FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT–
- A newly developed heart pacemaker sits inside the heart.
- Mice severely disabled by a condition similar to multiple sclerosis could walk less than two weeks following treatment with human stem cells.
- Collapsing Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is melting from geothermal heat, not climate change effects
- Cybercrime is a $445 billion/year growth industry.
by John L. Petersen
Lee Carroll, KRYON and Charles Eisenstein coming to Berkeley Springs
Lee Carroll comes to Berkeley Springs on Sunday, the 29th of June for an all-new, half-day presentation on the New Human and what it is going to be. I’ve heard some of this presentation in other places this year and I can assure you that you will find the seminar and Kryon channelings valuable and provocative.
I’ve just returned from the Kryon Summer Light Conference that was held in Mr. Shasta, California, and found that event and the messages from all of the speakers to be particularly profound. In some ways it has encouraged me greatly about where we all are going.
You can get complete information on this Kryon event at www.transitiontalks.org.
Then, only a short two weeks later, on Saturday, the 12th of July, Charles Eisenstein will be with us again. Two years ago his presentation was very warmly received by all. Charles in one of the most thoughtful analysts around about where the world is going and how we can all understand and prepare for it. His presentation in July will focus on an effective personal transition process that can point you toward a positive new world.
Something unites the diversity of what we call alternative, holistic, or unconventional, Charles says. What unites them is their participation in a new (and ancient) story that some call “interbeing,” which offers unfamiliar (yet deeply familiar) answers to life’s fundamental questions.
Who are you? What is a self? What is the purpose of technology? How does change happen in the universe? Where did we come from? Where are we going? This talk will explore the personal and collective process of transitioning from an old mythology to a new, and ground it in a powerful experiential process in which we will speak from the field of the most beautiful future available to us.
Charles Eisenstein is a teacher, speaker, and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution. www.charleseisenstein.net
His books (The Ascent of Humanity and Sacred Economics) as well as his other essays and blog posts on web magazines have generated a vast online following; he speaks frequently at conferences and other events, and gives numerous interviews on radio and podcasts. Writing in Ode magazine’s “25 Intelligent Optimists” issue, David Korten (author of When Corporations Rule the World) called Eisenstein “one of the up-and-coming great minds of our time.”
Eisenstein graduated from Yale University in 1989 with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, and spent the next ten years as a Chinese-English translator.
Come be with us on the 12th of July. Complete information is at www.transitiontalks.org.
They Are Collecting Everything . . . and Lying About Everything
I think things are getting better. I think we’re in the process of dramatic change that will result in the emergence of a new world – potentially an era that eliminates many of the most fundamental problems that surround and consume us today. When things settle down, I’d guess that we may well enter a period of no war for a long time; there will be a profound understanding of the interdependence that we all share; work as we understand it will become largely obsolete; and economic and social relationships will morph into something far more empowering than they are now.
But between here and there is a lot of change and uncertainty. Old systems will slowly corrode and implode, brought down by their structural flaws and single-minded materialist objectives. I think we are seeing that slow collapse all around us, but the deeply familiar and hidden aspects of our present world are not going away without a fight. The old will hold on tenaciously, exposed piece-by-piece by discoveries that finally demand change.
That’s what it seems to me is happening with the whole Snowden/NSA situation. As light increasingly illuminates the dark corners of the government, the underlying force that is driving toward a new world will make it increasingly hard for them to continue business as usual. Their activities and motivations will be at odds with the growing outcroppings of new perspectives and thought.
When I read the following three articles, I could feel a deep, grinding tremor building – driven by the obvious difference between what is being exposed and how a growing number of people believe we ought to live.
As mentioned here earlier, Glenn Greenwald announced that he was going to do an article that names the Americans that the NSA has been spying on, but Russel Tice says that even what Greenwald exposes, which was obtained from Edward Snowden, is only the tip of the iceberg.
Washington’s Blog said: EXCLUSIVE REPORT: NSA Whistleblower: Snowden Never Had Access to the JUICIEST Documents … Far More Damning
NSA Spying On Congress, Admirals, Lawyers … Content As Well As Metadata … Cheney Was Running the Show
NSA whistleblower Russel Tice was a key source in the 2005 New York Times report that blew the lid off the Bush administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping.
Tice told PBS and other media that the NSA is spying on – and blackmailing – top government officials and military officers, including Supreme Court Justices, highly-ranked generals, Colin Powell and other State Department personnel, and many other top officials:
(continue . . . )
Recently Washington’s Blog interviewed Thomas Drake, a former senior executive of the NSA. Drake is a decorated Air Force and Navy veteran, who has been awarded numerous medals including the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Ridenhour prize, and Sam Adams Award. He was a member of the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service.
With a strong technical background in surveillance and computers, Drake was also one of the top NSA executives, and was Senior Change Leader within the NSA.
To get a sense of who Drake is, watch this recent PBS interview. It’s almost an hour long, but very enlightening.
Senior NSA Executive: We’re In a Police State
“We Have a Significant Element of Our Government In League With Corporations and Other Unelected Officials Who’ve Decided That The Constitution Is Essentially Null And Void”
WASHINGTON’S BLOG: Senator Frank Church – who chaired the famous “Church Committee” on the unlawful FBI Cointel program, and who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – said in 1975:
“Th[e National Security Agency’s] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.“
Is the NSA turning its capability around on the American people, as Senator Church warned?
Read Drake’s answer . . .
Noam Chomsky ends this review with a high-level assessment: A Surveillance State Beyond Imagination Is Being Created in One of the World’s Freest Countries
A White House lawyer seems determined to demolish our civil liberties.
In the past several months, we have been provided with instructive lessons on the nature of state power and the forces that drive state policy. And on a closely related matter: the subtle, differentiated concept of transparency.
The source of the instruction, of course, is the trove of documents about the National Security Agency surveillance system released by the courageous fighter for freedom Edward J. Snowden, expertly summarized and analyzed by his collaborator Glenn Greenwald in his new book, “No Place to Hide.”
The documents unveil a remarkable project to expose to state scrutiny vital information about every person who falls within the grasp of the colossus – in principle, every person linked to the modern electronic society.
Nothing so ambitious was imagined by the dystopian prophets of grim totalitarian worlds ahead.
(continue . . . )
Gravitational Waves Turn to Dust after Claims of Flawed Analysis – (Guardian – June 4, 2014)
It was hailed as one of the most important scientific discoveries of the century, the birth of a new era in physics and a shoo-in for a Nobel prize. The claim from Harvard University that it had discovered gravitational waves – and thereby evidence for the theory of cosmic inflation and the existence of a multiverse – caused a worldwide sensation in March. But the celebrations are now looking decidedly premature. Rather than securing a trip to Stockholm to receive a Nobel medal, the Harvard team may have detected nothing more than space dust. Led by the cosmologist John Kovac, the Harvard researchers said they had spotted a twist in the ancient light that lingers in the universe from the time of the big bang. This polarization, they said, was evidence of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time predicted by Einstein’s 1916 general theory of relativity. According to the Harvard group there was a one in 2m chance of the result being a statistical fluke. But within hours of making the announcement, scientists began to raise concerns. The criticisms have been building up steadily on physics blogs ever since. A new and independent analysis casts serious doubts on the Harvard results. The study, led by David Spergel, at Princeton, found that the same patterns of light seen by the Bicep2 telescope could be the work of ubiquitous space dust.
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY
Researchers Use Light to Coax Stem Cells to Regenerate Teeth – (KurzweilAI – May 29, 2014)
Harvard-led team is the first to demonstrate the ability to use low-power light to trigger stem cells inside the body to regenerate tissue. The research, led by faculty member David Mooney, Ph.D., lays the foundation for a host of clinical applications in restorative dentistry and regenerative medicine more broadly, such as wound healing, bone regeneration, and more. The team used a low-power laser to trigger human dental stem cells to form dentin, the hard tissue that is similar to bone and makes up the bulk of teeth. They outlined the precise molecular mechanism involved and demonstrated its prowess using multiple laboratory and animal models. A number of biologically active molecules, such as regulatory proteins called growth factors, can trigger stem cells to differentiate into different cell types. Current regeneration efforts require scientists to isolate stem cells from the body, manipulate them in a laboratory, and return them to the body — efforts that face a host of regulatory and technical hurdles to their clinical translation. But Mooney’s approach is different and, he hopes, easier to get into the hands of practicing clinicians. “Our treatment modality does not introduce anything new to the body, and lasers are routinely used in medicine and dentistry, so the barriers to clinical translation are low,” said Mooney.
World’s Smallest Pacemaker – (BBC News – June 9, 2014)
Standard pacemakers are implanted under the skin in the chest which can be a potential infection risk. By contrast, the tiny pacemaker used in these trials is inserted via a catheter from the groin and sits in the heart. This new technology has several potential advantages. Most important is the absence of a wire or lead which carries the electrical impulse from conventional pacemakers to the heart. These wires can come under immense pressure and can be a source of complications. A patient in Austria was the first to have the device implanted in December 2013. A rival system called Nanostim from St Jude Medical is also undergoing trials. It is 41mm long. A third technology under development by EBR Systems combines a pacemaker implanted under the skin which wirelessly sends ultrasound energy to a receiving electrode – about the size of a grain of rice – implanted in the left ventricle.
Mice with MS-Like Condition Walk Again After Human Stem Cell Treatment – (University of Utah – May 15, 2014)
Mice severely disabled by a condition similar to multiple sclerosis (MS) could walk less than two weeks following treatment with human stem cells. The finding, which uncovers new avenues for treating MS. When scientists transplanted human stem cells into MS mice, they expected no benefit from the treatment. Instead, the experiment yielded spectacular results. They thought the human stem cells would be rejected, much like rejection of an organ transplant. And, indeed, that happened. Prior to transplantation, Loring’s graduate student and co-first author on the paper, Ronald Coleman, followed his intuition and grew the cells so they were less crowded on the Petri dish than usual. The change in protocol yielded a human neural stem cell type that turned out to be extremely potent. As early as one week post-treatment, there were no signs of the transplanted stem cells in the mouse. However, what would ordinarily be considered a handicap, turned out to be a significant advantage. Within 10 to 14 days, the mice could walk and run. Six months later, they showed no signs of slowing down. “This result opens up a whole new area of research for us to figure out why it worked,” said co-senior author Jeanne Loring, Ph.D., director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif.
Sleep’s Memory Role Discovered – (BBC News – June 5, 2014)
It is well known that sleep plays an important role in memory and learning. But what actually happens inside the brain has been a source of considerable debate. Researchers at New York University School of Medicine and Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School trained mice in a new skill – walking on top of a rotating rod. They then looked inside the living brain with a microscope to see what happened when the animals were either sleeping or sleep deprived. Their study showed that sleeping mice formed significantly more new connections between neurons – they were learning more. And by disrupting specific phases of sleep, the research group showed deep or slow-wave sleep was necessary for memory formation. During this stage, the brain was “replaying” the activity from earlier in the day. Another reason for sleep was discovered last year when experiments showed the brain used sleep to wash away waste toxins built up during a hard day’s thinking.
Earth Scientists Split on Climate Change Statement – (The Australian – June 4, 2014)
Australia’s peak body of earth scientists has declared itself unable to publish a position statement on climate change due to the deep divisions within its membership on the issue. After more than five years of debate and two false starts, Geological Society of Australia president Laurie Hutton said a statement on climate change was too difficult to achieve. Mr. Hutton said the issue “had the potential to be too divisive and would not serve the best interests of the society as a whole.” The backdown, published in the GSA quarterly newsletter, is the culmination of two rejected position statements and years of furious correspondence among members. (Editor’s note: This article is “premium content” on the original website (above) but can be accessed in full here.) And here’s some of the “back story”: Climate science hopelessly politicized. Geological Society of Australia gives up on making any statement . The “Comment” section is an excellent example of the extent to which this issue has in fact been politicized. Everyone seems to have an agenda.
Portland’s E. Coli Scare: How Mushrooms Could Have Helped Prevent It – (Nation of Change – June 1, 2014)
On May 23, the city of Portland, Ore., found a dangerous form of E. coli bacteria in the regional water supply. More than 670,000 people were warned to boil tap water before drinking it, and some restaurants were forced to close. A few days later, the warning was lifted. Mycologist Paul Stamets believes that cities like Portland should consider an out-of-the-box solution: running water through filters that contain fungi specially selected for their antibiotic abilities. Infections from this type of bacteria are unpleasant but not usually deadly—in most cases the symptoms are limited to diarrhea, vomiting, and fevers. Yet, of the roughly 265,000 E. coli infections reported each year in the United States, 5 – 10% result in a potentially life-threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Study Says Collapsing Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica Melting from Geothermal Heat, Not Climate Change Effects – (Watts Up With That? – June 9, 2014)
Thwaites Glacier, the large, rapidly changing outlet of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, is not only being eroded by the ocean, it’s being melted from below by geothermal heat, researchers at the Institute for Geophysics at The University of Texas at Austin (UTIG) report in the current edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings significantly change the understanding of conditions beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet where accurate information has previously been unobtainable. The Thwaites Glacier has been the focus of considerable attention in recent weeks as other groups of researchers found the glacier is on the way to collapse, but more data and computer modeling are needed to determine when the collapse will begin in earnest and at what rate the sea level will increase as it proceeds. The new observations by UTIG will greatly inform these ice sheet modeling efforts. Using radar techniques to map how water flows under ice sheets, UTIG researchers were able to estimate ice melting rates and thus identify significant sources of geothermal heat under Thwaites Glacier. They found these sources are distributed over a wider area and are much hotter than previously assumed.
Cybercrime Remains a Growth Industry with $445 Billion Lost Annually – (Bloomberg – June 9, 2014)
“Cybercrime remains a growth industry.” That’s the main message from former U.S. intelligence officials, who outlined scenarios for how $445 billion a year in trade theft due to computer hackers will worsen. The report warned that financial companies, retailers and energy companies are at risk from thieves who are becoming more sophisticated at pilfering data from their servers. The outlook “is increased losses and slower growth,” with no “credible scenario in which cybercrime losses diminish,” according to the report published by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Some of the damage will be hard to trace, such as economic downturns caused by foreign competitors selling products based on stolen designs and financial markets undermined by hackers. “The real question is do we know what cybercrime is costing us?” asked Stewart Baker, a lead author of the study who was general counsel for the National Security Agency in the 1990s and later an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security in a telephone interview. The damage done already includes 40 million people in the U.S. having their personal information stolen within the last year and an unnamed oil company losing hundreds of millions of dollars in business opportunities when hackers obtained its oilfield exploration data, according to the report. The biggest driver in the cost is stolen intellectual property, said Tom Gann, vice president of government relations for McAfee.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Net Neutrality – (YouTube – June 1, 2014)
Cable companies are trying to create an unequal playing field for internet speeds, but they’re doing it so boringly that most news outlets aren’t covering it. (Well, actually, they are covering it but they are downplaying it so much that you may not have noticed the coverage.) John Oliver explains the controversy and lets viewers know how they can voice their displeasure to the FCC. All this – and humor, too.
Google to Launch 180 Satellites for Internet Access to All – (Daily Mail – June 2, 2014)
The world wide web may seem like a global community, but two-thirds of the planet still remain without access. Now, Google is planning to change this by launching a fleet of 180 satellites to provide web access for the 4.8 billion people not yet online, according to sources close to the company. The California-based giant will spend more than $1 billion on the technology, which will rival Facebook’s efforts to connect remote regions of the world. The satellites will orbit the Earth at lower altitudes than traditional satellites. Google has also acquired a drone company to provide internet connectivity. Facebook, meanwhile, is developing its own solar-powered drones, satellites and lasers to deliver web access to underdeveloped countries. A separate Google project, dubbed Project Loon, is designing high-altitude balloons to provide broadband service to remote regions of the world.
The Blossom Tower – (Raft Architects – April 15, 2014)
Menara Bunga Raya – Blossom Tower – is designed for ‘people, profit and planet’, reflecting an emerging awareness that our most visible buildings must deliver value beyond simple economics – that they must speak to the highest aspirations of the society in which they are built. To this end, Menara Bunga Raya allocates 2.5% of the tower toward public uses, including a sculpture park and outdoor performance spaces at the tower base; a new Muzium Rakyat (Museum of People); a Sky Walk and cafe atop the tower; and a 20-story tall Hall of Hibiscuses connecting the Muzium and Skywalk – a vertical, living garden celebrating the National flower of Malaysia. The Menara Bunga Raya has inverted the common tapering tower form to place more area and more perimeter at the top of the building where views, daylight and visibility are best – providing a commercial advantage to leasing. Additionally, the tower is designed around the ‘village’ concept, in which multiple key tenants are provided exclusive drop-offs, entrances and branded sky-lobbies served by dedicated shuttle elevators, effectively creating multiple towers in one. Check out the architectural renderings in the article.
U.S. Residential Solar Just Beat Commercial Installations For the First Time – (Nation of Change – June 1, 2014)
The first quarter of 2014 was another big one for the U.S. solar industry, with 74% of all new electricity generation across the country coming from solar power. The 1,330 megawatts of solar photovoltaics installed last quarter bring the total in the U.S. up to 14.8 gigawatts of installed capacity — enough to power three million homes, according to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). In addition to being the largest quarter ever for concentrating solar power, a method of large-scale solar generation that uses a unique ‘salt battery’ to allow the solar plant to keep producing power even when the sun goes down. It was also the first time in the history of SEIA’s reports that residential solar installations surpassed commercial in the same time period. 232 MW of residential PV were installed in the first quarter, compared to 225 MW of commercial solar. The remarkable growth of rooftop solar across the U.S. is sparking battles in multiple states as customers, utilities, and the solar industry wrestle with how solar customers should be compensated for the excess power they send back to the grid and whether they should be charged additional fees for maintenance and other costs incurred by the utility. (Editor’s note: The entire business model for electrical utility companies is in the midst of a major transformation. In the short term, residential customers are likely to wind up paying extra essentially because they are not otherwise contributing “adequately” to the profit margins of the utility companies. Ultimately, this is likely to lead to a degree of “cord cutting” that the cable companies are dealing with now but that the power companies have barely considered.)
Researchers Create Flexible Wires That Could Double as Batteries – (GizMag – June 4, 2014)
Two researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) have come up with a way to use nano-technology to make wires with supercapacitance that may eventually also double as batteries. Professor Jayan Thomas and his Ph.D. student Zenan Yu premised their design on their ability to grow “nanowhiskers” of copper oxide in a laboratory that would provide the conductive link between the inner and outer layers of their supercapacitor wire. The team first started by growing a layer of nanowhiskers from insulating copper oxide on an outer layer of a single copper wire. They then treated those whiskers with a gold-palladium alloy, before finally depositing an electrochemically active coating of manganese oxide on the alloy. As a result, the nanowires acted as a sheath to encapsulate the copper wire, and form the first electrode. To add a second electrode to complete the energy storage device, the researchers coated the first electrode with a solid electrolyte and a polymer partition, and then fitted another cylindrical electrode around that. The second electrode was then formed in the same way as the first electrode, but nanowhiskers were molded on a copper foil that acted as the final conducting tube around the outside. The practical upshot of this is that this wire – in a growing line of other wearable supercapacitors and weavable battery wires – may soon help make possible energy-storage devices and systems that are flexible, wearable and incorporated directly into clothing and textiles.
Solar Impulse 2, the Solar-powered Plane That Never Has to Land – (Washington Post – June 2, 2014)
The Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane designed to fly around the world next year, recently set off on its maiden flight, taking off from Payerne Airfield in Switzerland and landing two hours later. Its predecessor, Solar Impulse, made it across the United States last year. The new plane has larger wings — about the size of a larger passenger plane — and uses roughly 17,200 solar cells and improved batteries. The plane also has amenities such as autopilot, a toilet, and a large enough cockpit for the pilot to lie down. Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the project’s founders, say that the plane can theoretically stay airborne indefinitely. “I mean, the airplane can fly a month. The question is, ‘What can the pilot do?’” Borschberg said. “So we have a sustainable airplane in terms of energy; we need to develop a sustainable pilot now.”
Ikea Announces Plans to Launch an Electric Bicycle! – (Inhabitat – May 27, 2014)
Ikea has tried to change the way you eat, the way you shop and the way you light your home, and now the Swedish retailer is trying to change the way you travel. Ikea is launching an electric bike, dubbed the Folkvänlig, that will only set you back $1,000 (even less if you are an Ikea Family member). The bike will be released in Austria initially, features six different driving modes and a has top speed of 45 mph, which means that even longer commutes are do-able. The bike’s name comes from the Swedish words for friendly and people and is powered by a lithium-ion battery with pedal-assisted power, making travel a breeze. The company has yet to announce where the bike will be released next, so make sure to contact Ikea if you want to see it in your neighborhood. So that leaves just one question that we need to know: Do we have to assemble it ourselves?
Brain-controlled Airplanes – (KurzweilAI – May 29, 2014)
Pilots of the future could fly a plane by just thinking commands, say scientists at the Institute for Flight System Dynamics at Technische Universität München (TUM) and Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) involved in the EU-funded Brainflight project. The system uses electroencephalography (EEG) to detect brain waves. An algorithm developed by scientists at TU Berlin deciphers electrical potentials and converts them into control commands. “A long-term vision of the project is to make flying accessible to more people,” explains aerospace engineer Tim Fricke, who heads the project at TUM. “With brain control, flying could become easier. This would reduce the work load of pilots and thereby increase safety. In addition, pilots would have more freedom of movement to manage other manual tasks in the cockpit.” Seven subjects took part in flight simulator tests. They had varying levels of flight experience, including one person without any cockpit experience. “One of the subjects was able to follow eight out of ten target headings with a deviation of only 10 degrees,” reports Fricke. Several of the subjects also managed the landing approach under poor visibility. One test pilot even landed within only few meters of the centerline. The TU München scientists are now focusing on how the requirements for the control system and flight dynamics need to be altered to accommodate the new control method. Normally, pilots feel force feedback (resistance) on controls, which is missing when using brain control. So the researchers are looking for alternative feedback methods.
Super Creative Organic Urban Gardens around the World – (Nation of Change – May 24, 2014)
Not only are people around the world capable of growing nutrient-dense, nourishing food that will feed their communities, even if they live in an urban setting, but they can also do it with élan. Some of the most creative urban gardening projects around the globe can inspire us to create our own green space in the city, or add luster to a space that’s already underway which just needs a little oomph. Here are some off-the-(biotech)-chain gardens that will get our creative juices flowing. For example, Food Field is an urban farm in the middle of central Detroit. It grows heaping amounts of organic produce using permaculture. They even raise chickens and ducks, grow food utilizing aquaculture, raise honey bees, and have their own organic fruit orchard. This all happens on a piece of land that is smaller than that of many McMansions.
Global Hunger for Protein Fuels Food-Industry Deals – (Wall St. Journal – June 11, 2014)
World-wide meat consumption will rise 1.9% a year over the next decade, according to projections from the U.S. Agriculture Department, as rising incomes in places like China, Mexico and Central America allow consumers to afford more pork, chicken and beef. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has projected that by 2030 the average person will consume about 99 pounds of meat a year, versus 86 pounds in 2007 and 73 in 1991. The U.S. Agriculture Department predicts that China and Hong Kong will boost beef imports by 55% by 2024. In response, farmers from the U.S. to Ukraine have planted more corn and soybeans, core ingredients in most livestock feed. U.S. farmers planted 97 million acres of corn in 2013, the most since the 1930s and up from 75.7 million in 2001. Meanwhile, meat producers in developing countries like Brazil are ramping up output: the U.N. expects such countries to account for about 80% of the growth in global meat production over the next eight years. In the US, sales of fresh meat—the cuts sold shrink-wrapped in the supermarket—have suffered in part because of record beef and pork prices. Those prices reflect the drought and disease that have reduced U.S. livestock supplies. Sales of mass-market milk also have waned. But sales of many processed meat and dairy products are soaring, as many Americans shift away from carbohydrates and companies come up with new and more-convenient products and packaging that tap into the pro-protein trend.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Snowden Reveals First Ever Public Disclosure of Secret Black Budget Programs – (Collective Evolution – August 31, 2013)
The United States has a history of government agencies existing in secret for years. The National Security Agency (NSA) was founded in 1952, its existence was hidden until the mid 1960′s. Even more secretive is the National Reconnaissance Office, which was founded in 1960 but remained completely secret for 30 years. These are Special Access Programs (SAP). From these we have unacknowledged and waived SAPs. These programs do not exist publicly, but they do indeed exist. They are better known as ‘deep black programs.’ A 1997 US Senate report described them as “so sensitive that they are exempt from standard reporting requirements to the Congress.” The Washington Post revealed that the “black-budget” documents report a staggering 52.6 billion dollars that was set aside for operations in the fiscal year 2013.
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
How the US Institutionalized Surveillance – (Aljazeera – May 24, 2014)
Information is power. This is the logic — or at least the aspiration — behind the U.S. government’s current approach to intelligence gathering: the more data (or metadata) in hand, the more control. The National Security Agency’s surveillance leviathan, funded by a black budget and presided over by a star-chamber court, suctions up almost inconceivable amounts of material from around the world, including your phone and computer. How did this begin, and where will it end? History shows us that this is a story about empire. For more than a century, major innovations in U.S. intelligence-collection capacity have accompanied major expansions of U.S. influence on the world stage. It was during the United States’ bloody occupation of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War that U.S. policymakers first yoked intelligence collection to imperial expansion and then repatriated it. As the historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in “Policing America’s Empire,” U.S. colonial police, powered by a nascent information revolution and unfettered by constitutional restrictions, built an elaborate covert surveillance apparatus to help quell resistance. Their system maintained individual file cards on an astonishing 70% of the local population. (Editor’s note: We strongly recommend this article for its excellent historical research.)
No Wonder Impeachment Was “Off the Table”: Democrats Approved Mass Surveillance and Torture … and the Subsequent Cover-Up – (Washington’s Blog – June 9, 2014)
When a teen asked Nancy Pelosi last week why she supports unconstitutional NSA spying, Pelosi responded that the NSA lied to Congress about what they were doing, and she didn’t know. But Pelosi was actually briefed on – and approved – illegal mass surveillance by the NSA. Pelosi was also complicit in torture. And yet she lied about that, also. Nancy Pelosi claimed in 2009: The Bush administration did not inform Congress that it had waterboarded detainees in classified briefings, after the agency had already done so… Her assertion has been contradicted by a recently released Senate committee report that cited CIA records to claim that senior members of Congress in both parties were briefed on the waterboarding, which had already been done to detainee Abu Zubaydah. Moreover, the Washington Post wrote in 2007: “Four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk. Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said. “ Article includes outside support for both assertions that Pelosi lied and goes on to disclose further complicity among ranking Democrats. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article for its underlying documentation.)
Homeland Security Raids Flea Markets While Ignoring Terrorist Threats – (Daily Sheeple – May 14, 2014)
The Department of Homeland Security is currently busting flea market vendors while turning a blind eye to suspected terrorists entering the U.S., highlighting the department’s predisposition to target average Americans rather than terrorists. The most recent raids occurred at two flea markets near Lawrence, Mass., which netted the arrest of 40 merchants accused of selling “bogus merchandise” (e.g.. fake “Rolex” watches and” Louis Vuitton” handbags). “The Department of Homeland Security was the lead [in the raid] with Lawrence Police Department,” said Carrie Kimball-Monahan, spokesperson for the Essex Co. District Attorney. The police chief referred all questions concerning the raid to DHS, which previously targeted flea markets in Maryland, New Hampshire, and Texas. But considering the recent exposé of DHS’s “hands off” list of terror suspects who are allowed unrestricted entry into the U.S., it’s becoming obvious that Homeland Security is involved in much more than stopping terrorism. Busting trademark infringements seems to have been added its agenda.
NSA Whistleblower: Snowden Never Had Access to the Juiciest Documents … Far More Damning – (Washington’s Blog- June 7, 2014)
NSA whistleblower Russel Tice was a key source in the 2005 New York Times report that blew the lid off the Bush administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping. Tice told PBS and other media that the NSA is spying on – and blackmailing – top government officials and military officers, including Supreme Court Justices, highly-ranked generals, Colin Powell and other State Department personnel, and many other top officials. He says the NSA started spying on President Obama when he was a candidate for Senate. Many of Tice’s allegations have been confirmed by other government whistleblowers. Tice says that NSA is doing right now is taking the information and putting it in a much higher security level. “It’s called “ECI” – Exceptionally Controlled Information – and it’s called the black program … which I was a specialist in, by the way. I specialized in black world – DOD and IC (Intelligence Community) – programs, operations and missions … in “VRKs”, “ECIs”, and “SAPs”, “STOs”. SAP equals Special Access Program. It’s highly unlikely Mr. Snowden had any access to these. STO equals Special Technical Operations It’s highly unlikely Mr. Snowden had any access to these. Now in that world – the ECI/VRK world – everything in that system is classified at a higher level and it has its own computer systems that house it. It’s totally separate than the system which Mr. Snowden was privy to, which was called the “JWICS”: Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System. The JWICS system is what everybody at NSA has access to. Mr Snowden had Sys Admin [systems administrator] authority for the JWICS.”
Vodafone Reveals Existence of Secret Wires That Allow State Surveillance – (Guardian – June 4, 2014)
Vodafone, one of the world’s largest mobile phone groups, has revealed the existence of secret wires that allow government agencies to listen to all conversations on its networks, saying they are widely used in some of the 29 countries in which it operates in Europe and beyond. The company has broken its silence on government surveillance in order to push back against the increasingly widespread use of phone and broadband networks to spy on citizens, and will publish its first Law Enforcement Disclosure Report. At 40,000 words, it is the most comprehensive survey yet of how governments monitor the conversations and whereabouts of their people. The company said wires had been connected directly to its network and those of other telecoms groups, allowing agencies to listen to or record live conversations and, in certain cases, track the whereabouts of a customer. Privacy campaigners said the revelations were a “nightmare scenario” that confirmed their worst fears on the extent of snooping. The article includes a country-by-country graphic of government requests for communication interception for those countries in which Vodafone operates with the exception of Albania, Egypt, Hungary, India, Malta, Qatar, Romania, South Africa and Turkey, where it is unlawful to disclose any information related to wiretapping or interception of the content of phone calls and messages including whether such capabilities exist.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
Prostitution Adds £5bn a Year to UK Economy – (Telegraph – May 30, 2014)
According to new official data, prostitution is contributing around £5bn a year to the British economy. Dr Brooke Magnanti, formerly known as Belle de Jour, doesn’t think the numbers add up. “As a former escort, I can say with confidence that nearly everything you know, or think you know, about the money involved in sex work is wrong. And while I don’t know much if anything about the black market for illegal drugs, I’ll take a punt that most of the numbers flying around to do with that are wrong, too. Which is why it’s a good thing – yes that’s right, I said a good thing – that the Office for National Statistics have released their plans to add calculations for the contributions of sex work and drug sales to the GDP, as is already done in several other countries and will soon be required throughout the EU.”
Nearly Every Mass Shooting in the Last 20 Years Shares One Thing in Common, and It Isn’t Weapons – (Liberty Crier – November 10, 2013)
The overwhelming evidence suggests the single largest common factor in all of these incidents is that all of the perpetrators were either actively taking powerful psychotropic drugs or had been at some point in the immediate past before they committed their crimes. Multiple credible scientific studies going back more than a decade, as well as internal documents from pharmaceutical companies that suppressed the information show that SSRI drugs ( Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors ) have well known, but unreported side effects, including but not limited to suicide and other violent behavior. www.ssristories.com is one site that has documented over 4,500 cases reported in the mainstream media of aberrant or violent behavior by those taking these powerful drugs. This article goes on to provide a list of mass shooters and the particular psychotropic drug(s) each person was or had been recently taking. (Editor’s note: These side effects are not “unreported”. As required by the FDA, they are exhaustively listed in the paperwork that accompanies the drugs and prescribing physicians are well aware of them. However, what is much less well known is their use by nearly all mass shooters. )
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Milky Way May Have 100 Million Life-giving Planets – (KurzweilAI – June 5, 2014)
There are some 100 million other places in the Milky Way galaxy that could support life above the microbial level, reports a group of astronomers in the journal Challenges (open access), based on a new computation method to examine data from planets orbiting other stars in the universe. “This study does not indicate that complex life exists on that many planets; we’re saying that there are planetary conditions that could support it, according to the paper’s authors*. “Complex life doesn’t mean intelligent life — though it doesn’t rule it out or even animal life — but simply that organisms larger and more complex than microbes could exist in a number of different forms,” the researchers explain. The scientists surveyed more than 1,000 planets and used a formula that considers planet density, temperature, substrate (liquid, solid or gas), chemistry, distance from its central star and age. From this information, they developed and computed the Biological Complexity Index (BCI). The BCI calculation revealed that 1-2% of the planets showed a BCI rating higher than Europa, a moon of Jupiter thought to have a subsurface global ocean that may harbor forms of life. With about 10 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, the BCI yields 100 million plausible planets.
Good News on Jobs Mask Hard Truths on Earning Power – (Sun Times – June 7, 2014)
The National Employment Law Project, in a recent study, found mid- and higher-wage industries eroded by the Great Recession have failed to replenish at the same rate as lower-wage industries, four years into the recovery. Higher-wage industries accounted for 41% of private job losses, but 30% of new job growth. Mid-wage industries, accounting for 37% of job losses, represent 26% of new jobs. Meanwhile, lower-wage industries — retail, restaurant and administrative support services, including temporary help — accounted for 22% of job losses, and 44% of U.S. job growth. Part-time labor accounts for more than 10% of U.S. job growth; contract workers now represent 2.3% of all U.S. employment. “It’s a troubling change in kind of the American Dream and the notion that we’re going to be better off than our parents were,” said John Bouman, president of Chicago’s Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. “We’re not talking about teens. These are people over the age of 20, trying to support themselves and often a family. Many are folks who previously were in the middle class, and they’re taking whatever jobs they can get.” See also: Where have all the missing American workers gone?
Harvard University’s Institute of Politics Spring 2014 Survey – (Harvard University – June, 2014)
A new national poll of America’s 18- to 29- year-olds by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, shows 18- to 29- year-olds’ trust in public institutions at a five-year low – and their cynicism toward the political process has never been higher,” said Harvard Institute of Politics Director Trey Grayson. “To inspire the next generation to public service – and to improve our communities – our elected officials need to move past the bitter partisanship and work together to ensure progress and restore trust in government.” The Institute’s spring poll finds low expected participation for the midterm elections as less than one-in-four (23%) young Americans say they will “definitely be voting” in November, a sharp drop of 11 percentage points from five months ago (34%). Among the most likely voters, the poll also finds traditional Republican constituencies showing more enthusiasm than Democratic ones for participating in the upcoming midterms, with 44% of 2012 Mitt Romney voters saying they will definitely be voting – a statistically significant difference compared to the 35% of 2012 Barack Obama voters saying the same. The IOP’s newest poll results – its 25th major release since 2000 – also show notable differences in opinions on legalization of marijuana by political party, race and age. The poll also finds President Obama’s job approval rating has improved (47%) from a historic low noted five months ago (41%: Nov. 2013). “To inspire the next generation to public service – and to improve our communities – our elected officials need to move past the bitter partisanship and work together to ensure progress and restore trust in government.”
You Live in Alabama. Here’s How You’re Going to Die. – (Slate – June 3, 2014)
Here are maps that detail the most common causes of death by state. The data used to create the maps are from a 2008 CDC report that’s based on numbers from 2005. Ideally, we’d have more up-to-date information, but their page on mortality tables indicates that there’s nothing more recent on state-by-state causes of death. For example, the most common cause of death in every state is either cancer or heart disease; one map shows which is more common by state. But apart from those, what are the most common causes of death? There’s a map that answers that question. Then there’s a map on the cause of death most disproportionately affecting each state… followed by many more maps.
Infrastructure Sticker Shock: Financing Costs More than Construction – (Ellen Brown – June 1, 2014)
“The numbers are big. There is sticker shock,” said Jason Peltier, deputy manager of the Westlands Water District, describing Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to build two massive water tunnels through the California Delta. Whether the tunnels are the best way to get water to the Delta is controversial, but the issue here is the cost. The tunnels were billed to voters as a $25 billion project. That estimate, however, omitted interest and fees. Construction itself is estimated at a relatively modest $18 billion. But financing through bonds issued at 5% for 30 years adds $24-40 billion to the tab. Another $9 billion will go to wetlands restoration, monitoring and other costs, bringing the grand total to $51-67 billion – three or four times the cost of construction. A general rule for government bonds is that they double the cost of projects, once interest has been paid. And those heavy charges pale in comparison to the financing of “capital appreciation bonds.” As with the “no interest” loans that became notorious in the subprime mortgage crisis, the borrower pays only the principal for the first few years. But interest continues to compound; and after several decades, it can amount to ten times principal or more. For example. San Diego County taxpayers will pay $1 billion after 40 years for $105 million raised for the Poway Unified School District. However, there is a viable alternative.
Amazing People with Real Superpowers – (Mysterious Universe – June 3, 2014)
The world of comics and movies is full of superheroes and characters with abilities that transcend what is possible for the typical person. Yet, a gifted few in this world actually have extraordinary powers beyond normal humans. For example, Finnish skiing sensation Eero Mantyranta was found to possess a very rare genetic “defect”, which resulted in his blood having the ability to hold 50% more oxygen than that of a typical human being, allowing him to ski faster for longer. Isao Machii is a Japanese swordsman who possesses reflexes far exceeding what a normal person is capable of. He holds the record for the fastest tennis ball cut in midair, which was going roughly 440 mph, which is faster than the human eye can even register.
3,200 year-old Trousers Found in Silk Road Graves – (Past Horizons – June 7, 2014)
A recent study of finds from the Silk Road appears to confirm the assumption that the development of modern day trousers was closely connected with the beginnings of horse riding. The Yanghai cemetery near the Turfan oasis, western China was discovered by local villagers in the early 1970s, and by 2003, more than 500 tombs had been excavated. Two of those graves contained, among other artifacts, a pair of trousers. The trousers were made of three independently woven pieces of fabric; rectangular pieces for each leg spanning the whole length from waistband to ankle, and one stepped cross-shaped crotch-piece which bridged the gap between the two side-pieces. The cloth did not appear to be cut, but each part was made on the loom to the correct size in order to fit a specific person. The crotch-piece was made substantially wider than needed for a normal stride. Instead it was made to allow sideward movement of the legs in a wide arc, allowing the wearer maximum freedom to take big strides forward as well as to mount and straddle a horse. Dating to around 3,200 years old, the trousers come from a time when the first warriors on horseback appeared in the steppes of Eurasia and represent the earliest modern type trousers found so far. As a comparison, the Xinjiang mummies from the Xiaohe burial site which pre-date the Yanghai finds by three to six centuries were dressed in string skirts, leather boots and felt hats, but not in trousers.
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – articles off the beaten track which may – or may not – have predictive value.
Amateur Beats Gov’t at Digitizing Newspapers: Tom Tryniski’s Weird, Wonderful Website – (Reason.com – March 5, 2013)
One computer expert working alone has built a historic newspaper site that’s orders of magnitude bigger and more popular than one created by a federal bureaucracy with millions of dollars to spend. Armed only with a few PCs and a cheap microfilm scanner, Tom Tryniski has played David to the Library of Congress’ Goliath. Tryniski’s site, which he created in his living room in upstate New York, has grown into one of the largest historic newspaper databases in the world, with 22 million newspaper pages. By contrast, the Library of Congress’ historic newspaper site, Chronicling America, has 5 million newspaper pages on its site while costing taxpayers about $3 per page. In January, visitors to Fultonhistory.com accessed just over 6 million pages while Chronicling America pulled fewer than 3 million views.
This Machine Can Write a Grade-A Paper in Less Than a Second – (The Verge – April 29, 2014)
Various studies have shown that automated software often scores papers roughly the same as its human counterparts, and the software is gaining popularity at schools simply because it can grade papers so much faster than teachers. But Les Perelman, a now retired former director of writing for MIT, has long been against the idea of using machines to grade essays. “I’m a skeptic,” he told the New York Times in 2012 — and now he’s built his own machine to prove his skepticism right. Called the Babel Generator — short for Basic Automatic BS Essay Language Generator — the software is able produce complete essays in less than a second, and all you have to do is feed it up to three keywords. The essays are grammatically correct but nonsensical. The goal isn’t to produce great writing; it’s to fool other machines: Babel was designed specifically to prove that essay-grading software doesn’t effectively analyze things like meaning and isn’t able to check facts. Perelman’s gibberish essays have managed to get high scores on automated tests like MY Access!, with grades like 5.4 out of 6.
JUST FOR FUN
Dylan Winter and the Starling Murmurations – (You Tube – July 24, 2013)
At dusk on a winter evening in southern England a flock of 200,000 European starlings congregate to soar in breathtaking formations before roosting for the night. These incredible displays of aerial precision and biological engineering are captured in this memorable sequence from Flight: The Genius of Birds.
A FINAL QUOTE–
The past can’t see you, but the future is listening. – Terri Guillemets , quotation anthologist (b.1973)
A special thanks to: Thomas Bergin, Bernard Calil, JoAnn Carpenter, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, 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