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Volume 23, Number 15 – 8/1/2020


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Volume 23, Number 15 – 8/1/20
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FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT–

  • Dogs may sense — and use — the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate unfamiliar terrain.
  • The world’s most relied-upon renewable energy source isn’t wind or sunlight, but water.
  • Business is suddenly booming for a new type of start-up: end-of-life companies that help clients plan funerals, dispose of remains and process grief.
  • In India, authorities have made the contact-tracing mobile app Aarogya Setu mandatory for everything from taking public transit and boarding flights to going to work.


Sacred sites, geomagnetic hotspots, wisdom keepers, homes of the gods …

Freddy Silva Joins Us August 22nd

We’re delighted to have internationally known best selling author Freddy Silva coming to be with us in person here in Berkeley Springs, and live stream as well, on the 22nd of August.

Freddy is a best-selling author, and leading researcher of ancient civilizations, restricted history, sacred sites and their interaction with consciousness. He has published six books in six languages, and produced eleven documentaries, and has been described by one CEO as “perhaps the best metaphysical speaker in the world right now.”

Freddy will present two visual lectures — Transformers: The Sacred Science of Ancient Temples; and Lost Lands And Ancient Architects.

He will discuss how our predecessors regarded places such as pyramids and dolmens as living entities.

Now, evidence is proving them to be correct. Experiments in subtle energy show that, rather than being immense monuments of idle stone, the temples of Egypt, the stone circles of Scotland, Stonehenge, even Gothic cathedrals are manipulating the electromagnetic field and generating geomagnetic hotspots.
But to what end?

Discover ancient systems of knowledge and learn of a missing land that no one has considered. We’ve been given the technology by which to transition to another level of understanding, if we just pay attention to what the gods were telling us in the first place!

Watch this brief interview with Freddy about his upcoming talk!

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If you can’t make it in person, or even if you can, your ticket gives you access to a replay that will be available for two weeks following the event! Click below for full information.

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Gregg Braden Live Stream — Last Chance to Catch the Replay!



We had a stellar presentation from Gregg recently, “Forbidden Science: New Evidence That We’re Living Inside A Virtual Reality, And The 3,000 Year-Old Map To The Past, Present and Future Consequences Of Our Choices …” Are we living inside of a simulated reality?
This is the question that mainstream scientists are now taking seriously and applying modern methods to answer. The experiments will intrigue you. The results will astound you!

Eye opening and thought provoking, to say the least.

If you are late to the scene, you can still get a ticket to watch this day long replay — until August 7th that is. Click here to get your ticket to the replay.

Gregg gives a taste of this new research in the short interview below.
Be sure to check it out.

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Complete information on the Braden event and all of the others on our lineup can be found at TransitionTalks.org.

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THINK LINKS



CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

Deadly Cover Up: Fauci Approved Hydroxychloroquine 15 Years Ago to Cure Coronaviruses; “Nobody Needed to Die” – (Prepare for Change – July 26, 2020)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose “expert” advice to President Trump has resulted in the complete shutdown of the greatest economic engine in world history, has known since 2005 that chloroquine is an effective inhibitor of coronaviruses. How did he know this? Because of research done by the National Institutes of Health, of which he is the director. In connection with the SARS outbreak – caused by a coronavirus dubbed SARS-CoV – the NIH researched chloroquine and concluded that it was effective at stopping the SARS coronavirus in its tracks. The COVID-19 bug is likewise a coronavirus, labeled SARS-CoV-2. While not exactly the same virus as SARS-CoV-1, it is genetically related to it, and shares 79% of its genome, as the name SARS-CoV-2 implies. They both use the same host cell receptor, which is what viruses use to gain entry to the cell and infect the victim. The Virology Journal – the official publication of Dr. Fauci’s National Institutes of Health – published what is now a blockbuster article on August 22, 2005, under the heading – get ready for this – “Chloroquine is a potent inhibitor of SARS coronavirus infection and spread.” (Emphasis mine throughout.) Write the researchers, “We report…that chloroquine has strong antiviral effects on SARS-CoV infection of primate cells. These inhibitory effects are observed when the cells are treated with the drug either before or after exposure to the virus, suggesting both prophylactic and therapeutic advantage.”

Anonymous D.C. Insider Exposes Ultra-Secret Covid Conspiracy Inside the Beltway – (State of the Nation – July 29, 2020)


Big Pharma and the WHO have known all along about the HCQ cure for COVID-19. Everyone at the CDC, NIH and FDA knows that hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is the silver bullet for the coronavirus. They also know that, when combined with azithromycin and zinc, the 3-in-1 protocol provides the magic formula for almost anyone with coronavirus disease. However, what Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx and Robert Redfield are not telling anyone is that practically every VIP in Washington, D.C. is using HCQ prophylactically. Everyone knows that Trump has been using it as a preventative as he publicly stated so on multiple occasions. But no one has revealed that virtually everyone inside the Beltway is also using it. That’s why they were all shown so often in groups with no masks and not adhering to the recommended social distancing guidelines during the regular coronavirus briefings. And, they did many of those dog and pony shows right in the middle of the Covid spikes during the first wave. The real scandal here is that leading politicians, government officials, corporate CEOs and UN administrators all know about the efficacy of HCQ, and yet they have collaborated to deprive the American people of its use. All the while they, themselves, are secretly taking HCQ prophylactically. When so many countries around the globe have used Hydroxychloroquine with great success, why is the U.S. fiercely resisting it? Because the world’s most zealous vaccine salesman — Bill Gates — is determined to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to market. Word on the street (K Street) is that Gates is also taking HCQ as a preventive. In fact, he has taken HCQ as a precautionary measure for many years during his travels to the Third World nations that were subjected to his endless vaccine pitches and vaccination programs.

From COVID to Cancers, HCQ Is ‘Wonder Drug’ of Our Time – (Principia Scientific – July 30, 2020)

Undoubtedly, the biggest medical scandal of our age is the coordinated suppression of the science that proves hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is not only a safe medicine, it is clinically proven to treat many serious diseases other than malaria and COVID-19. This article shows the evidence from the scientific literature on Google Scholar that HCQ works against many cancers, diabetes, HIV, herpes, rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, Lyme disease, etc. Among the top 128 drugs prescribed by doctors, HCQ features in dozens of peer-reviewed studies in respected science journals, testifying to its ‘wonder drug’ epithet. The shocking truth is that it took a global pandemic and the heroism of informed and selfless men and women to stand up and expose the evil done to us. If we had a responsible mainstream media pursuing altruism rather than propaganda, then such information would be shared widely and save millions of lives. But in a world where a self-serving elite own and control 90% of the mainstream, millions are condemned to die needlessly – and will continue to die as long we allow Big Pharma to profit while we are poisoned on a diet of fake news. Most viewers of mainstream TV news will be shocked to learn that the drug the media is raving as being “dangerous” for treating COVID-19 is actually found in its natural form (quinine) in a beverage we can all buy freely from our grocery stores. Yes, we are talking about good old fashioned tonic water – a mixer in Gin and Tonic – the favorite tipple of the British royals! Quinine was refined and developed pharmaceutically over decades to become chloroquine and now hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). By shining a light on the truth nations around the globe are slowly waking up to the value of this wonder drug. Already, 6,000 doctors in an international poll praised HCQ as the best COVID treatment.

The Mask of the Beast – (ChuckBaldwin – July 30, 2020)

I’ll say it straight out: Wearing masks is stupid, senseless, silly, sophomoric and downright servile. There’s not a doctor in the country who doesn’t know that masks are absolutely worthless when it comes to preventing the spread of a virus. There have been extensive randomized controlled trial (RCT) studies, and meta-analysis reviews of RCT studies, which all show that masks and respirators do not work to prevent respiratory influenza-like illnesses, or respiratory illnesses believed to be transmitted by droplets and aerosol particles. (Article references numerous studies.) Furthermore, the relevant known physics and biology, which I review, are such that masks and respirators should not work. The main transmission path is long-residence-time aerosol particles (< 2.5 μm), which are too fine to be blocked, and the minimum-infective dose is smaller than one aerosol particle. The present paper about masks illustrates the degree to which governments, the mainstream media, and institutional propagandists can decide to operate in a science vacuum, or select only incomplete science that serves their interests. Such recklessness is also certainly the case with the current global lockdown of over 1 billion people, an unprecedented experiment in medical and political history. I am personally convinced that this hellish plan could not have succeeded had Donald Trump not been in the White House. Had a Democrat been president, Christians and conservatives would have never fallen for this façade. But when Donald Trump told America to limit crowds to less than ten, to shut down their businesses and churches and to not go anywhere without wearing a mask, Christians and conservatives folded like a bad poker hand. Their beloved master had spoken. Trump willingly subjected the entire country to Bill Gates’ and Anthony Fauci’s voodoo science. Any Christian who cannot see that these lockdowns, shutdowns and mask orders are nothing more than the tyrannical tools of an antichrist beastly system intent on destroying Liberty in this country is unworthy of the name Christian. Those masks are the first step in a sequence of brandings for the human chattel that Gates and Company see us as. Forced vaccinations, universal contact tracing, implanted data chips, real-time mass surveillance, a global digital financial system, Artificial Intelligence, forced quarantines, computer-manipulated population reduction, ad infinitum, are coming next. Let’s face some hard truth: People such as Gates and Fauci are evil, wicked monsters. They might even be demon possessed.

The Charlie Kirk Show: The Big Hydroxychloroquine Lie, Hypnotized by Fauci & MORE w/ Dr. Simone Gold – (YouTube – July 22, 2020)

Charlie is joined in studio by board-certified emergency physician, Dr. Simone Gold, who says nearly everything we’ve been told about the Chinese Coronavirus is a lie. She and Charlie take a deep dive into the efficacy of Hydroxycholoroquine and why the US government is barring physicians from prescribing the drug—endangering potentially 100,000 lives, at least. Charlie also takes on Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx asking if Dr. Gold challenges the effectiveness of wearing masks. Dr. Gold makes a stunning and factual assertion about the death rates and who exactly is to blame for what she believes is one of the biggest lies ever perpetrated against the American people.

Hebrew U. Scientist: Drug Could Eradicate COVID in Days – (Jerusalem Post – July 15, 2020)

Researchers at Israel’s Hebrew University of Jerusalem and New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center believe they could potentially downgrade COVID-19’s severity into nothing worse than a common cold. New research by Hebrew University Prof. Ya’acov Nahmias and Sinai’s Dr. Benjamin tenOever revealed that the FDA-approved drug Fenofibrate (Tricor) could reduce SARS-CoV-2’s ability to reproduce or even make it disappear. Nahmias and tenOever spent the last three months studying what SARS-CoV-2 is doing to human lung cells. What they found is that the novel coronavirus prevents the routine burning of carbohydrates, which results in large amounts of fat accumulating inside lung cells – a condition the virus needs to reproduce. “By understanding how the SARS-CoV-2 controls our metabolism, we can wrestle back control from the virus and deprive it from the very resources it needs to survive,” Nahmias said, noting that it also may help explain why patients with high blood sugar and cholesterol levels are often at a particularly high risk to develop COVID-19. The team then reviewed a panel of eight already-approved drugs that could possibly interfere with the virus’s ability to reproduce. Tricor caused the cells to start burning fat, Nahmias said. The result was that the virus almost completely disappeared within only five days of treatment on samples of lung tissue. The team is advancing to animal studies in New York and hoping to fast-track clinical studies in both Israel and the US within the next couple of weeks, since the drug is already proven safe.

Facebook, Google/YouTube, Twitter Censor Viral Video of Doctors’ Capitol Hill Coronavirus Press Conference (Breitbart — July 27, 2020)


Facebook has removed a video posted by Breitbart News of a press conference in Washington, D.C. held by the group America’s Frontline Doctors and organized and sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots. The press conference featured Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) and frontline doctors sharing their views and opinions on coronavirus and the medical response to the pandemic. YouTube (which is owned by Google) and Twitter subsequently removed footage of the press conference as well. The event, hosted by the organization America’s Frontline Doctors, a group founded by Dr. Simone Gold, a board-certified physician and attorney, and made up of medical doctors, came together to address what the group calls a “massive disinformation campaign” about the coronavirus. Representative Norman also spoke at the event. “We’ve removed this video for sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19,” a Facebook company spokesman, Andy Stone, told Breitbart News. The company did not specify what portion of the video it ruled to be “false information,” who it consulted to make that ruling, and on what basis it was made. Article includes video clip of original press conference.

Covid-19 Vaccines with ‘Minor Side Effects’ Could Still Be Pretty Bad – (Wired – July 21, 2020)


As vaccine researchers push ahead into the final phase of testing, it’s vital that the public has a clear and balanced understanding of this work—one that cuts through all the marketing and hype. The evidence so far suggests that we’re getting blinkered by these groups’ PR. Back in May, a CNN report described the Oxford group as being “the most aggressive in painting the rosiest picture” of its product, so let’s start with them. It’s certainly true that the vaccine has the potential to provide protection from Covid-19. But after the first clinical trial for this vaccine began in April, the researchers added new study arms in which people got acetaminophen every six hours for 24 hours after the injection. That’s not featured in their marketing, and I saw no discussion of this unusual step in media coverage in early summer. It was a worrying signal though: How rough a ride were people having with this vaccine? Was the acetaminophen meant to keep down fever, headaches, malaise—or all of the above? The Oxford group is also giving acetaminophen to participants in an advanced, phase 3 trial now underway in Brazil, too. In another major study of the vaccine, involving 10,000 people in the UK, you can’t participate if you have an allergy or condition that could be made worse with acetaminophen. Mild reactions were far more common than worse ones. But moderate or severe harms—defined as being bad enough to interfere with daily life or needing medical care—were common, too. Around one-third of people vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine without acetaminophen experienced moderate or severe chills, fatigue, headache, malaise, and/or feverishness. Close to 10% had a fever of at least 100.4 degrees and just over one-fourth developed moderate or severe muscle aches. That’s a lot, in a young and healthy group of people—and the acetaminophen didn’t help much for most of those problems. Article goes on to discuss other vaccine candidates and their side effects. See also: The Impact of Vaccines on Mortality Decline Since 1900-According to Published Science.

A Possible Weapon Against the Pandemic: Printing Human Tissue – (New York Times – July 27, 2020)


As shortages of personal protective equipment persist during the coronavirus pandemic, 3-D printing has helped to alleviate some of the gaps. But Anthony Atala, the director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and his team are using the process in a more innovative way: creating tiny replicas of human organs — some as small as a pinhead — to test drugs to fight Covid-19. The team is constructing miniature lungs and colons — two organs particularly affected by the coronavirus — then sending them overnight by courier for testing at a biosafety lab at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. While they initially created some of the so-called organoids by hand using a pipette, they are beginning to print these at scale for research as the pandemic continues to surge. His team has the ability to print “thousands an hour,” he said from his lab in Winston-Salem, N.C. The process of constructing human tissue this way is a form of bioprinting. While its use in humans is still years away, researchers are honing the methods to test drugs and, eventually, to create skin and full-size organs for transplanting. Researchers are making strides in printing skin, critical for burn victims; managing diseases like diabetes where wound healing is difficult; and for the testing of cosmetics without harming animals, or, of course, humans. Bioprinting’s importance for pharmaceutical analysis is paramount now, not only for potential Covid-19 treatments, but also for testing treatments for cancer and other diseases. An organoid replicates an organ in its purest form and offers data points that might not occur in clinical trials, he said, adding that the testing is additive to, rather than in lieu of, clinical trials. Dr. Atala says that the organoids allow researchers to analyze a drug’s impact on an organ “without the noise” of an individual’s metabolism. That has importance for consumer goods as well as pharmaceuticals; since 2013, the European Union, for example, has prohibited cosmetics companies from testing products on animals.

Ancient Teeth Show History of Epidemics Is Much Older Than We Thought – (Washington Post – July 25, 2020)


Paleogenomics — a nascent field that studies DNA in remnants of ancient teeth — is rewriting the first chapter of humanity’s entanglement with disease to thousands of years older than originally thought. Paleogenomics, which adapts high-end medical tools similar to some now being used to track the coronavirus, has amounted to a “revolution” in understanding disease history, says Maria Spyrou, a microbiologist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. Spyrou said, “Until 2015, we thought that plague was maybe a 3,000-year-old disease.” Scientists and archaeologists now believe, however, that the plague bacteria, which caused the medieval Black Death that killed up to half of Europe’s population, infected humans roughly 5,000 years ago in the Stone Age. The bacteria, after it had entered the bloodstream and likely killed the host, circulated into the pulp chamber of teeth, which kept its DNA insulated from millennia of environmental wear and tear. In the past decade, scientists have been able to extract and analyze that DNA. In 2018, a paleogenomics team analyzed ancient teeth from Neolithic sites in present-day Germany and discovered the hepatitis B virus stretched back at least 7,000 years. In February, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published evidence that types of Salmonella bacteria, which sicken about a million people in the United States every year, were afflicting humans 6,500 years ago. Microbiologist Felix Key identified Salmonella DNA in teeth recovered from burial sites near the Volga River in present-day Russia, where archaeological evidence has shown that humans began to abandon foraging for pastoral living. The Salmonella DNA in their teeth is the first evidence, Key says, that the adoption of this lifestyle in close contact with animals may have introduced pathogens to humans.


NEW DISCOVERIES

The Universe Might Have a Fundamental Clock That Ticks Very, Very Fast – (Science News – July 13, 2020)


In physics, time is typically thought of as a fourth dimension. But time is also puzzling concept in physics: Two key physics theories clash on how they define it. In quantum mechanics, which describes tiny atoms and particles, “time is just there. It’s fixed. It’s a background,” says physicist Flaminia Giacomini of the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Canada. But in the general theory of relativity, which describes gravity, time shifts in bizarre ways. A clock near a massive object ticks slower than one farther away, so a clock on the surface of the Earth lags behind one aboard an orbiting satellite, for example. In attempts to combine these two theories into one theory of quantum gravity, “the problem of time is actually quite important,” says Giacomini, who was not involved with the research. Studying different mechanisms for time, including fundamental clocks, could help physicists formulate that new theory. Some physicists have speculated that time may be the result of a physical process, like the ticking of a built-in clock. If the universe does have a fundamental clock, it must tick faster than a billion trillion trillion times per second, according to a theoretical study published June 19 in Physical Review Letters. In particle physics, tiny fundamental particles can attain properties by interactions with other particles or fields. Particles acquire mass, for example, by interacting with the Higgs field, a sort of molasses that pervades all of space (SN: 7/4/12). Perhaps particles could experience time by interacting with a similar type of field, says physicist Martin Bojowald of Penn State. That field could oscillate, with each cycle serving as a regular tick. “It’s really just like what we do with our clocks,” says Bojowald, a coauthor of the study. Physicists suspect that there’s an ultimate limit to how finely seconds can be divided. Quantum physics prohibits any slice of time smaller than about 10-43 seconds, a period known as the Planck time. If a fundamental clock exists, the Planck time might be a reasonable pace for it to tick.

This Pitch-black Fish of the Deep Has a Disappearing Act Scientists Just Solved – (CNN – July 16, 2020)


To fend off predators, fish wield common camouflage strategies such as transparency and mirrored surfaces. These methods are successful in shallower waters, through which sunlight easily penetrates. However, at more than 650 feet deep into the ocean there is little sunlight. So in these areas, evolutionary adaptations such as transparency and mirrored surfaces aren’t as useful at keeping away assailants looking for dinner. Pigmentation is another method for being incognito in the sea; it allows animals to absorb light from bioluminescent sources and thus become visually undetectable instead of reflecting that light off of themselves. Karen Osborn, a research zoologist with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, thought to take a closer look at fish skin when she tried to photograph black fish she and her colleagues caught in Tucker trawl nets in the Gulf of Mexico and in Monterey Bay, California. Tucker trawl nets allow scientists to catch fish from mid-water levels, where ultra-black fish can be found. Regardless of the quality and arrangement of her camera and lighting, Osborn couldn’t capture any detail in the shots. Knowing the ineffectiveness of common camouflage tactics, the researchers hypothesized that pressure to limit reflected light might have led to the evolution of pigmented body surfaces with near-zero reflectance in ultra-black fish. Reflectance is the measure of the proportion of light striking a surface and reflecting off of that surface. Using different tests, modeling and comparisons to other cold-blooded animals, the scientists found that black fish absorbed more than 99.5% of the light that hit their skin — in other words, they had a reflectance of less than 0.5%. Ultra-black fishes’ coloration is even darker than some man-made materials, such as black paper and freshly paved asphalt, said Alexander Davis, a coauthor of the study and doctoral student in biology at Duke University in North Carolina — which reflect around 0.04% to 10% or more of light. The underlying structure that made ultra-black coloration possible was tightly packed melanosomes right under the fishes’ skin. Melanosomes are pigment particles that provide animal tissues with color and help their skin to absorb light instead of reflecting it. The researchers suggested that ultra-black fish biology could advance the development of less expensive, flexible and more durable ultra-black materials for optical technology including cameras and telescopes, and for camouflage.

Dogs May Use Earth’s Magnetic Field to Take Shortcuts – (Science – July 17, 2020)


Dogs are renowned for their world-class noses, but a new study suggests they may have an additional—albeit hidden—sensory talent: a magnetic compass. The sense appears to allow them to use Earth’s magnetic field to calculate shortcuts in unfamiliar terrain. The finding is a first in dogs, says Catherine Lohmann, a biologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who studies “magnetoreception” and navigation in turtles. She notes that dogs’ navigational abilities have been studied much less compared with migratory animals such as birds. “It’s an insight into how [dogs] build up their picture of space,” adds Richard Holland, a biologist at Bangor University who studies bird navigation. There were already hints that dogs—like many animals, and maybe even humans—can perceive Earth’s magnetic field. In 2013, Hynek Burda, a sensory ecologist at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague who has worked on magnetic reception for 3 decades, and colleagues showed dogs tend to orient themselves north-south while urinating or defecating. Because this behavior is involved in marking and recognizing territory, Burda reasoned the alignment helps dogs figure out the location relative to other spots. But stationary alignment isn’t the same thing as navigation. Burda thinks the dogs run along a north-south axis to figure out which way they are. “It’s the most plausible explanation,” he says. Lohmann says the implication is that dogs can remember their previous heading and use the reference to the magnetic compass to figure out the most direct route home. Article explains the design of the experiments.

The African Continent Is Very Slowly Peeling Apart. Scientists Say a New Ocean Is Being Born. – (NBC – July 16, 2020)


In one of the hottest places on Earth, along an arid stretch of East Africa’s Afar region, it’s possible to stand on the exact spot where, deep underground, the continent is splitting apart. This desolate expanse sits atop the juncture of three tectonic plates that are very slowly peeling away from each other, a complex geological process that scientists say will eventually cleave Africa in two and create a new ocean basin millions of years from now. For now, the most obvious evidence is a 35-mile-long crack in the Ethiopian desert. New satellite measurements are helping scientists better understand the transition and are offering valuable tools to study the gradual birth of a new ocean in one of the most geologically unique spots on the planet. “This is the only place on Earth where you can study how continental rift becomes an oceanic rift,” said Christopher Moore, a Ph.D. doctoral student at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, who has been using satellite radar to monitor volcanic activity in East Africa that is associated with the continent’s breakup. It’s thought that Africa’s new ocean will take at least 5 million to 10 million years to form.

Bacteria Live Despite Burial in Seafloor Mud for 100 Million Years — (Ars Technica — July 29, 2020)


Sampling has shown that seafloor mud in different parts of the ocean differ a lot in terms of the types and abundance of microbial life that are present. But in this case, the researchers sampled deep sediments in the middle of the South Pacific, where there’s extremely little organic matter available for life to grow on. Yuki Morono and his team of researchers at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology grabbed plugs of sediment up to about 70 meters below the seafloor. Very little sediment accumulates here, so that 70-meter-thick pile of clay represents about 100 million years of time. Mud at the bottom of lakes or marshes often lacks oxygen, as the respiration of bacteria breaking down organic matter consume it all. But food is so sparse here that oxygen, nitrate, and phosphate were present even in the deepest mud. The researchers took these plugs of sediment and injected substances bacteria can use to grow, like sugar and ammonia. And sure enough, bacteria grew and gobbled them up—they even analyzed isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in individual cells to verify they had taken in those substances. But the researchers don’t think this is just modern bacteria that have made their way deep into the mud. In fact, they shouldn’t be able to move at all in that mud. The average space between particles in the clay should be considerably smaller than the size of a bacterium. This leads to an extraordinary claim: “Our results suggest that microbial communities widely distributed in organic-poor abyssal sediment consist mainly of aerobes that retain their metabolic potential under extremely low-energy conditions for up to 101.5 [million years].” There are a couple links in the chain where this could obviously go wrong. If microbes do have some mobility in the sediment, the ages go out the window. But the argument against that, based on pore-space diameter and the existence of hard, impermeable layers, is reasonable. The other potential pitfall is contamination, with bacteria getting into the sediment sample from somewhere else. But the team took a number of precautions here, including DNA samples taken at the time each sample was collected. If rogue bacteria had gotten in during sampling, they should show up in later DNA samples but not the initial one—and that didn’t happen.


GENETICS / HEALTH TECHNOLOGY / BIOTECHNOLOGY

Sperm Discovery Reveals Clue to Genetic ‘Immortality’ – (PhysOrg – July 17, 2020)


New insights into an elusive process that protects developing sperm cells from damage in growing embryos, sheds light on how genetic information passes down, uninterrupted, through generations. The study identified a protein, known as SPOCD1, which plays a key role in protecting the early-stage precursors to sperm, known as germ cells, from damage in a developing embryo. Germ cells are the vital link between generations but they need unique strategies to protect the genetic information they carry, so it can be passed successfully from parents to their offspring. During their development, germ cells undergo a reprogramming process that leaves them vulnerable to rogue genes, known as jumping genes, which can damage their DNA and lead to infertility. “Reprogramming is essential for correct germ cell development in embryos, but leaves them temporarily vulnerable to a subset their own genes, known as jumping genes, that threaten genetic chaos.” explains lead author of the study, Professor Dónal O’Carroll at the University of Edinburgh. Scientists have long puzzled over how germ cells escape damage during the reprogramming process, as it temporarily wipes their genetic slate clean of existing protective tags. Evading such damage allows germ cells to become the pool of self-renewing cells that produce healthy sperm throughout adult life.

Long Sought Blood Test for Alzheimer’s in Reach – (New York Times – July 27, 2020)


A newly developed blood test for Alzheimer’s has diagnosed the disease as accurately as methods that are far more expensive or invasive, scientists have reported, a significant step toward a longtime goal for patients, doctors and dementia researchers. The test has the potential to make diagnosis simpler, more affordable and widely available. The test determined whether people with dementia had Alzheimer’s instead of another condition. And it identified signs of the degenerative, deadly disease 20 years before memory and thinking problems were expected in people with a genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer’s. Such a test could be available for clinical use in as little as two to three years, the researchers and other experts estimated, providing a readily accessible way to diagnose whether people with cognitive issues were experiencing Alzheimer’s, rather than another type of dementia that might require different treatment or have a different prognosis. A blood test like this might also eventually be used to predict whether someone with no symptoms would develop Alzheimer’s. “This blood test very, very accurately predicts who’s got Alzheimer’s disease in their brain, including people who seem to be normal,” said Dr. Michael Weiner, an Alzheimer’s disease researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study. “It’s not a cure, it’s not a treatment, but you can’t treat the disease without being able to diagnose it. And accurate, low-cost diagnosis is really exciting, so it’s a breakthrough.”


ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

The Climate Change Alternative We Ignore (to Our Peril) — (The Ethical Skeptic — February 16, 2020)


The author of this article opens by stating that he is a proponent of addressing anthropogenic global warming as a first priority for mankind and is gravely concerned about human contribution to the stark rise in global temperatures now obviously underway. That being said, he proposes an additional hypothesis construct which he feels is now necessary as plurality under Ockham’s Razor. This is a construct which serves as a compliment to our current understanding of anthropogenic induced climate change – and not as a replacement thereof. In short, his alternative idea could be titled: ‘The Heat May in Part Be Coming from Beneath our Feet’. Its exegesis (at the end of this article), is derived from a series of nine primary independent observations in order of critical path dependence and increasing inferential strength. (Editor’s note: To reach its conclusions, this article presents a complex and interrelated set of observations which cannot be adequately summarized. If interested, please read the article.)


Forbes Censors Award-Winning Environmentalist’s Apology Over Three-Decade ‘Climate Scare’ – So Here It Is — (ZeroHedge — June 29, 2020)


Forbes has decided to unpublish an article by award-winning climate activist Michael Shellenberger, in which he apologizes “for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years.” From the original article, a copy of which is provided at the link above: “On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30. But as an energy expert asked by Congress to provide objective expert testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as Expert Reviewer of its next Assessment Report, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.” Shellenberger goes on refute many ideas about climate change that many people believe. Here is a sample of those: Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction”; The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”; Climate change is not making natural disasters worse; Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003; The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska; The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California; Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany, and France since the mid-1970s; We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter.


COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

Laying Foundation for a Decentralized Internet (Slashdot — June 21, 2020)


ThreeFold is an ambitious new “long-term project to rewire the internet in the image of its first incarnation: decentralized, unowned, accessible, free.” “We have 18,000 CPU cores and 90 million gigabytes, which is a lot of capacity,” said founder Kristof de Spiegeleer. “It’s probably between five and ten times more than all of the capacity of all the blockchain projects together…” Kristof de Spiegeleer says about ThreeFold. “It’s where we invite a lot of people to…basically help us to build a new internet. Now it sounds a little bit weird building a new internet. We’re not trying to replace the cables… what we need help with is that we get more compute and storage capacity close to us.” That would be a fundamentally different kind of internet: one we all collectively own rather than just one we all just use. It requires a lot of different technology for backups and storage, for which ThreeFold is building a variety of related technologies: peer-to-peer technology to create the grid in the first place; storage, compute, and network technologies to enable distributed applications; and a self-healing layer bridging people and applications. And yes: there is a blockchain component: smart contracts for utilizing the grid and keeping a record of activities. “Farmers” (read: all of us) provide capacity and get micropayments for usage.


SHELTER/ARCHITECTURE

Designing to Survive – (Washington Post – July 13, 2020)


As covid-19 spread across the world, architects found themselves in the same position as everyone else: shut indoors, nervous about the future and scrambling to remain relevant and necessary as clients fled or postponed major projects. Suddenly, the profession was at a crossroads. By April, the architecture and design community was flooded with webinars and online talks and cyber conferences, addressing a range of issues as vast as the profession itself: How to turn convention centers into hospitals and how to make overcrowded hospitals safer. But also, how to “turn your home into a sanctuary” and how to 3-D-print face shields at home. Designers know that our cities need to be dense and connected if we are to avoid the environmental problems of the mid-century suburb and a car-based culture. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of people, including many architects, were confronting the inadequacies of their own domestic spaces: small apartments, clustered around empty event spaces and workout rooms that weren’t safe to use, with laundry available only in the basement. Open-plan suburban houses, with vast interiors, lacked sufficient partitions to keep people with the virus apart from those without it. As weeks of isolation turned into months, these inadequacies seemed to forge a new consensus, not fully articulated but widely felt: Architecture is about rights, about air, about equal access to the necessities of life. The article goes on to explore the role of architecture today as it grapples with an accelerating pace of chaos and crisis: not just a pandemic, but social and economic inequality, entrenched racism and environmental collapse. (Editor’s note: If architecture is one of your interests, we recommend this thoughtful article.)


ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

The Most Powerful Renewable Energy — (BBC News — July 13, 2020)


The world’s most relied-upon renewable energy source isn’t wind or sunlight, but water. Last year, the world’s hydropower capacity reached a record 1,308 gigawatts (to put this number in perspective, just one gigawatt is equivalent to the power produced by 1.3 million race horses or 2,000 speeding Corvettes). Utilities throughout the globe rely upon hydropower to generate electricity because it is cheap, easily stored and dispatched, and produced with no fuel combustion. As with other energy sources, however, hydropower is not without an environmental cost. Traditional hydropower plants work by harnessing the force and pressure of water flowing from a high point to a lower point through chutes in a dam. Near the bottom of the chute sits a turbine; water spins the turbine, which creates power that can be transmitted to businesses and homes. But this is also the main passage for migrating fish such as salmon or eel, which can get caught in the mechanism’s thin, sharp blades. The California-based company Natel Energy has partnered with Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ investment firm Breakthrough Energy Ventures to create a new, blunt-edged turbine that improves fish survival. As well as saving fish, Natel’s turbine aims to create climate-resilient hydropower that can withstand the vagaries of unpredictable rainfall. Natel’s turbine uses curved thick blades; because of the nature of their design, the turbine can double allowed strike speeds, allowing for a relatively small and inexpensive turbine size that also offer migratory fish safe passage. Natel’s turbine is paired with satellite technology that allows hydropower plant operators to monitor changing watershed conditions such as the spring “green up” (that is, when snow melts and plants begin to grow) and more accurately forecasts waterflow. As conditions on the ground change, this software uses machine learning to create real-time models of the surrounding landscape, which in turn enables more accurate water forecasts.

The World’s Most Unlikely Solar Farms — (BBC News — February 19, 2020)

In northerly regions like Alaska, where daylight hours are minimal for a good portion of the year, the use of solar power seems improbable, if not impossible. Nearly 85% of land in the state has at least some level of permafrost and even in the southern regions, winter months receive minimal daylight. But this solar farm in Willow, Alaska is one of those proving that solar can work even in the most unexpected cold and northerly climates. Sited a few hundred miles south of the Arctic Circle, the Willow farm gets less than six hours of daylight during the winter months. In January, the Alaskan solar company Renewable IPP switched this 10-acre farm on, making it the largest in the state. Its output is expected to be 1.35 megawatt hours per year – enough to provide power for about 120 average homes year-round. The farm is made up of 11 rows of panels, nine 133 kW rows and two smaller 70kW rows that were the farm’s pilot project. Renewable’s four founding business partners met while working in Alaska’s oil industry. Their pilot project of two rows of 70 kW panels suggested that the farm would work on a larger scale. The first rows went in during the summer of 2018, and after eight months, the costs came in on target, says Chris Colbert, chief finance officer of Renewable. “We monitored production throughout the year, which also came in on target,” he says. That made it easier for them to get the attention of investors to allow them to expand. Solar viability is a function of two things: solar resource and electricity prices. Alaska’s electricity prices are almost double the US average, creating a great deal of interest in alternative technologies. And, perhaps surprisingly, on average, Alaska is a sunny place.


TRANSPORTATION

Airbus to Build First Interplanetary Cargo Ship – (BBC News – July 31, 2020)


Airbus-France will build the huge satellite that brings the first Martian rock samples back to Earth. This material will be drilled on the Red Planet by the US space agency’s next rover, Perseverance, before being blasted into orbit by a rocket. It’ll be the Airbus satellite’s job to grab the packaged samples and then ship them home. The joint American-European project is expected to cost billions and take just over a decade to implement. But scientists say it’s probably the best way to confirm whether life has ever existed on the Red Planet. Any evidence is likely to be controversial and will need the powerful analytical tools only found in Earth laboratories to convince the doubters, the researchers argue. “This is not just twice as difficult as any typical Mars mission; it’s twice squared – when you think about the complexity involved,” said Dr David Parker, the director of human and robotic exploration at the European Space Agency (ESA). “And this satellite that Airbus will build – I like to call it ‘the first interplanetary cargo ship’, because that’s what it will be doing. It’s designed to carry cargo between Mars and Earth,” he said. The Airbus satellite will be a Goliath among spacecraft. It will weigh 6.5 tons at launch in 2026 and use a mix of chemical and electric propulsion to get to Mars, orbit the planet and then return to Earth with its rock consignment. Thales Alenia Space of Italy will be a lead subcontractor working on this aspect of the design. The inclusion of a powerful ion engine will require a lot power, hence the use of immense solar arrays. These panels will give the satellite a “wingspan” of 39m, more than 120ft. But the really remarkable facet of the satellite’s mission is the game of catch it will have to play high above Mars.

A Brief History of Elon Musk’s Festering Feud With Rival Automaker Nikola — (Futurism — June 26, 2020)


After it went public, stock for the electric and hydrogen-powered car startup Nikola Motors soared enough to give it a valuation of over $20 billion, a princely sum that surpassed valuations of both Ford and Fiat-Chrysler, two of America’s oldest automakers. Nikola’s promise is to revolutionize trucking in the US using hydrogen fuel cells, technology that turns potential energy from molecular bonds in hydrogen into electrical energy. But not everybody is buying that hydrogen is the future of long-haul transportation. After Nikola’s great financial run, Tesla’s outspoken CEO Elon Musk tweeted that “Fuel cells = fool sells.” Musk, of course, isn’t a neutral party. Tesla announced that its own semi truck is officially going into “volume production” — less than a week after Nikola Motors went public. Nikola is also taking aim at Musk’s pet project at Tesla, the long-awaited Cybertruck, a stainless steel monstrosity intended to appease the pickup market. In February, Nikola unveiled the Badger, its own take on the pickup truck, with an estimated 600 mile range thanks to a combination of hydrogen fuel cells and lithium ion batteries. To Nikola CEO Trevor Milton, the idea of generating hydrogen to use it as energy storage for a truck makes sense, since “in trucking, weight is everything. How much a truck weighs empty determines how much freight it can move.” He continued, “A hydrogen semi truck can weigh up to 10,000 pounds lighter than a battery electric truck.”


SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

Pandemic Masks Thwarting Face Recognition Tech – (Associated Press – July 27, 2020)


A preliminary study published by a U.S. agency found that even the best commercial facial recognition systems have error rates as high as 50% when trying to identify masked faces. The mask problem is why Apple earlier this year made it easier for iPhone owners to unlock their phones without Face ID. It could also be thwarting attempts by authorities to identify individual people at Black Lives Matter protests and other gatherings. The National Institute of Standards and Technology says it is launching an investigation to better understand how facial recognition performs on covered faces. Its preliminary study examined only those algorithms created before the pandemic, but its next step is to look at how accuracy could improve as commercial providers adapt their technology to an era when so many people are wearing masks. Some companies, including those that work with law enforcement, have tried to tailor their face-scanning algorithms to focus on people’s eyes and eyebrows. NIST, which is a part of the Commerce Department, is working with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security’s science office to study the problem. The agency says it scanned 6.2 million images of about 1 million people using 89 algorithms supplied by tech firms and academic labs. Under ideal conditions, NIST says the failure rate for the best facial recognition systems is only about 0.3%, though research has found significant disparities across race, gender and age. Add masks and the failure rate rises to 5% or worse. When confronted with masks, the agency says, “many otherwise competent algorithms failed from 20% to 50% of the time.”

The Pentagon Confronts the Pandemic – (Nation of Change – July 20, 2020)

On March 26th, the coronavirus accomplished what no foreign adversary has been able to do since the end of World War II: it forced an American aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, to suspend patrol operations and shelter in port. Just as the Navy was learning that its preference for big ships with large crews—typically packed into small spaces for extended periods of time—was quite literally proving a dead-end strategy (one of the infected sailors on the TR died of complications from Covid-19), the Army and Marine Corps were making a comparable discovery. Their favored strategy of partnering with local forces in far-flung parts of the world like Iraq, Japan, Kuwait, and South Korea, where local safeguards against infectious disease couldn’t always be relied on (or, as in Okinawa recently, Washington’s allies couldn’t count on the virus-free status of American forces), was similarly flawed. With U.S. and allied troops increasingly forced to remain in isolation from each other, it is proving difficult to conduct the usual joint training-and-combat exercises and operations. Pentagon officials have been forced to acknowledge that the military foundations of Washington’s global strategy — particularly, the forward deployment of combat forces in close cooperation with allied forces—may have become invalid. In recognition of this harsh new reality, U.S. strategists are beginning to devise an entirely new blueprint for future war, American-style: one that would end, or at least greatly reduce, a dependence on hundreds of overseas garrisons and large manned warships, relying instead on killer robots, a myriad of unmanned vessels, and offshore bases. In fact, the Navy’s plans to replace large manned vessels with small, unmanned ones was only accelerated by the outbreak of the pandemic. Several factors had already contributed to the trend: modern warships like nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and missile-armed cruisers had been growing ever more expensive to build. The latest, the USS Gerald R. Ford, has cost a whopping $13.2 billion and still doesn’t work to specifications. So even a profligately funded Pentagon can only afford to be constructing a few at a time. They are also proving increasingly vulnerable to the sorts of anti-ship missiles and torpedoes being developed by powers like China, while, as events on the TR suggest, they’re natural breeding grounds for infectious diseases.

Chinese Students in Australia Are Being Scammed into Faking Their Own Kidnapping – (CNN – July 28, 2020)


Chinese students in Australia are being coerced by criminal gangs to fake their own kidnappings as part of an elaborate global extortion racket targeting vulnerable overseas communities. Eight students in the state of New South Wales (NSW) were targeted in “virtual kidnapping” scams this year, with overseas relatives paying a total of 3.2 million Australian dollars ($2.3 million) in ransom. In one case, the father of a 22-year-old Chinese student in Sydney handed over a more than $1.4 million after being sent a video of his daughter bound in an unknown location. The scammers make calls to random numbers, often speaking in Mandarin. Australians who don’t understand Chinese typically hang up, while international Chinese students respond in Mandarin. Then the scammers claim to be a Chinese authority, such as a member of the Chinese embassy or police. The scammer convinces the victim they have been implicated in a crime in China, and warn the victim they face extradition to China to face criminal charges in court — or even threaten their families with criminal sanctions if they don’t cooperate. Scammers often use technology to mask their physical location and to program the host number, so it appears that the call is coming from actual Chinese authorities. If victims look up the caller’s phone number online, it will match the number of Chinese police or the embassy. The scammers order victims to cease contact with their families and friends and rent a hotel room. Victims are told to photograph themselves tied up and blindfolded — which are then sent to the victim’s family overseas. When the family is unable to contact their child in Australia, they then send the ransom payment in exchange for their child’s release. The scammer continues making threats and ransom demands until they can’t obtain any further payments — at which point the victim’s family often reports the incident to police, said the police statement. The authorities often end up finding the victim safe at home or in a hotel. Among international students, Chinese students are also thought to be uniquely susceptible owing to mainland China’s authoritarian legal system, under which activists, international organizations, and everyday citizens face detention, deportation, or other types of punishment for a wide range of crimes. “Virtual kidnappings … have developed considerably over the last decade by transnational organized crime syndicates,” said NSW Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett.


INTERNATIONAL TRENDS

Amid Catastrophic Floods, China’s Dams Come into Question — (LA Times — July 28, 2020)

This year is the worst in decades, with 433 rivers surging above flood control levels since June, 33 of them setting records. China’s dams — its primary guard against floods — are coming into question as they face increasing strain. China has more than 98,000 dams, according to the Ministry of Water Resources, more than any other nation. Many were built in the 1950s and ’60s and suffer from poor maintenance. Recently, the government blasted open a dam in Anhui. On the same day, more than 16,000 people were trapped in Guzhen town in the same province as the waters surged 10 feet high and broke through levees. Fears are intensifying over the gargantuan Three Gorges Dam, where the reservoir has risen 50 feet above the warning level, to its highest point since the dam was completed in 2006. The heavy storms over the Yangtze River Basin are the result of a western Pacific subtropical high, a pressure system that every summer carries warm air from south to north. The system is abnormally strong this year, but it is not clear if it is caused by climate change. The flooding, however, is directly linked to man-made problems. China’s over-reliance on dams, excessive construction in low-lying areas, land reclamation in wetlands and lakes, and cities built with poor drainage systems have all exacerbated flood damage. Those chased from their homes also speak of mismanaged flood systems, lack of government accountability and unequal treatment of the rural poor, who bear most of the flood burden. The choice of where to let waters out and whom to flood highlights inequalities. China tends to prioritize protection of cities — “more populous and economically important regions,” — at the cost of villagers, mostly farmers or migrant workers. Some environmentalists and engineers say China should revamp its entire flood control approach. “All our urban planning and design has this single-minded concept: to speed up the water and flush it out. But we need to do the opposite,” said Yu Kongjian, Peking University professor and founder of a landscape architecture firm called Turenscape. China’s cities should be like sponges, not toilets, he said. Water should be slowed down and retained, not flushed away. The way to do that, Yu said, is by restoring riverbanks, wetlands and lakes, complete with their living “sponges” of soil and vegetation that can absorb and keep water locally.

China’s Worst Floods in Decades — (South China Morning Post — July 27, 2020)


Read this article for background on the flooding. The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and China’s most important waterway, with some 175 cities located near its banks. As well as being home to a number of multinational companies, the prosperous Yangtze River Basin is a powerhouse of industrial output, generating nearly half of the country’s GDP. Until the Three Gorges Dam project was completed in 2009, provinces along the river mainly relied on reinforced embankments, reservoirs and floodwater storage areas to control flooding. Less than 20 years after the dam’s completion, China is experiencing its worst floods in decades, raising questions about the dam’s efficacy and whether the massive structure itself is at risk after weeks of devastating floods since June. According to the China Meteorological Administration, the country has experienced a 20% increase in heavy rainfall since 1961. Currently, the water level of 433 rivers is above the flood control line, with 33 of them reaching record highs. Heavy rains have lashed 27 of the country’s 31 provinces, affecting more than 37 million people and leaving 141 dead or missing, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management. Economic losses are estimated at 86 billion yuan (US$12.3 billion) so far.


LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

Boom Time for Death Planning – (New York Times – July 16, 2020)


Before the pandemic, end-of-life start-ups — companies that help clients plan funerals, dispose of remains and process grief — had experienced steady to moderate growth. Their founders were mostly women who hoped a mix of technology, customization and fresh thinking could take on the fusty and predominantly male funeral and estate-planning industries. Still, selling death to people in their 20s and 30s wasn’t easy. Since Covid-19, this has changed. Millennials are newly anxious about their mortality, increasingly comfortable talking about it and more likely to be grieving or know someone who is. Lantern, which calls itself “the single source of guidance for navigating life before and after a death,” saw a 123% increase in users, most of them under 45. Lantern’s tone is soothing and earnest, but not everyone takes that tack. Cake, another startup, skews playful. It features a tombstone generator and suggestions like “Viking funeral” and “shoot my ashes into outer space.” New Narrative, an event-planning company for funerals and memorials, introduces itself with a wink: “We’re not your grandma’s funeral (… unless it’s your grandma’s funeral).” Death-and-dying is possibly the least niche market out there. This market potential is also why Near, a start-up that connects users with grief and end-of-life support services, like death doulas and art, sound, music and massage therapists, recently decided to seek investment. The company also moved its debut from September to June and is expanding its offerings to even more unconventional end-care providers like end-of-life photographers. The article showcases a number of related startups and their various offerings.

Rite Aid Deployed Facial Recognition Systems in Hundreds of U.S. Stores — (Reuters — July 28, 2020)


In the hearts of New York and metro Los Angeles, Rite Aid installed facial recognition technology in largely lower-income, non-white neighborhoods. Among the technology the U.S. retailer used: a state-of-the-art system from a company with links to China and its authoritarian government. The retailer defended the technology’s use, saying it had nothing to do with race and was intended to deter theft and protect staff and customers from violence. Reuters found no evidence that Rite Aid’s data was sent to China. After Reuters sent its findings to the retailer, Rite Aid said it had quit using its facial recognition software. It later said all the cameras had been turned off. The cameras matched facial images of customers entering a store to those of people Rite Aid previously observed engaging in potential criminal activity, causing an alert to be sent to security agents’ smartphones. Agents then reviewed the match for accuracy and could tell the customer to leave. Rite Aid told Reuters in a February statement that customers had been apprised of the technology through “signage” at the shops, as well as in a written policy posted this year on its website. Reporters found no notice of the surveillance in more than a third of the stores they visited with the facial recognition cameras. Stores in more impoverished areas were nearly three times as likely as those in richer areas to have facial recognition cameras. Seventeen of 25 stores in poorer areas had the systems. In wealthier areas, it was 10 of 40. In areas where people of color, including Black or Latino residents, made up the largest racial or ethnic group, Reuters found that stores were more than three times as likely to have the technology. Rite Aid said the rollout was “data-driven,” based on stores’ theft histories, local and national crime data and site infrastructure.


CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

Senators Want the Public to See the Government’s UFO Reports — (Politico — June 23, 2020)


The Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to require U.S. intelligence agencies and the Defense Department to compile a detailed public analysis of all data collected on “unidentified aerial phenomenon,” including intrusions recorded by Navy pilots in recent years. The provision contained in the annual intelligence authorization bill, which still needs to be adopted by the full Senate, sets up an unusually public debate on Capitol Hill about how extensively the government has been tracking high performance aircraft of unknown origin, or UFOs. Senators on the panel were first briefed a year ago about reports from naval aviators and other personnel about a series of incidents in recent years involving unidentified aircraft stalking Navy aircraft carriers off the the West and East coasts, including a trio of videos that were recently made public. The congressional briefings were sparked by revelations in late 2017 that the Pentagon had been investigating the sightings and interviewing pilots for a number of years and had recently issued new guidelines to sailors on how to report such incidents. Now the Senate panel, chaired by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), is directing the executive branch to centralize all relevant information about such intrusions collected from a wide range of sources, including the Office of Naval Intelligence, the FBI, satellites or other technical means, and human spies.

Images of the Sun Capture Miniature “Campfires” on the Surface – (Inverse – July 16, 2020)

After traveling 48 million miles in outer space toward our nearest star, the Solar Orbiter has captured the closest-ever images of the Sun. These breathtaking shots reveal never before seen features on the solar surface. The spacecraft launched on February 9, 2020, with the Sun as its destination. It’s job: Getting up close and personal with our host star in order to resolve some of the lingering mysteries regarding the Sun’s magnetic field, solar storms, and how the star affects its surrounding space environment. The Solar Orbiter travels in an elliptical orbit around the Sun, completing one orbit every 168 days, and used its six telescopes to capture the star in unprecedented detail. After observing the first batch of images, scientists noticed this “campfire” phenomenon. These are believed to be are relatives of solar flares — only a million (or billion) times smaller. Solar flares are fiery eruptions of high-energy radiation that burst from the Sun’s surface. The scientists investigating the images think that this newly observed phenomenon may be contributing to one of the Sun’s unsolved mysteries — the heating of the Sun’s corona.


NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

Scientists Say You Can Cancel the Noise but Keep Your Window Open – (New York Times – July 11, 2020)


What if there were technology to cancel the offending clamor, like a pair of giant noise-canceling headphones for your apartment? Researchers in Singapore have developed an apparatus that can be placed in a window to reduce incoming sound by 10 decibels. The system was created by a team of scientists, including Masaharu Nishimura, who came up with the basic concept, and Bhan Lam, a researcher at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The prototype is not yet the most practical device in real world conditions, but it points the way toward the development of technologies that may help ease the strain of noisy city living. Borrowing from the same technological principles used in noise-canceling headphones, the team expanded the concept to fit an entire room by placing 24 small speakers in a window. The speakers emit sound waves that correspond to the incoming racket and neutralize it — or, at least some of it. The system is based on the frequency of the sound waves and, for now, the optimal range is between 300 and 1,000 hertz. The system uses a microphone outside the window to detect the repeating sound waves of the offending noise source, which is registered by a computer controller. That in turn deciphers the proper wave frequency needed to neutralize the sound, which is transmitted to the array of speakers on the inside of the window frame. The speakers then emit the proper “anti” waves, which cancel out the incoming waves, and there you have it: near blissful silence. The system is best at attenuating the audible blasts from the types of steady noise sources found within the optimal frequency range. Unfortunately, human voices do not fit within most of that range. One of the next hurdles will be to find a way to silence loud conversations from across the way. Another limitation is that the system is not good at neutralizing sporadic noises, like firecrackers, car horns or the occasional earsplitting crash of metal storefront shutters — the kinds of noises that drive many New Yorkers to slam their windows shut. (Editor’s note: A 10db reduction is not all that much, however, this technology looks like a promising start.)

Proteus Becomes the World’s First Manufactured Non-cuttable Material – (New Atlas – July 20, 2020)

Researchers from the UK’s Durham University and Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute claim they’ve come up with the world’s first manufactured non-cuttable material, just 15 percent the density of steel, which they say could make for indestructible bike locks and lightweight armor. The material, named Proteus, uses ceramic spheres in a cellular aluminum structure to foil angle grinders, drills and the like by creating destructive vibrations that blunt any cutting tools used against it. The researchers took inspiration from the tough, cellular skin of grapefruit and the hard, fracture-resistant aragonite shells of molluscs in their creation of the Proteus design. An angle grinder or drill bit will cut through the outer layer of a Proteus plate, but once it reaches the embedded ceramic spheres, the fun begins with vibrations that blunt the tool’s sharp edges, and then fine particles of ceramic dust begin filling up gaps in the matrix-like structure of the metal. These cause it to become even harder the faster you grind or drill due to interatomic forces between the ceramic grains, and the force and energy of the disc or the drill is turned back on itself, and it is weakened and destroyed by its own attack. “Essentially cutting our material is like cutting through a jelly filled with nuggets” said lead author Stefan Szyniszewski, Assistant Professor of Applied Mechanics, in Durham’s Department of Engineering. “If you get through the jelly you hit the nuggets and the material will vibrate in such a way that it destroys the cutting disc or drill bit.


ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Back to Work? Not Without a Check-in App, Immunity Passport — (Reuters — July 5, 2020)


To go anywhere in Singapore these days, Joni Sng needs mobile phone apps and other technologies: a QR code to enter shops, a digital map to see how crowded a mall or park is, and a tracker to show if she was near someone infected with the coronavirus. For the roughly 5.6 million people in Singapore, these actions are routine as the government eases restrictions placed to contain the spread of the disease. “The apps are quite convenient and easy to use, and I feel a little safer knowing that everyone else is also using them,” said Sng, a videographer. “It has become very natural to click on the apps while going somewhere, just like wearing a mask,” she said. Singapore, along with Taiwan, South Korea and China, was quick to embrace technology to map the coronavirus outbreak early on with contact tracing, robots and drones. Now, countries and businesses are mandating technologies as people return to work and begin to travel, with apps, scanners, check-in systems, and so-called immunity passports. China’s health code app was among the first off the block, showing whether a user is symptom-free in order to take the subway or check into a hotel. In India, authorities have made the contact-tracing mobile app Aarogya Setu mandatory for everything from taking public transit and boarding flights to going to work. But these tools exclude vulnerable and marginalized populations, including those without smartphones, said Malavika Jayaram, executive director of the Digital Asia Hub think tank. “When tools that are supposedly enabling exclude those without the right devices, the same technology that opens doors for some, closes them for others, and can serve as a barrier, not a leveller,” she said. See also: Mass-Tracking COVI-PASS Immunity Passports Slated to Roll Out in 15 Countries.

How to Create 25 Million Jobs by Decarbonizing the Economy — (Fast Company — July 29, 2020)


A new report calculates, in detail, what it would take to aggressively transition to a clean energy economy in the U.S. by 2035. “For a world looking to bounce back from a pandemic, there is no other project that would create this many jobs,” the authors write. The report, Mobilizing for a Zero Carbon America, starts with an obsessively detailed analysis of how energy is used in the U.S., and then maps out how everything from transportation to the power sector could be decarbonized over 15 years. That means electrifying almost everything. “Your next car needs to be electric, your next furnace a heat pump, and you need solar on your roof,” the authors write. “This is your personal zero-carbon infrastructure.” It also means building up the power grid with renewable energy to support the newly-electrified economy. Crucially, it doesn’t require inventing new technology; the report looks at how the transition can happen with tech that already exists. The report attempts to make the idea of a Green New Deal more concrete. “I think all of the various Green New Deals and aspirational climate plans are narratively in the right direction, but we need to give them some ground truths and build some reality to them about what needs to happen from the ground up,” says Saul Griffith, one of the authors of the report and a MacArthur “Genius Award” Fellow. “Those aspirations are great, but this is actually what you now need to do to get there.” The proposed transition involves a rapid ramp-up of production over the next three to five years, followed by deployment of the new technologies at the maximum feasible rate. While the government would need to invest to provide incentives and guarantee loans, to the tune of $300 billion a year for 10 years, most of the funding would come from the private sector. All of this production and deployment would create an estimated 25 million well-paid jobs in the near term, distributed across the country. Longer-term, after the new infrastructure is built, that would taper off to around five million sustained jobs (larger than today’s energy industry) to maintain the new technology. (Editor’s note: The projected cost is obviously steep, but the US critical infrastructure is sorely in need of updating and there is a huge need for new employment — this idea or some part of it might be an idea whose time has come.)


PROVOCATIVE NEW IDEAS

Humanity at the Crossroads — (Unz Review — June 17, 2020)


Humankind is at a cusp, a point of transition between two different states of governance and existence. The world today is like a sack being slowly filled while the string around the opening is pulled increasingly tighter to prevent the contents from escaping confinement. The shadows of this future are everywhere to be seen but even the keenest of observers tend to view the portents not as the warnings they are, but instead regard all these pieces of one despairing puzzle as disconnected and unrelated events. In this essay, we will take a look at where our world is going, how it is going there, and why it is going there. In brief: Where we are going – One World Government. The over-riding feature of our new world will be the ultimate control of our economies, our nations – such as they will be, and our lives, by a group of international bankers and industrialists. One arrow in this quiver is the privatization – taking public assets into private hands – of the entire physical and social infrastructure of our nations, as we have seen with Greece and Iraq – and which already applies to more than a few other nations. It is this that is responsible for the extreme push that has been building since the 1970s and early 1980s to privatization, the US being the best example of acquiescence.

Catherine Austin Fitts, The Injection Fraud – It’s Not a Vaccine – (James Fetzer – July 29, 2020)

In 2017, Italian researchers reviewed the ingredients of 44 types of so-called “vaccines.” They discovered heavy metal debris and biological contamination in every human vaccine they tested. The researchers stated, “The quantity of foreign bodies detected and, in some cases, their unusual chemical compositions baffled us.” They then drew the obvious conclusion, namely, that because the micro- and nanocontaminants were “neither biocompatible nor biodegradable,” they were “biopersistent” and could cause inflammatory effects right away—or later. Aborted fetal tissue, animal tissue, aluminum, mercury, genetically altered materials—and what else? Whatever the ingredients of vaccines have been to date, nothing is more bizarre than the proposals of what might be included in them in the future. Strategies—already well-funded and well on the way—include brain-machine interface nanotechnology, digital identity tracking devices, and technology with an expiration date that can be managed and turned off remotely. One report indicated that the Danish government and US Navy had been paying one tech company in Denmark to make an injectible chip that would be compatible with one of the leading cryptocurrencies. I (Ms. Fitts) believe that Bill Gates and the pharma and biotech industries are literally reaching to create a global control grid by installing digital interface components and hooking us up to Microsoft’s new $10 billion JEDI cloud at the Department of Defense as well as Amazon’s multi-billion cloud contract for the CIA that is shared with all US intelligence agencies. Why do you think President Trump has the military organizing to stockpile syringes for vaccines? It is likely because the military is installing the roaming operating system for integration into their cloud. Remember—the winner in the AI superpower race is the AI system with access to the most data. Accessing your body and my body on a 24/7 basis generates a lot of data. If the Chinese do it, the Americans will want to do it too. The role out of human “operating systems” may be one of the reasons why the competition of Huawei and 5G telecommunications has become so fractious. As Frank Clegg, former President of Microsoft Canada has warned us, 5G was developed by the Israelis for crowd control. Now I appreciate why Gates and his colleagues want to call these technologies “vaccines.” If they can persuade the body politic that injectable credit cards or injectable surveillance trackers or injectable brain-machine interface nanotechnologies are “vaccines,” then they can enjoy the protection of a century or more of legal decisions and laws that support their efforts to mandate what they want to do. As well, they can insist that U.S. taxpayers fund—through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program–the damages for which they would otherwise be liable as a result of their experiments – and violations of the Nuremberg Code and numerous civil and criminal laws – on the general population.


JUST FOR FUN

Winners of the 2020 Audubon Photography Awards – (MyModernMet – July 9, 2020)


Each year the National Audubon Society asks photographers from across the United States and seven Canadian provinces to submit their best bird imagery. This year it received over 6,000 submissions. Here are the winning photographs – every one of them stellar.


A FINAL QUOTE

Humanity’s greatness is not in what it has achieved, nor what it is, but in what it can become. ― Kingsley Dennis

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A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.

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Arlington Transition Council – Session 8 – July 14, 2020