This week the Democrats laid out the case for impeaching and removing President Trump from office. House impeachment managers serving as prosecutors did a masterful job of weaving a damning narrative against Trump as they described in pernicious detail how Trump abused the power of the presidency, obstructed Congress, attempted to cover it all up and in the process put our national security and the integrity of our elections at risk — all for his personal political benefit.
The presentations were eloquent, impactful and exacting. They summarized what has been weeks of investigation, testimony, press coverage, documents, emails and texts from former administration officials with firsthand knowledge of Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his plot to withhold military aid to Ukraine until Zelensky publicly announced an investigation into the Bidens in an effort to hurt the person Trump saw as his greatest political threat.
In the end, however, the question for all of us must be, does any of it matter? In this age of a “see no evil, hear no evil” Republicans who acquiesce to a delinquent president for their own political self-preservation and who fall back on lies, defamation of character (see Sen. Marcia Blackburn’s (R-Tenn.) shameful smear of decorated veteran Colonel Vindman) and promulgation of debunked conspiracy theories to justify their support of Trump, does truth and right still matter?
Of course it does. It must.
Videos, quotes, texts, testimonies and Trump’s own words paint a picture of a president obsessed with harming former Vice President Joe Biden and using the powers of the presidency to do it.
We also see that Republicans really aren’t arguing the merits of the case. They simply either argue with lies such as that Trump was concerned with our national security or rooting out corruption, or they argue that what he did may have been inappropriate but it doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment. (Sadly, very few Republicans have even acknowledged that what Trump did was inappropriate).
I agree with lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) who, in his moving closing remarks Thursday night, stated that when the Democrats are done prosecuting the case against President Trump there will be no room for doubt as to Trump’s guilt.
So, if Trump is guilty of what he is charged with, does that warrant his removal from office?
Schiff argues that it does. He makes the case that Trump not only put our nation at risk, but that he also put our whole value system in jeopardy. Frighteningly, if he gets away with it, we can be sure that he will do it again.
So, if Trump is guilty, and everyone knows he is capable of repeating these abhorrent actions, his removal becomes not only necessary but the only way out for a party that is already in peril of becoming a shell of what it once was.
Schiff’s questions for Republicans are: Does the truth still matter to them? And does doing the right thing still matter to them?
As Schiff says, it must. It must for all of us. The most frustrating thing is that we all know there are many Republicans who are repulsed by what Trump is, what he represents and the damage he has done to their party and to our country. Many have said so in private, but most dare not say anything in public.
As Chairman Schiff said so eloquently and emotionally on Thursday, “No constitution can protect us if right doesn’t matter anymore.” We have all learned that we cannot trust that Trump will do what is right for the country. We can only trust that Donald Trump will do what is right for him.
Now is the time for Republicans to step up and do right. That doesn’t necessarily mean coming out with how they really feel about Trump, as it would be political suicide. But it’s time for them to vote with the Democrats to have witnesses and more documents come to light. Most Americans believe that is critical. It is the only way to have at least a semblance of a fair trial and not a coverup.
With witnesses on the stand and additional documents out in the open, it is very possible that the truth will shine so brightly that it will be impossible for any sensible Republican senator to ignore. Maybe even impossible for 20 of them to ignore.
We shall see. Truth and right have a way of overcoming efforts to eradicate them. Sadly, that is where we are in the United States, the greatest democracy in the world. At least it will be once again, either when Republicans see the light and do right, or when voters hold them to account in November.
Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.
The most recent deaths appear to be “an isolated incident – not a continuation of the recent retaliatory killings,” the department said in a tweet that provided scant information.
On Dec. 29, corrections department officials announced a statewide prison lockdown following a fight at South Mississippi Correctional Institution that left one inmate dead and two others injured. In the following days, riots and fights continued despite the lockdown, leading to four more killings across the state. Some of the violence, officials have said, is gang-related.
The lockdown has since been lifted on all prisons except Parchman, where much of the violence has taken place. Seven men incarcerated at Parchman have died this month, including three who were killed by other inmates, one who died at a hospital of natural causes and one who was found hanging in his cell over the weekend, according to Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) did not release the names of the men who died Monday and said Parchman’s chaplain has reached out to next of kin.
No additional details were provided. MDOC said the agency is investigating and will share more information later.
Burton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Activists say gangs alone are not to blame for the recent surge of violence. Systemic issues related to repeated budget cuts and chronic understaffing have created an environment for violence to thrive, they say.
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson and nearly a dozen civil rights and social justice organizations had requested the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Mississippi prisons, charging that state leaders have known about the understaffing and “horrific conditions,” yet have repeatedly failed to take action.
Parchman inmates are suing former MDOC commissioner Pelicia Hall and the prison’s superintendent Marshal Turner, alleging they have violated prisoners’ constitutional rights by subjecting them to cruel and unusual punishment. The incarcerated men are being represented by attorneys working with hip-hop stars Jay-Z and Yo Gotti.
The lawsuit describes unsanitary conditions inside Parchman, including flooding, black mold and a rat infestation. Units go without running water and electricity for days at a time, it alleges.
(CNN)A former Florida mayor was sentenced to 51 months in prison Friday after defrauding the charity United Way of more than half a million dollars.
Guy Thompson, a former mayor of Milton, a city northeast of Pensacola, last year pleaded guilty to 20 counts of wire fraud and three counts of tax evasion in the case, according to court documents.
Between 2011 and 2018, Thompson was able to embezzle a total of $652,000.61 from United Way of Santa Rosa County while he served as executive director of the charity, court documents said.
Thompson deposited donations to the charity into his personal bank accounts — without telling anyone at the charity’s chapter about the donations — and used the money to make mortgage payments and to buy a beach condominium, according to the documents.
Ryan Cardoso, an attorney for Thompson, said the former mayor is “repentant and committed to making amends.”
“Words cannot express the remorse and sorrow that Mr. Thompson feels in this case,” Cardoso said in an email to CNN.
Thompson was also ordered to pay back the embezzled money, less the some $220,000 seized from his bank accounts.
Thompson was mayor of Milton for 20 years and was on its city council for 16 years, according to CNN affiliate WKRG. He was head of the United Way chapter for 39 years, the affiliate reported.
Like this post? Spread the word and share it on social media.
Volcanoes can spew enormous volumes of gases into the atmosphere that can both cool and warm the planet.
And the Deccan Traps, as the volcanic terrain in India is known, certainly had massive scale – hundreds of thousands of cubic km of molten rock were erupted onto the land surface over thousands of years.
But the new research from Southampton University’s Prof Wilson, and colleagues from elsewhere in Europe and the US, indicates there is a mismatch in both the effect and timing of the volcanism’s influence.
The group drilled into the North Atlantic seafloor to retrieve its ancient muds.
“The deep ocean sediments are packed full of these microscopic marine organisms called Foraminifera,” Prof Wilson explained.
“You get about a thousand of them in a teaspoon of sediment. And we can use their shells to figure out the chemistry of the ocean and its temperature, so we can study in great detail the environmental changes that are occurring in the run-up to the extinction event.
“And what we discovered is that the only way in which we can get our (climate) model simulations to match the observed temperature changes is to have the volcanic emissions of harmful gases done and dusted a couple of hundred thousand years before the impact event.
“We find the impact event is exactly contemporaneous with the extinction.”
Investigations of a 200km-wide crater under the Gulf of Mexico suggest it is the scar left by the culprit asteroid.
When it hit the Earth, the city-sized object would immediately have generated tsunami and wide-scale fires – in addition to hurling billions of tonnes of debris in all directions.
But what scientists have also established recently is that the asteroid struck rocks rich in sulphur. When this material was vaporised and ejected into the high atmosphere, it would have led to a rapid and deep cooling of the climate (albeit over a relatively short period), making life a struggle for all sorts of plant and animal life.
As the fossil record shows, the dinosaurs, apart from birds, couldn’t get beyond the stressful environmental changes. In contrast, the mammals could and rose to the prominence they enjoy today.
The new study is published in the journal Science. Its lead author is Dr Pincelli Hull from Yale University.
The impact that changed life on Earth
Scientists now think a 12km-wide object struck Earth 66 million years ago
The crater it produced is about 200km wide and is buried mostly offshore
On land, it is covered by limestone, but its rim is traced by an arc of sinkholes
Experts drilled into the crater to study its rocks and reconstruct the event
They say the impact was more than capable of driving a mass extinction
The Astros’ cheating scandal affects the Orioles | READER COMMENTARY
FOR THE BALTIMORE SUN|
JAN 17, 2020 |1:46 PM
Recently, Major League Baseball penalized the Houston Astros with a loss of draft picks and with fines, and by banning two senior executives for a year as punishment for cheating during the team’s World Series season in 2017 (“No mention of Mike Elias, other Orioles employees formerly with Astros in MLB report on sign-stealing scandal,” Jan. 13). This renders all the success the Astros had that year as permanently tainted. Many in the Astros’ organization landed high-paying jobs with other clubs based not only on the success the team had, but also on the process, which included an emphasis on analytics and strategic losing for years to build the farm system.
In fact, important hiring decisions for the Orioles were predicated on the success of a team that cheated to win the World Series. It does not mean Orioles General Manager Mike Elias, who worked for Houston during the 2017 season, knew about the cheating. But it does mean the well is tainted. The Astros’ success is not what anyone thought it was before this announcement.
Many fans have been critical of the Orioles management’s decision to lose on purpose in order to win later. It is akin to cheating the fans today so some lucky fans of the future might be grateful. Four or five years of terrible teams with low budgets so the future will be bright. That is the pitch. That pitch just got a little harder to sell now that the Astros’ World Series victory is forever tarnished.
Pregnant Mother and Five Kids Among 7 Tortured and Burned to Death in Panama Religious Ritual
Breaking News Reporter
Seven people, including a pregnant woman and five of her children, were found in a mass grave after they were killed in a religious ritual in an indigenous area of Panama. The Telegraph reports that police freed 14 others following what authorities are calling an “exorcism,” in which members of an indigenous group were tortured, beaten, burned, and hacked with machetes after being rounded up by about 10 lay preachers demanding that they “repent their sins” in the Ngäbe-Buglé region in northwest Panama. Senior prosecutor Rafael Baloyes said authorities were alerted after three villagers escaped and went to a local hospital for treatment. “They were performing a ritual inside the structure,” Baloyes said. “In that ritual, there were people being held against their will, being mistreated. All of these rites were aimed at killing them, if they did not repent their sins.” Prosecutors announced Thursday that they would be trying the case, and that 10 people had been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Like this post? Spread the word and share it on social media.
In a new study, U.S. and Austrian physicists have observed quantum entanglement among “billions of billions” of flowing electrons in a quantum critical material.
The research, which appears this week in Science, examined the electronic and magnetic behavior of a “strange metal” compound of ytterbium, rhodium and silicon as it both neared and passed through a critical transition at the boundary between two well-studied quantum phases.
The study at Rice University and Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) provides the strongest direct evidence to date of entanglement’s role in bringing about quantum criticality, said study co-author Qimiao Si of Rice.
“When we think about quantum entanglement, we think about small things,” Si said. “We don’t associate it with macroscopic objects. But at a quantum critical point, things are so collective that we have this chance to see the effects of entanglement, even in a metallic film that contains billions of billions of quantum mechanical objects.”
Si, a theoretical physicist and director of the Rice Center for Quantum Materials (RCQM), has spent more than two decades studying what happens when materials like strange metals and high-temperature superconductors change quantum phases. Better understanding such materials could open the door to new technologies in computing, communications and more.
The international team overcame several challenges to get the result. TU Wien researchers developed a highly complex materials synthesis technique to produce ultrapure films containing one part ytterbium for every two parts rhodium and silicon (YbRh2Si2). At absolute zero temperature, the material undergoes a transition from one quantum phase that forms a magnetic order to another that does not.
At Rice, study co-lead author Xinwei Li, then a graduate student in the lab of co-author and RCQM member Junichiro Kono, performed terahertz spectroscopy experiments on the films at temperatures as low as 1.4 Kelvin. The terahertz measurements revealed the optical conductivity of the YbRh2Si2 films as they were cooled to a quantum critical point that marked the transition from one quantum phase to another.
“With strange metals, there is an unusual connection between electrical resistance and temperature,” said corresponding author Silke Bühler-Paschen of TU Wien’s Institute for Solid State Physics. “In contrast to simple metals such as copper or gold, this does not seem to be due to the thermal movement of the atoms, but to quantum fluctuations at the absolute zero temperature.”
To measure optical conductivity, Li shined coherent electromagnetic radiation in the terahertz frequency range on top of the films and analyzed the amount of terahertz rays that passed through as a function of frequency and temperature. The experiments revealed “frequency over temperature scaling,” a telltale sign of quantum criticality, the authors said.
Kono, an engineer and physicist in Rice’s Brown School of Engineering, said the measurements were painstaking for Li, who’s now a postdoctoral researcher at the California Institute of Technology. For example, only a fraction of the terahertz radiation shined onto the sample passed through to the detector, and the important measurement was how much that fraction rose or fell at different temperatures.
“Less than 0.1% of the total terahertz radiation was transmitted, and the signal, which was the variation of conductivity as a function of frequency, was a further few percent of that,” Kono said. “It took many hours to take reliable data at each temperature to average over many, many measurements, and it was necessary to take data at many, many temperatures to prove the existence of scaling.
“Xinwei was very, very patient and persistent,” Kono said. “In addition, he carefully processed the huge amounts of data he collected to unfold the scaling law, which was really fascinating to me.”
Making the films was even more challenging. To grow them thin enough to pass terahertz rays, the TU Wien team developed a unique molecular beam epitaxy system and an elaborate growth procedure. Ytterbium, rhodium and silicon were simultaneously evaporated from separate sources in the exact 1-2-2 ratio. Because of the high energy needed to evaporate rhodium and silicon, the system required a custom-made ultrahigh vacuum chamber with two electron-beam evaporators.
“Our wild card was finding the perfect substrate: germanium,” said TU Wien graduate student Lukas Prochaska, a study co-lead author. The germanium was transparent to terahertz, and had “certain atomic distances (that were) practically identical to those between the ytterbium atoms in YbRh2Si2, which explains the excellent quality of the films,” he said.
Si recalled discussing the experiment with Bühler-Paschen more than 15 years ago when they were exploring the means to test a new class of quantum critical point. The hallmark of the quantum critical point that they were advancing with co-workers is that the quantum entanglement between spins and charges is critical.
“At a magnetic quantum critical point, conventional wisdom dictates that only the spin sector will be critical,” he said. “But if the charge and spin sectors are quantum-entangled, the charge sector will end up being critical as well.”
At the time, the technology was not available to test the hypothesis, but by 2016, the situation had changed. TU Wien could grow the films, Rice had recently installed a powerful microscope that could scan them for defects, and Kono had the terahertz spectrometer to measure optical conductivity. During Bühler-Paschen’s sabbatical visit to Rice that year, she, Si, Kono and Rice microscopy expert Emilie Ringe received support to pursue the project via an Interdisciplinary Excellence Award from Rice’s newly established Creative Ventures program.
“Conceptually, it was really a dream experiment,” Si said. “Probe the charge sector at the magnetic quantum critical point to see whether it’s critical, whether it has dynamical scaling. If you don’t see anything that’s collective, that’s scaling, the critical point has to belong to some textbook type of description. But, if you see something singular, which in fact we did, then it is very direct and new evidence for the quantum entanglement nature of quantum criticality.”
Si said all the efforts that went into the study were well worth it, because the findings have far-reaching implications.
“Quantum entanglement is the basis for storage and processing of quantum information,” Si said. “At the same time, quantum criticality is believed to drive high-temperature superconductivity. So our findings suggest that the same underlying physics—quantum criticality—can lead to a platform for both quantum information and high-temperature superconductivity. When one contemplates that possibility, one cannot help but marvel at the wonder of nature.”
Si is the Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Professor in Rice’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. Kono is a professor in Rice’s departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Physics and Astronomy, and Materials Science and NanoEngineering and the director of Rice’s Applied Physics Graduate Program. Ringe is now at the University of Cambridge. Additional co-authors include Maxwell Andrews, Maximilian Bonta, Werner Schrenk, Andreas Limbeck and Gottfried Strasser, all of the TU Wien; Hermann Detz, formerly of TU Wien and currently at Brno University; Elisabeth Bianco, formerly of Rice and currently at Cornell University; Sadegh Yazdi, formerly of Rice and currently at the University of Colorado Boulder; and co-lead author Donald MacFarland, formerly of TU Wien and currently at the University at Buffalo.
Like this post? Spread the word and share it on social media.