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Volume 23, Number 24 – 12/15/20


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Volume 23, Number 24 – 12/15/20

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FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT–

  • Invisible structures generated by gravitational interactions in the Solar System have created a “celestial autobahn”.
  • Scientists in Sweden and Britain now believe that blood tests measuring the levels of two key proteins can be used to predict Alzheimer’s years before the onset of symptoms.
  • A substance called 6PPD, which is used as a preservative for car tires, has been identified as the toxic chemical responsible for killing coho salmon returning to spawn in the state of Washington.
  • One study by a digital marketing company concluded that Pornhub was the technology company with the third greatest-impact on society in the 21st century, after Facebook and Google but ahead of Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.



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Ascension Activation: The New Human

Ancient Aliens producer and History Channel celebrity, William Henry, comes to TransitionTalks in January to lead fortunate participants through a process for ascension.

As spiritual beings, our quest is to raise ourselves and humanity to a higher power. Limitless. Transcendent.

Around the world people are awakening to the reality of astounding new possibilities for their personal evolution. We are racing to the transformative moment to which all of human history has pointed. We are experiencing a convergence of three massive ‘currents’:

• Artificially Intelligent quantum machines are becoming smarter than we are, in fact, superhumanly intelligent. Ultimately they take over.

• The merging of the human body with AI technology, in which humans will not be the product of evolution but the offspring of the designers and controllers of the evolutionary process — they function like the gods.

• The ‘Rapture’ or ‘Ascension’ highlighted in all the world’s spiritual traditions, when a new, more highly empowered human walks the earth.

This convergence is happening now.
The next five years will see more change than in all of previous human history. And we are the ones who will decide what that change is. If you think you’re here to participate in that transition here’s the chance to get together with other like minded people at the vanguard of human evolution.

Among other things, the workshop topics will include:
• Is the quantum world of AI related to the spiritual world?

• Is Artificial Intelligence an Alien Intelligence? What are we really up against?

• Can AI help the brain reach deeper ‘Ascension Intelligence’ of the spiritual realms?

• How do I protect my loved ones, children and grand children from the onslaught of technology and the ‘gods of Silicon Valley’?

• What does it mean to be more fully human?

Join other like minded pioneers who have real questions about the serious spiritual implications of what is unfolding.

This is your chance to learn from researcher and author, William Henry, who for nearly two decades, has been on the front lines raising our awareness about the rapidly evolving developments in AI, Transhumanism and Human Spiritual Transformation. His steady, and insightful, voice on this subject has been heard on the History Channel, GAIA, at lectures around the world, and in numerous articles on his website.


Livestream and In Person

Saturday and Sunday, 16 & 17 January, 10-5

Berkeley Springs, WV


You can personally join us at Coolfont Resort in Berkeley Springs for this two day event. If you can’t make it to Berkeley Springs, you can still watch the whole presentation by livestream … both on the 16th and 17th and anytime (and how many times you want), for two weeks thereafter. Space is limited for the in-person event, so register early.


History Channel and Ancient Aliens star William Henry will be coming to Berkeley Springs, WV on the 16th and 17th of January to do a two day workshop on the process of ascension. Click below to watch this short video.

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Click below to watch this brief visual bio of William Henry.Register today for this exciting January event!
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TRANSITION TALKS MAGAZINE



THINK LINKS


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Lockdowns Are Based on Fraud: Open Letter to People Who Want Freedom – (Jon Rappoport – December 3, 2020)
The lockdowns are based on high levels of COVID cases. This claim is based on the diagnostic PCR test. The more tests you do, the more positive results come up. A positive result is taken to mean: the person is infected with the virus. But overwhelmingly, these so-called “infected” people have no symptoms. They are healthy. Nevertheless, each one is called a “COVID case.” This is absurd. A case should mean the person has clinical symptoms; he is sick. These people aren’t sick, and there is no indication they will get sick. So…expand testing, test millions of people, obtain results claiming “infection,” call all these healthy people “cases,” and order lock downs. This is a straight-out con. The real goal is lockdowns and economic devastation.


Landmark Study Finds Masks Are Ineffective – (Merkola – December 3, 2020)
This link is to a 4 1/2 minute video clip that talks about the first randomized controlled trial of more than 6,000 individuals to assess the effectiveness of surgical face masks against SARS-CoV-2 infection. The study was done in Denmark and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and titled “Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Wearers”. Here is a link to the study. The following is taken directly from the published study: “A total of 3030 participants were randomly assigned to the recommendation to wear masks, and 2994 were assigned to control; 4862 completed the study. Infection with SARS-CoV-2 occurred in 42 participants recommended masks (1.8%) and 53 control participants (2.1%). The between-group difference was −0.3 percentage point (95% Confidence Interval (CI), −1.2 to 0.4 percentage point; P = 0.38) (odds ratio, 0.82 [CI, 0.54 to 1.23]; P = 0.33). Multiple imputation accounting for loss to follow-up yielded similar results. Although the difference observed was not statistically significant, the 95% CIs are compatible with a 46% reduction to a 23% increase in infection. Limitation: Inconclusive results, missing data, variable adherence, patient-reported findings on home tests, no blinding, and no assessment of whether masks could decrease disease transmission from mask wearers to others. Conclusion: The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50% in a community with modest infection rates, some degree of social distancing, and uncommon general mask use. The data were compatible with lesser degrees of self-protection.”


FDA Announces 2 Deaths of Pfizer Vaccine Trial Participants from “Serious Adverse Events” – (Jerusalem Post – December 9, 2020)
Ahead of the FDA’s meeting on the Pfizer vaccine, the administration announced Tuesday that two trial participants had died after receiving it. One of the deceased individuals was immunocompromised, meaning the person’s immune defenses were low. The information was obtained from documents released by the FDA. At the same time, the FDA said that currently there is not enough research to guarantee the vaccine’s safety for immunocompromized groups, pregnant women and children. “According to the published data, six of the participants in the experiment died, two of whom received the vaccine and four of the control group,” said Dr. Uri Lerner, the scientific director for Midaat. “After an in-depth examination, no connection was found between the experiment and the cause of death.”


The Covidian Cult – (Consent Factory, Inc. – October 13, 2020)
One of the hallmarks of totalitarianism is mass conformity to a psychotic official narrative. Not a regular official narrative, like the “Cold War” or the “War on Terror” narratives, but a totally delusional official narrative that has little or no connection to reality and that is contradicted by a preponderance of facts. Such is the delusional nature of the official “Covid-19” narrative. The public’s initiation into the Covidian Cult began in January, when the medical authorities and corporate media turned on The Fear with projections of hundreds of millions of deaths and fake photos of people dropping dead in the streets. The psychological conditioning has continued for months. The global masses have been subjected to a constant stream of propaganda, manufactured hysteria, wild speculation, conflicting directives, exaggerations, lies, and tawdry theatrical effects. Lockdowns. Emergency field hospitals and morgues. The singing-dancing NHS staff. Death trucks. Overflowing ICUs. Dead Covid babies. Manipulated statistics. Goon squads. Masks. And all the rest of it. Eight months later, here we are. The Head of the Health Emergencies Program at the WHO has basically confirmed an Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) of 0.14%, approximately the same as the seasonal flu. And here are the latest survival rate estimates from the Center for Disease Control: Age 0-19 – 99.997%; Age 20-49 – 99.98%; Age 50-69 – 99.5%; and Age 70+ – 94.6%. While it is crucial to continue reporting the facts and sharing them with as many people as possible — which is becoming increasingly difficult due to the censorship of alternative and social media — it is important to accept what we are up against. What we are up against is not a misunderstanding or a rational argument over scientific facts. It is a fanatical ideological movement. A global totalitarian movement … the first of its kind in human history. See also: “The American People Are Now Being Subjected to Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance.” This article compares the points in a 1956 Biderman Report on Communist coercive methods used by the Chinese and North Koreans during the Korean War for eliciting individual compliance to the coercive methods being used in the name of minimizing the spread of the Coronavirus.


COVID-19 Vaccine Data Has Been Unlawfully Accessed in Hack of EU Regulator – (Ars Technica – December 9, 2020)
Information relating to the one of the most promising coronavirus vaccines has been “unlawfully accessed” following a hack on the European regulatory body that’s in the final stages of approving it, the firms jointly developing the vaccine said. The European Medicines Agency based in Amsterdam first disclosed the breach. The statement said only that the EMA had been subject to a cyberattack and that it had begun a joint investigation along with law enforcement. The agency didn’t say when the hack happened or whether the attackers sought vaccine information, tried to infect the network with ransomware, or wanted to pursue some other purpose. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotech company BioNTech, issued a joint release that said, “Today, we were informed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that the agency has been subject to a cyber attack and that some documents relating to the regulatory submission for Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, which has been stored on an EMA server, had been unlawfully accessed.” The companies said that neither of their systems were involved in the breach and that neither company is aware of any compromised data that identifies study participants.


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The Coming War on the Hidden Algorithms That Trap People in Poverty – (Technology Review – December 4, 2020)
“Coerced debt,” is a form of abuse usually perpetrated by an intimate partner or family member. While economic abuse is a long-standing problem, digital banking has made it easier to open accounts and take out loans in a victim’s name, says Carla Sanchez-Adams, an attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. In the era of automated credit-scoring algorithms, the repercussions can also be far more devastating. Credit scores have been used for decades to assess consumer creditworthiness, but their scope is far greater now that they are powered by algorithms: not only do they consider vastly more data, in both volume and type, but they increasingly affect whether you can buy a car, rent an apartment, or get a full-time job. Their comprehensive influence means that if your score is ruined, it can be nearly impossible to recover. Worse, the algorithms are owned by private companies that don’t divulge how they come to their decisions. Victims can be sent in a downward spiral that sometimes ends in homelessness or a return to their abuser. Credit-scoring algorithms are not the only ones that affect people’s economic well-being and access to basic services. For example, algorithms now decide which children enter foster care, which patients receive medical care, which families get access to stable housing. For low-income individuals, the rapid growth and adoption of automated decision-making systems has created a hidden web of interlocking traps. Fortunately, a growing group of civil lawyers are beginning to organize around this issue. “Basically every civil lawyer is starting to deal with this stuff, because all of our clients are in some way or another being touched by these systems,” says Michele Gilman, a clinical law professor at the University of Baltimore. In her work as a civil lawyer and a poverty lawyer, her cases have always come down to the same things: representing people who’ve lost access to basic needs, like housing, food, education, work, or health care. Sometimes that means facing off with a government agency. Other times it’s with a credit reporting agency, or a landlord. Increasingly, the fight over a client’s eligibility now involves some kind of algorithm. And the clients may not be aware of that, because a lot of these systems are invisible. From her vantage point representing clients with a range of issues, Gilman has observed the rise and collision of two algorithmic webs. The first consists of credit-reporting algorithms which affect access to private goods and services like cars, homes, and employment. The second encompasses algorithms adopted by government agencies, which affect access to public benefits like health care, unemployment, and child support services. (Editor’s note: We highly recommend this article for its “peek behind the curtain” into how people’s lives are being influenced by algorithms that are almost impossible to access, much less affect.)


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Astronomers Just Found Cosmic ‘Superhighways’ for Fast Travel through the Solar System – (Science Alert – December 11, 2020)
Invisible structures generated by gravitational interactions in the Solar System have created a “space superhighway” network, astronomers have discovered. These channels enable the fast travel of objects through space, and could be harnessed for our own space exploration purposes, as well as the study of comets and asteroids. By applying analyses to both observational and simulation data, a team of researchers led by Nataša Todorović of Belgrade Astronomical Observatory in Serbia observed that these superhighways consist of a series of connected arches inside these invisible structures, called space manifolds – and each planet generates its own manifolds, together creating what the researchers have called “a true celestial autobahn”. This network can transport objects from Jupiter to Neptune in a matter of decades, rather than the much longer timescales, on the order of hundreds of thousands to millions of years, normally found in the Solar System.


The Most Intriguing Archaeological Discoveries of 2020 – (GizModo – December 7, 2020)
Archaeology is the closest thing we have to a time machine. Instead of using flux capacitors, however, archaeologists rely on technology like ground-penetrating radar, scanning electron microscopes, DNA sequencing, and of course, the good-old-fashioned shovel. Equipped with the right tools and techniques, the work of these scientists allows us to reconstruct the past and imagine things as they once were. Years from now, when we look back on the year that was 2020, archaeology won’t be the first thing that comes to mind. But that’s not to say it wasn’t a good year for this important scientific discipline, and these 12 discoveries were among the most compelling. Article includes slide show of the 12 sites.


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In Potential Gamechanger, Blood Test May Accurately Predict Alzheimer’s – (Times of Israel – December 1, 2020)
While its precise mechanism is not fully understood, Alzheimer’s appears to result from the accumulation of proteins in the brain that are thought to lead to the death of neurons. Some of these proteins are traceable in the blood of patients and tests based on their concentrations can be used to diagnose the disease. Scientists in Sweden and Britain now believe blood tests can be used to predict Alzheimer’s years before the onset of symptoms. They have developed and validated models of individual risk based on the levels of two key proteins in blood samples taken from more than 550 patients with minor cognitive impairments. The model, based on these two proteins, had an 88% success rate in predicting the onset of Alzheimer’s in the same patients over the course of four years. They said that while further research was needed, their prediction method could have a significant impact on Alzheimer’s cases, given that “plasma biomarkers” from blood tests are “promising due to their high accessibility and low cost.” Richard Oakley, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said the main struggle in battling the disease was diagnosing cases early enough to intervene with experimental treatments. “If these blood biomarkers can predict Alzheimer’s in larger, more diverse groups, we could see a revolution in how we test new dementia drugs,” he said.


Why Are Some Scientists Turning Away from Brain Scans? – (AP News – December 6, 2020)
Brain scans offer a tantalizing glimpse into the mind’s mysteries, promising an almost X-ray-like vision into how we feel pain, interpret faces and wiggle fingers. When the technology debuted in the early 1990s, it opened a seemingly revolutionary window into the human brain. Other previous imaging techniques tracked brain activity through electrodes placed on the skull or radioactive tracers injected into the bloodstream. In comparison, fMRI seemed like a fast, high-resolution and non-invasive alternative. Studies of brain images have suggested that Republicans and Democrats have visibly different thinking, that overweight adults have stronger responses to pictures of food and that it’s possible to predict a sober person’s likelihood of relapse. But such buzzy findings are coming under growing scrutiny as scientists grapple with the fact that some brain scan research doesn’t seem to hold up. Such studies have been criticized for relying on too few subjects and for incorrectly analyzing or interpreting data. Researchers have also realized a person’s brain scan results can differ from day to day — even under identical conditions — casting a doubt on how to document consistent patterns. Earlier this year, Duke University researcher Annchen Knodt’s lab published the latest paper challenging the reliability of common brain scan projects, based on about 60 studies of the past decade including her own. “We found this poor result across the board,” Knodt said. “We’re basically discrediting much of the work we’ve done.” Today, optogenetics — an emerging technique that uses light to activate neurons — is poised to be brain science’s next siren technology. Some say it’s too early to know whether they’ll adopt it as a tool. “In that early hyper-sexy phase of a new technique, it is actually really difficult to get people to do the basic work of understanding its limitations,” said Duke neuroscientist Anita Disney.


Single Gene Therapy Injection Surprisingly Boosts Vision in Both Eyes – (New Atlas – December 10, 2020)
Exciting progress is being made in treating hereditary vision loss, with studies demonstrating the potential of gene therapy to treat color blindness, progressive retinal diseases and glaucoma, with some recently receiving approval from the FDA. This latest study was conducted by scientists at the University of Cambridge, the University of Pittsburgh and Paris’ Institut de la Vision, and focuses on a form of inherited vision loss called Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON). This affects around one in 30,000 people and usually occurs in people’s 20s and 30s, destroying their retinal ganglion cells and in turn the optic nerve. Once the condition takes hold, vision can deteriorate to the point where the subject is considered legally blind in just a matter of weeks, with recovery occurring in less than 20% of cases. The majority of patients suffer from the same mutation affecting the MT-ND4 gene, so the researchers were hopeful of targeting this mutation as a way of improving treatment outcomes for sufferers of LHON. They trialed their gene therapy as part of a study involving 37 patients. This meant injecting a viral vector packed with a modified complementary DNA called rAAV2/2-ND4 into the vitreous cavity at the back of just one eye, with a sham treatment injected into the other eye. “We expected vision to improve in the eyes treated with the gene therapy vector only,” says study author Dr Yu-Wai-Man. “Rather unexpectedly, both eyes improved for 78% of patients in the trial following the same trajectory over two years of follow-up.” Further investigation showed evidence of “interocular diffusion,” with the viral vector DNA turning up in the retina, optic nerve and anterior segment of the untreated eye.


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Pollution from Car Tires Is Killing Salmon on US West Coast – (Guardian – December 3, 2020)
In recent years, scientists have realized half or more of the coho salmon, also known as silver salmon, returning to streams in Washington state were dying before spawning. The salmon, which reach 2 feet in length, are born in freshwater streams before making an epic journey out to sea where they live most of their adult lives. A small number then return to their original streams to lay eggs before dying. The nature of the threat facing coho salmon has been unclear since the fish were first seen “rolling” down streams, unable to swim upright, in the 1990s, McIntyre said. In an undisturbed riparian area it would be extremely rare for a coho salmon to die before laying its eggs but a growing sprawl of roads, cars and buildings near waterways has coincided with a surge in pre-spawning deaths. A reduction in 6PPD use or buffers to prevent the flow of pollution could help stem the loss of salmon, McIntyre said. When it rains, stormwater carries fragments of old car tires into nearby creeks and streams. The tires contain certain chemicals that prevent them breaking down but also prove deadly to the coho salmon. Samples taken from urban streams around Puget Sound, near Seattle, and subsequent laboratory work identified a substance called 6PPD, which is used as a preservative for car tires, as the toxic chemical responsible for killing the salmon. It’s currently unclear how it kills the fish but McIntyre said it was likely to be an “acute cardio-respiratory problem”. The finding suggests that fish and other creatures elsewhere in the US and around the world are also at risk from the car tire chemical. Animals are being “exposed to this giant chemical soup and we don’t know what many of the chemicals in it even are”, said co-author Edward Kolodziej, an associate professor at the University of Washington. “Here we started with a mix of 2,000 chemicals and were able to get all the way down to this one highly toxic chemical, something that kills large fish quickly and we think is probably found on every single busy road in the world,” Kolodziej added.


Worst Junk Science Season on Record – (Real Climate Science – November 14, 2020)
Tony Heller who curates this website offers a video clip comparing this summer’s news reporting on acreage burned during this year’s “recording breaking fire season with nearly 13 million acres burned” to burn acreage taken from newspaper reports dating back to the 1930s and even earlier. Heller does good archival research; what’s worth noting is how consistently the press sensationalize numbers with plenty of superlatives (“worst ever”, etc.) but a shortage of due diligence for facts.


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The Children of Pornhub – (New York Times – December 4, 2020)
Pornhub prides itself on being the cheery, winking face of naughty, the website that buys a billboard in Times Square and provides snow plows to clear Boston streets. It donates to organizations fighting for racial equality and offers steamy content free to get people through Covid-19 shutdowns. That supposedly “wholesome Pornhub” attracts 3.5 billion visits a month, more than Netflix, Yahoo or Amazon. Pornhub rakes in money from almost three billion ad impressions a day. One ranking lists Pornhub as the 10th-most-visited website in the world. Yet there’s another side of the company: Its site is infested with rape videos. It monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags. A search for “girls under18” (no space) or “14yo” leads in each case to more than 100,000 videos. Most aren’t of children being assaulted, but too many are. Pornhub is owned by Mindgeek, a private pornography conglomerate with more than 100 websites, production companies and brands. There are other major players in porn outside the Mindgeek umbrella, but Mindgeek is a porn titan. If it operated in another industry, the Justice Department could be discussing an antitrust case against it. One study by a digital marketing company concluded that Pornhub was the technology company with the third greatest-impact on society in the 21st century, after Facebook and Google but ahead of Microsoft, Apple and Amazon. Nominally based in Luxembourg for tax reasons, Mindgeek is run from Montreal. Pornhub appears to be increasingly alarmed about civil or criminal liability. Lawyers are circling, and nine women sued the company in federal court after spy cam videos surfaced on Pornhub. Executives of Pornhub appear in the past to have assumed that they enjoyed immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects internet platforms on which members of the public post content. But in 2018 Congress limited Section 230 so that it may not be enough to shield the company. While Pornhub is becoming more careful about videos of potentially litigious Americans, it remains cavalier about overseas victims. There aren’t any neat solutions; the dark web makes those impossible. But aside from limiting immunity so that companies are incentivized to behave better, here are three steps that would help: 1.) Allow only verified users to post videos. 2.) Prohibit downloads. 3.) Increase moderation. See also: An Uplifting Update, on the Terrible World of Pornhub.


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Carlo Ratti’s Latest Architectural Feat Is 8 Tennis Courts Stacked in a 300ft Tower – (Yanko Design – December 2, 20200
Carlo Ratti’s Playscaper is a 300 ft tall tower that stacks eight tennis courts. In collaboration with Italo, the concept makes tennis courts more accessible in urban areas where space is often an issue. What makes this more interesting is its flexible nature, Playscraper can be quickly assembled and disassembled which makes it easier to host competitions around the world while reducing construction costs and not requiring a large area. Playscaper will provide 60,000 ft2 of total playing space with its vertically layered courts. The tower’s structure will be made using lightweight stainless-steel which is inspired by the outer shell of a spacecraft and developed by Broad Sustainable Building. “This project would not just create a new icon for sports lovers. It also experiments with a new type of public space, extending vertically instead of horizontally. The tower is easy to install and dismantle and can be easily moved. This flexible approach fits the circular nature of today’s sports competitions, which move from location to location throughout the year,” says architect and engineer Carlo Ratti, founder of CRA and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab. Designed not just for the players on the court, the long sides of each ‘box’ incorporate an electronic façade that can stream sports matches and other digital content. While on the short sides, transparent walls offer panoramic views of the outdoors.


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China Turns on Nuclear-powered ‘Artificial Sun’ – (PhysOrg – December 4, 2020)
China successfully powered up its “artificial sun” nuclear fusion reactor for the first time, according to state media, marking a great advance in the country’s nuclear power research capabilities. The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device, and scientists hope that the device can potentially unlock a powerful clean energy source. It uses a powerful magnetic field to fuse hot plasma and can reach temperatures of over 150 million degrees Celsius, according to the People’s Daily—approximately ten times hotter than the core of the sun. Located in southwestern Sichuan province and completed late last year, the reactor is often called an “artificial sun” on account of the enormous heat and power it produces. “The development of nuclear fusion energy is not only a way to solve China’s strategic energy needs, but also has great significance for the future sustainable development of China’s energy and national economy,” said the People’s Daily. Chinese scientists have been working on developing smaller versions of the nuclear fusion reactor since 2006.


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Folding Electric Scooter Can Be Carried in the Hand or in a Backpack – (New Atlas – December 4, 2020)
Micro-mobility startup WheelKinetic has launched a squat little electric scooter called the BooZter which folds down to a portable package that can be carried by hand or thrown in a backpack. Like the Taur electric scooter, the BooZter sports a flip-up foot rest on either side of its frame that allows for a forward-facing stance when on the move. And also like the Taur, the maker WheelKinect – which has an R&D center in the Ukraine and a sales office in the US – is seeking production funding over on Kickstarter for its unusual-looking ride. Constructed using carbon fiber, titanium and aluminum, the 14-lb electric scoot is small enough to fit in a backpack or even a laptop bag when folded down to 10 x 18.5 inches in around 10 seconds, or can be carried by hand using a convenient integrated handle. When the ride is folded down, its wheels sit inside the unit to potentially lock away any dirt accumulated while scooting. A 250-W rear wheel motor offers a top speed of 12.4 mph, while the replaceable battery has a per charge range of 12.4 miles. Or a less powerful battery can be installed to make the scooter compatible with TSA air-travel regulations. Kickstarter pledges for the BooZter start at US$899, with the estimated retail price being $1,300. The usual crowdfunding caveats apply, but if all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in August 2021. (Editor’s note: For getting around large college campuses, this looks fabulous.)


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Electric, Autonomous Monarch Tractor Is Billed as the World’s Smartest – (New Atlas – December 8, 2020)
Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen autonomous driving technologies start to filter into the agriculture scene. This includes baby steps such as the self-steering robotic tractor we looked at way back in 2011 and, at the other end of the spectrum, audacious electric tractors that do away with the driver cabin entirely. The Monarch Tractor still has space aboard for a driver, but carries the technology needed to either assist the driver or simply operate on its own. With 360-degree cameras, a suite of sensors and autonomous navigation software, the Monarch Tractor can be be made to carry out pre-programmed tasks without a person onboard. Otherwise, operators can control the tractor through gestures from the ground, or have it follow them as they carry out tasks through “Shadow” mode. Using deep learning software, the Monarch Tractor is also designed to learn as it goes. This means it can use its sensors and imaging equipment to gather and analyze as much as 240 GB of data every day to assist with things like crop yield estimates and long-term analysis of crop health, becoming more accurate the longer it runs. The Monarch Tractor uses an all-electric powertrain for zero tailpipe emissions. Specs and price in article.


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FireEye, a Top Cybersecurity Firm, Says It Was Hacked by a Nation-State – (New York Times – December 8, 2020)
For years, the cybersecurity firm FireEye has been the first call for government agencies and companies around the world who have been hacked by the most sophisticated attackers, or fear they might be. Now it looks like the hackers — in this case, evidence points to Russia’s intelligence agencies — may be exacting their revenge. The $3.5 billion company, which partly makes a living by identifying the culprits in some of the world’s boldest breaches — its clients have included Sony and Equifax — declined to say explicitly who was responsible. But its description, and the fact that the F.B.I. has turned the case over to its Russia specialists, left little doubt who the lead suspects were and that they were after what the company calls “Red Team tools.” These are essentially digital tools that replicate the most sophisticated hacking tools in the world. FireEye uses the tools — with the permission of a client company or government agency — to look for vulnerabilities in their systems. Most of the tools are based in a digital vault that FireEye closely guards. In the attack, the hackers went to extraordinary lengths to avoid being seen. They created several thousand internet protocol addresses — many inside the United States — that had never before been used in attacks. By using those addresses to stage their attack, it allowed the hackers to better conceal their whereabouts. The hack was the biggest known theft of cybersecurity tools since those of the National Security Agency were purloined in 2016 by a still-unidentified group that calls itself the ShadowBrokers. That group dumped the N.S.A.’s hacking tools online over several months, handing nation-states and hackers the “keys to the digital kingdom,” as one former N.S.A. operator put it. North Korea and Russia ultimately used the N.S.A.’s stolen weaponry in destructive attacks on government agencies, hospitals and the world’s biggest conglomerates — at a cost of more than $10 billion.


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Trump Blows a Hole in the GOP on His Way Out – (Politico – December 8, 2020)
As his presidency comes to a close, Trump has not only imprinted his smash-mouth style on the GOP, he has wrenched open the schism between the activist class and the elected class, according to interviews with more than a dozen Republican Party officials and strategists in the states. State party chairs are tearing into their governors. Elected officials are knifing one another in the back. Failed candidates are seizing on Trump’s rhetoric to claim they were also victims of voter fraud in at least a half dozen states. Enmity between the Republican Party’s populist and establishment wings has existed in some form for years, long predating Trump. But Trump’s domination of the party has exacerbated the gulf between them, and his persistent demand that Republicans choose sides has left little room for compromise. He is leaving the party at an unfamiliar crossroads: The outgoing president is a defeated candidate, but unlike recent one-term presidents, he is adored by the base and is the source of a significant expansion of the GOP’s ranks — something state party chairs will be loath to let go. Jeff Kaufmann, a former Iowa state lawmaker who has been the state party chairman since 2014, said that “as the party chair, we have to ensure that Donald Trump’s attitude toward establishment-era politics” is maintained, describing part of that appeal as giving “the middle finger to the establishment.” Michael Burke, chair of the Republican Party in Pinal County, Arizona said, “it’s still Donald Trump’s party. He’s probably, I believe, going to be the most consequential former president in our lifetime.” Of tension in the party, he said, “I think it will be long-lasting.”


Barr’s Killing Spree – (Reader Supported News – December 7, 2020)
Attorney General William Barr gave the green light to re-start federal executions this past July, after a 17-year hiatus. And they really are his executions since he’s the ultimate decider: he gets to chose who and how many will die, and when. The only fixed aspect is where they’ll happen, since federal executions are carried out at the prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. Barr had to squeeze in two of his executions in September – one was on the day before and the other on the day after he got an award from the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast event for his “Christ-like behavior.” All told, he will have killed 13 inmates before he packs his bags on January 20. “The race to kill so many in such a short time is unprecedented,” says Richard Dieter, the former head of the Death Penalty Information Center. “You have to go back over a hundred years to see anything similar – like when the federal government hanged 38 Dakota Tribe members in Minnesota on December 26, 1862.” Barr has been a major player in the move to lengthen prison sentences. In 1992, when he was the attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, he wrote a report, “The Case for More Incarceration,” arguing that the U.S. needed to imprison even more people, although the country already had (and still has) the highest incarceration rate in the world. Barr also insisted that the country needed more prisons, since “revolving door justice resulting from inadequate prison and jail space breeds disrespect for the law.” The U.S. has 54 other federal inmates on death row, some of whom have been there for nearly two decades and who have committed equally awful crimes which raises the question about why these particular 13? The sole woman (whose story is one of constant childhood sexual abuse and incest, over many years) is severely mentally ill, and two are intellectually disabled – both categories that federal law says are not to be executed (in 2002, the Supreme Court ruled in Atkins v Virginia that it is unconstitutional to execute those with mental retardation). Two others to be executed didn’t actually do the murders for which they were sentenced.


Justice Department Asserts Unreviewable Discretion to Kill US Citizens – (Courthouse News – November 16, 2020)
Drawing alarm at the D.C. Circuit, a lawyer for the United States argued that the government has the power to kill its citizens without judicial oversight when state secrets are involved. “Do you appreciate how extraordinary that proposition is?” U.S. Circuit Judge Patricia Millett asked Justice Department attorney Bradley Hinshelwood, paraphrasing his claim as giving the government the ability to “unilaterally decide to kill U.S. citizens.” The hearing before the federal appeals court came as the government fights to hold off allegations by two journalists who say it wrongly targeted them as terrorists in Syria. One of the journalists, U.S. citizen Bilal Abdul Kareem, says his interviews with al-Qaida-linked militants landed him on the U.S. kill list. Just in June and August 2016, Kareem says, the U.S. government targeted him five times, including one drone strike involving a U.S.-made Hellfire missile. U.S. Circuit Judge Karen Henderson, a George H. W. Bush appointee, said she viewed it as a “spectacular delusion of grandeur” that Kareem claims a series of U.S. missiles were aimed at him. “These happened with eerie precisions,” the attorney argued, referring to the five alleged strikes against her client.


US Strategists Lost Empathy, Along with Their Wars – (Responsible Statecraft – November 3, 2020)
Geopolitical power is really, in the end, local and relative: it is the power that a state is willing to bring to bear in a particular place or on a particular issue relative to the power that a rival state will bring to bear. Furthermore, the degree of the willingness to mobilize and use power and to make sacrifices depends ultimately on whether the issue concerned is believed to be a vital national interest. If it is only a secondary interest, then it is one on which the statesman should be prepared to make concessions and seek compromise. The first step in this process of empathy is simply to listen to what the other side says. This however is not in itself enough, for they may of course be exaggerating an issue’s importance as a bluff or a negotiating gambit. It is therefore also necessary to study in depth the history, politics and culture of the country concerned. This is especially true of the Middle East. Given the nature of this region, any outside state, democratic or otherwise, seeking to play an important role there will inevitably be compelled to engage in certain immoral actions — including alliances with corrupt and murderous dictatorships. There are obvious tensions between some Russian interests and secondary U.S. interests, but on one issue — the danger from Sunni Islamist extremism and terrorism — a vital interest of Russia is completely identical with our own. Because of this danger, U.S. administrations, like the Russians, have often supported existing authoritarian Muslim states for fear that their overthrow would lead to chaos and the triumph of Islamist extremism. Yet a Western narrative has emerged of Russia engaging in wicked support for “brutal dictatorships” in the Middle East, and that this policy in turn is linked not to fear of Islamist extremism, but implacable anti-Americanism and reckless geopolitical ambition. This article goes on to explore the issues involved here in somewhat greater depth but, most importantly, suggests that some of the lessons which could be learned in the US/Russia arena (having diplomatic empathy and a recognition of which issues another country feels are vital and which are actually secondary) apply strongly to the US/China arena.


Mathematician Shows That in Arizona the Dominion Machines Counted Biden Votes as 1.3 Votes and Trump Votes as 0.7 Votes – (Paul Craig Roberts – December 1, 2020)
Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai is the inventor of email, a scientist, entrepreneur, and Fulbright Scholar who holds 4 degrees from MIT. In a presentation to the Arizona legislators, Dr. Ayyadurai explains that voting machines have a feature that permits “vote weighting” and that the only reason for such a feature is election fraud. This presentation to the Arizona legislators is worth the 32.5 minutes of your time. The explanation will greatly increase your ability to understand how easy election theft is and make you aware that election officials intentionally organize election fraud. The vote weighting was not a glitch, or a data entry problem, or some other kind of “mistake.” It was organized election theft. It is extraordinary that state governments have approved the use of machines that are designed not to count the actual vote but to steal elections. As this is a direct violation of the 14th Amendment, the Supreme Court should step in and prohibit the use of machines designed to subvert the equal protection clause of the US Constitution.


Sometimes Life Really Is Like a Bad Dream – (LewRockwell – December 14, 2020)
Whatever you think of Donald Trump, he has been POTUS for four years, with access to whole lot of non-public information about his colleagues in government, including who among them has been playing footsie with the tentacles of China, and lots more. Accordingly, and prompted by four years of non-stop seditious harassment by a deranged Democratic Party, would you suppose he had a plan to meet some version of what played out on November 3? I (the author of this article) would suppose, for instance, that Mr. Trump’s military intelligence allies saw, in real time on election night, all the packets of internet data that Dominion vote tabulation machines in the USA sent across the Atlantic to the Dominion server lodged in the CIA’s Frankfurt, Germany, cyberwarfare station. This, you understand, when those Dominion machines in the USA were forbidden by law to be connected to the Internet. If you’re a regular reader here, you will recall the recent report of a US Army special forces operation going into the Frankfurt CIA station directly after the election and seizing servers there. Assume that they underwent forensic dissection afterward. If you were President Trump, would you suspect that the CIA might be playing dangerous games with you (and by extension, the nation)? Are you aware that China has a 75% investment stake in the holding company that now owns Dominion? Are there grounds to suppose that China somehow interfered in the election? With assistance from an eager Democratic Party and the CIA? And are you aware that in the weeks since the election there have been unusual movements of US military aircraft around the country, including C-130 “Hercules” troop carrier planes? And that the navy has two carrier groups out along the Pacific Coast and three strung along the Atlantic coast? That’s what I hear. Remember, the president cleaned house at the top of the Pentagon this fall, and probably not for nothing. Sounds like preparation for something… some extraordinary executive action to prevent the national security risk known as Joe Biden from being sworn-in as president — in the absence of anything else in a strictly constitutional way that would keep that from happening, like a Supreme Court decision that would order the rare passing on of the disputed 2020 election to the House of Representatives for resolution, with a strong statistical likelihood that the body would re-elect Mr. Trump.


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The New Influencer Capital of America – (New York Times – December 11, 2020)
It’s no secret Atlanta is one of the nation’s great culture capitals, home to many power brokers in music, fashion and the arts — a city that, since the 1980s, has produced some of the biggest names in rap, R&B and hip-hop, and over the last decade, seen explosive growth in its entertainment industry (thanks, in part, to Georgia’s generous tax credits). This mighty metropolis is also where some of the internet’s most important creators are living and working today. Atlanta is where 15-year-old Jalaiah Harmon created the Renegade, a dance that took over TikTok in late 2019 and remains one of the app’s best-known viral trends. It’s where Lil Nas X turned “Old Town Road” into not just a hit single but the biggest thing on the internet. It’s where YouTube stars with followings in the multimillions record their videos and where some of TikTok’s biggest viral videos and trending challenges began at a casual weekly meet-up called TikTok Thursdays. Like most people making content online, they’re hard working, focused and have a deep understanding of the internet. But they show none of the entitlement or attitude that has come to characterize the better-known TikTok stars of Los Angeles. Another key difference revolves around race. Atlanta’s creators are predominantly Black. In Los Angeles, on the other hand, most influencer collectives have no or very few Black creators. And despite creating and driving many of the internet’s biggest trends, Black creators receive fewer brand deals and are consistently paid less than their White peers. But Atlanta’s new generation of entertainers is hoping to change that. Over the past year, mansions full of young influencers have proliferated across the United States (in Los Angeles, Dallas and Las Vegas) and around the world (France, the U.K., Mexico, Spain and Russia). Perhaps the best known is the Hype House, which formed in December 2019 and drove a creator-house boom in the Los Angeles area — the center, in popular imagination, of celebrity, trends and influencer culture. Recently, two all-Black Gen Z creator mansions, the Collab Crib and the Valid Crib, opened in Atlanta about 30 miles apart. Their members want to cement Atlanta as a hub for online talent and are hoping these homes will bring a level of legitimacy to their status within the larger creator ecosystem. Collectively, the members of these two houses are already responsible for dozens of viral trends. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article, particularly if all this is new territory for you.)


How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation – (Vox – December 3, 2020)
Anne Helen Petersen, author of Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, reflects on why millennials have internalized the worst parts of their condition. The sort of burnout Petersen describes goes beyond mere exhaustion, which is at least fleeting. If you’re truly burned out, there’s no escape. It’s what happens when you live without any margin for error, when you’re always one accident or illness away from bankruptcy or eviction. Living so close to ruin saps the joy from nearly everything because there’s no security, no peace of mind. George Carlin had this great line about the American dream. He said “They call it a dream because you have to be asleep to believe it,” and that’s kind of what we’re talking about. This fantasy that if you work hard, if you matriculate through the system, you’ll find your footing and have a stable life is just dead. Millennials might be the first generation to really confront this, although I’m sure Gen-Xers would disagree. And I think people who weren’t white and middle class already knew that for a long time, right? That the meritocracy at the heart of the American dream was just a lie. And now that white middle-class people are discovering it’s a lie, it’s become a majority consensus. Middle-class or “knowledge workers” often confront burnout by throwing money at it — which doesn’t really work but does provide some semblance of stability. Retail workers dealing with lack of health insurance, algorithm-controlled scheduling, harassment on the job with little recourse — they get burned out, don’t have money to throw at the problem, and just keep going. Sometimes that means they end up in the emergency room, on disability, reported to child services. For them, the stakes of burnout are just so much higher. Every generation has had some version of this, and probably every time it seems like it’s more intense and more widespread. Petersen notes in the book that burnout isn’t a uniquely millennial condition. So what is it about this world and this moment that makes millennial burnout different? Petersen’s answer to that is nuanced and worth reading.


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The Solar System Follows the Galactic Standard—But It Is a Rare Breed – (PhysOrg – November 30, 2020)
Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, have investigated more than 1000 planetary systems orbiting stars in our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and have discovered a series of connections between planetary orbits, number of planets, occurrence and the distance to their stars. It turns out that our own solar system in some ways is very rare, and in others very ordinary. It is rare to have eight planets, but the study shows that the solar system follows exactly the same, very basic rules for the formation of planets around a star that they all do. The researchers have found a very clear correlation between the number of planets and how circular the orbits are. “Actually, this is not really a surprise,” professor Uffe Gråe Jørgensen explains. “But our solar system is unique in the sense that no other solar systems with as many planets as ours are known. So perhaps it could be expected that our solar system doesn’t fit into the correlation. But it does—as a matter of fact, it is right on.” There are approximately 10 billion Earth-like planets in the habitable zone, i.e. in a distance from their star allowing for the existence of liquid water. But there is a huge difference between being in the habitable zone and being habitable or having developed a technological civilization, Uffe Gråe Jørgensen stresses. “Something is the cause of the fact that there aren’t a huge amount of UFOs out there. When the conquest of the planets in a solar system has begun, it goes pretty quickly. We have been to the moon and on Mars we have several robots already. But there aren’t a whole lot of UFOs from the billions of Earth-like exo-planets in the habitable zones of the stars, so life and technological civilizations in particular are probably still fairly scarce.”


‘Fast Movers’ and Transmedium Vehicles – The Pentagon’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force – (Debrief – December 2, 2020)
For the last two years, the Department of Defense’s newly revamped “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force” (or UAPTF) has been busy briefing lawmakers, Intelligence Community stakeholders, and the highest levels of the U.S. military on encounters with what they say are mysterious airborne objects that defy conventional explanations. Numerous sources from various government agencies confirm that these reports include clear photographic evidence of UAP. The reports also explicitly state that the Task Force is considering the possibility that these unidentified objects could, as stated by one source from the U.S. Intelligence Community said, be operated by “intelligences of unknown origin.” Significantly, a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general and head of RAND corporation’s Space Enterprise Initiative has—for the first time—gone on record to discuss some of the most likely explanations for UAP. On October 21st, 2019, a briefing on UAP was conducted at the Pentagon for several Senate Armed Services Committee staffers. Attendees at the meeting were provided information on two previous DoD-backed UFO programs: The Advanced Aerial Weapons Systems Applications Program (AAWSAP) and the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). They were also briefed on “highly sensitive categories of UFO investigations.” Two days later on October 23rd, staffers with the Senate Select Intelligence Committee were provided the same information in a meeting on Capitol Hill.


Former Israeli Space Security Chief Says Aliens Exist, Humanity Not Ready – (Jerusalem Post – December 8, 2020)
Speaking in an interview to Yediot Aharonot, retired Israeli general and current professor Haim Eshed – who served as the head of Israel’s space security program for nearly 30 years and is a three-time recipient of the Israel Security Award – explained that Israel and the US have both been dealing with aliens for years. Eshed confirmed the existence of a “Galactic Federation.” The 87-year-old former space security chief gave further descriptions about exactly what sort of agreements have been made between the aliens and the US, which ostensibly have been made because they wish to research and understand “the fabric of the universe.” This cooperation includes a secret underground base on Mars, where there are American and alien representatives. If true, this would coincide with US President Donald Trump’s creation of the Space Force as the fifth branch of the US armed forces, though it is unclear how long this sort of relationship, if any, has been going on between the US and its reported extraterrestrial allies.


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Amazon’s New Health Band Is the Most Invasive Tech We’ve Ever Tested – (Washington Post – December 10, 2020)
Amazon has a new health-tracking bracelet with a microphone and an app that tells you everything that’s wrong with you. You haven’t exercised or slept enough, reports Amazon’s $65 Halo Band. Your body has too much fat, the Halo’s app shows in a 3-D rendering of your near-naked body. And even: Your tone of voice is “overbearing” or “irritated,” the Halo determines, after listening through its tiny microphone on your wrist. We hope our tone is clear here: We don’t need this kind of criticism from a computer. The Halo collects the most intimate information we’ve seen from a consumer health gadget — and makes the absolute least use of it. This wearable is much better at helping Amazon gather data than at helping you get healthy and happy. Since August, the Halo has been listed by Amazon as an “early access” product that requires an “invitation” to buy. (It will cost $100 plus a $4 monthly fee once it’s sold widely.) We’re reviewing the Halo now because Amazon’s first digital wellness product offers a glimpse of how one of tech’s most influential companies thinks about the future of health. And what could be better to do when we’re lonely during a pandemic than have an always-listening device point out our flaws?


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This Japanese Shop Is 1,020 Years Old. It Knows a Bit About Surviving Crises. – (New York Times – December 12, 2020)
The Hasegawa family sells toasted mochi out of a small, cedar-timbered shop next to a rambling old shrine in Kyoto. The family started the business to provide refreshments to weary travelers coming from across Japan to pray for pandemic relief — in the year 1000. Japan is an old-business superpower. The country is home to more than 33,000 with at least 100 years of history — over 40 percent of the world’s total, according to a study by the Tokyo-based Research Institute of Centennial Management. Over 3,100 have been running for at least two centuries. Around 140 have existed for more than 500 years. And at least 19 claim to have been continuously operating since the first millennium. “If you look at the economics textbooks, enterprises are supposed to be maximizing profits, scaling up their size, market share and growth rate. But these companies’ operating principles are completely different,” said Kenji Matsuoka, a professor emeritus of business at Ryukoku University in Kyoto. “Their No. 1 priority is carrying on,” he added. “Each generation is like a runner in a relay race. What’s important is passing the baton.” Most of these old businesses are small, family-run enterprises that deal in traditional goods and services. But some are among Japan’s most famous companies, including Nintendo, which got its start making playing cards 131 years ago, and the soy sauce brand Kikkoman, which has been around since 1917. The Japanese companies that have endured the longest have often been defined by an aversion to risk — shaped in part by past crises — and an accumulation of large cash reserves. It is a common trait among Japanese enterprises and part of the reason that the country has so far avoided the high bankruptcy rates of the United States during the pandemic. When Toshio Goto, a professor at the Japan University of Economics Graduate School and representative director of the Research Institute of Centennial Management, conducted a survey this summer of companies that are at least 100 years old, more than a quarter said they had enough funds on hand to operate for two years or longer.


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International Photography Awards – (Photoawards – 2020)
The International Photography Awards have just announced their 2020 winners, choosing from among the work of some 13,000 professional photographers around the world. Here are some extraordinary photos, from Antarctic landscapes to Hong Kong democracy protests to a lightning storm over Canberra, Australia, to… well, nature and sports and more categories of professional advertising than you knew existed.


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There is nothing like a dream to create the future.
― Victor Hugo

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A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Barbara Koeppel, Diane Petersen, Todd Pierce, 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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Volume 23, Number 23 – 12/1/20

John Petersen 2020 – Becoming a New Human — Rising to Engage the Biggest Change in History, Part 2