose.

For Comey, what was the higher moral position? To stop the president of the United States from talking or keep the conversation going while you gather your wits and see what else might be forthcoming but could aid in an ongoing investigation? Most likely, Comeys mind was frantically trying to assess the situation and wondering, Lordy, why didnt I wear a wire?

He hinted as much Thursday, albeit with weirdly undermining self-deprecations. Comey said he felt he needed to pay attention and was too stunned to react to the hope comment. Maybe if I were stronger, he said, explaining why he didnt end his conversation with Trump. Please. Whats with the 6-foot-8-inch weakling act from a man routinely praised for his brilliance and integrity? Why telegraph feebleness to Trump, his lawyers and a skeptical public if hes secure in his rectitude?

Presumably, Comey was trying to convey his humility juxtaposed with the steamrolling Trump. What Comey may be constitutionally unable to fully grasp, however, is that integrity is no weapon in a knife fight.

Read more from Kathleen Parkers archive, follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook.

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Stephen Colbert Explains Donald Trump’s Most Frustrating Contradiction – HuffPost

Posted: at 7:34 pm

Much of America watched former FBI Director James Comeytestify in front of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Thursday. Nielsen Media reported around 19.5 million watched on television, but millions more streamed the testimony online since it took place during the typical work day.

President Donald Trumpwas among those watching and he soon publicly addressed the various accusations Comey leveled against him.

Comey was pretty rough on the president, Stephen Colbertsaid The Late Show Friday night. But right after the testimony, Trump sent his longtime personal lawyer and devil who has a thing he wants you to sign, Marc Kasowitz to respond.

The host played a clip of the lawyer claiming that Comeys testimony vindicated Trump, because in Kasowitzs words, the former FBI director confirmed publicly what he had told Trump privately. This referred to Trumps insistence that Comey had told him that he was not under investigation by the FBI.

As a quick refresher into this confusing mess: It is true that when Trump asked Comey whether he was personally under investigation, he was not. But Trump associates were under investigation and Comeys testimony on Thursday indicated that Trump may be facing an investigation into whether the president obstructed justice.

This is where Kasowitz began an extremely frustrating contradiction, as Colbert explained.

But even though, everything Comey said proved Trump wasnt guilty, he was also a liar? Colbert said.

He then played another part of the Kasowitz clip where the lawyer detailed the various ways Comey had allegedly lied during the testimony.

This bizarre argument tracked with what the president later tweeted.

During his testimony, Comey also called Trump a liar on multiple occasions.

Its a classic he said, he said (American politics still being dominated by men, of course).

Now youve got to choose whether to believe the Twin Peaks character Agent Dale Cooper incarnate in Comey or… well… the apparentliar in chief.

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Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat: Donald Trump looks like Mussolini but can be overcome – Salon

Posted: at 7:34 pm

Political violence is a symptom of an ailing democracy. By that standard, America is not well. Donald Trump and the Republican Party injected it with poison. During the 2016 presidential campaign Trump appeared to threaten Hillary Clinton and his other opponents with violence even suggesting that his followers could use Second Amendment solutions to remove her from office if she won the presidency. Trump also encouraged his supporters to physically assault protesters and promised to pay their medical bills if they did so.

As documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Trumps eventual victoryunleashed a wave of hate crimes across the United States targeting Muslims, Jews and people of color. White supremacists have taken a cue from Trumps naked embrace of racism and bigotry and have killed at least four people since the election in November.

There have been violent clashes between Trump supporters and those who believe that he and his movement are fascists and represent a grave threat to American democracy and freedom. In keeping with his plutocratic authoritarianism, Trump has targeted journalists and the news media as traitors and enemies of the American people. Two weeks ago Greg Gianforte, a Republican congressional candidate in Montana, physically assaulted a reporter from The Guardian. Such violence did not appear to hurt his support among voters; Gianforte went on to win that states special election.

In many ways, Donald Trumps embrace of political violence is a reflection of his personal values. Trump proudly proclaimed that he could shoot a person in the middle of the street and still beelected. In 1989 he took out full-page ads in several New York newspapers calling for the death penaltyfor the Central Park Five, a group of young black and Latino men accused of an infamous rape. After being convicted and sentenced to long prison terms, all five men were later found innocent. Trump has refused to apologize for wrongly calling for their deaths. Trump has also embraced President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines,who has conducted a campaign of state-sponsored murder against drug dealers and drug users.

Donald Trump has been accused of sexually predatory conduct and has bragged about grabbing women by their genitals, an action he boasted he could get away with because of his fame and money.

What role does political violence play in Donald Trumps appeal to his voters? How is it related to his authoritarian politics? What does Trumps embrace of violence reveal about his masculinity? What does the future hold for a nation where political violence is becoming increasingly acceptable?

In an effort to answer these questions, I recently spoke with Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University and an expert on the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini. Ben-Ghiat is completing a forthcoming book on authoritarianism and political strongmen and has written extensively about Trumps rise to power and the dangers to American democracy he represents.

Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity. A longer version can be heard onmy podcast, available on SalonsFeatured Audiopage.

How do you think Donald Trump rose to power? Was this something out of left field?

There are times in history where someone comes out of the blue who coalesces the forces of discontent and anxiety and hope. This kind of leader usually comes from outside traditional politics and knows how to be all things to all people. Then theres the charisma. Because the kind of attachment that Trumps followers form is based not on a party or a principle because Trump is not very dedicated to the Republican Party its based on an emotional bond. These men appear and theyre a kind of savior with this rhetoric of I will fix it. I will care for you. This has happened before in history and now in the United States with Donald Trump, we have an opportunity to analyze this in real time.

Hes really an expert in manipulating emotions. On a basic level his supporters are in love with him. He is their avatar. Do you think thats a reach?

No, I do not think that it is a reach. Im a historian of visual propaganda. When I look at a tape of a rally, I look for postures. I look for the T-shirts, and its quite extraordinary. Trump is a type of literal political strongman for his people. He appears as John Wayne. He appears as a bodybuilder, like a Schwarzenegger-type. At his rallies, people love to play with cardboard cutouts of his head.

In addition, Trump uses his body to convey a sense of heroic masculinity to other men. For example, he had a type of death match handshake with French President Emmanuel Macron, who is a handsome, younger man. Trump is always trying to best the other man. To do this he engages in a type of ritual humiliation of all men who want to be around him. This is a kind of bullying that I call the culture of threat.

What Trump is doing is telling a story. Its an extension of 1980s Reagan-era action movies. But we also have to call out the target of the violence. It is not white folks. Trump is signaling that he can enact violence against black and brown people and get away with it.

Trump is also using the genre of theWestern. When youre shooting someone in the street, its the showdown and Trump towers above in his fortress. A lot of his rhetoric of being threatened, being victimized its a morality play. The thing that is extraordinary is that the more familiar morality play and showdown dated back to the Cold War, where it was clear that Russia was the Evil Empire, according to Ronald Reagan.

Here we have a profound shift: Who is the evil person above all? The person of color in his own country. Then there is also a profound distrust or disdain for liberal democracy. At the local level, [Trumps] the avenger. Hes the person who sits with a gun in his hand and Fifth Avenue is his street. At the national level, he plays the cowboy whos going to defend our nation, except the joke is that hes a vessel of Vladimir Putin.

How do we locate Donald Trump relative to toxic white masculinity, authoritarianism and fascism?

Its a big question. I do not call Donald Trump a fascist because I want to respect the fact that historically under fascism you ended up with a one-party state. I think its important to respect that difference, in part . . . to show how things have changed.

However, today you do not need to have a dictatorship or a one-party state in order to accomplish your goals. You can take a democracy and change it through expansions of executive power and other repressions until you have the same effect on the subject population and a quasi-rubber-stamp parliament, without declaring a dictatorship.

Now with Trump, he uses fascist tactics. One of them is the testing of the population, the media and the elites at the beginning. This is so key. There are many things Trump does that are fascistic without having to become a one-party state dictator.

What would be a better word to describe him: a plutocratic authoritarian, an American fascist, something else?

Hes an authoritarian.

How is Trump similar or different to other authoritarians you have studied?

The classic dictators were usually very concerned with race. A lot of what Trump is doing is trying to turn the clock back on demographic change. Theres this panic around the world today about what I would label as mobile populations. These are refugees, people who are supposedly going to invade our borders. This explains the fixation with walls and controlling space.

How do we make sense of the connections between emotion and authoritarianism, either culturally or personally?

The whole spectacle of fascist aesthetics is designed to desensitize you. We still see that today, after 80 years. We havent progressed much from this. Think about it:If you live in a place where there are informers everywhere, you start to self-censor. This could be self-censorship if youre a journalist or if youre an ordinary citizen. You have to live in a kind of shut-down manner unless youre going to become what used to be called a dissident. Theres a sense of disaffection in America which Trump has been able to exploit.

Michael Moore in his movie TrumpLand called a certain type of white male, such as Newt Gingrich, for example, the dying dinosaurs. These are a group of people who suspect especially if they read the Census that by 2042 America will be a minority majority country. This is fundamental to Trumpism and to his supporters. Theyre in a panic about this. The dying dinosaur is also the man who can sexually harass women without any consequences.

That gets us to political correctness. When Trump says, Im not politically correct, hes really saying, Now you can do what you want. You can be self-actualized.

Thats right. Again it goes back to the point of how fake news is an alternate reality that people are very invested in. This is their certainty. Its a certainty that goes with their emotional state. Once people make these bonds of attachment with this kind of charismatic ruler, its hard to break them.

Lets consider Greg Gianforte in Montana. It was clear he was going to win anyway even though he had assaulted a journalist. There are a whole lot of Republican voters who are excited and titillated by violence and wanted to support Gianforte.

Greg Gianforte becomes a masculine hero. He becomes the heartland versus the elite, even though hes a wealthy businessman. Again this is suspending a lot of reality for this narrative to work. I think that right now with all the Russia investigations and Fox News imploding, the right-wing public is looking for heroes and heroes who first, of course, are also victims.

Somehow, as often happens, this assaulter becomes a victim, which is how he tried to spin it in his statement. He becomes a victim of the media. Then we go back to the media being vultures. Trump openly admires violent people. He himself says violent things. This becomes internalized and legitimated or rather was already internalized by people like Gianforte.

The SPLC has documented a huge increase in hate crimes since Trumps campaign began in 2016. There have also been the recent white supremacist murders in Maryland and Portland as well.

What happens is that the bar for behavior shifts. You can become used to seeing violence, but its also that doing violence becomes more acceptable. We think of normalization in a bureaucratic way. We decide to accept these institutions and these things which we thought were rogue before. Normalization is a form of decriminalization. Its when Trump can say, Ill shoot someone and he does not get booted out as a candidate. He wins. You decided to accept what used to be considered lawless. Theres trickle-down violence, just as theres trickle-down racism. Trump sets the tone.

How do you think America will be changed by Donald Trumps presidency? Are these changes permanent and irrevocable? Or are they temporary?

If Mike Pence becomes president, all of the social-racial agenda will likely continue because thats why he was put there. Pence is the mainstream Republican, for a party which has moved significantly to the right. That will go on and it will be a fight to preserve reproductive and other civil rights.

To end on something positive, theres been an undeniable, enormous resurgence of activism and also patriotism. Ultimately, I think that its doubtful that Trump is preparing the way for an even more hard-line authoritarian.

What do you think history can teach us? What sort of leverage can historians provide for us in this moment?

Thats a great question. We are living through one of these rare times in life when events are outstripping our capacity to understand them. First, it was the shock of the election. People were depressed. They didnt know what to do. Then the blitzkrieg of all the travel bans and all of the shocking events that Trump engineered. People feel very disconcerted and frightened. History is useful because youre able to step back and see patterns: This has happened before, and this is how it was defeated. This is what we have to look for.

Im not sure that people learn from the past even if its presented to them because I feel that the temptations that someone like Trump represents are only combated by looking within ourselves. The attraction is the attraction of power and to be more specific, an attraction to white male power. This proves very seductive to many. The attraction of wealth, of glamour, all these things go into why Trump has been successful as an image-maker and why he was able to be accepted as our protector.

Until those internal things are settled, its hard to say that just because I tell you he looks like Mussolini, youre going to say, Forget that. I dont like him anymore. Historians are able to look back and also to the future. I for one am glad that Ive been able to write and give comfort to people.

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Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat: Donald Trump looks like Mussolini but can be overcome – Salon

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Trump’s ‘Apprentice’ gamble – Politico

Posted: at 7:34 pm

President Donald Trump will have to maneuver around the fact that his proposed budget would cut Labor Department funding for training and employment services by 36 percent. | AP Photo

‘The Apprentice’ is about to come front and center in President Donald Trump’s jobs plan.

By Ian Kullgren

06/10/2017 02:00 PM EDT

“Infrastructure Week” didn’t draw the public’s attention away from James Comey. Maybe reviving “The Apprentice” will.

Next week the White House will embark on a three-day blitz to sell what President Donald Trump’s advisers say is a key part of his agenda to revive the middle class: boosting apprenticeship programs for blue-collar workers.

Story Continued Below

The centerpiece will be a speech Trump will deliver at the Labor Department Wednesday to announce yet-undisclosed executive actions to promote job training. On Tuesday, Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, will travel to Waukesha, Wis., for a roundtable on apprenticeships with Scott Walker, the states governor and one of Trumps rivals in last year’s GOP primary.

The White House, of course, is still struggling to rise above the news generated by investigations of the Trump campaign’s possible connection to Russian attempts to disrupt the 2016 election. Former FBI Director Comey, whose Thursday congressional testimony intensified discussion of whether Trump tried to obstruct the Justice Department’s Russia probe, hijacked the news last week. The Trump White House is working hard to seize it back.

To that end, the White House will deploy Ivanka, one of the few popular figures in the Trump White House, to be a public face for Trumps apprenticeship pitch. She’s scheduled to make no fewer than three public appearances on the issue next week, including a panel with eight governors on Thursday.

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In recent decades, there has been great focus on the importance of four year education, higher education, and the reality is that is not the right path for everyone, Ivanka Trump told reporters Friday.

But in touting apprenticeships, a rare policy tool that enjoys bipartisan support, Trump will have to maneuver around the awkward fact that his proposed budget would cut Labor Department funding for training and employment services by 36 percent, including deep reductions in training for adults and dislocated workers.

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta last week told a panel that Trumps budget makes hard but responsible choices, and prioritizes programs based on effectiveness. Our intent is to expand the apprenticeship program broadly and to scale it up, Acosta told reporters Friday. The Trump budget proposes $90 million for apprenticeship grants, an increase of roughly one percent over current funding.

The problem is not money, a senior administration official insisted. “The problem is [training programs] haven’t been set up in an effective and accountable way, and that’s what we’ll be addressing through this initiative. The president put forth a very fiscally responsible and prudent budget.”

Its much the same at the Education Department, where Trumps budget proposes a 15 percent cut in grants that help states pay for career and technical education. Along with $166 million in cuts, the Trump budget proposes a $20 million increase to pay for “the development, enhancement, implementation, or expansion of innovative [Career and Technical Education] programs” in science, technology, engineering and math commonly known as STEM programs.

There is definitely a huge juxtaposition between the administration’s statements on supporting workforce and skill development and what’s included in their budget, said Alisha Hyslop, director of public policy for the Association for Career and Technical Education.

Meanwhile, this coming week may not be much quieter than last on the Russia front. On Friday, leaders of the House Intelligence Committee asked the White House to hand over any tapes it may possess of President Trump’s conversations with Comey, after Trump declined to confirm or deny at a press conference whether such tapes exist.

Youre gonna be very disappointed when you hear the answer, Trump responded to a reporter who asked if the tapes exist. Dont worry.

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Former Twitter CEO Compares Meeting With President Trump to Waterboarding – Fortune

Posted: at 7:34 pm

Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. Ethan Miller Getty Images

Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said that attending President Donald Trump’s meetings with Silicon Valley leaders is like waterboarding yourself.

“If you dont get invited to this meeting and want to know what it was like, just drink a bottle of gin and then waterboard yourself,” Costolo tweeted Friday.

The former Twitter chief, who ran the company from 2010 to 2015, was referencing news of Trump’s impending meeting with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the tech space later this month, according to BuzzFeed.

Silicon Valley leaders have had a complicated relationship with the President since he was elected in November. A number of powerful industry leaders, including Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Tesla’s Elon Musk, met with Trump in December to smooth tensions following disagreements throughout his campaign.

Musk and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick also participated in White House advisory councils. The latter came under fire amid company scandals to the point of his resignation due to pressure from Uber employees and outside groups.

The Tesla chief meanwhile opted to stay on until Trump vowed to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement at the beginning of June.

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Fact Check: Donald Trump’s Claims About Infrastructure – New York Times

Posted: at 7:34 pm

New York Times
Fact Check: Donald Trump's Claims About Infrastructure
New York Times
Mr. Trump announced plans to turn over the Federal Aviation Administration's air traffic control responsibilities to a private nonprofit organization on Monday, a broad push for a $1 trillion infrastructure investment on Wednesday, and the creation of

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Fact Check: Donald Trump’s Claims About Infrastructure – New York Times

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Gambling with lives – Inquirer.net

Posted: at 7:33 pm

Its incredible that in a place devoted to scads of money being won and lost, no one is in command and control of security. But this was the reported finding of an inquiry into the possible security lapses at Resorts World Manila, scene of a horrific attack by a man with a gun where 38 people including himself died on June 2.

Apart from there being no ground commander, there was also no emergency response team that could have prevented the gunman, the down-on-his-luck gambler Jessie Carlos, from torching the gaming tables, which caused the fire that led to the deaths from suffocation and smoke inhalation of most of the victims. They waited for the PNP. But what if the PNP station is far away? Who will now react? said Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino, leader of the Philippine National Police-Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies that conducted the inquiry.

That there was only one roving guard at the time of Carlos major meltdown is another damning finding, apparently a result of the scaling down of personnel, Espino said.

The confluence of events resulted in a tragic occurrence: Armed with an assault rifle, Carlos arrived at RWM past midnight, made his entry despite an unarmed female guards remonstrations, proceeded to steal gaming chips worth millions of pesos and, almost leisurely, to douse gaming tables with gasoline he had brought and to set them ablaze. He exchanged fire with guards and policemen and shot several rounds into the air, and later made his way to a hotel room where he killed himself.

In the aftermath, Why did so many die? was the poignant question raised by Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr., whose wife Elizabeth was among those who perished. Even with over 12,000 patrons and employees evacuated from the complex, 37 others died 37 too many, among them young people employed by RWM, leaving their families in grief and anguish. This is unpardonable; accountability should be swiftly pinpointed and the creaky wheels of justice set into motion.

The general public, including the bereaved families, are still wondering how such an incident could transpire in this popular casino complex where people also go to celebrate special occasions, hold meetings, or watch musicales and other shows. There is a sudden shattering of the sense of comfort and security, leaving a public on edge. The costs in terms of damage and lost tourism and other revenues have yet to be figured out.

Meanwhile, the shuttered RWM has been served a cease and desist order by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. All its operations are on hold pending investigation and final determination of its compliance with all security, safety and gaming operations requirements, according to Pagcor. The Department of Tourism is now reviewing its accreditation process for hotels, restaurants and similar establishments.

But all these are predictable measures, generally taken when a tragedy jolts society at large and forces itself to take stock of what has become routine. And theres the elephant looming in the room: the issue of gambling addiction and how it has brought many Filipinos, male and female, to ruin. (Recall the stories, told in whispers, of car keys and land titles surrendered to pay off gambling debts, and whole families destroyed by addicted members.)

The government-enabled gaming industry cannot escape liability for making it so easy for Filipinos to part with their money and eventually squander their life and those of their family members in these perfumed temples where day turns into night and back unbeknownst to those who haunt them. In other countriesfor example, Singaporethe government makes it difficult for ordinary citizens to get into state casinos because the entrance costs are prohibitive.

And something also has to be said about a culture that encourages gambling whether in slick city centers or hick towns. Surely the gambling revenues supposedly used by the state to fund charity projects and such can be found elsewhere.

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