FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT–
- When the pandemic is over, one in six workers is projected to continue working from home or co-working at least two days a week.
- Adding up all the snippets of Neanderthal DNA present in all modern humans today, some 20% of the Neanderthal genome may be preserved.
- Approximately 25 countries, including Portugal and the United Kingdom, offer forms of residency or citizenship-by-investment programs.
- In April, clothing sales fell 79% in the United States, the largest dive on record. Purchases of sweatpants were up 80%.
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!
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.
51 Global Studies Find HCQ Effective in Treating COVID-19 — 16 Find HCQ NOT Effective — But 10 of Those Are Late Treatment Studies – (Gateway Pundit – July 31, 2020)
There are over 70 global studies listed on the effectiveness of Hydroxychloroquine in treating the coronavirus. 51 of the global studies showed positive results. 16 of the global studies showed negative results — but 10 of those studies were late stage cases of coronavirus. It is clear at this point that the top US medical professionals are killing Americans by downplaying the success of HCQ in treating the coronavirus. Here is a link to a website that lists the 70 studies, 42 of which were peer reviewed, with complete publication information. In short, “PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), and early treatment studies show high effectiveness, while late treatment shows mixed results.” See also: Association of American Physicians & Surgeons Files Suit to Release Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ).
Yoda: HCQ Effective — CDC Continues to Lie & Kill – (Phi Beta Iota – August 3, 2020)
Features a chart that compares adjusted deaths per millions in countries that had early HCQ use and those that did not. The chart comes from the article directly above.
Does Hydroxychloroquine Still Have a Role to Play in This Pandemic? – (Chemistry World – July 14, 2020)
After being repeatedly endorsed by US President Donald Trump as a treatment for Covid-19, the decades-old cheap antimalarial drug has shown the scientific process for what it truly is: a tricky and messy one, often framed by different players to fit their own agenda. An analysis, published in The Lancet on 22 May, that suggested that the drug can cause a potentially lethal irregular heartbeat ended up being pulled. That study was subsequently retracted by three co-authors after Surgisphere – the obscure and little-known company that collected the data – declined to make trial data available for an independent audit. ‘It was a real scandal,’ recalls Nicholas White, a physician and tropical diseases researcher at Mahidol University in Salaya, Thailand and the University of Oxford, UK. What happened next derailed any chance of quickly finding out how effective hydroxychloroquine really was against Covid-19. The World Health Organization’s Solidarity trial, which had been testing the four most promising treatments for the novel coronavirus halted testing of hydroxychloroquine. At the same time, the US Food and Drug Administration revoked the emergency use authorization of the drug. Still, the drug’s role in this pandemic may not be over. White’s trial, COPCOV, which was also temporarily halted but is now back up and running, is testing the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine to prevent Covid-19 in the first place, rather than treating severely sick hospitalized patients. The initial goal of his COPCOV trial was to recruit around 40,000 healthcare workers worldwide and get them to take the drug daily for three months. ‘We want to protect healthcare workers, particularly in low and middle income countries because if they really become ill it damages health altogether, particularly in fragile health systems,’ White says. While COPCOV restarted after the Lancet study was retracted, many other trials didn’t. There’s no other evidence of harm from taking hydroxychloroquine, White says. But instead many health agencies didn’t resume halted trials, switching their reasoning from the potential harm of the drug to suggest that it doesn’t work, which, he says, ‘is strange at best’. ‘Most things were damaged by Covid-19 but not bureaucracy,’ White adds.
Scientific Research Paper Concludes: 5G Induces Coronaviruses – (State of the Nation – July 23, 2020)
A study published on the US NIH (National Institute of Health) website PubMed.gov and published earlier elsewhere, entitled 5G Technology and induction of coronavirus in skin cells, comes to the conclusion that 5G technology can instigate the body to produce viruses as a cellular response. The 5G millimeter waves (so-called because they operate in extremely high frequencies with less than a millimeter between the wave peaks) can make the body produce not just any class of viruses but actually coronaviruses. Here, in its entirety, is the abstract of the study: “In this research, we show that 5G millimeter waves could be absorbed by dermatologic cells acting like antennas, transferred to other cells and play the main role in producing Coronaviruses in biological cells. DNA is built from charged electrons and atoms and has an inductor-like structure. This structure could be divided into linear, toroid and round inductors. Inductors interact with external electromagnetic waves, move and produce some extra waves within the cells. The shapes of these waves are similar to shapes of hexagonal and pentagonal bases of their DNA source. These waves produce some holes in liquids within the nucleus. To fill these holes, some extra hexagonal and pentagonal bases are produced. These bases could join to each other and form virus-like structures such as Coronavirus. To produce these viruses within a cell, it is necessary that the wavelength of external waves be shorter than the size of the cell. Thus 5G millimeter waves could be good candidates for applying in constructing virus-like structures such as Coronaviruses (COVID-19) within cells.” (Editor’s Note: The article was submitted by a group of researchers from Italy, the United States and Russia, and first appeared in the Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents. The journal is published by Biolife, which asserts that it is peer reviewed. On July 16, 2020, the editor of PubMed.gov retracted the article, noting: “ After a thorough investigation, the Editor-in-Chief has retracted this article as it showed evidence of substantial manipulation of the peer review.” Obviously there are a number of parties with conflicting agendas here. We at FUTUREdition are not medical researchers qualified to independently assess the study. We leave it to our readers to come to their own conclusions.)
The Workforce Is About to Change Dramatically – (Atlantic – August 6, 2020)
When the pandemic is over, one in six workers is projected to continue working from home or co-working at least two days a week, according to a recent survey by economists at Harvard Business School. Another survey of hiring managers by the global freelancing platform Upwork found that one-fifth of the workforce could be entirely remote after the pandemic. If white-collar workers are told the downtown office is forever optional, some will take their superstar-city jobs out of superstar cities. That much is obvious. But these shifts, even if they are initially moderate, could lead to more surprising and significant changes to America’s cultural, economic, and political future. What follows are three second-order predictions—for our economy, our workforce, and our politics. Because predicting the future is, like dart throwing, easily done and often misdirected, each prediction ends with the best argument the author can think of for why it won’t actually come true.
Astrophysicists Observe Long-theorized Quantum Phenomena – (PhysOrg – July 30, 2020)
At the heart of every white dwarf star—the dense stellar object that remains after a star has burned away its fuel reserve of gases as it nears the end of its life cycle—lies a quantum conundrum: as white dwarfs add mass, they shrink in size, until they become so small and tightly compacted that they cannot sustain themselves, collapsing into a neutron star. This puzzling relationship between a white dwarf’s mass and size, called the mass-radius relation, was first theorized by Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar in the 1930s. Now, a team of Johns Hopkins astrophysicists has developed a method to observe the phenomenon itself using astronomical data collected by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and a recent dataset released by the Gaia Space Observatory. The combined datasets provided more than 3,000 white dwarfs for the team to study. Fifth-year graduate student Hsiang-Chih Hwang proposed the study and first recognized the gravitational redshift effect in the data. Nadia Zakamska, an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy who supervised the student researchers, explained, “The theory has existed for a long time, but what’s notable is that the dataset we used is of unprecedented size and unprecedented accuracy. These measurement methods, which in some cases were developed years ago, all of a sudden work so much better and these old theories can finally be probed.”
Doctors Diagnose Advanced Cancer—in a Dinosaur – (Science – August 3, 2020)
A deformed bone is the first clear example of a malignant tumor diagnosed in a dinosaur. The partial fibula—a bone from the lower leg—belonged to a horned, plant-eating Centrosaurus that lived roughly 76 million years ago in what is now Dinosaur Park in southern Alberta in Canada. Paleontologists initially thought the bone’s strange shape was due to a fracture that hadn’t healed cleanly. But a new study compares the internal structure of the fossil with a bone tumor from a human patient to seek a diagnosis. The conclusion: The dinosaur suffered from osteosarcoma, a cancer that, in humans, primarily attacks teens and young adults. The disease causes tumors of immature bone tissue, frequently in the long bones of the leg. This isn’t the first time cancer has been found in fossil remains. Scientists have identified benign tumors in Tyrannosaurus rex fossils and arthritis in duck-billed hadrosaurs, as well as an osteosarcoma in a 240-million-year-old turtle. But the researchers say their study is the first to confirm a dinosaur cancer diagnosis at the cellular level. Scientists, including paleontologists, pathologists, a surgeon, and a radiologist, examined the full fossil with high-resolution computerized tomography scans and examined thin sections under the microscope to evaluate the structure of the cells. They found that the tumor was advanced enough that it had probably plagued the animal for some time. A similar case in a human, left untreated, would likely be fatal, they write. However, because the fossil was found in a bone bed with lots of other Centrosaurus specimens, the dinosaur likely died in a flood with the rest of its herd and not from the cancer.
Mystery Ancestor Mated with Ancient Humans. Its ‘Nested’ DNA Was Just Found. – (Live Science – August 6, 2020)
Today’s humans carry the genes of an ancient, unknown ancestor, left there by hominin species intermingling perhaps a million years ago. The ancestor may have been Homo erectus, but no one knows for sure — the genome of that extinct species of human has never been sequenced, said Adam Siepel, a computational biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and one of the authors of a new paper examining the relationships of ancient human ancestors. The new research also finds that ancient humans mated with Neanderthals between 200,000 and 300,000 years ago, well before the more recent, and better-known mixing of the two species occurred, after Homo sapiens migrated in large numbers out of Africa and into Europe 50,000 years ago. Thanks to this ancient mixing event, Neanderthals actually owe between 3% and 7% of their genomes to ancient Homo sapiens, the researchers reported. The new research illustrates the complexity of humanity’s deep history. Evidence has long been accumulating that humans and Neanderthals mated while their populations overlapped in Europe, before Neanderthals went extinct around 30,000 years ago. In 2010, researchers reported that between 1% and 4% of modern human genes in people in Asia, Europe and Oceania came from Neanderthal ancestors. When you add up all the snippets of Neanderthal DNA present in all modern humans today, some 20% of the Neanderthal genome may be preserved, according to 2014 research. The researchers of the new study used a computational method of comparing the genomes of two Neanderthals, a Denisovan and two modern African individuals. (Africans were chosen because modern people in Africa don’t carry Neanderthal genes from the well-known human-Neanderthal interbreeding that occurred in Europe starting 50,000 years ago.) One advantage of the method, Siepel said, is that it allows researchers to find recombination events inside of recombination events. “A picture is emerging of a series of distinct but related populations moving around the globe and frequently interacting with one another, with occasional interbreeding events that produced hybrid offspring,” Siepel said. “These hybrid offspring might in some cases have suffered from reduced fitness — this is an area of controversy — but apparently many of them were healthy enough to survive and reproduce, leaving a patchwork of archaic and modern human DNA in Neanderthals, Denisovans and modern humans.”
GENETICS / HEALTH TECHNOLOGY / BIOTECHNOLOGY
First Gene Knockout in Cephalopod Achieved — (PhysOrg — July 30, 2020)
A team at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) has achieved the first gene knockout in a cephalopod using the squid Doryteuthis pealeii, an exceptionally important research organism in biology for nearly a century. he team used CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing to knock out a pigmentation gene in squid embryos, which eliminated pigmentation in the eye and in skin cells (chromatophores) with high efficiency. “This is a critical first step toward the ability to knock out—and knock in—genes in cephalopods to address a host of biological questions,” Senior Scientist Joshua Rosenthal said. Cephalopods (squid, octopus and cuttlefish) have the largest brain of all invertebrates, a distributed nervous system capable of instantaneous camouflage and sophisticated behaviors, a unique body plan, and the ability to extensively recode their own genetic information within messenger RNA, along with other distinctive features. These open many avenues for study and have applications in a wide range of fields, from evolution and development, to medicine, robotics, materials science, and artificial intelligence. The ability to knock out a gene to test its function is an important step in developing cephalopods as genetically tractable organisms for biological research, augmenting the handful of species that currently dominate genetic studies, such as fruit flies, zebrafish, and mice. It is also a necessary step toward having the capacity to knock in genes that facilitate research, such as genes that encode fluorescent proteins that can be imaged to track neural activity or other dynamic processes. Recently, Rosenthal and colleagues discovered extensive recoding of mRNA in the nervous system of Doryteuthis and other cephalopods. This research is under development for potential biomedical applications, such as pain management therapy.
Sperm Don’t Swim Anything Like We Thought They Did, New Study Finds – (Live Science – July 31, 2020)
The first person to observe human sperm close up was Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch scientist known as the father of microbiology. In 1677, van Leeuwenhoek turned his newly developed microscope toward his own semen, seeing for the first time that the fluid was filled with tiny, wiggling cells. Under a 2D microscope, it was clear that the sperm were propelled by tails, which seemed to wiggle side-to-side as the sperm head rotated. For the next 343 years, this was the understanding of how human sperm moved, with their tails gyrating to and fro as they seek an egg to fertilize. But now, new 3D microscopy and high-speed video reveal that sperm don’t swim in this simple, symmetrical motion at all. Instead, they move with a rollicking spin that compensates for the fact that their tails actually beat only to one side. In order to wring forward motion out of this asymmetrical tail movement, the sperm head rotated with a jittery motion at the same time that the tail rotated. The head rotation and the tail are actually two separate movements controlled by two different cellular mechanisms, said study author Hermes Gadêlha, a mathematician at the University of Bristol in the U.K. But when they combine, the result is something like a spinning otter or a rotating drill bit. Over the course of a 360-degree rotation, the one-side tail movement evens out, adding up to forward propulsion. “It’s almost like if you’re a swimmer, but you could only wiggle your leg to one side,” said Gadêlha. “If you did this in a swimming pool and you only did this to one side, you would always swim in circles. … Nature in its wisdom came [up] with a very complex, ingenious way to go forward.”
Anti-aging Enzyme Discovery Raises Prospect of Lifespan Extension – (New Atlas – August 2, 2020)
A study from researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) is providing new insights into a cellular energy pathway that has been linked to longer lifespan. AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase) is an enzyme that acts as a metabolic master switch. It has been described as a “magic bullet” protein, conferring broad beneficial health effects, from improving cardiovascular health to extending lifespan. It is activated in response to low cellular energy levels, as is often seen during exercise or periods of caloric restriction. A number of studies have found activating AMPK in animal models leads to notable increases in lifespan, prompting a surge in research investigating this enzyme. The new KAIST study focused on this pathway in a tiny roundworm, caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), often used by researchers as a model to investigate lifespan. The researchers discovered an enzyme called VRK-1 works in tandem with AMPK to regulate cellular energy processes. Boosting VRK-1 activity in the roundworms extended the organism’s lifespan by stimulating AMPK activity, and inhibiting the enzyme reduced its lifespan. Moving to laboratory cell tests the researchers verified this VRK-1 to AMPK mechanism does seem to occur in human cells, suggesting it is possible the lifespan-extending results may be replicated in human subjects. It is still extraordinarily early days for the research, and the next steps will be to explore the effects of modulating VRK-1 activity in more complex animal models such as rodents. However, it is still unclear how this could be harnessed for therapeutic outcomes.
Dementia on the Retreat in the U.S. and Europe – (New York Times – August 3, 2020
Despite the lack of effective treatments or preventive strategies, the dementia epidemic is on the wane in the United States and Europe. The risk for a person to develop dementia over a lifetime is now 13% lower than it was in 2010. Incidence rates at every age have steadily declined over the past quarter-century. If the trend continues, the paper’s authors note, there will be 15 million fewer people in Europe and the United States with dementia than there are now. Its findings counter warnings from advocacy groups of a coming tsunami of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. It is correct that there are now more people than ever with dementia, but that is because there are more and more older people in the population. Researchers at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., reviewed data from seven large studies with a total of 49,202 individuals. The studies followed men and women aged 65 and older for at least 15 years, and included in-person exams and, in many cases, genetic data, brain scans and information on participants’ risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Although it is often said that women are more likely to get dementia than men, Dr. Hofman and his colleagues found that men and women have equal dementia rates. The reason for the confusion appears to be that there are more older women than older men in the population. At any age when dementia is likely, there will be more women with dementia in the population than men. One puzzling aspect of the decline is that it seems to be confined to Europe and the United States — it was not seen in Asia, South America or, from limited data, in Africa. There have been reports of increasing dementia rates in Japan, China and Nigeria, the paper’s authors note. Those increases are puzzling, Dr. Hofman said. The trend may be related to higher rates of smoking, which makes dementia more likely, in those countries.
Southern Ocean Site Has Cooled to Ice Age-Era Temperatures – (Climate Dispatch – August 10, 2020)
A new temperature reconstruction indicates today’s sea surface temperatures are colder than all but a few millennia out of the last 156,000 years. A Southern Ocean site analyzed in a new study (Ghadi et al., 2020) has averaged 1-2°C during glacials and 4°C during interglacials. Today, with a 410 ppm CO2 concentration, this location has again plummeted to glacial/ice age levels (2°C). The site was 2°C warmer than now when CO2 concentrations were 180 ppm about 20,000 years ago, or during the peak of the last ice age. During the Early Holocene (10,000 to 8,000 years ago), summer sea surface temperatures were also 2°C warmer than today. There is no indication that CO2 concentration changes are in any way correlated with temperature changes throughout this entire 156,000-year epoch.
The Quest for Quantum-proof Encryption Just Made a Leap Forward – (Technology Review – August 3, 2020)
Your online banking and messages to your friends are likely encrypted, for example—as are government secrets. But that protection is under threat from the development of quantum computers, which threaten to render modern encryption methods useless. “Researchers have known for decades that if a large-scale quantum computer could be built, it could do some pretty big calculations that would threaten the cryptosystems that we rely on today for security,” says Dustin Moody, a mathematician at NIST, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. While quantum machines are still a long way from being able to break modern encryption, NIST launched a competition in 2016 to develop new standards for cryptography that will be more quantum-proof. The race is long, with the winners set to be announced in 2022, but last week the organization announced that it had narrowed the initial field of 69 contenders down to just 15. And so far a single approach to “post-quantum cryptography” accounts for the majority of the finalists: lattice-based cryptography. Public-key encryption uses traditional math to encode data, unlocking it only for those who have the key—or can figure it out. Lattice-based cryptography instead uses enormous grids with billions of individual points across thousands of dimensions. Breaking the code means getting from one specific point to another—which is essentially impossible unless you know the route. However, post-quantum approaches will only work if they can be used in all the places that high-level cryptography will be needed. For example, the size of the key required to decrypt data is important: imagine what will be possible inside a piece of medical equipment that has little memory and severely limited bandwidth. If the math is so complex that opening the lock requires a massive key, the solution may not pass the usability test. In reality, we’re likely a decade or more away from a quantum computer that can solve useful problems—which gives NIST time to make a decision so the transition to quantum-safe cryptography can begin.
Scientists Stored “The Wizard of Oz” on a Strand of DNA – (Futurism – July 14, 2020)
A team of University of Texas Austin scientists just vastly improved the storage capacity of DNA and managed to encode the entire novel — translated into the geek-friendly language of Esperanto — in a double strand of DNA far more efficiently than has been done before. DNA storage isn’t new, but this work could help finally make it practical. Storage using DNA is particularly error-prone. The DNA can easily be damaged and erase whatever’s stored on it. “The key breakthrough is an encoding algorithm that allows accurate retrieval of the information even when the DNA strands are partially damaged during storage,” molecular biologist Ilya Finkelstein. Now, each bit of information strengthens the others around it. “We found a way to build the information more like a lattice,” UT Austin researcher Stephen Jones said in the release. “Each piece of information reinforces other pieces of information.”
Sweatpants Forever – (New York Times – August 6, 2020)
Even before the pandemic, the whole fashion industry had started to unravel. What happens now that no one has a reason to dress up? As the coronavirus took its toll on the fashion industry, it was the giants who would fall first. Over the next few months, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Brooks Brothers and J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy. Gap Inc. couldn’t pay rent on its 2,785 North American stores. By July, Diane von Furstenberg announced she would lay off 300 employees and close 18 of her 19 stores. The impending damage to small businesses was inconceivable. This article revolves around an interview with – and the clothing biz insights of – Scott Sternberg, a fashion designer in Los Angeles who founded a line of basics called Entireworld two years earlier. For years, Sternberg had been saying that the fashion industry was a giant bubble heading toward collapse. Now the pandemic was speeding up the inevitable. In fact, it had already begun. An incredible surplus of clothing was presently sitting in warehouses and in stores, some of which might never reopen. “That whole channel is dead,” Sternberg said. “And there’s no sign of when it’s turning on again.” In April, clothing sales fell 79% in the United States, the largest dive on record. Purchases of sweatpants, though, were up 80%. Woven in between comments by Sternberg, is the history of the fashion industry for the last 15 years – and how everything changed, in significant part due to the internet and direct-to-consumer selling.
The ‘Motorcycle of Tomorrow’ Is Heavy on Flair and Light on the Environment – (New York Times – August 6, 2020)
Metal. Rubber. Leather. When it comes to motorcycles, the materials used to make them are as elemental as the experience of riding them. But pineapples, flax seed and algae? They sound more like the ingredients for a vegan salad than a two-wheeler, but a new Brooklyn start-up hopes to change that. It’s called Tarform. What Tesla has done to bring zero-emissions transportation into the mainstream, Tarform hopes to do for zero waste, building electric motorcycles that are recyclable and made from natural materials that can biodegrade. Instead of using polyvinyl chloride, Tarform is crafting its vegan leather seats from pineapple, mango, corn or other naturally derived fibers. Flax seed replaces the plastic on its side panels. And the pigments coloring the bodywork are derived from natural algae rather than toxic paints. Its aluminum frame is, of course, recyclable. And its battery pack is swappable as technology improves. Available later this year as a customizable Founder Edition model that starts at $42,000, the Tarform Luna will go into production next year with a $24,000 version. The company already has 1,500 orders, 54 of which are for the handmade Founder Editions. It was a chance encounter with a fetching 1972 Triumph Bonneville that inspired Mr. Kravtchouk to start Tarform and build its retro-futuristic cafe racer. “For a very small amount of money, they had built an incredibly beautiful bike with a unique electric riding experience,” said Karl Alomar, a partner with M13, a Santa Monica, Calif., venture capital firm. M13, which has invested in SpaceX, Lyft, Bird and other mobility tech start-ups, gave Tarform $300,000 last year after Mr. Alomar saw the prototype in person and the reaction it was getting online. Mr. Alomar said. “It led us to start believing there’s an opportunity to build a really great luxury brand oriented around environmentally conscious thinking and the ability to create real premium beauty.”
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Demand for Guns Outpaces Sturm Ruger’s Production – (NH Business Review – July 31, 2020)
An unprecedented run on guns — partly due to Covid-19 — is so strong, that Sturm Ruger and Company can’t produce them fast enough, again partly due to Covid-19. The company, headquartered in Connecticut, reported second quarter sales are $130 million, up by more than a quarter, with a net income of $18.6 million – triple the profits from the same quarter last year. But that was limited by production capacity. The number of units ordered nearly doubled in the first quarter and nearly tripled in the second. The thirst for firearms – despite the recent bankruptcy of Ruger’s rival Remington Arms Company (for the second time within a year) – is industry wide. Background checks are up 65% for the half, and 92% for the second quarter. Sturm, Ruger CEO Christopher Killoy attributed the “staggering increase” for “personal protection and home defense stemming from continuing Covid-19 pandemic; protests, demonstrations and civil unrest in many cities throughout the United States and lastly, the call by some for the reduction in funding and authority of various law enforcement organizations.” Killoy added another Covid-related reason when he asked about hunting sales, which also experienced a sharp increase in demand. “When you look at what’s going on in society, the ability of people to do things close to home, get back to their roots, take up some of their passions and hobbies that maybe they had put on hold when they’re able to travel more frequently,” he said. “We’re seeing a strong interest in hunting; the whole field-to-fork movement, if you will, is strong.”
Saudi Arabia Makes Electronic Payment Mandatory at Cafes and Restaurants – (Gulf News – July 31, 2020)
Saudi Arabia has made it mandatory for all cafes and restaurants in the Kingdom to provide electronic payment methods to customers to reduce cash circulation and enable them to rely on contactless ways. (It is not mandatory that patrons use them.) The move, part of the initiative launched by the National Program to Combat Commercial Cover-up (Tasattur), came into force from July 29. The program was applied as the fifth phase of an initiative to encourage outlets to provide e-payment methods, which so far has covered 50% activities and accounting for 70% of the retail sector. The first phase covered gas stations, while workshops and stores for auto parts were covered in the second. The third phase included personal services such as laundry and men’s and women’s salons, while the fourth targeted groceries and supply stores. The fifth phase includes restaurants serving food for parties, fast food, seafood, cafes, buffets, cafeterias, trucks selling food, as well as juice and ice cream shops. The initiative follows recommendations approved by the authorities to combat activities such as under invoicing. The introduction of e-payment is also part of the Kingdom’s ambitious drive to become a cashless society.
The Latest Trend Among Wealthy American Travelers? Buying Another Country’s Citizenship – (Washington Post – July 29, 2020)
While borders are beginning to reopen to international travel, some countries are staying closed to Americans because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak stateside. These travel restrictions are producing an emerging trend among some wealthy Americans: buying a second passport. “This limitation of mobility has made more people aware of … the benefits of having more than one passport,” said Armand Arton, the president of financial firm Arton Capital, which specializes in citizenship through investment. These investments can come in the form of real estate, bonds or various new business ventures. Arton says his firm has seen a 30% to 40$ increase, year to date, in demand for services that help clients obtain citizenship in a sovereign state through financial means. The price tag for these services varies, ranging from $100,000 for some Caribbean options to more than $2 million for European ones. Before the coronavirus, the plan mainly appealed to Americans for tax purposes, Arton says. But mid-pandemic, motivations have shifted. The concept is about 35 years old, Arton says. Today there are approximately 25 countries, including Portugal, Dominica and the United Kingdom, that offer forms of residency or citizenship-by-investment programs as a revenue source. The application takes months, if not years, to process, and it includes a thorough investigation into a person’s private and financial life. But as the representative of one such firm explained, “It doesn’t matter if you become a St. Lucian citizen or a Maltese citizen; they’re not going to let you in because you’ve been in Florida for the last six months.” See also: Want To Escape From America? 12 Countries Where You Can Buy Citizenship (And A Second Passport).
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
Small Town Takes Charge of the Future: Fairlee Launches Vermont’s First Community Makeover – (VT Digger – July 31, 2020)
Have you ever seen that HGTV show, Extreme Home Makeover, where a design team picks a deserving family, drops in for a week to design an amazing new home, and recruits and manages hundreds of community volunteers to make over the home – in one weekend. The Town of Fairlee, Vermont is getting its own Community Makeover. The “Main Street to (Lake) Morey” project is hosting a month of updates to help Fairlee community members walk and bike more, safely support local businesses, create and improve access to public spaces and other Town resources (such as its Town beach and trails), add COVID safety solutions, and beautify Main Street and the village. The root of it all is that it’s up to the community to make it happen. The Main Street to Morey Steering Committee encourages all community members to get involved and help make the Community Makeover happen. There are safe and accessible volunteer roles for all ages, at home or in person. Community members can help build, paint, sand, clean up, plant, and create. The Makeover is scheduled to conclude with a “Big Reveal” over Zoom with a slideshow of projects, awards and a celebration. Projects to be undertaken will range from the bike safety solutions to community building efforts. The local Steering Committee encouraged all community members to explore the projects online at mainstreettomorey.com (under “Makeover”) and sign up to help. Most projects are designed to last through the fall and provide quick benefits to the Fairlee community, while also helping to gather data and experiment with longer-term solutions. (Editor’s note: You understood that correctly: all the work would be done by townspeople who volunteered their time and skills. This is “community” as its most grass roots. Did anyone really show up? Absolutely. Where but in Vermont do you find “Green-up Day” – a Saturday in May when people all over the state go to their town offices to get designated trash bags and then walk their local roads and pick up the trash that had accumulated during the past winter? And people really do that? Yup.)
The Revealing and Disturbing Story of America, Told Through 20 Years of Reality Dating Shows – (Washington Post – August 5, 2020)
If you are looking for the exact moment when American culture went off the rails that it has never managed to climb back on, may we offer a singular scene on television from Feb. 15, 2000: a man in a tuxedo, bent down on one knee, proposing to a total stranger in a wedding gown. She tearfully accepts while four other women, also wearing wedding dresses, shuffle off the stage. The nearly 23 million viewers who tuned into “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” were simultaneously riveted and horrified. But most importantly, there were 23 million of them. This would not be a one-time phenomenon, but rather the origin story for a new genre, the “reality dating show.” Since then, millions upon millions of people have spent many hours of their lives enraptured by these shows, which continue to proliferate with no sign of slowing down, like an invasive species that has become part of our natural environment. How did this happen? And what has 20 years of watching these spectacles — singles hooking up, couples breaking up and aspiring Instagram influencers melting down, all in the name of finding “love” — done to us? To examine that question, the authors of this article selected one reality dating show that debuted every year from 2000 through 2020 — shows that were particularly popular, controversial, influential or taught us something unexpected. Sometimes, these series are surprisingly hopeful. Mostly, they are disturbing. But no matter how many people decry that the shows are fake and/or feel like the downfall of society, the impact has been extremely real. The article then details 20 years worth of reality dating shows and looks at how much they have changed over time – and how much they haven’t.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Do We Believe in U.F.O.s? That’s the Wrong Question – (New York Times – July 28, 2020)
To be clear: U.F.O.s don’t mean aliens. Unidentified means we don’t know what they are, only that they demonstrate capabilities that do not appear to be possible through currently available technology. Current officials are now concerned about the potential threat represented by the very real, advanced technological objects: how close they can come to our fighter jets, sometimes causing a near miss, and the risk that our adversaries may acquire the technology demonstrated by the objects before we do. So if U.F.O.s are no longer a matter of belief, what are they and how do they do what they do? And if technology has been retrieved from downed objects, what better way to try to understand how they work? Going from data on a distant object in the sky to the possession of a retrieved one on the ground makes a leap that many find hard to accept and that clearly demands extraordinary evidence. Numerous associates of the Pentagon program, with high security clearances and decades of involvement with official U.F.O. investigations, told us they were convinced such crashes have occurred, based on their access to classified information. But the retrieved materials themselves, and any data about them, are completely off-limits to anyone without clearances and a need to know. We were provided a series of unclassified slides showing that the program took this seriously enough to include it in numerous briefings. One slide says one of the program’s tasks was to “arrange for access to data/reports/materials from crash retrievals of A.A.V.’s,” or advanced aerospace vehicles. Our sources told us that “A.A.V.” does not refer to vehicles made in any country — not Russian or Chinese — but is used to mean technology in the realm of the truly unexplained. They also assure us that their briefings are based on facts, not belief. See also: UFO Cover-up Two-Page Summary of the Book Disclosure: Government & Military Witnesses Testify on Major UFO Cover-up.
Hubble Telescope Uses the Moon as a Mirror to Study Earth – (Inverse – August 8, 2020)
On January 20-21, 2019, planet Earth came between the Sun and the Moon, draping the rocky body with its shadow in a total lunar eclipse. The Moon may have appeared dim to us here on Earth, but it served as a giant lunar mirror from space. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope used the Moon to reflect sunlight in order to observe Earth’s atmosphere. Astronomers have used this method before, but this is the first time a total lunar eclipse was captured in ultraviolet wavelengths, which is somewhere between visible light and X-rays, from a space telescope.By doing so, the space telescope was able to detect the spectral fingerprint of ozone. Ozone is a gas made up of three oxygen atoms in Earth’s upper atmosphere, and serves as a protective shield from the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation. It forms naturally when oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere is exposed to strong concentrations of ultraviolet light, acting as a blanket around our planet. “Photosynthesis might be the most productive metabolism that can evolve on any planet, because it is fueled by energy from starlight and uses cosmically abundant elements like water and carbon dioxide,” said Giada Arney, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and co-author of the new study. “These necessary ingredients should be common on habitable planets.” As scientists look for signs of life on other planets, ozone serves as a strong indication of habitability in other worlds.
Why Millennials’ Distaste for Baby Boomers Is Justified – (New York Post – August 8, 2020)
Millennial journalist Jill Filipovic, author of the new book, OK Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind, takes us through numerous areas of modern life, explaining through statistics and personal stories why Millennials — those born between 1980-1996, who make up the nation’s largest age group — face tougher economic challenges than their parents’ generation — the baby boomers, born between 1946-1964. “Millennials have faced unique hardships that set our generation apart,” Filipovic writes. “We’re only now starting to grasp the degree to which we have gotten screwed. And we’re responding with desperation and sometimes anger. That’s where ‘OK Boomer’ comes from: It’s a final, frustrated dismissal from people suffering years of political and economic neglect.” Nearly 80% of senators and two-thirds of the US House of Representatives are 55 or older. Just 7% of representatives in Congress are Millennials. There is not a single Millennial in the US Senate. “Boomers, well into their sixties and seventies, retain significant control over American politics. Millennials haven’t enjoyed our fair share of political influence, which means we haven’t seen the kind of investments we need. And boomers aren’t loosening their grip anytime soon.” “Millennials make up close to a quarter of the US population, but hold just 3% of the wealth,” she writes. “When boomers were our age, they held 21%.” One cause of this is the cost of higher education: Millennials face private education costs 300% higher than boomers did, and around 1 in 10 Millennials carries student loan debt in the six-figure range. By comparison, she writes that “when the average boomer was a young thirty-something, their educational debts amounted to just $2,300 in today’s dollars.” “Boomer households today are worth 12 times as much as Millennial ones,” Filipovic writes. “The average Millennial is worth just $8,000 — less than adults of any generation in three decades.” And as Millennials’ educational costs have exploded, their job opportunities have dried up, she writes. “Boomers were the last generation to enter a job market offering living-wage blue-collar work. In Rust Belt towns, even in the mid-1960s, you could graduate high school and go straight into a factory job that would keep a nuclear family afloat,” Filipovic writes, citing the nationwide closures of factories and mines, the source of “America’s last well-paying blue-collar jobs,” as one cause for these job losses. The 2008 recession hugely further compounded the problem. See also: The Average American Savings Balance by Age, Household Size, and Education Level.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
‘Fool’s Gold’ May Be Valuable After All — (PhysOrg — July 30, 2020)
Scientists and engineers at the University of Minnesota have electrically transformed the abundant and low-cost non-magnetic material iron sulfide, also known as “fool’s gold” or pyrite, into a magnetic material. This is the first time scientists have ever electrically transformed an entirely non-magnetic material into a magnetic one, and it could be the first step in creating valuable new magnetic materials for more energy-efficient computer memory devices. Chris Leighton, the lead researcher on the study and a University of Minnesota Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, and his colleagues, including Eray Aydil at New York University and Laura Gagliardi (chemistry) at the University of Minnesota, have been studying iron sulfide, or “fool’s gold,” for more than a decade for possible use in solar cells. Sulfur in particular is a highly abundant and low-cost byproduct of petroleum production. In the study, the researchers used a technique called electrolyte gating. They took the non-magnetic iron sulfide material and put it in a device in contact with an ionic solution, or electrolyte, comparable to Gatorade. They then applied as little as 1 volt (less voltage than a household battery), moved positively charged molecules to the interface between the electrolyte and the iron sulfide, and induced magnetism. Importantly, they were able to turn off the voltage and return the material to its non-magnetic state, meaning that they can reversibly switch the magnetism on and off. Leighton said the next step is to continue research to replicate the process at higher temperatures, which the team’s preliminary data suggest should certainly be possible. They also hope to try the process with other materials and to demonstrate potential for real devices.
Casimir Force Used to Control and Manipulate Objects – (PhysOrg – August 4, 2020
A collaboration between researchers from the University of Western Australia and the University of California Merced has provided a new way to measure tiny forces and use them to control objects. Once thought to be of only academic interest, a tiny force—known as the Casimir force—is now drawing interest in fields such as metrology (the science of measurement) and sensing. “If you can measure and manipulate the Casimir force on objects, then we gain the ability to improve force sensitivity and reduce mechanical losses, with the potential to strongly impact science and technology,” said Professor Michael Tobar, from UWA’s School of Physics, Mathematics and Computing. “To understand this, we need to delve into the weirdness of quantum physics. In reality a perfect vacuum does not exist—even in empty space at zero temperature, virtual particles, like photons, flicker in and out of existence. These fluctuations interact with objects placed in vacuum and are actually enhanced in magnitude as temperature is increased, causing a measurable force from “nothing”—otherwise known as the Casimir force. This is handy because we live at room temperature. We have now shown it’s also possible to use the force to do cool things. But to do that, we need to develop precision technology that allows us control and manipulate objects with this force.” Professor Tobar said researchers were able to measure the Casimir force and manipulate the objects through a precision microwave photonic cavity, known as a re-entrant cavity, at room-temperature, using a setup with a thin metallic membrane separated from the re-entrant cavity, exquisitely controlled to roughly the width of a grain of dust.
Tech Cold War Comes to India: Silicon Valley Takes on Alibaba and Tencent – (Financial Times – August 4, 2020)
Just days after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a brutal clash with Chinese troops on the Himalayan border in June, a group of food delivery drivers in the eastern city of Kolkata found a way to express their outrage. Their street protest exemplified the way in which a burst of nationalist anger that followed the border clash has been directed at the billions of dollars of Chinese investment into India’s tech sector. With crowds destroying Chinese-made electronics in street protests in several cities, New Delhi banned 59 Chinese mobile apps on the grounds that they were a threat to the country’s security. Friction between the two nuclear-armed rivals is nothing new, including the two fighting a border war in the 1960s. Indeed, fractures in the uneasy Sino-Indian relationship were already apparent before the incident in the Himalayas. Rising anti-Beijing sentiment during the coronavirus crisis prompted New Delhi in April to tighten restrictions on foreign direct investment — designed to block opportunistic Chinese takeovers. The animosity is jeopardizing the position that China’s tech groups have rapidly built up in India’s booming start-up scene and has opened the door for US tech companies and funds to take on their Chinese rivals — including Facebook, Google and Amazon. The sense that China’s tech leaders have seen India as a second home market is borne out by the profile of their investments. Among India’s top 10 tech unicorns — start-up companies valued at more than $1bn — seven are backed by a Chinese strategic investor, against only one that is backed by a US equivalent. At this point, says Karthik Reddy, co-founder of Blume Ventures, an investor in start-ups, the anti-China sentiment and takeover fears which led to the FDI rule change have already tilted the playing field towards US investors. But for any foreign investor, including those from the US, the risk of being hit with new regulations remains high. India has repeatedly used such tactics to assert local control over successful international businesses. (Editor’s note: Behind its specific details, this insightful article looks at the changing political and economic landscape as India begins to assert its place as a global up-and-coming economic powerhouse.)
PROVOCATIVE NEW IDEAS
Operation Mockingbird | Assassination of JFK – (Assissination of JFK – no date)
In the early 1950’s, CIA launched a propaganda program utilizing the expansive media machine within the United States. This program, called Operation Mockingbird, is probably the most important vehicle ever for the power that is behind the CIA to control and manipulate the public. Mockingbird is perhaps the most devastating Intel project ever inflicted on the American people and democracy in the United States. Operation Mockingbird was not just another covert program in the Cold War. Analyzing what it could add to the already tilted balance of power in the United States, it makes perhaps for the most severe blow to the democratic processes in all of America’s history. From hundreds of examples to choose from, we have mostly focused on events associated with the Kennedy assassination, even if the program existed well before Kennedy was killed and long after 1963. The big secret of Mockingbird had lasted for nearly 25 years when Senator Frank Church and his committee in the mid 1970’s exposed it for what it was. Then in a 1977 Rolling Stone article journalist Carl Bernstein gave another devastating image of the so-called free press in the United States. Bernstein painted a picture of a totally corrupt press corps that was dangerously similar to what was the reality in a totalitarian state. Bernstein explained how the use of journalists has been among the most productive means of intelligence gathering ever employed by the CIA. American journalists thought of themselves as trusted friends of the Agency who performed occasional favors in the national interest.
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – articles off the beaten track which may – or may not – have predictive value.
United States Mint Statement on Circulating Coins – (US Mint – July 23, 2020)
The impact of Covid-19 has resulted in the disruption of the supply channels of circulating coinage – the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters that the American people and businesses use in their day-to-day transactions. The United States Mint is part of the solution to this issue, but we need your help as well. Simply put, there is an adequate amount of coins in the economy, but the slowed pace of circulation has meant that sufficient quantities of coins are sometimes not readily available where needed. You may be experiencing this in your local communities. We are asking for your help in improving this coin supply issue. You can do so by paying for things with exact change and by returning spare change to circulation. Until coin circulation patterns return to normal, it may be more difficult for retailers and small businesses to accept cash payments. For millions of Americans, cash is the only form of payment and cash transactions rely on coins to make change. We ask that the American public start spending their coins, depositing them, or exchanging them for paper currency at financial institutions or taking them to a coin redemption kiosk. This can solve the coin supply problem. During the early phases of the Covid-19 crisis, the Mint temporarily reducing the number of employees per shift in order to enhance social distancing. The Mint has been operating at full production capacity since mid-June, minting almost 1.6 billion coins during the month of June. The Mint is on track to produce 1.65 billion coins per month for the remainder of the year. By comparison, in 2019, the Mint produced an average of 1 billion coins per month. We have increased production while still prioritizing the health and well-being of our employees and maintaining a reduced risk of their exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
JUST FOR FUN
The View from Other People’s Windows. – (Window Swap – no date)
So we can’t leave the country, or even be sure we can travel safely to other states. But as the folks behind Window Swap point out, that doesn’t mean our eyes have to sit still. “We’re here to fill that deep void in our wanderlust hearts by allowing us to look through someone else’s window, somewhere in the world, for a while,” they write. Just hit the link, and start globe-surfing (or submit your own): Ljubljana, Paris, Tokyo, Santiago, Bangkok, New Zealand… Works better in Chrome and Firefox than Safari.
A FINAL QUOTE
The best way to predict your future is to create it. ― Abraham Lincoln
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.
Edited by John L. Petersen