An attorney who has served in the United States Department of Justice for the past 36 years is now resigning in protest over what he calls Attorney General Bill Barr's "slavish obedience" to President Donald Trump.
Phillip Halpern, who until recently spent decades working at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego, writes in the San Diego Union-Tribune that he's now "fleeing" the DOJ after having served "19 different attorneys general and six different presidents."
The chief reason, he says, is the way that Barr has turned the DOJ into the president's personal law firm that gives preferential treatment to his allies.
"Over the last year, Barr’s resentment toward rule-of-law prosecutors became increasingly difficult to ignore, as did his slavish obedience to Donald Trump’s will in his selective meddling with the criminal justice system in the Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and Roger Stone cases," he writes. "In each of these cases, Barr overruled career prosecutors in order to assist the president’s associates and/or friends, who potentially harbor incriminating information."
He also hammered Barr for parroting the president's baseless conspiracy theories about mail-in voting.
"This career bureaucrat seems determined to turn our democracy into an autocracy," he writes. "There is no other honest explanation for Barr’s parroting of the president’s wild and unsupported conspiracy theories regarding mail-in ballots."
Reacting to the growing wave of bad news on the legal front for Donald Trump, former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade claimed the hits keep coming for the former president and that they are accelerating because judges can see through Trump's delay game.
Speaking with MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart on Saturday morning, McQuade claimed she was stunned by a judge ordering the DOJ to respond to a motion first thing the next morning and claimed it was indicative of what the former president can expect as multiple indictments in multiple jurisdictions loom.
"Am I reading too much into it, by how quickly that court made this determination?" host Capehart prompted. "Where Judge Beryl [Howell] says, 'no attorney-client privilege,' then the new chief judge comes in says, 'hey, wait a minute,' then almost immediately says, 'oh no, Trump attorneys, you've got until midnight. [Special counsel] Jack Smith, you've got until six am to respond to the midnight filing.' That is, in and of itself, a significant development."
"That is the most extraordinary briefing schedule I've ever heard in my life," McQuade admitted. "The Justice Department had between midnight and 6 am to file their response? I've never seen anything like that. I don't know the reason."
"It could be that they don't want Donald Trump dragging his feet -- it could be that there was something occurring there that they were needing to beat that's not known to the public," she explained. "It could even be that the documents had already been turned over, and so, they were trying to avoid a scenario where there was a reversal after the horse was out of the barn, so to speak."
"I don't know, but it does seem that judges are getting Trump's number, in terms of not giving him a lot of time to delay the quest for justice," she added.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has yet to jump into the race for the Republican party's 2024 presidential nomination, and there are growing indications that he may not be able to pull away a substantial segment of Donald Trump supporters that would allow him to not only beat the former president in the GOP primaries but also win in a general election.
According to a report from Politico's Steven Shepard, DeSantis is going through all of the motions of running for president, without actually announcing, but he is running into speedbumps when it comes to rallying conservative voters to his camp.
Put simply by Shepard, DeSantis' presidential drive has "hit the skids."
What should be of concern to the DeSantis camp is the inability to pull away what are now being called "beer track" voters, described as having "lower incomes and levels of educational attainment," who have strongly allied themselves with the former president.
As the Politico report notes, it's getting worse for the high-profile Florida governor.
"While DeSantis is still the preferred candidate of high-income voters and those with college degrees, he is showing signs of bleeding there, too. In recent weeks, Trump’s numbers have been rising among all Republicans, including with GOP voters most skeptical of his candidacy in the so-called 'wine track,'" Shepard is reporting.
"It’s obviously still early in the 2024 contest: DeSantis isn’t even a declared candidate yet, and most of the new polls were conducted prior to the news that Trump may soon face criminal charges in New York related to an alleged hush-money payment he made during his 2016 campaign to hide an extramarital affair. Other potential legal troubles loom on the horizon," he continued before adding, "But even if the campaign hasn’t officially started, the recent polling trends do provide positive data for Trump and troubling numbers for DeSantis."
"For now, however, the greatest divide with potential to define the 2024 Republican primary is class. Don’t expect the most educated Republicans to fall in love with Trump, or the 'beer track' to abandon him en masse. But any marked shifts among these groups in the coming months could make the difference," he predicted.
The modern world runs on electricity, and wires are what carry that electricity to every light, television, heating system, cellphone and computer on the planet. Unfortunately, on average, about 5% of the power generated at a coal or solar power plant is lost as the electricity is transmitted from the plant to its final destination. This amounts to a US$6 billion loss annually in the U.S. alone.
To see why these recent advances are so exciting and what impact they may have on the world, it’s important to understand how superconducting materials work.
Most materials offer resistance when electricity runs through them and heat up. Resistance is how filaments in an incandescent lightbulb produce light Ulfbastel/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA
A resistance-free material
A superconductor is any material that conducts electricity without offering any resistance to the flow of the electric current.
This resistance-free attribute of superconductors contrasts dramatically with standard conductors of electricity – like copper or aluminum – which heat up when current passes through them. This is similar to quickly sliding your hand across a smooth, slick surface compared to sliding your hand over a rough rug. The rug generates more friction and, therefore, more heat, too. Electric toasters and older-style incandescent lightbulbs use resistance to produce heat and light, but resistance can pose problems for electronics. Semiconductors have resistance below that of conductors, but still higher than that of superconductors.
Superconductive materials repel magnetic fields, making it possible to levitate a magnet above a superconductor.
Another characteristic of superconductors is that they repel magnetic fields. You may have seen videos of the fascinating result of this effect: It is possible to levitate magnets above a superconductor.
How do superconductors work?
All superconductors are made of materials that are electrically neutral – that is, their atoms contain negatively charged electrons that surround a nucleus with an equal number of positively charged protons.
If you attach one end of a wire to something that is positively charged, and the other end to something that is negatively charged, the system will want to reach equilibrium by moving electrons around. This causes the electrons in the wire to try to move through the material.
At normal temperatures, electrons move in somewhat erratic paths. They can generally succeed in moving through a wire freely, but every once in a while they collide with the nuclei of the material. These collisions are what obstruct the flow of electrons, cause resistance and heat up the material.
The nuclei of all atoms are constantly vibrating. In a superconducting material, instead of flitting around randomly, the moving electrons get passed along from atom to atom in such a way that they keep in sync with the vibrating nuclei. This coordinated movement produces no collisions and, therefore, no resistance and no heat.
The colder a material gets, the more organized the movement of electrons and nuclei becomes. This is why existing superconductors only work at extremely low temperatures.
If scientists can develop a room-temperature superconducting material, wires and circuitry in electronics would be much more efficient and produce far less heat. The benefits of this would be widespread.
If the wires used to transmit electricity were replaced with superconducting materials, these new lines would be able to carry up to five times as much electricity more efficiently than current cables.
The speed of computers is mostly limited by how many wires can be packed into a single electric circuit on a chip. The density of wires is often limited by waste heat. If engineers could use superconducting wires, they could fit many more wires in a circuit, leading to faster and cheaper electronics.
Finally, with room-temperature superconductors, magnetic levitation could be used for all sorts of applications, from trains to energy-storage devices.
With recent advances providing exciting news, both researchers looking at the fundamental physics of high-temperature superconductivity as well as technologists waiting for new applications are paying attention.