Volume 24, Number 11 – 6/1/21

6/1/21 Newsletter *|MC:SUBJECT|*
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Volume 24, Number 11 – 6/1/2021


  • Pigs and rodents can absorb oxygen through their intestines.
  • The digital holography market is expected to reach $5.4B within three years.
  • Graphene aluminum-ion battery cells are claimed to charge up to 60 times faster than the best lithium-ion cells.
  • A new microscopy technique is powerful enough to pinpoint an individual atom — and create an image so clear that the only blurriness comes from the movement of that atom itself.

Pure Human:
At the Crossroad of Biology
and Transhumanism

Saturday, July 31
in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

We live our lives, choose our relationships, heal our bodies and build our society based upon the way we think of ourselves—our story. For the first time in our history, technology that mimics our biology, and virtual realities that mimic our most intimate relationships, are changing our story.

  • The danger is clear: when we replace our natural biology with computer chips, chemicals and artificial technology, our neurons, cells, unique abilities and coping mechanisms begin to atrophy. We lose the very qualities that we value, and cherish, as humans.
  • The science is clear: new discoveries ranging from human evolution and genetics to the emerging science of neuro-cardiology and heart intelligence have now overturned 150 years of thinking when it comes to who we are, and what we’re capable of. These discoveries add to a growing body of evidence revealing that we are the technology we’ve been waiting for. Within each of us lie dormant abilities and extraordinary potentials far beyond what was believed possible in the past.

In this live presentation, Gregg will provide a blueprint for Pure Human thinking and living, and the new human story that reflects the discoveries revealing who we are, and what we’re capable of. He will also teach you how to access, and program, the operating system of your own body and brain, allowing you to regulate your nervous system, as well as your emotions and perceptions, and the epigenetic triggers of your body.

These discoveries add to a growing body of evidence revealing that we are the technology we’ve been waiting for. Join Gregg Braden for this compelling in-person presentation as he shares the discoveries that that catapult us beyond the conventional thinking when it comes to creating extraordinary states of physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual states of health and longevity. For the first time in human history, we have the knowledge to transcend the greatest challenges of our age by writing our new human story.

Click below for more information about this event and to get tickets.

Click Here for Tickets and More Info
Watch this recent interview as Gregg Braden discusses his upcoming TransitionTalk.

Everything going on in the world right now (pandemic, economy, unrest) is all just static, just noise. Something deeper is emerging — a battle for our very humanness. Our humanness is on the line right now.
The world is changing right now and there’s no going back and the better we know ourselves the less we fear change, and the less we fear one another.
Gregg Braden discusses the power within us, and how to know ourselves and apply this within our own lives. Our well-being is no longer hinged on something outside of us.
Gregg comes to TransitionTalks, July 31, 2021.  Join us in person or via livestream/replay.
Click Here for Tickets and More Info

Why I Won’t Be Getting the Vaccine – (Lew Rockwell – April 28, 2021)

A few friends have asked my thoughts on the COVID jab(s) so I (Christian Elliot, author of this article) thought it was time to write an article on the topic. All my friends had not heard most of the details I shared, so I figured you might appreciate hearing some of what I told them. Knowing how contentious this issue is, part of me would rather just write about something else, but I feel like the discussion/news is so one-sided that I should speak up. The author then lays out 18 carefully reasoned reasons that collectively have led him to refuse to be vaccinated.  The first is that vaccine makers are immune from liability. The only industry in the world that bears no liability for injuries or deaths resulting from their products are vaccine makers. First established in 1986 with the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, and reinforced by the PREP Act, vaccine makers cannot be sued, even if they are shown to be negligent. The second reason is the checkered past of the vaccine companies. The four major companies that are making these COVID vaccines are/have either: never brought a vaccine to market before COVID (Moderna and Johnson & Johnson); are serial felons (Pfizer and AstraZeneca), or are both (Johnson & Johnson). The article continues with an additional 16 reasons.

Catherine Austin Fitts Interviews Dr. Sherri Tenpenny (BitChute – May 25, 2021)

Dr. Tenpenny is an osteopathic medical doctor, board-certified in three specialties. She is the founder of the Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center, a medical clinic located near Cleveland, Ohio. Her company, provides online education and training regarding all aspects of vaccines and vaccination. In this 90 minute video clip, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny shares her perspectives on the spiritual, physical, and financial harm of the secret Covid-19 vaccine injection ingredients.

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

Article opens with Fitts giving her credentials and some of her personal story for those who may not be familiar with her. She then goes on: This brings me to the question of what exactly a vaccine is and what exactly is in the concoctions being injected into people today as well as the witches brews currently under development. In 2017, Italian researchers reviewed the ingredients of 44 types of so-called “vaccines.” They discovered heavy metal debris and biological contamination in every human vaccine they tested. The researchers stated, “The quantity of foreign bodies detected and, in some cases, their unusual chemical compositions baffled us.” They then drew the obvious conclusion, namely, that because the micro- and nanocontaminants were “neither biocompatible nor biodegradable,” they were “biopersistent” and could cause inflammatory effects right away—or later. Aborted fetal tissue, animal tissue, aluminum, mercury, genetically altered materials—and what else? Whatever the ingredients of vaccines have been to date, nothing is more bizarre than the proposals of what might be included in them in the future. Strategies—already well-funded and well on the way—include brain-machine interface nanotechnology, digital identity tracking devices, and technology with an expiration date that can be managed and turned off remotely. One report indicated that the Danish government and US Navy had been paying one tech company in Denmark to make an injectable chip that would be compatible with one of the leading cryptocurrencies. If you look at what is being created and proposed in the way of injectibles, it looks to me like these technological developments are organized around several potential goals. The first and most important goal is the replacement of the existing U.S. dollar currency system used by the general population with a digital transaction system that can be combined with digital identification and tracking. The goal is to end currencies as we know them and replace them with an embedded credit card system that can be integrated with various forms of control, potentially including mind control.

Covid-19 Vaccines Are Weapons of Mass Destruction – and Could Wipe out the Human Race – (Vernon Coleman – March 13, 2021)

In this 22 minute video clip (with transcript included), Coleman says, “Almost exactly a year ago I warned that the reason that the coronavirus risk was being exaggerated was partly to set up a mandatory vaccination program. The covid-19 fake pandemic was created, in part, to find an excuse for the vaccines – rather than the vaccine being created as a solution to the alleged threat posed by covid-19. The fraud started, of course, with the wild predictions made by Ferguson of Imperial College. Ferguson is a mathematical modeler with an appalling track record. The people planning the fraud knew that Ferguson’s predictions were absurd. They must have known that Ferguson’s track record was embarrassingly bad. But nevertheless his predictions were used as an excuse for the lockdowns, the social distancing, the masks and the closure of schools and hospital departments. The logical thing to do was to isolate individuals who had the infection – in the same way that people with flu are told to stay at home – and to protect the most vulnerable people, largely the elderly with heart or chest disorders. But the politicians and the advisors did everything wrong. And those who questioned what was happening were demonized and silenced. The fact is that the immune systems of healthy people are boosted through interactions with others. Healthy children and young adults have very powerful immune systems. It’s really only the elderly who are most likely to be threatened by a new virus. And yet the world’s politicians and their advisors deliberately led us into a mass vaccination program. However, the experimental vaccines which were approved so quickly were never going to do what people were told they would do. They weren’t designed to prevent infection or transmission. The vaccines don’t stop people getting covid-19 and they don’t stop them passing it on if they do get it. The vaccines merely help limit the seriousness of the symptoms for some of those who are injected. That’s not what most people believe, of course. The vast majority of people who have been vaccinated believe that they have been protected against the infection. It was another fraud. Apart from that, there are three huge problems with the vaccines. The first problem is that these experimental vaccines have already proved to be desperately dangerous – killing many people already and producing serious adverse events in many more. The second problem is the immune system problem known as pathogenic priming or a cytokine storm. The third problem is that by giving vaccines to millions we are teaching the virus how to mutate and to become stronger and more deadly. Trying to devise new vaccines for new mutations simply makes things worse because the scientists cannot possibly get ahead of the mutated viruses.

COVID Vaccines May Bring Avalanche of Neurological Disease – (Mercola – May 23, 2021)

In this interview, return guest Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at MIT for over five decades, discusses the COVID-19 vaccines. In the interview, she notes that the COVID-19 vaccine was developed with Operation Warp Speed in less than one year, which makes it virtually impossible to assess safety and efficacy, as the vaccine has not been adequately tested. Five months into the vaccination campaign, statistics tell a frightening story. Research shows deaths are 15 times higher during the first 14 days after the first COVID injection among people over the age of 60, compared to those who aren’t vaccinated.  Another study shows that after COVID-19 vaccines were implemented, overall death rates have increased, with the exception of a few areas. It appears countries in which COVID-19 vaccines have not raised mortality rates are also not using glyphosate. Seneff predicts that in the next 10 to 15 years, we are likely to see spikes in prion diseases, autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases at younger ages, and blood disorders such as blood clots, hemorrhaging, stroke and heart failure.

Timeline: How the Wuhan Lab-leak Theory Suddenly Became Credible – (Washington Post – May 25, 2021)

In recent months the idea that the corona virus emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) — once dismissed as a ridiculous conspiracy theory — has gained new credence. For one thing, efforts to discover a natural source of the virus have failed. Second, early efforts to spotlight a lab leak often got mixed up with speculation that the virus was deliberately created as a bioweapon. That made it easier for many scientists to dismiss the lab scenario as tin-hat nonsense. But a lack of transparency by China and renewed attention to the activities of the Wuhan lab have led some scientists to say they were too quick to discount a possible link at first. In some instances, important information was available from the start but was generally ignored. And, over time, new reasons to question the earlier conclusion have emerged. This article presents a timeline of key events, including important articles, that have led to the current reassessment and to renewed calls for a real investigation into the lab’s activities before the coronavirus emerged. For a few more “back story” disclosures, see: Ted Cruz mocks Washington Post as ‘clowns’ after fact-check declares Wuhan lab leak theory ‘suddenly’ credible.

Microchip Can Detect COVID Before You’re Sick – (Mercola – April 28, 2021)

Pentagon scientists and Profusa have developed a tiny biosensor that can be embedded under your skin to detect disease. In the 60 Minutes clip embedded in the article, Bill Whitaker speaks with Dr. Matt Hepburn, a retired Army infectious disease physician, about the sensor. Its purpose is to track chemical reactions going on inside your body, which may reveal that you’re infected with a virus like COVID-19 or influenza and about to start having symptoms the next day. The technology consists of three components: the implanted sensor roughly the size of a grain of rice, a reader placed on the surface of the skin and the software that allows the reader to send the collected data via Bluetooth to your phone or tablet, which in turn can be connected to other online sources such as your doctor’s website. Hepburn describes it as a “check engine light,” which could have tremendous usefulness, for instance, on an aircraft carrier where thousands of sailors live in close quarters. If the sensor gives the signal that you’re “sick,” even though you have no symptoms, a blood draw could be self-administered, giving you a diagnosis in three to five minutes. “As you truncate that time, as you diagnose and treat, what you do is you stop the infection in its tracks,” Hepburn said. Admittedly, a sensor that’s implanted under your skin has an Orwellian ring to it, which is why Whitaker made the disclaimer, “It’s not some dreaded government microchip to track your every move, but a tissue-like gel engineered to continuously test your blood.” In addition to the under-skin sensor, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been working on a customized filter that can be put on a standard dialysis machine to remove COVID-19 from the blood. Profusa said it intended to seek FDA approval for their tissue-integrating biosensor in 2021, and a DARPA-backed study is also underway to measure early signs of influenza via the biosensor technology. The biosensors may detect disease outbreaks, biological attacks and pandemics up to three weeks earlier than current methods, but one cost will be a loss of privacy. 

These Are the 2021 CNBC Disruptor 50 Companies – (CNBC – May 25, 2021)

The companies on the ninth annual 2021 Disruptor 50 list have become critical players in fundamental economic and consumer transformations. A majority of the CNBC Disruptor 50 are already billion-dollar businesses. Thirty-four disruptors are unicorns that have already reached or passed (in some cases far surpassed) the $1 billion valuation mark — 10 of the companies on this year’s list are worth at least $10 billion. The 50 companies selected have raised over $72 billion in venture capital, according to PitchBook, at an implied Disruptor 50 valuation of more than $388 billion. While technologies including AI, 5G, cloud computing and the Internet of Things are key to many companies making the 2021 Disruptor 50 list, the sectors they are upending are widespread, from financial services to health care, biotech, education, food, media, agriculture and transportation. See also: The 2021 CNBC Disruptor 50: How we chose the list of companies.

DNA’s Histone Spools Hint at How Complex Cells Evolved – (Quanta – May 10, 2021)

In the biology of complex cells, or eukaryotes, the ballet of molecules that transcribe and translate genomic DNA into proteins holds centerstage, but that dance would be impossible without the underappreciated work of histone proteins gathering up the DNA into neat bundles and unpacking just enough of it when needed. Histones, as linchpins of the apparatus for gene regulation, play a role in almost every function of eukaryotic cells. New work on the structure and function of histones in ancient, simple cells has now made the longstanding, central importance of these proteins to gene regulation even clearer. Billions of years ago, the cells called archaea were already using histones much like our own to manage their DNA — but they did so with looser rules and much more variety. From those similarities and differences, researchers are gleaning new insights, not only into how the histones helped to shape the origins of complex life, but also into how variants of histones affect our own health today. At the same time, though, new studies of histones in an unusual group of viruses are complicating the answers about where our histones really came from.

Record-breaking Light Has More Than a Quadrillion Electron Volts of Energy – (Science News – May 21, 2021)

The Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory, LHAASO, located on Haizi Mountain in China’s Sichuan province, has spotted more than 530 gamma rays with energies above 0.1 quadrillion electron volts, researchers reported in Nature. The highest-energy gamma ray detected was about 1.4 quadrillion electron volts. For comparison, protons in the largest accelerator on Earth, the Large Hadron Collider, reach mere trillions of electron volts. Previously, the most energetic gamma ray known had just under a quadrillion electron volts. In all, the scientists spotted 12 gamma ray hot spots, hinting that the Milky Way harbors powerful cosmic particle accelerators. In order for gamma rays to reach such energies, electromagnetic fields must first rev up charged particles, namely protons or electrons, to immense speeds. Those particles can then produce energetic gamma rays, for example, when protons interact with other matter in space. Scientists aren’t yet sure what environments are powerful enough to produce light with energies reaching more than a quadrillion electron volts. But the new observations point to two possibilities. One hot spot was associated with the Crab Nebula, the turbulent remains of an exploded star. Another potential source was the Cygnus Cocoon, a region where massive stars are forming, blasting out intense winds in the process.

Pigs and Rodents Can Absorb Oxygen Through Their Intestines – (SciTech Daily – May 14, 2021)

Several aquatic organisms have evolved unique intestinal breathing mechanisms to survive under low-oxygen conditions using organs other than lungs or gills. For example, sea cucumbers, freshwater fish called loaches, and certain freshwater catfish use their intestines for respiration. But it has been heavily debated whether mammals have similar capabilities. In the new study, Takebe and his collaborators provide evidence for intestinal breathing in rats, mice, and pigs. First, they designed an intestinal gas ventilation system to administer pure oxygen through the rectum of mice. They showed that without the system, no mice survived 11 minutes of extremely low-oxygen conditions. With intestinal gas ventilation, more oxygen reached the heart, and 75% of mice survived 50 minutes of normally lethal low-oxygen conditions. “Artificial respiratory support plays a vital role in the clinical management of respiratory failure due to severe illnesses such as pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome,” says senior study author Takanori Takebe of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “Although the side effects and safety need to be thoroughly evaluated in humans, our approach may offer a new paradigm to support critically ill patients with respiratory failure.” Because the intestinal gas ventilation system requires abrasion of the intestinal muscosa, it is unlikely to be clinically feasible, especially in severely ill patients–so the researchers also developed a liquid-based alternative using oxygenated perfluorochemicals. These chemicals have already been shown clinically to be biocompatible and safe in humans. “Although the side effects and safety need to be thoroughly evaluated in humans, our approach may offer a new paradigm to support critically ill patients with respiratory failure,” Takebe said.

Why Men and Women Feel Pain Differently – (Washington Post – May 15, 2021)

The vast majority of clinical and experimental research shows a surprising finding: females are more sensitive to pain than males. Women are also much more likely to experience chronic pain than men, and are much more likely to have almost every condition associated with chronic discomfort such as migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, among others. Some of these differences come down to how pain is processed differently between males and females. Initial research focused on the role hormones play: Testosterone reduces sensitivity to distress, and individuals undergoing male-to-female transition who receive estrogen and testosterone blockers experience an increased frequency of migraines. More recent work, however, appears to suggest that differences in the immune system mediate differences in how noxious signals travel across the bodies of males and females. In a survey of medical students and physicians, when asked to rank 38 diseases by how “prestigious” they were considered, fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition that predominantly afflicts women, was ranked least prestigious while heart attacks, largely misperceived to predominantly afflict men, were ranked No. 1. But attitudes are changing. Emerging research is raising the possibility of therapies tailored to providing comfort to painful conditions that heavily afflict women.

A Blind Man Can Perceive Objects after a Gene from Algae Was Added to His Eye – (Technology Review – May 24, 2021)

The 58-year-old man was blind, barely able to perceive whether it was day or night. After receiving gene therapy to add light-sensing molecules to one of his retinas, he could locate a notebook set on a table. Scientists in Europe and the US are reporting what they describe as the first successful use of optogenetics to improve a person’s vision. The feat involved introducing a gene from algae into the man’s retina. The patient lost his vision after being diagnosed 40 years ago with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative disease that destroys photoreceptors, the light-sensing cells in the retina. The gene that was added, called chrimson, comes from a single-celled algae species that is able to sense sunlight and move toward it. The strategy, being funded by a French company called GenSight Biologics, requires patients to wear a set of electronic goggles that capture light contrasts in the environment and then project an image onto the retina at high intensity using the specific wavelength of yellow-orange light that triggers the chrimson molecule. With training, the man was able to perceive whether a notebook had been placed on a table in front of him. He could also count dark-colored cups set before him, although not always accurately. Optogenetics is widely used in neuroscience experiments on animals, where the light-sensing molecules are added to brain cells. Then, using light pulses delivered via fiber-optic cables, researchers can cause specific nerves to fire, in some cases to prompt specific behaviors.

Mosquitoes Exposed to Glyphosate More Likely to Spread Malaria – (Children’s Health Defense – May 26, 2021)

The chemical compound glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, can weaken the immune systems of insects, suggests a study done by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, a popular U.S. brand of weedkiller products. The researchers investigated the effects of glyphosate on two evolutionarily distant insects, Galleria mellonella, the greater wax moth, and Anopheles gambiae, a mosquito that is an important transmitter of Plasmodium parasites (the cause of malaria) to humans in Africa. They found that glyphosate inhibits the production of melanin, which insects often use as part of their immune defenses against bacteria and parasites — it thereby reduces the resistance of these species to infection by common pathogens. “The finding that glyphosate appears to have an adverse effect on insects by interfering with their melanin production suggests the potential for a large-scale ecological impact, including impacts on human health,” says study co-first author Daniel Smith, a Ph.D. candidate in the laboratory of Arturo Casadevall MD, Ph.D., Alfred and Jill Sommer Professor and chair of the department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Bloomberg School. They also found that glyphosate alters the composition of the bacterial and fungal population in the mosquito midgut — the “gut microbiome” that, as in humans, helps regulate mosquito health. In a further set of experiments, Smith and colleagues found that other phosphate-containing compounds related to glyphosate have similar effects in reducing melanization. “Our results show unexpected effects from a widely used herbicide, and alert us to the fact that spreading these chemicals in the environment may have unintended consequences,” says Casadevall, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor.

Google Debuts Dystopic 3D Prison-Style Video Chat: Project Starline – (Futurism – May 19, 2021)

“Imagine, instead of looking at a screen, you’re looking at a magic pane of glass, and through that glass, you’re seeing another person on the other side,” explains Google’s Director of Engineering, Steve Seitsz, in the promotional video (embedded included in article) for the new product. “And through that glass, you’re seeing another person on the other side.” So basically, they’ve re-invented the virtual prison visitation phone booth. Google says the three major breakthroughs are the ability to capture people where they are using 3D imaging, move that data through existing networks at an efficient clip, and render the image in a three dimensional display (Google didn’t elaborate on this, but it’s not like they invented the three dimensional display, which already exists, and have traditionally been rendered using a series of mirrors). Right now, Google’s technology only exists in a handful of Google offices around the world, and needs “custom-built hardware and highly specialized equipment” to work. In the announcement, Google says its goal is to make the product cheaper and more ubiquitous, and that it’s been conducting demos in healthcare and media. Google is far from the only company interesting in real-time 3D renderings. Over at MIT, they’ve been using deep learning to create real time holographic renderings on a smaller scale. A 2020 market research report projected that the digital holography market is expected to reach $5.4B by 2024. And cynical as we all might want to be about video chat — and our desire to do it as little as possible after a year where we seemingly couldn’t escape it — it (and the need for it) isn’t disappearing  any time soon. See also: MIT tech generates 3D holograms in real-time.

The New American Status Symbol: A Backyard That’s Basically a Fancy Living Room – (Washington Post – May 26, 2021)

Outdoor spaces are many things these days but rustic is not one of them. Neither is natural. For many well-to-do Americans and those who aspire to join their ranks, the backyard has become the ultimate family room, a place to be decorated and tamed, a receptacle for stylish stuff, while nature is held at bay. During the past decade, decks transformed into major design statements. Patios mimic hotel lobbies. Backyards are stage sets, with dramatic lightscaping after the sun recedes. Pools, if you’re fortunate to have one, are excuses for ever-proliferating furniture and conversation areas. It’s the Great Fauxdoors. “People want being outdoors to be as sophisticated as an indoor living room,” says Los Angeles designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard. Interior design long exhorted homeowners “to bring the outside in,” embellishing rooms with plants, wood, stone and natural light. Today’s design ethos inverts this, turning the inside out: outdoor living rooms, deluxe kitchens with cooler drawers, a luxury grill that rivals any stove in size and price, elaborate sound systems, and colossal, weather-durable televisions. This article showcases an example in New Jersey that claimed first place in a 2020 North American deck competition and checks off every possible outdoor amenity (except one – there’s no outdoor shower).

Developer of Aluminum-Ion Battery Claims It Charges 60 Times Faster Than Lithium-Ion, Offering EV Range Breakthrough – (Forbes – May 13, 2021)

Graphene aluminum-ion battery cells from the Brisbane-based Graphene Manufacturing Group (GMG) are claimed to charge up to 60 times faster than the best lithium-ion cells and hold three time the energy of the best aluminum-based cells. They are also safer, with no upper Ampere limit to cause spontaneous overheating, more sustainable and easier to recycle, thanks to their stable base materials. Testing also shows the coin-cell validation batteries also last three times longer than lithium-ion versions. GMG plans to bring graphene aluminum-ion coin cells to market late this year or early next year, with automotive pouch cells planned to roll out in early 2024. Using technology from the University of Queensland’s (UQ) Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, the battery cells use nanotechnology to insert aluminum atoms inside tiny perforations in graphene planes. GMG Managing Director Craig Nicol insisted that while his company’s cells were not the only graphene aluminum-ion cells under development, they were easily the strongest, most reliable and fastest charging. “It charges so fast it’s basically a super capacitor,” Nicol claimed. “It charges a coin cell in less than 10 seconds. So far there are no temperature problems. Twenty percent of a lithium-ion battery pack (in a vehicle) is to do with cooling them. There is a very high chance that we won’t need that cooling or heating at all,” Nicol claimed. “It does not overheat and it nicely operates below zero so far in testing.” Article also notes other aluminum-ion battery cells currently in development by other researchers.

BTV’s Beta Technologies Is on the Cusp of a Breakthrough for Electric Aviation – (SevenDays – May 12, 2021)

You can’t not see the planes. Photos in article. Beta Technologies’ two prized prototypes take up the center of its bustling headquarters inside a hangar at Burlington International Airport. Around the upper rim of the airy space, employee workstations overlook the lustrous white machines through long walls of glass. During a recent tour, a group of engineers studied aircraft designs on a projection screen in one conference room. Beta’s founder and CEO Kyle Clark thinks the glass helps get engineers talking to each other, which leads to a better plane. And Clark is obsessed with building a better plane. The prototypes parked in the hangar are the first two iterations of Beta’s latest, most promising design. With a 50-foot wingspan and a tall V-shaped tail, the aircraft dubbed Alia uses four propellers to lift like a drone and a fifth to fly forward like a plane. It’s designed to carry six people or three pallets of cargo up to 250 miles, powered entirely by rechargeable electric batteries. Alia represents an aviation breakthrough-in-waiting, physical evidence of how the far-off vision of flight without fossil fuel has become tantalizingly close. The quickest way to begin moving air travel away from fossil fuels, Clark said at a recent conference, is to build “insanely reliable” aircraft that are capable of more straightforward uses (than pilotless air taxis) , such as transporting cargo. And that’s his aim.

This Facial Recognition Website Can Turn Anyone into a Cop — or a Stalker – (Washington Post – May 14, 2021)

The facial recognition site PimEyes is one of the most capable face-searching tools on the planet. In less than a second, it can scan through more than 900 million images from across the Internet and find matches with startling accuracy. But its most distinguishing trait is who can use it: Anyone. While most facial recognition tools are reserved for police or government use, PimEyes is open to the masses. The search tool stands at the frontier of a new era of facial recognition surveillance: Powerfully sophisticated and available to anyone, with added abilities for those who pay. And without public oversight or government rules controlling facial recognition use, researchers expect that sites like PimEyes will multiply, capitalizing on the Internet’s vast bounty of photos and videos — and making it possible for strangers to keep tabs on people’s personal lives. PimEyes has made it easier than ever for the general public to tap its artificial intelligence power: When a user submits a photo of someone’s face, the site will return a catalogue of images linked to other places where that person appears around the Web, including old videos, news stories, photo albums and personal blogs. The search results don’t include exact names, but they offer a detail and precision that has left some people stunned. Pete, a 40-year-old man in Germany who asked that only his first name be used, said he ran a 17-year-old photo of himself drinking a beer on a train and was blown away when it returned a link to a recent video of him on YouTube. PimEyes says in its online “manifesto” that it believes searching for one’s face online should be a basic human right open to anyone, not just corporations and governments, and that the company’s work is, counterintuitively, a boon for privacy. PimEyes sells subscription packages to people who want to find where their photos have been posted online or get alerted when they’re posted somewhere else. A representative for the company — who declined to share their name, said they’d talk only over email and asked to be referred to only as “the director” — declined to answer questions about how PimEyes works, who is involved with the company or even where the company is based. “Staying completely anonymous is very important to us,” the director said. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article – there is a lot more in it than is summarized here.)

Inside the Military’s Secret Undercover Army – (Newsweek – May 17, 2021)

The largest undercover force the world has ever known is the one created by the Pentagon over the past decade. Some 60,000 people now belong to this secret army, many working under masked identities and in low profile, all part of a broad program called “signature reduction.” The force, more than ten times the size of the clandestine elements of the CIA, carries out domestic and foreign assignments, both in military uniforms and under civilian cover, in real life and online, sometimes hiding in private businesses and consultancies, some of them household name companies. The unprecedented shift has placed an ever greater number of soldiers, civilians, and contractors working under false identities, partly as a natural result in the growth of secret special forces but also as an intentional response to the challenges of traveling and operating in an increasingly transparent world. The explosion of Pentagon cyber warfare, moreover, has led to thousands of spies who carry out their day-to-day work in various made-up personas, the very type of nefarious operations the United States decries when Russian and Chinese spies do the same. Newsweek’s exclusive report on this secret world is the result of a two-year investigation involving the examination of over 600 resumes and 1,000 job postings, dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests, and scores of interviews with participants and defense decision-makers. What emerges is a window into not just a little-known sector of the American military, but also a completely unregulated practice. No one knows the program’s total size, and the explosion of signature reduction has never been examined for its impact on military policies and culture. Congress has never held a hearing on the subject. And yet the military developing this gigantic clandestine force challenges U.S. laws, the Geneva Conventions, the code of military conduct and basic accountability. The newest and fastest growing group is the clandestine army that never leaves their keyboards. These are the cutting-edge cyber fighters and intelligence collectors who assume false personas online, employing “nonattribution” and “misattribution” techniques to hide the who and the where of their online presence while they search for high-value targets and collect what is called “publicly accessible information”—or even engage in campaigns to influence and manipulate social media. In the electronic era, a major task of signature reduction is keeping all of the organizations and people, even the automobiles and aircraft involved in the clandestine operations, masked. This protective effort entails everything from scrubbing the Internet of telltale signs of true identities to planting false information to protect missions and people. As standard unforgettable identification and biometrics have become worldwide norms, the signature reduction industry also works to figure out ways of spoofing and defeating everything from fingerprinting and facial recognition at border crossings, to ensuring that undercover operatives can enter and operate in the United States, manipulating official records to ensure that false identities match up. (Editor’s note: We have no way of confirming or refuting any of what this article claims, but we assure you: it’s fascinating.)

US on the Brink of Civil War? – (Armstrong Economics – May 13, 2021)

Sallie Baliunas analyzed ice core samples obtained from the North Pole. Her research revealed that there was a 300-year cycle to the energy output of the sun which appeared in the ice core data. When I (author of this article) look at the cycle she revealed, I was stunned. It matched the 309.6-year cycle of the Economic Confidence Model (ECM – Armstrong’s AI-generated predictive model). What I had discovered from the historical record of the rise and fall of nations that followed the ECM, suddenly I was confronted with at least part of the explanation – climate change. Cutting to the chase here: Our model on the prospects for the rise in a civil war in the United States turned upward in December 2019 when COVID was released. This should erupt within three years of that turning point which will be 2022. That is not to say there will be a civil war at that time, but the confrontation will rise up and start to take shape in 2022. Traditionally, the revolution will erupt 13 years after that turning point which ironically brings us precisely to 2032. Article includes historical information on parallels with the American Revolution and its precursors demonstrating the 309 year cycle.

A Canadian Study Gave $7,500 to Homeless People. Here’s How They Spent It. – (Vox – May 7, 2021)

A study called the New Leaf Project, conducted by the charity Foundations for Social Change in partnership with the University of British Columbia, was fairly simple. It identified 50 people in the Vancouver area who had become homeless in the past two years. In spring 2018, it gave them each one lump sum of $7,500 (in Canadian dollars). And it told them to do whatever they wanted with the cash. Over the next year, the study followed up with the recipients periodically, asking how they were spending the money and what was happening in their lives. Because they were participating in a randomized controlled trial, their outcomes were compared to those of a control group: 65 homeless people who didn’t receive any cash. Both cash recipients and people in the control group got access to workshops and coaching focused on developing life skills and plans. The results? The people who received cash transfers moved into stable housing faster and saved enough money to maintain financial security over the year of follow-up. They decreased spending on drugs, tobacco, and alcohol by 39% on average, and increased spending on food, clothes, and rent, according to self-reports. The study, though small, offers a counter to the myths that people who become poor get that way because they’re bad at rational decision-making and self-control, and are thus intrinsically to blame for their situation, and that people getting free money will blow it on frivolous things or addictive substances. Studies have consistently shown that cash transfers don’t increase the consumption of “temptation goods”; they either decrease it or have no effect on it. What’s more, according to Foundations for Social Change, giving out the cash transfers in the Vancouver area actually saved the broader society money. Enabling 50 people to move into housing faster saved the shelter system $8,100 per person over the year, for a total savings of $405,000. That’s more than the value of the cash transfers, which means the transfers pay for themselves. “People think that the status quo is cheap, but it’s actually incredibly expensive,” Williams said. “So why don’t we just give people the cash they need to transform their lives?”

When No Landlord Will Rent to You, Where Do You Go? – (New York Times – May 20, 2021)

No state in the country has enough affordable rentals, especially for low-wage workers, who need to earn at least $23.96 an hour, on average nationwide, to be able to afford a modest two-bedroom rental, according to calculations by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Roughly 7.6 million households with low incomes are currently struggling to find a long-term place to live, a housing gap that has been decades in the making. By the mid-1980s, federal and state governments mostly stopped building public housing directly — the thinking was that private investors, lured with tax credits, would build enough affordable housing instead. The policy largely failed people with extremely low incomes, and over roughly the same period, the available public-housing units declined to 958,000 at the end of 2020 from 1.4 million in 1990, according to HUD. Lack of supply isn’t the only hurdle for low-income renters. Private landlords can legally reject would-be tenants based on their income, bad credit or previous evictions, and in many places they can freeze them out by requiring steep deposits and two months of rent up front. This makes formal housing, with its yearlong leases, set rates and clear tenancy rights, unavailable to millions. Having few other options, those whose incomes are extremely low are more and more finding shelter not in apartments but in roadside motels or aging hotel rooms that have limited, if any, cooking facilities. Or they end up in what are known as extended stays, designed for longer — but not permanent — occupancy. In some cities, such accommodations, which include small kitchenettes, are referred to as “weeklies,” where rates are guaranteed for only seven days at a time. Total costs per month often exceed those of a traditional apartment, and because occupancy taxes are required in many cities for the first 30 days (or more) of a hotel or motel stay, these can add $100 or more per month to someone’s rental costs. Residents who rely on such rooms are often referred to as the “precariously housed.” Industry experts say the number of people living permanently in informal housing has been growing quietly for decades and will keep rising. There are 5.6 million hotel rooms in the United States, according to STR, a hospitality research firm; roughly half a million of them are classified as extended stay, up from about 200,000 two decades ago. As more adults have moved into hotels and motels, so have more schoolchildren — 97,640 lived in these settings during the 2018-19 school year, up from 45,781 in 2004-5, according to the National Center for Homeless Education. Article continues with a history of the growth and use of credit bureaus, a crucial part of the inability of some people to find housing. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article for its exploration of what can only be called financial surveillance.)

Even if You Think Discussing Aliens Is Ridiculous, Just Hear Me Out – (New York Times – May 13, 2021)

The most curious subplot in the news right now is the admission, at the most senior levels of the United States government, that the military services have collected visuals, data and testimonials recording flying objects they cannot explain; that they are investigating these phenomena seriously; and that they will, in the coming months, report at least some of their findings to the public. According to John Ratcliffe, the former director of national intelligence, “When we talk about sightings, we are talking about objects that have been seen by Navy or Air Force pilots, or have been picked up by satellite imagery, that frankly engage in actions that are difficult to explain, movements that are hard to replicate, that we don’t have the technology for, or traveling at speeds that exceed the sound barrier without a sonic boom.” Nor are these just eyewitness accounts, made by fallible human observers. “Usually, we have multiple sensors that are picking up these things,” he said. To state the obvious: All this is a little weird. None of it is proof of extraterrestrial visitation, of course.  Here is a thought experiment: Imagine, tomorrow, an alien craft crashed down in Oregon. There are no life-forms in it. It’s effectively a drone. But it’s undeniably extraterrestrial in origin. So we are faced with the knowledge that we’re not alone, that we are perhaps being watched, and we have no way to make contact. How does that change human culture and society? One immediate effect, I (the author of this article) suspect, would be a collapse in public trust. Decades of U.F.O. reports and conspiracies would take on a different cast. Governments would be seen as having withheld a profound truth from the public, whether or not they actually did. We already live in an age of conspiracy theories. Now the guardrails would truly shatter, because if U.F.O.s were real, despite decades of dismissals, who would remain trusted to say anything else was false? Certainly not the academics who’d laughed them off as nonsense, or the governments who would now be seen as liars. The question, then, would be who could impose meaning on such an event. There would be enormous power — and money — in shaping the story humanity told itself. If we were to believe that the contact was threatening, military budgets would swell all over the world. A more pacific interpretation might orient humanity toward space travel or at least interstellar communication. Article develops the “thought experiment” further. See also this clip from 60 Minutes: Watch a Navy Pilot Explain His Encounter With a UFO

How the Fastest Spaceship Ever Is Getting Terrifyingly Close to the Sun – (Motherboard – May 3, 2021)

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which launched in 2018, is a special and pioneering mission. Over the past few years in space, Parker has traveled closer to the Sun than any previous spacecraft, while also breaking the record for the fastest object of all time. The spacecraft can withstand conditions within the outer atmosphere of the Sun, called the corona, and it will eventually travel just 4.3 million miles from the star’s center—seven times closer than any previous mission. “One way to think about it is, if you put [Parker] on a football field with the Sun at one side and Earth at the other side, we’re getting in the four-yard line,” said Betsy Congdon, lead thermal protection system engineer for Parker at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. “We’re getting in the Sun’s corona, so it’s very exciting.” As Parker continues to swing past the Sun in its close approaches, it will eventually reach an astonishing top speed of 430,000 miles per hour, fast enough to travel from New York to Los Angeles in about 20 seconds. The mission has already made interesting discoveries about the Sun during its passes, spotting curious dust rings and “magnetic islands” at the star. Eventually, the probe will shed light on the mysterious mechanism behind the Sun’s solar wind, and the unexpectedly high temperature in the corona, compared to the solar surface. By studying the Sun up close, Parker will also yield insights about other star systems, including their potential habitability.

Huge Region of Europe Destroyed by Asteroid Impact in Planetary Defense Exercise – (SciTech Daily – May 1, 2021)

In an alternate reality playing out at this year’s international Planetary Defense Conference, a fictional asteroid crashes over Europe, ‘destroying’ a region about 100 km wide near the Czech Republic and German border. The scenario was imagined, but the people who took part are very real, and the lessons learnt will shape our ability to respond to dangerous asteroids for years to come. Natural hazards come in a range of forms and occur with varying frequency. The threat from asteroids however is unique: an asteroid impact is the most predictable natural disaster we face, and given enough warning we have the technology, in principle, to entirely prevent it. The good news is, when it comes to giant, dinosaur-extinction-sized asteroids, we are pretty sure we’ve found every one out there. Because of their sheer size, they are easy to detect. But the smaller they get, the more we still have to find, which is why the impact of this year’s asteroid, 2021 PDC, provided such an important lesson: we can only prevent what we can predict. Although this scenario is realistic in many ways, it is completely fictional and does NOT describe an actual asteroid impact. Article goes on to give detailed analysis of the fictional situation and how it played out.

Overwork Killed More Than 745,000 People in a Year, WHO Study Finds – (NPR – May 17, 2021)

People working 55 or more hours each week face an estimated 35% higher risk of a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared to people following the widely accepted standard of working 35 to 40 hours in a week, the WHO says in a study published in the journal Environment International. The global study, which the WHO calls the first of its kind, found that in 2016, 488 million people were exposed to the risks of working long hours. In all, more than 745,000 people died that year from overwork that resulted in stroke and heart disease, according to the WHO. “Between 2000 and 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease due to working long hours increased by 42%, and from stroke by 19%,” the WHO said as it announced the study, which it conducted with the International Labor Organization. The study doesn’t cover the past year, in which the COVID-19 pandemic thrust national economies into crisis and reshaped how millions of people work. But its authors note that overwork has been on the rise for years due to phenomena such as the gig economy and telework — and they say the pandemic will likely accelerate those trends. The study found the highest health burdens from overwork in men and in workers who are middle-age or older. Regionally, people in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region had the most exposure to the risk. People in Europe had the lowest exposure. In the U.S., fewer than 5% of the population is exposed to long work hours. That proportion is similar to Brazil and Canada — and much lower than in Mexico and in countries across most of Central and South America.

New Microscope Technique Powerful Enough to Watch Atoms Vibrate – (Futurism – May 21, 2021)

A team of Cornell University engineers developed a new microscopy technique that’s powerful enough to spot an individual atom in three dimensions — and create an image so clear that the only blurriness comes from the movement of that atom itself. The technique relies on an electron microscope coupled with sophisticated 3D reconstruction algorithms, doesn’t just set a new record in atom resolution. The researchers even say this might be as good as microscopy gets. Lead author and Cornell engineer David Muller said “We basically can now figure out where the atoms are in a very easy way. This opens up a whole lot of new measurement possibilities of things we’ve wanted to do for a very long time.” Past attempts to image and study individual atoms resulted in blurry images because, well, it’s hard to get that precise. But now scientists can actually watch as atoms jiggle and vibrate — motion blur in the new images is a testament to their precision, they say, rather than a technical fault.

Ransomware Attacks Could Reach ‘Pandemic’ Proportions – (Washington Post – May 12, 2021)

Christopher Krebs, who formerly headed the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security, testified recently before the House Committee on Homeland Security that a form of malware called ransomware has become more prevalent than ever. Given an ever-widening criminal enterprise and vulnerable digital landscape, he said, critical infrastructure is at risk of debilitating attacks. Two days later, Colonial Pipeline, a major fuel pipeline connecting the East Coast, was hit in the largest-known hack on U.S. energy infrastructure. Such attacks have reached a record high recently, with nearly 400 assaults on critical infrastructure in 2020, according to data compiled by Temple University. In the past week (from the date of this article), hackers published personnel files of D.C. police officers, caused city services in Tulsa to shut down, and paralyzed a California hospital system. The FBI has confirmed that the group responsible is known as DarkSide, an Eastern European-based criminal gang. Much of America’s aging infrastructure was built long before online networks used today came into existence, resulting in vulnerabilities as existing organizations go digital. “The underlying enabling factors for this cybercrime explosion are rooted in the digital dumpster fire of our seemingly pathological need to connect everything to the Internet combined with how hard it is to actually secure what we have connected,” Krebs said in his testimony. With the advent of cryptocurrency and expanding networks of criminal groups like DarkSide, ransomware is a burgeoning enterprise, outpacing the development of protective measures. Cryptocurrency, a form of digital cash, is unregulated or underregulated in some jurisdictions, making it more difficult to track. Hackers have even developed customer hotlines for their targets, streamlining the nefarious process. “Ransomware-as-a-Service is big business and we are not surprised groups like DarkSide are capitalizing on extortion techniques that are quickly becoming a hallmark for many eCrime actors,” Matt Trushinski, technical director of cybersecurity firm Arctic Wolf, wrote in an email. In 2020, 113 federal, state and local governments and agencies reported they were struck, costing about $915 million, according to one estimate by Emsisoft, a cybersecurity company. (Editor’s note: This is worth considering when choosing to connect to the Internet of Things.)

Servers of Colonial Pipeline Hacker Darkside Forced Down – (Agence France-Presse – May 14, 2021)

Servers for Darkside were taken down by unknown actors, a week after the cyber extortionist forced the shutdown of a large US oil pipeline in a ransomware scam, a US cyber security firm said. Recorded Future, the security firm, said in a post that the allegedly Russia-based Darkside had admitted in a web post that it lost access to certain servers used for its web blog and for payments. Accessed via TOR on the dark web, the Darkside site address showed a notice saying it could not be found. “The Darkside operator also reported that cryptocurrency funds were also withdrawn from the gang’s payment server, which was hosting ransom payments made by victims,” said Recorded Future. While there was no evidence of who might have forced down Darkside’s website, the twitter account of a US military cyber warfare group, the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade, retweeted the Recorded Future report. For an update on the Darkside hackers, see DarkSide, Blamed for Gas Pipeline Attack, Says It Is Shutting Down. Someone withdrew roughly 113.5 Bitcoin, or $5.6 million, from DarkSide’s Bitcoin wallet and moved it into an unknown user’s account, according to TRM Labs, a San Francisco blockchain intelligence company. The sum amounted to Colonial Pipeline’s 75 Bitcoin ransom plus that of a German company, Brenntag, which also opted to pay its digital extortionists, TRM Labs said. To whom that other account belongs is yet another plot twist in the hacking episode. Esteban Castaño, a co-founder of TRM Labs, noted that whoever moved DarkSide’s winnings would have had access to the group’s private key to its Bitcoin wallet. “The question is where were those private keys stored?” Mr. Castaño said. “Were they on some server that someone else got ahold of? Or did DarkSide initiate the transfer themselves?”

Animal Adoptions Make No Evolutionary Sense, So Why Do They Happen? – (The Conversation – April 28, 2021)

Scientists used to think that humans are special because we have larger brains than other animals. However, some experts in human evolution have suggested that it isn’t how we think that makes the difference, but how we feel. If so, true generosity might be a uniquely human trait. Generosity is usually defined in evolutionary terms as altruism. This is when an individual acts in a way that costs valuable resources or time, with no expectation of repayment. There are occasions, however, when our animal kin surprise us. For instance, scientists working with gorillas in Rwanda recently found the gorillas band together to take care of orphans. In these cases, young peers and (surprisingly) dominant adult males can be key to immature orphans’ survival. There are also examples of cross-species adoption, such as the dolphin who adopted and nursed a melon-headed whale, and a group of capuchin monkeys who raised a marmoset. From an evolutionary perspective, what matters is how many copies of your genes make it into the next generation. The idea that an animal might be altruistic (helpful) to members of their family to increase their own evolutionary success is called kin selection. Adopting an unrelated child, however, can’t be explained by kin selection. It’s a choice that incurs significant cost, but does not result in more copies of the adoptive parent’s genes being passed on. Article reviews a variety of reasons that have been proposed – none were entirely compelling. Perhaps humans are not unique in their capacity for generosity after all? After all, animal behavior specialists have suggested that spontaneous generosity is actually well-known and it is well documented among other large-brained, highly-social animals, such as apes, dolphins and elephants. In addition to adoptions, chimpanzees routinely comfort the loser of a fight. They are also occasionally known to commit heroic acts of selflessness, like dying to rescue an infant from drowning. Attempts have been made to look for “hidden” relationships between helper and recipient, to make altruism “fit” with evolutionary selfishness. Perhaps instead we may just have to accept that humans are not unique in their capacity to care for and help each other.

See the Most Beautiful Photographs of Earth – (Toby Ord – no date)

Only 24 people have journeyed far enough to see the whole Earth against the black of space. The images they brought back changed our world. Here is a selection of the most beautiful photographs of Earth — iconic images and unknown gems — digitally restored to their full glory. Toby Ord is a philosopher at Oxford who focuses on what he calls “the big picture questions facing humanity.” He has spent years reworking high-res scans of some of those photos, and has just made the results available, many of them never seen before. They’re remarkable. And his explanation is just as compelling (keep scrolling down on the webpage).

Europe’s Best Island Destination is Making A Digital Nomad Village for International Remote Workers – (World at Large – February 18, 2021)

Winner of Europe’s Leading Island Destination award 5 years running, the island of Madeira is looking to capitalize on the rise in numbers of a unique kind of traveler — digital nomads, by building a town entirely specialized for their residency. While COVID-19 has forced millions of workers into the telecommuting space, when they got there, they found it was already inhabited by Anthony Bourdain-type people who travel year-round and work from their computers. Realizing this market was goosed by the rise in telecommuting, and that the staggering beauty of the island would be deeply appealing to digital nomads, Madeira created Digital Nomad Village, a place with fast internet, exclusive hotel property, community events, and a free office space. It’s situated in tranquil Ponta do Sol on the south coast, with views out to the Atlantic and a short drive from the capital, Funchal. Launched on February the 1st, the pilot program for the village will run until the 30th of June. This concept is being launched in partnership with the Government of Madeira, StartUp Madeira and acclaimed digital nomad Gonçalo Hall. Hosting up to 100 nomads at any one time, residents must commit to staying for at least a month. How much does a month in paradise cost? See: Say Yes to Madeira for some answers.

This Artist Turns Everyday Items into Hilarious Optical Illusions – (DIY Photography – February 24, 2021)

Helga Stentzel is a Russian-born photographer living in London who clearly has a fine sense of humor. She takes ordinary objects—grapes, say, or gummy bears, or a head of lettuce, or clothing—and turns them into other objects: a dog peering out of a trash can, a horse hanging on a clothesline, a bunch of grapes that are not grapes, or a balloon dog that is grapes… She also does animations (Instagram link), well worth checking out. See more work by this artist.
We are prisoners of our own metaphors, metaphorically speaking.
R. Buckminster Fuller  
A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past.  If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.
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