America’s global influence has dwindled under Donald Trump – Endangered

Many people find reassurance in the sober, capable military men who surround him (see article). His chief of staff, his defence secretary and his national security adviser all understand the horrors of war and will stop him from doing anything rash, the argument goes. Optimists even speculate that he might emulate Ronald Reagan, by shaking up the diplomatic establishment, restoring America’s military muscle and projecting such strength abroad that a frightened, overstretched North Korea will crumble like the Soviet Union. Others confidently predict that even if he causes short-term damage to America’s standing in the world, Mr Trump will be voted out in 2020 and things will return to normal.

All this is wishful thinking.

Source: America’s global influence has dwindled under Donald Trump – Endangered

Hallie’s story runs on the front page of the N&O

Hallie was featured on the front page of the N&O, 15 Nov 2017


The story of the new environmental lawsuit that Hallie is participating in (along with two other teens) ran on the front page of the News and Observer today. Pretty cool to see that.

This is at least the second time she’s been featured on the N&O’s front page, if not the third. The first time was when she was still a guest of the WakeMed NICU.

Climate change:NC teens petition NC environment commission to cut fossil fuel and greenhouse gases | News & Observer

News broke today that Hallie is trying again, this time with friends, to get North Carolina’s environment back on track. Go, Hallie!

Hallie Turner was 13 years old when she stood outside a Wake County courtroom telling media crews with cameras trained on her that she planned to continue to fight for action on climate change despite her unsuccessful attempt to sue North Carolina over its environmental rules.

Now 15, Hallie is trying again to get the state Department of Environmental Quality and the state Environmental Management Commission to adopt a rule calling for a sharp reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases over the next three decades. This time, two other North Carolina teens — Emily Liu, 16, of Chapel Hill, and Arya Pontula, a Raleigh 17-year-old, will join Hallie in petitioning the commission.

With the help of Ryke Longest at the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, and Our Children’s Trust, a Oregon-based nonprofit focused on climate change, the teens hope to persuade the state to adopt a rule ensuring that by 2050 carbon dioxide emissions would be down to zero.

“It would be a future in which you would not be burning fossil fuels to power your homes,” Longest said on Monday, the day before the teens plan to file their petition.

Source: Climate change:NC teens petition NC environment commission to cut fossil fuel and greenhouse gases | News & Observer

Critiquing Raleigh’s new logo

City of Raleigh logo

Yesterday, the City of Raleigh approved its very first logo after working on it with a design firm for a year. Initially I was not so sure about the design since it appeared to be very antiseptic. As I’ve studied it more it’s grown (so to speak) on me a bit.

My comments is that the tree resembles the hated Bradford Pear rather than an oak that is part of our “City of Oaks” nickname. Nothing says quality like a smelly, brittle tree that collapses with the slightest breeze! The logo is also a bit more angular than I would prefer. Too many sharp edges, like a pile of green razor blades.

Bradford Pear


But you know what? My opinion doesn’t really matter. I wasn’t involved in the process, I’m not a design professional, and I don’t have a vote at the table. No one logo is going to please everyone and I applaud the Council for bravely making the change. I would consider anything an improvement over using the Raleigh City Seal on everything as the seal was never meant to be used as a logo. Any logo is better than no logo at all (i.e, the seal), so I’m happy that Raleigh has something it can now use. If the Council decides in 10 or 15 years that it is ready for something new, it will at least have something to build on.

I can live with it. Not bad for a first try.

Now if Raleigh can refresh its flag

Most Campaign Outreach Has No Effect on Voters – The Atlantic

$6.4 billion. That’s how much candidates, political parties, and interest groups spent on federal elections in 2016, according to the Open Secrets project at the Center for Responsive Politics. Especially in competitive races, huge amounts of money are invested in reaching voters through ads, phone banks, direct mail, and canvassing. Ostensibly, the goal is to persuade people to vote for a particular candidate.

A new paper by two California political scientists finds that the total effect of these efforts is zero, meaning that they have no impact on how voters vote. David Broockman, a Stanford University assistant professor, and Joshua Kalla, a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley, analyzed data from 49 field experiments—state, local, and federal campaigns that let political scientists access their data to evaluate their methods. For every flyer stuck in a mailbox, every door knocked by an earnest volunteer, and every candidate message left on an answering machine, there was no measurable change in voting outcomes. Even early outreach efforts, which are somewhat more successful at persuading voters, tend to fade from memory by Election Day. Broockman and Kalla also estimated that the effect of television and online ads is zero, although only a small portion of their data speaks directly to that point.

Source: Most Campaign Outreach Has No Effect on Voters – The Atlantic

How People Like Paul Manafort Have Multiple U.S. Passports | Travel + Leisure

On Monday, one-time Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was arrested and charged with a plethora of offenses including conspiracy against the United States. But that isn’t even the craziest part of the story, as according to court filings Manafort not only possesses three separate U.S. passports, but he has also filed for 10 passport applications in as many years.

This move may be the nail in the coffin for Manafort’s ability to be released on bail as it shows he’s likely a significant flight risk, but is it even illegal to own more than one passport?According to the National Passport Information Center, it’s actually perfectly legal for a U.S. citizen to own and obtain two U.S. passports — within certain guidelines. 

An official from the State Department told CNN that “no person shall bear or be in possession of more than one valid or potentially valid passport of the same type (regular, official, diplomatic, no-fee regular, or passport card) at any time, unless authorized by the Department of State.

So when would someone qualify for, or need, a second U.S. passport?

Source: How People Like Paul Manafort Have Multiple U.S. Passports | Travel + Leisure