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Trump judge nominee, 36, who has never tried a case, wins approval of Senate panel

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Brett J. Talley, President Trump’s nominee to be a federal judge in Alabama, has never tried a case, was unanimously rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Assn.’s judicial rating committee, has practiced law for only three years and, as a blogger last year, displayed a degree of partisanship unusual for a judicial nominee, denouncing “Hillary Rotten Clinton” and pledging support for the National Rifle Assn.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, on a party-line vote, approved him for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.

Talley, 36, is part of what Trump has called the “untold story” of his success in filling the courts with young conservatives.

“The judge story is an untold story. Nobody wants to talk about it,” Trump said last month, standing alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the White House Rose Garden. “But when you think of it, Mitch and I were saying, that has consequences 40 years out, depending on the age of the judge — but 40 years out.”

Civil rights groups and liberal advocates see the matter differently. They denounced Thursday’s vote, calling it “laughable” that none of the committee Republicans objected to confirming a lawyer with as little experience as Talley to preside over federal trials.

“He’s practiced law for less than three years and never argued a motion, let alone brought a case. This is the least amount of experience I’ve seen in a judicial nominee,” said Kristine Lucius, executive vice president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

The group was one of several on the left that urged the Judiciary Committee to reject Talley because of his lack of qualifications and because of doubts over whether he had the “temperament and ability to approach cases with the fairness and open-mindedness necessary to serve as a federal judge.”

Some conservatives discount the ABA’s rating. “The ABA is a liberal interest group. They have a long history of giving lower ratings to Republican nominees,” said Carrie Severino, counsel for the Judicial Crisis Network, which supports Trump’s nominees. She said past liberal nominees have been rated as qualified even if they had little or no courtroom experience.

Talley does have some other qualifications, some traditional, others less so. He grew up in Alabama and earned degrees from the University of Alabama and Harvard Law School. He clerked for two federal judges and worked as a speech writer on the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney. And, like many people who eventually became federal judges, he became the protege of someone who became a senator.

In Talley’s case, the mentor was Republican Sen. Luther Strange, the former Alabama state attorney general who was appointed to the Senate in January to replace Jeff Sessions, who left the Senate to become U.S. attorney general. Talley worked for Strange as a deputy.

Typically, senators play the lead role in recommending nominees for the federal district judgeships in their state. Talley also had something of an inside track. This year, when Sessions moved to the attorney general’s post, Talley took a job in the Justice Department’s office that selects judicial nominees.

Trump and McConnell have succeeded in pushing judicial nominees through the Senate because the Republicans have voted in lockstep since taking control of the chamber in 2014.

When Trump took office in January, there were more than 100 vacant seats on the federal courts, thanks to an unprecedented slowdown engineered by McConnell during the final two years of President Obama’s term. The Senate under GOP control approved only 22 judges in that two-year period, the lowest total since 1951-52 in the last year of President Truman’s term. By contrast, the Senate under Democratic control approved 68 judges in the last two years of George W. Bush’s presidency.

The best known vacancy was on the Supreme Court. After Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, McConnell refused to permit a hearing for Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee. Trump filled the seat earlier this year with Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.

The Alliance for Justice, which tracks judicial nominees, said Trump’s team is off to a fast start, particularly when compared with Obama’s first year. By November 2009, Obama had made 27 judicial nominations, including Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Trump has nominated 59 people to the federal courts, including Justice Gorsuch. That’s also a contrast with Trump’s pace in filling executive branch jobs, where he has lagged far behind the pace of previous administrations.

Liberal advocates are dismayed that Republicans have voted in unison on Trump’s judges.

“So far, no one from his party has been willing to stand up against him on the agenda of packing the courts,” said Marge Baker, vice president of People for the American Way.

Last month, when the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on several other nominations, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked Talley about his fervent advocacy of gun rights. In a blog post titled a “Call to Arms,” he wrote that “the President and his democratic allies in Congress are about to launch the greatest attack on our constitutional freedoms in our lifetime,” referring to Obama’s proposal for background checks and limits on rapid-fire weapons following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“The object of that war is to make guns illegal, in all forms,” Talley wrote. The NRA “stands for all of us now, and I pray that in the coming battle for our rights, they will be victorious,” he added.

A month later, he reprinted a “thoughtful response” from a reader who wrote: “We will have to resort to arms when our other rights — of speech, press, assembly, representative government — fail to yield the desired results.” To that, he wrote: “I agree completely with this.”

When pressed, he told the senators he was “trying to generate discussion. I wanted people to be able to use my blog to discuss issues, to come together and find common ground.”

In a follow-up written question, Feinstein asked him how many times he had appeared in a federal district court.

“To my recollection, during my time as Alabama’s deputy solicitor general, I participated as part of the legal team in one hearing in federal district court in the Middle District of Alabama,” he replied.

On Thursday, the Judiciary Committee approved White House lawyer Greg Katsas on a 11-9 vote to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and then approved Talley on another 11-9 vote. The nominations now move to the Senate floor, where a similar party-line result is expected.

Major questions before the Supreme Court this fall »

david.savage@latimes.com

Twitter: DavidGSavage


UPDATES:

9:50 a.m.: This article was updated with comments from the Judicial Crisis Network.

This article was originally published at 8:10 a.m.

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chrishiestand
7 days ago
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'Brett Talley, 36, was unanimously rated as "not qualified" by the American Bar Association. Talley has practiced law for three years. As a blogger he denounced "Hillary Rotten Clinton" and pledged support for the National Rifle Association. He has been approved for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.' - wtfjht
San Diego, CA, USA
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Will It Soon Be CNN’s Time in the Barrel? – Talking Points Memo

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We know President Trump’s confidante Roger Stone is intemperate and aggressive. We also know he often blurts things out that end up being accurate or highly prescient. On August 21st, 2016, Stone tweeted: “Trust me, it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel.” A few weeks later (Oct. 7th, 2016), that’s just what happened. Wikileaks, with whom Stone had been in active and direct contact, began releasing thousands of Podesta’s stolen emails.

That’s not all we know.

AT&T is currently trying to finalize an $86 billion acquisition of Time Warner. It’s actually behind schedule.  But not to worry. The companies say they are extending their deadline “for a short period of time to facilitate obtaining final regulatory approval required to close the merger.”

AT&T needs the Justice Department’s approval for that deal. Normally, that decision would be housed off at the Antitrust Division at the Justice Department. But no one thinks that’s how it works in the Trump Administration. AT&T needs Donald Trump’s sign off, possibly mediated through the hand of Jeff Sessions but maybe not. Indeed, there has already been quite a bit of concern on Capitol Hill that Trump would try to hold up the AT&T deal as a way to exert pressure on Time Warner?

Why would the President want to pressure Time Warner? Because Time Warner owns CNN. And the White House has already put out word that it wanted to use the deal as a way to place pressure on CNN to rein in its coverage. Senators have pressed the administration to make the decision purely on legitimate antitrust grounds. Finalizing the deal has gone over schedule. It’s been suggested that to help move things along AT&T might suggest (or perhaps already has suggested) that it will rein in the “fake news” at CNN as a way to get President Trump to Yes.

Last night, as CNN’s breaking news about a Mueller indictment was rippling across the interwebs, Roger Stone went on a Twitter tirade ranting at various people. One Tweet thought was quite specific.

Obviously, Roger Stone can rant and wish all he wants. He was in a splutter and a rage. How can he know what AT&T is going to do. But let’s go back to one more thing we know. Roger Stone still regularly talks to President Trump. Is that what President Trump told Stone? That AT&T promised they’ll ‘clean house’ at CNN?

Yes, I agree, a few links in the chain of this hypothetical. But is it even plausible that Donald Trump wouldn’t try to use such an opportunity to at least squeeze one of his arch-wrestling match enemies? Hardly. It’s exactly the kind of thing that would get Trump and Stone giddy and bloody-minded. It’s totally Stone’s kind of thing; and Trump’s too. Someone should start asking some questions. Start at DOJ and in the C-Suite at AT&T.

Do I think AT&T will try to gut CNN? I have no idea. But is Trump pushing for it and grousing and gossiping about it with Roger Stone? I’d say that’s a pretty good bet. And given he’s the President of the United States … well, you know how that sentence ends.

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chrishiestand
19 days ago
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If this is really happening how could that be legal?
San Diego, CA, USA
acdha
19 days ago
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Washington, DC
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Out of Nowhere: The Three Students Who Uncovered 'Dieselgate'

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The diesel emissions scandal has already cost Volkswagen 25 billion euros, and no end is it sight. But how did it start? In a corrugated iron shack in the forests of West Virginia, discovered by a trio of university students.
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chrishiestand
24 days ago
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It’s most interesting that these researchers don’t seem to care about protecting the environment. Another reason why it’s important to have research funding sources with social values
San Diego, CA, USA
acdha
25 days ago
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Washington, DC
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Dollar General Hits a Gold Mine in Rural America

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On a Friday in April, Bob Tharp, the mayor of Decatur, Ark., takes me to see what used to be the commercial heart of his town. There isn’t much to look at…
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chrishiestand
30 days ago
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“Essentially what the dollar stores are betting on in a large way is that we are going to have a permanent underclass in America. It’s based on the concept that the jobs went away, and the jobs are never coming back, and that things aren’t going to get better in any of these places.”
San Diego, CA, USA
acdha
30 days ago
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Washington, DC
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Pumping liquid metal at 1,400°C opens the door for better solar thermal systems

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  • "Georgia Tech Graduate Student Caleb Amy holds a ceramic gear developed for a pump able to transfer molten tin at more than 1,400° Celsius."

    Christopher Moore, Georgia Tech

  • From Georgia Tech: "This image shows liquid metal flowing at 1400° Celsius in the laboratory of Asegun Henry at Georgia Tech. Even though all the surrounding materials are glowing, the tin remains reflective and the ripples from the pool of tin below are visible via reflections from the stream.

    Caleb Amy

  • "Georgia Tech Graduate Student Caleb Amy shows how two ceramic gears mesh in a pump developed to transfer molten tin at more than 1,400° Celsius."

    Christopher Moore, Georgia Tech

  • "Graduate Student Caleb Amy pours molten tin into a crucible in the laboratory of Asegun Henry at Georgia Tech. A new ceramic-based pump designed and tested at Georgia Tech was used to transfer molten tin at more than 1,400° Celsius."

    Christopher Moore, Georgia Tech

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford, and Purdue University have built a ceramic mechanical pump that can move liquid metal as hot as 1,673K (that is, about 1,400 degrees Celsius). Usually, the temperature of liquid metals that you can pump tends to cap out at 1,300K (1,027 degrees Celsius) because there are few pump-building materials that will stay solid and chemically stable beyond that. Those materials that exist tend to crack or break quickly under the stress of such heat.

But this new pump, made of carefully engineered ceramic, could be good news for concentrated solar power, as well as accompanying thermal energy storage.

An example of these sorts of systems is SolarReserve’s 110 MW Crescent Dunes plant outside of Tonopah, Nevada. The facility consists of an array of heliostats—or panels that reflect sunlight onto a thermal tower—and a molten salt tank. The molten salt is pumped to the thermal tower and captures the heat from the sunlight projected on the tower. It is then stored at 566 degrees Celsius (1,050 degrees Fahrenheit) and used to transfer heat through a heat exchanger to a working fluid that spins a conventional turbine, generating electricity.

This latest research could improve that system by allowing operators to exchange that molten salt for liquid tin, which has a higher thermal conductivity than molten salt and, at 1,673K, could supply more energy to a system with less effort. In fact, the researchers say, “the use of molten metals instead of fluids such as oils and salts that are electrically insulating can result in an increase in the heat transfer coefficient of two to three orders of magnitude.”

The trick to creating the ceramic pump lay in careful engineering of the pump itself. Materials had to be chosen to accommodate for expansion and contraction of the pump with heat, and an appropriate material for sealing the pump was also necessary. The researchers used graphite for piping, joints, and seals, as well as a material called Shapal (“a machinable aluminium-nitride-rich composite”) because it had a similar coefficient of expansion to graphite under heat. Tungsten was used for the outside of the sealed region.

The external gear pump was then built with the pump's gear teeth and the motor intentionally misaligned at room temperature; when the pump experienced very high temperatures it would expand into proper alignment. The pump expanded more than 1mm vertically while in operation.

To accommodate very high temperature liquid metal, the atmosphere inside the pump was replaced with inert N2, which the researchers say “can also be used at the industrial scale.”

The pump system was tested at an average temperature of 1,473K (1,200 degrees Celsius)—with peak temperatures above 1,673K (1,400 degrees Celsius)—for 72 hours. The researchers noted that the temperature of the liquid metal “was a result of limited heater power and is not a fundamental bound on the pump or other system components.” After 72 hours the test was stopped, and there were no component failures during the test or upon cooling. Although the gears “experienced visible wear,” the researchers offered some design suggestions that would improve the lifetime of the components in future tests. “Shaft wear was reduced by more than an order of magnitude from earlier tests simply by polishing the shafts,” the paper said.

The high volumetric energy density of liquid tin would allow a relatively small pump to be used at a full-scale power plant. The researchers estimate that using very hot liquid metal in their pump would result in “a relative increase in efficiency of approximately 50 percent” at concentrated thermal solar plants, “reducing costs by 20 percent–30 percent.”

One thing worth noting is that this research was funded by the Advance Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The agency distributes grants to institutions like Georgia Institute of Technology to advance energy-related technology, especially favoring projects that might be uneconomic for private companies to fund. But projects like this may not be possible in the future, as the Trump administration has asked for all ARPA-E funding to be cut in the 2018 budget.

Nature, 2017. DOI: 10.1038/nature24054  (About DOIs).

Listing image by Christopher Moore, Georgia Tech

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chrishiestand
32 days ago
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“One thing worth noting is that this research was funded by the Advance Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The agency distributes grants to institutions like Georgia Institute of Technology to advance energy-related technology, especially favoring projects that might be uneconomic for private companies to fund. But projects like this may not be possible in the future, as the Trump administration has asked for all ARPA-E funding to be cut in the 2018 budget.”
San Diego, CA, USA
acdha
35 days ago
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Washington, DC
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satadru
35 days ago
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"But projects like this may not be possible in the future, as the Trump administration has asked for all ARPA-E funding to be cut in the 2018 budget."
New York, NY

Have dirt that could impeach Trump? Larry Flynt will pay you $10 million.

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chrishiestand
34 days ago
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At first, I didn't think this could possibly change anything. But actually the type of person I imagine doing business with Trump might be interested in a deal like this.
San Diego, CA, USA
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