Tag Archives: corruption

The corruption centered on Mueller and Comey

President Trump might have his ethical issues, but at this point the questions surrounding him don’t hold a candle to the corruption revealed in two stories in the past two days about former FBI director James Comey and Special Council Robert Mueller.

The first story describes in enormous detail the flat-out whitewash that Comey and the FBI did in its investigation of the classified Clinton emails that had been found on an unclassified laptop owned by former Democratic congressman and convicted child molester Anthony Weiner. That whitewash included outright lies by Comey before Comgress.
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The failed Arctic Ocean predictions of global warming scientists

Link here. The post at the link carefully documents the endless numbers of failed doomsday predictions foisted upon us for the past decade, claiming that due to global warming the Arctic Ocean icecap would be gone by 2018.

Instead, in the past three years there is evidence that the icecap has begun to thicken and expand, recovering from a two decade decline. Though this is not a certain conclusion, what is certain is that there is no sign of the icecap vanishing, in any sense. Every prediction documented at the link, by so-called experts, is completely bogus.

There is a reason the public does not take global warming very seriously. Its advocates have cried wolf too many times. Their predictions of doom have consistently failed. Every. Single. Time.

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Japanese officials arrested, JAXA raided, in bribery scandal

Japanese officials have been arrested and offices at the space agency JAXA raided in a bribery scandal that also involves Japan’s education ministry.

It appears an official in the education ministry was bribing people, including one individual at JAXA, with meals and liquor in order to gain an advantage in contract bidding.

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Questions raised about NEOWISE asteroid data analysis

A computer entrepreneur has raised questions about the data analysis used by the scientists in charge of NASA’s NEOWISE space telescope (formerly called the Wide-field Infrared Space Telescope, or WISE).

Myhrvold, a former chief technologist for Microsoft, founded the patent-buying firm Intellectual Ventures in Bellevue, Washington, in 2000; on the side, he pursues interests ranging from modernist cuisine to palaeontology. A few years ago, he began exploring ways to detect dangerous space rocks. He soon argued3 that the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, a ground-based telescope being built in Chile, would have the capacity to find nearly all the same asteroids as NASA’s proposed successor to NEOWISE, called NEOCam.

That turned his attention to how asteroids could be studied in space, and to the NEOWISE data. “I thought, this will be great, maybe we’ll be able to find some new and interesting things in here,” he says. But Myhrvold soon became frustrated with the quality and analysis of the data. He posted a critical preprint on arXiv in May 2016, and the peer-review game was on.

His first peer-reviewed critique was published in Icarus in March4. In it, he explored the mathematics of how asteroids radiate heat, and said that the NEOWISE team should have accounted for such effects more thoroughly in its work.

The latest paper1 holds the bulk of the NEOWISE critique. Among other things, Myhrvold argues that the NEOWISE team applied many different modelling techniques to many different combinations of data to achieve its final results. He also criticizes the choice to include previously published data on the diameter of certain asteroids in the data set, rather than using NEOWISE measurements — which, though less precise, are at least consistent with the rest of the database. Such choices undermine the statistical rigour of the database, he says.

Alan Harris, a planetary scientist with the consulting firm MoreData! in La Cañada Flintridge, California, was one of the paper’s reviewers. “In my opinion, it has important things to say,” he says. “It is my hope that the scientific community will read the paper and pay attention to the analysis Myhrvold has presented, as he has raised a number of significant issues.”

The disagreement involves the NEOWISE team’s estimate of asteroid sizes, based on the infrared data. Myhrvoid questions their estimates.

More details about the clashes between Myhrvoid and the NEOWISE science team over the past two years can be found here. The NASA scientists do not come off well. They appear to be very defensive, acting to stonewall any review of their work. Repeatedly they attempted to defy Myhrvoid’s FOIA requests (only made when they refused to release their raw data), including redacting significant information for no justifiable reason.

I have really only one question: Does the behavior of these NASA planetary scientists sound familiar? To me it does, and what it reminds me of speaks very badly for the science being done in the NEOWISE mission at NASA.

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Russian government audit finds $20 billion in “spending violations”

An audit by the Russian equivalent of the GAO has found more than $20 billion in “spending violations” within the government, most of which occurred in the defense and space sectors.

Other words for describing these “spending violations” might be “theft,” “embezzlement,” “misuse of funds,” or any number of more honest direct terms. The Russian government is simply very corrupt, and its culture includes the assumption by administrators and everyone else that it is their right to skim off as much as they can, for themselves.

Sadly, I do not see any reform occurring in the near future. This corruption is deeply ingrained, and the Putin government, also deeply entrenched, apparently likes it, as long as the thefts don’t become so obvious that nothing gets done, as happened at the new Vostochny spaceport during its construction.

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The massive data Facebook and Google collect on their users

Link here. The article is frightening, and illustrates once again why I have nothing to do with Facebook, and as little to do with Google as I can. (I wish someone would come up with a competitor to youtube. There’s money to be made there!)

What was especially disturbing was this tidbit about Google that the author discovered:

This is my Google Drive, which includes files I explicitly deleted including my résumé, my monthly budget, and all the code, files and websites I’ve ever made, and even my PGP private key, which I deleted, that I use to encrypt emails. [emphasis in original]

In other words, if you use Google to store any documents, no matter how private, they keep those documents even if you decide to delete them. Or to put it another way, Google steals them. Worse, the author also found that Google was keeping every email he’d ever sent or been sent to him, “including the ones [he] deleted or were categorised as spam.” [emphasis mine]

These corporations have compiled databases that can be misused very easily, and I expect someone in their company to do so, repeatedly. Worse, their users seem oblivious to the personal vulnerability that these databases create, and continue to nonchalantly use both Google and Facebook without thought.

I recognize that both companies provide services and need to make money by doing so. I just think they have overstepped the bounds of morality in how they compile and use the information they obtain.

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Sessions names US attorney to investigate FISA abuses

Attorney General Jeff Sessions today informed Congress that he has tasked United States Attorney John W. Huber, based in Utah, to investigate the possible misuse of the FISA court by the Obama administration, the Justice Department, and the FBI during and after the presidential campaign.

From Sessions’ letter to Congress:

Mr. Huber is conducting his work from outside the Washington, DC. area and in cooperation with the Inspector General. …I am confident that Mr. Huber’s review will include a full, complete, and objective evaluation of these matters in a manner that is consistent with the law and the facts.

I receive regular updates from Mr. Huber and upon the conclusion of his review, will receive his recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.

Huber is an Obama appointee, but appears to have avoided participating in partisan games. This will make it harder for Democrats to blast him should he recommend a special prosecutor is necessary. Meanwhile, some Republicans are complaining about Sessions’ decision to hold off appointing a special prosecutor, but I think this decision is smart. Huber will be under Sessions’ supervision and command. A special counsel would be uncontrollable (witness Mueller and every past special prosecutor). Considering the corrupt culture that now permeates Washington, keeping some control over this investigation to me seems wise.

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The FISA law itself is corrupt

While this story is mostly focused on the obvious fact that the Democrats were outright lying when they claimed, before the FISA memo was released, that its release would reveal information that would place the country’s security at risk, it is this tidbit that I want to focus on:

But speaking of stupid, something else occurred that few are mentioning, but may be of more significance than anything. What were these FISA judges thinking who allowed for the surveillance? They actually read the Steele dossier, one would assume. Were they imbeciles or as biased as McCabe, Strzok and the rest of that seedy FBI cabal? Whether they were told that document came from the Clinton campaign or not, it read like an outtake from the back pages of the National Enquirer — and not one of the good issues (John Edwards, etc.). The dossier was ludicrous on its face, yet the supposedly great legal minds of the FISA court accepted it as what appears to be the most important evidence for the case.

Think about that.

What we need, obviously, is the old word transparency. The public needs to see the full details of what went into the FISA decisions — and we don’t need to hear any of that fake palaver about national security. Everybody’s security depends on the FISA court working in a one-hundred percent unbiased manner. Otherwise we’re living a nightmare.

That court, and its workings, and its personnel should be a key part of any investigation going forward. New rules and regulations have to be put in place.

The author is thinking “reform.” We must dig into the workings of the FISA court and fix it so this kind of corruption never happens again.

Bah. What this scandal reveals is that the FISA law, created in 1978 during the Carter administration by a Congress strongly controlled by leftwing Democrats (following heavy election loses to the Republicans after Watergate) is itself a problem, and should be gotten rid of. The idea that a warrant against an American can be issued using secret information that no one is allowed to look at reeks with the possibility of abuse and corruption, which is exactly what we see here.

For example, the eleven judges presently on the FISA court were all appointed during the Obama administration. Though the law says the Chief Justice of the U.S. designates them, the law tilts the scale by requiring that “the judges must be drawn from at least seven of the United States judicial circuits, and three of the judges must reside within 20 miles of the District of Columbia.” Considering the political leanings of the DC area, it seems to me that this is going to make it very easy for the court to lean left politically.

No amount of dressing is going to fix this. The FISA court is essentially a Star Chamber where government operatives can use secret information to manipulate the court to allow them to go after their enemies. It is by definition hostile to every aspect of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and should be dumped.

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How the Purge in Saudi Arabia might link to the Democratic computers in Congress

This essay is going to outline some interesting associations that appear to exist between a number of very unconnected news stories in the past few months, links that might help explain how recent events in Saudi Arabia might have something to do with the U.S. Congress and car dealerships in the U.S. and Africa.

First of all I want to emphasize that I really have no idea if the associations I am going to note even exist. I am no expert on foreign policy, other than being a very well-read follower of the news. However, my skills as a historian have often allowed me to spot connections between disparate events that further research very frequently confirms as true. In this regard I think it very worthwhile to reveal what I have noticed, and let the chips fall where they may.

This trail must first begin with President Trump’s first foreign policy trip in May as President, going first to Saudi Arabia followed by visits to Israel and Europe.
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Review of all Soyuz upper stages ordered by Russian manufacturer

According to anonymous sources, the Russian manufacturer of the Freget upper stage that failed yesterday during a Soyuz commercial launch has ordered a review of all Fregets.

The Lavochkin research and production association will check all manufactured Fregat boosters, a source in the space industry told TASS on Wednesday after a recent failed launch. “The Lavochkin Research and Production Association will check all Fregat boosters produced earlier. If defects are found, they [the boosters] will be sent for further development,” the source said.

The Lavochkin Research and Production Association did not comment on this information for TASS.

The problem is that Russia already spent almost a full year beginning in early 2016 checking all its rocket engines for substandard construction done by a corrupt manufacturer. Even though the Fregat is built by another manufacturer, did they not check the Fregat upper stages then also?

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Another Vostochny manager on trial for embezzlement

The Russians are prosecuting another manager at Vostochny for stealing more than $10 million.

[O]ut of 765 million rubles ($13 million) allocated under the contract with Federal State Unitary Enterprise Spetsstroytekhnologii, Tolstikov had only 100 million rubles ($1.7 million) left. The rest, according to him, he spent for construction trailers for workers.

It is amazing anything has been built at Vostochny. This case is in addition to the more than half dozen other embezzlement cases totaling almost $200 million, a very significant amount of money in Russia as well as a significant portion of the spaceport’s entire construction budget.

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FBI informant cleared to testify on Clinton Uranium Russian deal

The Trump Justice Department has cleared the FBI informant with direct knowledge of the Clinton-Russian uranium bribery scandal.

The informant worked undercover to investigate bribery and intrigue in the Russian nuclear industry during the Obama administration and was, until Wednesday, bound by a gag order from speaking about what he knew. According to sources at the Department of Justice, the informant is now cleared to testify about a wide range of issues including, specifically, the Clinton Foundation. The informant worked undercover to investigate bribery and intrigue in the Russian nuclear industry during the Obama administration and was, until Wednesday, bound by a gag order from speaking about what he knew.

According to sources at the Department of Justice, the informant is now cleared to testify about a wide range of issues including, specifically, the Clinton Foundation. In a statement, DOJ spokesman Ian Prior told media outlets: “As of tonight, the Department of Justice has authorized the informant to disclose to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as one member of each of their staffs, any information or documents he has concerning alleged corruption or bribery involving transactions in the uranium market, including but not limited to anything related to Vadim Mikerin, Rosatom, Tenex, Uranium One, or the Clinton Foundation.”

The article says the informant will testify Wednesday night before Congress, but also notes that it is unclear as yet how or where that testimony will be given. More details about the scandal here.

If this person reveals as much as the news stories have suggested, it could very well finally shatter the protection the press and the left have given the Clinton since Bill Clinton’s problems as president in the 1990s. What I am sensing is that the Democratic Party might possibly be considering throwing the Clintons to the wolves in an effort to keep the wolves off of it.

Then again, I tend to be a wide-eyed optimist.

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Timeline of Russian uranium deal and Clinton donations

Link here. The timeline not only puts the quid pro quo nature of the Russian uranium deal in context, it helps clarify the players and the different parts they played. It appears this deal not only involved giving Russia control of 20 percent of American uranium, that control included the corrupt Kazakhstan government.

All told, the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation appears to have received in the range of $55 million for their help in making the deal happen, all from players who benefited financially from the deal.

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Obama administration blocked FBI informant from testifying to Congress about uranium deal and Russian bribes

The Clinton uranium scandal: The lawyer for an FBI informant has revealed that the Obama administration blocked, and even threatened his client, in order to prevent him from testifying to Congress about Russian bribes to Clinton and others in connection with the transfer of 20% of the U.S. uranium resources to Russian control.

The undercover client witnessed “a lot of bribery going on around the U.S.” but was asked by the FBI to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that prevents him from revealing what he knows to Congress, [Attorney Victoria] Toensing explained. When he tried to bring some of the allegations to light in the lawsuit last year, “the Obama Justice Department threatened him with loss of freedom. They said they would bring a criminal case against him for violating an NDA,” she added.

Emails obtained by The Hill show that a civil attorney working with the former undercover witness described the pressure the Justice Department exerted to keep the client from disclosing to a federal court what he knew last summer. “The government was taking a very harsh position that threatened both your reputation and liberty,” the civil lawyer wrote in one email. In another, she added, “As you will recall the gov’t made serious threats sufficient to cause you to withdraw your civil complaint.”

Justice Department and FBI officials did not return calls seeking comment.

It is important to emphasize that it is an undisputed fact that Bill Clinton received $500,000 in speaking fees from the Russians just before Hillary Clinton decided to approve the Russian deal. The Russians also gave the Clinton Foundation millions at the same time.

It also must be emphasized that Robert Mueller, now running an open-ended Democratic investigation of Trump, was head of the FBI during this time period.

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Senate committee opens investigation into Russian uranium bribes to Clintons

Some real Russian collusion! The Senate Judiciary committee has opened an investigation into the revelations yesterday that the Clinton Foundation received significant money from the Russians prior to Hillary Clinton’s approval in 2010 of a deal giving Russia control of 20 percent of the U.S. uranium resources, and that the FBI had evidence of this pay-for-play and the Obama administration covered it up.

Unlike the empty accusations of Russian collusion against Trump, which have been based on zero evidence, these allegations involve some solid facts, including documented contributions by the Russians, in the millions, to the Clintons and their foundation.

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Fannie Mae’s new headquarters included $250K chandelier

Government in action! In building its new gold-plated Washington headquarters, officials at Fannie Mae made sure they had the best, spending about $32 million in questionable expenses, including a chandelier that cost $250,000, according to an inspector general report.

The inspector general for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which acts as a conservator for the mortgage lender, recently noted $32 million in questionable costs in an audit for Fannie Mae’s new headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. Fannie Mae will be the flagship of Midtown Center, which is scheduled to complete construction in June 2018. The inspector general reported that costs for the new headquarters have “risen dramatically,” to $171 million, up from $115 million when the consolidated headquarters was announced in 2015.

The inspector general blamed expensive upgrades for cost overruns, such as a third glass walkway costing $2 million to connect Fannie Mae buildings, $1.2 million for “decorative wood slatted ceilings,” decorative wood “lunch huts,” and pergolas, or garden-style pavilions, in elevator lobbies. FHFA officials have had poor oversight of the project, according to the inspector general, because they “did not review whether any of the major upgrades were cost-effective or whether lower cost alternatives were available.”

Among the upgrades: a $250,000 chandelier that no one was quite sure what it was for.

Read the whole article. It outlines some disgusting corruption in Washington that is unfortunately now the norm.

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China punishes more than 500 scientists for peer review fraud

An investigation in China has revealed peer review fraud in more than 100 papers, causing that nation to discipline more than 500 researchers.

MOST’s 27 July announcement marked the culmination of an investigation into the mass retraction this past April of 107 papers by Chinese authors that appeared in a single journal, “Tumor Biology.” The papers, published between 2012 and 2016, were pulled after editors found “strong reason to believe that the peer review process was compromised,” Editor-in-Chief Torgny Stigbrand, of Umeå University in Sweden, wrote on 20 April on the website of the publisher Springer. (Springer, an arm of Springer Nature, published “Tumor Biology” until December 2016; the journal is now operated by SAGE Publications.)

Investigators say the authors engaged in an all-too-common scam. “Tumor Biology” allowed submitting authors to nominate reviewers. The Chinese authors suggested “experts” and provided email addresses that routed messages from the journal back to the researchers themselves, or to accomplices—sometimes third-party firms hired by the authors—who wrote glowing reviews that helped get the papers accepted.

As the article notes, the journal is as guilty as these fake scientists.

“Tumor Biology,” which is owned by the International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers, has a history of problems. In 2016 it retracted 25 papers all at once for similar peer-review problems. The journal now has the dubious distinction of having retracted “the most papers of any other journal,” according to Retraction Watch. An investigation by ScienceInsider found that several scientists listed on its editorial board had no relationship with the journal and one had even passed away several years ago. The journal “should also improve their examination system to prevent [abuse by] unscrupulous researchers,” Chen says.

SAGE took over responsibility for publishing the journal “with the agreement that there would be a complete overhaul of the editorial structure and peer review practices of the journal, specifically the use of preferred reviewers,” a SAGE spokesperson wrote in an email to ScienceInsider.

Not surprisingly, the article includes some whining about the harshness of China’s punishments. Of the more than 500 disciplined, 314 were merely co-authors on a paper, and had not directly participated in the fraud. The investigation concluded that they should have been more diligent and aware of what the lead authors were doing, a perfectly reasonable conclusion.

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IRS routinely rehires fired workers

A new inspector general report has found that the IRS routinely rehires employees it has fired for cause, including some that have committed crimes.

Despite promises to Congress, the Internal Revenue Service has yet to take advantage of a red-flag alert system designed to prevent it from rehiring past employees with blots on their records, a watchdog found.

During the push to expand staff for the annual filing season, the tax agency is supposed to comply with a provision in the 2016 omnibus spending bill that requires a review of any rehire with past conduct or performance problems ranging from tax delinquency to falsification of documents to disruptiveness in the workplace.

But the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that more than 200 of 2,000-plus former employees “whom the IRS rehired between January 2015 and March 2016 had been previously terminated or separated from the tax agency while under investigation,” according to a report released on Thursday.

Worse, the rehires were not evenly spread. Some IRS offices were clearly more corrupt than others.

If you dig into the details of the report it appears that roughly ten percent of the rehires this season were previously dismissed for cause. But it wasn’t evenly spread across all of the offices. The Covington, Ky., office had 213 rehires examined and 96 of them were found to have been previously dismissed “while under investigation.”

That’s almost half the people this Kentucky office rehired, of whom a good percentage had been fired for literally breaking the law. Suggests that the management at that office might be complicit in these illegal acts.

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FBI arrest former IT staffer for many Democrats in Congress

A real Washington scandal: The FBI on Tuesday arrested a former Congressional IT staffer as he was trying to flee the country.

The man, Imran Aran, had run the computer systems for many Democrats in Congress, including former DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz. And while most Democrats fired Aran when he came under investigation months ago, Wasserman Schultz had kept in on her payroll until his arrest this week.

Several details that give some important political context to this story, and are not mentioned in the CNN article above:

The last story above includes other details about how Aran also threatened the renter of his home for cooperating with police. As the renter (a Marine and apparently a Democrat) noted, “He’s dangerous. This is a crime syndicate that has successfully infiltrated Congress,” he said. “If Donald Trump and the Republicans had hired foreign nationals to be their top IT guys and somehow their congressional files had been compromised, this would have been all over the news.”

Update: The correction above is because the news article linked to had mistakenly said that the hard drives were taken from Wasserman Schultz’s home. There were instead recovered from the Marine above when he found them in Aran’s former home, which he was now renting.

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Fake “Star Wars” science paper accepted/published by four journals

Peer-review science at its best! A fake science paper, loaded with quotes and references to the Star Wars movies, has been published or accepted for publication by four medical journals.

A neurology expert has revealed they were able to convince a trio of medical journals to publish their Star Wars-themed ‘fake’ manuscript, despite it being packed full of references to George Lucas’ iconic series. The author, who writes online under the name Neuroskeptic, said their paper titled ‘Mitochondria: Structure, Function and Clinical Relevance’ was poorly written and ‘an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes’.

‘I wanted to test whether ‘predatory’ journals would publish an obviously absurd paper,’ the hoax’s author wrote for Discover Magazine. ‘So I created a spoof manuscript about “midi-chlorians” – the fictional entities which live inside cells and give Jedi their powers in Star Wars. I filled it with other references to the galaxy far, far away, and submitted it to nine journals under the names of Dr Lucas McGeorge and Dr Annette Kin.’

The name of the authors given in the fake piece are thinly-veiled references to Lucas – Star Wars’ creator – and Anakin Skywalker. Neuroskeptic went on in their blog post to explain the paper was picked up by four different journals – the American Journal of Medical and Biological Research, the International Journal of Molecular Biology: Open Access, the Austin Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and American Research Journal of Biosciences. The AJMBR did not publish the paper but did request a $360 fee in order to do so.

That this keeps happening suggests that much of what is published in peer-review journals is equally bad, and should never see the light of day. The bad work gets published because the journals make their money by charging the scientists to publish things, and the scientists need to get in print to justify their cushy jobs in academia. Sadly, no one seems to care whether they can teach.

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Another Vostochny executive arrested for taking bribes

The Russian government has arrested another manager at Vostochny for demanding a 4 million ruble bribe from a contractor while simultaneously embezzling 10 million rubles from the project.

The arrests, of which this is one of about a half dozen, indicate both good and bad things. First, they indicate that the Russian government under Putin might actually be trying to rein in some of the corruption that permeates Russian business practices. Second, they indicate the amount of corruption that permeates Russian business practices.

What Putin is probably doing is attempting to control the bribe-taking and embezzling, not stop it. Too much of his bureaucracy and pseudo-private industry depends on this corruption to eliminate it entirely. Moreover, he doesn’t want to eliminate it because he himself benefits from it. He just simply doesn’t want it to get so out-of-hand that it prevents projects from getting completed, as it apparently almost did at Vostochny.

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Did the Pentagon give ULA $27.4 million for work already done?

Corruption: It appears that a Department of Defense $27.4 million contract awarded to ULA on May 16 to develop new avionics for its rockets was for work already completed by the company.

The government award to ULA reinforces the notion that, traditionally in aerospace, the government pays for rocket upgrades. But it is also curious because of its timing—for work to be completed two years from now. Based upon information in an article written by two ULA engineers and published in Advances in the Astronautical Sciences Guidance, Navigation and Control, the avionics system has already been upgraded. Moreover, the February 5, 2016 launch of a GPS satellite for the Air Force marked the first launch of the common avionics system.

“The launch of GPS IIF-12 in February 2016 represents the culmination of several years of development work to update avionics hardware and flight software as well as simulation and test environment tools,” the research article states. “Common avionics addresses the challenge of parts obsolescence any program with the longevity of (this one) must face. ULA has taken advantage of this opportunity to design and produce a more affordable solution for vehicle control that will also expand the capability of our launcher fleet.”

A call into the Air Force for an explanation resulted in no response at all.

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Dog sits on editorial board of seven medical journals

An Australian professor wondered if he could get his dog Ollie picked to be on the editorial board of a number of medical journals, and was astonished to discover seven who agreed without reservations.

Ollie’s owner is Mike Daube, Professor of Health Policy at Curtin University in Perth. Ollie likes to watch Mike working on his computer, and Mike gets a lot of emails from predatory journals. Wondering just how low these journals would go, he put together a curriculum vitae for his dog – detailing research interests such as “the benefits of abdominal massage for medium-sized canines” – and sent it off to a number of these journals, asking for a spot on their editorial boards.

Remarkably, the vast majority accepted Ollie without demur, and her name now adorns several journal websites. Ollie is a trailblazer, Professor Daube says, being the first dog ever to get on the editorial board of a journal.

“What makes it even more bizarre is that one of these journals has actually asked Ollie to review an article. It’s entitled “Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours and their management.” Some poor soul has actually written an article on this theme in good faith, and the journal has sent it to a dog to review.”

The article provides a nice look at the problems facing the modern peer review journal field.

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NSF voids punishment of scientists who committed plagiarism and data fabrication

An inspector general report has found that the National Science Foundation has routinely cancelled or reduced the punishments of scientists who had committed either plagiarism or data fabrication, allowing them to continue to get grants and advise the government.

The inspector general for the National Science Foundation identified at least 23 instances of plagiarism in proposals, NSF-funded research, and agency publications in 2015 and 2016. It found at least eight instances of data manipulation and fabrication in those years. NSF officials disregarded recommended sanctions against some of the scientists and academics implicated in those findings. Though many were temporarily barred from receiving additional federal funding, nearly all will be eligible for taxpayer support and official roles in NSF-funded research in the future.

In one investigation that concluded in Nov. 2015, the IG found that an NSF-supported researcher had “knowingly plagiarized text into five NSF proposals.”

“These actions were a significant departure from the standards of the research community, and therefore constituted research misconduct,” according to a report on the investigation’s findings.

No wonder the public has become very skeptical of government science. Worse, by turning a blind eye to this bad behavior the National Science Foundation ends up giving a black eye to all science.

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85% of the world’s governments are corrupt

According to one think tank that studies corruption in government, 85% of the world lives under governments that are essentially corrupt.

“Corruption” is defined by Transparency International (TI) as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Each year since 1995, TI has published a Corruption Perceptions Index that scores the world’s nations out of 100 for their public sector honesty and the just-released 2016 report paints the same bleak picture we’ve been seeing now for two decades … except it’s getting worse.

According to the data, despite the illusion of elected government in half the world’s countries, democracy is losing. Only two countries scored 90 out of 100 this year, and just 54 of the 176 countries (30%) assessed in the report scored better than 50. Fifty percent might have constituted a pass in a High School arithmetic test, but for an elected government to be so inept at carrying out the will of the electorate, it is a clear betrayal of the people. The average country score this year is a paltry 43, indicating endemic corruption in a country’s public sector is the norm.

Even more damning is that more countries declined than improved in this year’s results.

Not surprisingly, the countries at the bottom of the list are almost all Middle Eastern Islamic nations, all of whom are the source of most of the world’s terrorism and Islamic madness. The few others are those trying to become communist paradises, Venezuela and North Korea.

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A good summary of the Wikileaks DNC emails

Link here. This Reddit post essential lists several dozen links to specific DNC emails at the Wikileaks site, all illustrating some pretty unsavory behavior by Democratic Party officials and politicians as well as a number of so-called journalists.

Many of these stories are simply the ordinary dirty business of politics, laid bare to see. Others though reveal the significant levels of corruption that permeate the Democratic Party, levels I think that far worse than anything one could find among the Republicans, bad as that party’s leadership happens to be.

Above all, the emails that document the close teamwork between the press and the Democratic Party are probably the most important. It is not that this is surprising. The emails merely prove it beyond a shadow of doubt. MSNBC and its head Phil Griffin especially are revealed to be nothing more than Democratic operatives, working closely with the DNC to push its agenda.

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Congress demands Air Force spend less and more at the same time

A House budget report has cut the Air Force launch budget while simultaneously requiring the Air Force to favor more expensive launch companies.

In addition to cutting the funding available for new launch contracts, House appropriators also want the Air Force to consider “the best value to the government” in evaluating bids.

ULA has been pushing for the best-value approach since it sat out last fall’s GPS-3 launch competition saying it couldn’t win a price shootout against SpaceX, which will launch the satellite which was awarded an $82.7 million contract last month for a May 2018 launch of a GPS-3 satellite. That contract was awarded as part of a best value source selection. “We do not yet feel we are in a position to win price-only competitions with our competitor,” Tory Bruno, ULA president and chief executive, said in a March interview with SpaceNews. “We believe we have better performance, reliability and schedule certainty.” Those traits would carry greater weight in a best-value competition.

Only our precious Congress. On one hand they cut the budget for launches because they think the Air Force is wasting money On the other they demand that the Air Force spend extra millions on launch contracts so that the company they favor, ULA, gets the work. One would almost think they do not have the nation’s interests in mind..

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Fake images in biology research papers

The uncertainty of peer review: A new study has found that since 1995 as many as 5.5% of all biomedical research papers per year contain duplicate or faked images.

Bik, who is at Stanford University in California, spent two years looking at articles published from 1995 to 2014 in 40 different journals, hunting for instances in which identical images were used to represent different experiments within the same paper. She cross-checked the duplications that she found with her two co-authors, both microbiologists.

Overall, 4% of the inspected papers contained such images, the researchers found. But rates ranged from over 12% in the International Journal of Oncology, to 0.3% in the Journal of Cell Biology, which has since 2002 systematically scanned images in its accepted papers before publication. Journals with higher impact factors generally had lower rates of duplicated images.

…Many of the problems were probably sloppy mistakes where people selected the wrong photograph, says Bik. But half or more look deliberate — because images are flipped or rotated or the same features occur twice in the same photograph. [emphasis mine]

Essentially, a significant number of scientists in medical research are purposely faking data.

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