FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT–
- Days on Earth are getting longer by 1.8 milliseconds per day.
- The Nikola One, a new hydrogen-electric semi-truck is claiming a total operating range of up to 1,200 miles.
- All dogs are required by law to be microchipped in the UK.
- Feeding silkworms carbon nanotubes produces silk that’s incredibly strong.
by John L. Petersen
Help Support FUTUREdition
It’s the season for giving, where we appreciate all of the many good things that make our lives as rich as they are.
You can help us keep FUTUREdition coming to you for another year by supporting the continued publication of this newsletter. This is a labor of love by three dedicated people. They and the associated publishing costs (excluding any of my time) ends up costing us about $15,000 each year.
That’s why every year at this time we give you the chance to help support the publication of this newsletter. We do our best to provide you with information that you almost certainly won’t find anywhere else – and particularly articles that will have profound implications for shaping our futures.
Many FE friends send me notes telling how much they appreciate what we do, so I know that our efforts are appreciated by a great number of readers. If you are one who finds FE valuable and provocative, here’s your chance to help keep it coming.
I think that what we do is far too important to charge for it. If the only people who received FE were those who paid for it, our impact and commitment to shaping the emergence of this new world would be severely hindered. We need as many people as possible to begin thinking about this extraordinary future that is hurdling our way – not just those who are already on the train.
So, we depend upon readers like you, who really understand that we’re in the middle of the greatest change on this planet in recorded history and value our unique attempt to keep you informed and inspired, to help supplement what we contribute out of our pockets to keeping FUTUREdition alive.
If you think that what we send you each time is worth the price of a cup of coffee (call it $2.50), you’d have to say that over a year you receive $60 worth of unique value.
So, if you saw your way clear to help with $45, you’d be getting all of this at a 25% discount! That’s one good way to think about it!
In any case, whatever you can send will be warmly appreciated and put to the good use of keeping FUTUREdition in your inbox every fortnight or so.
Help us today if you can. Click here to contribute.
Thanks so very much and warmest wishes for the holidays.
The Big Endgame Push
We are full into what may turn out to be the most extraordinary period in the history of the United States of America. Some are suggesting that it is literally the Second American Revolution. Great things are at stake and extraordinary methods are being employed to shape the outcome.
Millions of Americans wanted change – and now they’re getting it — but not without escalating attempts to sustain the structure of the past. Major principalities and powers are fighting for their lives. We’re watching the implosion of the old order that will provide the opening for the emergence of a new era. This is just the beginning.
This story plays like a real-time movie thriller. It’s almost surreal, and moving so fast that it’s hard to effectively keep the big picture in perspective, but I’ll attempt to do it.
Julian Assange has been taken. Wikileaks has been shut down. Pizzagate is the subject.
Wikieaks Update: Anonymous Proves that Julian Assange Has Been Taken
Constitutional Crisis, Movement to Undermine President-elect Donald Trump’s Accession to the White House?
A carefully coordinated operation is ongoing. The propaganda ploy emanating from the outgoing Obama government and the pro-Clinton faction of the corporate media consists in relentlessly accusing Moscow of having interfered in the election campaign on behalf of Donald Trump. This initiative is supported by major corporate lobby groups (including defense contractors and oil conglomerates) which are behind Hillary’s hawkish foreign policy agenda.
At the height of the election campaign Trump was portrayed by the US media as “an agent” of the Kremlin, a modern Manchurian candidate.
The Obama administration on Friday officially accused Russia of attempting to interfere in the 2016 elections, including by hacking the computers of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations.
The denunciation, made by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security, came as pressure was growing from within the administration and some lawmakers to publicly name Moscow and hold it accountable for actions apparently aimed at sowing discord around the election.
“The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations,” said a joint statement from the two agencies. “The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”
Former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leo Panetta intimated that Trump is a threat to National Security. (Read rest of article)
WARNING: An Electoral Coup is Underway
Public Intelligence Blog: by John Robb
This may be the most important thing I’ve ever written. On December 19, 2016 the electoral college will vote. Based on the vote, Trump should receive 306 votes and Clinton will have 232.
However, it is possible for many electors to change their vote. They aren’t bound by the states they represent. There’s currently a very well-funded attempt to influence electors to flip their votes on December 19th to change the outcome of the election. Despite expectations that it is farfetched, it has a high chance of success.
Read more of this post.
The Spiritually Dead gatekeepers of mainstream news
By Jon Rappoport, NoMoreFakeNews
A new series of realities is on the way. Centralized information-reality is on the way out. It’s going to be thrills and chills. Major newspapers are dying. The internet is crushing them. And yet, if the NY Times and the Washington Post and the LA Times wanted to resuscitate themselves, they could. I’m not talking about one-day headlines. I’m talking about investigations that pound and pound on issues of corruption day after day, month after month. For example, these issues:
- The Federal Reserve/a clandestine private corporation.
- Medically caused death.
- Toxic vaccines.
- Trillions of dollars of missing US government money.
- The power of the Trilateral Commission over US government policy.
- The covert implementation of the UN agenda of destruction in US communities.
And a hundred more issues. (Read rest of article)
Breaking Free From The Captured Media
Why the mainstream press is freaking out
by Charles Hugh Smith
In its panicky rush to demonize the independent media via baseless accusations of “fake news,” the mainstream press has sunk to spewing “fake news” of its own.
Here’s The Washington Post’s criminally false “fake news” article in case you missed it: Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say.
So-called “fake news” was perfectly acceptable to the mainstream media when it was the exclusive purview of the central state. The infamous Gulf of Tonkin Incident in August 1964 that was used to justify a massive escalation of the heretofore limited war in Vietnam was heavily promoted by the mainstream media of the day.
Within hours of the incident, Navy commanders had notified the Pentagon that the entire incident was very likely illusory, a “fog of war” error.
Decades later, the mainstream media swallowed the Executive Branch’s “weapons of mass destruction” justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq as well. Even more egregiously, the mainstream media parroted the central bank/state’s narrative about the Global Financial Meltdown of 2008, missing the systemic fraud and embezzlement at the heart of America’s financial system.
Why is the mainstream media (MSM) freaking out right now? The MSM had bet all its diminishing chips of credibility on Hillary Clinton winning the Presidency. Leading newspapers such as The New York Times ceaselessly undermined Bernie Sander’s campaign in favor of Hillary Clinton, a bias visible throughout the mainstream media. (When Bernie won a primary by a substantial margin, the smallish NYT headline would read something like “Sanders edges Clinton.” When Clinton won a primary by a slim margin, the NYT would declare in large typeface “Clinton regains momentum.” Do you see the not-so-subtle bias?)
The same was true regarding Donald Trump. Of the 100 largest newspapers in the nation, not one came out in favor of him — a one-sided media bias that is unprecedented in recent U.S. history. (Read rest of article)
Top eleven “Russian-hack” questions the Electors should ask the CIA
by Jon Rappoport
December 14, 2016
Assuming these “rogue-Electors” from the Electoral College get a briefing on the “Russian election-hack” from the CIA, and assuming the Electors have a few working brain cells, and assuming they care, here are the top 11 questions they should ask the CIA presenter:
Questions One through Three (repeated with enthusiasm and fervor): Are you just going to feed us generalities and tell us you can’t detail specifics because that would compromise your methods and personnel? We can read the generalities in the Washington Post, whose owner, Jeff Bezos, chief honcho at Amazon, has a $600 million contract with the CIA to provide cloud computing services, so he and the Post and the CIA are in bed together.
Question Four: We need a precise distinction here. How did “Russia hacked the DNC, Hillary, Podesta, and Weiner emails and fed the emails to WikiLeaks who released them” suddenly morph into “Russia hacked the election vote”?
Question Five: The security systems that protected the DNC, Hillary, Podesta, and Weiner emails were so feeble a child could have gotten past them in a few minutes. Why should we assume high-level Russian agents were involved?
Question Six: Not only does the CIA have a history of lying to the American people, lying is part of your job description. Why should we believe you? Take your time. We can have food brought in. (Read rest of article)
The CIA’s Absence of Conviction
Craig Murray, the UK ambassador to the Uzbekistan, friend of Wikileaks and Julian Assange, says he knows who provided the leaks to Wikileaks and it wasn’t the Russians. It was someone inside of the US government.
’I have watched incredulous as the CIA’s blatant lie has grown and grown as a media story – blatant because the CIA has made no attempt whatsoever to substantiate it. There is no Russian involvement in the leaks of emails showing Clinton’s corruption. Yes this rubbish has been the lead today in the Washington Post in the US and the Guardian here, and was the lead item on the BBC main news. I suspect it is leading the American broadcasts also.” (Read rest of article)
James Clapper’s Office says CIA claim Russia behind DNC and Podesta leaks to swing election to Donald Trump unproven. FBI concurs.
Watch this (rather energetic) summary of the internecine fight that is going on between the CIA and FBI and the linkages between the Washington Post and the CIA.
What’s going on here? Well, it turns out that it is legal for our government to use propaganda – fake news – on the American people . . . and they’re doing it.
In 2013, our Congress passed a law that allows our government to use propaganda on the American public
The newest version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes an amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on the American public, reports Michael Hastings of BuzzFeed.
The amendment — proposed by Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and passed in the House last Friday afternoon — would effectively nullify the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at influencing U.S. public opinion.
Thornberry said that the current law “ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way,” according to Buzzfeed.
The vote came two days after a federal judge ruled that an indefinite detention provision in the annual defense bill was unconstitutional.
Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, who released a highly critical report regarding the distortion of truth by senior military officials in Iraq and Afghanistan, dedicated a section of his report to Information Operations (IO) and states that after Desert Storm the military wanted to transform IO “into a core military competency on a par with air, ground, maritime and special operations.”
Davis defines IO as “the integrated employment of electronic warfare (EW), computer network operations (CNO), psychological operations (PSYOP), military deception (MILDEC), and operations security (OPSEC), in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own.”
IO are primarily used to target foreign audiences, but Davis cites numerous senior leaders who want to (in the words of Colonel Richard B. Leap) “protect a key friendly center of gravity, to wit US national will” by repealing the Smith-Mundt Act to allow the direct deployment of these tactics on the American public. (Read the rest of the article)
Robert Steele sees this all as a feint to draw attention away from the systemic corruption of the status quo.
The Obama Administration is being duplicitous at the last minute before the Electoral College meets on 19 December 2016, the CIA is lying, the “intelligence” is being fabricated, and both the New York Times and the Washington Post are now joining CNN (the Crap News Network) as purveyors of “fake news.”
The Huffington Post, which appended the most offensive erroneous statement slandering President-Elect Trump to every article, is beneath contempt — hardly worth a mention, but noteworthy for being the bottom of the media cesspool.
We can’t ignore that leaks granted the public an unfettered view of systemic corruption. (Read rest of article)
Why Media’s Emphasis on Russian Hacking Distracts from the Value of the Leaks
By Bill Blunden / AlterNet
December 13, 2016
According to unnamed officials a classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency blames the Russian government for, among other things, providing WikiLeaks with all those hacked emails during the run-up to 2016 presidential election. One source referred to this conclusion as the “consensus view” of the intelligence community. Though if that’s the case then someone forgot to tell all those agents at the FBI who, in their desire to obtain proof beyond a reasonable doubt (imagine that), have up to now declined to make a definitive statement.
In an interview with John Pilger, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange dismissed the claim of Russian Hackers as “neo-McCarthy hysteria” and stated that “the Russian government is not the source.” Likewise, President-elect Donald Trump also challenged the impression of absolute certainty commenting that “It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.” In response to Trump the New York Times quoted former spy master Michael Hayden. Hayden remarked: “To have the president-elect of the United States simply reject the fact-based narrative that the intelligence community puts together because it conflicts with his a priori assumptions — wow.” (Read rest of article.)
So now, they’ve got the major social media and search companies supporting the “fake news/Russian hack” campaign and they’re using the Russian angle to get rid of alternative news sites that threaten the PowersThatBe.
Here’re a couple of examples of what’s happening to specific sites:
Big Money Intends To Shut Down Our Website
Paul Craig Roberts
Big Money and the US government controlled by Big Money intend to close down Internet truthtellers. As Trump intends to reduce the tensions between nuclear powers, the 200 List prepared by the shadowy Internet site, PropOrNot, is in Trump’s way. Either Trump will be apprised and convinced of the “Russian threat,” or the dissident websites will be promoted to “Muslim apologists” and fall under the ire of Trump’s Iranophobic generals.
Our site, www.paulcraigroberts.org, is one of the sites targeted to be closed down. As I recently reported, the US House of Representatives already has passed a bill that creates an interagency executive branch committee that can be used to close down truthtellers on the basis that disagreement with the official propaganda reported as news by the presstitutes constitutes spreading fake news or is proof of conspiring with Russia or Iran (and soon, China) against the United States. (Read rest of article)
Forbidden Knowledge TV reports;
In a post published on December 4, 2016, HalfPastHuman.com’s Clif High warns publishers of “woo-woo” content, such as posts relating to UFOs, cymatics and Native American spirituality (articles about which I’ve published over the past week), and that their sites’ traffic will be reduced appreciably.
Without knowing the reason, I’d noticed this occurrence with FKTV, starting a week ago, during Thanksgiving weekend. The number of page views on this site plummeted to 20% of what had previously been normal.
The numbers were so weird, I tossed them out as an anomaly but now, with Clif’s explanation, I see that this was a direct result of Google’s assault on the so-called “Alt-Right” and on “Fake News” – neither of which this website is an exponent. (Read full article)
Here’s Clif’s Warning: Warning to Woo-Woo! Google’s War against Words!
Clif High, the proprietor of HalfPastHuman.com, used very advanced web-based technology to do what he calls Predictive Linguistics. His process captures the bow waves of significant events in the future that manifest themselves within the conversation on the Internet. He collects this information in multiple languages and makes predictions that have turned out to be significantly true throughout the past 15 years.
Martin Armstrong is a very sophisticated analyst. He sees the fake news issue in larger, freedom of movement, terms.
There are four facets to the freedom of movement, which people far too often do not look at or understand their vital role in furthering the development of civilization. What truly made Rome a great enduring Empire was more than just might. Roman imperial history cannot ignore the freedom of movement in all four aspects: 1.) translation of texts, practices, and ideas; 2.) communication or the movement of written documents (i.e. today’s internet, phone calls, and texting); 3.) migration (i.e. officials, merchants, students, etc.); and 4.) the free movement of goods and services. The interrelationships among the four aspects of the freedom of movement are critical to the advancement of civilization. (Read rest of article)
Note the unspoken assumption throughout the media’s coverage. The press does little to contest the notion that the CIA deals exclusively in the realm of facts and is the sole arbiter of what’s true and what isn’t. It’s reminiscent of the posture taken by the CIA’s original regime change mastermind, Allen Dulles, who claimed that “it [the CIA] alone has the world picture.”
Far be it from your humble narrator to question the truckloads secret evidence that the intelligence community has ostensibly piled up to make its airtight case but I do recall that the argument they made for the invasion of Iraq turned out to be a pretty flimsy. The intelligence community provided briefings that enabled catastrophic decisions, burning through several trillion dollars. What James Risen called “one of the largest transfers of wealth from public to private hands in American history.” Over a decade later there are millions of innocent civilians in the Middle East who are still paying for the mistakes of America’s political leadership.
It’s highly likely that the flurry of reports on alleged Russian hacking has more to do with a rejection of the status quo than with the act of clandestine meddling. After all, the United States has a long and storied history of conducting aggressive interventions abroad. In the months running up to the November election the bulk of the American Deep State, with very few exceptions, aligned itself with Hillary Clinton. That the election resulted in something other than the Deep State’s first choice is viewed by the donor class as unacceptable, and therefore it must be depicted as the product of foreign subversion.
All of this appears to be coming to a head near the end of the month. Clif High has recently tweeted the following:
New sets show #pizzagate 2cause ‘breakdowns’ in ‘officialdom control’ of info such that ‘real human history’ comes
new ST and IM also shows a hell of a weekend setup for December 30. The emotional tone is off scale.
Here is another source that projects a more detailed near-term situation.
The “Elite” Coup Of 2016
- There is an “elite” coup attempt underway against the U.S. President-elect Trump.
- The coup is orchestrated by the camp of Hillary Clinton in association with the CIA and neoconservative powers in Congress.
- The plan is to use the CIA’s “Russia made Trump the winner” nonsense to swing the electoral college against him. The case would then be bumped up to Congress. Major neocon and warmonger parts of the Republicans could then move the presidency to Clinton or, if that fails, put Trump’s vice president-elect Mike Pence onto the throne. The regular bipartisan war business, which a Trump presidency threatens to interrupt, could continue.
- Should the coup succeed violent insurrections in the United States are likely to ensue with unpredictable consequences.
Read the rest of this article.
Former Canadian Minister of Defense, Paul Hellyer is one of a number of sources who see the potential of a major False Flag event coming to divert attention away from the crumbling system.
So, what is happening? What is the bottom line?
Here is how it looks from here:
- The mainstream media (MSM) has been exposed as not being fair and honest and rather functioning as a mouthpiece for the Clintons and the US government. It is fighting back, trying to eliminate its alternative news competition, which has largely been responsible for the exposure. At the same time . . .
- The Democratic National Committee and the Clintons are severely threatened by Wikileaks leaks that show that the Democrat primary election was stolen from Sanders and that the political and MSM systems are fundamentally compromised. It appears that the Wikileaks leaks were provided by a source within the US government to Wikileaks that was unhappy with Hillary Clinton. Also . . .
- WIKILEAKS leaks and a New York Police investigation which exposed Clinton campaign emails have shined light on a very pervasive and widespread pedophile network within the leadership of the US Government and UK government. The Clintons (personally) and senior Clinton operatives (John Podesta and his brother, among others) are indicated as significant participants in a system that has been operating for decades. The alternative press has been primarily exposing this.
- Factions within the FBI are concerned about Hillary Clinton’s exposure of classified information and the Clintons’ involvement with pedophilic activities. They are therefore trying to keep Hillary Clinton from becoming president (and potentially interested in prosecuting her). There is an internal battle going on between the FBI and the CIA as to which agency will be able to dominate this situation. The CIA (leadership) is supporting the Clinton position.
- It is therefore existentially important for the MSM and Clintons to a) eliminate alternative news sources, and b) prevent Donald Trump from becoming president and therefore being able to get back in control of the situation (from their point of view).
- Julian Assange has been neutralized and taken from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and Wikileaks largely eliminated as a threat, but the possibility exists that further, very damaging Wikileaks “deadman” leaks could be released as a response to attack on Assange and Wikileaks. If this release is successful, it could generate another major threat to the Clintons and the existing system.
- Since 2012, the US government can now legally promote propaganda to US citizens to support its positions. It is doing so. They (the USG/CIA and the Clintons), have chosen to accuse Donald Trump and the alternative press as being foils for the Russians and using this notion as the basis for controlling/eliminating alternative news sources and winning the White House through influencing the electoral college vote.
- There were some “fake” news sources trying to influence the election (there always are). Attacking the “fake” news sources allows the PowersThatBe/MainstreamMedia to conflate the major alternative news sources with so-called “fake/Russian-supporting” sources and in the process marshalling support for initiating sanctions against them.
- If the USG/MSM/Clintons are not successful in the Electoral College they will likely ratchet up the disruption process through the rest of December and early January. If another, last Wikileaks leak manifests, all stops would be pulled out to eliminate the threat of that information to the Powers That Be. There are emerging rumors from multiple sources that a major false-flag event would be staged that would so threaten stability in the US that attention would be diverted from the content of the Wikileaks leak.
Now, if you’d like a longer look into the future, here’s Clif High’s view of 2017: Veritas Radio – Clif High – Web Bot Trends: The World in 2017 [Season 9 Premiere]
Research Shows Mobile Banking Lifting Hundreds of Thousands from Poverty – (Fortune – December 10, 2016)
Economists at MIT and Georgetown have found that a service allowing users to send and receive money on their mobile phones has significantly reduced poverty in Kenya. According to long-term surveys, M-Pesa (short for “mobile money” in Swahili) helped 194,000 families, or 2% of Kenyan households, out of poverty between 2008 and 2014. Among other factors, the authors found that M-Pesa makes it easier to weather financial or health crises, both by increasing savings rates and allowing users to tap wider support networks. The effect was particularly pronounced for women and female-led households, which previous analysis has attributed to mobile banking’s tendency to give women more power in typically patriarchal societies. At the highest level, the study credits mobile banking with increasing the efficiency of the entire Kenyan economy, by helping users make more productive choices both on spending and employment. Kenya’s economic growth has been remarkable in recent years, with an expansion of 5.3% in 2014, and projections putting 2016 growth at 6.0%—within striking distance of China’s recent growth of 6.7%. In addition to its broader economic benefits, M-Pesa has been a business triumph. In November, M-Pesa operator Safaricom reported half-year profits of about $234 million U.S. dollars. M-Pesa, which charges users small fees, generated about 1/4th of total revenue. M-Pesa now has 17.6 million active users in Kenya, with at least one user in 96% of Kenyan households. The new research seems to bear out predictions made by figures including Bill Gates, whose foundation has made investments in mobile banking tech in Bangladesh as part of its campaign against global poverty. M-Pesa users can make deposits and withdrawals from their mobile accounts with 110,000 agents, in addition to sending and receiving money over the digital network. While this study focused on Kenya, similar mobile banking services are now available in 93 countries, with a total of 134 million active accounts.
Scientists Discover Living Cells have Formed Carbon-Silicon Bonds – (Interesting Engineering – November 26, 2016)
Scientists have made living cells from carbon-silicon bonds. This proves for the first time ever that nature can include silicon into the building blocks of life. “No living organism is known to put silicon-carbon bonds together, even though silicon is so abundant, all around us, in rocks and all over the beach,” says Jennifer Kan, a postdoc scholar and lead author of the new study from Caltech. These carbon-silicon bonds have been seen before, but this is the first time they’ve ever been found in nature. They could be missing pieces to understanding silicon-based life in other parts of the universe. The research showed that the bonds used in pharmaceuticals could be made more environmentally friendly. Frances Arnold, Caltech’s principal investigator of the study, said the team upgraded biology. “We decided to get nature to do what only chemists could do – only better,” Arnold said. The researchers used directed evolution that creates new enzymes in labs by artificial selection. The goal not only improves the enzyme through evolution but also to convince the enzyme to make a silicon-carbon bond. “It’s like breeding a racehorse,” said Arnold. “A good breeder recognizes the inherent ability of a horse to become a racer and has to bring that out in successive generations. We just do it with proteins.”
Earth’s First Farmers Were Not Humans But Fijian Ants – (Nature World News – November 27, 2016)
New research from the University of Munich reveals that the first farmers on Earth millions of years ago were not humans but Fijian ants. The Fijian ant species called Philidris nagasau knew how to sow seeds, fertilize them and grow them into plants. Two researchers, Guillaume Chomicki and Susanne Renner, closely observed the behavior of Fijian ants inside their domatia, a closed structure at the base of plant stems where they live. There, the researchers observed how these ants sow and nurture plants. “I first noticed the relationship when I saw dozens of these ant-filled plants clustered in the same trees,” Chomicki said. He further explained that the Fijian ants gather Squamellaria seeds, which they put inside cracks of trees. For fertilization, the ants use their own poop and then harvest the seeds of the plants when they’re fully grown. “The story is unique. We already have ants that disperse seeds, and have ants that feed plants, but we’ve never had a case where they farm a plant they can’t live without,” said Brian Fisher from the California Academy of Sciences. Fisher explains that apart from Fijian ants, another ant species, leaf-cutter ants, has been farming for at least eight million years. However, different from Fijian ants, leaf-cutter ants farm fungus.
Ancient Eclipse Records Show That Days on Earth Are Getting Just a Little Longer – (LA Times – December 7, 2016)
The latest findings in Earth science are brought to you by ancient astronomers who observed the heavens as much as 2,700 years ago. Thanks to hundreds of records of lunar and solar eclipses carved in clay tablets and written into dynastic histories, modern scientists have determined that the amount of time it takes for Earth to complete a single rotation on its axis has slowed by 1.8 milliseconds per day, according to a report published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A. It may not sound significant, but over the course of 2½ millenniums, that time discrepancy adds up to about 7 hours. In other words, if humanity had been measuring time with an atomic clock that started running back in 700 BC, today that clock would read 7 p.m. when the sun is directly overhead rather than noon. The dominant force affecting Earth’s spin rate over longer time periods is the interplay of gravity between the oceans and the moon. Scientist have known for decades that this phenomenon is causing Earth to spin more and more slowly. However, there are other, more subtle factors at play on this timescale as well. To determine how much all these forces have changed the planet’s spin rate over the centuries, a group of British scientists gathered hundreds of astronomical records made by ancient scribes from around the world. The team’s goal was to pinpoint when and where lunar and solar eclipses occurred in antiquity, then compare them to computer models of when and where they should have occurred based on the current rate of Earth’s spin. By measuring the difference between these two sets of data, researchers can determine how much Earth’s rotation rate has changed over time.
Your Dog Remembers More Than You Think – (New York Times – November 23, 2016)
Once again, science has confirmed the suspicions of dog-owners that their beloved pets know more than they are letting on. In this case, it has to do with memory, a favorite subject of researchers who study the mental abilities of other animals. No one doubts that dogs can be trained to remember commands and names of objects. They also remember people and places. But Claudia Fugazza and her colleagues at the Family Dog Project at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest set out to see whether dogs share a more complex kind of memory. In people it is called episodic memory, and it involves a sense of self. In animals, it’s called episodic-like memory, because it’s difficult to try to plumb something as elusive as self without the aid of language. All attempts to understand thinking and memory in nonverbal animals are difficult, and Dr. Fugazza, Adam Miklosi and Akos Pogany developed a technique that depends on something called “Do-as-I-do training,” which itself is pretty amazing. Other experiments have suggested that chimpanzees, rats and pigeons have episodic-like memory. But Dr. Fugazza said the latest work with dogs is “the strongest evidence” yet, because the events they remember are richer “in content and context” than in previous experiments. Jonathon D. Crystal of Indiana University, who studies episodic-like memory in rats, said human episodic memory is lost in Alzheimer’s disease and he and others study animal memory in hopes of learning how to combat that loss. The work on dogs offers a new technique that could be very useful, he said. What does this mean for the dog owner? Dogs probably remember what their owners do even when training isn’t going on. And, Fugazza said, “It tells us that the dog’s memory is more similar to ours than we expected.”
Gut Germs May Affect Parkinson’s – (NBC – December 1, 2016)
The germs living inside a person’s digestive system may affect symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Tests done on mice showed their symptoms worsened when they were dosed with microbes taken from human Parkinson’s patients but not when they got samples from healthy patients. And other tests on mice that develop Parkinson’s-like symptoms showed they only developed symptoms if they had gut germs to begin with. The study doesn’t show that gut microbes cause Parkinson’s, but they may suggest a way to treat the incurable condition, which affects up to a million Americans and 10 million people worldwide Parkinson’s is a brain disease, characterized by the buildup of a protein called alpha-synuclein. Sarkis Mazmanian and colleagues at the California Institute of Technology had seen previous studies that showed people with Parkinson’s had gut microbiomes that looked different from those of people without Parkinson’s. “There are particular classes of bacteria that are selectively missing or depleted in the Parkinson’s population and found in the healthy population,” Mazmanian said. First, the link must be proven. Mazmanian’s team took a big step by using mice bred to develop Parkinson’s symptoms because they overproduce alpha-synuclein in their brains. In one experiment, they showed that mice born in a completely sterile environment and which have limited microbiomes do not develop Parkinson’s symptoms, even as their brains are clogged with alpha-synuclein. Mice raised in normal, germy environments did develop symptoms. “All three of the hallmark traits of Parkinson’s were gone in the germ-free models,” said Timothy Sampson, a Caltech researcher who worked on the study.
Rare Superbug Gene Discovered on U.S. Pig Farm – (NBC – November 5, 2016)
Researchers have found a rare and frightening superbug gene on a U.S. pig farm and say their discovery suggests raw meat could carry the dangerous germs into the human population. No pigs scheduled for slaughter carried the mutant gene, the researchers stressed, and they haven’t found any threat to people yet. And none of the pigs were sick. But the mutant should not have been on the farm at all and they have no idea how it got there. “It is an extremely rare gene. How it got on this farm, we don’t know,” said Thomas Wittum, chair of the veterinary medicine team at The Ohio State University, who led the study team. The gene is called bla IMP-27 and it gives bacteria the ability to resist the effects of a class of antibiotics called carbapenems. Carbapenems are considered an antibiotic of last resort, so germs that resist their effects are very difficult to kill. Worse, this superbug gene is carried on an easily swapped bit of genetic material called a plasmid, and the researchers found it in several different species of bacteria on the farm. That suggests the bacteria have been passing the gene around.
Flashing Light Therapy for Alzheimer’s – (BBC News – December 8, 2016)
Build-up of beta amyloid protein is one of the earliest changes seen in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease. It clumps together to form sticky plaques and is thought to cause nerve cell death and memory loss. Researchers have been looking for ways to prevent plaque formation using drugs, but the results have been disappointing. Dr. Li-Huei Tsai and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology think they have found another way, using light. Mice that were genetically engineered to have Alzheimer’s-type damage in their brain were put in front of the flashing light for an hour, it led to a noticeable reduction in beta amyloid over the next 12 to 24 hours in the parts of the brain that handle vision. The perfect rate of flashes was 40 per second – a barely perceptible flicker, four times as fast as a disco strobe. Doing this every day for a week led to even greater reductions. Likewise, light stimulation direct to the part of the brain that deals with memory – the hippocampus – led to reductions of beta amyloid there. The researchers say the light works by recruiting the help of resident immune cells called microglia. Microglia are scavengers. They eat and clear harmful or threatening pathogens – in this instance, beta amyloid. It is hoped that clearing beta amyloid and stopping more plaques from forming could halt Alzheimer’s and its symptoms. The researchers say the approach should be tested in humans and they are already seeking permission from the US regulator, the Food and Drugs Administration, to do so.
A Handful of Nuts a Day Keeps the Doctor Away – (Daily News – December 6, 2016)
To live a long, healthy life, go a little nuts — every day. That’s the takeaway of a study published in the BMC Medicine journal, which found that munching a handful of nuts on a daily basis cuts the risk of a wide range of diseases — from cancer to heart disease. The findings expand on already-known health pluses of eating nuts of all kinds, including peanuts, which are actually legumes. Researchers at the Imperial College of London and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology analyzed 29 previously published studies involving 819,000 subjects. They found that people who eat about a handful of nuts a day have a lower risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as respiratory conditions, diabetes and infections. While nuts are quite high in fat, they are also great sources of fiber and protein and rich in magnesium and polyunsaturated fats. Some nuts, particularly walnuts and pecans, are also high in cancer-fighting antioxidants.
‘Bottled Fresh Air’ from Canada, NZ Fetches over $30 in Smog-hit China – (CNBC – November 30, 2016)
How much are people in smog-hit China prepared to pay for fresh air? At least 219 yuan ($31.80) for a 7.7-litre bottle of “pure, hand-bottled, pollution-free, oxygen-rich air from New Zealand” – which works out to 1.2 yuan per breath, according to Chinese media. The bottled fresh air offered by about half a dozen online retailers is become a “thriving business” as people struggle with choking smog in the northern areas of the country this winter, the Beijing Youth Daily reported. The report said retailers were selling “unpolluted air” from New Zealand and Canada in bottles. The bottles even come with breathing masks attached. Retailers are offering an even cheaper alternative – a bottle of air collected in the coastal city of Weihai, eastern Shandong province, which costs only 5 yuan. “No smog, absolutely pure air,” one online retail store’s advertisement read. “[Sourced] from the sea or the mountain, options available at no extra charge.” Customers living in the nation’s heavily polluted area are being offered big discounts. Those people living in Beijing, which reportedly suffers from the worst pollution, could be offered discounts of up to 75% on the normal price of the bottled air, while people in other areas can expect to receive discounts of up to 50%, the report said. (Editor’s note: Apparently New Zealand air isn’t being offered at a compelling price point – only a few bottles have been sold at that price – but the concept of selling clean air and a market for it is worth noting.) See also: China’s Crazy Smog-sucking Vacuum Tower Is Actually Working. (And don’t miss the update at the end of the article).
California Tree Die-off Rate Increases 114% in a Year – (Daily News – November 18, 2016)
In 2016, some 62 million trees died statewide on federal, state and private lands in California, officials in the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Regional office have announced. The increase was nearly 114% more than the 29 million that died in 2015. And it brings to 102 million the estimated number of trees that have died since 2010, the Forest Service said in a report generated from the agency’s aerial detection survey. The aerial detection survey began in 2010. Cameron Barrows, an assistant research ecologist who is coordinating the UC Riverside Center for Conservation Biology’s Desert Studies Initiative, said, “The shocker is how many died this year compared to last year.” As the state enters the sixth year of drought, water-starved trees have lost their ability to fight off bark beetles and disease. These massive forest die-offs, followed by devastating wildfires, will clear away the regulator and moderator of rainwater, he said. Without trees and other vegetation, when rain does fall, it will not be effectively held so it can trickle into groundwater. It will just wash away, Krantz said. With public safety as its most pressing concern, the U.S. Forest Service has committed significant resources to help impacted forests, including reprioritizing $43 million in California in fiscal year 2016 to conduct safety-focused restoration along roads, trails and recreation sites. However, limited resources and a changing climate hamper the Forest Service’s ability to address tree mortality in California.
Fukushima Radiation Detected in Tillamook Bay, Gold Beach – (KGH8 News – December 8, 2016)
For the first time, seaborne radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster has been detected on the West Coast of the United States. Cesium-134, the so-called fingerprint of Fukushima, was measured in seawater samples taken from Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach in Oregon, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution are reporting. Because of its short half-life, cesium-134 can only have come from Fukushima. Also for the first time, cesium-134 has been detected in a Canadian salmon, the Fukushima InFORM project, led by University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen, is reporting.
How a Grad Student Found Spyware That Could Control Anybody’s iPhone from Anywhere in the World – (Vanity Fair – November 28, 2016)
A trim Ph.D. candidate with dense brown hair and a disciplined beard, Bill Marczak isn’t just another excitable, fast-talking Berkeley grad student. He is a pioneering analyst in a new and unusual theater of cyber-warfare: the struggle between Middle Eastern freedom activists and authoritarian governments in countries such as Bahrain and Egypt. He is also a senior fellow at Citizens Lab, the University of Toronto “interdisciplinary laboratory” that had almost single-handedly discovered and alerted the world to how these governments were monitoring dissidents with spyware quietly marketed by a group of shadowy European and Israeli companies that have been labeled the first “cyber-arms dealers.” An activist friend in the United Arab Emirates had sent him an e-mail containing a single Internet link, which Marczak was almost certain would, if clicked, release malignant spyware into his mobile phone. He managed to isolate a portion of its code, but it was so complex he decided to forward a copy across San Francisco Bay to engineers at a computer-security outfit called Lookout, whose offices high in a downtown skyscraper afforded panoramic views from the Golden Gate Bridge to Oakland. It is exceedingly rare to find a never-before-seen vulnerability that allows a hacker to infiltrate the operating system of a computer or mobile phone. Amazingly, the program Marczak had found would be shown to target not one, not two, but three such vulnerabilities. This article offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the shadowy firms that sell spyware to governments across the globe. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article.)
The Future of Neighborhoods: Five Projects That Show How We’ll Live – (Fast Company – November 21, 2016)
An experiment in the Netherlands could be a model for life off the grid. When a new housing development called ReGen Village opens as early as next year on the outskirts of Amsterdam, residents won’t have to rely on external sources to provide most of their energy, waste management, or even food. The village is designed to operate as a closed-loop system, meaning it meets most of its needs from within. Though self-sufficiency is not a new idea—communities survived for centuries before there even was a grid from which to disconnect—Ehrlich hopes ReGen will serve as a testing ground for a concept that could help reduce global dependence on unsustainable resources. The village’s 200 homes and apartments will house about 600 residents. Though the Amsterdam ReGen community is aimed at luxury buyers, the idea is to eventually expand the closed-loop concept to the developing world, where self-sufficiency could have an even more profound impact by providing reliable sources of food and water. The developer Ehrlich plans to use the proceeds from the first village to build similar towns for low-income residents in sub-Saharan Africa and rural India. Read the article for four other on-the-cusp developmental ideas, including one project designed to raise the standard of ultra-affordable housing with houses assembled on site, similar to Ikea furniture.
These Refugees Are Building Houses out of Plastic Bottles – (Nation of Change – December 3, 2016)
Across five separate camps, about 160,000 Sahrawi refugees live in southwestern Algeria, depending on international humanitarian aid while waiting to return home. In the meantime, for many of these refugees, plastic bottles offer sustainable housing material in a desert referred to as the devil’s garden, where drought, heat, and seasonal floods destroy most adobe houses. Sahrawis, the indigenous people of Western Sahara, were displaced from their home country in 1975, when Spain withdrew from the region to let Morocco and Mauritania lay claim over the rich North African territory. Tatah Lehbib was born in the Auserd refugee camp, and grew up in an adobe house and a tent in the dunes. He got the opportunity to study renewable energy at Algeria’s Tlemcen University, before winning an Erasmus scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in energy efficiency at the University of Las Palmas of Canary Islands. When he returned, Lehbib knew he wanted to lessen his people’s suffering. Lehbib starts each day with a long walk to collect bottles from the garbage. A colleague joins him, and they stay all day long, assembling as many bottles as possible. Later, a truck takes the bottles to the center of the Auserd camp to be filled with sand and then transported to different construction sites. The bottles are assembled and bound with a cement mix, and once finished, the house is resistant to the area’s harsh climate. This method of assembly isn’t new — a lot of communities in the developing world are building similar houses. On November 1, Lehbib’s plastic bottle venture was chosen third out of 3,000 innovation projects that were presented to the U.N. This provided resources to finance Lehbib’s dream, but this time as a first stage of a much larger process. Lehbib is overjoyed,“I have got the funding to construct 25 houses, each consisting of 6,000 plastic bottles. They are going to be built in all five camps here.”
How Google Became The World’s Largest Corporate Buyer Of Renewable Energy – (Fast Company – December 7, 2016)
Google says that in 2017, it will buy enough renewables to account for its entire electricity use (though its data centers are still also plugged into the grid, where they use coal and natural gas power, as well). That’s a big deal; in 2015, to run the data centers that let you check email and watch YouTube, and to power its own offices, Google consumed nearly as much energy as the city of San Francisco did over the year. Other companies, such as Apple, are also close to a “100% renewable” goal of buying as much renewable electricity as the power they use. But because Google uses so much more electricity, it’s also buying more renewables. “The significant reduction in price of renewables is one of the reasons that we’ve been able to really scale this program,” says Gary Demasi, director of operations for Google’s data center energy and location strategy. Over the last six years, the cost of wind power dropped 60%; solar power became 80% cheaper. “Frankly, one of the reasons why we do this is because it makes business sense from a cost perspective,” he says. Data centers use an enormous amount of energy, and the cost of natural gas and coal fluctuates over time; the cost of solar and wind can be locked into a long-term contract and give predictability as the company makes financial plans.
What a 16,000 mph Airliner Might Look Like – BBC News – December 6, 2016)
Imagine shrinking the time of a flight from London to New Zealand to little under 30 minutes. It could revolutionize air travel, but does it have to break the laws of physics, or at least aerodynamics, to do so? One inventor doesn’t think so, and he has named his concept supersonic aircraft the Antipode (see mock-up photos in article). “The idea of going from New York to London in, say 20 minutes – that’s what I think really grabbed people,” says Canadian designer Charles Bombardier, when we asked him about the many reactions to his concept. “It’s always something that people would like – a transportation system that could take you from one place on the planet to the other side.” According to its website, the Antipode would be a supersonic business jet that could reach speeds of around 16,000mph, or Mach 24. For comparison, Concorde reached speeds of a little over Mach 2 (around 1,600mph). Apparently it would be capable of taking off from any regular airfield using rocket boosters. These would provide the initial thrust to get the plane to 40,000ft and a speed of Mach 5. The boosters would be jettisoned, and a ramjet engine would take over to push the plane to Mach 24. The rocket boosters would return to the airfield for re-use – a type of recycling that Elon Musk’s SpaceX has recently demonstrated for space launches. Bombardier’s designs for a plane that is 10-times-as-fast as Concorde need to be considered with a skeptical eye, and he admits that this is just a concept, designed to provoke conversation and interest in potential technologies. However he has considered some of the potential problems. However after publishing that design, Bombardier was contacted by Joseph Hazeltine, an engineer with Wyle, which provides technical services to NASA and the US Department of Defense.
Nikola One, America’s First Hydrogen-powered Semi, Is Straight Outta the Future – (CNet – December 1, 2016)
With manufacturers still trying to figure out how to give electric cars a range of more than 250 miles, Nikola Motor Company has just revealed its hydrogen-electric semi-truck and they’re claiming a total operating range of up to 1,200 miles. Dubbed Nikola One, this Tron-like Class-8 rig has 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 pound-feet of torque. Just for comparison’s sake, note that the D13 diesel engine from Volvo Trucks is good for anywhere from 375 to 500 horsepower and 1,450 to 1,850 pound-feet of torque. The Nikola One gets the job done with zero emissions. In other words, this could well be a game changer. The One’s hydrogen fuel cell feeds a set of high-density 320-kWh lithium batteries that power the fully electric drivetrain. This concept shown has six electric motors, one powering each axle. Because peak torque is reached the instant a foot touches the throttle, the Nikola One can shoot to 60 miles an hour in 30 seconds, compared to 60 seconds for a traditional diesel rig. An added benefit of getting rid of the diesel engine is better visibility. The driver sits farther forward and views the road through a panoramic glass windshield. An assortment of high-definition cameras, radar and sonar can produce a real-time aerial view of the truck and trailer, making blind spots a thing of the past. However, fuel can be tough to come by. To counter that concern, Nikola is planning a string of hydrogen stations across the United States and Canada, with construction beginning in January, 2018. The 364 stations are slated to start coming online in late 2019. The One should take an estimated 15-20 minutes per fill-up, and yes, hydrogen-powered cars can use these stations as well.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
CNN to Premiere War in Space: The Next Battlefield – (CNN – November 28, 2016)
War in Space: The Next Battlefield is an in-depth CNN Special Report on the arms race in outer space. The one-hour documentary explores the belief by many in the military and civilian experts that war in space is inevitable. The American way of life depends on satellites in space, such as daily commutes, to withdrawing money from a bank, to the soldiers and intelligence agencies defending the U.S. abroad and at home. U.S. adversaries, like China and Russia, are pushing an arms race in space, taking aim at America with a dizzying array of weapons seemingly borrowed from science fiction. With rare access to classified U.S. military command and operations centers, CNN showcases the devastation that would be caused by space warfare and how the U.S. military is preparing for the alarming prospect. CNN’s chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto interviewed more than 10 national security, defense and high-ranking military personnel for the documentary including the entire chain of command for space warfare. The documentary contains the first interview with Defensive Duty Officer, 1st Lieutenant Andrew Engle, a newly created position to monitor threats in space. CNN was also the first network to have access inside the Advanced Missile Warning and Battlespace Awareness Operations Floor at Buckley Air Force Base and Lockheed Martin’s facility where it is building the next generation satellite, the GPS III. (Editor’s note: This article claims “U.S. adversaries, like China and Russia, are pushing an arms race in space.” In fact, the US Space Command has been advocating “full-spectrum” dominance for decades using terms like “Master of Space” and making statements, such as “dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment.” See: United States Space Command – Vision for 2020.)
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
The Government’s Addiction to ‘Secret Law’ – (New York Times – October 18, 2016) The Central Intelligence Agency’s torture of detainees, and the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping of Americans’ international communications, were two of the most controversial programs our government implemented after Sept. 11. Both are now widely considered to have been illegal, even though both were authorized by official legal analyses that were withheld from the public — a phenomenon known as “secret law.” The notion of secret law is as counterintuitive as it is unsettling. When most of us think of law, we think of statutes passed by Congress, and we take for granted that they are public. Statutes, however, are only one kind of law. When the secret surveillance panel known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court, construed the Patriot Act to allow bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, that interpretation became part of the statute’s meaning. When President Obama issued procedures and standards for using lethal force against suspected terrorists overseas, agency officials were bound to follow them. In the realm of national security, where Congress tends to tread lightly, other sources of law predominate — and a new study by the Brennan Center shows that they are frequently withheld from the public. Intelligence agencies routinely issue rules and regulations without publishing them in the Federal Register, exploiting what are intended to be narrow exceptions to the publication requirement. Most presidential directives addressing national security policy are not made public. Documents released by the State Department in litigation reveal that 42% of binding agreements between the United States and other countries are unpublished.
The Arabs Did It – (Gush-Shalom – December 3, 2016)
When David Ben-Gurion, a 20-year old youngster, landed at Jaffa in 1906, he was utterly disgusted. “Is this the land of our fathers?” he cried out. So the Zionists set out to change the landscape. They imported beautiful trees from all over the world and planted forests wherever they could. The new immigrants did not ask themselves why the country, which had been populated since the beginning of time and remained so continuously to this day, had been so empty of these kinds of trees. Obviously, “it was the fault of the Arabs”. Actually, the real reason was quite different. Palestine suffers from an extreme shortage of rainfall. Every few years or so there is a drought, the country dries up, and fires break out all over the place. The trees which are not suited to this country just burn up. Six years ago there was a warning. A large fire broke out on Mount Carmel. It consumed large portions of the forest and killed 47 policemen, who were caught by the fire while on their way to evacuate a prison. A few weeks ago it happened in earnest. For eight months there was hardly a drop of rain. A strong, hot, east wind blew in from the desert. The land dried up. Any little spark could have started a major fire. About 150 separate fires broke out, many of them near Haifa, Israel’s third largest town. Haifa is beautiful, rather like Naples, and several of its suburbs are surrounded by trees. No one had thought about safe distances or such. Several neighborhoods caught fire. Almost eighty thousand inhabitants had to be evacuated. Many apartments were destroyed by fire. Soon enough the country was full of accusations: “The Arabs Did It.” Of course. Who else? Many Arab citizens were rounded up and interrogated. Most were released. In the end it appeared that perhaps about 2% of the fires were started by Arab youngsters as acts of revenge. Haifa is a mixed city, with a large Arab population. Generally, relations between Arabs and Jews there are good, sometimes even cordial. The two communities faced the new danger together, Arab villages opened their homes to Jewish refugees from the fire. Mahmoud Abbas, the chief of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied territories, also sent his firefighters into Israel to help out. Netanyahu’s incendiary speeches, making wild (and quite unproven) accusations against the Arab citizens and against Arab workers from the occupied territories, did not catch on. So this political fire, too, was suppressed before it could do too much damage. As the days pass, the accusations recede, but the damage they caused remains.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
Compulsory Dog Microchipping Comes into Effect – (Government of the United Kingdom – April 6, 2016)
From today (6 April 2016) it will be compulsory for owners to ensure their dog is microchipped. Lost or stray dogs will be reunited with their owners thanks to new microchipping laws which come into effect to improve dog welfare today. Under the new measures all owners must ensure their dog is microchipped and their details are kept up to date. Not only will this mean the UK’s 8.5 million dogs can be returned to their owners more quickly if they wander too far from home, but it will also make it easier to track down the owners of dogs that carry out attacks on people. Already over 86% of responsible dog owners have had their pets painlessly implanted with a microchip and their details updated on a national database. This is vital to reunite over 102,000 dogs which are picked up from our streets having strayed or been stolen every year. We also expect local authorities and charities, which would otherwise feed, kennel and home dogs, to make £33 million in annual savings were these dogs microchipped and returned to owners.
Citi Makes Aussie Branches Cashless – (Finextra – November 16, 2016)
Citi Bank’s Australian arm is going cashless, telling customers that it will no longer handle notes and coins as of Nov. 24, because fewer than 4% of customers have used them in the last year. Cash use has been on the decline in Australia, where strong contactless payments uptake has seen notes and coins used for fewer low value transactions, Reserve Bank data shows. UBS analysts recently suggested that the country should follow India’s lead and phase out high-value notes as a way to tackle crime and boost tax revenues. Citi customers can still make deposits through the Australia Post network. However, to say the least, India’s phase out of the two highest denomination notes, the 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee, (worth about $7.30 and $14.60) on November 9, 2016 has not been going smoothly. See this article from The Economist: India’s Currency Reform Was Botched in Execution. This is a situation which is still unfolding.
The War on Cash – One Giant Leap Forward for Government – (Armstrong Economics – December 5, 2016)
The European Payments Council (EPC), a subdivision of the European Central Bank, is taking one giant step forward in their quest to eliminate all cash to increase taxes. They have gone ahead and set up the technical bases last week to enable the immediate payments system throughout Europe. One of the stumbling blocks has been the fact you cannot transfer money same day for banks like to play with your money and holding it for a few days. If the payment comes from overseas, the bank will not “clear” the funds usually for six weeks. Unless money can become instant, it is really impossible to eliminate cash. The SEPA Credit Transfer Scheme will move to allow instant transfers. The goal is to eliminate ATM machines and force people to pay using their mobile phone beginning in November 2017. Of course, there is nobody thinking about tourism. How will an American pay for something on a vacation in Europe? One suggestion was they could pay in advance and have an app that then pays for things in Europe.
Experience How Expensive It Feels to Live Below the Poverty Line – (Fast Company – November 27, 2016)
Living below the poverty line means every necessary purchase is a huge percentage of your salary. Putting those numbers into the context of your own finances will hopefully make you empathize a little more. If you’re living on the federal poverty line in San Francisco, buying a $4.88 gallon of milk takes a little more than 1% of your weekly take-home pay. If you’re making the average salary in the city—$150,000—the equivalent would be paying $23.51 for the same gallon of milk. Enter your salary on a new website, and it tells you the “poverty line prices” for everyday goods—helping someone who makes more money have a slightly better understanding of what it feels like to shop when you’re poor. At the average San Francisco salary, laundry detergent would cost $58.04; four rolls of toilet paper would cost $16.64. Tipping Point Community, the poverty-fighting organization behind the campaign, also temporarily implemented the higher prices in a Nob Hill convenience store, then watched people react (see embedded video clip). One out of ten families in the Bay Area lives below the federal poverty line of $24,300, with take-home pay of $22,222.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
There Are Parallel Universes: Physicists State Multiverses Are Interacting – (Express – November 26, 2016)
Academics are challenging the status quo of the single universe theory by claiming many different universes coexist and they all affect each other. Professor Howard Wiseman and Dr Michael Hall from Griffith University’s Centre for Quantum Dynamics, and Dr Dirk-Andre Deckert from the University of California claim parallel universes are a reality and influence one another through quantum mechanics. The experts claim quantum theory is a necessity to explain the multiverse ideas, but recognize the late Richard Feynman’s quote, who once said “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics”. As such, they have taken a different approach in an attempt to elaborate on their theory. They claim that the worlds are all real, and all on the same timeline, but interact when they essentially bump into each other. Hall believes that the group’s sensational theory fits with current scientific understanding, offering a new perspective rather than rewriting the physics rule book completely. He said: “The beauty of our approach is that if there is just one world, our theory reduces to Newtonian mechanics, while if there is a gigantic number of worlds, it reproduces quantum mechanics. “In between it predicts something new that is neither Newton’s theory nor quantum theory. We also believe that, in providing a new mental picture of quantum effects, it will be useful in planning experiments to test and exploit quantum phenomena.”
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Now We Can See Inside Cells at a Nanoscale – (YouTube – December 8, 2016)
A short video clip on Yale University’s new nanoscope which can see the structures inside cells.
Night-vision Glasses: Nanocrystals Developed at ANU Allow Direct Vision into the Infrared – (Sydney Morning Herald – December 7, 2016)
Traditional night-vision goggles have helped us peer into the infrared and see light emitted from bodies, animals, objects in the form of heat or thermal radiation. But those goggles are clunky. They take photons, light particles, convert them to electricity, then beam them into your eyes as photons again. Researchers at the Australian National University have now fabricated tiny crystals that “blueshift” infrared light directly into to the visible spectrum. By applying them to a thin film on glass, they hope to eventually make glasses that give us a direct view into the infrared. “The nano crystals are so small they could be fitted as an ultra-thin film to glasses to enable night vision,” said Professor Dragomir Neshev from the Nonlinear Physics Centre within the ANU. The tiny crystals – 500 times narrower than a human hair – are made of aluminium-gallium-arsenide, a stable semiconducting alloy used in mobile phones. The crystals act as antennaes that receive a photon emitted in the infrared, combine them with a photon from a laser and then “upconvert” the combined photon to the visible spectrum. They hope within five years they will have a prototype of their invention that will allow the production of affordable, lightweight night-vision glasses, as simple to wear as a pair of sunnies.
Feeding Silkworms Carbon Nanotubes Produces Silk That’s Ridiculously Strong – (Digital Trends – October 13, 2016)
Silk from a silkworm that lives on a diet of fresh leaves is one of the strongest natural fibers known to man. Its strength and its smoothness make it ideal as a textile for bedding, clothing, and furnishings. It turns out, though, that technology can improve on nature in this area. To expand silk’s range of applications, Chinese scientists have created a super strong version of the gossamer thread by adding single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and graphene to the silkworm’s diet. The resulting material may pave the way for biodegradable medical implants, protective clothing, and a new class of comfortable yet durable wearables. Lead scientist Yingying Zhang and her colleagues developed this carbon-infused silk by feeding silkworms their favorite food of mulberry leaves that had been sprayed with an aqueous solution of 0.2 percent carbon nanotubes and graphene. This method allows the carbons to be integrated into the silk as it is being made and requires no post-processing. In contrast, treating silk that already has been produced is a messy process requiring the use of toxic chemical solvents to dissolve the carbon materials and transfer them to the silk strands. Following consumption of these carbon-supplemented leaves, the researchers collected the resulting silkworm thread and discovered each strand was significantly stronger, withstanding more than 50 percent more stress before breaking. After heating the material to 1,050 degrees centigrade to carbonize the silk protein, the scientists discovered the carbon-enhanced silk had a crystalline structure that contributed to its toughness and could conduct electricity, a capability not present in unmodified silk.
Bombshell Dropped in Federal Court: Proof of a Silver Market “Mafia” Among Big Banks – (Wall St. on Parade – December 8, 2016)
Lawyers representing traders who allege they were ripped off by a group of colluding global banks filed eye-popping evidence in a Manhattan Federal Court yesterday showing that even as global banks were being criminally probed for rigging currency markets, they continued to engage in rigging the silver market, with a UBS trader referring to the group as the “mafia.” In order to settle the charges against it in the matter, the court filing shows that the beleaguered Deutsche Bank turned over to the plaintiffs’ attorneys “more than 350,000 pages of documents and 75 audio tapes” that implicate other banks in a very serious way. In addition to banks previously named in the lawsuit (Deutsche Bank, HSBC, The Bank of Nova Scotia and UBS), trader conversations captured in the material provided by Deutsche Bank seriously implicate Barclays, Standard Chartered, BNP Paribas Fortis and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. The plaintiffs lawyers writer further: “This coordinated manipulative conduct was intended to capitalize on the zero-sum nature of derivatives trading, including in COMEX silver futures contracts, and to extract illicit profits for Defendants from Plaintiffs and other Class members who held the opposite position. For example, as one UBS trader commented while planning a series of manipulative silver transactions with Deutsche Bank on April 1, 2011, ‘if we are correct and do it together, we screw other people harder.’ Thus, Defendants knew any profit resulting from their illegitimate trading activity flowed directly from harm caused to Plaintiffs and the Class.”
Bill Gross: The World’s Growing Debt Problem Is Just Like the US Prison System – (Business Insider – December 6, 2016)
Bill Gross, the bond guru and legendary investor, thinks that America has two imprisonment problems. The first, wrote Gross, is the literal incarceration rate in the US. The second is the trap of ever-growing debt that has ensnared the US and global economies. Gross noted that while he did not necessarily agree with the protest of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has knelt during the US National Anthem this NFL season, the words “Land of the Free” in the anthem ring false to the investor. “Free? For almost all of us – ‘yes’ – but for 3+ million of us? Not really. More than any country on Earth – in total numbers, or as a percentage of the population, Americans are incarcerated, imprisoned – freedomless.” Gross said that while some of these people in prison are most likely justified, there are many more that are in prison due to an unjust system, most notably mandatory sentencing laws and the private prison system. “The privatization of prison management and ownership is even more damning,” said Gross. “‘Orange Is the New Black’ focuses on race and classism themes, but there’s more to the show than that. I’d affirm lead character Aleida Diaz when she says, “We a for-profit prison now. We ain’t people no more. We bulk items, sardines in a can.'” Much like the prison-industrial system, said Gross, the US economy is trapped by central bank’s low interest rate policies and growing debt. Gross said that the debt trap has been exacerbated by central banks unwillingness to raise interest rates while hoping for growth, which has only hurt the economy in the long run. He also highlighted eight solutions from central banks and governments that have so far not worked, ranging from quantitative easing to simply passing the buck to the younger generation. With no new ideas to solve the debt trap in sight, the US economy will remain much like the 3 million Americans in prison.
Kazuo Ishiguro: ‘We’re Coming Close to the Point Where We Can Create People Who Are Superior to Others’ – (Guardian – December 2, 2016)
Imagine a two-tiered society with elite citizens, genetically engineered to be smarter, healthier and to live longer, and an underclass of biologically run-of-the-mill humans. It sounds like the plot of a dystopian novel, but the world could be sleepwalking towards this scenario, according to one of Britain’s most celebrated writers. Kazuo Ishiguro argues that the social changes unleashed by gene editing technologies, such as Crispr, could undermine core human values. “We’re going into a territory where a lot of the ways in which we have organized our societies will suddenly look a bit redundant,” he said. “In liberal democracies, we have this idea that human beings are basically equal in some very fundamental way. We’re coming close to the point where we can, objectively in some sense, create people who are superior to others.” Ishiguro cites three areas – gene editing, robotics and Artificial Intelligence – that he believes could transform the way we live and interact with each other over the next 30 years. “We are on the brink of all kinds of discoveries that will completely alter the way we run our lives,” said the author. The gene editing tool, Crispr, allows scientists to cut, paste and delete single letters of the genome with unprecedented precision, meaning aberrant genes can be overwritten with working copies, and, potentially, functional genes replaced with enhanced versions. Chinese scientists are already trialling the technology in patients to treat lung cancer. See also: China Has Launched the First-Ever CRISPR Gene-Editing Trial in Humans.
Washington Post Appends “Russian Propaganda Fake News” Story, Admits It May Be Fake – (Zero Hedge – December 8, 2016)
In the latest example why the “mainstream media” is facing a historic crisis of confidence among its readership, facing unprecedented blowback following Craig Timberg November 24 Washington Post story “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say”, on Wednesday a lengthy editor’s note appeared on top of the original article in which the editor not only distances the WaPo from the “experts” quoted in the original article whose “work” served as the basis for the entire article (and which became the most read WaPo story the day it was published) but also admits the Post could not “vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s finding regarding any individual media outlet”, in effect admitting the entire story may have been, drumroll “fake news” and conceding the Bezos-owned publication may have engaged in defamation by smearing numerous websites – Zero Hedge included – with patently false and unsubstantiated allegations. It was the closest the Washington Post would come to formally retracting the story, which has now been thoroughly discredited not only by outside commentators, but by its own editor. See also: Who’s Behind PropOrNot’s Blacklist of News Websites.
JUST FOR FUN
No Parachute 25,000 Feet Airplane Jump – (You Tube – July 30, 2016)
Watch Luke Aikins, accomplish a planned jump out of an airplane without a parachute or wing suit from 25,000 feet. His daring (or insane) stunt is now in The Guinness Book Of World Records as the first complete planned jump from an airplane without a parachute.
A FINAL QUOTE
The future should be something we deserve, not something which is merely reached at the rate of 60 minutes per hour. – Anonymous
A special thanks to: Uri Avnery, Kevin Foley, Ursula Freer, Steve McDonald, Diane Petersen, Gary Sycalik, Hal Taylor, 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. [email protected]
Edited by John L. Petersen