Volume 24, Number 10 – 5/15/21

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Volume 24, Number 10 – 5/15/2021


  • Start-up InsectSense and Wageningen Bioveterinary Research have trained bees to identify the smell of the coronavirus.
  • Sharks navigate using the Earth’s magnetic fields like a map.
  • Researchers in Australia calculated that 21 airports there could potentially produce enough solar energy to power 136,000 homes.
  • Many drivers are unaware of the fact that their cars are generating enormous amounts of data, often including extremely sensitive information inadvertently synced from smartphones.

The Practical Process of Preparing for the Coming Changes

Saturday, May 15
in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

You’ve noticed, of course, that everything is coming unglued. All kinds of dramatic, disruptive prospects are now freely flying around: Global Reset, civil war, changing human DNA, experimental injections, lockdown, stolen elections, the end of privacy, family conflicts, failing businesses – all of which are amping up fear and uncertainty. 

The big question is this:

If this fluid environment is going to increase in tempo and unpredictability over the coming months and years – as many serious forecasters suggest – then how do we, as participants on the leading edge of this epochal change, rise to the occasion and evolve into the place where we begin to become the “new humans” that are going to thrive in and shape this emerging new world . . . rather than relegating ourselves to being whipped around on the tail-end of compounding crises.

Futurist John Petersen returns to TransitionTalks on the 15th of May to specifically address what he has discovered from extracting the characteristics and options available to us all at this leading edge of change.  John will present an integrated approach to surfing the great shift that offers the best ideas from conventional assessors of change management coupled with big-picture understandings of this evolutionary jump, where it may be going and . . . how we can all begin to change how we live to be able to ride this wave rather than be battered on the rocks of personal chaos that will confront many around us.

This will be an unusual – and special – opportunity to begin to both understand what is headed this way and to learn of specific, practical ways in which prepare for and navigate the turbulent times ahead.  

Click below for more information about this event and to get tickets.
Click Here for Tickets and More Info
Futurist John L. Petersen returns to TransitionTalks on May 15th to specifically address what he has discovered from extracting the characteristics and options available to us all at this leading edge of change.

Scientists Find How AstraZeneca Vaccine Causes Clots – (WebMD – April 22, 2021)

Scientists in Germany say they’ve worked out the two-step mechanism by which the AstraZeneca vaccine causes rare but devastating blood clots that gobble up the body’s supply of platelets. So far, European regulators have reported more than 220 cases of unusual blood clots and low levels of platelets in patients who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, now called Vaxzevria, which was developed with funding from the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program to spur development of a suite of vaccines to protect people from COVID-19. The AstraZeneca vaccine has not yet been authorized for use in the United States. “This is, in my opinion, rock-solid evidence,” said Andreas Greinacher, MD, head of the Institute of Immunology and Transfusion Medicine, University Hospital Greifswald, Germany, who was among the first scientists in the world to link the rare clots to antibodies against a key protein in platelets. Greinacher said that he believes the mechanism linking the vaccine with the rare clotting reactions is likely to apply to other vaccines that also use adenoviruses to ferry instructions for making the virus’s spike protein into cells. “My assumption is, and that’s a hypothesis, that this is a class effect of vaccines using adenovirus,” he said. In his new study, Greinacher and colleagues describe a series of events that has to happen in the body before the vaccines create these large clots. He explained that while everyone has the basic immune machinery that leads to the unusual clots, it is almost always kept in balance. The body uses a series of checks to prevent any step in the process from getting out of control. Article explains the two-step mechanism by which the clots are formed.

One of the World’s Poorest Countries Has One of the World’s Lowest COVID Death Rates – (NPR – May 4, 2021)

Haiti has one of the lowest death rates from COVID-19 in the world. As of the end of April, only 254 deaths were attributed to COVID-19 in Haiti over the course of the entire pandemic. The Caribbean nation, which often struggles with infectious diseases, has a COVID-19 death rate of just 22 per million. In the U.S. the COVID-19 death rate is 1,800 per million, and in parts of Europe the fatality rate is approaching 3,000 deaths per million. Haiti’s success is not due to some innovative intervention against the virus. Most people have given up wearing masks in public. Buses and markets are crowded. And Haiti hasn’t yet administered a single COVID-19 vaccine. “The reason mainly is because we have very, very few cases of COVID,” said Dr. Jean “Bill”. The local health agency headed by Pape, known as GHESKIO, actually shuttered its COVID-19 units last fall due to a lack of patients. Last June, the country of 11 million was hit with a significant wave of infections. Hospital wards filled with COVID-19 patients. At the time, the country only had two places that could test for the virus, so the actual number of infections is unknown. Now, testing is far more available, but Pape says very few cases are detected each day. The pandemic may have had less of an impact in Haiti, Dr. Jacqueline Gautier, the director of the St. Damien Pediatric Hospital on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, says, because it’s a young country. The average age is 23. COVID-19 infections tend to be less severe in younger people. It’s also possible, she says, that a significant number of people were infected by the virus last summer, showed no symptoms and built up immunity. Also houses tend to be open with plenty of ventilation – air flow can knock the pathogen out of the picture. The daily problems facing Haiti are many: poverty, political instability, wild fluctuations in the value of the local currency, corruption, and armed gangs. Diarrhea remains a major killer of children. “So people don’t see COVID as a major problem for us. And who can blame them?” she said.

Training Bees to Smell the Coronavirus – (Wageningen University – May 3, 2021)

Bees can detect volatiles with a sensitivity of parts per trillion. For example, they find a flower a few kilometers away. Bees, like dogs, can learn to detect volatiles and odors, but with just a few minutes of training. Start-up InsectSense and Wageningen Bioveterinary Research have trained bees to extend their tongues when they smell the coronavirus. The coronavirus, like other diseases, causes metabolic changes in the body that causes a smell. Bees can be trained within minutes to recognize the scent of samples infected with SARS-CoV-2. The bees were trained to detect SARS-CoV-2 infected samples in a Pavlovian conditioning method. Each time the bees were exposed to the scent from an infected sample, they received a sugar water solution reward. The samples used in the first experiments were collected from healthy and SARS-CoV-2 infected minks. In the experiments with the mink-samples, several bees indicated very good results and were able to distinguish the infected samples and those from healthy animals with very low numbers of false positives and false negatives. Similar great results were also achieved in later experiments with human samples as well. The next step is to work on the scalability of this approach. Bees are globally accessible, so the only thing people need is a machine to be able to train bees. InsectSense already has developed the  prototypes of a machine that can automatically train multiple bees simultaneously and a biosensor that deploys the trained bees for diagnosis. InsectSense is also now working with scientists from Wageningen University & Research on ‘LumiNose technology’, a biochip that involves using insect genes which can be applied for accurate detection of volatile substances. The technology is further integrated with machine learning technology for fingerprinting volatiles. This technology will test rapidly and will be non-invasive, cost-effective and highly accurate, and can even recognize the severity of a disease.

The Novel Coronavirus’ Spike Protein Plays Additional Key Role in Illness – (Salk Institute – April 30, 2021)

Scientists have known for a while that SARS-CoV-2’s distinctive “spike” proteins help the virus infect its host by latching on to healthy cells. And there’s been a growing consensus that SARS-CoV-2 affects the vascular system, but exactly how it did so was not understood. Now, a major new study shows that the virus spike proteins (which behave very differently than those safely encoded by vaccines) also play a key role in the disease itself. The paper, published on April 30, 2021, in Circulation Research, shows conclusively that COVID-19 is a vascular disease, demonstrating exactly how the SARS-CoV-2 virus damages and attacks the vascular system on a cellular level. The findings help explain COVID-19’s wide variety of seemingly unconnected complications, and could open the door for new research into more effective therapies. Assistant Research Professor Uri Manor, who is co-senior author of the study, said, “That could explain why some people have strokes, and why some people have issues in other parts of the body. The commonality between them is that they all have vascular underpinnings.” Salk researchers collaborated with scientists at the University of California San Diego. The researchers created a “pseudovirus” that was surrounded by SARS-CoV-2 classic crown of spike proteins, but did not contain any actual virus. Exposure to this pseudovirus resulted in damage to the lungs and arteries of an animal model—proving that the spike protein alone was enough to cause disease. Tissue samples showed inflammation in endothelial cells lining the pulmonary artery walls.

Bombshell Salk Institute Science Paper Reveals the Covid Spike Protein Is What’s Causing Deadly Blood Clots… and It’s in All the Covid Vaccines (by Design) – (Science News – April 7, 2021)

This article quotes extensively from the Salk Institute article (above) reporting on its research and offers further interpretations of the study results. From this article: “The study, obviously authored by a pro-vaccine organization, then says that ‘vaccination-generated antibodies’ may protect the body from the spike protein. Thus, the paper is essentially saying (paraphrased): ‘The spike protein may cause enormous damage to the vascular system when a person is injected with that spike protein, and when that person’s immune system attacks the spike protein and neutralizes it, the damage may be halted.’ In other words, the human immune system is trying to protect the patient from the damage caused by the vaccine, before the patient is killed by the adverse reactions.” (Editor’s note: The Salk article does say that the spike protein may cause enormous damage to the vascular system.  It does not say that damage occurs when a person is injected with one of the vaccines. In fact, this article directly quotes the Salk article in stating, “Now, a major new study shows that the virus spike proteins (which behave very differently than those safely encoded by vaccines) also play a key role in the disease itself.” For further clarification, see this article from Science Translation Medicine, Spike Protein Behavior: “What [does] this means for vaccination: if we’re causing people to express Spike protein via mRNA or adenovirus vectors, are we damaging them just as if they’d been infected with coronavirus? Fortunately, the answer definitely seems to be “no” – in fact, the pseudovirus paper notes near the end that the antibody response generated by vaccination against the Spike protein will be beneficial in two ways, against infection and against the Spike-mediated endothelial damage as well.” Article goes on to offer an explanation of the mechanisms of claimed benefit. If this is a topic of interest to you, we encourage you to read all of these articles and the original paper  published in Circulation Research and then form your own opinions.)

How the Global Chip Shortage Might Affect People Who Just Want to Wash Their Dogs – (Washington Post – May 2, 2021)

Of all the businesses to suffer from the global shortage of computer chips, dog washing — a low-tech affair involving soap, water and a dirty pet — ought to be near the bottom of the list. But as with so many low-tech tasks these days, high-tech options are available, and that’s how CCSI International, a family-run manufacturer in rural Illinois, ran afoul of the chip shortage. CCSI makes electronic dog-washing booths that dispense shampoo, water and optional fur-drying. The machines are a hit with dog-park managers and the U.S. military, which buys them  for use on its bases. But the machines are controlled by computer chips, and recently, CCSI was told by its circuit-board supplier that the usual chips weren’t available. A substitute chip would work, but CCSI would have to tweak its circuit boards. That process has raised CCSI’s costs, bringing the frustrations of the same chip shortage that has idled auto factories around the world to a tiny town where the other main employers are a granary, a couple of bars and a part-time post office. Semiconductors are the brains behind most modern electronics, from computers and cellphones to smart toasters and washing machines. Increasingly, however, semiconductors are enabling high-tech solutions to low-tech problems, such as vacuuming a carpet or cleaning a litter box. Chip-enabled light bulbs and thermostats can be turned on and off over a WiFi connection. Pet owners can track their pooches with GPS-powered dog tags. Many manufacturers are in the same boat as CCSI. Whirlpool has said a lack of chips and other supplies is leaving it unable to keep up with brisk demand for appliances. Chinese appliance companies have said the same. Sony reports that the shortages are hurting its ability to meet demand for the PlayStation 5, and Chinese cellphone maker Xiaomi has said it may need to raise its prices to offset rising semiconductor costs. (Editor’s note: Worth noting is the extent to which the shortage of one critical component can have incredibly far-reaching implications. The trade off is between the efficiency of global supply chains when they work perfectly and a considerable lack of robustness when they don’t.)

How TikTok Personalities Are Making a Name for Themselves by Delivering News to Gen Z – (Washington Post – May 3, 2021)

A trend is unfolding across TikTok right now: Personalities unaffiliated with any traditional media outlet are aggregating national headlines and the latest news — and delivering it to millions, many of them young viewers, on the video platform in 30 and 60 second clips. As of June 2020, the 10-to-19 age range made up the largest portion of TikTok’s audience in the United States at 32.5%, according to Statista, a consumer data company. And in a 2020 survey from YPulse, a youth brand research firm, 51% of Gen Z respondents reported getting their news on TikTok, as opposed to 26% of millennials. (Pew Research Center considers anyone born from 1997 onward part of Gen Z, meaning the oldest in the cohort are turning 24 this year.) “While Gen Z consumers make their buying choices based on advice from influencers on TikTok, the leap to having them consume their news and information from news influencers is not very far,” says Marcus Messner, director of the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University. “This widens the gap of how different generations choose their news sources, as the older generation probably has never heard of these TikTok personalities while they have millions of followers among Gen Z users.” Article showcases three such news posters who are acquiring substantial followings.

An Asteroid Traveled for 23 Million Years Before Crashing into Earth — and Now Scientists Know Where It Came From – (CBS News – April 30, 2021)

The asteroid, called 2018 LA, shot across the sky like a fireball before landing in Botswana on June 2, 2018. “The meteorite is named ‘Motopi Pan’ after a local watering hole,” said Mohutsiwa Gabadirwe, the senior curator of the Botswana Geoscience Institute, referring to the first sample they found. Scientists first spotted the asteroid using the University of Arizona’s Catalina Sky Survey, which tracks asteroids as part of NASA’s Planetary Defense program. It marked just the second time scientists have been able to study an asteroid in space before it reaches Earth — typically, they don’t know about them until after it’s happened. At the time, the asteroid was estimated to be about 6 feet across — small enough to safely break apart in Earth’s atmosphere. It arrived at the fast speed of 38,000 miles per hour, according to NASA. Through precisely mapping the boulder-sized asteroid’s orbit and path to Earth, as well as analyzing the samples at the University of Helsinki, researchers determined that they belong to the group of Howardite-Eucrite-Diogenite (HED) meteorites, named for their composition. They published their findings in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science. This group of meteorites is likely to have come from Vesta, the second-largest asteroid in our solar system, located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Lead author Peter Jenniskens. “Billions of years ago, two giant impacts on Vesta created a family of larger, more dangerous asteroids. The newly recovered meteorites gave us a clue on when those impacts might have happened.” Researchers now believe the Veneneia impact basin formed about 4.2 billion years ago. Further research “showed that this meteorite too had been in space as a small object for about 23 million years,” said Kees Welten of UC Berkeley, “but give or take 4 million years.”

Sharks Use Earth’s Magnetic Fields to Guide Them Like a Map – (SciTech Daily – May 7, 2021)

Sea turtles are known for relying on magnetic signatures to find their way across thousands of miles to the very beaches where they hatched. Now, researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on May 6, 2021, have some of the first solid evidence that sharks also rely on magnetic fields for their long-distance forays across the sea. “It had been unresolved how sharks managed to successfully navigate during migration to targeted locations,” said Save Our Seas Foundation project leader Bryan Keller, also of Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory. “This research supports the theory that they use the earth’s magnetic field to help them find their way; it’s nature’s GPS.” Researchers had known that some species of sharks travel over long distances to reach very specific locations year after year. They also knew that sharks are sensitive to electromagnetic fields. As a result, scientists had long speculated that sharks were using magnetic fields to navigate. But the challenge was finding a way to test this in sharks. Keller said. “The reason this question has been withstanding for 50 years is because sharks are difficult to study.” Article explains the experimental design. In future studies, Keller says he’d like to explore the effects of magnetic fields from anthropogenic sources such as submarine cables on sharks. They’d also like to study whether and how sharks rely of magnetic cues not just during long-distance migration but also during their everyday behavior.

In the Emptiness of Space, Voyager 1 Detects Plasma Hum – (PhysOrg –May 10, 2021)

Voyager 1—one of two sibling NASA spacecraft launched 44 years ago and now the most distant human-made object in space—still works and zooms toward infinity. The craft has long since zipped past the edge of the solar system through the heliopause—the solar system’s border with interstellar space—into the interstellar medium. Now, its instruments have detected the constant drone of interstellar gas (plasma waves), according to Cornell University-led research published in Nature Astronomy. Examining data slowly sent back from more than 14 billion miles away, Stella Koch Ocker, a Cornell doctoral student in astronomy, has uncovered the emission. “It’s very faint and monotone, because it is in a narrow frequency bandwidth,” Ocker said. “We’re detecting the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas.” This work allows scientists to understand how the interstellar medium interacts with the solar wind, Ocker said, and how the protective bubble of the solar system’s heliosphere is shaped and modified by the interstellar environment.

Neanderthals Carb Loaded, Helping Grow Their Big Brains – (Science – May 10, 2021)

A new study of bacteria collected from Neanderthal teeth shows that our close cousins ate so many roots, nuts, or other starchy foods that they dramatically altered the type of bacteria in their mouths. The finding suggests our ancestors had adapted to eating lots of starch by at least 600,000 years ago—about the same time as they needed more sugars to fuel a big expansion of their brains. The work suggests the ancestors of both humans and Neanderthals were cooking lots of starchy foods at least 600,000 years ago. And they had already adapted to eating more starchy plants long before the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago, said Harvard University evolutionary biologist Rachel Carmody, who was not part of the research. The brains of our ancestors doubled in size between 2 million and 700,000 years ago. Researchers have long credited better stone tools and cooperative hunting. As early humans got better at killing animals and processing meat, they ate a higher quality diet. Still, researchers have puzzled over how meat did the job. “For human ancestors to efficiently grow a bigger brain, they needed energy dense foods containing glucose”—a type of sugar—says molecular archaeologist Christina Warinner of Harvard and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. “Meat is not a good source of glucose.” The communities of bacteria in the mouths of preagricultural humans and Neanderthals strongly resembled each other. In particular, humans and Neanderthals harbored an unusual group of Streptococcus bacteria in their mouths. These microbes had a special ability to bind to an abundant enzyme in human saliva called amylase, which frees sugars from starchy foods. The presence of the strep bacteria that consume sugar on the teeth of Neanderthals and ancient modern humans shows they were eating more starchy foods, the researchers conclude. Finding the streptococci on the teeth of both ancient humans and Neanderthals also suggests they inherited these microbes from their common ancestor, who lived more than 600,000 years ago.

Experiment Uses CRISPR to Edit Genes While They Are Still Inside a Person’s Body – (NPR – May 10, 2021)

A landmark study is hoping to restore vision to patients who suffer from a rare genetic disease, Leber congenital amaurosis, which destroys light-sensing cells in the retina, devastating vision. The study involves the revolutionary gene-editing technique called CRISPR, which allows scientists to make precise changes in DNA. Doctors think CRISPR could help patients fighting many diseases. It’s already showing promise for blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and is being tested for several forms of cancer. “This is the very first time that anyone’s ever actually tried to do gene-editing from inside the body,” said Dr. Lisa Michaels, chief medical officer at the company sponsoring the study, Editas Medicine of Cambridge, Mass. “We’re actually delivering the gene-editing apparatus to the part of the body where the disease takes place in order to correct it.” The first stage of the study, which treated the first patient last year, was designed primarily to assess safety. And so far, the procedure appears to be safe. By the end of the year, the researchers said they expect to share the first data on whether the procedure restored any vision for the patients.

Research Reveals Ancient People Had More Diverse Gut Microorganisms – (EurekAlert – May 12, 2021)

An international team, led by the Harvard Medical School-affiliated Joslin Diabetes Center used human “paleofeces” to discover that ancient people had far different microorganisms living in their guts than we do in modern times. In previous studies of children living in Finland and Russia, senior author Aleksandar Kostic and his partners showed that kids living in industrialized areas – who are much more likely to develop Type 1 diabetes than those in non-industrialized areas – have very different gut microbiomes. “We were able to identify specific microbes and microbial products that we believe hampered a proper immune education in early life,” Kostic said. “And this leads later on to higher incidents of not just Type 1 diabetes, but other autoimmune and allergic diseases.” Kostic wanted to find a healthy human microbiome without the effects of modern industrialization, but he became convinced that couldn’t happen with any modern living people, pointing out that even tribes in the remote Amazon are contracting COVID-19. The differences between microbiome populations were striking. For instance, a bacterium known as Treponema succinifaciens wasn’t in a single “industrialized” population’s microbiome the team analyzed, but it was in every single one of the eight ancient microbiomes. But researchers found the ancient microbiomes did match up more closely with modern non-industrialized population’s microbiomes. The scientists found that almost 40% of the ancient microbial species had never been seen before. Kostic speculated on what caused the high genetic variability: “In ancient cultures, the foods you’re eating are very diverse and can support a more eclectic collection of microbes,” Kostic said. “But as you move toward industrialization and more of a grocery-store diet, you lose a lot of nutrients that help to support a more diverse microbiome.”

Marine Microplastics Are Now Invading the Atmosphere, Study Finds – (Mongabay – April 27, 2021)

The air that fills your chest and lungs is a vital mix of oxygen and nitrogen. Other things might be mingled in the air, too. For instance, small amounts of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, lead, or particulate matter such as dust and pollen commonly pollute the air. But there is something else lurking in the air we depend upon: tiny pieces of plastic. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looks at how microplastics — plastic fragments smaller than 5 millimeters (about a fifth of an inch) but bigger than 1 micron — are emitted into the atmosphere, and end up spiraling around the globe in a process akin to the biogeochemical cycles of water or nitrogen. Right now, the environmental and health consequences of atmospheric plastic are largely unknown, and experts are calling for further research on the issue. “What we wanted to do [was] try to understand how plastic is getting into the atmosphere,” lead author Janice Brahney, assistant professor of natural resources at Utah State University, told Mongabay in an interview. “This is something that we don’t know very well.” The authors hypothesize that plastic particles are “entrained into the atmosphere through mechanical processes.” For example, sea spray is known to launch tiny plastic pieces into the air when bubbles break at the surface. Vehicles traveling along roads can also push plastic upwards. Farmers tilling their land and applying fertilizers made from biosolids, which have been shown to contain microplastics, as well as plastic mulch, are other potential sources. By combining microplastic deposition data from 11 different sites in the western United States with an atmospheric transport model, the study found that roads emitted 84% of atmospheric microplastics, while the ocean emitted 11% and agricultural soil dust accounted for 4%. Cities didn’t seem to contribute that much, which may run counter to what a lot of people may think, according to Brahney.

Hackers Used to Be Humans. Soon, AIs Will Hack Humanity – (Wired – April 19, 2021)

Hacking is as old as humanity. We are creative problem solvers. We exploit loopholes, manipulate systems, and strive for more influence, power, and wealth. To date, hacking has exclusively been a human activity. Not for long. Artificial intelligence will eventually find vulnerabilities in all sorts of social, economic, and political systems, and then exploit them at unprecedented speed, scale, and scope. After hacking humanity, AI systems will then hack other AI systems, and humans will be little more than collateral damage. I’m (the author of this article) not postulating an AI “singularity,” where the AI-learning feedback loop becomes so fast that it outstrips human understanding. I’m  not assuming intelligent androids. I’m not assuming evil intent. Most of these hacks don’t even require major research breakthroughs in AI. They’re already happening. As AI gets more sophisticated, though, we often won’t even know it’s happening. Additionally, AIs can engage in something called reward hacking. Because AIs don’t solve problems in the same way people do, they will invariably stumble on solutions we humans might never have anticipated—and some will subvert the intent of the system. That’s because AIs don’t think in terms of the implications, context, norms, and values we humans share and take for granted. This reward hacking involves achieving a goal but in a way the AI’s designers neither wanted nor intended. For example, what if you fed an AI the entire US tax code? Or, in the case of a multinational corporation, the entire world’s tax codes? Will it figure out, without being told, that it’s smart to incorporate in Delaware and register your ship in Panama? How many loopholes will it find that we don’t already know about? Dozens? Thousands? We have no idea. (Editor’s note: we recommend this article’s exploration of many “what ifs”.)

Signal Tries to Run the Most Honest Facebook Ad Campaign Ever, Immediately Gets Banned – (Gizmodo – May 4, 2021)

A series of Instagram ads run by the privacy-positive platform Signal got the messaging app booted from the former’s ad platform. The ads were meant to show users the bevy of data that Instagram and its parent company Facebook collects on users, by targeting those users using Instagram’s own adtech tools. Instagram and Facebook share the same ad platform and all the data that gets hoovered up while you’re scrolling your Insta or Facebook feeds gets fed into the same data pool, which can be used to target you on either platform later. Across each of these platforms, you’re also able to target people using a nearly infinite array of data points collected by Facebook’s herd of properties. That includes basic details, like your age or what city you might live in. It may also include more granular points: say, whether you’re looking for a new home, whether you’re single, or whether you’re really into energy drinks. Based on this kind of minute data, Signal was able to create some super-targeted ads that were branded with the exact targeting specs that Signal used. If an ad was targeted towards K-pop fans, or towards a single person or towards London-based divorcees with degrees in art history, the ad said so. Signal’s blog post explains that the ad account used to run these ads was shut down by Facebook before many of these ads could reach their target audiences. Article includes examples of ad wording.

Why Not Turn Airports Into Giant Solar Farms? – (Wired – May 3, 2021)

Airplanes, as many aeronautical engineers have noted, like open spaces—for obvious reasons, including not getting along with trees. Solar panels abhor the shade of not only trees but also tall buildings. So why aren’t we covering our airports—dedicated spaces that can’t be used for anything other than the business of air travel—with solar arrays? Well, it turns out that airports not only have a lot of empty space, they also have a lot of rules. But let’s talk about their potential first. New research out of Australia shows how massively effective it would be to solarize 21 airports in that country. The researchers calculated that the airports could potentially produce enough solar energy to power 136,000 homes. While paneling these roofs may be efficient, it still won’t be easy. In the United States, for instance, the Federal Aviation Administration requires that airport officials prove that their new panels won’t produce glare, firing sunlight into the eyes of pilots and the air traffic controllers in the tower. (That shouldn’t be a problem, thanks to coatings on modern solar panels, but it’s still something officials have to take into account in their planning.) The FAA also wants to be sure that the panels don’t interfere with radar communications at the airport. But for older buildings, it may be cheaper to instead deploy solar panels on the ground, especially if an airport has a lot of space at its disposal, as the Denver airport does—53 square miles of it. That brings us to the intermittent nature of solar power. So it’s not like an airport can divorce itself from the larger grid. Still, panels can be a complement to an airport’s energy infrastructure, giving it a power boost on a sunny day. And as battery costs drop, airports will be able to store that energy. By the way, airports are not the only spaces researchers think we should coat in solar panels and transform into microgrids; other options include California’s canal system, family farms, affordable housing projects, a casino, your electric car, and even satellites in space.

Walmart Announces Landmark Pollinator Health Policy to Protect Against Pesticides – (Nation of Change – April 29, 2021)

The world’s largest food retailer announced their new pollinator health policy to help protect bees and other pollinators that are essential to food production. The policy, which was labeled “the most far reaching to date of any U.S. food retailer” by Friends of the Earth, made the company jump from an “F” to first place on the Earth’s Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard. According to Friends of the Earth, Walmart’s commitment will “help transform growing practices on thousands of farms globally that supply fresh fruits and vegetables to the retail giant’s U.S. consumers.” “Scientists across the world are sounding the alarm that we are in the midst of an ‘insect apocalypse,’ driven in large part by toxic pesticides,” Kendra Klein, PhD, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth, said. “Walmart’s policy is a major step in the right direction, but with 40% of insect pollinators facing extinction, all retailers must accelerate a race to the top before pollinators lose their race against time.” According to Walmart’s pollinator health policy, the company will “source 100%of the fresh produce and floral we sell in our in-store produce department from suppliers that adopt integrated pest management practices, as verified by a third-party, by 2025.” Walmart will do this by using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which is “a sustainable, science-based, decision-making process that combines biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools to identify, manage and reduce risk from pests and pest management tools and strategies in a way that minimizes overall economic, health and environmental risks,” as defined by the IPM Institute of North America. The new policy also aims to protect the pollinators’ habitat by protecting, restoring, and establishing ”pollinator habitat in pollinator migration corridors and on farms in its produce supply chain,” according to Friends of the Earth. While organic agriculture is protective of pollinator health, experts said, Walmart’s new pollinator health policy will encourage non-organic produce suppliers to end their use of pesticides.

Ikea-like Pasta Is the Earth-friendly Food of the Future – (Inverse – May 5, 2021)

Call it the Ikea of Italian cuisine. Material scientists have unveiled a way to do the same thing for pasta — making your favorite Italian dish suddenly easier to transport and unexpectedly making it environmentally friendly in the process. Carnegie Mellon University’s Morphing Matter Lab director Lining Yao says it can even apply to shapes like macaroni. “Based on our geometrical calculation, flatly packed macaroni pasta could save more than 60% of the packaging space,” Yao said. “Because more than half of the food packaging space, in this case, is used to pack air.” In a new study, Yao and her team demonstrate how to construct flat-packed pasta that can twist and contort into a myriad of pasta shapes — from spirals to cones — in just a matter of seconds. The secret? Just a few strategically imprinted grooves on the pasta itself. Yao says it’s also a way to streamline the manufacturing process and reduce a different kind of food waste: wasted space. Article includes nifty video clip.

US Investigating Possible Mysterious Directed Energy Attack Near White House  – (CNN April 29, 2021)

Federal agencies are investigating at least two possible incidents on US soil, including one near the White House in November of last year, that appear similar to mysterious, invisible attacks that have led to debilitating symptoms for dozens of US personnel abroad. Defense officials briefed lawmakers on the Senate and House Armed Services Committees on the matter earlier this month, including on the incident near the White House. That incident, which occurred near the Ellipse, the large oval lawn on the south side of the White House, sickened one National Security Council official, according to multiple current and former US officials and sources familiar with the matter. In a separate 2019 episode, a White House official reported a similar attack while walking her dog in a Virginia suburb just outside Washington. Those sickened reported similar symptoms to CIA and State Department personnel impacted overseas, and officials quickly began to investigate the incident as a possible “Havana syndrome” attack. That name refers to unexplained symptoms that US personnel in Cuba began experiencing in late 2016 — a varying set of complaints that includes ear popping, vertigo, pounding headaches and nausea, sometimes accompanied by an unidentified “piercing directional noise.”  Rumors have long swirled around Washington about similar incidents within the United States. While the recent episodes around Washington appear similar to the previous apparent attacks affecting diplomats, CIA officers and other US personnel serving in Cuba, Russia and China, investigators have not determined whether the puzzling incidents at home are connected to those that have occurred abroad or who may be behind them. A March report from the National Academy of Sciences found that “directed, pulsed radiofrequency energy” was the most likely cause of the strange set of symptoms. While the report was carefully written not to overstate its findings, it offered some of the clearest public evidence to date that the incidents could be attacks, attributing the afflictions to “pulsed” or “directed” energy. Some personnel have been seriously injured from the alleged attacks, with at least one career CIA officer forced to retire last year and diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.

Your Car Is Spying on You. A CBP Contract Shows the Risks – (The Intercept – May 3, 2021)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) purchased technology that vacuums up reams of personal information stored inside cars, according to a federal contract reviewed by The Intercept, illustrating the serious risks in connecting your vehicle and your smartphone. The contract, shared with The Intercept by Latinx advocacy organization Mijente, shows that CBP paid Swedish data extraction firm MSAB $456,073 for a bundle of hardware including five iVe “vehicle forensics kits” manufactured by Berla, an American company. A related document indicates that CBP believed the kit would be “critical in CBP investigations as it can provide evidence [not only] regarding the vehicle’s use, but also information obtained through mobile devices paired with the infotainment system.” The document went on to say that iVe was the only tool available for purchase that could tap into such systems. According to statements by Berla’s own founder, part of the draw of vacuuming data out of cars is that so many drivers are oblivious to the fact that their cars are generating so much data in the first place, often including extremely sensitive information inadvertently synced from smartphones. Indeed, MSAB marketing materials promise cops access to a vast array of sensitive personal information quietly stored in the infotainment consoles and various other computers used by modern vehicles — a tapestry of personal details akin to what CBP might get when cracking into one’s personal phone. MSAB claims that this data can include “Recent destinations, favorite locations, call logs, contact lists, SMS messages, emails, pictures, videos, social media feeds, and the navigation history of everywhere the vehicle has been.”

Biden Plans Expansion of Feds’ Army of Snitches in ‘Dollars for Collars’ Program – (American Conservative, May 10, 2021)

The Biden administration may soon recruit an army of private snoops to conduct surveillance that would be illegal if done by federal agents. As part of its war on extremism, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may exploit a “legal work-around” to spy on and potentially entrap Americans who are “perpetuating the ‘narratives’ of concern,” CNN reported recently. But federal informant programs routinely degenerate into “dollars for collars” schemes that reward scoundrels for fabricating crimes that destroy the lives of innocent Americans. The DHS plan would “allow the department to circumvent [constitutional and legal] limits” on surveillance of private citizens and groups. Federal agencies are prohibited from targeting individuals solely for First Amendment-protected speech and activities. But federal hirelings would be under no such restraint. Private informants could create false identities that would be problematic if done by federal agents. DHS will be ramping up a war against an enemy which the feds have never clearly or competently defined. According to a March report by Biden’s office of the Director of National Intelligence, “domestic violent extremists” include individuals who “take overt steps to violently resist or facilitate the overthrow of the U.S. government in support of their belief that the U.S. government is purposely exceeding its Constitutional authority.” Perhaps like setting up a private informant scheme to evade constitutional restrictions on warrantless surveillance?

Photos of Tanks and Armored Vehicles in the Himalayas Show that China and India’s Next Border Showdown Could Be Much Deadlier – (Business Insider – May 5, 2021)

Two months ago, the Indian and Chinese militaries pulled back their forces stationed around Pangong Lake, on their disputed border in the western Himalaya mountains. The Indian Army released photos, videos, and aerial images of the pullback, showing Chinese troops dismantling bunkers, removing tents, and evacuating the area. The most interesting images, though, were the ones that showed the large number of tanks and armored vehicles. Indian media reported that China alone withdrew 200 tanks from the area. The sheer sizes of the armored forces indicates that both sides were quite serious about their military buildups, and that the next violent incident on the border could escalate into something far more deadly. The low air pressure, freezing conditions, and rough terrain make operating and maintaining such vehicles difficult and often lead to losses from wear and tear or mechanical failure. Tanks and armored vehicles have to be restarted for up to 30 minutes every two or three hours to prevent them from freezing, according to one retired Indian general. That operational challenge is believed to have been a significant factor in both countries’ decisions to pull back their armor from Pangong Tso. Article provides details of both countries’ tanks and their capacities. What is clear is that both sides are far more mechanized, capable, and lethal than they were during a month-long war India and China fought in the region in 1962. The pullback from Pangong Tso has not been followed by additional pullbacks in other contested areas, as was originally hoped. Recent reporting suggests some Indian officials may regret pulling back from a strategically important area with little to show for it. With so much heavy hardware present, future fighting in the area could be much deadlier than before. (Editor’s note: The disputed border between what will become, by the end of this century, two super powers in direct competition is worth watching.)

Instagram Fuels Rise in Black-market Sales of Maids into Persian Gulf Servitude – (Washington Post – May 5, 2021)

The advent of Instagram in recent years has helped create an international black market for migrant workers, in particular women recruited in Africa and Asia who are sold into servitude as maids in Persian Gulf countries. Unlicensed agents have exploited the social media platform to place these women into jobs that often lack documentation or assurances of proper pay and working conditions. Several women who were marketed via Instagram described being treated essentially as captives and forced to work grueling hours for far less money than they had been promised. A review of Instagram activity by The Post identified more than 200 accounts that appeared to play a role in marketing women as maids in countries including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Such black market networks have sprung up alongside legal recruitment networks that over the years have placed millions of women into jobs as domestic servants in the Persian Gulf region. Although women who are recruited and placed through a licensed agency can also face a difficult work environment, they are afforded better workplace protections and, because they are documented, have more recourse if they’re abused and can seek help from their embassies, according to labor experts. “Migrant workers who are recruited through more informal channels, including by unlicensed agents, are at higher risks of trafficking and other forms of exploitation,” said Rothna Begum, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. Fabien Goa, research manager at the FairSquare Projects, a British-based human rights group, said that “deception with intent to abuse people by putting them in employment they haven’t actually agreed to has all the hallmarks of trafficking.” In response to a request for comment last month, an Instagram spokesperson asked for the list of accounts identified by The Post so company officials could investigate. Instagram has since deleted these accounts. It is unclear whether other similar accounts remain on the platform and, if so, how many.

Tiffany’s Created an Engagement Ring for Men – (Washington Post – May 11, 2021)

The diamond engagement ring comes from an era when men wanted to offer something of value to show they could be a good provider. The ring was also a sign that a woman was spoken for, while her fiancé’s ring finger would remain bare until their wedding day. For many couples, that tradition no longer fits. Couples are getting married later, as established adults who are capable of providing for themselves and buying a pricey gift for a loved one. The jewelry industry tried to make the men’s engagement ring into a trend in the 1920s, but it didn’t catch on. The ring was still seen as a feminine thing. But by the 21st century, as gender roles within marriage became more equal and the legalization of same-sex marriage created new customers, jewelers started giving men’s engagement rings another shot.In gay couples, both partners might want sparkly signs of their intentions. And men aren’t the only ones proposing marriage these days. Women pop the question, too. They might want a ring to go with the ask. Last month, Tiffany & Co. unveiled a new jewelry line that acknowledges all of these shifts: a men’s diamond engagement ring, of up to 5 carats with a price tag of $15,600 to $278,500. (Editor’s note: So is Tiffany going to start offering men’s wedding rings that pair with the engagement rings? The article doesn’t say.)

Meet the Other Social Influencers of the Animal Kingdom – (New York Times – May 7, 2021)

Culture was once considered the patented property of human beings: We have the art, science, music and online shopping; animals have the instinct, imprinting and hard-wired responses. But that dismissive attitude toward nonhuman minds turns out to be more deeply misguided with every new finding of animal wit or whimsy: Culture, as many biologists now understand it, is much bigger than we are. “If you define culture as a set of behaviors shared by a group and transmitted through the group by social learning, then you find that it’s widespread in the animal kingdom,” said Andrew Whiten, a psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, and the author of the Science review. “You see it from primates and cetaceans, to birds and fish, and now we even find it in insects.” But culture has distinct advantages over DNA when it comes to the pace and direction of information trafficking. Whereas genetic information can only move vertically, from parent to offspring, cultural information can flow vertically and horizontally: old to young, young to old, peer to peer, no bloodlines required. Genes lumber, but culture soars. In 1980, for example, an observant humpback whale discovered that by smacking its tail hard against the water, the tiny fish on which it preyed were prompted to ball up into tidy packages fit for comparatively easy capture and consumption. The enhanced hunting technique, called lobtail feeding, quickly spread along known lines of humpback social groups, aided, researchers suspect, by the cetacean talent for acrobatic mimicry among members of a pod. Today, more than 600 humpbacks are lobtail feeders. “This would only be the case if it was socially transmitted,” Dr. Whiten said. Peter Richerson of the University of California at Davis, who studies the coevolution of genes and culture in humans, is particularly impressed by recent research showing that animal migrations, long considered the essence of mindless instinct in motion, are, in fact, culturally determined. More examples in the article which is rather fascinating.

Fast Superhighway Through the Solar System Discovered – (Big Think – December 10, 2020)

Humanity could be making its way through the Solar System much faster thanks to the discovery of a new superhighway network among space manifolds. Don’t get your engines roaring along this “celestial autobahn” just yet, but the researchers believe the new pathways can eventually be used by spacecraft to get to the outer reaches of our Solar System with relative haste. The celestial highway could get comets and asteroids from Jupiter to Neptune in less than a decade. Compare that to hundreds of thousands or even millions of years it might ordinarily take for space objects to traverse the Solar System. In a century of travel along the new routes, a 100 astronomical units could be covered, project the scientists. For reference, an astronomical unit is the average distance from the Earth to the Sun or about 93 million miles. The international research team included Nataša Todorović, Di Wu, and Aaron Rosengren from the Belgrade Astronomical Observatory in Serbia, the University of Arizona, and UC San Diego. Their new paper proposes a dynamic route, going along connected series of arches within so-called space manifolds. These structures, coming into existence from gravitational effects between the Sun and the planets, stretch from the asteroid belt to past Uranus. Article explains research process. While the results are encouraging, the next step is to figure out how these arches can be used by spacecraft for much speedier travel. It’s also not clear how similar manifolds work near Earth. Also unclear is how they impact our planet’s run-ins with asteroids and meteorites or any of the man-made objects floating up in space near us.

Venus Flyby Reveals Low-Frequency Radio Signal Detected in the Planet’s Atmosphere – (Science Alert – May 3, 2021)

During a close flyby of the planet Venus in July 2020, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe detected something odd. As it dipped just 833 kilometers (517 miles) above the Venusian surface, the probe’s instruments recorded a low-frequency radio signal. Missions to explore Venus have been relatively few. There’s not much point sending landers; they can’t survive the planet’s 462 degree Celsius (864 degree Fahrenheit) surface. Sending orbiting probes is also considered problematic, due to the incredibly thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid rain clouds that make it hard to tell what’s happening on the surface. For these reasons, a lot of our recent data has come piecemeal, from instruments with other primary objectives, like the Parker Solar Probe. As Parker conducts its mission to study the Sun in close detail, it’s been using Venus for gravity assist maneuvers – slingshotting around the planet to alter velocity and trajectory. It was on one of these gravity assist flybys that the probe’s instruments recorded a radio signal. Astronomer Glyn Collinson of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center., who has worked on other planetary missions, noted an odd familiarity that he couldn’t quite place in the shape of the signal. “Then the next day, I woke up,” he said. “And I thought, ‘Oh my god, I know what this is!'” It was the same kind of signal recorded by the Galileo probe when it skimmed through the ionospheres of Jupiter’s moons – a layer of atmosphere, also seen on Earth and Mars, where solar radiation ionizes the atoms, resulting in a charged plasma that produces low-frequency radio emission. Once the researchers realized what the signal was, they were able to use it to calculate the density of the Venusian ionosphere, and compare it to the last direct measurements taken, all the way back in 1992. Fascinatingly, the ionosphere was an order of magnitude thinner in the new measurements than it was in 1992. The team believes this has something to do with solar cycles. Article explores the possible reasons for it.

String of Satellites Baffles Residents, Bugs Astronomers – (NBC News – May 10, 2021)

On a recent night, a string of lights that lobbed across the night sky from Texas to Wisconsin and had some people wondering if a fleet of UFOs was coming, but it had others— mostly amateur stargazers and professional astronomers— lamenting the industrialization of space. The train of lights was actually a series of relatively low-flying satellites launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX as part of its Starlink internet service earlier this week. “The way you can tell they are Starlink satellites is they are like a string of pearls, these lights travelling in the same basic orbit, one right after the other,” said Dr. Richard Fienberg, press officer for the American Astronomical Society. Fienberg said the satellites that are being launched in large groups called constellations string together when they orbit, especially right after launching. The strings get smaller as time goes on. This month, SpaceX has already launched dozens of satellites. It is all part of a plan to bridge the digital divide and bring internet access to underserved areas of the world, with SpaceX tentatively scheduled to launch another 120 satellites later in the month. Overall, the company has sent about 1,500 satellites into orbit and has asked for permission to launch thousands more. Fienberg said there is no real regulation of light pollution from satellites, but SpaceX has voluntarily worked to mitigate that by creating visors that dampen the satellites’ reflection of sunlight. Fienberg said, “We can’t say this is wrong and you have to stop because the point is to provide internet access to the whole globe. It’s an admirable goal, that we would support, if it didn’t mean giving up something else… the night sky.”

Births Fall to 42-year Low in U.S., New CDC Data Shows – (CBS – May 5, 2021)

The number of births in the U.S. fell 4% in 2020, dropping to the lowest level since 1979 and continuing a multi-year trend of declining birth rates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics reported 3,605,201 births in 2020, down from 3,747,540 during the year prior, based on provisional data from more than 99% of birth certificates issued during the year. 2020 marks the sixth consecutive year that the number of births in the U.S. has fallen. Among teenagers, many of whom shifted to remote learning due to the pandemic, birth rates fell precipitously, according to data released by the CDC. The birth rate for young women between the ages of 15 and 19 fell to a record low in 2020, dropping to 15.3 births per 1,000, an 8% decline from the year before. That continues a significant downward trend over the past two decades — down 75% from 1991, the most recent peak. The CDC also calculated that the total fertility rate, which reflects the average number of times a woman will give birth in her lifetime, declined to a record low in 2020, falling to 1,637.5 births per 1,000 women, down 4% from 2019. That’s considerably lower than what the agency referred to as “replacement” levels, or the rate necessary for a generation to replace itself, which the CDC said was about 2,100 births per 1,000 women. According to the CDC, the total fertility rate has generally been below replacement levels since 1971, and “consistently” below that level since 2007. Dowell Myers, who studies demographics at the University of Southern California, called the phenomenon a “crisis.” “We need to have enough working-age people to carry the load of these seniors, who deserve their retirement, they deserve all their entitlements, and they’re gonna live out another 30 years,” he said. (Editor’s note: An MIT study found that each robot added to the workforce has the effect of replacing 3.3 jobs across the U.S. Are we certain that we will be facing a shortage of working-aged people?)

Science Has Fixed the Worst Part of Psychedelic Drugs – (Inverse – April 28, 2021)

Over the past decade, it’s become increasingly clear that drugs like LSD and psilocybin have enormous therapeutic potential, especially for people whose depression and anxiety aren’t alleviated through traditional drugs. But the hallucinations that come with psychedelic drugs have been an albatross around the neck of some interested in their antidepressant benefits. Not everyone wants to take a trip if they’re only trying to feel better.  Researchers in California have developed a technology that can find and test drugs that can have the same antidepressant effects as psychedelics — without the drug actually producing hallucinations. The breakthrough was made in a study on mice, not people. In addition, the researchers also think they’ve created a compound that offers the neurological benefits of hallucinogenic drugs without causing the user to hallucinate. Their work is published in the journal Cell. A drug with this capability could be taken without any safety concerns or the need for hallucination supervision. It would revolutionize treatment for conditions like depression and anxiety.

What If The Big Reveal Already Happened? – (Caitlin Johnstone – April 30, 2021)

Do you remember the Panama Papers which exposed a massive international tax evasion scheme involving many high-profile wealthy elites? Or the scandal when it was revealed that the CIA unilaterally funds its own clandestine operations via secret drug trafficking programs to circumvent the oversight of elected bodies? Or the time WikiLeaks exposed war crimes leading to tribunals at The Hague? Or that Israeli intelligence agencies have been using child sex traffickers, Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, to manipulate elite members of society via blackmail? You don’t? Hmm. It’s really, really weird how any time there’s a major scandalous revelation about the powerful, there’s a lot of noise about it for a few days, and then essentially nothing happens. Mainstream news media might report on it for a bit (though sometimes if it’s really inconvenient for the empire they won’t even touch it), they trot out the pundits to manage the narrative in such a way that ensures nobody in power will ever face any consequences, and then it is quietly memory-holed. Many who see what’s wrong with our world also hold out hope that there might be some Big Reveal in our future, some leak drop or heroic feat of investigative journalism which rips the veil off the mechanisms of oligarchy and oppression and shocks the world into revolutionary change. This will never happen; if it were going to happen, it would have happened already. If facts and evidence were enough to open people’s eyes and change their minds, then consent for the entire world order we are currently living under would have been rescinded as soon as we learned the Iraq invasion was based on a lie. (Editor’s note: Some things will almost certainly come to light if Ghislaine Maxwell comes to trial which is currently scheduled to begin on July 12, 2021. Stay tuned.)

The Sixth Wave – Fractal of 309.6 Year Waves – (Armstrong Economics – April 28, 2021)

I (Martin Armstrong) have said there remains the risk of a 50% decline in population as the Sixth Wave of the Economic Confidence Model concludes. This is historically standard. It is a combination of disease and global cooling – not warming. Germany has also had the coldest April in 104 years and France lost 80% of its wine crop due to cold. Naturally, these people are claiming the extreme cold is also because of CO2. But they just make up this stuff. Our models on sunspot warn of a prolonged solar minimum which will not bottom until around 2050. As the climate cools, there will be a rise in disease due to malnutrition and crop failures. This is not caused by Gates, it is a natural cycle. But Gates’ interference is likely to increase the climate crisis and lead to far more deaths than would otherwise take place. He is advocating shutting down fossil fuels which will be needed to save lives. Keep in mind that our models have also correlated volcanoes with solar minima. Volcanic activity increases during a solar minimum and it has been the volcanic winters that create the worst crisis because they block the sun as Gates wants to do. There are scientists who are starting to actually correlate these trends. The death rate will be far higher in the less developed countries. But it will also be greater in Europe than in North America. Moreover, we are looking at the collapse of governments on a wholesale level. This is the end of Republics as we have known them. Hopefully, we will have a new generation of founding fathers who will turn to direct democracy.

Inside the Mysterious World of Missing Sports Memorabilia – (ESPN – May 7, 2021)

Welcome to one of the stranger corners of the booming sports memorabilia market. Whether it’s misfortune, the tide of time or just dumb luck, some of the most prized — ergo, valuable — sports memorabilia items of all time aren’t in halls of fame or museums. They’re missing. Here are six holy-grail-level sports memorabilia items that are lost to history — for now — and what they would be worth today. Well, the first item on the list is actually two items and they aren’t exactly missing. But… Fifty years ago, on the moon, Alan Shepard hit two of the most-watched golf shots ever. The golf balls are still there. In February, Andy Saunders, an image specialist and author of an upcoming book Apollo Remastered, used still photographs taken by the astronauts on Feb. 6, 1971, and spotted the two balls. One is 40 yards from where Shepard swung a makeshift 6-iron club that he sneaked onto Apollo 14 without NASA’s knowledge, and the other is 24 yards away. Shepard’s club is in the USGA Golf Museum. NASA officials were upset about the donation and actually tried to get the club back because they believed it technically wasn’t his property to give. Getting the balls back would be “the billionaire’s scavenger hunt,” said Bob Zafian of Golden Age Golf Auction. Zafian estimates the golf balls would start at a minimum bid of $10 million apiece. The other five items aren’t just currently inaccessible, they’re really missing.

1500 Year Old Yew Tree – (YouTube – December 19, 2017)

This 3 minute excerpt from the documentary below features a 1,500 year old tree which is now so large and hollow in the middle that two people can stand up inside its trunk.  The tree, still healthy, would originally have been a locus of Druid worship. It now stands in a country church yard. And if you happen to have a spare 58 minutes, here is the full BBC documentary with Dame Judy Dench sharing “My Passion for Trees”.  It’s fascinating and quite lovely.
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Robert David Steele 2021 – EARTH 4.0: After the Defeat of the Empire, The Rise of Humanity as Lords of Light and Love

PostScript Insights – Decision Making In Increasing Uncertainty