Volume 24, Number 15 – 8/1/21

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Volume 24, Number 15 – 8/1/2021


  • Commercial firms conducted for-hire disinformation campaigns in at least 48 countries last year.
  • The United Arab Emirates are using electrical charges from drones to manipulate the weather and force rainfall across the desert nation.
  • If self-driving vehicles are going to happen, trucks will likely arrive before cars.
  • Researchers have actually seen X-ray reflections from behind a black hole.

Seeds of a New World

Saturday, August 28
in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

Reality systems are seeded, rise to a peak, and fall. This is because corrupt individuals who are always looking to game the system eventually figure out how to do so as it rises to its peak, and it is the corruption that causes the whole thing to fall apart, leaving people to create new systems. For those who are awake and aware, it is quite clear that nothing is working and little is left of the world we grew up in. This leaves us with the task of rebuilding – a monumental challenge for a fragile and highly technical civilization teetering on the edge of collapse. The world we live in is the result of the consciousness we hold, and without a shift or expansion of that consciousness, any attempt to create a new world will only result in the same old ideas and structures. To get beyond these, it is necessary to create a whole new vision of what the world could be and how it would work.

In this 1-day gathering, we will look at and discuss the 12 spheres of activity and meaning that form the foundations of a new world.

So join us for an examination of the amazing possibilities and potentials of the new paradigm coming toward us, how that will shift your day-to-day, and a look at the kind of consciousness needed to unfold that new world.

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

Click Here for Tickets and More Info

Seattle Scientist Digs Up Deleted Coronavirus Genetic Data, Adding Fuel to the Covid Origin Debate – (Washington Post – June 23, 2021)

A computational biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Jesse Bloom, noticed several coronavirus sequences had been stored but then deleted from an archive at the National Institutes of Health. Bloom found those sequences in Google’s cloud storage and analyzed them. The sequences do not add any support to the various hypotheses about the virus’s origins. But, as one epidemiologist said, the analysis offers additional “evidence of what many have speculated — that the virus was circulating before the market outbreak” in China.

The Approaching Storm – (C.J. Hopkins – July 15, 2021)

It looks like GloboCap isn’t going to be happy until they have fomented the widespread social unrest — or de facto global civil war — that they need as a pretext to lock in the new pathologized totalitarianism and remake whatever remains of society into a global pseudo-medicalized police state, or that appears to where we’re headed currently. We appear to be heading there at breakneck speed. I (author of this article) don’t have a crystal ball or anything, but I’m expecting things to get rather ugly this Autumn, and probably even uglier in the foreseeable future. Yes, friends, a storm is coming. It has been coming for the last 16 months. And GloboCap is steering right into it. You can’t remake entire societies into quasi-totalitarian systems without civil unrest, chaos, rioting, war, or some other form of cataclysm. Here in New Normal Germany, prominent health officials are openly barking out Goebbelsian slogans like “No Freedom for the Unvaccinated!” and “The Unvaccinated Are a Danger to Society!” All over Europe, pseudo-medical social-segregation systems are being implemented. In France, Greece, and many other countries, people who refuse to be “vaccinated” are being stripped of their jobs and otherwise punished. We’re living in two mutually hostile “realities,” a state which cannot continue indefinitely. The problem for us (i.e., the Unvaccinated) is, we probably constitute somewhere around 20% – 25% of the population, so we are massively outnumbered by New Normals. The problem for the New Normals is, we probably constitute somewhere around 20% – 25% of the population, which is way too many people to imprison or otherwise remove from society. Thus, their plan is to make our lives as miserable as possible, to segregate us, stigmatize us, demonize us, bully, and harass us, and pressure us to conform at every turn.

Canadian Doctor: 62% of Patients Vaccinated for COVID Have Permanent Heart Damage – (Global Research – July 14, 2021)

Dr. Charles Hoffe has been practicing medicine for 28 years in the small, rural town of Lytton in British Columbia, Canada. After he had administered about 900 doses of the Moderna experimental mRNA COVID-19 injections, he sounded the alarm over the severe reactions he was observing in his patients who chose to get the shot (he chose not to get it himself), which included death. In a recent interview, Dr. Hoffe states that the blood clots that are being reported in the corporate media as being “rare” are anything but rare, based on his own testing of his own patients who had recently received one of the shots. “The blood clots we hear about which the media claim are very rare are the big blood clots which are the ones that cause strokes and show up on CT scans, MRI, etc. The clots I’m talking about are microscopic and too small to find on any scan. They can thus only be detected using the D-dimer test.” Using this test with his own patients, Dr. Hoffe claims that he has found evidence of small blood clots in 62% of his patients who have been injected with an mRNA shot. He noted, the most alarming part of this is that there are some parts of the body like the brain, spinal cord, heart and lungs which cannot re-generate. When those tissues are damaged by blood clots they are permanently damaged. The COVID-19 Immunity Task Force in Canada is a group comprised of experts from across Canada in matters related to serologic surveillance, immunology, virology, infectious diseases, public health, and clinical medicine. It also includes ex-officio members representing agencies of the Government of Canada, including the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the office of the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister, as well as representatives of Provincial-Territorial Ministries of Health, and McGill University (host of the Secretariat). In a recent press release, this group with ties to government health agencies admitted that there are seriously injured individuals from the COVID-19 shots, and that strategies need to be developed to deal with their injuries. Some injuries have been acknowledged in the U.S. by the FDA, but the only action they have taken is to add warnings to the shots – nothing about how to treat the victims and their injuries. To be sure, this group in Canada keeps stating the official narrative that “the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccination continue to outweigh the risks” while supplying no underlying data or studies to prove this statement, but the fact that they are even admitting that there are people injured by the shots that need help, is huge.

Disinformation for Hire, a Shadow Industry, Is Quietly Booming – (New York Times – July 25, 2021)

Private firms, straddling traditional marketing and the shadow world of geopolitical influence operations, are selling services once conducted principally by intelligence agencies. They sow discord, meddle in elections, seed false narratives and push viral conspiracies, mostly on social media. And they offer clients something precious: deniability. “Disinfo-for-hire actors being employed by government or government-adjacent actors is growing and serious,” said Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, calling it “a boom industry.” Such campaigns have been recently found promoting India’s ruling party, Egyptian foreign policy aims and political figures in Bolivia and Venezuela. Mr. Brookie’s organization tracked one operating amid a mayoral race in Serra, a small city in Brazil. An ideologically promiscuous Ukrainian firm boosted several competing political parties. In the Central African Republic, two separate operations flooded social media with dueling pro-French and pro-Russian disinformation. Both powers are vying for influence in the country. A wave of anti-American posts in Iraq, seemingly organic, were tracked to a public relations company that was separately accused of faking anti-government sentiment in Israel. Most trace to back-alley firms whose legitimate services resemble those of a bottom-rate marketer or email spammer. For-hire disinformation, though only sometimes effective, is growing more sophisticated as practitioners iterate and learn. Experts say it is becoming more common in every part of the world, outpacing operations conducted directly by governments. Commercial firms conducted for-hire disinformation in at least 48 countries last year — nearly double from the year before, according to an Oxford University study. The researchers identified 65 companies offering such services. New technology enables nearly anyone to get involved. Programs batch generate fake accounts with hard-to-trace profile photos. Instant metrics help to hone effective messaging. So does access to users’ personal data, which is easily purchased in bulk. The campaigns are rarely as sophisticated as those by government hackers or specialized firms like the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency. But they appear to be cheap. And the layer of deniability frees governments to sow disinformation more aggressively, at home and abroad, than might otherwise be worth the risk. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article.)

He Refused to Give Up His Coveted Twitter Handle. Then He Was ‘Swatted’ and Died of a Heart Attack. – (Washington Post – July 24, 2021)

According to federal prosecutors, in April, 2020, Mark Herring’s refusal to give up his @Tennessee handle led to police surrounding his home with their weapons drawn, and caused the computer programmer to suffer a massive heart attack that killed him. His death in Bethpage, Tenn., was triggered by “swatting” — the illegal practice of calling in fake life-threatening emergencies to provoke a heavily-armed response from police. Sonderman posted Herring’s contact information online on April 27, 2020, and a co-conspirator — a minor in the United Kingdom — falsely reported a murder at Herring’s home to police shortly thereafter, court documents say. The caller said that a woman had been fatally shot and pipe bombs would go off if officers arrived. Recently Shane Sonderman was convicted and sentenced in Memphis federal court to five years in prison for one count of conspiracy. Sonderman, 20, of Lauderdale County, Tenn., pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge in March in exchange for several other charges to be dropped. Federal prosecutors say Sonderman targeted at least five people and attempted to pressure them to sell him their social media handles, according to court documents. Herring, a father of three and grandfather of six, is the only person targeted who died as a result. Sonderman’s sentencing is the latest example of how people have escalated online disputes or harassment into real-world consequences — some that end in tense scenes involving heavily-armed police or SWAT teams. The @Tennessee name was a clear target for Sonderman, who joined several other suspects in creating fake accounts to target people in multiple states — New York, Virginia, Michigan — with interesting social media names, prosecutors say. If people did not hand over their social media handles, which could be resold for thousands of dollars, then Sonderman and his associates would barrage them in a variety of ways. One victim in Oregon reported how Sonderman’s co-conspirators falsely reported a fire at her parents’ house last year. “did your parent’s enjoy the firetrucks?” they wrote to the Oregon victim in a text message with grammatical errors, according to the indictment. “i plan on killing your parents next if you do not hand the username on instrgam over to me.”

Mysterious DNA Sequences, Known as ‘Borgs,’ Recovered from California Mud – (Science – July 15, 2021)

When Jill Banfield, a geomicrobiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, sifted through DNA in the mud of her backyard and discovered a strange linear chromosome that included genes from a variety of microbes, her Trekkie son proposed naming it after the sci-fi aliens. The new type of genetic material was a mystery. Researchers have found many examples of DNA floating independently outside the chromosome or chromosomes that make up an organism’s standard genome. Small loops called plasmids, for example, exist inside microbes and ferry genes for thwarting antibiotics among different kinds of bacteria. But Banfield wasn’t looking for DNA that could move between organisms. Instead, she and graduate student Basem Al-Shayeb were searching for viruses that infect archaea, a type of microbe often found in places devoid of oxygen. They would dig 1 meter or more below the surface and collect mud samples that might harbor archaea and their viruses. “We started off with a piece of mud and 10 trillion pieces of DNA,” Banfield says. One sample, taken from the mud on her property, contained a gene-filled stretch of DNA almost 1 million bases long—and more than half the genes were novel. This linear stretch of DNA also had a particular pattern of bases at its beginning and end, distinct stretches of repetitive DNA between its genes, and two places along the sequence where DNA duplication could begin—which indicated the Borg could make copies of itself. Together, this suggested it was not just a random concoction of genes.

Neutron Stars Have Mountains That Are Less Than a Millimeter Tall – (Gizmodo – July 18, 2021)

A team of astrophysicists recently used new models of neutron stars to map the mountains—tiny raised areas—on the stars’ otherwise perfectly spherical structures. They found that the greatest deviations were still extraordinarily small due to the intense gravitational pull, clocking in at less than a millimeter tall. Neutron stars are the dead cores of once-huge stars that collapsed in on themselves. They are the densest objects in the Universe aside from black holes. They’re called neutron stars because their gravity is so intense that the electrons in their atoms collapse into the protons, forming neutrons. They’re so compact that they pack a mass greater than that of our Sun into a sphere no wider than a city. Previous work indicated that neutron star mountains could be a few centimeters tall—many times larger than what the recent team has estimated. The earlier calculations assumed that the neutron star would sustain such large bumps on its surface if it were strained to its limits, like Atlas holding up the world. But the recent modeling found that the earlier calculations are unrealistic behavior to expect from a neutron star.

Animals Emerged 350 Million Years Earlier Than Previously Thought, Fossil Discovery Suggests – (Gizmodo – July 28, 2021)

Ancient rocks from northwestern Canada have been found to contain structures consistent with sea sponges. At 890 million years old, they could be the oldest known animal fossils on Earth. Simple, single-celled life forms first appeared on Earth about 3.4 billion years ago, but it took a while for more complex animal life to emerge. The Cambrian Explosion of complex lifeforms happened around 540 million years ago, which coincides with the oldest undisputed sponge fossils on record. In 2018, the discovery of steroids—a known biomarker—in rocks dated to between 660 million and 635 million years ago pushed the emergence of sponges to the Neoproterozoic, which is at least 100 million years before the Cambrian. Genetic analyses of modern sponges likewise suggests an early origin for these sea creatures, further reinforcing the notion that sponges were the first animals to appear on Earth. Paco Cardenas, a biologist at Uppsala University in Sweden who wasn’t involved in the new study but is an expert on sponges, said this discrepancy between the fossil record and the chemical and DNA evidence “has been highly debated these past years.” Hence the importance of the newly reported discovery, which has implications for how we understand the origin of all animal life on Earth.

Iceland May Be the Tip of a Sunken Continent – (Live Science – July 28, 2021)

Iceland may be the last exposed remnant of a nearly Texas-size continent — called Icelandia — that sank beneath the North Atlantic Ocean about 10 million years ago, according to a new theory proposed by an international team of geophysicists and geologists. The theory goes against long-standing ideas about the formation of Iceland and the North Atlantic, but the researchers say the theory explains both the geological features of the ocean floor and why Earth’s crust beneath Iceland is so much thicker than it should be. Outside experts not affiliated with the research are skeptical that Icelandia exists based on the evidence collected so far. Even so, if geological studies prove the theory, the radical new idea of a sunken continent could have implications for the ownership of any fuels found beneath the seafloor, which under international law belong to a country that can show their continental crust extends that far.

Paralyzed Man’s Brain Waves Turned into Sentences on Computer in Medical First – (Guardian – July 15, 2021)

In a medical first, researchers harnessed the brainwaves of a paralyzed man unable to speak and turned what he intended to say into sentences on a computer screen. It will take years of additional research but the study marks an important step toward one day restoring more natural communication for people who can’t talk because of injury or illness. In recent years, experiments with mind-controlled prosthetics have allowed paralyzed people to shake hands or take a drink using a robotic arm – they imagine moving and those brain signals are relayed through a computer to the artificial limb. Dr Edward Chang, a neurosurgeon at the University of California, San Francisco, who led the work and his team built on that work to develop a “speech neuroprosthetic” – a device that decodes the brainwaves that normally control the vocal tract, the tiny muscle movements of the lips, jaw, tongue and larynx that form each consonant and vowel. The man who volunteered to test the device was in his late 30s. Fifteen years ago he suffered a brain-stem stroke that caused widespread paralysis and robbed him of speech. The researchers implanted electrodes on the surface of the man’s brain, over the area that controls speech. A computer analyzed the patterns when he attempted to say common words such as “water” or “good”, eventually learning to differentiate between 50 words that could generate more than 1,000 sentences.

DNA Study Finds Less Than 2% of the Human Genome Is “Human” – (Inverse – July 16, 2021)

For all the progress Homo sapiens has made as a species over the hundreds of thousands of years of our existence, our genome tells a different story. In this biological version of the story, humans have not come as far as we think from our more archaic ancestors — at least on the molecular level. In a new landmark paper published Friday in the journal Science Advances, researchers detail a telling discovery about our genes — finding that far less of our genome is actually wholly ours. In the new study, the researchers construct an evolutionary family tree for Homo sapiens, based on the sequenced genomes of modern humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans. They make two discoveries from their close analysis of these data: First, as little as 1.5% and as much as 7% of the modern human genome is unique to our species. In other words, at least 93% of the modern human genome is shared between our species and the two other ancient hominins. Second, in the last 600,000 years, our genetic adaptations largely were to do with brain development and function only — perhaps when we think of human uniqueness, this is what we should consider as primal, Nathan Schaefer, a bioinformatician at the University of California, San Francisco, and the paper’s lead author says, “Maybe we’ve gotten a first glimpse at what to look at next for what might make humans special.”

It’s So Hot in Dubai That the Government Is Artificially Creating Rainstorms – (CBC – July 23, 2021)

With temperatures in Dubai regularly surpassing 115 degrees Fahrenheit, the government has decided to take control of the scorching weather. Scientists in the United Arab Emirates are making it rain — artificially — using electrical charges from drones to manipulate the weather and force rainfall across the desert nation. The new method of cloud seeding shows promise in helping to mitigate drought conditions worldwide, without as many environmental concerns as previous methods involving salt flares. According to research from the University of Reading in the U.K., scientists created the storms using drones, which hit clouds with electricity, creating large raindrops. The larger raindrops are essential in the hot country, where smaller droplets often evaporate before ever hitting the ground. In 2017, researchers at the university were awarded $1.5 million in funding for what they call “Rain Enhancement Science,” also known as man-made rainstorms. The UAE’s total investment in rain-making projects is $15 million, part of the country’s “quest to ensure water security.” “The water table is sinking drastically in UAE,” said University of Reading professor and meteorologist Maarten Ambaum. “And the purpose of this is to try to help with rainfall.” The UAE is one of the first countries in the Gulf region to use cloud seeding technology, the National Center of Meteorology said. A version of the concept is used in at least eight states in the western U.S., according to The Scientific American.

The LED Traffic Signal Gets Redesigned with a Single Screen Stoplight for the 21st Century – (Yanko Design – July 18, 2021)

Makeshift detour notices and ancient traffic lights from the 20th century sometimes make following road rules difficult. Human error and faded signals sometimes send the wrong sign to drivers and pedestrians, resulting in car accidents and injuries. In addition to the traffic light’s archaic design, those who are color blind can have a difficult time distinguishing between red and green, stop and go. (Editor’s note: Colorblind individuals know that the light at the top of a conventional signal mean “stop” and the one at the bottom means “go”.) Confronting the downfalls of a design from yesteryear, Moscow-based design firm Art. Lebedev Studio developed a traffic light fixture to match today’s modern design and technological capabilities. Requested by two cities in Russia for testing in a limited capacity, Art. Lebedev Studio’s traffic light condenses the three-tier stoplight into one digital panel that runs a continuous loop of various traffic signals. When it’s time to stop, the entire fixture emanates a red glow and projects an ‘X’ to signal to color-blind drivers that it’s time to stop. Similarly, when it’s okay to drive on, green fills the screen and an arrow indicates full speed ahead. A countdown is also displayed when each traffic signal starts, allowing drivers to countdown when it’ll be time to go and when they’ll have to slow down.

Making Clean Hydrogen Is Hard, But Researchers Just Solved a Major Hurdle – (PhysOrg – July 19, 2021)

For decades, researchers around the world have searched for ways to use solar power to generate the key reaction for producing hydrogen as a clean energy source—splitting water molecules to form hydrogen and oxygen. However, such efforts have mostly failed because doing it well was too costly, and trying to do it at a low cost led to poor performance. Now, researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have found a low-cost way to solve one half of the equation, using sunlight to efficiently split off oxygen molecules from water. The finding represents a step forward toward greater adoption of hydrogen as a key part of our energy infrastructure. “You need materials that are good at absorbing sunlight and, at the same time, don’t degrade while the water-splitting reactions take place,” said Edward Yu, a professor in the Cockrell School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “It turns out materials that are good at absorbing sunlight tend to be unstable under the conditions required for the water-splitting reaction, while the materials that are stable tend to be poor absorbers of sunlight. These conflicting requirements drive you toward a seemingly inevitable tradeoff, but by combining multiple materials—one that efficiently absorbs sunlight, such as silicon, and another that provides good stability, such as silicon dioxide—into a single device, this conflict can be resolved.”

Tesla’s $16,000 Quote for a $700 Fix Is Why Right to Repair Matters – (The Drive – July 12, 2021)

First-party repair shops often get a bad rap. OEM parts are expensive, especially for new cars, and the independent dealership model often revolves around slim profits on new vehicles with after-sales making up a good chunk of profits. As automakers with direct-to-consumer sales like Tesla expand service offerings to consumers, it’s becoming abundantly clear that the high cost isn’t going anywhere. One Tesla Model 3 leasee discovered this first-hand after hitting road debris and damaging his battery pack. After taking his vehicle to a Tesla service center, he was handed an estimate for more than $16,000 to replace said pack. After seeking an alternative solution online, the owner reached out to Rich Benoit and the team at Electrified Garage who got him on the road again for just $700. After the vehicle was towed to a Tesla service center and inspected, the driver was told that he would need a completely new pack since the cracked part was molded into the existing one’s outer shell. And because a Model 3’s pack isn’t serviceable at a standard Tesla service center, it can only be swapped out for another unit rather than be repaired. To make matters worse, the owner’s insurance policy didn’t cover comprehensive claims from road debris, meaning he would be on his own to foot the five-figure repair bill. Benoit and the team at Electrified Garage are huge proponents of Right to Repair and say that this is a lesson on that very subject. It might not immediately appear as a right-to repair issue, but read on —we’ll get there.

The FTC Vows to Root Out Illegal Repair Restrictions on Phones, Fridges, Tractors and More – (CNN – July 22, 2021)

Related to the article above: The Federal Trade Commission has voted unanimously to condemn restrictions imposed by manufacturers on products that make them more difficult to repair independently. The decision commits the FTC to investigating restrictions that may be illegal under both the nation’s antitrust laws as well as a key consumer protection law governing product warranties, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. In a statement, FTC Chair Lina Khan vowed to use the agency’s full range of tools to “root out” illegal repair restrictions. The move is a shot across the bow of companies like Apple, which for years has been criticized by right-to-repair advocates for shipping products with unremovable memory or batteries, or sealing devices with special glue. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the vote. Beyond the use of adhesives that make it harder to access the insides of a device, the policy statement calls out restrictions that limit the availability of spare parts only to a manufacturer’s preferred servicers. It zeroes in on “software locks” and copy-protection technology as well as restrictive user licensing language. And it blasts “unlawful, overbroad” patent and trademark lawsuits that have allegedly been weaponized to restrict independent repairs. The vote doesn’t just place more pressure on the tech industry. Makers of everything from tractors to hospital equipment have been accused of similar tactics. In remarks ahead of the vote, FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra said the agency had received reports of hospitals that were prevented from fixing ventilators during the pandemic as a result of manufacturer restrictions, making the right-to-repair issue a matter of life and death.

China Frictions Steer Electric Automakers away from Rare Earth Magnets – (Reuters – July 19, 2021)

As tensions mount between China and the United States, automakers in the West are trying to reduce their reliance on a key driver of the electric vehicle revolution – permanent magnets, sometimes smaller than a pack of cards, that power electric engines. The metals in the magnets are actually abundant, but can be dirty and difficult to produce. China has grown to dominate production, and with demand for the magnets on the rise for all forms of renewable energy, analysts say a genuine shortage may lie ahead. Now manufacturers amounting to nearly half global sales say they are limiting their use. Automakers in the West say they are concerned not just about securing supply, but also by huge price swings, and environmental damage in the supply chain. Not using the metals could shorten the distance a vehicle can travel between charges. Without a solution to that, the range anxiety that has long hampered the industry would increase, so access to the metals may become a competitive edge. Rare earth magnets, mostly made of neodymium , are widely seen as the most efficient way to power electric vehicles. China controls 90% of their supply. Prices of neodymium oxide more than doubled during a nine-month rally last year and are still up 90%. Companies trying to cut their use include Japan’s third-largest carmaker Nissan Motor Co., BMW, Toyota, and Volkswagon. New ventures are springing up to develop electric motors without the metals, or to boost recycling of the magnets used in existing vehicles.

Trucks Move Past Cars on the Road to Autonomy – (Wired – July 25, 2021)

A growing consensus in the industry is that if self-driving vehicles are going to happen, trucks will likely arrive before cars. For evidence, follow the money. Investors have poured $11 billion into autonomous truck startups in the past two and a half years, more than $5 billion of that in the first five months of this year alone, according to the data and research company PitchBook. Aurora recently announced plans to go public, joining a convoy of other autonomous truck startups: Embark Trucks in June and the companies Plus and TuSimple in the spring. Competitors Waymo—a Google sister company—and Locomotion are reportedly eyeing similar moves. The investor enthusiasm for self-driving trucks reflects a view that the business case may be more appealing than that for self-driving cars. Another reason autonomous trucks may arrive before cars: For now, they’re only tackling the easy parts of self-driving, and they’re skipping some of the hardest. The makers of self-driving trucks are focusing on highways, which are generally wide and smooth, with steady traffic flow. They anticipate staging drivers at exits, to handle the more challenging local streets. The American Trucking Association says shippers paid $791 billion to move goods by truck in 2019; by contrast, an estimate of the annual market for ride-hail vehicles comes in at $35 billion. The makers of self-driving trucks say their technology will save shippers money. Embark says its self-driving technology, which it hopes to sell to fleet operators as a subscription, will save 80 cents per mile, cutting costs compared to human-driven trucks in half. Robots, after all, don’t need to be paid and don’t need rest breaks. They won’t quit, sparing carriers labor shortages. And robots don’t have a union. Human drivers might continue to handle short-haul trucking jobs, the companies say, a more localized job that will allow them to spend more time at home rather than on the road.

CIA Officer from bin Laden Hunt to Lead Havana Syndrome Probe as Cases Rise – (Ars Technica – July 21, 2021)

An undercover Central Intelligence Agency officer who helped hunt down Osama bin Laden will now lead the agency task force charged with investigating the mysterious health incidents that continue to plague US personnel. The incidents, first reported in 2016 among US diplomats stationed in Havana, Cuba, tend to involve bizarre episodes of sonic and sensory experiences that are often described as directional. Afflicted diplomats develop symptoms including headaches, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), nosebleeds, difficulty concentrating and recalling words, permanent hearing loss, and speech problems. Medical experts examining some of the cases have found evidence of “injury to widespread brain networks without an associated history of head trauma.” That is, sufferers appear to a have a concussion without a blow to the head. Despite years of alarming reports and investigations into the cases, the cause of the incidents and who may be behind them remain a mystery—and cases continue to mount. A report from NBC News says that the latest case count may be as high as 200. And though the incidents tend to be linked to Cuba—the condition is often referred to as “Havana Syndrome”—they have now been reported from every continent except Antarctica. More recently, The New Yorker reported that, in the months since President Joe Biden took office, there have been about two dozen cases reported from Vienna, Austria. The reports were from US intelligence officers, diplomats, and other government officials. If the cases are confirmed, Vienna would have more cases than any other city so far, except for Havana.

Judicial Watch Sues FBI for Records on Alleged Transfer of Bank Financial Data of Every Person in Washington, DC Area around January 6 – (Judicial Watch – July 6, 2021)

Judicial Watch announced that it has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the United States Department of Justice for records of communication between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and several financial institutions about the reported transfer of financial transactions made by people in DC, Maryland and Virginia on January 5 and January 6, 2021 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:21-cv-01216)). The FBI refused to confirm or deny any such records exist. However, Bank of America reportedly “actively but secretly engaged in the hunt for extremists in cooperation with the government” and, following the events of January 6, gave the FBI financial records of their customers who fit the following profile: Customers confirmed as transacting, either through bank account debit card or credit card purchases in Washington, D.C. between 1/5 and 1/6; Purchases made for Hotel/Airbnb RSVPs in DC, VA, and MD after 1/6; Any purchase of weapons or at a weapons-related merchant between 1/7 and their upcoming suspected stay in D.C. area around Inauguration Day; Airline related purchases since 1/6. On June 8, 2021, the court overseeing the lawsuit ordered the FBI/DOJ to respond substantively to Judicial Watch’s request within 30 days. On June 17, 2021, the FBI responded to Judicial Watch’s request, stating that the request was “too broad” and asked for “further clarification and/or narrowing” of the request. On June 24, 2021, Judicial Watch responded to this request by sending a news article detailing Bank of America’s handing over transaction records to the FBI of people in the Washington, DC area around the date of January 6. On July 1, 2021, the FBI responded to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request with a letter stating that it accepts Judicial Watch’s narrowing of the search, but that it neither confirms nor denies the existence of these documents.

Illinois Is First State in U.S. to Ban Police from Lying to Minors During Interrogations – (Washington Post – July 16, 2021)

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has signed the nation’s first law banning law enforcement from lying and deploying other deceptive practices when interrogating minors. The ban, which goes into effect Jan. 1, prohibits tactics like falsely promising leniency and claiming that incriminating evidence exists when it does not. It shows the state’s recognition of the “need to change laws that have failed the people they serve,” he said. Using deceptive tactics during interrogations is generally permitted in the United States. But the practice often leads to false confessions, experts say. Minors, who some studies show are two to three times as likely to give a false confession as adults, are particularly vulnerable. David Sklansky, a Stanford law professor and co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, said that the United States, unlike many other liberal democracies, has a “long tradition of favoring interrogation tactics that are designed to trick people into confessing.” Although proponents of the practice believe that guilty people will admit to crimes and innocent people will not, decades of evidence suggest that such deceptive tactics lead to false confessions, he said. “There are countless television shows and movies in which heroic police officers solve cases by cleverly tricking the people they are interrogating into implicating themselves,” Sklansky said, adding that such portrayals “glorified” tactics that will soon be illegal in Illinois.

Watching the Watchmen – (BuzzFeed News – July 20, 2021)

The audacious plot to kidnap a sitting governor (Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer) — seen by many as a precursor to the Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol by hundreds of Trump-supporting protesters — has become one of the most important domestic terrorism investigations in a generation. The case epitomizes the ideological divisions that have riven the country over the past several years. To some, the FBI’s infiltration of the innermost circle of armed anti-government groups is a model for how to successfully forestall dangerous acts of domestic terrorism. But for others, it’s an example of precisely the kind of outrageous government overreach that radicalizes people in the first place, and, increasingly, a flashpoint for deep state conspiracy theories. The government has documented at least 12 confidential informants who assisted the sprawling investigation. The trove of evidence they helped gather provides an unprecedented view into American extremism, laying out in often stunning detail the ways that anti-government groups network with each other and, in some cases, discuss violent actions. An examination of the case by BuzzFeed News also reveals that some of those informants, acting under the direction of the FBI, played a far larger role than has previously been reported. Working in secret, they did more than just passively observe and report on the actions of the suspects. Instead, they had a hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception. The extent of their involvement raises questions as to whether there would have even been a conspiracy without them.

Gaming Is Entering Its Fashion-forward Phase – (Washington Post – July 12, 2021)

In the first few months of 2019, representatives from Riot Games and Louis Vuitton were introduced to one another, and they started to talk about esports. Over time, conversations snowballed into a landmark collaboration. As well as physical and digital Louis Vuitton clothing capsules, the atelier created a branded travel case for the “League of Legends” Summoner’s Cup, the $2.2 million prize for the most-watched esports tournament on the planet, Worlds. The branded trophy was put on display at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. From the outside, the two may have seemed strange bedfellows: a legendary French fashion house and a game developer. And it’d be hard to argue that the audience is strictly the same. Anyone can play “League of Legends.” Very few can afford Louis Vuitton. As part of the League of Legends x Louis Vuitton collaboration, LV creative director Nicolas Ghesquière worked alongside Riot’s artists to produce prestige in-game cosmetics and a physical capsule collection of bracelets, boots and bubble skirts. But whereas the in-game items sold for $10 and 2000 tokens, a Qiyana-focused piece from Louis Vuitton’s physical League of Legends collection retailed for $2,280. This disparity wasn’t lost on Riot. Naz Aletaha, head of global esports partnerships and business development at Riot Games, said “I think it’s only natural that, finally, the stereotypes of what a gamer is are being broken.” As the identity of the typical gamer broadens, Riot is folding high fashion into its mainstream marketing to appeal to the players that want something more from the developer’s virtual worlds. “We really do see League as not just a game anymore, I think it’s become a lifestyle for our fans,” Aletaha adds. Article also showcases other gaming companies that are engaged with lifestyle branding.

No, You Beg – (The Cut – July 20, 2021)

Years ago, one could show up at an animal shelter, pick out an unhoused dog that just wanted to have someone to love, and take it home that same day. Today, much of the process has moved online — to Petfinder, a.k.a. Tinder for dogs, and various animal-shelter Instagram accounts that send cute puppy pics with heartrending stories of need into your feed and compel you to fill out an adoption application. Posts describing the dogs drip with euphemisms: A dog that might freak out and tear your house up if left alone is a “Velcro dog”; one that might knock down your children is “overly exuberant”; a skittish, neglected dog with trust issues is just a “shy party girl.” Certain shelters have become influencers in their own right, like the L.A.-based Labelle Foundation, which has almost 250,000 Instagram followers. Rescue agencies abound, many with missions so specific that you could theoretically find one that deals in any niche breed you desire, from affenpinschers to Yorkshire terriers. Then came the pandemic puppy boom, a lonely, claustrophobic year in which thousands of white-collar workers, sitting at home scrolling through their phones, seemed simultaneously to decide they were finally ready to adopt a dog. The corresponding demand spike in certain markets has simply overwhelmed the agencies: New York shelters that were used to receiving 20 applications a week were now receiving hundreds, with as many as 50 people vying for a single pup. The rescue dog is now, indisputably, a luxury good, without a market pricing system at work to manage demand. A better analogy might be an Ivy League admissions office. But even Harvard isn’t forced to be as picky as, say, Korean K9 Rescue, whose average monthly applications tripled in 2020. This article goes on to provide a very good history of animal rescue and adoption attitudes and policies over the last hundred+ years. While there is no official registry of how many shelter dogs are available in the U.S., in 2017, researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine for Mississippi State University published a study reporting that the availability of dogs in animal shelters was at an all-time low. “That is,” says Ed Sayres, a former president of the ASPCA who now works as a pet-industry consultant, “an environment that leads to a kind of irrational, competitive behavior.” The rescue mutt had become not just a virtue signal but a virtue test: Who was a good enough human being to deserve a dog in need of rescuing?

An Increasingly Popular Way to Be Buried: Become Part of an Artificial Reef – (Washington Post – July 19, 2021)

Since its founding in 1998, Eternal Reefs has worked with families to create concrete “reef balls” that incorporate cremated remains, or “cremains,” and small personal items. Part memorial, part conservation method, they’re deposited to the ocean floor to replenish reef systems. The balls weigh between 600 and 4,000 pounds, and require a crane to be transported. A reef memorial costs $3,995 — not including the price of cremation, which is $350 on average. The median cost of a funeral with a viewing and cremation was $5,150 in 2019, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Eternal Reefs grew out of the intersection of “deathcare” — an array of products and services related to death and memorialization — and the environmental movement. Now, against the backdrop of the pandemic, the green burial industry is proliferating. A 2021 survey conducted by the trade magazine American Funeral Director found that 51% of respondents have attended a green burial, and 84% would consider one for themselves. The green approach aims to reduce the environmental impact of burial and, in some cases, uses remains to repair the destruction humans have inflicted on the earth. These options can take many forms, including coffins made of mushrooms, water-based cremation (in which water and chemicals break down the body) and biodegradable pods that use remains to grow a sapling. Since Eternal Reefs’ inception, it has deployed more than 2,500 reef memorials in 30 permitted locations, including off the coasts of Florida, New Jersey and Texas. CEO George Frankel says the demand for reef memorials has grown steadily — but in the past year, information requests and advance burial plans have skyrocketed.

Long-period Oscillations of the Sun Discovered – (PhysOrg – July 202, 2021)

In the 1960s the Sun’s high musical notes were discovered: the Sun rings like a bell. Millions of modes of acoustic oscillations with short periods, near 5 minutes, are excited by convective turbulence near the solar surface and are trapped in the solar interior. These 5-minute oscillations have been observed continuously by ground-based telescopes and space observatories since the mid 1990s and have been used very successfully by helioseismologists to learn about the internal structure and dynamics of our star—just like seismologists learn about the interior of the Earth by studying earthquakes. One of the triumphs of helioseismology is to have mapped the Sun’s rotation as a function of depth and latitude (the solar differential rotation). In addition to the 5-minute oscillations, much longer-period oscillations were predicted to exist in stars more than 40 years ago, but had not been identified on the Sun until now. A team of solar physicists led by Laurent Gizon of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) and the University of Göttingen in Germany has reported the discovery of global oscillations of the Sun with very long periods, comparable to the 27-day solar rotation period. The oscillations manifest themselves at the solar surface as swirling motions with speeds on the order of 5 kilometers per hour. These motions were measured by analyzing 10 years of observations from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Using computer models, the scientists have shown that the newly discovered oscillations are resonant modes and owe their existence to the Sun’s differential rotation. The oscillations will help establish novel ways to probe the Sun’s interior and obtain information about our star’s inner structure and dynamics.

Our Universe Might Be a Giant Three-dimensional Donut, Really. – (Live Science – July 19, 2021)

Examining light from the very early universe, astrophysicist Thomas Buchert, of the University of Lyon, Astrophysical Research Center in France and a team of astrophysicists have deduced that our cosmos may be multiply connected, meaning that space is closed in on itself in all three dimensions like a three-dimensional donut. Such a universe would be finite, and according to their results, our entire cosmos might only be about three to four times larger than the limits of the observable universe, about 45 billion light-years away. Physicists use the language of Einstein’s general relativity to explain the universe. That language connects the contents of spacetime to the bending and warping of spacetime, which then tells those contents how to interact. This is how we experience the force of gravity. In a cosmological context, that language connects the contents of the entire universe to its overall geometric shape. For decades, astronomers had debated the nature of that shape: whether our universe is “flat” (meaning that imaginary parallel lines would stay parallel forever), “closed” (parallel lines would eventually intersect) or “open” (those lines would diverge). That geometry of the universe dictates its fate. Flat and open universes would continue to expand forever, while a closed universe would eventually collapse in on itself. Multiple observations, especially from the cosmic microwave background (the flash of light released when our universe was only 380,000 years old), have firmly established that we live in a flat universe. Parallel lines stay parallel and our universe will just keep on expanding. But there’s more to shape than geometry. There’s also topology, which is how shapes can change while maintaining the same geometric rules.

X-ray Echoes Behind Black Holes Provide “Extreme” Proof Einstein Was Right – (Inverse – July 22, 2021)

How could it be that some of nature’s darkest forces are also some of its brightest? Black holes are called black holes for a reason. Yet, the hot gasses that fall into black holes become superheated and glow intensely. This was a question the international team aimed to solve. Instead, they wound up confirming Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity in one of its most extreme tests to date. Through a serendipitous observation of exceptionally bright X-ray flares around the supermassive black hole and careful analysis of the flare’s “echoes,” researchers were able to prove that what they were actually seeing were X-ray reflections from behind the black hole. The black hole’s massive gravity was bending the X-ray light around the corner, so to speak. “It’s not just light being reflected a little bit. It’s coming from all the way behind the black hole, being bent all the way around into our line of sight,” he says. “It’s gravitational lensing at its most extreme,” said Dan Wilkins, the paper’s first author and a Stanford University research scientist. It’s thought that most galaxies contain a supermassive black hole at their center, including our own Milky Way. Better understanding how these supermassive black holes function could help scientists better understand their possible role in galaxy formation, according to Wilkins. Article explains the research method.

Almost Anyone Could Outrun This Bipedal Robot in a 5K—For Now – (Gizmodo – July 28, 2021)

Oregon State University says its bipedal robot Cassie managed to run 5K race in 53 minutes. It’s an impressive feat of machine learning and robotics engineering. The significant thing here isn’t so much the speed in which Cassie completed the 5K. The average able-bodied human, for instance, can walk a 5K in a similar amount of time or less, and most beginner runners complete that distance in 30-40 minutes. (Even in OSU’s video, you can see folks keeping up with Cassie while walking.) The impressive thing is Cassie was able to “run” that far untethered and on a single charge. “The Dynamic Robotics Laboratory students in the OSU College of Engineering combined expertise from biomechanics and existing robot control approaches with new machine learning tools,” said Jonathan Hurst, an OSU robotics professor and co-founder of Agility Robotics. “This type of holistic approach will enable animal-like levels of performance.” However, balance is especially challenging for bipedal robots compared to their quadrupedal cousins. Boston Dynamics’ Cheetah robot, for example, can run at 28mph, while Unitree’s Go1 robodog can run alongside someone at a moderate 5.6-6mph speed. Meanwhile, Cassie’s 53-minute runtime included about 6.5 minutes where the bot’s computer overheated and another instance where it went too fast on a turn and fell over. However, Cassie was also recently able to use machine learning to teach itself to walk up and down stairs without LIDAR or cameras.

‘We Don’t Need Another Michelangelo’: In Italy, It’s the Robots’ Turn to Sculpt – (New York Times – July 11, 2021)

For centuries, the massive marble quarries above the Tuscan town of Carrara have yielded the raw material for the polished masterpieces of Italian sculptors like Michelangelo, Canova, Bernini and, most recently, ABB2. Carving with pinpoint precision, and at least some of the artistic flair of its more celebrated (and human) predecessors, ABB2, a 13-foot, zinc-alloy robotic arm, extended its spinning wrist and diamond-coated finger toward a gleaming piece of white marble. Slowly and steadily, ABB2 milled the slab of stone, leaving the contours of soft cabbage leaves for a sculpture designed and commissioned by a renowned American artist. ABB2 is hardly a lone robotic genius, toiling away in anthropomorphic solitude. Just a few meters away, in a facility humming with robots, Quantek2 was rubbing away on another marble block, executing a statue envisioned by a British artist who had contracted out the manual labor to a robotic hand. Carrara’s robots work anonymously. Many of the artists who employ them demand that their identities be kept secret. The founders and employees of this robotics lab believe that embracing advanced technology is the only way to ensure the country stays at the artistic forefront. “We don’t need another Michelangelo,” said Michele Basaldella, 38, a technician who calls himself the robots’ brain. “We already had one.” Marco Ciampolini, an art historian and the director of a local museum, does not consider the use of robots a total break from the past, since many of history’s greatest artists, including Michelangelo, delegated a big part of their work. “The idea of the artist working alone is a romantic concept created in the 19th century,” he said.

These Bears Have a Job, and It’s Destroying Coolers – (Outside – October 9, 2020)

The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center (GWDC) in West Yellowstone, Montana is a nonprofit educational facility that houses grizzly bears unable to survive in the wild for one reason or another. It is also home to three small packs of captive-born wolves, a handful of injured raptors, and five American river otters. When a wildlife official from anywhere in the American West, Alaska, or Canada has a nuisance grizzly bear and wants to avoid euthanizing it, the GWDC is often near the top of their call list. The bears that live at the GWDC aren’t just wasting away in captivity, though. They have an important job to do: they test containers to determine whether they’re bear-resistant. Every spring, Randy Gravatt, the GWDC’s container testing coordinator, begins filling coolers, bike panniers, backpacking canisters, and trash dumpsters sent in by big-name manufacturers like Yeti, Cabela’s, Pelican, and Igloo with veggies, dry dog food, fish, honey, and—the bears’ favorites—peanut butter. “They don’t really like mushrooms or onions,” Gravatt says, adding that the bears will eat just about anything else in their quest to pack in around 15,000 calories per day during the summer (more when they’re getting ready to hibernate). Once the containers are full of goodies, Gravatt gets them in front of the bears, which poke, prod, claw, bite, smash, and sometimes use what he calls “the CPR method,” wherein bears place their front paws atop a container and pump, almost as if they’re trying to revive the unfortunate object. The goal is to have the container last 60 minutes—by this time, a typical bear in the wild will have given up. If the container remains intact to a certain standard—gaps, tears, and holes can’t be larger than an inch for trash containers; for food containers, it’s a mere quarter-inch—it gets the bears’ literal seal of approval: a sticker depicting a grizzly’s head and shoulders and the product’s certification number. The GWDC is the only testing facility in the world where products can earn a certificate from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC).

Mary Rodwell Interview – (Vimeo – July 18, 2021)

Mary Rodwell is an RN, midwife, counselor, hypnotherapist, and metaphysician. She has been gathering information for the last 25 years from children who remember where they came from before they were born. “Star Children,” or as Mary calls them “the new kids on the block,” exhibit a maturity and wisdom beyond their years, past life memories and dual consciousness sharing and often connect to spirit and angelic realms. These kids have an amazing connection to universal wisdom. These are the souls inheriting the planet. There is hope. There is light.

The Propaganda War (and How to Fight It) – (CJ Hopkins – July 19, 2021)

Every totalitarian system in history has used the power of visual propaganda to generate a new “reality,” one that reifies its official ideology, remaking the world in its own paranoid image. New Normal totalitarianism is no exception. Official propaganda isn’t just information, misinformation, and disinformation. It is actually less about getting us to believe things than it is about creating an official reality, and imposing it on society by force. When you’re setting out to conjure up a new “reality,” images are extremely powerful tools, just as powerful, if not more powerful, than words. Article includes numerous examples of Covid-19 related images. The New Normals — i.e., those still wearing masks outdoors, shrieking over meaningless “cases,” bullying everyone to get “vaccinated,” and collaborating with the segregation of the “Unvaccinated” — are not behaving the way they’re behaving because they are stupid. They are behaving that way because they’re living in a new “reality” that has been created for them over the course of the last 17 months by a massive official propaganda campaign, the most extensive and effective in the history of propaganda. In other words, we are in a propaganda war, and we’re losing. We can’t match the propaganda power of the corporate media and New Normal governments, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fight back. We can, and must, at every opportunity. Recently, readers have been asking me (CJ Hopkins) how to do that. This article offers a few simple suggestions.

$73,499-Per-Guest World Cruise Sells Out In Less Than 3 Hours – (NPR – July 16, 2021)

A 132-night “world cruise” sold out in under three hours, despite pandemic worries that have hobbled the cruise industry and steep prices that start at $73,499 per guest — and range up to $199,999 per person for a master suite. Regent Seven Seas Cruises released the fares for sale at 8:30 a.m. ET Thursday. By 11 a.m., all the spots had been snapped up by people eager to spend more than four months on a cruise ship. The voyage, which will span 34,500 nautical miles, includes 66 ports of call, as the Seven Seas Mariner will visit 31 countries and four continents. Passengers will also see 61 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Living quarters aboard the Seven Seas Mariner range from the deluxe veranda suite, whose bed and adjacent sitting area resembles what you might find in a nice boutique hotel, to the master suite, which add a full dining table and living rooms with polished floors and armchairs. High-end accommodations brought some of the most intense interest, the company says. That trend aligns with the new economic reality imposed by the pandemic, in which well-off customers have snapped up big-ticket products and services, even as millions of other Americans struggle to pay for housing and essentials. Recently, a 40-night winter Caribbean voyage on Carnival Cruise Lines’ P&O Cruises sold out in six hours.

App Helps You Build New Creations from Your Existing Lego Pile – (Kottke – July 1, 2021)

A new iOS app called Brickit has been developed to breathe new life into your old Lego pile. Just dump your bricks out into a pile and the app will analyze what Lego bricks you have, what new creations you can build with them, and provide you with detailed build instructions. It can even guide you to find individual pieces in the pile. View a short demo – I’m assuming they’re using some sort of AI/machine learning to do this.
The future always arrives too fast… and in the wrong order.
Alvin Toffler, futurist
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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