Grind for December 29th
“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” – Garrison Keillor
FBI agent to serve seven days in prison for hacking civilian email
Former FBI analyst Mark Tolson was sentenced this Friday to seven days in jail and a $500 fine for accessing the email account of Jack Burkman – the conservative lobbyist who attempted a smear campaign against former FBI Director Robert Mueller last year.
“I did what I did to try to protect Director Mueller,” said Tolson, who lost his job over the incident. “I’m terribly sorry.”
Tolson accessed the account through his wife, who previously worked for Burkman and knew his passwords. The couple printed out “emails of interest” and contacted a reporter when they discovered Burkman’s plans to publicly accuse Mueller of sexual assault.
The reporter refused to publish the illegally-obtained emails.
“You can’t just rummage through other people’s accounts,” said US District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema. “This is actually a very serious offense…You’re lucky. Your wife is lucky. The government could have prosecuted her as well.”
Brinkema added a word of praise for the journalist who refused to publish Burkman’s emails: “I would commend whoever the media people are who turned it down,” he said. “You’re actually probably lucky you didn’t get an unethical media person.”
During the trial, assistant US Attorney Alexander Berrang recommended prison time for Tolson based on the fact that he attempted to take his information to the press rather than the FBI. The move also seems to be related to Tolson’s wife’s belief that Burkman owed her money.
To matter what the motive, this story is a key example of FBI arrogance.
Mark Tolson believed he had the authority to violate Burkman’s constitutional rights just because he was a member of the FBI, and he deserves a far greater punishment than seven days in prison.
Law enforcement has extraordinary power and therefore requires extraordinary discipline and extraordinary punishment when those powers are abused.
Tolson, 60, will serve his short prison sentence after the holidays, followed by a year of probation and 50 hours of community service.
China nears completion of “artificial sun”
For decades, scientists have searched for ways to replicate nuclear fusion (the reaction that powers the Sun).
China’s attempt to create such a reaction, termed “HL-2M Tokamak” is scheduled for completion next year.
It is unclear if the historic attempt will be successful, given the fact that nuclear fusion requires temperatures of nearly 200 million °F, but updates from November suggest the project is going smoothly.
Scientists are hopeful that nuclear fusion could be utilized to create an endless source of clean energy, but the implications of China controlling that energy source are staggering.
Other problems with nuclear fusion include:
— Astronomical cost
— How to contain boiling hot plasma and keep it stable
— How to protect the device from the power it contains
Duan Xuru, one of the scientists working on the project, claims the artificial sun will reach temperatures of more than 360 million °F (about 13x hotter than the center of the Sun).
“HL-2M will provide researchers will valuable data on the compatibility of high-performance fusion plasmas with approaches to more effectively handle the heat and particles exhausted from the device,” adds fusion physicist James Harrison. “This is one of the biggest issues facing the development of a commercial fusion reactor…and the results from HL-2M, as part of the international fusion research community, will influence the design of these reactors.”
HL-2M is part of China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak project, which began in 2006
GOOD TO THE LAST DROP:
Did you know… Cash machines are as dirty as public toilets.