FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT–
- For the first time, the cybersecurity world had seen code deliberately designed to put lives at risk.
- AI-informed security cameras can spot potential shoplifters even before they steal.
- Check out sneakers made from recycled chewing gum.
- Experiment gives infrared vision to mice – humans could be next.
by John L. Petersen
Dream Detective Who Notified US Government About 9/11 Two Weeks Before The Event Coming to TransitionTalks
There’s only one person in the world who started dreaming about the 9/11 attack six months before it happened . . . and notified the US embassy in London of the impending disaster two weeks before that fateful day.
The Americans didn’t listen, but they should have. For Christopher Robinson was the man that British Intelligence and Scotland Yard depended on to dream about the future and notify them of upcoming IRA bombing plans. They depended on Chris because he never missed telling them when and where an upcoming attack would take place. He has anticipated plane crashes days before the event, found deceased crime victims, found missing persons that the police couldn’t locate (and told me in the morning, with extraordinary accuracy, what was going to happen in that afternoon)!
Chris’s amazing ability to dream about the future in terms that can be reliably translated into people, times, places and activities has been the subject of books, major university scientific studies, films, articles, TV shows and just about all forms of media.
He has taught many people how to dream about the future and, through his advanced intuitive capabilities, helped thousands to understand how to deal with seemingly impossible personal situations. He is also a healer, having on numerous occasions led people with supposedly terminal conditions to eliminate those issues and return to a healthy life.
There is no one in the world that has the fascinating background (undercover police work, etc.), coupled with the amazing personal gifts that Chris does and he’s coming from London especially to be with us to tell his story, explain his dreaming technique, demonstrate his healing modality and tell us what he thinks is on the horizon, in one very memorable Saturday afternoon on April 27th in Berkeley Springs.
As an added bonus, Chris will be available for personal consultations on Sunday the 28th. You can find complete information at www.transitiontalks.org.
Here’s a video about Chris that will give you a taste of this extraordinary man.
Come to Berkeley Springs on Saturday, the 27th of April to hear Christopher Robinson and stay around for the reception afterwards to meet him personally. Get the complete details at TransitionTalks.org.
How Do You Know What’s True?
Eighteen years ago I wrote a book review for a scientific journal about the fascinating book, The Missing Times: News Media Complicity In the UFO Cover-up. I stumbled onto it again the other day and found it particularly timely. You may find it of interest.
A couple of months ago there were some new findings in science that repealed a physical law that I had been taught was universal in engineering school. It was the way reality always worked. That event was a reminder that all of the things that we take for granted in science are only temporary assumptions about how physical reality works-always subject to new discoveries and theories that will surely come in the future. That is, unless we think that in some area we have struck immutable truth and there is nothing more possible to learn about a particular subject. (Some scientists act that way, but I don’t think humanity has yet “arrived.”)
Our understanding of reality may be conditional in science, but we bet on it in the short run, assuming that what we believe is true. It’s great to believe we know what we think we know. It provides stability, sanity, authority, employment and even uninterrupted sleep at night. If everything (or even a significant portion) of what we are told by others is suspect, well, then it starts to be like the Matrix, or the Soviet Union in the early 80s, where nobody believed the media, rumors carried the day, and everyone had so lost faith in the government that they became expert at reading between the lines, three levels deep, to try to figure out what really was happening at any distance greater than one’s personal line-of-sight. Very socially corrosive.
Fortunately, that isn’t the case in the U.S. Here, an independent press balances the government’s penchant for secrecy and, on balance, Americans have a pretty good idea of what is going on. Right?
Well, if you believe Terry Hansen, the answer is: it depends. It depends on whether the government really wants you to know about something or not. If not, there is a longstanding sweetheart relationship with the media in this country that conspires to only report the government story.
Farfetched? Another crazy conspiracy theory? You should read this book. (read more . . .)
|Our e-Magazine has complete information on our TransitionTalks series with articles from past speakers
Gregg Braden, Joe Dispenza & Bruce Lipton:
In 15 Years: A Look at How Much Tech Has Changed – (Engadget – March 12, 2019)
A lot has changed in the tech world in 15 years. But it’s largely been one thing at a time. So how much have you noticed? Here are 15 things that didn’t exist 15 years ago. You may be surprised at how “young” some of these things are.
Mystery of Rare Emerald Icebergs Spotted in Antarctica May Be Solved – (IFL Science – March 7, 2019)
The sight of bottle green icebergs in Antarctica has intrigued polar travelers and scientists for decades. Several papers have puzzled over the curious phenomenon, but the “why” for their existence remained elusive. Now, scientists have proposed a new idea for why these jade bergs occur – and if confirmed, it would solve a decades-long enigma.”What is most amazing is not their color but rather their clarity, because they have no bubbles,” said glaciologist Stephen Warren from the University of Washington. Taking a core sample from a glacier near East Antarctica’s Amery Ice Shelf, Warren found that the clear jade coloration was due to marine ice, not glacier ice. At first, Warren’s team suspected impurities in the ocean water beneath were transforming the ice green, perhaps from the trapped microscopic particles of dead marine plants and animals. But a sample of the ice proved their theory wrong: green and blue marine ice have similar amounts of organic material. Warren believes the answer may lie in “glacial flour” – the powder formed from glaciers grinding over bedrock, eroding particles from the surface. These iron-rich particles then flow into the ocean and become caught under an ice shelf, where they mingle with the marine ice as it forms. Further research will be needed to confirm this hypothesis.
GENETICS / HEALTH TECHNOLOGY / BIOTECHNOLOGY
Patient Receives a 3D Printed Rib for the First Time in Bulgaria – (3DPrint.com – December 20, 2018)
35-year-old Ivaylo Josifov was an active, healthy individual who thought he only had a case of tonsillitis when he went to the doctor recently. A chest X-ray, however, showed that he had a growth in the area of his fifth right rib. It was a congenital disease that could lead to the weakening of the chest and issues like difficulty breathing. Because of the risk that the growth could spread, the best option would be to remove the rib entirely and replace it with an implant. Josifov’s doctors decided to try something that had been done only a few times in the entire world before, and never in Bulgaria – to use 3D printing technology to create a new rib for their patient. The doctors chose 3D printing because it could guarantee a perfect replica of the original rib shape, both in thickness and curvature. They started by scanning the original bone, then sending the scan to Bulgarian 3D printing company. Before the rib was implanted, 3 mm holes were drilled in it to facilitate broaching and proliferation of connective tissue. The implant was thoroughly sterilized, using ethylene oxide as well as gamma radiation and autoclave at 140ºC. With 3D printing, it was possible to perfectly recreate the original rib, allowing the patient to recover quickly and go about his normal life. Due to the success of the procedure, doctors are already planning to create an implant of three ribs attached to a sternum.
After China’s Gene-edited Baby Debacle, CRISPR Scientists Want a Moratorium – (Vox – March 13, 2019)
Several of the world’s leading CRISPR scientists and bioethicists are calling for a global moratorium on editing human genes that can be passed on from parents to children. Feng Zhang and Emmanuelle Charpentier — two discoverers of the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system — along with MIT biologist Eric Lander and 15 other researchers from around the world, outlined the urgent need to put a pause on the editing of sperm, eggs, and embryos — known as the human germline — to create genetically modified babies until countries agree on the best way forward. (Another CRISPR-Cas9 co-discoverer, Jennifer Doudna, was noticeably absent from the author list.) “By ‘global moratorium’, we do not mean a permanent ban,” the authors wrote. “Rather, we call for the estab¬lishment of an international framework in which nations, while retaining the right to make their own decisions, voluntarily com¬mit to not approve any use of clinical germline editing unless certain conditions are met.” And in the meantime, other CRISPR research would continue, including germline editing for research that doesn’t lead to modified babies, and editing nonheritable (somatic) cells to stamp out disease.
The Devastating Allure of Medical Miracles – (Wired – February 18, 2019)
After sepsis forced the amputation of Sheila Advento’s hands, an intricate transplant technique made her whole again. Then came the side effects. In 1998, the world’s first initially successful hand transplant, done in Lyon, France, accelerated the practice of vascularized composite-tissue allotransplantation, or VCA. These transplants, mainly of hands but also of faces and genitals, differ in two important ways from solid-organ transplants: They involve multiple tissue types intricately tied together, and they don’t extend life—they enhance it. That they improved lives rather than saving them posed a serious new ethical problem. Is taking dangerous drugs for the rest of one’s life worth the satisfaction of tying a shoelace or moving a strand of hair from a child’s face? Such deeply personal questions test the boundaries of medical ethics. Even today’s transplant drugs cause side effects ranging from passing nausea, dizziness, and weight loss to life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, infection, cancer, and kidney failure. In a 2003 study, up to 21% of transplant recipients experienced total renal failure within five years, forcing patients to have dialysis or a kidney transplant. In some senses, the field is still struggling with two linked problems that have dogged it at least since that operation in Lyon in 1998: the cost–benefit ratio of VCA transplants and the failure to develop gentler anti-rejection treatments that have been proven to resolve the issue by reducing the risks. (Editor’s note: This article focuses exclusively on one of the newer procedures in modern medicine but its lessons concerning the realities of cutting edge protocols are much broader.)
Ten Years after the ‘Berlin Patient,’ Doctors Announce a Second Person Has Been Effectively ‘Cured’ of HIV – (StatNews – March 4, 2019)
For the second time, doctors appear to have put HIV into “sustained remission” with a stem cell transplant — effectively curing the recipient. Their work may encourage scientists working on new gene therapies based on similar principles and give hope to those living with the infection. The case comes nearly 10 years after Timothy Ray Brown announced he was the so-called “Berlin Patient” — the first person who was functionally cured of HIV and able to stop taking antiretroviral drugs after an intensive round of chemotherapy and radiation and two bone marrow transplants. The person who received this latest transplant in London has not taken antiretroviral drugs since September 2017; he has not been publically identified. “It doesn’t change things for the average person with HIV right now,” said Dr. Bruce Walker, the director of the Ragon Institute, a research institute affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard, and MIT that specializes in HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases. “It does change things in terms of the research agenda, because it further indicates that this is a potentially viable pathway forward to achieve a cure.” The second person got a transplant of the stem cells that produce blood and immune system cells — typically found in a person’s bone marrow — with this mutation from a donor; about 10% of people in some Northern European countries naturally carry the mutation. Like Timothy Brown, this person’s transplant happened as part of his cancer treatment. After doctors diagnosed him with an advanced case of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the person went through chemotherapy and a transplant from a donor picked in part for his or her CCR5 mutation. Unlike Brown, though, this person’s cancer treatment didn’t involve full-body radiation, and his chemotherapy was also far gentler. That’s encouraging, but Walker, the Ragon researcher, noted the risks from even this regimen were still too great to offer these kind of stem cell transplants outside of cancer treatment.
Miami Bans the Use of Glyphosate in a Step to Improve Water Quality – (Nation of Change – March 5, 2019)
Miami, Florida has voted unanimously to ban the use of glyphosate by city departments and contractors. The controversial herbicide is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s – now Bayer after an acquisition took place over a year ago – popular weed-killer, Roundup. Miami Director of Resiliency and Public Works Alan Dodd determined that Miami was responsible for using 4,800 gallons of glyphosate a year on the streets and sidewalks to kill weeds. While Dodd stopped the use of the herbicide, Miami Commissioner Ken Russell took it a step further and sponsored a city-wide ban on glyphosate to make sure it was no longer used by any departments. Russell started the investigation into the city’s use of glyphosate after officials believed the runoff from the herbicide “might have contributed to the recent blue-green algae bloom and red tide that impacted the state last year,” EcoWatch reported. “Water quality issues are so important to the city of Miami, and we can be one of the worst polluters as a municipality,” Russell noted.
Neuromorphic Computing and the Brain That Wouldn’t Die – (ZD Net – February 27, 2019)
Neural networking is a digital simulation of how synapses may retain information, after being trained to recognize patterns. So the revelations by researchers that chemical structures comprised of completely random assemblies of nanometer-scale wires may exhibit the electrical characteristics of memory in a brain perhaps shouldn’t continue to be dismissed for much longer. But the mechanism foreseen by Dr. Gimzewski and his colleagues at the California NanoSystems Institute of UCLA is, strangely enough, not a digital processor and not, in the context of modern electronics, a semiconductor. It is not, at least for now, about programming. The question at the heart of his team’s research is this: If the process that constitutes natural memory is, at least at the atomic level, essentially mechanical, then instead of building a digital simulation of that mechanism, why not explore building an actual machine at the same atomic level that performs the same functions in the same way? The UCLA team’s research is centered around leveraging natural chemical phenomena at the atomic level as atomic switches, and their evidence is revealing that if their chemically produced systems are treated like a natural memory (like the receptive components of a brain that retain information), then they’ll behave like a natural memory. “It’s exhibiting electrical characteristics which are very similar to a functional MRI of brains, similar to the electric characteristics of neuronal cultures, and also EEG patterns. We’re not trying to make a deterministic system. We’re letting the system self-assemble, and then observing what it does and try to learn from it.” (Editor’s note: If you are interested in the hardware capable of supporting massive AI, this article is worth your time.)
Triton Is the World’s Most Murderous Malware, and It’s Spreading – (Technology Review – March 5, 2019)
Triton is a dangerous piece of rogue code which can disable safety systems designed to prevent catastrophic industrial accidents. It was first found in the Middle East in 2017, but the hackers behind it are now targeting companies in other parts of the world. As an experienced cyber first responder, Julian Gutmanis had been called plenty of times before to help companies deal with the fallout from cyberattacks. But when the Australian security consultant was summoned to a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia in the summer of 2017, what he found made his blood run cold. The hackers had deployed malware that let them take over the plant’s safety instrumented systems. These physical controllers and their associated software are the last line of defense against life-threatening disasters. They are supposed to kick in if they detect dangerous conditions, returning processes to safe levels or shutting them down altogether by triggering things like shutoff valves and pressure-release mechanisms. Had the intruders disabled or tampered with them, and then used other software to make equipment at the plant malfunction, the consequences could have been catastrophic. Fortunately, a flaw in the code gave the hackers away before they could do any harm. This was the first time the cybersecurity world had seen code deliberately designed to put lives at risk. Safety instrumented systems aren’t just found in petrochemical plants; they’re also the last line of defense in everything from transportation systems to water treatment facilities to nuclear power stations.
Made on the Inside, Worn on the Outside – (New York Times – February 21, 2019)
In a lush valley surrounded by the Peruvian Andes — past two sets of security gates, high fences, barbed wire and a rigorous pat-down — 13 women stood hard at work. They were weaving and knitting luxurious alpaca wool sweaters, deep-pile roll-necks and silky-soft track pants, destined to be sold to wealthy shoppers with lives far away, and a far cry, from their own. All were prisoners at the women’s penitentiary center in the city of Cusco, serving long sentences predominantly for drug-related crimes as well as murder, human trafficking and robbery. They were also employees of Carcel, a Danish brand founded in 2016 specifically to provide incarcerated women with jobs, training and, possibly, a crime-free future. More than two years into their program, both Carcel’s founders and the Peruvian prison authorities say the project has been a measurable success. It’s popular with prisoners and consumers alike and proof that the profitable and responsible production of luxury fashion can have a place behind bars. Peru is becoming something of a case study on the issue of aid versus exploitation. A little more than 5,000 women are currently incarcerated there, and over 50% are actively employed in producing leather goods, clothing and textiles, according to INPE, the national penitentiary institute. Yet questions around the ethics of prison labor and regulation have also made headlines of late. “Companies are literally advertising that they use slave labor now as a reason you should buy their product,” one person wrote on Twitter, prompting a chorus of outrage from hundreds. “Prison labor is a very complicated and opaque topic,” said Peter McAllister, the executive director of the Ethical Trading Initiative, an alliance of companies, trade unions and nongovernmental organizations that back workers’ rights. One product subcategory in particular has been gaining international traction in recent years: small, street trend-oriented brands selling clothing made by inmates, like Prison Blues in the United States, Stripes Clothing in the Netherlands and Pietà, another Peru-based label. All claim they can create a profitable and sustainable business model while also providing new jobs and opportunities for prisoners.
These Sneakers Are Made from Recycled Chewing Gum – (The Verge – April 24, 2018)
To reduce waste and litter, city marketing organization Iamsterdam, designer Explicit Wear, and sustainability company Gumdrop have collaborated to design a shoe from the recycled gum. Called Gumshoe, the shoe’s sole is made of recyclable compounds (known as Gum-Tec) produced by Gumdrop, and those compounds are made up of 20% gum. According to the project, roughly 3.3 million pounds of gum make it onto Amsterdam pavements each year, and that costs the city millions of dollars to clean up. The project uses around 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of gum for every four pairs of shoes. The recycled gum that was used was scraped from the streets in Amsterdam. The Gum-Tec compounds are formed as granules and are then molded into the sole of the shoe, which also features a map of the city. “We started looking for a way to make people aware of this problem […] That’s when the idea began to create a product people actually want from something no one cares about,” a spokesperson for the collaboration, Jonathan Van Loon. Apart from the sole, the rest of the shoe is made from leather. The shoes are available in bubblegum pink or black. You can order the shoes here.
CHEMTRAILS/ WEATHER MODIFICATION/ GEOENGINEERING
The possibility of geoengineering has been receiving increased public attention of late. Its potential uses are weather modification, as a method of warfare, and more recently, as a possible means of global cooling. However, there is considerable evidence that geoengineering, one means of which is commonly called “chemtrails”, has already been going on for some time. These archived articles shed a little light on this technology’s past.
Chemtrails: Is U.S. Gov’t. Secretly Testing Americans ‘Again’? – (KSLA News – November 9, 2007)
Could a strange substance found by an Ark-La-Tex man be part of secret government testing program? That’s the question at the heart of a phenomenon called “Chemtrails.” In a KSLA News 12 investigation, Reporter Jeff Ferrell shows us the results of testing we had done about what’s in our skies. Soon after a recent episode Bill Nichols saw particles in the air. “We’d see it drop to the ground in a haze,” added Nichols. “This is water and stuff that I collected in bowls. I had it sitting out in my backyard in my dad’s pick-up truck,” said Nichols as he handed us a mason jar in the KSLA News 12 parking lot back in September after driving down from Arkansas. KSLA News 12 had the sample tested at a lab. The results: A high level of barium, 6.8 parts per million, (ppm). That’s more than three times the toxic level set by the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. Armed with these lab results about the high levels of barium found in our sample, we decided to contact the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. They told us that, ‘yes,’ these levels are very unusual. But at the same time they added the caveat that proving the source is a whole ‘nother matter. (Editor’s note: This is an article which originally aired on KSLA, virtual channel 12. KSLA is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Shreveport, Louisiana. The news article has been pulled from the station’s archives but is still available at the website listed above.)
Extensive List of Patents – (Geoengineering Watch – August 8, 2012)
The article provides and extensive list of patents culled from United States Patent and Trademark Office on equipment and processes used in geoengineering. The patents are listed by date, ranging from 1927 to 2003. For example: Methods of increasing the likelihood of precipitation by the artificial introduction of sea water vapor into the atmosphere winward of an air lift region (1971); Solar temperature inversion device (1972); Rocket having barium release system to create ion clouds in the upper atmosphere (1974); Method of suppressing formation of contrails and solution therefor (1992); and Use of artificial satellites in earth orbits adaptively to modify the effect that solar radiation would otherwise have on earth’s weather (1992). See also: List of 100 US Patents Related to Weather Modification which lists patents dated up to 2013. In both lists, each patent is identified by number and includes a searchable link.
Chemtrails Are Over Las Vegas – (Las Vegas Tribune – August 19, 2005)
Las Vegas residents are increasingly noticing the appearance of chemical trails overhead. They appear every weekend without fail, the only exception being the two weeks after September 11, 2001. Such “chemtrails” are substantially different in appearance to the normal condensation trails left by jet airliners. The difference is that while condensation trails are composed of water vapor that dissipates rapidly, “chemtrails” linger much longer and spread out over time to eventually cover the sky with a thin haze. This week the Las Vegas Tribune begins a two-part article to examine the undeniable and mysterious phenomena of Chemtrails Over Las Vegas. A brief history of the chemtrail phenomenon can be traced to a Washington state man who told award-winning investigative reporter William Thomas that he’d become ill on New Year’s Day 1999 after watching several jets make strange lines in the sky. Within six months, Thomas, writing primarily for the Environmental News Service, has detailed 1,000s of eyewitness reports of chemtrails from 40 states. Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio authored the Space Preservation Act of 2001, which sought a “permanent ban against weapons in space,” specifically banning “chemtrails” as weapons. But in a subsequent version of the bill, the “chemtrails” language disappeared entirely. The missing words suggest an eyes-wide-open denial, which says as much about the cover-up as it does about the spraying that’s plainly visible in the sky. In a front-page story entitled “Conspiracy Theorists Look Up,” the Akron Beacon Journal noted that Kucinich’s bill “had been rewritten and the references to chemtrails and the other types of weapons were quietly eliminated.”
With Operation Popeye, the U.S. Government Made Weather an Instrument of War – (Popular Science – March 20, 2018)
Though it cycled through several names in its history, “Operation Popeye” stuck. Its stated objective—to ensure Americans won the Vietnam War—was never realized, but the revelation that the U.S. government played God with weather-altering warfare changed history. The Nixon administration distracted, denied, and, it seems, outright lied to Congress, but enterprising reporters published damning stories about rain being used as a weapon, and the Pentagon papers dripped classified details like artificial rain. Eventually, the federal government would declassify its Popeye documents and international laws aimed at preventing similar projects would be on the books. But the public would, more or less, forget it ever happened. Given the rise of geo-engineering projects, both from municipal governments and private companies, some experts believe Popeye is newly relevant. As you read this, somewhere, someone is probably seeding a cloud. State and city officials seed clouds in the Sierra Nevada each winter. It’s a way to make a little money from ski resorts that pay for the potential of an extra sprinkling of powder. But it’s also a coordinated effort to increase the water supply that flows from melting snow each summer and quenches the thirst of California and its neighbors in the Colorado River Basin. And local officials from Wyoming to Mumbai carry out summertime seeding to provide rainfall for farmers. Meanwhile, the Chinese Meteorological Association runs the world’s biggest cloud seeding operation, reportedly creating billions of tons of rain each year to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Geoengineering: A Short History – (Foreign Policy – September 3, 2013)
Today, as superstorms ravage coastal cities and pollution blankets entire countries, averting climate catastrophe has become a serious foreign-policy issue. It is falling to so-called geoengineers to game out strategies for deliberate, large-scale intervention — everything from dumping iron slurry into the ocean in order to create massive CO2-sucking algae blooms to bombarding the stratosphere with sulfate-laced artillery to deflect sunlight. With the world’s fate potentially resting on the shoulders of these climate hackers, it’s worth recalling the dubious history of weather manipulation. The article follows by recounting ideas and methods for weather modification dating from 1841 to now. China is spending at least $100 million per year on weather modification schemes — mostly to induce rain and prevent hailstorms.
Future Batteries, Coming Soon: Charge in Seconds, Last Months and Power over the Air – (Pocket Lint – January 30, 2019)
While smartphones, smart homes and even smart wearables are growing ever more advanced, they’re still limited by power. The battery hasn’t advanced in decades. But we’re on the verge of a power revolution. Big technology and car companies are all too aware of the limitations of lithium-ion batteries. While chips and operating systems are becoming more efficient to save power we’re still only looking at a day or two of use on a smartphone before having to recharge. While it may be some time before we get a week’s life out of our phones, development is progressing well. Here is a collection of all the best battery discoveries that could be with us soon, from over the air charging to super-fast 30-second re-charging. Hopefully, you’ll be seeing this tech in your gadgets soon.
The Chicken Is Local, But Was It Happy? GPS Now Tells the Life Story of Your Poultry – (NPR – February 24, 2019)
Shoppers are willing to pay a premium for ingredients that are cage-free, organic or wild caught. But how do you really know if the chicken you are eating spent its life happily pecking for corn or if your blackberries were grown locally and are pesticide free? Simple. Put a tracking device on it. It’s not as absurd as it sounds, says Robyn Metcalfe, a food historian who teaches at the University of Texas at Austin. A GPS tracker strapped to the leg of a chicken, says Metcalfe, means “that people who potentially will buy that chicken will know every step that that chicken has taken.” ZhongAn Online, a Chinese insurance company, has already outfitted more than a 100,000 chickens with trackers. The sensors upload information, such as how much exercise each chicken gets and what it ate. The company says the technology will be on 2,500 farms in China by next year. Tracking technology is already being used by California-based Driscoll’s, the largest berry distributor to monitor shipments in real time. The real push, however, is from the industrial sector. Tracking devices can pinpoint exactly which farm was affected by the bird flu or which one produced E. coli-tainted lettuce. They can also tell you how long produce was in transit and whether it was exposed to warm temperatures. One major food seller, Walmart, is testing the technology on leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and lettuce. The idea is that once the source of contamination is found, that produce can be recalled and destroyed, as opposed to recalling millions of pounds of meat.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
With Women in Combat Roles, a Federal Court Rules Male-only Draft Unconstitutional – (USA Today – February 24, 2019)
A federal judge in Texas has declared that an all-male military draft is unconstitutional, ruling that “the time has passed” for a debate on whether women belong in the military. U.S. District Judge Gray Miller ruled that while historical restrictions on women serving in combat “may have justified past discrimination,” men and women are now equally able to fight. In 2015, the Pentagon lifted all restrictions for women in military service. The case was brought by the National Coalition For Men, a men’s rights group, and two men who argued an all-male draft was unfair. The ruling comes as an 11-member commission is studying the future of the Selective Service System, including whether women should be included or whether there should continue to be draft registration at all. The U.S. has maintained an all-volunteer military after the draft was discontinued in 1973, but the Selective Service System was reactivated in 1980 as a contingency in case military conscription becomes necessary again.
Doomsday Redux: The Most Dangerous Weapon Ever Rolls Off the Nuclear Assembly Line – (Portside – February 28, 2019)
In January, the National Nuclear Security Administration (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission) announced that the first of a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons had rolled off the assembly line at its Pantex nuclear weapons plant in the panhandle of Texas. That warhead, the W76-2, is designed to be fitted to a submarine-launched Trident missile, a weapon with a range of more than 7,500 miles. By September, an undisclosed number of warheads will be delivered to the Navy for deployment. What makes this particular nuke new is the fact that it carries a far smaller destructive payload than the thermonuclear monsters the Trident has been hosting for decades — not the equivalent of about 100 kilotons of TNT as previously, but of five kilotons. According to Stephen Young of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the W76-2 will yield “only” about one-third of the devastating power of the weapon that the Enola Gay, an American B-29 bomber, dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Yet that very shrinkage of the power to devastate is precisely what makes this nuclear weapon potentially the most dangerous ever manufactured. Fulfilling the Trump administration’s quest for nuclear-war-fighting “flexibility,” it isn’t designed as a deterrent against another country launching its nukes; it’s designed to be used. This is the weapon that could make the previously “unthinkable” thinkable. There have long been “low-yield” nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the nuclear powers, including ones on cruise missiles, “air-drop bombs” (carried by planes), and even nuclear artillery shells. Ranking some weapons as “low-yield” based on their destructive energy always depended on a distinction that reality made meaningless (once damage from radioactivity and atmospheric fallout was taken into account along with the unlikelihood that only one such weapon would be used). In fact, the elimination of tactical nukes represented a hard-boiled confrontation with the iron law of escalation — that any use of such a weapon against a similarly armed adversary would likely ignite an inevitable chain of nuclear escalation whose end point was barely imaginable. One side was never going to take a hit without responding in kind, launching a process that could rapidly spiral toward an apocalyptic exchange. “Limited nuclear war,” in other words, was a fool’s fantasy and gradually came to be universally acknowledged as such. No longer, unfortunately.
These Cameras Can Spot Shoplifters Even Before They Steal – (Bloomberg – March 4. 2019)
Vaak, a Japanese startup, has developed artificial intelligence software that hunts for potential shoplifters, using footage from security cameras for fidgeting, restlessness and other potentially suspicious body language. The technology is pretty good at spotting nefarious behavior. The algorithms analyze security-camera footage and alert staff about potential thieves via a smartphone app. The goal is prevention; if the target is approached and asked if they need help, there’s a good chance the theft never happens. Vaak founder Ryo Tanaka, 30 noted. “We took an important step closer to a society where crime can be prevented with AI.” Shoplifting cost the global retail industry about $34 billion in lost sales in 2017 — the biggest source of shrinkage, according to a report from Tyco Retail Solutions. While that amounts to approximately 2% of revenue, it can make a huge difference in an industry known for razor-thin margins. The opportunity is huge. Retailers are projected to invest $200 billion in new technology this year, according to Gartner Inc., as they become more open to embracing technology to meet consumer needs, as well as improve bottom lines. What makes AI-based shoplifting detection a straightforward proposition is the fact that most of the hardware — security cameras — is usually already in place.
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
Pentagon Is Scrambling as China ‘Sells the Hell out of’ Armed Drones to US Allies – (CNBC – February 21, 2019)
As one U.S. official at Abu Dhabi’s international defense expo, IDEX, put it, “China has been selling the hell out of its drones” to Gulf militaries like those of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. The U.S., while a top security partner to these states, currently does not supply them with its armed drone technology due to strict export regulations. But in the face of record Middle East defense spending and encroaching foreign competition, it’s under renewed pressure to do just that. Those systems that Gulf allies have wanted include the lethal MQ-9 Reaper, produced by General Atomics, a hunter-killer drone that can carry up to four hellfire missiles as well as laser-guided bombs and joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs). What’s been stopping the sales include concerns over proliferation, or risks that it could end up in the wrong hands. In addition to being able to sell to any willing buyer, the Chinese also offer the lowest prices on the market. According to Jack Watling, a land warfare expert at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, the U.S platforms are better than their Chinese counterparts — and if given the opportunity, buyers would likely choose those. But supplying the technology to the Gulf could backfire on the U.S., Watling says. The U.S. provides its allies ISR in exchange for access and leverage; “if they sell the platforms, and the UAE and Saudis get good at using them, then they will be less dependent on the U.S.” And in the current political climate, where international criticism of Saudi Arabia and its role, along with the UAE’s, in Yemen’s bloody conflict is at a high, the optics may not be particularly welcomed.
Trump Regime Electricity War in Venezuela More Serious Than First Believed – (Strategic Culture – March 11, 2019)
On Thursday, (March 7, 2019) Venezuela’s Guri dam hydroelectric power plant was cyberattacked at 5:00 PM during the late afternoon rush hour to cause maximum disruption. Up to 80% of the country was affected, damage done more severe than initially thought. Weeks or months of planning likely preceded what happened – US dark forces almost certainly behind it, considerable expertise needed to pull it off. On Friday, another cyberattack occurred, followed by a third one on Saturday, affecting parts of the country where power was restored, further complicating resolution of the problem, Maduro saying: After power was restored to about 70% of the country, “we received another attack, of a cybernetic nature, at midday…that disturbed the reconnection process and knocked out everything that had been achieved until noon,” adding:“(O)ne of the sources of generation that was working perfectly” was sabotaged again…infiltrators…attacking the electric company from the inside.” What’s happening in Venezuela is similar to infecting Iran’s Bushehr and Natanz nuclear power facilities with a Stuxnet malware computer virus in 2010, a likely joint US/Israeli intelligence operation. If malware similar to Stuxnet was used against Venezuela’s power grid, the problem could linger for months, parts of the country continued to be affected by outages for some time. Maduro’s government will need to marshal considerable technical expertise to fully resolve things – the type cybersecurity/anti-virus/security software skills Russia-based multinational firm Kaspersky Lab can provide. It can also identify the attack’s source and lay blame where it belongs – the US most likely responsible. It clearly has motive, opportunity and expertise.
US ‘Regime Changes’: The Historical Record – (Global Research – February 5, 2019)
As the US strives to overthrow the democratic and independent Venezuelan government, the historical record regarding the short, middle and long-term consequences are mixed. This article examines the consequences and impact of US intervention in Venezuela over the past half century. It then turns to examine the success and failure of US ‘regime changes’ throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. See also: Military Coups, Regime Change: The CIA Has Interfered In Over 81 Foreign Elections…
China’s Entrepreneurs Are Wary of Its Future – (New York Times – February 23, 2019)
Chen Tianyong, a Chinese real estate developer in Shanghai, boarded a flight to Malta last month with no plans to return anytime soon. After landing, Mr. Chen, a former judge and lawyer, shared on social media a 28-page article explaining himself. “Why I Left China,” read the headline, “An Entrepreneur’s Farewell Admonition.” “China’s economy is like a giant ship heading to the precipice,” Mr. Chen wrote. “Without fundamental changes, it’s inevitable that the ship will be wrecked and the passengers will die.” Mr. Chen was saying publicly what many businesspeople in China are saying privately: China’s leadership has mismanaged the world’s second-largest economy, and China’s entrepreneur class is losing confidence in the country’s future. For more than a generation, China has been fueled by optimism that, despite its problems, tomorrow will be better than today. Now, the prevailing view is best summed up by an online meme made popular by Wang Xing, the founder and chief executive of Meituan Dianping, the online delivery and takeout company. The year 2019, goes the meme, may be the worst year in this decade, but it will be the best year in the next decade. Few are predicting a crash, but worries over China’s long-term prospects are growing. Only one-third of China’s rich people say they are very confident in the country’s economic prospects, according to a recent survey of 465 wealthy individuals by Hurun, a Shanghai-based research firm. Two years ago, nearly two-thirds said they were very confident. Those who have no confidence at all rose to 14%, more than double the level of 2018. Nearly half said they were considering migrating to a foreign country or had already started the process.
Israel’s Top Commander Finally Spills Secrets of “Invisible War” In Syria – (Zero Hedge – January 14, 2019)
For years Israel denied allegations that it had a role in funding and weaponizing the anti-Assad insurgency in Syria, and more often military officials responded “no comment” even when confronted with overwhelming evidence of Israeli weapons documented in al-Qaeda linked insurgents’ hands, but this all changed in a British Sunday Times interview with outgoing Israeli army commander Gadi Eisenkot, who has finally confirmed the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) supplied weapons to rebels across the border “for self-defense,” and further perhaps more stunningly, has admitted to long waging an “invisible war in Syria” that involved “thousands of attacks”. The interview constitutes the first time that any current top Israeli military or government official has fully acknowledged sending anything beyond “humanitarian supplies,” such as medical aid to Syrian militants seeking to topple the Assad government; and yet it still appears the country’s military chief is slow playing the confirmation, only acknowledging the IDF provided “light weapons” — even after years of reporting has definitively uncovered an expansive Israeli program to arm dozens of insurgent groups and pay their salaries, including known affiliates of al-Qaeda in Syria.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
A New Luxury Retreat Caters to Elderly Workers in Tech (Ages 30 and Up) – (New York Times – March 4, 2019)
The resort, called Modern Elder Academy and located in El Pescadero, Mexico, opened in November. Guests don’t check in and out as at a traditional retreat; they submit “applications” for one-week programs and, if accepted, pay “tuition” of $5,000 to secure a room and three locally sourced meals a day. Modern Elder Academy is aimed at workers in the digital economy — those who feel like software is speeding up while they are slowing down, no matter how old they really are. Tech is a place where investors are wary of funding any entrepreneur born before Operation Desert Storm, where Intel is under investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for age discrimination, where giants like Google and IBM regularly face the specter of class-action lawsuits from workers north of 40. In and around San Francisco, the conventional wisdom is that tech jobs require a limber, associative mind and an appetite for risk — both of which lessen with age. As Silicon Valley work culture becomes American work culture, these attitudes are spreading to all industries. More workers are finding themselves in the curious position of presenting as old while still being — technically, actuarially — quite young. “We are all elders in the making,” said Chip Conley, the Academy’s founder and owner. “If you’re 40 years old and surrounded by 25-year-olds, you’re an elder.” In the nine Modern Elder sessions he’s hosted to date, the oldest participant was 74, the youngest was 30, and the average has been 52. “People feel irrelevant younger, especially in places like Silicon Valley,” Mr. Conley said. “But they’re going to live longer, so there’s excitement and bewilderment. And everyone is wondering, ‘What do we do now?’”
The Geography of Partisan Prejudice – (Atlantic – March 4, 2019)
We know that Americans have become more biased against one another based on partisan affiliation over the past several decades. Most of us now discriminate against members of the other political side explicitly and implicitly—in hiring, dating, and marriage, as well as judgments of patriotism, compassion, and even physical attractiveness, according to recent research. But are there communities in America that are more or less politically forgiving than average? And if so, what can we learn from the outliers? To find out, PredictWise, a polling and analytics firm, created a ranking of counties in the U.S. based on partisan prejudice (what researchers call “affective polarization”). The result was surprising in several ways. First, while virtually all Americans have been exposed to hyper-partisan politicians, social-media echo chambers, and clickbait headlines, we found significant variations in Americans’ political ill will from place to place, regardless of party. In general, the most politically intolerant Americans, according to the analysis, tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves. This finding aligns in some ways with previous research by the University of Pennsylvania professor Diana Mutz, who has found that white, highly educated people are relatively isolated from political diversity. By contrast, many nonwhite Americans routinely encounter political disagreement. They have more diverse social networks, politically speaking, and therefore tend to have more complex views of the other side, whatever side that may be. Partisan prejudice is not yet embedded in all of our institutions, the way racism has been. But the evidence shows that it distorts our thinking, just like other kinds of prejudice.
How to Reinvent a Rural Economy $100 at a Time – (Yes Magazine – March 6, 2019)
At the time, a salvage company was bulldozing the shuttered Chatham textile mill, once the town’s biggest employer. Elkin’s downtown (in North Carolina) had 17 empty storefronts. The population stuck fast around 4,000, as big cities such as Charlotte and Winston-Salem siphoned off residents. Asked by the mayor to lead a committee about reviving Elkin’s downtown, Eidson gave it six months. He’d seen this sort of effort before, a fireworks pop of interest that inevitably fizzled into nothingness. This article tells the story of how that town turned itself around (without begging corporations to move in by offering tax incentives that wouldn’t pay for themselves).
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
More Support for Planet Nine – (PhysOrg – February 27, 2019)
Corresponding with the three-year anniversary of their announcement hypothesizing the existence of a ninth planet in the solar system, Caltech’s Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin are publishing a pair of papers analyzing the evidence for Planet Nine’s existence. The papers offer new details about the suspected nature and location of the planet, which has been the subject of an intense international search ever since Batygin and Brown’s 2016 announcement. The Planet Nine hypothesis is founded on evidence suggesting that the clustering of objects in the Kuiper Belt, a field of icy bodies that lies beyond Neptune, is influenced by the gravitational tugs of an unseen planet. It has been an open question as to whether that clustering is indeed occurring, or whether it is an artifact resulting from bias in how and where Kuiper Belt objects are observed. To assess whether observational bias is behind the apparent clustering, Brown and Batygin developed a method to quantify the amount of bias in each individual observation, then calculated the probability that the clustering is spurious. That probability, they found, is around one in 500. “Though this analysis does not say anything directly about whether Planet Nine is there, it does indicate that the hypothesis rests upon a solid foundation,” says Brown, the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy. Although Brown and Batygin have always accepted the possibility that Planet Nine might not exist, they say that the more they examine the orbital dynamics of the solar system, the stronger the evidence supporting it seems.
The Soaring Cost of US Child Care, in 5 Charts – (Nation of Change – February 27, 2019)
The cost of having children in the U.S. has climbed exponentially since the 1960s. In 2015, American parents spent, on average, US$233,610 on child costs from birth until the age of 17, not including college. This number covers everything from housing and food to child care and transportation costs. This is up 8% from 1990. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services deems child care affordable if no more than 10% of a family’s income is used for that purpose. However, parents currently spend 9% to 22% of their total annual income on child care, per child. Child care has become one of the most expensive costs that a family bears. In fact, in many cities, child care can cost more than the average rent. This is particularly challenging for low-income families who often do not make more than minimum wage. Americans families will spend on average $500 to $1,000 per season on extracurricular or sports activities for each of their children. But due to the rising costs of sports, the number of children who aren’t physically active has increased to 17.6%. Low-income children are three times less likely to be physically active than children who reside in higher-income households.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Incredible Experiment Gives Infrared Vision to Mice—and Humans Could Be Next – (GizModo – February 28, 2019)
A research team, led by Tian Xue from the University of Science and Technology of China and Gang Han from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, modified the vision of mice such that they were able to see near-infrared light (NIR), in addition to retaining their natural ability to see normal light. This was done by injecting special nanoparticles into their eyes, with the effect lasting for around 10 weeks and without any serious side effects. A series of tests showed that the mice were indeed seeing infrared light, and not some other stimuli. The researchers say the human eye is not too dissimilar from those of mice, leading to the fantastic prospect of applying a similar technique to humans. To allow mice to see beyond the usual visual spectrum, Tian and Gang developed special “upconversion” nanoparticles capable of functioning within the rodents’ pre-existing ocular structures. Drops of fluid containing the tiny particles were injected directly in their eyes, where, using special anchors, they latched on tightly to photoreceptor cells. Photoreceptor cells—the rods and cones—normally absorb the wavelengths of incoming visible light, which the brain interprets as sight. In the experiment, however, the newly introduced nanoparticles upconverted incoming NIR into a visible wavelength, which the mouse brain was then capable of processing as visual information (in this case, they saw NIR as greenish light).
Scientists Have Developed New Material That Is as Flexible as Elastic But Tough as Steel – (Good News Network – February 27, 2019)
A new high-tech fiber combines the elasticity of rubber with the strength of a metal. The tougher unbreakable material mimics the human skin but also conducts electricity and heals itself after use, important factors for stretchable electronics and soft robotics. The new fiber has a gallium metal core surrounded by an elastic polymer sheath, which is far tougher than either the metal wire or the polymer sheath on its own. When placed under stress, the fiber has the strength of the metal core – but when the metal breaks, the fiber doesn’t fail as the polymer sheath absorbs the strain between the breaks in the metal and transfers the stress back to the metal core. This response is similar to the way human tissue holds together broken bones. “Every time the metal core breaks it dissipates energy, allowing the fiber to continue to absorb energy as it elongates,” said Professor Michael Dickey at North Carolina State University. “Instead of snapping in two when stretched, it can stretch up to seven times its original length before failure, while causing many additional breaks in the wire along the way.” The gallium core is also conductive, although it loses its conductivity when the internal core breaks – but the fibers can also be reused by melting the metal cores back together. Dickey added, “This is only a proof of concept, but it holds a lot of potential. We are interested to see how these fibers could be used in soft robotics or when woven into textiles for various applications.”
A Philosopher Argues That an AI Can’t Be an Artist – (Technology Review – February 21, 2019)
Advances in artificial intelligence have led many to speculate that human beings will soon be replaced by machines in every domain, including that of creativity. Ray Kurzweil, a futurist, predicts that by 2029 we will have produced an AI that can pass for an average educated human being. Nick Bostrom, an Oxford philosopher, does not give a date but suggests that philosophers and mathematicians defer work on fundamental questions to “superintelligent” successors, which he defines as having “intellect that greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest.” But what about the highest level of human achievement—creative innovation? Are our most creative artists and thinkers about to be massively surpassed by machines? According to the author of this article the answer is a clear “No.” He goes on to explain: human creative achievement, because of the way it is socially embedded, will not succumb to advances in artificial intelligence. To say otherwise is to misunderstand both what human beings are and what our creativity amounts to. (Editor’s note: You may or may not agree with the author’s conclusion, but if you are interested in this topic, you’ll find the logic behind this conclusion, at the very least, thought provoking.)
JUST FOR FUN
72 Before & After Street Art Transformations That’ll Make You Say Wow – (BoredPanda – no date)
The world is full of empty canvases. Everywhere you turn are empty walls where beautiful pieces of art could be, but often these spaces are overlooked in favor of boring blank nothingness. But fortunately there are artists out there who are determined to transform our world into the vibrant public art gallery that it deserves to be. Take a look at these before and after pictures of spectacular street art to see what we mean. The gallery of images celebrates the possible: how our towns and cities could look.
A FINAL QUOTE
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. –James Baldwin
A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy, Edward Weklar, Jr., 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