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Volume 13, Number 10 – 5/30/10

Volume 13, Number 10 – 5/30/10
FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

  • President Hugo Chavez has urged supporters to use Twitter to blow the whistle on currency speculators.
  • Using snippets of DNA and other molecules, billions of identical, waffle-like structures can be created that can be turned into logic circuits using light rather than electricity as a signaling medium.
  • Human industry is building up a mighty hunger for CO2, the villainous greenhouse gas. It is becoming a problem to get enough of the stuff.
  • Check out a vehicle that behaves like a plant, photosynthesizing carbon dioxide from the air and exchanging oxygen back into the atmosphere.

INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

Tweet for Traitors – (Associated Press – May 16, 2010)
President Hugo Chavez has urged supporters to use Twitter to blow the whistle on currency speculators and announced that police raids on illegal traders would continue as Venezuela’s government tries to defend the embattled bolivar. The socialist leader asked Venezuelans to send messages identifying illegal traders. He described them as “thieves” who must be punished for currency speculation, which he blames for rapidly rising inflation. “My Twitter account is open for you to denounce them,” Chavez said during his weekly radio and television program. “We’re going to launch several raids. We’ve already launched some raids, thanks to the complaints from the people.”


NEW REALITIES

First Self-Replicating Synthetic Bacterial Cell – (JCVI – May 20, 2010)
Researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit genomic research organization, have published results describing the successful construction of the first self-replicating, synthetic bacterial cell. The team synthesized the 1.08 million base pair chromosome of a modified Mycoplasma mycoides genome. The synthetic cell is called Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 and is the proof of principle that genomes can be designed in the computer, chemically made in the laboratory and transplanted into a recipient cell to produce a new self-replicating cell controlled only by the synthetic genome.

Does Newly Discovered Supernova Point to Unknown Laws of Physics? – (Daily Galaxy – May 20, 2010)
In the past decade, robotic telescopes have turned astronomers’ attention to strange exploding stars that may point to new and unusual physics. An international team of astronomers has uncovered a supernova whose origin cannot be explained by any previously known mechanism and which promises exciting new insights into stellar explosions.

Man Infects Himself with (Computer) Virus – (PC World – May 27, 2010)
We are one step closer to the future: Dr. Mark Gasson, a British scientist has become the first human being to contract a computer virus by way of an RFID chip implanted in his wrist. Gasson and his colleagues then created a virus and put it on the chip. When Gasson went into the lab and the lab’s computers read the code, the virus implanted itself into the database and began to replicate. Now if any of his other colleagues swipe their traditional swipe-cards to get into the lab, the virus can replicate itself on their swipe-cards. His experiment shows that viruses can be transferred wirelessly from implant devices to the computers they communicate with.


GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

Found: Genes that Let You Live to 100 – (Times – May 16, 2010)
Scientists have discovered the “Methuselah” genes whose lucky carriers have a much improved chance of living to 100 even if they indulge in an unhealthy lifestyle. The genes appear to protect people against the effects of smoking and bad diet and can also delay the onset of age-related illnesses such as cancer and heart disease by up to three decades. The secret of longevity probably lies in having the right “suite” of genes, according to new studies of centenarians and their families. Such combinations are extremely rare – only one person in 10,000 reaches the age of 100.

ADHD Linked to Pesticide Exposure – (CNN – May 17, 2010)
Children exposed to higher levels of a type of pesticide found in trace amounts on commercially grown fruit and vegetables are more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than children with less exposure, a nationwide study suggests. Children with above-average levels of one common byproduct had roughly twice the odds of getting a diagnosis of ADHD, according to the study. Exposure to the pesticides, known as organophosphates, has been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems in children in the past, but previous studies have focused on communities of farm workers and other high-risk populations. This study is the first to examine the effects of exposure in the population at large.

Silica Cages Help Anti-cancer Antibodies Kill Tumors in Mice – (EurekAlert – May 21, 2010)
Packaging anti-cancer drugs into particles of chemically modified silica improve the drugs’ ability to fight skin cancer in mice, according to new research. Results show the honeycombed particles can help anti-cancer antibodies prevent tumor growth and prolong the lives of mice. Anti-cancer antibodies target a particular protein on cancer cells and – in a poorly understood way – kill off the cells. Examples include herceptin for one form of breast cancer and cetuximab for colon cancer. Unlike popping a pill, however, current antibody-based treatments require patients to go in for intravenous drips into the arm which are expensive and expose healthy tissue to the antibody, causing side effects. Packaging antibodies into particles would concentrate them at the tumor and possibly reduce side effects and other research has shown silicon to be well tolerated by cells, animals and people.

Can Bacteria Make You Smarter? – (Discovery News – May 24, 2010)
Tiny organisms living naturally in the soil and carried in the air can actually make us more positive and alert when ingested or breathed in, say researchers from the Sage Colleges of Troy, N.Y. At the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Diego today, scientists presented research that showed a particular bacterium increased learning abilities in mice when ingested. Studies had already shown that the bacterium could increase serotonin levels and decrease anxiety. It’s another reason to get out into the great outdoors.

Beer Belly Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease – (BBC News – May 20, 2010)
A US study of more than 700 adults showed that being overweight is associated with smaller brain volume, a factor linked with dementia. The finding was particularly strong in those with high levels of visceral fat – fatty tissue which sits around the organs. The results showed that as body mass index increased, brain volume decreased – a finding that has been reported in other studies. But the findings also showed a closer connection between abdominal fat and the risk of dementia. The link between visceral fat and smaller brain volume was independent of overall weight.

Researchers Create Retina from Human Embryonic Stem Cells – (Kurzweil AI – May 27, 2010)
University of California, Irvine (UCI) scientists have created an eight-layer, early-stage retina from human embryonic stem cells, the first three-dimensional tissue structure to be made from stem cells. It also marks the first step toward the development of transplant-ready retinas to treat eye disorders such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration that affect millions.


DISCOVERIES ENABLED BY NEW TECHNOLOGY

Crystals at the Center of the Earth – (Wired – May 11, 2010)
Seismic waves traveling between Earth’s poles move faster than those moving east-west, and now scientists think they may know why. The iron alloys in the solid inner core of the Earth appear to have crystallized in such a way that it’s easier for energy to pass on the north-south axis than on the east-west, as described in a new study led by Maurizio Mattesini, a geologist at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. His study suggests that as the crystals formed, they received a particular alignment, known as anisotropy, which makes it easier for waves to travel in one direction than the other.

Archaeologists Discover 2,700-year-old Tomb in Mexico – (Guardian – May 18, 2010)
The tomb, found at a site built by Zoque Indians in Chiapa de Corzo, in southern Chiapas state, may be almost 1,000 years older than the better-known pyramid tomb of the Mayan ruler Pakal at the Palenque archaeological site, also in Chiapas. The man – probably a high priest or ruler of Chiapa de Corzo, a prominent settlement at the time – was buried in a stone chamber. The body of a one-year-old child was laid carefully over the man’s body inside the tomb, while that of a 20-year-old male was tossed into the chamber with less care, perhaps sacrificed at the time of burial. The older man was buried with jade and amber collars and bracelets and pearl ornaments. His face was covered with what may have been a funeral mask with obsidian eyes. Nearby, the tomb of a woman, also about 50, contained similar ornaments.

Horned Dinosaurs Island-hopped from Asia to Europe – (BBC News – May 26, 2010)
Horned dinosaurs previously considered native only to Asia and North America might also have roamed the lands of prehistoric Europe, say scientists. Europe in the Late Cretaceous was not a single landmass, but a group of islands known as Tethyan archipelago. Palaeontologists have announced the discovery of fossils belonging to a horned creature in the Bakony Mountains of western Hungary. The find may give them a better understanding of the environment during the late period of dinosaur evolution.


CLIMATE CHANGE & ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Live Feeds from Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) – (BP – May 27, 2010)
This is a live video feed from the Deepwater Horizon oil leak. Throughout the extended “top kill” procedure – which may take up to two days to complete – very significant changes in the appearance of the flows at the seabed may be expected. These will not provide a reliable indicator of the overall progress, or success or failure, of the top kill operation as a whole. BP will report on the progress of the operation as appropriate and on its outcome when complete.

Scientists Identify Virulent New Strains of Ug99 Stem Rust – (EurekAlert – May 26, 2010)
Four new mutations of Ug99, a strain of a deadly wheat pathogen known as stem rust, have overcome existing sources of genetic resistance developed to safeguard the world’s wheat crop. The new “races” have acquired the ability to defeat two of the most important stem rust-resistant genes, which are widely used in most of the world’s wheat breeding programs. “With the new mutations we are seeing, countries cannot afford to wait until rust ‘bites’ them,” said Dr. Ravi Singh, distinguished senior scientist International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. The reddish-brown, wind-borne fungus known as Ug99 has decimated up to 80% of Kenyan farmers’ wheat during several cropping seasons, and scientists estimate that 90% of the wheat varieties around the world lack sufficient resistance to the original Ug99.

China Drought Highlights Future Climate Threats – (Nature News – May 11, 2010)
Since last September, the Yunnan province has had 60% less rainfall than normal. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, 8.1 million people – 18% of Yunnan’s population – are short of drinking water, and US$2.5-billion worth of crops are expected to fail. Scientists in China say that the crisis marks one of the strongest case studies so far of how climate change and poor environmental practices – such as replacing rainforest with rubber trees known as ‘water pumps’ by locals because of their insatiable thirst and which now cover 20% of the prefecture’s land – can combine to create a disaster.

What Do You Do with Non-Biodegradable Plastics? – (Al Fin Energy – May 16, 2010)
Northeastern University student researchers have come up with an apparatus to convert plastic waste into clean energy without releasing harmful emissions. Self-sustainability is the key to the double-tank combustor design. Plastic waste is first processed in an upper tank through pyrolysis, which converts solid plastic into gas. Next, the gas flows to a lower tank, where it is burned with oxidants to generate heat and steam. The heat sustains the combustor while the steam can be used to generate electric power.

YeZ Concept Car Sucks in C02, Exhales Oxygen – (CNET – May 21, 2010)
Here is a vehicle that behaves like a plant, photosynthesizing carbon dioxide from the air and exchanging oxygen back into the atmosphere. Meet the YeZ, a concept two-seater that makes other eco cars blush when it comes to zero and even negative emissions. Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation is behind this clever little creation in partnership with General Motors and Volkswagen. YeZ, pronounced yea-zi, which means “leaf” in Mandarin, works its magic of photoelectric conversion with the help of state-of-the-art solar panels on the roof, wind power conversion via small wind turbines in the wheels, and carbon dioxide absorption and conversion through the bodywork. This last bit is made of a metal-organic framework that can apparently absorb carbon dioxide and water molecules from the air. Through the series of chemical reactions, energy is generated, and it’s then stored in the car’s lithium ion batteries.


INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Limitless, Cheap Chips Made Out of DNA Could Replace Silicon – (PopSci – May 11, 2010)
Silicon chips are on the way out, at least if Duke University engineer Chris Dwyer has his way. The professor of electrical and computer engineering says that using the unique properties of DNA to coax circuits into assembling themselves could produce more logic circuits in a single day than the entire global silicon chip industry could produce in a month. Indeed, DNA is perfectly suited to such pre-programming and self-assembly. Dwyer’s recent research has shown that by creating and mixing customized snippets of DNA and other molecules, he can create billions of identical, waffle-like structures that can be turned into logic circuits using light rather than electricity as a signaling medium.

Controlling Computers with Your Mind – (Future Tense – May 12, 2010)
Dean Pomerlau, a researcher at Intel and his group are using software to analyze MRI brain scans to determine what a subject is thinking about. He says they can predict the result with about 90% accuracy. While Dean cautions that having this technology in a practical application available to anyone is still many years away, it holds tremendous potential to help the disabled. One possible application of the technology might be to create a pill full of tiny robots that swim up to your brain and embed themselves there to transmit your thoughts.

Seven Atom Transistor Sets the Pace for Future PCs – (BBC News – May 24, 2010)
If the new seven atom transistor can be made in large numbers it could mean chips with components up to 100 times smaller than on existing processors. The Australian creators of the transistor hope it is also a step towards a solid-state quantum computer. The transistor is not the smallest ever created as two research groups have previously managed to produce working single-atom transistors. However, the device is many times smaller than the components found in chips in contemporary computers. On chips where components are 22 nanometres in size, transistor gates are about 42 atoms across.

Sony Shows Rollable OLED Display – (PC World – May 27, 2010)
Sony has developed a flexible color display that’s sturdy enough to be wrapped around a pencil while still showing video images. The 4.1-inch screen has a resolution of 432 by 240 pixels, which is similar to that offered by many mass-market cell phones. The screen contains newly-developed organic thin-film transistors that are used to make the driver circuitry to run the display. The transistors can be directly made on a flexible substrate and remove the need for rigid driver chips that would prevent the screen from being rolled.


AUGMENTED/ ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Wikitude Drive Beta – Test Drivers Wanted – (Wikitude – May 20, 2010)
Wikitude Drive, the first mobile Augmented Reality (AR) satellite navigation system with global coverage, is looking for test drivers. Wikitude Drive, the Grand Prize Winner of the Global Navteq LBS Challenge 2010 at Mobile World Congress last February in Barcelona, transforms your Android smartphone into a mobile navigation system looking a bit like something out of a science fiction movie. Driving directions not only appear on screen, they are overlaid on the live video stream of the very street you are driving on. As a result, you are seeing the real world and real road in front of you, while being directed by a digital route on top of it.


ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

The Growing Hunger for Carbon Dioxide – (Al Fin Energy – May 6, 2010)
Human industry is building up a mighty hunger for CO2, the villainous greenhouse gas. It is becoming a problem to get enough of the stuff. For example, the company Algenol is making — to situate its algal farms next to Valero oil refineries, so as to siphon off the CO2 byproduct of the refinery to feed its algae. Other companies making similar plans include Ceres, and Joule. Another CO2 hungry process being discussed is the German project to use wind-generated electricity to produce methanol.

Plotting the Global Hydrocarbon Collapse – (Peak Generation – May 9, 2010)
More than 90% of the world’s energy comes from non-renewable sources – and its decline can be projected on a Hubbert bell curve. We are familiar with the concept of peak oil. But Hubbert’s model proves versatile, as the exploitation of any non-renewable resource – from oil to uranium – follows similar patterns. Experts in the fields of coal, natural gas and nuclear power are beginning to talk of vastly inflated reserves figures and pointing to resource depletion within the next two decades. This, if it proves accurate, would involve all our main sources of energy declining drastically, all within a relatively short timeframe.

“Deep Green”: Kite-Based Tidal Power – (Good Blog – May 13, 2010)
The Swedish start-up Minesto is working on a new kind of underwater turbine, called “Deep Green.” The kite-like apparatus is tethered to the ocean floor, at a depth of anywhere from 60 to 150 meters. Then, as a tide or current pushes against the kite, it moves from side to side because its wings create a lift force. As it moves, water flows through a turbine in the kite. And because it’s moving, the velocity of the flow of water through the turbine can be 10 times the surrounding stream flow, according to Minesto. In theory, Deep Green should be much cheaper to install and maintain than other wave-power technologies, because these things are relatively small. Each kite’s wingspan is about 40 feet. One of these kites, working for an hour, could generate enough power to supply about two weeks’ power for the average home.

Shale Gas Revolution Changes World Energy Balance – (Al Fin Energy – May 10, 2010)
Over the past decade, new techniques have been developed that drastically cut the price tag of shale gas production. One of the biggest effects of the shale boom will be to give Western and Chinese consumers fuel supplies close to home-thus scuttling a potential natural-gas cartel. The political fallout from shale gas will throw world politics for a loop. Shale-gas resources are believed to extend into countries such as Poland, Romania, Sweden, Austria, Germany-and Ukraine. Once European shale gas comes, the Kremlin will be hard-pressed to use its energy exports as a political lever. “The shale boom also is likely to upend the economics of renewable energy. It may be a lot harder to persuade people to adopt green power that needs heavy subsidies when there’s a cheap, plentiful fuel out there that’s a lot cleaner than coal, even if gas isn’t as politically popular as wind or solar.” (Wall Street Journal).

Gene-Engineering the Best of all Possible Algae – (Al Fin Energy – May 10, 2010)
Iowa State University scientists are hard at work engineering the best genetic strain of algae for the production of biofuels. The researchers are investigating the process of genetically stacking traits in algae for biofuels production. With a $4.37 million grant from the U.S. DOE, ISU genetics professor and project lead Martin Spalding intends to develop a micro-algal platform allowing algae to be treated as a crop. The best analogy to this is stacking traits in corn. “Farmers could plant simple unmanipulated lines of corn that have high yield,” Spalding says, “but you wouldn’t get the drought tolerance you want. You could plant drought-tolerant corn, but you wouldn’t get standability. But by genetically manipulating corn, you get all the traits you need.”

Bladeless wind turbine inspired by Tesla – (PhysOrg – May 7, 2010)
A bladeless wind turbine whose only rotating component is a turbine/driveshaft could generate power at a cost comparable to coal-fired power plants, according to its developers at Solar Aero. The New Hampshire-based company recently announced its patent on the Fuller wind turbine, which is an improvement on a patent issued to Nikola Tesla in 1913.

Nuclear Reactor Aims for Self-Sustaining Fusion – (Technology Review – May 25, 2010)
In a few years, an experimental nuclear fusion reactor near Moscow could be the first to yield a self-sustaining fusion reaction. If the Italian-Russian project is successful, it would be a key milestone for fusion power. The proposed reactor is based on a design developed at MIT, where three similar reactors based on the same design have already been built. The “Ignitor”, as it’s called, is a tokamak reactor, a doughnut-shaped device that uses powerful magnetic fields to produce fusion by squeezing superheated plasma of hydrogen isotopes.

Electric Car Breaks World Record: 623 Miles Without Recharging – (Impact Lab – May 27, 2010)
The Japan Electric Vehicle Club broke its own Guinness World Record last weekend by driving an electric vehicle for a distance of 623.76 miles (1,003 kilometers) without recharging. The new distance record nearly doubles the old record of 345 miles (555.6 kilometers) that was set last November. The Tokyo-based Japan Electric Vehicle Club, a group of electric vehicle enthusiasts, converted the Daihatsu Mira EV from gas to electric using Sanyo lithium-ion batteries.


PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES

Discovery May Lead to Safer Drinking Water, Cheaper Medicine – (EurekAlert – May 26, 2010)
A discovery that may pave the way to helping reduce health hazards such as E. coli in water could also make chemicals and drugs such as insulin cheaper to produce and their production more environmentally friendly. Queen’s University biochemistry professor Zongchao Jia and post-doctoral student Jimin Zheng discovered exactly how the AceK protein acts as a switch in some bacteria to bypass the energy-producing cycle that allows bacteria like E. coli and salmonella to go into a survival mode and adapt to low-nutrient environments, such as water. The discovery opens the door for scientists to identify a molecule that can keep the bypass switch from turning on so bacteria will die in water.


NANOTECHNOLOGY

Outstanding in Their Field Effect – (EurekAlert – May 25, 2010)
Rice University researchers have discovered thin films of nanotubes created with ink-jet printers offer a new way to make field-effect transistors (FET), the basic element in integrated circuits. While the technique doesn’t scale down to the levels required for modern microprocessors, Rice’s Robert Vajtai hopes it will be useful to inventors who wish to print transistors on materials of any kind, especially on flexible substrates. The nanotube-based circuitry is created using high-end ink-jet printers and custom inks.

Antibacterial Silver Nanoparticles are a Blast – (EurekAlert – May 24, 2010))
Your running shoes, socks and even computer keyboard may be impregnated with silver nanoparticles that can kill some bacteria, keep you smelling sweet and preventing the spread of infection among computer users. Researchers in India point out that silver nanoparticles are not only antibacterial against so-called gram-positive bacteria, such as resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae but, also against gram-negative Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Bacterial resistance to conventional antibiotics is threatening human health the world over. Medicinal chemists are desperately trying to develop new compounds that can kill strains such as MRSA (methicillin, or multiple-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and E. coli O157. Frontline defenses, such as environmentally benign and cost-effective antibacterial compounds could prevent such infective agents spreading through contact with computer keyboard, phones and other devices.


TERRORISM, SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

Digital Photocopiers Loaded with Secrets – (CBS – April 19, 2010)
Almost all copiers made since 2002 have a hard drive buried inside, which stores images of every document that is scanned or copied – turning an office staple into a a digital time-bomb packed with highly-personal and/or sensitive data.

Chemical Concussions and Secret LSD: Pentagon Details Cold War Mind-Control Tests – (Wired – May 11, 2010)
More than 30 years after it was written, the Pentagon has released a memorandum detailing its involvement in the CIA’s infamous Cold War mind-control experiments. Most of the details included in the 17-page document have been revealed in earlier CIA papers. Still, there are some tantalizing new details. Take the origins of MK-ULTRA, the notorious CIA program that dosed thousands of unwitting participants with hallucinogenic drugs. Not surprisingly, the released report also doesn’t address darker questions that persist about the specifics of the CIA projects. Last year, a group of vets sued the agency for illnesses and trauma caused by the “diabolical and secret [MK-ULTRA] testing program,” which they allege included experiments with nerve gas, psychochemicals, and brain implants.


TRENDS OF GOVERNMENT

More Cities on Brink of Bankruptcy – (CNBC – May 26, 2010)
The possibility of a bankruptcy filing by the city of Harrisburg, Pa., the state capital, looms large these days – and it could be the first in a series, say some Wall Street traders. Harrisburg, population 55,000, owes nearly $70 million in debt payments this year, and it’s unclear where that money will come from. On May 1, the city missed a $452,282 loan payment related to the incinerator. Raising taxes or selling assets, like real estate or parking lots, are options for Harrisburg. So is a restructuring plan – either inside or outside of bankruptcy. If Harrisburg does file for bankruptcy, it would do so under Chapter 9 – which is employed by cities, but rarely. In one closely watched case, the city of Vallejo, Calif., has been in Chapter 9 since 2008.

Gates, Congress, and Obama: Mutually Assured Debacle – (Huffington Post – May 27, 2010)
A historic opportunity to tame a voracious source of our horrific federal debt is being squandered by short sighted games, some of them abysmally selfish. At a post World War II high in inflation adjusted dollars, we have the smallest Navy and Air Force we have had since 1946, and the Army is just barely above its post World War II low. Our major equipment inventories are, on average, older than at any point in the last sixty years. The current Pentagon plan is to make both problems worse, at higher cost.


CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

Former Legislator Makes Statement on Un-Released Eisenhower Briefing on Extraterrestrials – (ExoNews – May 12, 2010)
Henry W. McElroy, a former New Hampshire state legislator, claims he saw a briefing for President Eisenhower that revealed the presence of extraterrestrials in the United States. It went on to discuss a possible meeting being arranged between the President and extraterrestrial entities. The alleged briefing witnessed by McElroy supports earlier whistleblower testimonies that President Eisenhower did in fact meet with extraterrestrials in 1954 and 1955. The article also lists four former U.S. astronauts and two former U.S. presidents, among others, who have made informative statements concerning this general topic.


DEMOGRAPHICS

9/11 Link to Rise in Male Fetal Death Rate – (BBC News – May 24, 2010)
The stress caused by the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center may have led to an increase in miscarriages of male foetuses, US researchers say. A study found 12% more male babies, more sensitive to stress than female ones, were lost in September 2001 after the 20th week of pregnancy than in a “normal” September. Data says fewer boys were born in all states three to four months after 9/11. The review by the University of California, Irvine, is said to support the theory of “communal bereavement”.


ECONOMIC INDICATORS

US Money Supply Plunges at 1930s Pace as Obama Eyes Fresh Stimulus – (Telegraph – May 26, 2010)
The M3 money supply in the United States is contracting at an accelerating rate that now matches the average decline seen from 1929 to 1933, despite near zero interest rates and the biggest fiscal blitz in history. The M3 figures – which include broad range of bank accounts and are tracked by British and European monetarists for warning signals about the direction of the US economy a year or so in advance – began shrinking last summer. The pace has since quickened. Larry Summers, Obama’s top economic adviser, has asked Congress to “grit its teeth” and approve a fresh fiscal boost of $200bn to keep growth on track.

Are We Hiring Yet? – (Atlantic – May 11, 2010)
The number of unemployed workers per job opening peaked at the end of 2009 at 6.1% — the highest level ever recorded. Even after three months of job growth, that number was still near its historic high. Remember, the unemployment rate does not tell us whether Americans are unemployed because they just lost their job (indicated by a high job separation rate), or because they have been out of job for an extended period of time (indicated by a low job finding rate). In fact, more than 95% of the change in the unemployment rate since the beginning of the recession is due, not to job separation, but record-low job finding, the Cleveland Fed reported. See graph in article.


FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – articles off the beaten track which may – or may not – have predictive value.

Communications Satellite Avoided Interference by a Second, Rogue Satellite – (Sun Sentinel – May 24, 2010)
The owner of a satellite that transmits programming to all U.S. cable systems says it avoided interference from another, out-of-control satellite that was drifting into its path. SES World Skies says programming transmitted by its AMC 11 satellite was not affected by the Galaxy 15 satellite, which is drifting out of control thousands of miles above the Earth and had threatened to wander into AMC 11’s orbit. Bottom line: there’s a growing amount of “junk” up there, some of which is no longer in anyone’s control.

Predictions for the Rest of 2010 – (Rense – May 25, 2010)
Here are 25 economic predictions for the rest of the year. They can’t all be right. One of them, dated 03/13/2010, is already clearly wrong: “In fact, the euro has recently stabilized. My gut is that the dollar sell-off will be sharp and swift.” And we have not had run-away inflation. But the overwhelming consensus is that things will be in the proverbial handbasket rolling downhill by the second half of the year. If nothing else, they make interesting reading.


JUST FOR FUN

Weird Clouds Look Even Better from Space – (Wired – May 12, 2010)
Cloud-watching from Earth can be endlessly entertaining, but some of the most amazing cloud patterns can only be properly appreciated from space. Satellites can take in thousands of miles of the Earth’s surface in one shot, revealing complicated and intriguing cloud patterns we could never see from below. Here are some of the best cloud formations – seen from above.


A FINAL QUOTE…

“The future influences the present just as much as the past.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche


A FINAL NOTE…

If you’d like to take part in an International Delphi Survey and Scenario development project about Latin America 2010 – 2030, please click here.


A special thanks to: Matthew Budny, Tom Burgin, Bernard Calil, Kevin Clark, Kevin Foley, Ursula Freer, Kurzweil AI, Diane Petersen, Abby Porter, T. Roberts, John Rolls, Stu Rose, Cory Shreckengost, the Schwartz Report, Winslow Wheeler and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.
[email protected]


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Edited by John L. Petersen
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www.arlingtoninstitute.org

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Volume 12, Number 10 – 12/30/09

Volume 13, Number 11 – 6/15/10