Lobbyist-palooza!

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Since 1999, the number of lobbyists in Washington has doubled. Everyone who is anyone – and just about everyone else – has lobbyists these days: Local governments, unions, corporations; groups representing every hobby, disease, ideology, trade or discipline imaginable. These are players who command hundreds of dollars an hour for their work. If they weren’t reaping rewards for their paymasters, their paymasters wouldn’t be paying them. Case in point: The number of “earmarks” in the federal budget – porkish appropriations slapped on at the end of the legislative process – has shot up from 62 in 1980 to 2,671 last year. Those add-ons keep the lobbyists employed, and we pay for them. In the face of public outrage, Congress now finds itself scrambling to reform its lobbying rules. Proposed changes include increasing reporting demands, reducing the number of free trips and other goodies for members of Congress, and overhauling the earmarking process. Rep. David Dreier, R-Glendora, has been tapped by House Republican leadership to lead the charge. All of which is welcome and necessary. But the people have grown weary of politics and politicians’ deceptions. They will be rightly skeptical of any reform effort conceived in reaction to an election-year rash of bad publicity. Nothing short of full transparency, with regularly mandated reporting, will even make a dent in regaining the public’s trust. This time, the politicians must stop listening to the lobbyists – and start listening to the people.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! It’s hard to believe that it was nearly 12 years ago when Newt Gingrich and his band of self-proclaimed revolutionaries captured control of Congress for the GOP, vowing to put an end to waste, corruption and reckless federal spending. For a short while, they kept their promises, ushering in reforms that sought to rein in the financial and ethical scandals that had plagued the past, Democratic-controlled Congresses. Then, something changed – the revolutionaries realized they were in charge. Suddenly, the appetite for reform went away and it became business as usual in the Capitol. Today, we face record federal budget deficits. We see Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham and others embroiled in ethics charges. And Jack Abramoff promises to blow the lid off a massive federal lobbying scandal. To those outside the D.C. bubble, it would appear that – as in Los Angeles City Hall and Sacramento – the lobbyists have taken over. Special interests spend thousands on influence peddlers, and reap millions in the form of government contracts, direct subsidies, targeted tax breaks and favorable legislation. last_img read more

“Extraordinary” Radiocarbon Anomaly Found in Tree Rings

first_imgA tree ring sample from a bristlecone pine reveals something weird happened to the sun around 5480 BC.This paper’s title should set off alarms for radiocarbon dating: “Large 14C excursion in 5480 BC indicates an abnormal sun in the mid-Holocene” (PNAS). For one thing, Christians might celebrate the apparent trend away from designating dates BCE (“before Common Era”) and back to BC (“Before Christ”). But what about this “abnormal sun”? And what does the carbon-14 anomaly mean for radiocarbon dating?Carbon-14 contents in tree rings tell us information of the past cosmic ray intensities because cosmic rays produce 14C in the atmosphere. We found a signature of a quite large increase of incoming cosmic ray intensity in the mid-Holocene (the 5480 BC event) from the measurement of 14C content in North American tree rings. The cause of this event is supposed to be an extremely weak sun, or a combination of successive strong solar bursts and variation of a solar magnetic activity. In any case, 14C variation of the 5480 BC event is extraordinary in the Holocene, and this event indicates the abnormal solar activity compared with other periods.The paper does not quantify how “extraordinary” this “large” increase was, other than to say it “one of the largest increase rates (0.51‰/y) in the Holocene,” faster even than the Maunder Minimum and two other known excursions. Unfortunately, they do not state what it means for published radiocarbon dates. The authors mainly focus on the fact that tree ring dating from this slice of California bristlecone pine provided finer resolution than previously-known anomalies—and may be indicative of other rapid changes in radiocarbon production in the atmosphere arising from different mechanisms. Readers may not be aware of the unknowns in this dating method:The 14C contents in tree rings are normally affected by the solar magnetic activities and the geomagnetic activities, which modulate the GCR flux [galactic cosmic rays] to Earth. There is an excellent tree ring record of 14C data in the international radiocarbon calibration curve IntCal. This record has a typically 10-y resolution extending to 13,900 y B.P. We can see solar and geomagnetic variations exhibited in the radiocarbon record as decadal to millennial time scale, i.e., 50- to 100-y variation such as grand solar minima, and ∼1,000-y variations of the geomagnetic dipole moment.On the other hand, there is little understanding of annual 14C variations, due to the lack of annual 14C data for periods before AD 1510. Previously, it was considered that annual variations of 14C contents do not change rapidly because the original signal is diluted and attenuated by the carbon cycle. Although most of annual 14C data show a gradual variation, there are some periods that show significant and rapid annual changes. The AD 775 and AD 994 (or AD 993) events are two examples of large changes, which occur at annual resolution. The 14C variation of these two events have a characteristic increase over 1 y to 2 y followed by a decay that reflects a rapid input of cosmic rays to the atmosphere within 1 y and the decay by the global carbon cycle. The most likely explanation of these events is that they were the result of extreme SPEs [solar proton events], based on verifications of annual 14C measurements using worldwide tree samples and annual 10Be measurements in ice cores from Antarctica and Greenland. It is possible that there were more annual cosmic ray events like the 775 event and even other types of annual rapid 14C variation in the past.What’s notable is that this “extraordinary” and “large” anomaly was just discovered after decades of trust in radiocarbon dating. Experts have their calibration curves, which are supposed to tell technicians how to account for anomalies. Now, here’s another “excursion” away from the norm. Some process, whether the sun or galactic cosmic rays,  may have produced more 14C than expected that year (however reliable the date 5480 BC can be regarded). If so, it seems likely that radiocarbon dates would be off by some unspecified amount. Perhaps it is not a big adjustment. But how many more excursions will surface in the future? What other unknown unknowns give false confidence in this highly-regarded dating method? Their last sentence sounds a warning: “In any case, the 14C variation of the 5480 BC event indicates an unprecedented anomaly in solar activity compared to other periods.”We alert interested geophysicists to this paper and solicit comments. Does it having any significant bearing on radiocarbon dates? (Visited 336 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Markets awaiting planting intentions

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Beans had a “fundamental disconnect” last week when funds went from a short position to a long position within a week. By the close of Thursday, the bean market “bought” some corn acres back, which it didn’t really need.The biggest USDA report of the year will be released March 31.  It will show how many corn acres are planned for 2016.  The trade is expecting around 90 million corn acres and 83 million bean acres.  Above these number expect market drops and below these numbers a rally may occur.I continue to see breakeven points for clients that favor planting corn over beans in most locations throughout the Corn Belt.  The farmer’s yield potential estimates drives which crop they will grow.  Many farmers don’t like to change their rotation, but even if a small percent of farmers would adjust large portions of their acres, it would affect the market.What will the large number of prevent acres from last year be planted to this year continues to be a lingering question.  Those could also change the outcome of the USDA’s report.Market ActionFutures – BeansI had an order in place that got hit on Tuesday triggering a $9.20 futures sale against the Nov for about 10% of my bean production.Futures – CornI anticipate corn acres will be above 90 million acres.  Therefore, I sold 5% of my expected production at $3.87 against the Dec futures.  I’m not overly happy with this value, so I hope this will be the worst sale of the 2016 crop year.  If it turns out to not be the worst sale, I will be much more disappointed.Options – CornThursday was the expiration date of April options. (April options are based on May futures and expire in March, seems confusing).On Jan 22nd I sold the April $3.80 corn option for an 8 cents premium (it expired worthless so I kept the 8 cents premium).  On Dec 10th I had sold the Feb $3.80 options for 8 cents that also expired worthless on Jan 22nd (I kept the 8 cents). I continued the strategy rolling forward and sold a June $3.80 option for 10 cents.  This option will expire on May 27th , if corn is below $3.80 I keep the premium again and my grain is still unsold.  If the market is above $3.80 I’m locked into the $3.80 sale, but I keep all of the premium (8 cents + 8 cents + 10 cents = 26 cents, or $4.06 July futures).  Plus, I still have the potential for additional gain when I move the sale from July to Dec futures (possible additional 15 cents).In case my assumption that corn acres will be more than 90 million acres is wrong, I bought back my May $4.40 call (placed on 9/15/15) that expires in a month.  I don’t really think the market will rally to $4.40 against May futures, but I wanted to take the risk off.  It only cost .8 cent (with commissions) to buy back the $4.40 call that I sold for 19.2 cents on 9/15/15.  I then sold a Dec $4.40 call for 15.7 cents on Thursday.  This gives me 34 cents premium (19+15) regardless of what the market does.  A $4.74 ceiling is welcome with what I know today.Selling calls provides very limited downside protection (technically none, but the premium value is worth something).  However, it does give some upside potential. Even if the market moves up or sideways, it allows for good premiums.  While I see many benefits for selling calls, I don’t see the benefits of buying corn calls, but so many farmers do it.  To me it tends to double the risk.  To be profitable the market has to go up, or they will lose money on the long position (i.e. gambling).  Plus, producers always have more grain to sell next year.  I guess I’m glad so many people make the mistake of buying calls though.  It creates a better market for me to sells the calls.PositionsHere are my updated positions for corn and beans. An est means I’m estimating what I might get based upon past history or current markets for my farm.POSITION – CORN20152016Corn Sold100%28%CBOT Price$4.58$4.38Market Carry$0.185$.25 estBasis on Farm($.35) est($.25) estCash Price$4.41 est$4.38 estPOSITION – BEANS20152016Beans Sold100%11%CBOT Price$10.79$9.20Market Carry$0.165$.25 estBasis on Farm($.60) est($.25) estCash Price$10.35 est$9.20 est Jon grew up raising corn and soybeans on a farm near Beatrice, NE. Upon graduation from The University of Nebraska in Lincoln, he became a grain merchandiser and has been trading corn, soybeans and other grains for the last 18 years, building relationships with end-users in the process. After successfully marketing his father’s grain and getting his MBA, 10 years ago he started helping farmer clients market their grain based upon his principals of farmer education, reducing risk, understanding storage potential and using basis strategy to maximize individual farm operation profits. A big believer in farmer education of futures trading, Jon writes a weekly commentary to farmers interested in learning more and growing their farm operations.Trading of futures, options, swaps and other derivatives is risky and is not suitable for all persons. All of these investment products are leveraged, and you can lose more than your initial deposit. Each investment product is offered only to and from jurisdictions where solicitation and sale are lawful, and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations in such jurisdiction. The information provided here should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research before making your investment decisions. Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC is merely providing this information for your general information and the information does not take into account any particular individual’s investment objectives, financial situation, or needs. All investors should obtain advice based on their unique situation before making any investment decision. The contents of this communication and any attachments are for informational purposes only and under no circumstances should they be construed as an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation to buy or sell any future, option, swap or other derivative. The sources for the information and any opinions in this communication are believed to be reliable, but Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy of such information or opinions. Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC and its principals and employees may take positions different from any positions described in this communication. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. He can be contacted at jon@superiorfeed.com.last_img read more

The Pros and Cons of the Google Nexus One As An Enterprise Phone

first_imgalex williams IT + Project Management: A Love Affair “The iPhone is much more mature in this area than the Nexus One. iPhone configuration profiles provides business IT with a way to configure the iPhone over the air and according to corporate policies. In addition, the iPhone 3GS provides device encryption to help meet corporate compliance requirements, ensuring the protection of sensitive corporate information.” Related Posts Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… It’s Not an iPhoneThe iPhone has tight security features baked into it, and hardware encryption, too. Applications are tightly controlled with a centralized point for distributing applications. This may prove to be a temporary advantage for the iPhone over the Nexus One.According to Dearing:“The Nexus One is less secure than the iPhone 3GS. Nexus One is currently running on Android 2.1, the latest update, so is equivalent to iPhone 1.0. The iPhone 3GS provide the most comprehensive security controls with the addition of hardware-based encryption.” The Nexus One is another smart phone that we will inevitably see inside the walls of the enterprise. Smart phones seem to have a way of being used for all kinds of work activities.So, what are the pros and cons of using the Nexus One in the enterprise?First off, anyone using the Nexus One in the enterprise will be using a rogue device. That’s just the way it is. Perhaps that may change when the enterprise wakes up and realizes that people born after 1982 want to use any device to connect in any way they want. But that’s the future, unfortunately. In the meantime, let’s look at reality.ComplianceThe Nexus One was not built as a device that meets compliance requirements. As with almost any device, compliance is a reality in the enterprise world. We doubt, though, this will stop most users. You Can Make it CompliantDan Dearing of Trust Digital has a few points of advice for the IT manager with the foresight to deal proactively with the inevitability that the Nexus One will become his or her problem to solve:Make sure that the device can be locked and swiped of its data if a user loses their Nexus One.Make sure Exchange ActiveSync is installed on the device so permissions for accessing data can be set up according to the policy set by the enterprise. Provide the ability to configure the device to remotely provision application clients and device interfaces used to reach the application source (e.g. Wi-Fi, VPN).Allow for PKI support that allows Android devices to receive and ingest digital certificates. The use of certificates helps automate connectivity to enterprise applications via Wi-Fi, VPN and web by making authentication transparent to users. Hooray – It’s Not an iPhoneThe Nexus One is a cloud-connected device, making it a true web-based, data-driven device. This to us is a huge advantage. Apple is playing catch up in developing a cloud infrastructure. Google may lose a bit on security but the ability to use the computing power of the cloud may be what shoots Google way ahead of Apple. Tim O’Reilly goes as far to say that at some point, Apple may never catch up.A Strong StartThe Nexus One represents a very strong start for Google. It’s not designed as an enterprise phone but generally smart phones are meant to be used universally. We expect that as more smart phones enter the market, an ecosystem of middleware providers will emerge. These services will provide filters, treating the device as a computer, much like desktops and laptops. Tags:#enterprise#news 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…last_img read more

The Secrets Behind the Sound Design of Blade Runner 2049

first_imgHere’s an in-depth look at the brilliant sound design and the incredible score that created the evocative tone of Blade Runner 2049.Above image via Soundworks Collection.A few of the minds behind the recent sci-fi neo-noir masterpiece, Blade Runner 2049, take us behind-the-scenes in this in-depth look at the creation of some of the sounds and orchestration. The film debuted this year to stellar reviews and maintained the spirit of the original while establishing its own form of masterful filmmaking. With a perfect blend of collaboration and direction, the post-production team created one of the best-sounding movies of the past decade. Let’s take a look at how they pulled it off. Life in the BackgroundImage via Warner Bros.One of the revelatory features of the original film was the diegetic sounds living and breathing in the environment of future Los Angeles. The sounds vary from multi-lingual advertisements to a looming voice detailing the wonders of life off-world. The future will be loud, jumbled, and inescapable in the heart of the crowded, wet metropolis that makes up the world of Blade Runner. This detail was not lost in the sequel. The new crew made sure to capture the same tone and environment, and the director, Denis Villenueve, had a major say in which aspects carried over in his contribution to the franchise. The sounds making up the background in Blade Runner 2049 are just as, if not more, important than the visuals of the film.The editor for Denis’s previous two films, Sicario and Arrival, Joe Walker closed his eyes and just listened to the audio of the film to figure out the pace and style. This precise attention to detail is how good films become great in the edit bay. The care and attention that went into Blade Runner 2049 is a testament to the importance of the relationship between directors, composers, and sound designers during post-production.Creating the SoundscapesImage via Soundworks Collection.In terms of pulling directly from the original film and creating their own soundscapes, the team took one major lesson from the Ridley Scott classic by blurring the lines between sound effects and score. The film’s supervising sound editor, Mark Mangini, discusses what it was like balancing originality while staying true to a new project:I began making very brooding musical textures that would underpin almost every scene. So if you listen in any given scene, even if its a talkie in a room, there are these languid kind of pads and tones that are reminiscent of things that Vangelis had done in the first film that you didn’t know were his score, and they weren’t really score they were his kind of sonic noodlings. So I created these sonic noodlings that were made from musical textures — things like wind chimes and guitars, winds, saxophones. But you wont know them as those sounds when you hear the film. But you’ll get this sense that there’s a brooding tone that creates an atmosphere, a mood . . . and you don’t know what it is, but it fills the scene with a kind of feeling.This simplicity in instrumentation and methodology came directly from Denis. Perhaps the director’s greatest contribution to the post-production process of the film was his input for how Blade Runner 2049 would feel and sound. Luckily for all of us who have seen the film, the minimal approach was the right choice. If there are traditional science fiction sounds, like your bleeps and your blorps, Denis looks away. This simple-yet-profound take on telling stories in a different way is what sets Denis apart from the other directors working today.Recording the SoundsImage via Soundworks Collection. To create the massive soundscape, the sound editors curated a massive library of 2,600 sound elements for the film. Mangini went full-blown DIY, crafting some of the most simple, seemingly obvious sounds and turning them into something special.To create the sounds for the car that K (Ryan Gosling’s character) drives, Mangini put a subwoofer in his wife’s car and let it rattle throughout the rough, weathered audio that makes the vehicles in Blade Runner feel so lived-in. The ingenuity didn’t stop there. In order to accurately capture the rain for the film, Mangini crafted his own recording device that avoided unwanted rain splatters on the microphone.I wanted to be in the middle of rain so I could capture an immersive recording of seven channels of microphones. So I built a custom rig that would protect the microphones in about a 1 meter square of absorptive material and separation material so you wouldn’t hear the splatter on top of the microphone. So I captured an extraordinary array of heavy deluges and little trickles and drips in seven-channel discrete. With a Holophone H1, I ended up building a rig of my own with Schoeps CCM microphones to capture that.Image via Soundworks Collection.This type of thinking is what wins people jobs — and Oscars — but the creativity didn’t stop there. To record the sound of the new pistols that our hero would be using, the team was not particularly fond of the sound from the original. So instead they decided to record a .50-caliber sniper rifle and combine the sound with an EDM bass drop to capture the blast they were looking for. If you’ve seen the film, you know how loud and intense the blasts are. These loud, staggering sounds are almost as impressive as the beautiful and haunting score that supports the entire film.Composing the ScoreImage via Soundworks Collection.Crafting the score of the new film was one of the most difficult elements of the original film to adapt for this go-around. The original soundtrack, composed by Vangelis, featured a heavy synth, futuristic, science fiction-tone that would be easy to replicate today. However, the composers for Blade Runner 2049 knew that they had to create something completely original — while honoring Vangelis’s score. Like the original, the team used the CS-80 synthesizer, which is half-analog, half-electronic. This allowed them to create a mesmerizing score that could stand out on its own.(If you’re interested in creating your own sci-fi neo-noir low-budget masterpiece, check out our curated, synth-heavy Blade Runner-inspired playlist here.)Denis’s film is a masterclass in everything from storytelling to cinematography to editing and, especially, to sound design. His work speaks for itself, ranking among the greats, and we’re only at the beginning of his career. One can’t help but feel the best is yet to come from this director, and if he keeps surrounding himself with inspiring, creative, and boundary-pushing individuals, we’re all in good hands.(Final note, here’s one Hans Zimmer playing the CS-80 for what might be one my favorite moments in a video ever.)Image via Soundworks Collection.Looking for more on Blade Runner 2049? Check out these articles.How Roger Deakins Shot and Lit Blade Runner 2049How To Recreate the Special Effects From Blade Runner 2049Create Blade Runner-Inspired Eyes in After Effectslast_img read more

Amber Fort’s Maotha lake to get a new lease of life

first_imgThe charm of the Maotha lake situated outside the historic Amber Fort, near here, will be restored with its replenishment with water supplied from Banas river’s Bisalpur dam. The lake, which collects rain water flowing down from the nearby hills, has at present very little water after it remained dried-up for several months.The picturesque lake, which has the “Kesar Kyari” garden in its middle, was the main source of water for the Amber Palace and common people before the erstwhile royal capital was shifted to the newly-built Jaipur city in 18th century.The Water Resources Department’s plan to fill up the lake artificially will improve the ground water recharge, help in the supply of drinking water to the residents of Amber town and provide water to wild animals in the region. This is the second such exercise being undertaken after 2012 to revive traditional water sources and restore environmental balance.Public Health Engineering Department’s Principal Secretary Sandeep Verma said here on Tuesday that the Bisalpur dam in Tonk district, which was full to the brim after an increase in water inflow from its catchment areas during monsoon, was the “natural choice” as source of water for Maotha lake. The dam is currently supplying water to Jaipur, Tonk and Ajmer towns.Mr. Verma said the Maotha lake’s capacity was 300 million litres, which was equivalent to one day’s water supply from Bisalpur to Jaipur. “The water body’s replenishment will increase the water table of local sources by about 5 metres, which will give a major relief to the town’s residents,” he said.‘No adverse impact’ Mr. Verma said there was no possibility of adverse impact by the supply of water to Maotha lake on the availability of drinking water in Jaipur and other towns, for which the Bisalpur dam had emerged as a lifeline during the last decade.last_img read more

French Open: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal drawn into same half

first_imgDefending champion Novak Djokovic was scheduled to put up a highly-anticipated semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal as they were drawn into the bottom half in men’ singles of the 2017 French Open.Five Chinese girls faced mixed drawing fate here on Friday, 32nd-seeded Zhang Shuai possibly got the chance of beating her previous personal best in Roland Garros, while Wang Qiang and Zheng Saisai had an uphill challenge in the first round, reports Xinhua news agency.Djokovic, who swept all Grand Slam tournament trophies with success last year, will meet Spanish Marcel Granollers in his opening title defence match. The Serbian suffered an early second-round exit in Australian Open early this year, while improving his performance into the clay season, from quarterfinal in Monte Carlo, semifinal in Madrid and final in Rome.Nadal will kick off his campaign against local favorite Benoit Paire, and is likely to face fifth-seeded Milos Raonic in the quarter-final if everything goes well in his way.Djokovic and Nadal had their last duel in the semi-finals in Madrid, where Nadal won in two sets and continued his in-form performance to take away the title. The “King of Clay” also tasted victories in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, while snapping his winning streak in front of Austrian promising star Dominic Thiem in Rome.For Djokovic, Nadal still remained the favourite in clinching his 10th title in Roland Garros.”I definitely see him as probably No. 1 favourite for this title,” commented the titleholder.World number one Andy Murray, positioned in the top half, expected a real challenge in as early as the third round, where he may face Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro.advertisementOn the way to a possible semi-final with the 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka, the top seed could expect number 13 seed Tomas Berdych, German youngster Alexander Zverev or Japanese Kei Nishikori ahead.In anticipation of breaking her previous record of second round in Roland Garros, Chinese top-ranked girl Zhang Shuai will face Donna Vekic of Croatia in the first round, and next meet the winner between Viktorija Golubic and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, with number eight seed Svetlana Kuznetsova looming ahead in the third round.Peng Shuai, who was still involved in Strasbourg Open as a warm-up for the French Open, will have a first-round clash with Sorana Cirstea of Romania, with Tatjana Maria of Germany as Duan Yingying’s first-round opponent.However, the draw went pretty against Wang Qiang and Zheng Saisai, as the former will meet number 10 seed Venus Williams and the latter will face second-seeded Karolina Pliskova.Reigning champion Garbine Muguruza will open her campaign in women’s singles against the 2011 finalist Francesca Schiavone.The 2017 French Open, with a total prize of 35,981,500 euros, will run from May 28 until June 11.last_img read more