Volume 14, Number 14 – 7/31/11

Volume 14, Number 14 – 7/31/11Twitter   Facebook



  • Scientists are building sophisticated electronic and chemical sniffers that examine the puffs of exhaled air for telltale signs of cancer, tuberculosis, asthma and other maladies, as well as for radiation exposure.
  • NASA satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than current computer climate models show.
  • Coca Cola has installed a 60′ x 60′ living billboard in Manila that consumes pollutions.
  • Russia, the U.S., Canada, Denmark and Norway are all trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, believed to hold up to a quarter of the Earth’s undiscovered oil and gas.

by John L. Petersen

The Next Three Years

Received this from a FUTUREdition reader last week:

Just finished viewing your latest presentation on DVD, 2012: Navigating the Coming Years (aka The Coming Three Years: Transitioning to a New World).

I applaud the content, and especially the method of your delivery. You seem to choose with great care how the information you deliver is disclosed. This goes a long way toward lending a reliable guiding hand to many who would otherwise misunderstand and/or shun the topics expounded upon in your DVDs.

Some of us have been following your public and other work for some time. Thank you for being a beacon of our Cosmic reality.

Thanks, Jay. Don’t know about the Cosmic beacon part . . . but appreciate the sentiments.

This 2.5 hour, two-DVD presentation weaves the predictions and explanations about what is happening in the galaxy, solar system and planet from five different “unconventional” sources and then shows where NASA and other more conventional sources confirm that we have entered a period of change unlike anything previously seen before by our species. The talk addresses the following questions:

  • What is happening on our planet now?
  • Why is all of this change taking place?
  • What kind of human and world could result from this shift?
  • What are the implications for you?
  • What can you do about preparing yourself for this change?

Since putting this together, I have had repeated indications from a number of new sources that suggest that the essential dynamics of what this presentation proposes is correct. I think that you’d find the integrated perspective to be provocative and useful.

We’ve had really great response to our making this presentation available and I’d be happy to send one to you. You can order the DVDs here or by clicking on the banner above.

Nancy Van Domelen Coming to Berkeley Springs

Let me remind you that Nancy Van Domelen is coming to our town next Tuesday for a very special evening. Nancy is the author of three very enlightening books explaining — in deep profound ways — what is happening to the earth and our species. Her source – which has always been right in its predictions and explanations – is a spirit group which has been talking to her for 20 years, painting a picture about what is happening and how it will affect us all.

Her books are some of the most perceptive and powerful expositions about the future that I’ve read. Even my wife, who read one of Nancy’s books last week, said that it was one of the clearest and most convincing books that she has read on the subject of upcoming events.

Among other things, her talk on the 9th of August will cover:

  • Why the natural disasters have been occurring and how we can restore planetary balance
  • Earth changes through fire and water
  • The major themes of this millennium that will bring forth a new age in human development
  • The emergence of a more advanced human species with greatly expanded capabilities
  • 2011 The positive purpose of turbulence
  • Spiritual practices assisting vibratory transformation
  • How to gain multidimensional consciousness

The presentation will be held at the Ice House in Berkeley Springs, WV, at 7PM on Tuesday the 9th.

One local restaurant, Ambrae House, is even offering a discount on dinner to our attendees. What other reason do you need to drive to beautiful Berkeley Springs!

You can find complete information on this certain-to-be-memorable event here.

Hope you can make it to this very special and provocative evening.

620 Earthquakes Recorded On El Hierro In The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands Government has said it is monitoring an earthquake swarm on the small island of El Hierro where in excess of 620 tremors of low magnitude have been recorded in the past week.

Earthquakes, measuring between 1 and 3 on the Richter Scale, continued on Monday and more were registered again on Tuesday. The majority of earthquakes are being recorded at a depth of between 5km and 15 km. The Canary Islands present the most obvious threat of a massive tsunami to the eastern coasts of North and South America. You can read the rest of the story here.

Smoke and Mirrors

Last week Diane and I drove to Wisconsin and back – most of four days on the road. As we have been doing of late on these kinds of trips, we gather up a number of audio books from the library and spend the time on the Interstate trying to either learn a little something or be amused and entertained.

This time she chose very well and brought along Pulitzer prize-winning author Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. Although I’ve never been involved in any classified projects, in my years in working with the military in Washington, I have known a number of CIA analysts. I liked those folks. They tended to be smart, very dedicated, curious and reasonable.

But in all of my years in Washington, I never knowingly met anyone from the “spooky” side of the business – the spies and covert operations people. They are the ones who will never tell you who they really work for.

Having met only analysts colored my opinion of the organization, since I didn’t know anything about the clandestine part, and more importantly, the covert operations piece. Sure, I was aware that the CIA was involved in overthrowing governments in Chile and Iran and things like that, but that was about the extent of it – just that they were involved.

Legacy of Ashes changed all of that. This 21 hours and 25 minutes history lesson from the perspective of the CIA was nothing less than fascinating . . . and depressing.

It was particularly interesting because the CIA has been around just about as long as I have. It was like reviewing all of the major events in the world that I had grown up with – but from a very different perspective. When I was involved with politics and the government it was quite clear that what actually happened and what the press reported – and what most people understood to be what was going on – were two, very different things. Great efforts were always underway to manipulate what the American people heard and saw in the media in order to influence what they thought about a particular initiative – or the government in general.

What I didn’t even begin to realize was what the CIA – under the direction of all of our presidents – had been doing to overthrow governments and fundamentally control the affairs of other countries in about every other nation in the word. I don’t think anyone could reasonably suggest that, in conventional terms, I have been uninformed or ignorant about world affairs, but to read – or listen – to this book strikes one quite powerfully that no matter how much you try to stay informed using the generally available sources, far more, very important things are underway in the world that are financed by and directed by our government that almost no one knows about . . . and most of it isn’t very good.

Using now declassified documents as sources and interviews with over 300 people, this book is a litany, over many decades, of the serial failure of the agency’s covert operations to significantly benefit the country despite buying off politicians in nearly every country in the world and mounting operations all over the place to steal elections and foster coups. All was done in secret, often directly at odds with the administration’s publically advertized positions. Many, many people died as the result of these covert operations.

The CIA begs to take issue with Weiner . . . as you might imagine. But their statement mostly says: “We’ve done all (or most) of these things at the direction of presidents.” It sounds a bit like “It’s OK because my boss told me it was.” There are a number of problems with that position, not least of which is that some presidents (Nixon and Bush2, in particular) really thought that nothing that they did COULD be illegal, because they were the president. Moreover, in quite a few situations, things were so closely held that only a handful of people actually knew what was going on.

I’m struck by a couple of things from all of this. First, it’s pretty amazing to come to the conclusion that almost nothing in geopolitics is how it is reported in the press. I have plenty of conspiracy-inclined friends who have always spun big ideas about how the system is manipulated and who now might suggest that I have been a bit naïve all of these years. I don’t think so. I’ve always known that there were back stories that were not publically known. But it is one thing to stand outside the system, having no real access to the innerworkings of government and no familiarity with the structures, processes and mindsets of those in senior positions and lob sometimes fantastic theories into the air about how everything is controlled and how “the military” knows all about UFOs, etc. It is quite another thing to have been inside and had access that most don’t have and discover, from documents that none of the conspiracy folks even knew about, that a major piece of our intelligence budget is spent on efforts that are obviously and directly at odds with the stated values of the country – namely democracy and human rights. Jimmy Carter, alone, used covert operations primarily to further human rights in the world. All of the others were only interested in building pliant dependencies that were responsive to our every whim and “interest”.

The more profound thing that became quite clear is that almost all of these operations were kept very highly classified because none of this stuff would have been seen as seemly, humane and honest by most Americans. Senior leaders of the CIA regularly worried that if what they were doing became publically known it would be the end of the agency . . . so, among other things, they often lied to the president, not fully informing him (and even sometimes providing disinformation) about what was actually going on.

This book has made the CIA’s more recent, very destructive role in Iraq and Afghanistan far clearer to me than before. It’s easy to see how, for example, given the go-ahead by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, they rose to the occasion of rendition and torture, etc. They had good institutional knowledge that was quickly resurrected.

The larger point I’d like to make is about this kind of institutionalized secrecy is that it is antithetical to any constructive way you might think about the human evolutionary thrust toward enlightenment and oneness. The major vector driving change on this planet is one of growing interdependence and therefore cooperation. It is about personal and organizational paradigmatic shifts that often suddenly result in seeing oneself intimately connected with nature, the planet, animals and other people. The notion of separateness that was fostered by the scientific revolution is rapidly giving way to the understanding that all of life is intimately interconnected and that we are all part of a larger whole.

That raises the interesting question of what role secrecy might (or might not) play in a government that reflected these larger, more inclusive principles. Some might say that it is naïve (again) for me to think about a government without secrecy. “What about the bad guys?”, I can hear them say. Well, a study published ten days ago reports that scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.

Now, think about that. The tipping point is far smaller than most people believe and with some of these new ideas being rapidly proliferated through the global neural system that we call the Internet, a large-scale shift could be closer than we think.


Earth Video Camera – (UrtheCast – no date)
UrtheCast is launching the world’s first ever high definition, streaming video platform of planet Earth. The camera will be installed on the outside of the International Space Station through a joint effort with the Russian Space Agency. The camera will provide a 40 km wide, high resolution, color image down to as close as 1.1 meters. As Bogart said, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

Trouble on the China Express – (Wall St. Journal – July 30, 2011)
The wreck of a high-speed train has enraged the Chinese public and focused attention on the corruption and corner-cutting behind the country’s breakneck economic growth. The tragedy has highlighted a paradox at the heart of Communist Party rule: it needs high-speed growth that creates jobs and keeps social tensions in check. But rapid growth has spawned regime-threatening risks-deadly accidents, many of them preventable, and an upsurge of scandals in areas like food safety and illegal land seizures. A decade or so ago, it would have been impossible for Chinese to react the way they have the past week. Traditional media were tightly controlled by the state, and the Internet was in its infancy-China had less than 10 million Internet users at the start of 2000. Today, some 485 million Chinese are estimated to use the Internet, and within that group there is a growing and increasingly vocal minority. Its most avid users are young people and members of the urban elite-those the party has worked hardest to co-opt in recent decades. The new technology has fundamentally changed the relationship between China’s government and the governed. The extensive controls on information in the pre-Web days meant that most Chinese were aware of corruption only among local officials, who were convenient scapegoats for national leaders. Now Internet users are aware that issues like food safety problems, land-use abuses and corruption are pervasive.


Gold-mine Worm Shows Animals Could Be Living on Mars – (New Scientist – June 2, 2011)
A Princeton University team has discovered nematode worms living far beneath the Earth’s surface in South Africa. The tiny worms – just 500 micrometers long – were found at depths ranging from 900 meters to 3.6 kilometers, in three gold mines in the Witwatersrand basin near Johannesburg. That’s an astonishing find given that multicellular organisms are typically only found near the surface of the Earth’s crust, generally in the top 10 meters. The creatures seem to live in water squeezed between the mines’ rocks, can tolerate temperatures reaching 43 °C and feed off bacteria. Carbon dating of compounds dissolved in the water suggests that the worms have been living at these depths for between 3,000 and 12,000 years. “To have complex life sustain itself for such a long period completely sealed away from everything else – from sunlight, from surface chemistry – is pretty amazing,” says Caleb Scharf of the Columbia Astrobiology Center in New York City.

NASA Finds Volcanoes on the Dark Side of the Moon – (Daily Galaxy – July 30, 2011)
According to a recent discovery by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists now have photos showing silicate volcanoes on the far side of the moon. Silicate volcanoes are a type that do not ooze magma, deeming them “dead” by scientists. The silicate volcanoes are estimated to be around 800 years old, extending the volcanic activity of the moon by 200 million years.


Dolphins Offer Clues for Wound Healing – (Press TV – July 23, 2011)
In his letter published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Michael Zasloff, adjunct professor at Georgetown University Medical Center, recounts several documentations about how quickly dolphins manage to heal the wounds caused by severe shark bites, adding that some of these wounds which are larger than a basketball are cured in weeks without causing notable pain or infection or leaving a significant scar. “It’s most likely that the dolphin stores its own antimicrobial compound and releases it when an injury occurs,” said Zasloff, who previously identified antimicrobial compounds in frog skin and dogfish sharks. “The dolphin’s healing is similar to how mammalian fetuses are able to heal in the womb.”

Going into a Hospital Far Riskier than Flying: WHO – (Reuters – July 21, 2011)
“If you were admitted to hospital tomorrow in any country… your chances of being subjected to an error in your care would be something like 1 in 10. Your chances of dying due to an error in health care would be 1 in 300,” Liam Donaldson, the World Health Organization’s newly appointed envoy for patient safety, told a news briefing. This compares with a risk of dying in an air crash of about 1 in 10 million passengers, according to Donaldson, formerly England’s chief medical officer. Of every 100 hospitalized patients at any given time, 7 in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire at least one health care-associated infection, according to the United Nations agency.

Beyond the Breathalyzer: Seeking Telltale Signs of Disease – (New York Times – July 2, 2011)
In the future, personal breath monitoring may include far more than breath fresheners. Scientists are building sophisticated electronic and chemical sniffers that examine the puffs of exhaled air for telltale signs of cancer, tuberculosis, asthma and other maladies, as well as for radiation exposure. “There are clear signatures in the breath for liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease” and diseases of the lungs, said Dr. Raed Dweik, director of the pulmonary vascular program at the Cleveland Clinic, who studies breath analysis. “My sense is that breath analysis is the future of medical testing, complementing many of the blood and imaging steps we do today.”

Carcinogenicity of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields – (Lancet – July, 2011)
In May, 2011, 30 scientists from 14 countries met at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, to assess the carcinogenicity of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF). The International Agency for Research on Cancer, under the auspices of the World Health Organization has issued a press release linking the use of cell phones with their associated electromagnetic fields to a possible increased rate for glioma, a type of malignant brain cancer. The full article in the Lancet Journal can be accessed for free. See also, the original IARC press release.


Coca-Cola Billboard Absorbs Air Pollution – (Huffington Post – June 28, 2011)
Together with the World Wildlife Federation, Coca-Cola unveiled a billboard in the Philippines that’s actually good for the city it inhabits. The 60 x 60 foot living billboard in Manila is made of thousands of Fukien tea plants surrounding the iconic curvy shape of a silver Coke bottle. Pots made from recycled bottles contain the 3,600 trees, which live off a mixture of organic fertilizers. Though they are currently in the first stages of growth, the plants are expected to grow quickly, completely taking over the billboard surface, absorbing a total of 46,800 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Article includes photograph of billboard.

Warning: Earth Tilting on Its Axis – (You Tube – July 9, 2011)
This video clip features a number of Inuit people talking about the changes they notice in their environment and their suggestion that the cause of these changes is a shift in the Earth’s axis. (Editor’s note: As a matter of survival, the Inuit are extraordinarily visually observant. Almost two centuries ago, when they first encountered European ships, they could draw them later from memory so precisely that the name of the vessel painted on its side could be easily read by a European even though at the time the Inuit were illiterate. We have found no confirmed astronomical evidence to support a notion that the earth has tilted [see this] except very slightly due to the March earthquake in Japan, however we do not discount the idea that these careful observers have noticed a meaningful change in their – and our – environment.)

New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism – (Forbes – July 27, 2011)
NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA’s Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models. “The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show. There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”

Warming Ocean Could Melt Ice Faster Than Thought – (Huffington Post – July 3, 2011)
Increased melting of ice in Greenland and parts of Antarctica has been reported as a consequence of global warming, potentially raising sea levels. But little attention has been paid to the impact of warmer water beneath the ice. Now, Jianjun Yin of the University of Arizona and colleagues report the warming water could mean polar ice melting faster than had been expected. Their report was published in the journal Nature Geoscience. Jonathan Overpeck, co-director of the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment, said: “This paper adds to the evidence that we could have sea level rise by the end of this century of around 1 meter and a good deal more in succeeding centuries.”

U.S. Assessment of Drought and Flooding – (National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center – July 29, 2011)
Here, captured in one image, is the National Weather Service’s assessment of rainfall in the U.S.: too much and too little. See the entire NOAA website for in-depth weather analysis or for U.S. climate extremes.

Global Earthquake and Volcano Overview – (You Tube – July 5, 2011)
This video clip suggests, based on the evidence it presents, that another large earthquake may be on the horizon. Below the video clip itself are links to all of the sources quoted.

Chernobyl Wilderness – (BBC News – July 29, 2011)
Following the 1986 nuclear accident, a 30 km zone around the Chernobyl power plant was evacuated. The abandoned area, contaminated with radioactive dust, is now an overgrown wilderness. This article presents a series of recent photographs taken by scientists studying the effects of radiation on wildlife.


Even Granny’s Fuzzy Slippers are Texting You – (Wall St. Journal – July 15, 2011)
With nearly everyone in America already carrying a cellular phone, companies are thinking outside the box-way outside-to drum up fresh demand for their networks. U.S. carriers are betting they can get “wireless penetration”-now around 90%-up to 300% or 400%. In plain English, that means they need every man, woman and child in the country to each use three or four wireless products, a goal that can’t be accomplished with phones alone. Wireless diapers are the brainchild of a startup called 24eight. Embedded with a cellular chip, they can send a “diaper wet” notification via text message to a cell phone. The company says they cost about two cents more apiece than normal diapers. Already on the market: A $10 pill bottle that glows, beeps, phones and texts if you are in danger of missing a dose. And a wireless carrier that serves Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan is building a device that can tell dairy farmers when their cows are in heat.

Massive Botnet ‘Indestructible,’ Say Researchers – (Computer World – June 29, 2011)
A new and “improved” botnet that has infected more than four million PCs is practically indestructible, security researchers say. “TDL-4,” the name for both the bot Trojan that infects machines and the ensuing collection of compromised computers, is “the most sophisticated threat today,” said Kaspersky Labs researcher Sergey Golovanov. Because TDL-4 installs its rootkit on the master boot record (MBR), it is invisible to both the operating system and security software designed to sniff out malicious code. What makes the botnet indestructible is the combination of its advanced encryption and the use of a public peer-to-peer (P2P) network for the instructions issued to the malware by command-and-control (C&C) servers. TDL-4’s makers use the botnet to plant additional malware on PCs, rent it out to others for that purpose and for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and to conduct spam and phishing campaigns.

Virtual People to Get ID Checks – (BBC News – July 28, 2011)
The faces and behavior of online avatars could help identify the people controlling them, scientists believe. Using both characteristics, researchers hope to develop techniques for checking whether the digital characters are who they claim to be. Such information could be used in situations where login details are not visible or for law enforcement. Impersonation of avatars is expected to become a growing problem as real life and cyberspace increasingly merge. “It’s useful for profiling of avatars for marketing purposes by businesses in virtual worlds,” explained Dr. Roman Yampolskiy from the University of Louisville. “It also has some applications in forensic tracking of avatars across multiple virtual communities.” The technology may also have implications for security if a game account is hacked and stolen.


A Battery You Can See Through – (Technology Review – July 25, 2011)
Researchers at Stanford University have made fully transparent batteries, the last missing component needed to make transparent displays and other electronic devices. Stanford materials science professor Yi Cui, who led the work, says a tremendous amount of research goes into making batteries store more energy for longer, but little attention has been paid to making them “more beautiful, and fancier.” Researchers have previously made transparent variations on other major classes of electronics, including transistors and the components used to control displays, but not yet batteries. “And if you can’t make the battery transparent, you can’t make the gadget transparent,” says Cui.


Averting Bridge Disasters: New Technology Could Save Hundreds of Lives – (Science Daily – July 30, 2011)
Millions of U.S. drivers cross faulty or obsolete bridges every day, highway statistics show, but it’s too costly to fix all these spans or adequately monitor their safety, says a University of Maryland researcher who’s developed a new, affordable early warning system. “Potentially hundreds of lives could be saved,” says University of Maryland electrical engineering researcher Mehdi Kalantari. “One of every four U.S. highway bridges has known structural problems or exceeded its intended life-span. Most only get inspected once every one or two years. That’s a bad mix.” Kalantari has created tiny wireless sensors that monitor and transmit minute-by-minute data on a bridge’s structural integrity. A central computer analyzes the data and instantly warns officials of possible trouble. “This new approach makes preventive maintenance affordable – even at a time when budgets are tight. Officials will be able to catch problems early and will have weeks or month to fix a problem.”


Inside the Art Studio, There’s Always Room for Jell-O – (Wall St. Journal – July 15, 2011)
Long a cubed dessert of hospital cafeterias, flavored gelatin is turning up in the work of avant-garde chefs and established design studios across the country. Artists are using the wobbly medium to create sculptures of everything from colorful cities to President Barack Obama. They are drawing inspiration from crafters like Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, the British chefs whose projects include a gelatin Buckingham Palace to celebrate the royal wedding. The work of these artists and chefs is firming up gelatin’s reputation in the culinary world. Companies like Blooming Gelatin Art in Los Angeles are selling gelatinas-gelatin cakes in flavors like mango and cappuccino with ornate flowers injected into the center. Article includes slideshow.

Japan Scientist Synthesizes Meat from Human Feces – (Digital Trends – June 15, 2011)
Mitsuyuki Ikeda, a researcher from the Okayama Laboratory, has developed steaks based on proteins from human excrement. Tokyo Sewage approached the scientist because of an overabundance of sewage mud. They asked him to explore the possible uses of the sewage and Ikeda found that the mud contained a great deal of protein because of all the bacteria. The researchers then extracted those proteins, combined them with a reaction enhancer and put it in an exploder which created the artificial steak. The “meat” is 63% proteins, 25% carbohydrates, 3% lipids and 9% minerals. The researchers color the poop meat red with food coloring and enhance the flavor with soy protein. Initial tests have people saying it even tastes like beef.

Drought Withers Smallest Hay Crop in Century to Boost Beef Costs – (Bloomberg – July 25, 2011)
Drought is compounding a hay shortage caused by farmers shifting this year to more profitable crops, including corn (used to produce ethanol and heavily subsidized). The smallest U.S. hay crop in more than a century is withering under a record Texas drought, boosting the cost of livestock feed for dairy farmers and beef producers from California to Maryland. The price of alfalfa, the most common hay variety, surged 51% in the past year, reaching a record $186 a short ton in May, government data show. Hay and grass make up about half of what cattle eat over their lifetimes, so parched pastures are forcing ranchers to find alternative sources of feed, pushing some spot-market corn to the highest ever.


Fifth Degree, Second Thoughts – (Wall St. Journal – June 28, 2011)
This article is a book review of The Interrogator: An Education, in which author Glenn Carle, a 23-year CIA veteran who retired in 2007, confirms what the book reviewer knew from his own experience as an FBI agent at the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba and at so-called black sites: It would be a struggle to find a CIA operative who endorses the use of enhanced-interrogation techniques. The agency’s supporters of such measures were predominately political appointees and desk officials, not professional field operatives. The officials behind the enhanced-interrogation program, to prevent criticism, over-classified everything to do with it. They then fought to prevent the declassification of the CIA’s Inspector General Report. It wasn’t released to the public until April 2009, and only with heavy redactions. Mr. Carle’s book pulls back part of the curtain.

The Week in Privacy – (New York Times – June 17, 2011)
Here is a selection of various news items in the privacy landscape. For example, a Los Angeles Times editorial weighs in on Facebook’s not quite transparent implementation of an automated facial recognition system. Another example: Citigroup has been forced to reveal that a recent hack of its network exposed the financial data of more than 360,000 customers, a much higher number than the bank originally disclosed. That revelation came only after Connecticut’s attorney general and several other state regulators opened investigations into the breach and began demanding more information about it.


Cost of War $3.7 Trillion and Counting – (Reuters – June 29, 2011)
When President Barack Obama cited cost as a reason to bring troops home from Afghanistan, he referred to a $1 trillion price tag for America’s wars. Staggering as it is, that figure grossly underestimates the total cost of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the U.S. Treasury and ignores more imposing costs yet to come, according to the research project “Costs of War” by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. The final bill will run at least $3.7 trillion and could reach as high as $4.4 trillion.

An Economy Destroyed: The Enemy Is Washington – (Global Research – July 21, 2011)
The author of this op ed piece is Paul Craig Roberts, formerly an Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and formerly an associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. In his opinion, “If Goldman Sachs is too big to fail, then so is the US government.” He further suggests, “If the rating agencies downgraded Treasuries, the company executives would be arrested for the fraudulent ratings that they gave to the junk that Wall Street peddled to the rest of the world. The companies would be destroyed and their ratings discredited.” (Editor’s note: WWe doubt that any quid pro quo would be so direct, but Roberts’ views, while in some ways extreme, are interesting grist for the mill.)


Russia to Deploy 2 Army Brigades to Artic – (Yahoo – July 1, 2011)
Russia’s defense minister says the military will deploy two army brigades to help protect the nation’s interests in the Arctic. A brigade includes a few thousand soldiers. Russia, the U.S., Canada, Denmark and Norway have been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, believed to hold up to a quarter of the Earth’s undiscovered oil and gas.


New Rules Urged on Hybrid Animal-human Experiments – (Reuters – July 21, 2011)
Scientific experiments that insert human genes or cells into animals need new rules to ensure they are ethically acceptable and do not lead to the creation of “monsters,” a group of leading British researchers said on Friday. While humanizing animals in the name of medical research offers valuable insights into the way human bodies work and diseases develop, clear regulations are needed to make sure humanization of animals is carefully controlled. Extreme scenarios, such as putting brain cells into primates to create talking apes, may remain science fiction, but researchers around the world are constantly pushing boundaries. Chinese scientists have already introduced human stem cells into goat fetuses and U.S. researchers have studied the idea of creating a mouse with human brain cells — though they have not actually done so.

Create a Better Life Index – (OECD – no date)
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has created an interactive webpage to show how different countries perform on parameters that generally define quality of life such as housing, income, jobs, education, community, work-life balance, etc. Initially all topics are rated equally for all countries, however the user can alter the weightings and see how various countries’ data changes.


UFO Sightings Skyrocket in July 2011 – (Examiner – July 22, 2011)
On July 21, 2011, a YouTube user named geeksquad1001 posted an online video showing some remarkable UFO sightings. The video clip highlights includes a massive unidentified flying object over Queensland, Australia; an Independence Day sighting in Lafayette; a UFO in Miltown; and more Independence Day sightings, these in the Bronx, New York; Cleveland and California. For a compilation of some of the most interesting UFO footage available from July 2011, see: Amazing UFO footage from around the world- July 2011.

Fiery UFO Filmed over Mexico – (Telegraph – July 6, 2011)
A curious falling object has been captured on video over Mexico, (footage embedded in article). The footage, shot from the side of a road in Cuernavaca, near Mexico City, appears to show a mysterious glowing object hurtling through the sky. UFO watchers have speculated that the object could have been a meteorite or space junk entering Earth’s atmosphere, although this theory has been rejected by others who argue the object’s slow trajectory is more akin to a comet or airplane vapor trail lit by the sunset. Whatever it was, its final moments, as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere, were dramatic.


Cheap Plastic Made from Sugarcane – (Technology Review – July 25, 2011)
Making plastic from sugar can be just as cheap as making it from petroleum, says Dow Chemical. The company plans to build a plant in Brazil that it says will be the world’s largest facility for making polymers from plants. Bio-based chemicals production has grown quickly in recent years, but it still represents just 7.7% of the overall chemicals market. Production has been limited in many cases to specialty chemicals or niche products. In Brazil, long-standing government support for sugarcane ethanol production has allowed the industry to drive down costs, making ethanol competitive with fossil fuels. Making polyethylene from sugar “would not necessarily be attractive in other regions,” says Luis Cirihal, Dow’s director of renewable alternatives and business development for Latin America.


The Backfire Effect – (You Are Not So Smart – June 10, 2011)
The Misconception: When your beliefs are challenged with facts, you alter your opinions and incorporate the new information into your thinking. The Truth: When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger. In 2006, Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler at the University of Michigan and Georgia State University created fake newspaper articles about polarizing political issues. As soon as a person read a fake article, researchers then handed over a true article which corrected the first. They found corrections tended to increase the strength of the participants’ misconceptions if those corrections contradicted their ideologies. In other words, the corrections backfired. Just as confirmation bias shields you when you actively seek information, the backfire effect defends you when the information seeks you, when it blindsides you.

Ads Implant False Memories – (Wired – May 25, 2011)
Further on the subject of how we come to believe what we believe: A study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, helps explain both the success of a marketing strategy in which the message is less about the virtues of the product and more about associating the drink with a set of intensely pleasurable memories. It turns out that vivid commercials are incredibly good at tricking the hippocampus (a center of long-term memory in the brain) into believing that the scene watched on television actually happened.

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

ASCII Code in Italian Crop Formation – (Earthfiles – June 30, 2011)
Two extraordinary crop formations have been reported in the northwestern town of Poirino, Italy, on June 13 and 20, 2011. Poirino is 12 miles southeast of Turin and has been the location of other crop formations. The images are as intricate as they are elegant. George Costanza on Circle Chasers Facebook writes: “The Poirino 2011formation contains some coded information. Among other things, the outer rim contains the names ‘Enki Ea,’ coded in ASCII. These are names of a Sumerian god: Lord of the earth, god of water, creator of mankind.”


Cinderella’s Ball, This Time with Pendulums – (NPR – May 16, 2011)
A team at Harvard calling themselves the Natural Science Lecture Demonstration team supplies supply Harvard professors with razzle-dazzle show & tell machines to use in their science classes. Wolfgang Rueckner, one of the four full-time “managers,” told the Harvard Crimson: “We have close to a thousand demos,” some of which you can see here.

Austrian Driver Allowed “Pastafarian” Headgear Photo – (BBC News – July 14, 2011)
An Austrian atheist has won the right to be shown on his driving-license photo wearing a pasta strainer as “religious headgear”. Niko Alm first applied for the license after reading that headgear was allowed in official pictures only for confessional reasons (as a matter of “confessing one’s faith”). The idea came into Mr. Alm’s noodle three years ago as a way of making a serious, if ironic, point. Mr. Alm said the sieve was a requirement of his religion, Pastafarianism. A self-confessed atheist, Mr. Alm says he belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a light-hearted, US-based faith whose members call themselves Pastafarians. After receiving his application, the Austrian authorities required him to obtain a doctor’s certificate that he was “psychologically fit” to drive.


History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside. – John F. Kennedy

A special thanks to: Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Kurzweil AI, Richard Lippin, Sergio Lub, Diane Petersen, Petra Pieterse, Samantha Redston, Stu Rose, Cory Shreckengost, John Stewart, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy 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.


Edited by John L. Petersen

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