Volume 18, Number 10 – 6/15/15

 Volume 18, Number 10 – 6/15/15


  • The future of wind turbines? No blades.
  • According to WHO, 1.5% of worldwide deaths were caused by suicide in 2012, making it the third highest cause of death in the world.
  • BMW’s parking system tells you where to find available on-street spaces
  • Current NSA officials admit that the agency is drowning in too much information.

by John L. Petersen

Free Speech, Facebook & The NSA: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

A slightly modified version of the Patriot Act has been passed by the U.S. Congress that largely allows the government to continue spying on every aspect of American’s lives.

John Whitehead, Constitutional and civil rights attorney, and founder of the Rutherford Institute provides a good summary.

“A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy.”
—Writers Against Mass Surveillance

THE GOOD NEWS: Americans have a right to freely express themselves on the Internet, including making threatening—even violent—statements on Facebook, provided that they don’t intend to actually inflict harm.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Elonis v. United States threw out the conviction of a Pennsylvania man who was charged with making unlawful threats (it was never proven that he intended to threaten anyone) and sentenced to 44 months in jail after he posted allusions to popular rap lyrics and comedy routines on his Facebook page. It’s a ruling that has First Amendment implications for where the government can draw the line when it comes to provocative and controversial speech that is protected and permissible versus speech that could be interpreted as connoting a criminal intent.

That same day, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, the legal justification allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to carry out warrantless surveillance on Americans, officially expired. Over the course of nearly a decade, if not more, the NSA had covertly spied on millions of Americans, many of whom were guilty of nothing more than using a telephone, and stored their records in government databases. For those who have been fighting the uphill battle against the NSA’s domestic spying program, it was a small but symbolic victory.

THE BAD NEWS: Congress’ legislative “fix,” intended to mollify critics of the NSA, will ensure that the agency is not in any way hindered in its ability to keep spying on Americans’ communications.

The USA FREEDOM Act could do more damage than good by creating a false impression that Congress has taken steps to prevent the government from spying on the telephone calls of citizens, while in fact ensuring the NSA’s ability to continue invading the privacy and security of Americans.

For instance, the USA FREEDOM Act not only reauthorizes Section 215 of the Patriot Act for a period of time, but it also delegates to telecommunications companies the responsibility of carrying out phone surveillance on American citizens.

AND NOW FOR THE DOWNRIGHT UGLY NEWS: Nothing is going to change.

As journalist Conor Friedersdorf warns, “Americans concerned by mass surveillance and the national security state’s combination of power and secrecy should keep worrying.”

In other words, telephone surveillance by the NSA is the least of our worries.

Even with restrictions on its ability to collect mass quantities of telephone metadata, the government and its various spy agencies, from the NSA to the FBI, can still employ an endless number of methods for carrying out warrantless surveillance on Americans, all of which are far more invasive than the bulk collection program.

As I point out in my new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to spy on the American people. Just recently, for example, it was revealed that the FBI has been employing a small fleet of low-flying planes to carry out video and cell phone surveillance over American cities.

Read more . . .


Vaccines have been in the news lately. That has interested me in part because my parents were adamant that my brothers and I would not be vaccinated for polio when we were kids. They were convinced that the vaccine could, in fact, produce polio in kids. Turns out they were right. Seems there are some serious questions about the efficacy and side effects of vaccines.

This was brought home to me two weeks ago when across the dinner table a woman told me how that before visiting a doctor for an minor issue, she was physically and mentally in good shape. The physician castigated her for not being up to date on vaccinations and demanded that she get a dozen or more inoculations immediately. The result of the shots was paralysis and major mental disorders that continue many years later.

Questioning the system generates a great deal of flack. Here’s an illuminating piece

Crucifying the Vaccine Heretics

~by Roman Bystrianyk  (co-author Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History)

I recently read a short piece in Time Magazine by Mr. Jeffrey Kluger on how the actor and activist Rob Schneider should “shut up about vaccines.” If you’re not familiar with what is going on, here is what the controversy is basically about. Rob Schneider is a parental rights activist that believes the individual should decide if he or she should receive a vaccine for themselves or for their children. Mr. Kluger disagrees. (1)

Mr. Kluger spends most of the childish, insult filled article painting Rob Schneider as an idiot and a clown who has no right to say anything whatsoever about anything at all, and certainly not about vaccines. The exception by Mr. Kluger might be that Rob Schnieder may be allowed to say something to do with comedy, but from the tone Mr. Kluger manufactures I doubt he even thinks Mr. Schneider even deserves that. There is little doubt here that Mr. Kluger feels he is intellectually vastly superior to Mr. Schneider by stating that Mr. Schneider would have scored a zero on the SATs because he lacks the skill to even write his own name. It’s hard to imagine that a chief science editor at a big name magazine would write such an article much less why Time Magazine would allow it to even be published as some type of news worthy story.

The goal of the article is simple – destroy the messenger as quickly as possible – impugn their character so that anything they might have to say is disregarded. This is sadly a tried-and-true technique of bullies from the playground to supposed grownups who have attained some position of power and influence in our society.

Funny how seriously the public is supposed to take actresses like Amanda Peet who are blindly pro-vaccine, but when a celebrity who has done some critical thinking and come to a different conclusion they are branded quacks (just like doctors) and blacklisted.

Science’s unofficial motto is “Question Everything.” Well that might be true for understanding the cosmos or physics but that certainly does not in any way apply to vaccines. Vaccines are the unassailable magic wand. They cure everything and have zero downside (well accept for a sore arm or two). According to Mr. Krulger vaccines are “not filled with toxins” so there just couldn’t possibly be any downside at all anyway.

Let’s look at some things that are never discussed when talking about these perfectly harmless and only flawlessly beneficial magic wands. Unlike Mr. Krulger’s article the following information comes from historical and scientific sources that are listed at the bottom of this article for anyone who wishes to do more research. To keep the article reasonably short I’ll stick to a single disease – measles.

During the 1800s into the early 1900s measles, like all infectious diseases, was a big killer. The measles vaccine was introduced in the United States in 1963. By this date using United States statistics the measles death rate had declined by over 98%. (2) Similarly, the measles vaccine was introduced in England in 1968. Since England began keeping statistics in 1838 we can get a much better idea of just how bad measles was during the 1800s – it was a big killer. Phenomenally, the death rate for measles had declined by almost a full 100% before the introduction of the vaccine in England. (3) (Take a look at the graphs in the reference section to see the dramatic decline in deaths.)

Something you may have never been told was that by the time of the vaccine introduction measles was considered generally a mild disease. This was written about in the medical literature at the time just before the vaccine was introduced in the late 1950s. (4)

Alexander Langmuir, MD, is known today as “the father of infectious disease epidemiology.” In 1949 he created the epidemiology section of what became the CDC. Even Langmuir knew that by the time vaccine was developed, measles mortality in the United States had already declined to minimal levels when he described measles as a “. . . self-limiting infection of short duration, moderate severity, and low fatality . . .” (5)

When the vaccine was introduced in 1963 out of 6 New England states there were only 5 deaths attributed to measles. (6) Bottom line – measles was not much of a threat by the time the measles vaccine was introduced. Yet, you would never know this since there is an instant panic as soon as a single child appears with a red dot.

Read more . . .



Here’s an exhaustive list of articles about vaccines. You can learn a lot in a hurry by scanning the extended list.  It isn’t pretty.

–  Addiction Vaccines – Scientists Use Human Experimentation to Advance Transhumanist Agenda  
    –  ‘ADN H5N1′ en La Vacuna Intranasal De La Gripe  
  –  Adverse Effects of Vaccines – Evidence and Causality  
Español   –  Amenaza de Una Epidemia de Efectos Secundarios Por La Vacuna de La Gripe Porcina en Todo El Mundo
    –  A New Giant Vaccine Scandal Exposes Government Lies and Psyops
    –  A War is Against Your Immune System  
    –  Baxter Files Swine Flu Vaccine Patent ‘AHEAD of Outbreak’  
  –  Baxter Vaccine Patent Application US 2009/0060950 A1  
    –  Bedrock of Vaccination Theory Crumbles as Science Reveals Antibodies Not Necessary to Fight Viruses
    –  Beware The Walgreens Travel Vaccination Scam  
    –  Big Pharma and Corporate Media Team Up for Pro-Vaccine Propaganda
    –  Big Pharma Concocts First Swine Flu Vaccine  
    –  Big Pharma Criminality in Vaccines No Longer a ‘Conspiracy Theory‘ – Bribery, Fraud, Price Fixing Now a Matter of Public Record
    –  Big Pharma to Market its Vaccines with Contrived Emotional Appeal that Utterly Ignores Facts
    –  Bill Gates Admits Vaccines Are Used for Human Depopulation  
Español   –  Bill Gates Dice Que Las Vacunas Pueden Ayudar a Reducir La Población Mundial
    –  Bill Gates In Global Push to Vaccinate Every Child On The Planet  
    –  Bill Gates Says Vaccines Can Help Reduce World Population  
    – ‘Biofarms’ to Integrate Vaccines, Pharmaceuticals into GMO ‘Biopharmaceutical’ Crops
    –  Chief Executive of GAVI Wants to ‘Immunize Every Kid on Earth’  
Español   –  ‘Código Rojo’ Alerta de Vacunas – Otro Engaño Mortal  
Español   –  Conejillos de Indias Humanos – España  
    –  Could Swine Flu Vaccine Cause Narcolepsy– Scientists Probe Link Between Drug and Increase in Cases
  –  Cry of The Heart – Stop Hurting The Children – The Medical Terror of Vaccinations
    –  Dangers In The Shots – Components of H1N1 Vaccines – They Are Considered a Biodefense Agents
Español   –  Daños Por Vacunas y Otros – Crimen Contra la Humanidad  
    –  Death by Lethal Vaccine Infection  
  –  Disease vs. Vaccination – Where Does the Risk Really Lie?  
Español   –  Disipando los Mitos de la Vacunación – Una Introducción a las Contradicciones entre la Ciencia Méd…
    –  Dispelling Vaccination Myths – An Introduction to the Contradictions Between Medical Science and…
    –  Doctors Express Serious Reservations About Vaccine Safety – HI Legislators Question H1N1 Vaccines
    –  Does The Vaccine Matter?  
    –  Early Hepatitis B Vaccines and the “Man-Made” Origin of HIV/AIDS
Español   –  El Mayor Peligro No Es La Gripe… Es La Vacuna  
    –  Ending Vaccination Humanicide – Medicine Corrupted  
Español   –  Especialistas Médicos Cuestionan La Seguridad De Las Vacunas  
    –  Evidence-Based Vaccinations – A Scientific Look at The Missing Science Behind Flu Season Vaccines
    –  Exposed Secret Vaccine Industry Ties and Military Involvement With Institute of Medicine – Reveals Fatal Conflicts of…
    –  First Genetically Engineered Flu Vaccine Now on The Market  
    –  Flu is Not The Biggest Danger… It’s The Vaccine!  
    –  Flu Vaccination Ban Goes National After Fever, Convulsions in Children
    –  Flu Vaccines Revealed as The Greatest Quackery Ever Pushed in The History of Medicine

Read very much more . . . .


Healthcare is in trouble in America, but there is some positive news emerging which may change the how the future evolves.

Here is what you may see in the media in the next 60 to 90 days:

1) A breakthrough in the treatment of traumatic brain injury using infrared lights in helmets in a solid scientific study by leading clinicians, with indications that it has potential to also impact Alzheimer’s. First evidence surfaced on this over five years ago, but was rejected by the NIH and the Alzheimer’s Association for reasons that appear more religious belief than science. That may now change.

2) CNN will be reporting that neurofeedback is being used successfully by an MD/Ph.D. and that retraining brainwaves holds exciting potential in treating Alzheimer’s.

3) I attended the Brink Institute Conference in Palm Springs where a presenter presented evidence that these two therapies, combined, can stop and reverse Alzheimer’s, The conventional pharmaceutical approach may not work because the cause and effect is electrochemical, and it is an electrical deficiency that causes and resolves dementia. (I can put potential angel investors in touch with the presenter.)

4) In spite of over forty years of devices and evidence that non-invasive light and EMF therapy can help with many diseases, they rarely get the scientific funding that pharmaceuticals or privately funded medical devices receive. This seems to be changing with the approval in the UK of the ED1000. You can look it up, but suffice it to say that pulses of energy in the area of a man’s prostate can relieve both prostate contraction and erectile dysfunction. Only a few weeks of visits to the clinic for the noninvasive therapy are required.

With the potential for older men to feel 29 again, and no longer need the blue pill and romance within four hours of taking the medicine, some existing interventions may be taken down by an inexpensive, non-invasive therapy.

This is the type of shift in the system that can stop over-utilizing of chemical medication and usher in the many exciting PEMF, NIR, ultrasound, and millimeter wave technologies that can revolutionize medicine in the clinic, and slash healthcare prices.



Meet the Newest State of Matter – (Motherboard – (May 9, 2015)
An international team led by Kosmas Prassides of Tokohu University in Japan, offers a novel material with an unusual combination of properties—insulator, superconductor, metal, magnet. Of particular interest is the hint of high-temperature superconductivity, something of a materials science holy grail and a persistent physics mystery. We all know solids, liquids, gases, and, probably, plasmas, but beyond these there’s an entire catalog of matter alternatives: Bose–Einstein condensate, degenerate matter, supersolids/superfluids, quark-gluon plasma, etc. The difference is that all those alternatives are lab-created and don’t have much place out in the real world of nature. The Prassides group’s new material is one of those states, a crystalline arrangement of carbon-60 molecules, better known as buckyballs, doped with rubidium atoms, which are used to control and maintain distances between the buckyballs, tuning the material’s properties/phases. It’s in this tuning that we find the new, previously unknown state or states of matter, which are known as a “Jahn–Teller metals” after the Jahn-Teller effect, which relates structural deformations among molecules found within a material to its electrical properties. Put simply, by applying or removing pressure, it’s possible to boost the conductivity of what may have been an insulator at lower pressures. High pressure: conductivity.

Levitation Is Possible – (WT Vox – February 15, 2015)
A team of scientists from the University of Tokyo and Nagoya Institute of Technology have demonstrated the first technology that not only brings the mythology of levitation to life but leap frogs it to create a tractor beam, lifting and moving objects across 3 dimensions using sound alone. The essence of levitation technology is the countervailing of gravity. It is known that an ultrasound standing wave is capable of suspending small particles at its sound pressure nodes. The acoustic axis of the ultrasound beam in conventional studies was parallel to the gravitational force, and the levitated objects were manipulated along the fixed axis (i.e. one-dimensionally) by controlling the phases or frequencies of bolted Langevin-type transducers. The size of a levitated object is currently limited only a few millimeters; ideally the object must be smaller than the size of the wave being used. This latest acoustic levitation technique uses multiple ultrasonic transducers (speakers) arranged in a phased array to create a standing wave that surrounds the suspended object forming a node, or sonic bubble. Altering the focal point of the array of speakers allows the object trapped in the sonic bubble to be moved. Using harmonics to generate a standing wave to suspend objects isn’t a new technology; however, previously control was only possible in 2 dimensions, enough to lift and hold in place a small animal.


Missing Link Found between Brain, Immune System – (Kurzweil AI – June 2, 2015)
Overturning decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist. The finding could have significant implications for the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis. “It changes entirely the way we perceive the neuro-immune interaction. We always perceived it before as something esoteric that can’t be studied. But now we can ask mechanistic questions.” said Jonathan Kipnis, PhD, director of UVA’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG). The discovery was made possible by the work of Antoine Louveau, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Kipnis’ lab, who noticed vessel-like patterns in the distribution of immune cells on his slides of a mouse’s meninges — the membranes covering the brain. So how did the brain’s lymphatic vessels manage to escape notice all this time? Kipnis described them as “very well hidden” — they follow a major blood vessel down into the sinuses, an area difficult to image. “It’s so close to the blood vessel, you just miss it… if you don’t know what you’re after.”The unexpected presence of the lymphatic vessels raises a tremendous number of questions that now need answers, both about the workings of the brain and the diseases that plague it. For example: “In Alzheimer’s, there are accumulations of big protein chunks in the brain,” Kipnis said. “We think they may be accumulating in the brain because they’re not being efficiently removed by these vessels.” He noted that the vessels look different with age, so the role they play in aging is another avenue to explore. And there’s an enormous array of other neurological diseases, from autism to multiple sclerosis, that must be reconsidered in light of the presence of something science insisted did not exist.

Walgreens Will Expand Virtual Doctor Visits to Illinois This Summer – (Chicago Sun Times – May 18, 2015)
Illinois customers will be among the first to get access to Walgreens’ new app feature as the company works to roll out the virtual doctor visits to 25 states by year’s end, according to the new head of the largest U.S. drugstore chain. Walgreens is partnering with MDLive, a Florida-based telehealth provider, to let patients contact and consult on video with a doctor via the mobile app. Each virtual consultation costs $49. Walgreens’ existing app, which lets people refill prescriptions and chat with pharmacists, has grown into the nation’s third-most popular, behind Amazon (No. 1) and Groupon (No. 2), based on a June 2014 Internet Retailer study of downloaded mobile apps. The doctor-consultation feature has been tested in California and Michigan since December.

Home-brewed Morphine Made Possible – (BBC News – May 19, 2015)
Scientists have figured out how to brew morphine using the same kit used to make beer at home. They have genetically modified yeast to perform the complicated chemistry needed to convert sugar to morphine. The findings, published in Nature Chemical Biology, raise promise for medicine but also concerns about “home-brewed” illegal drugs. Experts have called for tight control of organisms genetically modified to produce narcotics. If you brew beer at home, then you are relying on microscopic yeast that turns sugars into alcohol. But by borrowing DNA from plants, scientists have been genetically engineering yeasts that can perform each of the steps needed to convert sugar into morphine. One stage of the process – the production of an intermediary chemical called reticuline – had been a stumbling block. That has been solved by a team at the University of California, Berkeley, and the scientists say it should now be possible to put all the steps together and “brew” morphine. Dr John Dueber, a bioengineer at the university, said: “What you really want to do from a fermentation perspective is to be able to feed the yeast glucose, which is a cheap sugar source, and have the yeast do all the chemical steps required downstream to make your target therapeutic drug. “With our study, all the steps have been described, and it’s now a matter of linking them together and scaling up the process. “It’s not a trivial challenge, but it’s doable.” Morphine plays a vital role in pain relief in many hospitals, but it requires a poppy harvest to manufacture. Brewed morphine could, eventually, be easier to produce. It could also allow scientists to tweak each of the steps to develop new types of painkiller.

Researchers Find “Lost” Memories – (MIT News – May 28, 2015)
Memories that have been “lost” as a result of amnesia can be recalled by activating brain cells with light. Researchers at MIT have been able to reactivate memories that could not otherwise be retrieved, using a technology known as optogenetics. The finding answers a fiercely debated question in neuroscience as to the nature of amnesia, according to Susumu Tonegawa, director of the RIKEN-MIT Center at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, who directed the research by lead authors Tomas Ryan, Dheeraj Roy, and Michelle Pignatelli. Neuroscience researchers have for many years debated whether retrograde amnesia — which follows traumatic injury, stress, or diseases such as Alzheimer’s — is caused by damage to specific brain cells, meaning a memory cannot be stored, or if access to that memory is somehow blocked, preventing its recall. “The majority of researchers have favored the storage theory, but we have shown in this paper that this majority theory is probably wrong,” Tonegawa says. “Amnesia is a problem of retrieval impairment.” Memory researchers have previously speculated that somewhere in the brain network is a population of neurons that are activated during the process of acquiring a memory, causing enduring physical or chemical changes. In 2012 Tonegawa’s group used optogenetics — in which proteins are added to neurons to allow them to be activated with light — to demonstrate for the first time that such a population of neurons does indeed exist in an area of the brain called the hippocampus. However, until now no one has been able to show that these groups of neurons do undergo enduring chemical changes, in a process known as memory consolidation.


California’s Drought Is So Bad, Thieves Are Now Stealing Water – (Daily Beast – May 29, 2015)
In drought-plagued California, one thief has managed to make off with 500-gallon water tanker. The wide load just vanished from a highway offramp. It was early morning when the Marina landscaping tanker truck was idling on a median by a tunnel in Oakland, California, according to police reports. “It’s basically collateral damage I’m sure from the drought,” said John Coleman, who sits on the board of the East Bay Municipal Utility District. “We’ve had situations in the past where people have stolen from their neighbor’s houses when they’re gone to some folks who didn’t want to pay for the water and dug under the street and tapped into the main line,” he said. But what would a thief want with an estimated $5,000 worth of water? “Somebody could conceivably have a 500-gallon tank on a property and use it outside our service area for water,” Coleman said. “They could be growing something, or [raising] animals or for their own personal use, and they may be augmenting because there wasn’t enough rain this year.” Or they could be dumping it on what researchers guess—but can’t yet prove—is an emerging gray market for H20.

Longest Floating Structure in History Sets Out to Clean the Ocean in 2016! – (Nation of Change – June 2, 2015)
In 2013, a 19-year-old developed a plan to clean up the world’s oceans in just 5 years, removing  7,250,000 tons of plastic. However, last week, Boyan Slat (now 21), founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, announced that this project will be deployed in 2016. Slat’s invention consists of an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms that could be dispatched to garbage patches around the world. Working with the flow of nature, his solution to the problematic shifting of trash is to have the array span the radius of a garbage patch, acting as a giant funnel as the ocean moves through it. The angle of the booms would force plastic in the direction of the platforms, where it would be separated from smaller forms, such as plankton, and be filtered and stored for recycling. The issue of by-catches, killing life forms in the procedure of cleaning trash, can be virtually eliminated by using booms instead of nets and it will result in a larger areas covered. Because of trash’s density compared to larger sea animals, the use of booms will allow creatures to swim under the booms unaffected, reducing wildlife death substantially.


Cell Phones and Blood-Brain Barrier: Chinese Scientists Confirm Findings of Swedish Salford Group – (BRHP – May 18, 2015)
Chinese scientists, from the group of Gang Zhu, have apparently confirmed, and expanded on, findings of Swedish group of Leif Salford. Leif Salford, neurosurgeon at Lund University Hospital in Sweden, and his research team published several studies showing that exposure of rats to cell phone radiation causes leakage of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and impairs cognition. (Article cites numerous published studies.) In this most recent study, Gang Zhu and collaborating scientists have confirmed the earlier findings and furthermore pointed out that activation of stress response pathway is involved in the effects. Here is the final conclusion quoted from the abstract: “Taken together, these results demonstrated that exposure to 900 MHz EMF radiation for 28 days can significantly impair spatial memory and damage BBB permeability in rat by activating the mkp-1/ERK pathway.“ Abstract and figures of this study are freely available on website of the Brain Research. For pdf copies of the article, you may contact Gang Zhu at (Editor’s note: This report does not say how close the cell phones were to the rats, but we assume they were the same distance as a human holding a cell phone to an ear.)

Berkeley, California, to Require Cellphone Health Warnings – (CBS news – May 13, 2015)
The city council of Berkeley, California, has voted to pass a cellphone “right to know” law requiring health warnings with the purchase of a cellphone. When it goes into effect this summer it will be first safety ordinance of its kind in the country. Cellphone retailers will be required to include a city-prepared notice along with the purchase of a cellphone, informing consumers of the minimum separation distance a cellphone should be held from the body. The Federal Communication Commission recommends keeping your phone 5 to 25 millimeters (25mm is equal to just under 1”) away, depending on the model, to limit radio frequency (RF) exposure to safe levels. “If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF [radio frequency] radiation,” the Berkeley safety notice reads. “This potential risk is greater for children.” Lawmakers in at least six states have also considered warnings to address cellphone radiation concerns. The Berkeley proposal seeks to address concerns that even as cellphones become ubiquitous in our lives, many people remain unaware of basic safety recommendations. An April 30th survey funded by the California Brain Tumor Association found that 70% of Berkeley adults did not know about the FCC’s minimum separation distance.

This Is the Teeny-Tiny Phone That Wants You to Leave Your Real Phone Behind – (Entrepreneur – May 19, 2015)
You are sitting at dinner with friends and, in between bites, you look down at your email. You are in a meeting at the office and, as your boss drones on, you check your Instagram feed. You are at a party and you break your dance jam every 10 minutes to see if you’ve had any action on your online dating profile. Your grandpa is talking to you about his childhood and you glance down at your Twitter feed. The beauty of smartphones is that they are mini computers we can take with us anywhere. They are tiny and portable and powerful and it’s easy to let them slide into our lives at any moment, in all moments. But that’s the problem. Often, they take us out of the moment. That’s why visual artist Joe Hollier and a phone designer Kaiwei Tang are creating The Light Phone. It’s a credit-card sized gadget that runs in partnership with your smartphone, but only allows a user to take and make phone calls. It lasts for 20 days on a single battery charge. The idea is for you to leave your smartphone at home and venture into the great wide world with your eyes open and looking around you, seeing what there is to see, without being able to obsessively check your smartphone. At the same time, you won’t have to miss a call from mom. Or your husband or wife or kid.

Tech Analyst Mary Meeker Foresees the Future of the Internet – (Entrepreneur – May 27, 2015)
The ever-mounting number of users to join the World Wide Web may finally be starting to plateau. So says esteemed tech analyst Mary Meeker, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, in her 20th annual Internet Trends report. Internet user growth is still solid, Meeker says, but only increased by 8% in 2014 compared to 10% in 2013. Smartphone subscriptions followed a similar trajectory, posting increases of 23% last year versus 27% the year prior. Her report, embedded in the article, covers a vast array of topics, including the expected proliferation of drone usage in 2015. Meeker predicts that 4.3 million total consumer drones will be shipped in 2015, comprising a $1.7 billion market. Meeker also covers the ways in which today’s youth is consuming – and increasingly creating – content on the Web. User-generated videos are at an all-time high, thanks to platforms like Snapchat, Facebook and Twitch, she says. And the Web’s most influential trendsetters are 12 to 24 year-olds, who are increasingly flocking to visually-oriented content.


World’s Longest Glass Bridge Set to Open in China Next Year – (GizMag – May 19, 2015)
In a bid to attract more tourists to the region, Hunan Province in China has commissioned the architectural firm of Haim Dotan to produce a completely transparent glass bridge spanning 1,214 ft across the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon. Dizzyingly high at about 1,312 ft above the canyon floor, the span is claimed to be capable of holding up to 800 people at a time. Set to be constructed between the summits on either side of the canyon, the deceptively fragile-looking structure will also have an added thrill for those that find the idea of walking across a sheer drop on a see-through bridge too tame: a bungee jump. To be located in the middle of the structure, the bungee jump is also said to be another world-first for Hunan province as the highest bungee on the planet, at around 197 ft or so higher than the current highest commercial bungee of 764 ft on the Macau Tower.


This Holographic Microbattery is Just 10 Micrometers Thick – (ExtremeTech – May 15, 2015)
Recently, a team of engineers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign demonstrated that porous, three-dimensional electrodes can boost a lithium-ion microbattery’s power output by three orders of magnitude, as first reported in Chemical & Engineering News. But now the team has gone a step further, and has optimized the electrode structure with holograms, the three-dimensional interference patterns of multiple laser beams, in order to generate porous blocks that could used as a sort of scaffolding for building electrodes. The result: a holographic microbattery that’s only 2mm wide and 10 micrometers thick, with an area of 4mm squared, and 12% capacity fade. The researchers said it’s compatible with existing fabrication techniques, and ideal for large-scale on-chip integration with all kinds of microelectronic devices, including medical implants, sensors, and radio transmitters. To get an idea of scale, the photo in the article shows the battery’s electrodes in a 2mm by 2mm square on a glass substrate. Batteries like this could power implants small enough to track certain aspects of someone’s health in real time, and without the comparatively vast bulk of existing blood glucose and cardiac monitors, just to cite one example.

The Future of Wind Turbines? No Blades – (Wired – May 15, 2015)
A Spanish company called Vortex Bladeless is proposing a radical new way to generate wind energy. The Vortex has the same goals as conventional wind turbines: To turn breezes into kinetic energy that can be used as electricity. But it goes about it in an entirely different way. Instead of capturing energy via the circular motion of a propeller, the Vortex takes advantage of what’s known as vorticity, an aerodynamic effect that produces a pattern of spinning vortices. Vorticity has long been considered the enemy of architects and engineers, who actively try to design their way around these whirlpools of wind. The Vortex’s shape was developed computationally to ensure the spinning wind (vortices) occurs synchronously along the entirety of the mast. In its current prototype, the elongated cone is made from a composite of fiberglass and carbon fiber, which allows the mast to vibrate as much as possible (an increase in mass reduces natural frequency). At the base of the cone are two rings of repelling magnets, which act as a sort of nonelectrical motor. When the cone oscillates one way, the repelling magnets pull it in the other direction, like a slight nudge to boost the mast’s movement regardless of wind speed. This kinetic energy is then converted into electricity via an alternator that multiplies the frequency of the mast’s oscillation to improve the energy-gathering efficiency. Its makers boast the fact that there are no gears, bolts, or mechanically moving parts, which they say makes the Vortex cheaper to manufacture and maintain. The founders claim their Vortex Mini, which stands at around 41 feet tall, can capture up to 40% of the wind’s power during ideal conditions (this is when the wind is blowing at around 26 miles per hour). Based on field testing, the Mini ultimately captures 30% less than conventional wind turbines, but that shortcoming is compensated by the fact that you can put double the Vortex turbines into the same space as a propeller turbine. The Vortex team says there are some clear advantages to their model: It’s less expensive to manufacture, totally silent, and safer for birds since there are no blades to fly into. Vortex Bladeless says its turbine would cost around 51% less than a traditional turbine whose major costs come from the blades and support system.


BMW’s Parking System Tells You Where to Find Available On-street Spaces – (GizMag – June 3, 2015)
Trying to find a place to park your car in busy areas can be stressful and time-consuming. BMW’s new Dynamic Parking Prediction system is aimed at making things a bit easier. The research project uses digital mapping and fleet data to predict where there will be free spaces nearby. BMW has reportedly been researching ways to minimize the time spent finding a place to find an on-street parking space since 2011. Developed in partnership with transportation intelligence and connected car services provider INRIX, Dynamic Parking Prediction is aimed at doing exactly that. Using digital maps that show which streets have on-street parking, coupled with anonymous movement data from a test fleet of several thousand vehicles as they are leaving and searching for spaces, the system uses its prediction algorithm to predict the availability of spaces in the local area. The number of parking spaces that the system calculates to be available and the number of drivers looking for spaces are both factored into the calculation. The information is shown on a dashboard display to aid the driver in finding a space. As well as reducing the time drivers spend looking for a space, this can help to reduce parking-related traffic.


France to Force Big Supermarkets to Give Unsold Food to Charities – (Guardian – May 22, 2015)
French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food and must instead donate it to charities or for animal feed, under a law set to crack down on food waste. The French national assembly voted unanimously to pass the legislation as France battles an epidemic of wasted food that has highlighted the divide between giant food firms and people who are struggling to eat. Supermarkets will be barred from deliberately spoiling unsold food so it cannot be eaten. Those with a footprint of 4,305 sq ft (400 sq m) or more will have to sign contracts with charities by July next year or face penalties including fines of up to €75,000 (£53,000) or two years in jail. “It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods,” said the Socialist deputy Guillaume Garot, a former food minister who proposed the bill. In recent years, French media have highlighted how poor families, students, unemployed or homeless people often stealthily forage in supermarket bins at night to feed themselves, able to survive on edible products which had been thrown out just as their best-before dates approached. But some supermarkets doused the food in bleach to prevent potential food-poisoning by eating food from bins. Other supermarkets stored the food in locked warehouses for collection by refuse trucks to stop scavengers.

Are Monsanto’s Worst Fears Coming True? – (CounterPunch – May 19, 2015)
Over the last five years, as the reputation of GMOs has come under increasing pressure in the US, the cost to food brands of ignoring the growing consumer demand for GMO-free products has increased. They might not say so in public, but the sellers of top brands have little incentive to take the flack for selling GMOs. From this perspective, the significance of the Chipotle move becomes clear. If Chipotle can gain market share and prestige, or charge higher prices, from selling non-GMO products and give (especially young) consumers what they want, it puts traditional vendors of fast and processed food products in an invidious position. One of the most revolutionary and innovative parts of the GMO pipeline is a technology and not a trait. Many products in the GMO pipeline are made using RNA interference – technologies that rely on double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs). dsRNA is a technology with two problems. One is that products made with it (such as the “Arctic” Apple, the “Innate” Potato, and Monsanto’s “Vistive Gold” Soybeans) are unproven in the field. Like its vanguard, a Brazilian virus-resistant bean, they may never work under actual farming conditions. But if they do work, there is a clear problem with their safety which is explained in detail here. In outline, the problem is this: the long dsRNA molecules needed for RNA interference were rejected long ago as being too hazardous for routine medical use (Anonymous, 1969). The scientific literature even calls them “toxins”, as in this paper title from 1969: Absher M., and Stinebring W. (1969) Toxic properties of a synthetic double-stranded RNA. Nature 223: 715-717. (not online). As further evidence of this, long dsRNAs are now used in medicine to cause autoimmune disorders in mice, in order to study these disorders (Okada et al 2005). See also: Sri Lanka Bans Main Ingredient In Monsanto’s Herbicide RoundUp. And check out: See Exactly How Eating Organic Affects Pesticide Levels in Our Bodies

No One’s Talking about What The Pacific Trade Deal Means for Diets – (NPR – May 11, 2015)
The Obama administration hasn’t shared much detail about the provisions in its controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, the free trade deal between the U.S. and 11 countries currently being negotiated. But if it’s anything like prior free trade agreements, two things are likely, trade experts say. First, it will have a potentially troubling effect on food and diet in member countries. Second, no one will talk about these dimensions of the deal before it’s inked. For example, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) boosted American consumption of Mexican produce, but also paved the way for Walmart and American food manufacturers to export and sell a lot more less-healthful, processed food in Mexico. Yet “no-one even bothered to … develop legislation that would address the impoverishment of the Mexican diet as a result of eating all of the processed foods sold out of Walmart,” says Holt-Gimenez, executive director of Food First, a national food and development nonprofit. U.S. officials say they have no plans to explore the health impacts of the TPP. “We do not see conclusive evidence that trade agreements themselves have a major impact on diet and health one way or the other,” Cullen Schwarz, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, writes in an email. For that reason, he says, it has not been part of the discussion. Across the Pacific, health officials in Australia issued a report warning of the likely health effects of the TPP — including on diet, obesity and diabetes—on that country’s citizens. Their biggest concern? That the controversial “Investor State Dispute Settlement” provision, which allows corporations to sue governments for limiting their ability to compete in a market, would undercut food labeling policies that promote healthier food choices, making it more difficult to battle rising obesity rates. Trevor Kincaid, a spokesperson for the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which is in charge of negotiating the agreement, frames U.S. responsibility for low-nutrition food this way: “What your family chooses to purchase and eat is your decision.” Caveat emptor.


NSA Planned to Hijack Google App Store to Hack Smartphones – (The Intercept – May 21, 2015)
The National Security Agency and its closest allies planned to hijack data links to Google and Samsung app stores to infect smartphones with spyware. The surveillance project was launched by a joint electronic eavesdropping unit called the Network Tradecraft Advancement Team, which includes spies from each of the countries in the “Five Eyes” alliance — the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. The top-secret document, outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were working on during workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012. The main purpose of the workshops was to find new ways to exploit smartphone technology for surveillance. The newly published document shows how the agencies wanted to “exploit” app store servers — using them to launch so-called “man-in-the-middle” attacks to infect phones with the implants. A man-in-the-middle attack is a technique in which hackers place themselves between computers as they are communicating with each other; it is a tactic sometimes used by criminal hackers to defraud people. In this instance, the method would have allowed the surveillance agencies to modify the content of data packets passing between targeted smartphones and the app servers while an app was being downloaded or updated, inserting spyware that would be covertly sent to the phones. Additionally, the agencies had discovered that the UC Browser app was leaking a gold mine of identifying information about its users’ phones. Some of the leaking information apparently helped the agencies uncover a communication channel linked to a foreign military unit believed to be plotting “covert activities” in Western countries. The discovery was celebrated by the spies as an “opportunity where potentially none may have existed before.” The vulnerability was not reported to the browser company but was presumably exploited until this past April when Citizen Lab, a human rights and technology research group based at the University of Toronto, analyzed the Android version of the UC Browser app and reported their findings to CBC News.

Current NSA Officials Admit Agency Is Drowning in Too Much Info – (WashingtonsBlog – May 30, 2015) 
Current mid-level NSA officials confirm that the NSA is gathering TOO MUCH information… and it’s making it impossible to focus: “We in the agency are at risk of a similar, collective paralysis in the face of a dizzying array of choices every single day,” an analyst wrote in 2011. “’Analysis paralysis’ isn’t only a cute rhyme. It’s the term for what happens when you spend so much time analyzing a situation that you ultimately stymie any outcome …. It’s what happens in SIGINT [signals intelligence] when we have access to endless possibilities, but we struggle to prioritize, narrow, and exploit the best ones.” The document is one of about a dozen in which NSA intelligence experts express concerns usually heard from the agency’s critics: that the U.S. government’s “collect it all” strategy can undermine the effort to fight terrorism. The documents, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, appear to contradict years of statements from senior officials who have claimed that pervasive surveillance of global communications helps the government identify terrorists before they strike or quickly find them after an attack. The author of a 2011 document stated, “The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” Another document, written by an intelligence analyst in 2010, bluntly stated that “we are drowning in information. And yet we know nothing. For sure.”


FBI Admits No Major Cases Cracked with Patriot Act Snooping Powers – (Washington Times – May 21, 2015)
FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating. Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations. The FBI did finally come up with procedures to try to minimize the information it was gathering on nontargets, but it took far too long, Mr. Horowitz said in the 77-page report, which comes just as Congress is trying to decide whether to extend, rewrite or entirely nix Section 215. Backers say the Patriot Act powers are critical and must be kept intact, particularly with the spread of the threat from terrorists. But opponents have doubted the efficacy of Section 215, particularly when it’s used to justify bulk data collection such as in the case of the National Security Agency’s phone metadata program, revealed in leaks from former government contractor Edward Snowden. The new report adds ammunition to those opponents, with the inspector general concluding that no major cases have been broken by use of the Patriot Act’s records-snooping provisions.

Here’s How Much Corporations Paid US Senators to Fast-track the TPP bill – (Guardian – May 27, 2015)
Corporate backers of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have turned on the cash spigot in the hopes of getting it passed. Fast-tracking the TPP, meaning its passage through Congress without having its contents available for debate or amendments, was only possible after lots of corporate money exchanged hands with senators. A chart shows all donations that corporate members of the US Business Coalition for TPP made to US Senate campaigns between January and March 2015, when fast-tracking the TPP was being debated in the Senate. Out of the total $1,148,971 given, an average of $17,676.48 was donated to each of the 65 “yea” votes. The average Republican member received $19,673.28 from corporate TPP supporters. The average Democrat received $9,689.23 from those same donors. Almost 100% of the Republicans in the US Senate voted for fast-track. How much does it cost to purchase legislation? For the Trans-Pacific Partnership, direct costs were about $1,148,971. (Editor’s note: That price looks like a bargain compared to the expected corporate benefits.)

In the Same Week, the U.S. and U.K. Hide Their War Crimes by Invoking “National Security – (The Intercept – May 21, 2015)
Colonel Ian Henderson was a British official dubbed “the Butcher of Bahrain” because of atrocities he repeatedly committed during the 30 years he served as chief security official of that Middle Eastern country. A 2002 Guardian article reported that “during this time his men allegedly detained and tortured thousands of anti-government activists” his official acts “included the ransacking of villages, sadistic sexual abuse and using power drills to maim prisoners”. Col. Henderson was never punished in any way. For years, human rights groups have fought to obtain … a 37-year-old diplomatic cable, relating to British responsibility for Henderson’s brutality in Bahrain. Ordinarily, documents more than 30 years old are disclosable. Now, a governmental tribunal ruled … that most of the diplomatic cable shall remain suppressed. The tribunal’s ruling was at least partially based on “secret evidence … that the release of such information could jeopardize Britain’s new military base in the country.” This is the core mindset now prevalent in both the U.S. and U.K. for hiding their crimes from their own populations and the rest of the world: disclosure of what we did will embarrass and shame us, cause anger toward us, and thus harm our “national security.” This is exactly the same mentality driving the Obama administration’s years-long effort to suppress photographs showing torture of detainees by the U.S.. Obama insisted that to release the photos “would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in danger.”


Newly-Declassified U.S. Government Documents: The West Supported the Creation of ISIS – (Washingtons Blog – May 24, 2015)
The government just produced documents to Judicial Watch in response to a freedom of information suit which show that the West has long supported ISIS.   The documents were written by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency on August 12, 2012 – years before ISIS burst onto the world stage. What the documents show (screen shots of the documents are included in article, but you can also use the link about to read the orginal) is that the powers supporting the Syrian opposition – the West, our Gulf allies, and Turkey wanted an Islamic caliphate in order to challenge Syrian president Assad. Top U.S. generals and Vice President Joe Biden have said that America’s closest allies support ISIS.  But the declassified DIA documents show that the U.S. and the West supported ISIS at its inception … as a way to isolate the Syrian government.  A former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism intelligence officer and a former MI5 officer confirm that the newly-released documents are a smoking gun.

Canary Website Keeps Backers’ Identities Hidden, Calls on Activists to ‘Ensure That Today’s Radicals Are Not Tomorrow’s Employees.’ – (Haretz – May 27, 2015)
A new website is publicizing the identities of pro-Palestinian student activists to prevent them from getting jobs after they graduate from college. But the website is keeping its own backers’ identity a secret. “It is your duty to ensure that today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees,” a female narrator intones in a slick video posted to the website’s YouTube account. Called Canary Mission, the site has posted profiles of dozens of students and recent graduates, alongside those of well-known activists like Omar Barghouti, founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Some of the students are active in Students for Justice in Palestine; others were involved in recent pro-BDS resolutions at campuses in California. Many of them have relatively thin activist résumés. The individual dossiers on the Canary Mission’s site are lengthy and detailed, and include videos and photographs of the activists. In the case of some current students, the site lists their majors. There are links to Facebook pages, Twitter pages and LinkedIn profiles, and lengthy descriptions of pro-Palestinian student groups and movements to which these students have alleged links. Despite its dedication to documenting the identities of pro-Palestinian activists, Canary Mission seems to have gone to great lengths to keep the identities of its own members and backers well hidden. There are no names of Canary Mission staff members, volunteers, donors or allies on the site. The Web domain is registered in a way that hides its ownership. Though the site says that Canary Mission “is a non-profit organization,” no group called Canary Mission is currently registered with the IRS as eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions, and the website indicates no fiscal sponsor through which it can accept donations.


Millennials Get Their Political News from Facebook – But Not on Purpose – (NBC – June 1, 2015)
A Pew Research Center study found that 61% of Millennials (aged 18-33 currently) get political news from Facebook at least once a week, compared with 39% of Baby Boomers (aged 50-68). Local TV was the more likely source for the older set, followed by national networks. Generation X, which falls between the two in age, also fell neatly between them in preferences and habits tracked by the Pew study. But young folks don’t visit Facebook with the specific intention of getting the latest political updates. When asked where they choose to get their political news from, only 3% of Millennials reported Facebook — instead preferring CNN and online news aggregators like Google and Yahoo! News. They’re not even as interested in politics, the Pew study found (which has generally been the case for the age group). So what’s with all the politics on the social network? It’s simple: Millennials simply spend way more time on Facebook than older generations, and use it for more reasons. So it’s not just more political news they’re seeing, but more of everything.

Chicago Just Became the First U.S. City to Pay Reparations to Victims of Police Torture – (Nation of Change – May 17, 2015)
On May 6, after decades of lobbying, international intervention, and grassroots organizing, Chicago became the first U.S. city to offer reparations to victims of police violence. From 1972-1991 more than 110 mostly African American men were tortured into confessions by Jon Burge, a police lieutenant, and his subordinates. Last week’s success comes 21 years after Burge was fired for his misconduct. “The city had lived so comfortably with the torture for so long that I thought not much could disturb that,” said John Conroy, a former reporter who first covered police torture in Chicago 25 years ago. “I think it can be safely said that millions of people in this city have known for at least 22 years that the torture occurred,” he said. “But there has never been a palpable atmosphere of outrage.” Chicago’s city council unanimously approved an ordinance granting $5.5 million to the victims of torture, in addition to social and psychological services. The money will be divided evenly among the victims, with a cap of $100,000 per person. Any previous settlements will be deducted from their share. According to The Chicago Reporter, the city has already spent $64 million in civil settlements for torture cases that occurred during Burge’s tenure. But the ordinance provides more than just money: It includes a formal apology and recognizes the torture of Chicago residents as a violation of international human rights law. It also mandates the creation of a center for torture survivors and their families; a public memorial to the victims; psychological counseling; free enrollment in City College for the victims, their children, and grandchildren; prioritized access to health and social services; and the inclusion of Burge and the torture incidents in the 8th- and 10th-grade curricula of Chicago public schools. Burge was suspended from the police force in 1991 and subsequently fired in 1993. The acts gained even more publicity in 2003 when Governor George Ryan pardoned or gave clemency to all of the death row inmates convicted under Burge.


MIT Study on Exoplanet Orbits May Narrow Parameters in Search for Life – (GizMag – June 1, 2015)
A team of researchers from MIT and Aarhus University, Denmark, have discovered that Earth-sized exoplanets orbit their parent stars in the same way that our planet orbits our own Sun – maintaining a roughly equidistant circular orbit. The discovery further narrows the characteristics of worlds that could potentially play host to extraterrestrial life. Astronomers have long wondered whether the highly-structured orbital trend displayed in our solar system was simply the norm, or the result of an amazing coincidence. A new study that examined the orbits of 74 exoplanets orbiting 28 distant stars appears to put the question to rest. The discovery will likely have far-reaching implications on the search for extraterrestrial life. There is now solid evidence that Earth-sized planets hold a stable orbit around their parent star, and this means that the conditions on those planets will be more or less steady over time. In contrast, larger exoplanets with more eccentric orbits will have wildly varying planetside conditions, thanks to their varying proximity to their host stars.


The Pain of Modern Life – (Nation of Change – May 16, 2015)
According to WHO, 1.5% of worldwide deaths were caused by suicide in 2012. And this is just those deaths confirmed as suicide. In countries where social attitudes, or religious dogma, shroud suicide in a stigma of guilt (Sub-Saharan Africa, where suicide is rarely if ever discussed or admitted, for instance), suicide may be hidden and go un-reported; so too in countries where suicide is still regarded as a criminal act: Hungary for example, where attempted suicide carries a prison sentence of five years, or Japan where it is illegal to commit suicide. North Korea, where relatives of a person committing suicide are penalized; Ireland, where self-harm is not generally regarded as a form of attempted suicide; Singapore, where suicide remains illegal and attempted suicide can result in imprisonment; or Russia, where the rate of teenage suicides is three times the world average and where those attempting suicide can be committed to a psychiatric hospital. All of which are pretty strong reasons for hiding suicide attempts and concealing suicide as the cause of death, as well as deterring people from discussing suicidal thoughts.  Whatever the precise number of total deaths by suicide – and all the indications are that it is a good deal higher than WHO says – what is clear is that suicide is a major social issue. The figures of both attempted suicides and committed suicides are increasing. In the last 45 years, WHO states that suicide rates have increased by 60%, and they predict that by 2020 the rate of death will have doubled – from one suicide every 40 seconds, to someone, somewhere in the world taking his/her life every 20 seconds. (Editor’s note: The article states that, according to WHO, suicide is the third highest cause of death in the world; it should have read “the third highest cause of death in the world among those aged 15 -44 years old”. The complete WHO report can be found here.)


GoPro to Launch Virtual Reality Option – (UAS Vision – no date)
One of GoPro’s upcoming products is a six-camera Spherical Array. The ball-shaped accessory mount can accommodate six Hero4 cameras positioned in different directions to capture high-resolution images and video for virtual reality. The recorded video and pictures can then be stitched together using Kolor, the virtual reality software company GoPro acquired in April, to create one unified 6K spherical image. The resulting video can be viewed on VR headsets like Oculus, Google Cardboard and Microsoft HoloLens. It can also be viewed on your smartphone or PC using the Kolor app or YouTube 360. If viewing on a mobile device, you can physically turn around to look in any direction — up, down, left, right. On your computer’s browser, you can use your cursor to get different views. The six-camera spherical array probably won’t have mass adoption; instead, it is likely to attracting professionals and prosumers who probably already have multiple GoPro cameras and more knowledge about video editing. For consumers, the VR solutions will need to simpler and more affordable, but the six-camera rig will serve as a proof point to show what consumers can do with spherical video.


Is It Time for Atheists to Hunt Bigger Game? – (Aljazeera – May 23, 2015)
The god of the monotheists is a diminished figure nowadays. Sure, some 55% of our species is at least nominally Christian or Muslim. But the influence these cults exert in everyday life can’t hold a votive candle to the secular (though hardly rational) creeds that wield the real power. Divine omnipotence is nothing compared with the mystical powers wielded by the free market — a papier-mâché Babylonian stage-prop god if ever there was one. Hear me out: Economic activity takes place because of vigorous government institutions such as property rights, contract law enforced by government actors such as courts and judges, police, tax collectors. And yet politicians, professors, TV and radio personalities and economists talk about this this state-structured economic behavior as if it were an immutable force of the cosmos, like the tides or gravity — the natural order of the universe. (Editor’s note: This is a well written op-ed piece that asks the reader to begin to examine some of the non-religious dogmas that have permeated the contemporary global society to the extent that many of us hold them without even noticing that fact.)

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

A Photographer Visited the Dukha, a “Lost” Mongolian Tribe – (Shareably – no date)
The Dukha people of Mongolia, a nomadic tribe, have lived in the same region for centuries. During that time, they have developed a extraordinary relationship with the wild animal species that share the land (and sky) with them. They have domesticated reindeer and hunt with trained wolves and golden eagles. Article includes many photographs.

Every World in a Grain of Sand: John Nash’s Astonishing Geometry – (Science Alert – May 28, 2015
As has been widely reported, John Forbes Nash Jr died tragically in a car accident on May 23 of this year. Many tributes have been paid to this great mathematician, who was made famous by Sylvia Nasar’s biography A Beautiful Mind and the subsequent movie based on that book. A great deal of Nash’s work was in the field of geometry – differential geometry – which topics like surfaces, curvature and smoothness. Like all pure mathematicians, Nash proved theorems: logical statements that are rigorous, precise and absolutely true, with no tolerance for vagueness. The world of pure mathematics is austere and often abstruse, but its claims to truth are eternal and absolute. Well, that’s the theory at least. Breakthroughs in pure mathematics are often at the very limits of human understanding. It takes time, even for those in the field, to fully comprehend new developments. Nash’s work was an extreme case. His papers could be chaotically presented, hard to follow and his approaches to problems were often unlike anything that had come before him, bamboozling students and experts alike. But he was almost otherworldly in his creativity. While mathematical arguments are tightly constrained by the rigorous requirements of logic, Nash’s constructions and methods were wild. And nowhere was this more so than in his work on geometry. The article goes on to discuss Nash’s work in greater depth, particularly his work on ’embedding’ a surface: placing it into space without tearing, creasing or crossing itself.


Let’s Dance – (YouTube – June 5, 2010)
Here’s a tribute to the joy of dance. Watch 26 short clips (5 minutes total) wonderfully strung together – and every one worth a smile. The song is “All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers. The images have all been gathered from public domain resources.


No amount of sophistication is going to allay the fact that all your knowledge is about the past and all your decisions are about the future.— Ian Wilson

A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Sergio Lub, 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

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A Vision for 2012: Planning for Extraordinary Change
by John L. Petersen

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