Daily Archives: July 17, 2017

Quantum Computing in the Enterprise: Not So Wild a Dream – EnterpriseTech

Posted: July 17, 2017 at 4:41 am

This publication examines the migration of HPC technologies from the specialized realms of supercomputing to business-ready solutions for compute- and data-intensive business problems. As such, quantum computing isnt covered frequently it resides in the nether regions of theoretical possibility, if not in incubation then in infancy.

But quantum computing nonetheless compels our interest as the mother of all potential computational breakthroughs, something commensurate, technologically speaking, to our capacity for wonder.*** Impressive as are the throughput gains from GPUs, FPGAs, ASICs, ARM and the latest generation of CPUs, we know theyll all be relegated to the dustbin of computing history if quantum computing becomes a practical reality.

Mounting evidence suggests IT strategists at companies with HPC-class requirements shouldnt ignore quantum computing. In a limited way, it already is a reality, and important strides in its development are increasingly frequent. Another key indicator, R&D spending and venture capital investments, signal that quantum may be moving to a new stage of maturity.

David Schatsky of Deloitte University

We discussed these trends with David Schatsky, of the Deloitte University think tank, who has recently written on the state of quantum, and pressed him to predict quantum computings next important milestone toward commercial viability. Such is the elusive nature of the technology, and in the knowledge how difficult progress has been in its 30 years of existence, that Schatsky swathed his response in caveats.

Ill only give you a guess if you include that nobody really has an idea, especially me, he said good naturedly. But I think what were likely to see is answers to questions arrived at through the application of quantum computing in a laboratory setting first. It could be some kind of research question that a quantum computer has been especially designed to answer, in an R&D kind of setting. I wouldnt be shocked if we see things like that in a couple of years.

Though he cautions quantum may be a decade or more from useful purpose in the enterprise, he also advises companies in financial services, oil & gas and other industries with HPC-class workloads to remain open its nearer-term potential, even before quantum machines are commercially available. While mainstream commercial applications of quantum computing are likely years away, executives can do a number of things to begin to prepare their enterprises for the era of quantum computing.

He also said that quantum supremacy, which is the creation of a general-purpose quantum computer that can perform a task no classical computer can, could be imminent. Google has announced a 9-qubit quantum computer, and has published a paper suggesting its researchers believe that a planned 50-qubit computer could achieve that goal in the next couple of years, Schatsky said.

Actual commercial viability for quantum computing is probably in the 15-year time frame, he said, adding that while quantum computing is expected be used for somewhat tightly focused analytical problems, if quantum computing becomes a really commercially accessible platform, these things have a way of creating a virtuous cycle where the capability to solve problems can draw new problem types and new uses for them. So I think we may be able to use them in ways we cant image today.

More immediate impact from quantum could come in the form of hybrid strategies that merge HPC systems with quantum computing techniques, Schatsky said, attacking HPC-class problems with the infusion of quantum thinking.

In his recent writings, Schatsky highlighted several key points:

Schatsky reported quantum computing is already impacting the data security field: encryption. The problem is the potential for quantum computers, in the hands of hackers, to break open a core technique for securing transactions: the impossibility, using current technologies, of quickly finding the prime factors of large numbers.

For example, it would take a classical computer 10.79 quintillion years to break the 128-bit AES encryption standard, Schatsky said, while a quantum computer could conceivably break this type of encryption in approximately six months. This has led to a search for encryption methods that would be resistant to attacks from quantum computers to make information systems quantum resistant.

Led in part by the National Security Agency, extensive work is being done in the areas of post-quantum cryptography.

Enterprises are already thinking about risks to their encrypted data even before quantum encryption attacks become a reality, Schatsky said. They are restricting access to or completely deleting sensitive data, even in encrypted formats, to prevent hostiles from capturing that scrambled data with the hope of decrypting it with quantum computers in the future.

We wont belabor an attempt at explaining how quantum computing works (if you want to dig into this, see detailed discussions in Schatskys content on the Deloitte University site). Schatsky calls it a fantastical form of computing that harnesses that bizarre properties of subatomic particles, as described by quantum mechanics, and in so doing will be able to perform certain kinds of calculations exponentially faster than the fastest computers currently known. At its core is the elimination of steps that a conventional computer goes through to complete a complex task.

From Theory to Proof

In practical terms, quantum computing moved beyond theory in the mid-90s when a Bell Labs researcher proved that a quantum computer could excel at whats called the phonebook problem defined as finding something in an unsorted list, such as looking up someone in the phonebook by her phone number rather than name. Whereas a normal algorithm would inspect every phone number in the book until the correct match is identified, the researcher found that a quantum computer could do it in far fewer steps specifically, Schatsky explained, the number of steps equal to the square root of the number of entries in the phone book.

Finding the matching phone number in a list of a billion entries would require just 31,623 operations the square root of a billion and, obviously, a small fraction of the time, he said.

The engineering challenges involved in building a quantum computer are formidable. The D-Wave Systems device, for example, operates in an enclosure that takes clean room sterility to an extreme. The system must be isolated from the outside environment at temperatures colder than interstellar space, Schatsky reports. A typical quantum bit, or qubit (quantums version of the data bit in conventional computing) is never long for this world. It maintains its state for perhaps 50 microseconds before errors creep in. And even reading the value of a qubit is a very exacting process. The difference in energy between a zero and a one is just 10^-24 joulesone ten-trillionth as much as an X-ray photon.

Private Sector Pushes Forward

Schatsky said that even in the face of these challenges, dozens of public and private sector organizations are researching potential applications.

Financial services firms are notably active, he said. Barclays, Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions are investigating the potential use of quantum computing in areas such as portfolio optimization, asset pricing, capital project budgeting, and data security.

In aerospace, Airbus and Lockheed Martin are exploring applications in communications, cryptography, complex systems verification and machine learning, he reports, adding that the U.S. Navy is investing in training in quantum while investigating data storage and energy-efficient data retrieval with underwater autonomous robots. NASA, Alibaba, Google and IBM are among the organizations working on applications from distributed navigation to hack-resistant personalized medicine and drug discovery.

Major IT vendors also are active in quantum computing that, Schatsky said, may lead to commercial products. Google, IBM, Intel, HPE, Microsoft, Nokia Bell Labs and Raytheon are building qubits and quantum gates (basic circuits) and exploring quantum algorithms, among other R&D activities.

Schatsky said enough progress has been made that some researchers have taken the optimistic view that quantum has progressed from basic science to engineering.

Preparedness

For IT strategists at companies with HPC-class workload requirements who are interested in preparing for quantum, Schatsky has several suggestions around the adoption of quantum thinking for extreme scale challenges. These include reimagining analytic workloads, such as risk management, forecasting, planning and optimization.

Executives should ask themselves, What would happen if we could do these computations a million times faster? The answer could lead to new insights about operations and strategy.

Schatsky also reports that researchers have found ways for quantum to impact and improve problem solving handled by conventional computers. Some researchers are seeking to bring quantum thinking to classical problems. He cited Kyndi, a start-up that uses quantum-inspired computing technology for machine intelligence.

For enterprises that use HPC, Schatsky suggests learning about hybrid architectures, which link conventional HPC systems with quantum computers, may become common, he said, such as one described by D-Wave. He also points academic partnerships, pointing to the example of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which is supporting quantum computing readiness by collaborating with academic institutions researching quantum.

Finally, Schatsky recommends companies develop post-quantum cybersecurity plans that include crypto agility, the ability to swiftly switch out algorithms for newer, more secure ones as theyre released. This is a strategy to ward off security threats in the future, when quantum computing security threats materialize.

Firms need to pay attention to these developments and have roadmaps in place to follow through on those recommendations, he said. A risk is that adversaries could capture and store encrypted data today for decryption in the future, when quantum computers become available.

Most CIOs will not be submitting budgets with line items for quantum computing in the next two years, Schatsky said. But that doesnt mean leaders should ignore this field. Because it is advancing rapidly, and because its impact is likely to be large, business and technology strategists should keep an eye on quantum starting now.

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Quantum mechanics inside Earth’s core – Phys.org – Phys.Org

Posted: at 4:40 am

July 12, 2017 The different spatial layout of the atoms in the iron lattice and in the nickel lattice is responsible for their different physical behaviour under extreme conditions. The coloured graphic shows the electronic dispersion of nickel in the region which is responsible for this behaviour. Credit: Michael Karolak

Without a magnetic field life on Earth would be rather uncomfortable: Cosmic particles would pass through our atmosphere in large quantities and damage the cells of all living beings. Technical systems would malfunction frequently and electronic components could be destroyed completely in some cases.

Despite its huge significance for life on our planet, it is still not fully known what creates the Earth’s magnetic field. There are various theories regarding its origin, but a lot of experts consider them to be insufficient or flawed. A discovery made by scientists from Wrzburg might provide a new explanatory angle. Their findings were published in the current issue of the journal Nature Communications. Accordingly, the key to the effect could be hidden in the special structure of the element nickel.

Contradiction between theory and reality

“The standard models for Earth’s magnetic field use values for the electric and thermal conductivity of the metals inside our planet’s core that cannot square with reality,” Giorgio Sangiovanni says; he is a professor at the Institute for Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Wrzburg. Together with PhD student Andreas Hausoel and postdoc Michael Karolak, he is in charge of the international collaboration that was published recently. Among the participants are Alessandro Toschi and Karsten Held of TU Wien, who are long-term cooperation partners of Giorgio Sangiovanni, and scientists from Hamburg, Halle (Saale) and Yekaterinburg in Russia.

At Earth’s centre at a depth of about 6,400 km, there is a temperature of 6,300 degrees Celsius and a pressure of about 3.5 million bars. The predominant elements, iron and nickel, form a solid metal ball under these conditions which makes up the inner core of the Earth. This inner core is surrounded by the outer core, a fluid layer composed mostly of iron and nickel. Flowing of liquid metal in the outer core can intensify electric currents and create Earth’s magnetic field at least according to the common geodynamo theory. “But the theory is somewhat contradictory,” Giorgio Sangiovanni says.

Band-structure induced correlation effects

“This is because at room temperature iron differs significantly from common metals such as copper or gold due to its strong effective electron-electron interaction. It is strongly correlated,” he declares. But the effects of electron correlation are attenuated considerably at the extreme temperatures prevailing in Earth’s core so that conventional theories are applicable. These theories then predict a much too high thermal conductivity for iron which is at odds with the geodynamo theory.

With nickel things are different. “We found nickel to exhibit a distinct anomaly at very high temperatures,” the physicist explains. “Nickel is also a strongly correlated metal. Unlike iron, this is not due to the electron-electron interaction alone, but is mainly caused by the special band structure of nickel. We baptised the effect ‘band-structure induced correlation’.” The band structure of a solid is only determined by the geometric layout of the atoms in the lattice and by the atom type.

Iron and nickel in Earth’s core

“At room temperature, iron atoms will arrange in a way that the corresponding atoms are located at the corners of an imaginary cube with one central atom at the centre of the cube, forming a so-called bcc lattice structure,” Andreas Hausoel adds. But as temperature and pressure increase, this structure changes: The atoms move together more closely and form a hexagonal lattice, which physicists refer to as an hcp lattice. As a result, iron looses most of its correlated properties.

But not so with nickel: “In this metal, the atoms are as densely packed as possible in the cube structure already in the normal state. They keep this layout even when temperature and pressure become very large,” Hausoel explains. The unusual physical behaviour of nickel under extreme conditions can only be explained by the interaction of this geometric stability and the electron correlations originating from this geometry. Despite the fact that scientists have neglected nickel so far, it seems to play a major role in Earth’s magnetic field.

Decisive hint from geophysics

The goings-on inside Earth’s core are not the actual focus of research at the Departments of Theoretical Solid-state Physics of the University of Wrzburg. Rather Sangiovanni, Hausoel and their colleagues concentrate on the properties of strongly correlated electrons at low temperatures. They study quantum effects and so-called multi-particle effects which are interesting for the next generation of data processing and energy storage devices. Superconductors and quantum computers are the keywords in this context.

Data from experiments are not used in this kind of research. “We take the known properties of atoms as input, include the insights from quantum mechanics and try to calculate the behaviour of large clusters of atoms with this,” Hausoel says. Because such calculations are highly complex, the scientists have to rely on external support such as the SUPERMUC supercomputer at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) in Garching.

And what’s the Earth’s core got to do with this? “We wanted to see how stable the novel magnetic properties of nickel are and found them to survive even very high temperatures,” Hausoel says. Discussions with geophysicists and further studies of iron-nickel alloys have shown that these discoveries could be relevant for what is happening inside Earth’s core.

Explore further: Splitting water for the cost of a nickel

More information: A. Hausoel et al. Local magnetic moments in iron and nickel at ambient and Earth’s core conditions, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms16062

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The Standard Model of particle physics is brilliant and completely flawed – ABC Online

Posted: at 4:40 am

Every time physicists find a new particle, the Standard Model gets one step closer to becoming a Super Model.

There’s always talk of whether the new arrival fits in, or stands out, or matches the model’s predictions. Everything gets related back to this “Bible of quantum physics”.

The Standard Model isn’t mystical, however. It’s purely, beautifully mathematical.

Yet for all its predictive power, it’s not perfect it can’t explain gravity, dark matter or dark energy. The real goal of particle-smashing physicists is to break it.

Only by finding new particles that weren’t predicted by the Standard Model, and can’t fit inside it, will we move to a new and improved model one that doesn’t have big gaps where gravity and the dark parts of physics should be.

Forty years ago scientists pulled everything they knew about quantum physics into one massive equation the Standard Model of particle physics.

If you can follow the maths, the Standard Model is a stunning piece of work. It’s like a how-to guide for the particles and forces that operate at the tiny quantum scale including all the atoms that makes up people, plants, planets and stars.

(Luckily for the non-physicists among us, it also comes in handy table form and our handy video above.)

The really big deal with the Standard Model is that it didn’t just describe particles that were already known, like the electron and quarks that make up atoms.

It did something much more important it predicted some new particles too, including the Higgs boson.

Testing predictions is at the heart of science, and every one of the particles that the Standard Model predicted has since been discovered. The Higgs was the last to be found, in 2012.

That ability to predict and explain every aspect of the quantum world makes the Standard Model a bit of a superstar.

But while it’s undeniably brilliant, no one has ever pretended the Standard Model is perfect.

The most obvious flaw in the Standard Model was there from the beginning it could never account for gravity, the force that rules at the macro scale. That’s not the Standard Model’s fault; quantum theory and Einstein’s gravitational theory just don’t work together.

But gravity’s not the only thing missing from the model.

The Standard Model can’t account for the dark matter and dark energy that make up a cool 95 per cent of the universe either.

And most bizarre of all, it comes right out and says that universe shouldn’t exist at least not the way it is. The Model predicts that matter and antimatter should have been produced in equal amounts at the birth of the universe and annihilated immediately thereafter, leaving one enormous sea of light.

Thankfully that hasn’t exactly gone to plan either; there’s matter all over the place, including little old you and me.

Some of the Standard Model’s other shortcomings are on a much less grand and galactic scale.

One of the best-known problems is that it predicts that one family of particles neutrinos should have zero mass. But as the recipients of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics can attest, these ridiculously small particles that travel at near light speed have very tiny, but not zero, masses.

Far from being considered a failure for its shortcomings, the Standard Model has always been appreciated by physicists for what it is: a great start to understanding and possibly unifying all of physics.

And in the decades since it appeared, theoretical physicists have thrown up a pile of possible additions to the Model, trying to account for the things it can’t explain.

These mostly involve new particles that are much heavier than the known quarks, leptons and bosons. In supersymmetry, the best known ‘upgrade’ to the model, every particle has a much heavier partner, called a sparticle, which helps patch the current gaps.

Theories are great, but if we want to find out which, if any, of the various upgrades to the Standard Model are right, we really need to find new particles. And that’s where particle accelerators come in.

The Higgs boson was found at the Large Hadron Collider in 2012. With higher energy collisions heavier particles could also be discovered.

(www.cern.ch)

The Higgs boson was found at the Large Hadron Collider in 2012. With higher energy collisions heavier particles could also be discovered.

Particle accelerators smash together tiny bits of matter everything from electrons to whole atoms at almost light speed. When that happens, the energy of the collision can be converted into matter. (Einstein’s E=mc2 tells us that mass and energy are two sides of the same deal).

And if there’s enough energy it can form a heavier particle than we’ve ever observed.

Heavy particles made in colliders are generally unstable they only exist for an incredibly short time before breaking down into lighter, more stable bits. But those telltale leftovers are exactly the thing physicists look for in particle accelerator experiments all over the world.

So far, new particles haven’t been able to ‘break’ the Standard Model; they just keep opening new chapters of it.

Knowing the mass and energy of these particles will favour some of the new theoretical additions, and knock others out of contention.

The more new particles we find, the narrower the field for refinements to the model.

Any new, heavy particles that are found will result in some new characters in the Standard Model equation, and the beginnings of an extra row or column in the accompanying table. This ‘Standard Model Plus’ could account for the mass of neutrinos, the antimatter/matter issue, dark matter and dark energy.

But accounting for gravity won’t happen without shifting to a new theory altogether one that accounts for all known particles and phenomena as well as the current model does, but that can work with gravity as well.

And theories of quantum gravity won’t be validated by particle accelerators any time soon. The energies required to test them are well beyond the range of even the very biggest atom smashers.

For now, a grand unified theory of the universe that ties in quantum and gravitational scales appears to be out of reach. If we ever find it, we’ll be in serious Super Model territory.

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President Trump Just Said This Poll Was the ‘Most Inaccurate’ Around the Election. It Wasn’t – TIME

Posted: at 4:40 am

President Trump questioned the accuracy of a new poll that shows him having the lowest approval rating of any modern president during the first six months of his term.

But Trump’s Sunday tweet about the accuracy of the ABC News/Washington Post poll is questionable when the data is actually examined.

The same poll showed Hillary Clinton narrowly leading Donald Trump 47% to 43% on Nov. 7 2016 one day before the election. It was a national poll that was assessing the overall popular vote, not the victory margins in individual states. And although Clinton lost the electoral vote, she did ultimately win the popular vote 48.2% to 46.1%. That means the poll was one point off for Clinton and three points off for Trump slightly outside of the poll’s 2.5 margin of error for the latter, but only by half a point.

Other polls had similar results. The NBC/WSJ poll released on Nov. 6, 2016 also had Clinton leading Trump by 4 points, 44% to 40% the final results fell outside the poll’s 2.73 margin of error on both sides. The final pre-election poll conducted by CBS News/New York Times, released on Nov. 3, 2016, like the others, had Clinton leading Trump among likely voters 45% to 42%.

In fact, out of the 21 general election polls showcased by the website RealClearPolitics website on Nov. 7, 2016, only two the LA Times/USC tracking poll and the IBD/TIPP tracking poll had Trump winning the general election. The state polls listed on that website were more inaccurate, with several incorrectly predicting, for example, that Clinton would win states like Florida, Michigan and New Hampshire.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll also detected a loss in voter enthusiasm for Clinton following then-FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reopen the probe into her emails in mid-October a factor Clinton has said contributed to her loss. “The change in strong enthusiasm for Clinton is not statistically significant and could reflect night-to-night variability. Still, it bears watching,” the poll analysis stated on Oct. 31.

Overall, the ABC News/Washington Post poll certainly did not predict Trump’s victory. But it also was more correct than the President let on in his tweet about assessing the ultimate outcome of the popular vote.

The tweet was one of several Trump sent Sunday.

He also said the”fake news” media was “distorting democracy” and brought up the revelation from WikiLeaks that Donna Brazile passed along a question from a CNN primary debate to Hillary Clinton campaign associates, claiming there was a discrepancy in coverage between this incident and Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer.

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President Trump Just Said This Poll Was the ‘Most Inaccurate’ Around the Election. It Wasn’t – TIME

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Is This a Real Photograph of Donald Trump’s Older Sons? – snopes.com

Posted: at 4:40 am

CLAIM

A photograph shows Eric and Donald Trump Jr., sons of President Donald Trump.

A photograph purportedly showing an image of Eric and Donald Trump, Jr., the two older sons of President Donald Trump, has been circulating on social media in various forms since at least June 2017:

The image, which provides an oddly grotesque look at President Trumps olders sons, has been re-purposed in various memes to mock the First Family. For instance, it has been turned into a movie poster for Dumb and Dumber, was shared in a meme comparing the two Trumps children into to the sloth character from the movie The Goonies, and was frequently shared with the captions They look like that hyucc sound Goofy be making or Donald Trump HATES this photo of his two sons. Please dont share it.

However, this picture (despite the Getty Images watermark) is not a genuine photograph of Donald Trumps sons, but a digitally altered version of one.

The original photograph was taken on 12 November 2005, during Donald Trump, Jr.s wedding reception at his fathers Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida:

Donald Trump, Jr. pose with his brother Eric Trump after the wedding ceremony at the Mar-a-Lago Club on November 12, 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by C. Allegri/Getty Images)

Several subtle changes were made to the original image in order to uglify the Trump brothers. For instance, Donald Trump, Jr.s upper lip was enlarged, his bottom teeth were hidden, his right eye was moved off-center, and his left ear was lowered. Eric Trumps eyes were also widened, and some extra fat was added to his neck.

Heres a comparison of the fake image (left) and the real image (right):

Got a tip or a rumor? Contact us here.

Fact Checker: Dan Evon

Published: Jul 16th, 2017

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Trump triggers flood of Democratic candidates – Politico

Posted: at 4:40 am

Fueled by antipathy toward President Donald Trump and high expectations about their partys fortunes in the 2018 midterms, Democrats are lining up to run for House seats, creating crowded primary fields in some of the most competitive races in the country.

In California last week, Vietnam-era veteran Paul Kerr, who has never run for political office, jumped into the race to take on nine-term GOP Rep. Darrell Issa the richest member of Congress. Kerr, a real estate investor and a Navy veteran, is the third challenger to date seeking to defeat Issa, the high-profile former chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who barely survived a 2016 challenge.

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Issa is considered the most vulnerable of seven California GOP House members representing districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. But his colleagues have even more contenders to worry about.

Eight challengers have lined up to take on Central Valley Republican Jeff Denham. An equal number have jumped into the fray against embattled San Diego-area Rep. Duncan Hunter, the focus of a Justice Department criminal investigation regarding his alleged use of campaign funds to pay for family expenses.

Controversial Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach, recently in the headlines for his own dealings with Russia, has seven Democrats contesting his reelection. Rep. Steve Knight of Palmdale has six.

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A coast away in New Jersey, Democrats sometimes hard-pressed to find candidates willing to take on entrenched Republican incumbents also have a glut of willing challengers this year in two of the state’s five Republican-held districts. Those districts, which include many New York City bedroom communities, are wealthy and well-educated. Clinton narrowly won the Central Jersey-based 7th District, while Trump won the North Jersey-based 11th by a slim margin.

Its 100 percent a testament to the grass-roots energy thats showed up at town halls and events across the country, said Drew Godinich, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is pounding out press releases highlighting vulnerable GOP incumbents. In 2018, the big difference is not only the number its the quality of these challengers, he said. Trump is obviously a part of it and so is health care.

Democratic strategist Garry South, who advised presidential campaigns for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, said the enthusiasm is especially revved-up because Democrats need only 24 seats nationally to flip to get control of the House and more than a quarter of those may be in California.

History is on their side, he argues: Over the past 20 cycles in the first term of a presidency, Republican or Democratic, the average number flipped has been 23 seats.

In New Jersey, Mike DuHaime, a veteran Republican strategist who helped lead both of Gov. Chris Christies successful gubernatorial campaigns as well as his unsuccessful presidential campaign, acknowledges the GOP has some tough work ahead.

It feels very much the reverse of what 2010 was on the Republican side, said DuHaime, whos been hired by GOP Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen. There was just an energy on the Republican side after President Obama got elected, and I feel the same energy now on the left.

Frelinghuysen has for 24 years been the epitome of a safe incumbent. With ancestral roots in state politics that stretch to the colonial era a New Jersey town is named after the familys progenitor, and a Newark thoroughfare bears the family name Frelinghuysen has not faced a serious electoral challenge in his entire congressional tenure.

In fact, when liberal filmmaker Michael Moore in 2000 sought to demonstrate the lack of competitive congressional seats, he looked to Frelinghuysens district. The filmmaker unsuccessfully tried to get a ficus tree on the ballot against the congressman, who is an heir to the Procter & Gamble fortune and chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

But now constituents are holding protests at Frelinghuysens office, some organized by a grass-roots group called NJ 11th for Change. Theyre clamoring for him to hold a town hall meeting, which he has refused to do.

Its a similar story in the Central Jersey-based 7th. Democrats say theyre surprised at just how many Democrats want a shot at GOP Rep. Leonard Lance.

Joey Novick, a progressive activist who lives in the district, organized a candidate forum in which five candidates or potential candidates showed up. Novick said he hadnt heard about anyone seeking to challenge Lance at this point in 2015.

That is sort of the interesting magic about this year, he said.

Three Democratic candidates have already declared bank executive Linda Weber, teacher Lisa Mandelblatt and attorney Scott Salmon. And at least four other people are exploring a run, including social worker Peter Jacob, who ran against Lance in 2016 and got 43 percent of the vote.

Nobody took this district seriously. We showed up. Our campaign showed up. We knew what was at stake in 2016, Jacob said. People have realized theres blood in the water now. Thats the phrase everybody is using.

South said GOP candidates across the country now find themselves hobbled by a horribly unpopular GOP president whose approval ratings are in the 30s, and a demoralized GOP base. And midterms are always a referendum on who controls the White House.

Even so, conservative author Jim Lacy, a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention from California, said Democrats even in solidly blue California shouldnt get too cocky about their chances. He contends that the crowded Democratic primaries are a good thing for Republicans, because Democrats will train their fire on each other, leaving the eventual nominees bloodied and bruised going into the fall general election.

Democratic Party politics are just as cutthroat, if not more, than the Republicans in the state recently, Lacy said.

More primary candidates also increase the likelihood that simmering intraparty divisions between progressives and moderates will spill into the open.

The more challengers, the greater the chance the wrong challenger advances to the general, said Bill Whalen, a Hoover Institution fellow and a former aide to former California GOP Gov. Pete Wilson. Youre talking about a bunch of people competing for 40 percent of the vote. So it raises the chance youll end up with a ‘Chelsea Handler’ Democrat, his description of someone whos too liberal or unsuited to the local electorate.

All politics are local, especially in House races and Democrats have been learning this in special elections, Whalen said. Its not about having someone running against Donald Trump as it is having someone whos the right local fit. You have to tailor the candidate to the district.

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Russia Isn’t Delivering for Donald Trump – New York Times

Posted: at 4:40 am

One example is the mixed signals he is sending about maintaining sanctions on Russia. On Air Force One to Paris on Wednesday, he told reporters, I would not and have never even thought about taking them off.

Yet in the next breath, he confirmed that he discussed the issue briefly with Mr. Putin and left open the door to easing sanctions as part of a deal over Ukraine or Syria. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a stronger message in Kiev last week when he assured Ukraines leader that sanctions wont be lifted until Russia restores Ukraines territorial integrity. The problem: Mr. Trump has overruled Mr. Tillerson before.

Last month, concerned about Mr. Trumps possible capitulation, the Senate approved, 98 to 2, legislation that would impose tough new sanctions on Russia for meddling in the 2016 election and allow Congress to block the president from lifting any sanctions in the future, including those relating to Ukraine. The bill has been stymied by partisan wrangling in the House, and the White House has tried to weaken it. Ordinarily, a president should have flexibility to lift or tighten sanctions, but Mr. Trumps intentions are so suspect that this bill has become a necessity.

With Russias oil-dependent economy in trouble, Mr. Putin wants all sanctions lifted now. His aides are also pressing Washington to return two diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York that were seized as part of the Obama administrations response to the election meddling and were reportedly used for spying. But there is no reason to entertain these requests until Mr. Putin has pledged not to interfere in future American elections.

Mr. Trump also seemed far too solicitous in agreeing with Mr. Putin to create a joint working group on cybersecurity, an offer Mr. Trump withdrew after an avalanche of bipartisan criticism.

The bottom line is that Mr. Trumps obsequiousness has yielded few results. Russia is still occupying Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, and is intensifying the war in the east against Ukrainian government forces, despite promising in the 2015 Minsk agreement to halt the fighting. Nor has Mr. Trump persuaded Mr. Putin to increase economic pressure on North Korea, whose nuclear program is now dominating the administrations foreign policy; to stop the dangerous face-offs with American warplanes over the Baltic Sea; or to come back into compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces agreement of 1987 by withdrawing the deployment of a banned missile.

There are some hopeful signs, including a limited cease-fire in southwestern Syria. And the administration appointed a well-regarded former American ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker, who is known for tough views on Russia, as special envoy to work with Russia on Ukraine. But on a wide range of issues, Mr. Putin seems unwilling to cooperate, and Mr. Trump doesnt much seem to care.

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A version of this editorial appears in print on July 16, 2017, on Page SR10 of the New York edition with the headline: Russia Isnt Delivering for Mr. Trump.

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Takata’s bankruptcy to pit automakers against air bag victims – Reuters

Posted: at 4:39 am

WILMINGTON, Del./NEW YORK (Reuters) – The global recall of Takata Corp’s defective air bags widened last week and the number of confirmed deaths rose, but legal experts said the bigger worry for car companies caught in the fallout is playing out in a Delaware bankruptcy courtroom.

Earlier this month, people injured by the air bags, which degrade over time and can inflate with excessive force, were appointed to their own official committee in the Japanese company’s U.S. bankruptcy, giving them a powerful voice in the proceedings.

This unusual committee, which includes people whose cars lost value due to the recall, will be pitted against Honda Motor Co, Toyota Motor Corp , and other automakers.

The car companies have been trying to use the bankruptcy to limit their liability for installing the faulty air bags, said Kevin Dean, a Motley Rice attorney who represents injured drivers on the committee.

Because the committee has official status, Takata must provide it with funds which can be used to investigate the automakers’ liability or to challenge financial assumptions. Without a committee, plaintiffs’ lawyers would typically have to pay for that themselves.

If I were a plaintiffs lawyer, this would be a golden goose for me, said John Pottow, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, of the appointment of the special committee.

Takata, Honda, Toyota and General Motors Co declined to comment. Other carmakers did not return requests for comment.

Bankruptcies typically only have one official creditors committee. In the Takata case, the committee of injured drivers will sit alongside another made up of suppliers and vendors, who are likely more interested in the future of the business than compensation disputes, according to bankruptcy attorneys who are not involved in the case.

Both committees were appointed by the U.S. Trustee’s Office, the arm of the U.S. Department of Justice that acts as a bankruptcy watchdog.

Seventeen fatalities, including one confirmed last week, and at least 180 injuries have been tied to Takata’s air bags since at least 2009.

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration widened a global recall of the airbags, which regulators expect to ultimately cover 69 million cars and 125 million inflators. Most defective air bags have not been replaced.

In January, Takata entered a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, setting aside $125 million to compensate consumers and $850 million in restitution for automakers.

Facing up to $50 billion in liability, Takata filed for bankruptcy in June in Japan and the United States with a plan to sell its non-air bag operations for $1.6 billion to Key Safety Systems, which is owned by China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp. Its air bag business would continue to make replacements for the 125 million recalled inflators.

Takata said in its Chapter 11 filings that it will create a fund to compensate future injuries stemming from the air bags.

Companies that wind up bankrupt due to faulty products often set up such funds, and gather contributions from insurers and other potentially liable parties, who in return get shielded from ongoing litigation.

Similar funds were set up in and the 1985 bankruptcy of A.H. Robins Co, which sold Dalkon Shield contraceptive devices and the 1995 bankruptcy of Dow Corning, the maker of silicone breast implants.

A $161 million fund in the 2012 bankruptcy of Blitz U.S.A. Inc, which made red plastic gas containers, included $23 million from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. In return, the retailer was protected from lawsuits that alleged it knowingly sold defective gas cans.

Automakers would likely demand similar legal protections in return for contributing to a Takata fund, and the committee will likely hire experts to challenge those proposals, bankruptcy experts said.

The committee’s lawyers will probably also want to investigate what car companies knew about the air bags to help determine their liability and their contributions, the experts said.

If I were an injured person, I wouldnt want Takata or the carmakers to decide on the size of the fund, said Steven Todd Brown, a professor at the University at Buffalo School of Law who specializes in compensation funds.

Some experts said they expected the parties to avoid protracted legal battles which have marred other product liability bankruptcies like those involving asbestos.

Pottow, at the University of Michigan Law School, cautioned that may not be so simple.

Were in pretty novel terrain here, given the amount of parties and the recall involved.

Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware and Tina Bellon in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Lisa Shumaker

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PVEC bankruptcy moving forward after hearing in Phoenix | The … – Prescott Daily Courier

Posted: at 4:39 am

EDITORS NOTE: This article is the second in a two-part series featuring the business side of the Northern Arizona Suns and their first year in Prescott Valley. We also update the bankruptcy status of the Prescott Valley Event Center, and the efforts being made to return hockey to Prescott Valley. Part one: NAZ Suns ink 5-year deal after successful 1st season

After an hour-long session at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix on July 12, the Prescott Valley Event Center and all interested parties are one step closer to finally moving forward from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Despite objections raised by a few underwriters, federal bankruptcy Judge Madeleine C. Wanslee reviewed the case, suggested a few tweaks to the disclosure statement and ordered it be sent out to over 300 creditors for a vote, according Ivan Legler, attorney for the Town of Prescott Valley.

Nothing very earth shattering. The purpose of the hearing was to review the disclosure statement that goes along with the plan document to all the creditors, Legler said. [The judge] requests the creditors vote on the plan.

Legler continued, stating Judge Wanslee reviews the disclosure statement to make sure its adequate and sufficient in detail.

A typical disclosure statement in the state of Arizona for Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings requests debtors review the plan of reorganization, keeping in mind the proponent feels the plan is in the best interest of the creditors and is fair and equitable.

Then its up to the debtor to accept or reject the plan.

Legler expects the disclosure statement in the PVEC LLC case should receive enough votes to move forward, but added Judge Wanslee holds the final say.

In the end, the judge can approve the plan either way, whether people vote for or against it, Legler said. The judge has a lot of authority.

NAZ SUNS

Seen as a community asset by all parties involved, PVEC general manager Scott Norton believes with the Northern Arizona Suns as anchor tenants and Spectra using its connections to bring events back to Prescott Valley, PVEC is set up for success.

We feel theres a great upside to the facility. Its a great facility, great market. We feel we can program it with more activity, Norton said.

NAZ Suns president Chris Presson said recently the Suns organization is looking forward to the PVEC emerging from bankruptcy.

There are brighter days ahead, Presson said, adding Norton understands the business fully and the building is heading for great success.

Hes been really good to work with in the short time hes been there, Presson said of Norton. Hes a very good communicator, very willing to listen, tries to see things from your side and Ive enjoyed the time Ive spent with him.

SPECTRA

Norton, who works for Spectra, a Philadelphia-based arena management company, is currently operating under a consultant contract, but once the Town of Prescott Valley takes over arena business and bankruptcy proceedings run their course, that is expected to change.

We anticipate negotiating a long-term management deal, Norton said.

Spectra operates over 140 arenas nationwide, two of which host G League teams. The Iowa Wolves (Minnesota Timberwolves) play home games at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, and the Windy City Bulls (Chicago Bulls) host their contests at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

The Des Moines facility is also home to the Iowa Wild, an AHL club affiliated with the NHLs Minnesota Wild.

Norton said PVEC just finalized a long-term deal with Pepsi and expects other sponsors will come on board shortly. They are also looking to sell naming rights to the arena, but theres been no movement on that front.

I like to think the Suns coming here was a catalyst to all of this, Norton said. Promotors like buildings to be busy, they like to have anchor tenants Quite frankly, we just need a little bit of a track record here for [promotors] to take a risk on the market again.

HOCKEY

With Nortons first job coming with the Hartford Whalers, hed certainly like to see hockey return to Prescott Valley.

For that to happen, Norton said two things need to occur. One, there needs to be a local ownership group willing to go the distance; and two, dates for two anchor tenants would need to be worked out.

In the minor leagues, everyone wants to play on the weekends, Norton said, adding he along with Spectra continue to talk to both the AHL and the ECHL about the possibility of a club in Prescott Valley.

At one point, Norton said, there was an effort to bring the Arizona Coyotes AHL Roadrunners club to PVEC, but they chose Tucson instead due to it being a bigger market overall.

A million people in Tucson versus 150,000 up here, Norton said.

Thats a situation where the NHL team is underwriting the cost, Norton said. Yes, they want to sell tickets and be profitable, but at the end of the day its probably not the most important thing. Whereas an ECHL team youre pretty much on your own to make it or break it.

JULY 20 MEETING

Next on the agenda for PVEC and bankruptcy proceedings is a meeting Thursday, July 20, involving the Prescott Valley Town Council, the Entertainment Center Community Facilities District and PVEC LLC.

The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m.

Brian M. Bergner Jr. is associate sports editor and a columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him at bbergner@prescottaz.com or 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.

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Bridges at Nobekaw, Garu-Tempane collapse; movement of people and goods affected – GhanaWeb

Posted: at 4:39 am

General News of Monday, 17 July 2017

Source: Graphic.com.gh

The truck on the collapsed bridge at Garu-Tempane

Two bridges in the Brong Ahafo and Upper East regions have collapsed, disrupting socio-economic activities in the affected areas.

They are a wooden bridge over the Tano River at Nobekaw, which links the Asunafo South District and the Asutifi South District in the Brong-Ahafo Region, and the Tambe bridge that links the Garu-Tempane District to the Bawku Municipality in the Upper East Region.

From Sunyani Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah reports that three students of the Nobekaw Junior High School (JHS) escaped death narrowly when the Tano bridge in the area collapsed last Wednesday.

Fortunately, two of the three students who were crossing the bridge when the incident occurred managed to swim out of the river and saved their mate who did not know how to swim.

The students, Abass Seidu, 16, Ebenezer Ochere, 16 and Enoch Antwi, 15, were returning from Nobekaw in the Asunafo South District where they attend school to Kwakunyuma, near Mehame in the Asutifi South District.

Bad state

Residents of the area have been using the bridge, which has been in a deplorable state for so many years now, but the situation worsened last month when the area experienced series of torrential rains leading to the overflow of the river.

More than eight communities in the area have been using the wooden bridge.

Kwakunyunma and its surrounding communities have been hit hardest because of the absence of social amenities in the area.

Disruptions

The collapse of the bridge has halted socio-economic activities at Kwakunyuma and Nobekaw, including the surrounding villages. This is because residents of the two districts cross the river daily to transact businesses.

Teachers and students, who have been crossing the bridge to school, have since July 12, 2017 not been able to go to school.

The residents, who are mostly subsistence farmers, cannot transport their produce for sale in the major markets outside the area, while it has become very difficult to access health care in an emergency situation.

Means of transport

As a temporary measure, a-23-year old farmer, Mr Solomon Ozoro, has acquired a canoe to ferry people across the river at a cost of GH5.00 per person.

Call for help

After visiting the area to assess the situation, the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Asutifi South, Mr Robert Dwomoh Mensah, called on the central government to assist the assembly to construct a proper bridge to replace the collapsed one.

He pleaded with the Ministry of Roads and Highways to consider the plight of the people and add the district to the list of beneficiaries of the bridges to be constructed under an agreement between Ghana and China, which was signed when the Vice-President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, visited China recently.

Tambe Bridge

In another development, Vincent Amenuveve reports from Bolgatanga that the Tambe bridge collapsed last Thursday, making it difficult for trucks, mostly loaded with cereals, to cross from Garu-Tempane District to the southern sector.

The development has compelled residents to find cumbersome alternative routes to get to Bawku.

The District Chief Executive for Garu-Tempane, Mr Emmanuel Avoka, told the Daily Graphic that the collapse of the bridge was due to lack of routine maintenance since it was constructed in 2007.

He observed that owing to the ongoing construction of the Tamne Irrigation Dam in the district, about 30 heavy duty trucks plied the bridge several times within a day, thus putting a lot of pressure on the bridge.

Mr Avoka was, however, of the view that if routine maintenance works had been carried out on the bridge, the situation could have been prevented.

Reports, he said, indicated that some individuals had been going there at night to loosen some of the bolts and nuts holding the bridge.

“Looking at the level of collapse of this bridge,it will require a high-level technical expertise to fix it,” he noted.

He further disclosed that he had informed the regional minister, Mr Rockson Bukari, and the Member of Parliament for the area about the situation and hopefully this week something would be done about it.

Impact

Mr Avoka further stated that owing to the collapse of the bridge, residents and other commuters from the area now spent about three hours to get to Bawku whereas when the bridge was functional, they used only 20 minutes to make the journey

He indicated that commuters now passed through Garu-Tempane to Gagbiri through Bugri and then to Bawku.

The DCE was also of the view that the construction of the Tamne Irrigation Dam, although a step in the right direction, had eventually blocked water from flowing freely hence putting extra pressure on other smaller bridges built over smaller rivers which might collapse as more rains set in.

Meanwhile, residents have made an urgent appeal to the authorities to fix the bridge quickly to facilitate the free movement of goods and services.

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