Volume 24, Number 8 – 4/15/21


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Volume 24, Number 8 – 04/15/2021


  • The European Commission, the executive body of Europe, first published a proposal for vaccine passports on 26 April 2018 – before Covid-19 existed.
  • Scientists have developed a single-celled synthetic organism that grows and divides much like a normal cell, mimicking aspects of the cell division cycle that underlies and generates healthy living cellular life.
  • New analysis disfavors the theory that volcanic CO2 was a major driver of the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.
  • NASA estimates that there’s around 6,600 tons of debris in Low Earth Orbit alone.

The Practical Process of Preparing for the Coming Changes

Saturday, May 15
in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

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

The big question is this:

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

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

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

Click below for more information about this event and to get tickets.
Click Here for Tickets and More Info
Karen Sokel interviews John Petersen prior to his presentation in December. Now John is returning in May — you’ll not want to miss it!

The Biggest Casualty of COVID-19 Is Your Individual Rights – (Principia Scientific – March 14, 2021)

While the casualties of government-imposed COVID-19 countermeasures are manifold, the biggest and most tragic of them all is the loss of individual freedoms. As noted by Jonathan Sumption in his February 15, 2021, Telegraph commentary: “What makes us a free society is that, although the state has vast powers, there are conventional limits on what it can do with them. The limits are conventional because they do not depend on our laws but on our attitudes. There are islands of human life which are our own, a personal space into which the state should not intrude without some altogether exceptional justification. Liberal democracy breaks down when frightened majorities demand mass coercion of their fellow citizens, and call for our personal spaces to be invaded. These demands are invariably based on what people conceive to be the public good. They all assert that despotism is in the public interest.” As Sumption points out, “We cannot switch in and out of totalitarianism at will.” We either choose freedom, or we choose to live under authoritarian rule. Even if (and that’s a big if, at this point) restrictions are lifted, public attitude can place freedom on shaky ground, as public acceptance of overreach will allow for the same to occur again and again at a moment’s notice. This is a serious problem, as there will always be other epidemics and pandemics. There is always the threat of terrorism and climate change. There will always be a public health calamity, be it obesity or diabetes, that can be used as justification for government intrusion into our private lives.

Jab-erwacky (or, Why Are People So Crazy about Being Guinea Pigs?) – (OffGuardian – April 6, 2021)

About twelve hours ago, I (the author of this article) passed a sort of personal milestone: I found, and read, an ecstatic Facebook post from the twentieth person I know who has received a dose of one of those experimental drugs the U.S. government, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars of our money, is trying to persuade us to turn loose on our immune systems. At first, I couldn’t believe that anyone would boast of turning himself into a human guinea pig, without getting a cent in compensation, just to add to the profits of a corporate camorra. Twenty separate people bragging about handing themselves over to the biggest, and perhaps the most dangerous, medical scam of my lifetime. As of this writing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already recorded 1,909 American souls for whom these “vaccines” really were tickets to paradise – in more prosaic language, to the morgue. When glossing over this fact, my Facebook “friends” have a numerical paradox on their hands. Think back to March 9 of last year, when the national coronavirus death toll officially stood at twenty-six – that’s right, twenty-six – and the whole chorus of coronavirus propagandists was screaming “emergency” and demanding that we acquiesce in the quashing of the Bill of Rights and the suspension of representative democracy in four-fifths of our states. Yet now, we’re supposed to shrug off a mortality figure more than seventy times that size – while Big Pharma is raking in billions from the indiscriminate use of scantily-tested experimental drugs?

European Plans for Vaccine Passports Were in Place 20 Months Prior to the Pandemic. Coincidence? – (Global ResearchGlobal Research – April 3, 2021)

With the world being told that so-called ‘vaccine passports’ will be required for all international travel in future, and in many countries even to enter shops, restaurants, bars, gyms, hotels, theatres, concerts and sports events, the impression we are being given is that the measure is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. In Europe, however, which hosts 8 of the top 10 pharmaceutical exporting countries, planning for vaccine passports began at least 20 months prior to the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Apparently, the pandemic conveniently provided European politicians with the ‘excuse’ they needed to introduce the idea. The ‘European Commission’ – the executive body of Europe – first published a proposal for vaccine passports on 26 April 2018. Buried deep in a document dealing with ‘Strengthened Cooperation against Vaccine Preventable Diseases’, the proposal was essentially ignored by the mainstream media. A roadmap document issued in early 2019 subsequently set out specific plans for implementing the European Commission’s proposal. The plan aimed for a legislative proposal to be issued in Europe by 2022. Who really benefits from vaccine passports? Certainly not ordinary people, for whom sharing their health records and other personal data could soon become mandatory merely for participation in society. Instead, the chief beneficiary will be the multinational pharmaceutical industry. With global drug and vaccine sales already forecast to reach $1.5 trillion this year, pharmaceutical companies and their investors are salivating at the prospect of vaccine passports becoming mandatory worldwide. The total market for COVID-19 vaccines is predicted to be worth $100 billion in sales and $40 billion in post-tax profits.

How an Online ‘Lego’ Gamer Infiltrated the White House Press Corps – (Politico – April 9, 2021)

Four times in recent weeks, members of the White House press corps have relayed questions to press secretary Jen Psaki from someone claiming to be a fellow reporter who was not able to be there in the room due to Covid protocols. That colleague, who goes by the name Kacey Montagu, doesn’t exist — at least not as an actual reporter. Since late last year, Montagu has taken on the identity of a White House correspondent extraordinaire with a fictional outlet to boot: White House News, shortened in emails to WHN. Montagu’s activity is a remarkable illustration of how the online landscape, along with the age of pandemic-related virtual work, has opened up avenues for the mischievous-minded to infiltrate the top echelons of power. What’s perhaps more remarkable is that he or she did it all without raising a solitary eyebrow … until April 8. Exactly who the real Kacey Montagu is remains entirely unclear. And he or she refused to reveal much personal information. Acquaintances online suspect much of the biographical information to be untrue. They believe Montagu’s White House moonlighting began as something to boast about in the online global gaming platform called ROBLOX, where users jokingly call themselves “Legos.” Within that platform is a role-playing group called nUSA, where people from across the world engage in a mock U.S. government exercise. There is a level of sophistication to how Montagu operates. The email address associated with the Twitter accounts he or she set up appears to have been used only for establishing those feeds, an associated website, and to contact reporters and the White House. Other than that, there are no digital breadcrumbs. In March, they began sending tweets from @WHpoolreport. The accounts got attention from insiders, who quickly came to rely on their speed and efficiency. @WHSchedule had a following of more than 1,300, including several White House correspondents (some working at Politico). The new @WHPoolReport account amassed more than 600 in a few weeks’ time, including some who work in the administration like Michael LaRosa, press secretary for Jill Biden and Symone Sanders, a senior advisor and chief spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris.

Remains of Impact That Created the Moon May Lie Deep Within Earth – (Science – March 23, 2021)

Scientists have long agreed that the Moon formed when a protoplanet, called Theia, struck Earth in its infancy some 4.5 billion years ago. Now, a team of scientists has a provocative new proposal: Theia’s remains can be found in two continent-size layers of rock buried deep in Earth’s mantle. For decades, seismologists have puzzled over these two blobs, which sit below West Africa and the Pacific Ocean and straddle the core like a pair of headphones. Up to 1000 kilometers tall and several times that wide, “they are the largest thing in the Earth’s mantle,” says Qian Yuan, a Ph.D. student in geodynamics at Arizona State University (ASU), Tempe. Seismic waves from earthquakes abruptly slow down when they pass through the layers, which suggests they are denser and chemically different from the surrounding mantle rock. The large low-shear velocity provinces (LLSVPs), as seismologists call them, might simply have crystallized out of the depths of Earth’s primordial magma ocean. Or they might be dense puddles of primitive mantle rock that survived the trauma of the Moon-forming impact. But based on new isotopic evidence and modeling, Yuan believes the LLSVPs are the guts of the alien impactor itself. Recent work from Yuan’s co-author, ASU Tempe astrophysicist Steven Desch, suggests Theia was nearly as big as Earth. A massive Theia would also explain the scale of the LLSVPs, which together contain six times more mass than the Moon. If they are extraterrestrial, Yuan says, only an impactor as large as Theia could have delivered them.

Long-Anticipated Fermilab Results Strengthen Evidence for Brand New Physics – (IFL Science – April 7, 2021)

Long-awaited results from America’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, its particle physics and accelerator laboratory, better known as Fermilab, have strengthened the evidence for a brand new physics by showing fundamental particles not behaving in the way predicted by our best theory, the Standard Model of Particle Physics predicts. The Muon g-2 experiment has announced its first results and independently confirmed previous observations. The collaboration found that the measured value of the muon magnetic moment is different from what the Standard Model predicts. The findings have reached the threshold of 4.2 sigma uncertainty, close to the “gold standard” level of certainty in scientific evidence of 5 sigmas, but not quite there yet. It still means that there’s a 3-in-100,000 chance that this is a fluke. While yet to be absolutely confirmed, the finding is the strongest evidence yet that not only is there unknown physics out there but that we know a very good place for where to start looking for it, which is very exciting. The Muon g-2 experiment has been investigating the anomalous magnetic dipole moment of the muon, a particle similar to the electron but 207 times more massive. The experiment measures how strong the internal magnetism of the muon really is, something we have a clear prediction of from theory. But previous measurements offered hints of a value very different from what was expected. There was some room for uncertainties so one possibility was that the measurement was just a statistical fluke. Alternatively, the experiment and/or the analysis had some unknown issues. The most exciting was the last explanation: the findings were due to forces or particles that have not been predicted in our theories. To get a clearer understanding of what was going on, physicists had to literally move the experiment halfway across America. The original results announced back in 2006 were from the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York. But the researchers needed a bigger muon accelerator. Fermilab in Chicago had one, so they decided to move the experiment there as it would be cheaper than building a new accelerator.

Earth Nearly Lost All Its Oxygen 2.3 Billion Years Ago – (Live Science – April 8, 2021)

Earth’s transition to permanently hosting an oxygenated atmosphere was a halting process that took 100 million years longer than previously believed, according to a new study. When Earth first formed 4.5 billion years ago, the atmosphere contained almost no oxygen. But 2.43 billion years ago, something happened: Oxygen levels started rising, then falling, accompanied by massive changes in climate, including several glaciations that may have covered the entire globe in ice. Chemical signatures locked in rocks that formed during this era had suggested that by 2.32 billion years ago, oxygen was a permanent feature of the planet’s atmosphere. But a new study delving into the period after 2.32 billion years ago finds that oxygen levels were still yo-yoing back and forth until 2.22 billion years ago, when the planet finally reached a permanent tipping point. This new research extends the duration of what scientists call the Great Oxidation Event by 100 million years. It also may confirm the link between oxygenation and massive climate swings. The oxygen created in the Great Oxidation Event was made by marine cyanobacteria, a type of bacteria that produces energy via photosynthesis. The main byproduct of photosynthesis is oxygen, and early cyanobacteria eventually churned out enough oxygen to remake the face of the planet forever. The signature of this change is visible in marine sedimentary rocks.

Oldest DNA from a Homo Sapiens Reveals Surprisingly Recent Neanderthal Ancestry – (Nature – April 7, 2021)

Scientists have sequenced the oldest Homo sapiens DNA on record, showing that many of Europe’s first humans had Neanderthals in their family trees. Yet these individuals are not related to later Europeans, according to two genome studies of remains dating back more than 45,000 years from caves in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. The research adds to growing evidence that modern humans mixed regularly with Neanderthals and other extinct relatives, says Viviane Slon, a palaeogeneticist at the University of Tel Aviv in Israel. “It’s different times, different places, and it happens again and again.” The latest genome studies clarify the relationships between Europe’s first modern humans, later Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, but also throw up some new questions. One study, in Nature, is based on a tooth and fragmentary remains from Bacho Kiro Cave in Bulgaria; the other, in Nature Ecology and Evolution, looks at a nearly complete skull from a cave known as Zlatý kůň in the Czech Republic. The genomes of modern non-Africans usually harbor about 2% Neanderthal ancestry, but the Bacho Kiro individuals had slightly more at 3.4–3.8%, and the chromosome segments — which shorten in successive generations — were considerably longer. By measuring these segments, the researchers estimated that the Bacho Kiro individuals had Neanderthal ancestors as recently as the past six or seven generations — and probably in Europe, not the Middle East.

Scientists Built an Artificial Cell That Grows and Divides Like a Natural One – (Science Alert – March 29, 2021)

In a first for genetic engineering, scientists have developed a single-celled synthetic organism that grows and divides much like a normal cell, mimicking aspects of the cell division cycle that underlies and generates healthy living cellular life. The achievement, demonstrated in an engineered unicellular bacteria-like life form called JCVI-syn3A, is the result of decades of genomic sequencing and analysis by scientists, exploring the roles individual genes play inside living creatures. A previously developed organism, JCVI-syn3.0, only possessed 473 genes in total – shorter than any known self-sustaining, living organism in the natural world. But while JCVI-syn3.0’s miniaturized genetic toolkit enabled it to perpetuate itself via cell division, it did so in an unusual way, producing “striking morphological variation” in the new cells it created, which emerged in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Now, members of the same research team have figured out a way to prevent these strange morphologies from occurring, with a newly modified variant of JCVI-syn3.0, known as JCVI-syn3A. With the addition of 19 genes not present in JCVI-syn3.0, the newfangled JCVI-syn3A is able to undergo cell division in a more normal-looking, consistent way, with significantly less morphological variation than JCVI-syn3.0 exhibited. This tiny genome now represents the new standard for experimentation that could help us characterize just what these genes do inside organisms. As the leader of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cellular Engineering Group, Elizabeth Strychalski, said: “We want to understand the fundamental design rules of life. If this cell can help us to discover and understand those rules, then we’re off to the races.”

New, Reversible CRISPR Method Can Control Gene Expression While Leaving Underlying DNA Sequence Unchanged – (PhysOrg – April 9, 2021)

CRISPR-Cas9 editing involves cutting DNA strands, leading to permanent changes to the cell’s genetic material. Now, in a paper published online in Cell, researchers describe a new gene editing technology called CRISPRoff that allows researchers to control gene expression with high specificity while leaving the sequence of the DNA unchanged. Designed by Whitehead Institute Member Jonathan Weissman, University of California San Francisco assistant professor Luke Gilbert, Weissman lab postdoc James Nuñez and collaborators, the method is stable enough to be inherited through hundreds of cell divisions, and is also fully reversible. “As beautiful as CRISPR-Cas9 is, it hands off the repair to natural cellular processes, which are complex and multifaceted,” Weissman says. “It’s very hard to control the outcomes.” That’s where the researchers saw an opportunity for a different kind of gene editor—one that didn’t alter the DNA sequences themselves, but changed the way they were read in the cell. This sort of modification is what scientists call “epigenetic”—genes may be silenced or activated based on chemical changes to the DNA strand. Problems with a cell’s epigenetics are responsible for many human diseases such as Fragile X syndrome and various cancers, and can be passed down through generations. “We can do this for multiple genes at the same time without any DNA damage, with great deal of homogeneity, and in a way that can be reversed. It’s a great tool for controlling gene expression.” The project was partially funded by a 2017 grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to create a reversible gene editor.

Can Blood from Young People Slow Aging? Silicon Valley Has Bet Billions It Will – (Newsweek – April 7, 2021)

A hot area of inquiry called geroscience “seeks to understand molecular and cellular mechanisms that make aging a major risk factor and driver of common chronic conditions and diseases of older adulthood,” according to the National Institutes of Health. A growing number of geroscience health startups are signaling a change in thinking about some of the most intractable diseases facing humankind. Rather than focusing solely on the etiology of individual diseases like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and arthritis—or, for that matter, COVID-19—geroscientists are trying to understand how these diseases relate to the single largest risk factor of all: human aging. Their goal is to hack the process of aging itself and, in the process, delay or stave off the onset of many of the diseases most associated with growing old. This article is a survey of the research currently underway on this topic.

Yale Scientists Successfully Repair Injured Spinal Cords Using Patients’ Own Stem Cells – (Good News Network – March 12, 2021)

Intravenous injection of bone marrow derived stem cells in patients with spinal cord injuries led to significant improvement in motor functions, researchers from Yale University and Japan have reported. For more than half of the patients studied, substantial improvements in key functions—such as ability to walk, or to use their hands—were observed within weeks of stem cell injection, the researchers report. No substantial side effects were reported. The patients had sustained non-penetrating spinal cord injuries, in many cases from falls or minor trauma, several weeks prior to implantation of the stem cells. Their symptoms involved loss of motor function and coordination, sensory loss, as well as bowel and bladder dysfunction. The stem cells were prepared from the patients’ own bone marrow, via a culture protocol that took a few weeks in a specialized cell processing center. The cells were injected intravenously in this series, with each patient serving as their own control. Results were not blinded and there were no placebo controls.

New Study Finds Correlation Between Specific Pesticides and Central Nervous System Tumors in Children – (Nation of Change – April 8, 2021)

A new study and first of its kind found direct evidence that links pesticide exposure to childhood central nervous system tumors. The study, published in Environmental Research, was used “to estimate effects for a large number of specific pesticides in relation to CNS tumor subtypes.” The research examined data from the California Cancer Registry regarding certain types of cancer cases in children who were born between 1998 and 2011, who lived in rural areas, and found that exposure to pesticides chlorthalonil, bromacil, thiophanate-methyl, triforine, kresoxim-methyl, propiconazole, dimethoate and linuron all increased tumor risk. The study identified 667 cases of childhood central nervous system tumors and 123,158 controls and “compared these cases to data from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (CDPR) Pesticide Use Reporting (PUR) system to identify whether chemicals classed as possible carcinogens by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had been sprayed within 2.5 miles of the their homes at birth,” EcoWatch reported. The researchers determined that some of the pesticides studied had an increased tumor risk of as much as 2.5 times.

Predicting the Climate in 100 Years – (Real Climate Science – April 13, 2021)

NOAA says they know what the climate will be like in 100 years, but can’t predict it two weeks into the future. They predicted a warm February in the U.S.A., and it was the coldest in more than 30 years. The article goes on to examine carbon dioxide and methane levels and many of the predictions that have been made over the last 40-50 years concerning the impact of those increasing levels – many of which have been considerably off the mark. See also: 79 Predictions of Climatic Doom Since 1970 – Score So Far: 0 & 48.

Dark Patterns, the Tricks Websites Use to Make You Say Yes, Explained – (Vox – April 1, 2021)

Although you may not have heard the term dark patterns before, you’ve surely seen countless examples of them — and experienced their effects: the trial streaming service you signed up for, only to be automatically charged when the trial expired; the app interstitial ad you can’t figure out how to get out of because the “X” on the top right-hand corner is too small and faint to see; the “X” is so small that you accidentally click on the ad itself and are redirected to the ad’s website; the big pop-up window urging you to sign up for a website’s newsletter with a big red “Sign Me Up” button, while the opt-out button is much smaller and passive-aggressively implies that anyone who clicks is a bad person who doesn’t care about saving money or staying informed. But there are also effects that may not be as obvious. Dark patterns are used by websites to trick users into granting consent to being tracked, or having their data used in ways they didn’t expect and didn’t want. Or sites will claim they offer users ways to opt out of being tracked (usually because they legally have to do so), but use misleading language or make it especially difficult to actually do it. There’s now a growing movement to ban dark patterns, and that may well lead to consumer protection laws and action. California is currently tackling dark patterns in its evolving privacy laws, and Washington state’s latest privacy bill includes a provision about dark patterns. Some of the more obvious and scammy dark patterns — sneaking extra items into shopping baskets or tacking on hidden fees — have been made illegal in some places, and the FTC has gone after some of the most egregious offenders. But the law isn’t so cut and dried when it comes to privacy, data, and consent. Article goes into more detail explaining where and why the grey areas exist and discusses upcoming privacy laws.

New Vulnerabilities Put Millions of IoT Devices at Risk, So Patch Now – (ZDNet – April 13, 2021)

Security vulnerabilities in millions of Internet of Things devices (IoT) could allow cyber criminals to knock devices offline or take control of them remotely, in attacks that could be exploited to gain wider access to affected networks. The nine vulnerabilities affecting four TCP/IP stacks – communications protocols commonly used in IoT devices – relate to Domain Name System (DNS) implementations, which can lead to Denial of Service (DoS) or Remote Code Execution (RCE) by attackers. Over 100 million consumer, enterprise and industrial IoT devices are potentially affected. Uncovered and detailed by cybersecurity researchers at Forescout and JSOF, the vulnerabilities have been dubbed “Name:Wreck” after the way the parsing of domain names can break DNS implementations in TCP/IP stack, leading to potential attacks. While security patches are now available to fix the vulnerabilities, applying security updates to IoT devices can be difficult – if it’s even possible at all – meaning that many could remain vulnerable, potentially providing a means for cyber attackers to compromise networks and services. According to the report, organizations in healthcare could be among the most affected by the security flaws in the stacks, potentially enabling attackers to access medical devices and obtain private healthcare data, or even take devices offline to prevent patient care. The vulnerabilities could also help cyber attackers gain access to enterprise networks and steal sensitive information, and may have the potential to impact industrial environments by enabling attackers to tamper with — or disable — operational technology.

The Rise of the Pandemic Shed – (Washington Post – April 5, 2021)

In turning to shed building in the middle of the pandemic, some people needed to extend their living space to gain privacy and avoid cabin fever. Others finally had time to devote to a previously planned shed, or were creating a workspace. Still others needed a project to take their minds off a relentless news cycle. Whatever you call them, these one-room shacks of 2020 have been a hot commodity. And they constitute visual reminders of our battle with covid-19 — small buildings crafted in challenging times to fulfill the needs of families stuck at home for weeks or even months on end. A century from now, real estate listings may include the quaint notation that the property includes a “pandemic shed.” And Chris Cockrell, 53, of Orem, Utah, stood ready to hand off plans for these sheds through his company “I noticed my business was doing better because of covid,” says Cockrell, an entrepreneur. “But then I started connecting the dots that the landscape of the U.S. is changing, how we think about work and where it needs to happen. I have a solution a lot of people have turned to.” Cockrell’s sheds come in more than a dozen styles, including Saltbox, Gambrel Barn, Cape Cod and Colonial, with variations for size, door placement and other details. The plans can be downloaded from his site for $16 to $61, or Cockrell will mail hard copies for a little more money, if people don’t have a printer. Backyard builders can also find shed plans online at,, and, among others. Article goes on to profile a number of nifty sheds.

Celera 500L: An Egg with Wings or a Revolution in Aviation? – (YouTube – November 18, 2020)

This 18.5 minute video clip showcases the Celera 500L. It is a single-engine piston aircraft being built by Otto Aviation and currently undergoing prototype testing. The aircraft’s shape is unusual: its fuselage has a simple bullet-like shape, the wing is straight and very thin, and the propeller is located in the tail behind the empennage. All these unusual design solutions pursue special goals of the creators, among which are outstanding flight and economic characteristics of the aircraft. So outstanding that, if successful, the Celera can turn our understanding of air travel upside down.

The Rice of the Sea: How a Tiny Grain Could Change the Way Humanity Eats – (Guardian – April 9, 2021)

Zostera marina is a clutch of tiny green grains clinging to the base of the eelgrass. Lab tests hinted at its tremendous potential: gluten-free, high in omega-6 and -9 fatty acids, and contains 50% more protein than rice per grain, according to research done by Aponiente, a research institute founded by the world renown chef, Ángel León. And all of it growing without freshwater or fertilizer. The find has set the chef, whose restaurant won its third Michelin star in 2017, on a mission to recast the common eelgrass as a potential superfood, albeit one whose singular lifecycle could have far-reaching consequences. “In a world that is three-quarters water, it could fundamentally transform how we see oceans,” says León. “This could be the beginning of a new concept of understanding the sea as a garden.” It’s a sweeping statement that would raise eyebrows from anyone else. But León, known across Spain as el Chef del Mar (the chef of the sea), has long pushed the boundaries of seafood, fashioning chorizos out of discarded fish parts and serving sea-grown versions of tomatoes and pears at his restaurant near the Bay of Cádiz. “It’s interesting. When you eat it with the husk, similar to brown rice, it has a hint of the sea at the end,” says León. “But without the husk, you don’t taste the sea.” He found that the grain absorbed flavour well, taking two minutes longer to cook than rice and softening if overcooked. In the marine garden, León and his team were watching as the plant lived up to its reputation as an architect of ecosystems: transforming the abandoned salt marsh into a flourishing habitat teeming with life, from seahorses to scallops. See also the Aponiente website.

The FBI Got a Court Order to Delete Backdoors from Hacked Exchange Servers – (Engadget – April 14, 2021)

A recent Justice Department press release revealed the existence of an FBI operation that tried to shut down attacks by the “Hafnium” group and others on Microsoft Exchange servers earlier this year. While patches and mitigations addressed the issue for many, there were still a number servers that remained exposed where the attackers installed web shells to continue their remote access. The feds claim those shells could have been difficult for some administrators to identify and remove on their own. The FBI targeted Hafnium’s shells in particular (as described in court filings), as it identified them on servers in the US, accessing them remotely using the attacker’s own passwords and executing a command to make them delete themselves, foiling the group’s plans. The search warrant the FBI requested allowed it to execute this operation, and delay notifying server administrators. It received permission on April 9th to run the operation for up to 14 days, along with authorization to delay notifications for up to 30 days. According to the Justice Department, “This operation was successful in copying and removing those web shells. However, it did not patch any Microsoft Exchange Server zero-day vulnerabilities or search for or remove any additional malware or hacking tools that hacking groups may have placed on victim networks by exploiting the web shells.”

Mind Control Cover-up – (Want to Know – no date)

During the Cold War, one of the main areas investigated by the CIA was mind control. The program was motivated by Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean use of mind control techniques. The CIA originated its first program in 1950 under the name BLUEBIRD. A related program named MKULTRA officially began in 1953. In 1973, tipped off about forthcoming investigations, CIA Director Richard Helms ordered the destruction of any MKULTRA records. However, a declassified CIA document dated 7 Jan 1953 describes the creation of multiple personality in 19-year old girls. “These subjects have clearly demonstrated that they can pass from a fully awake state to a deep H [hypnotic] controlled state … by telephone, by receiving written matter, or by the use of code, signal, or words and that control of those hypnotized can be passed from one individual to another without great difficulty. It has also been shown by experimentation with these girls that they can act as unwilling couriers for information purposes.” This mind control summary is based on excerpts from three landmark books: Bluebird by Colin Ross, MD; Mind Controllers by Armen Victorian; and A Nation Betrayed by Carol Rutz. The authors provide hundreds of footnotes to support their thorough research. Their information is derived largely from 18,000 pages of declassified CIA mind control documents. The key documents can be ordered from the U.S. government (link to order in article).

Rise of ‘Granfluencers’: Viral Stars Model Grandson’s Punk Styles – (Guardian – April 2, 2021)

The latest “granfluencers” are Marie-Louise and René Glémarec, 86 and 87 respectively, who went viral after appearing at the last physical Paris fashion week dressed in the punk-inspired, gender-neutral clothes made by their grandson Florentin Glémarec for his label EGONlab, which he runs with partner Kévin Nompeix. The clothes in the spring/summer collection worn by Glémarec’s grandparents included tartan bondage trousers, a Hellraiser-style, spiked black leather suit and skirts for men. Were they hesitant about trying on any of the outfits? “Never,” said Glémarec, “they are our biggest fans [and] embrace our modern punk vision. They are always up for experimenting with new looks and new characters.” The couple, who are now fronting the autumn/winter 2021 streetwear campaign for the label’s collaboration with Sergio Tacchini, had never modeled before. “Marie-Louise was a newspaper seller and René was a sailor,” said Glémarec. “It’s a whole new experience for them.” The growing visibility of older faces in fashion such as Grece Ghanem (who has 550,000 Instagram followers) and catwalk models such as Axelle Doué, suggests fashion is no longer the preserve of the young. The male model Orlando Hobechi says longer lifespans mean “people want to see people who look like themselves represented … Over the last 30 years, we’ve seen cool young people age … you can be older now and still cool and relevant.”

The Great Depression Led to Many of the Hobbies We Enjoy Now. The Pandemic Created a Whole Host of New Ones – (CNN – April 4, 2021)

It’s no surprise that the pandemic has led to a surge of hobbies. What’s interesting, some experts say, is that the surge mirrors what happened during the Great Depression. In the 1930s, it was the game of Bridge that kept people busy. In 2020, it was “Animal Crossing.” Stephen Mihm, an associate professor of history at the University of Georgia, who researches early American history, said it’s likely that some of the hobbies that became popular during the pandemic could be here for good. Here’s why. The growth in hobbies during the Great Depression was in large part due to the staggering number of people out of work. Among the hobbies that emerged: stamp collecting, music making, woodworking and birdwatching. Thanks to the internet, new hobbies are easy to find and even easier to partake in. But the surplus might have made them more fleeting. Birdwatching and playing games, popularized in the late 1920s and early 1930s, for example, remain common hobbies to this day. “When you do some things, you may actually start to really enjoy them. It’s not just something to keep you occupied,” Mihm said. “Then it becomes a real sustaining interest. Year after year … you start to learn more and get better at it. There’s a payoff.” More walking, gardening and cooking, Mihm said, seem likely to remain permanent additions. But tie-dyeing clothes, attending PowerPoint parties and partaking in TikTok challenges — among the many hobbies that popped up in the last year — may not be things that people do in the years to come. Post-pandemic, some virtual hobbies — online classes and events, for example — may even remain common.

Breathtaking Time-Lapse Taken from Inside a SpaceX Crew Dragon – (The Byte – April 14, 2021)

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, one of the ten crew members currently residing on board the International Space Station, shared a gorgeous 15 second time lapse taken by crew mate and Japanese space agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi. The stunning time lapse was taken from inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule nicknamed Resilience, which will soon be joined by a second capsule on April 22 — a beautiful 15-second clip of a view of planet Earth that only a select few will ever be able to enjoy in person.

Virgin Galactic’s Shimmering, Mirror-finished SpaceShip III Readies for Next-gen Space Flights – (Yanko Design – March 31, 2021)

Richard Branson has his goals set up high alongside Elon Musk for space travel, and there’s a new chapter added to the Virgin Galactic book that looks to rewrite the history of humankind, as far as venturing out into the limitless bounds of space are concerned. In that same quest, Virgin Galactic has unveiled their new space plane called VSS Imagine – the first inclusion of the SpaceShip III fleet of suborbital vehicles. VSS Imagine is draped in a shiny reflective mirror-like material to reflect the mesmerizing bounds of the Earth and space while inherently providing thermal protection in flight. According to Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, the spaceship will hopefully change the perspective of space travellers when they return back home, and fill them with rejuvenating ideas to make a positive change to the planet. “Our goal is to have 400 flights from each spaceport every year,” Richard said. That’s going to be achievable with a third and fourth generation of spaceships, and Virgin Galactic is already ramping up its efforts for the same. Article includes cool, flashy photos.

Note to Future Space Travelers: Prepare for a Shrinking Heart – (New York Times – March 29, 2021)

Scientists report that the largest chamber of the heart of Scott Kelly, who spent nearly a year on the International Space Station in 2015 and 2016, shrank in mass by more than one-quarter by the time he returned to Earth. That just adds to the litany of transformations that the human body undergoes without the steady downward pull of gravity. Astronauts also tend to have swelled heads, squashed eyeballs, shriveled legs and bones that become more brittle. Without the pull of gravity, the heart does not have to pump as hard, and like any other muscle, it loses some fitness from less strenuous use. For Mr. Kelly, the shrinkage occurred even though he exercised almost every day on the space station, a regimen that has proved effective at limiting the brittling of bone and loss of muscle overall. But a smaller heart could be a concern for future missions to Mars. Based on the experience of Mr. Kelly and other astronauts on the space station, “They’ll probably be OK,” Dr. Levine said. But problems could arise if an astronaut were injured or fell sick and could not exercise. Or if the exercise equipment broke. With weaker hearts, they could become lightheaded and faint when stepping foot on the red planet after months of weightless travel. Mr. Kelly said that his body, which experienced other changes, including bone loss, has almost returned to normal.

We’re Entombing the Earth in an Impenetrable Shell of Dead Satellites – (Engadget – April 8, (2021)

Today more than 3,000 satellites circle the Earth and they are joined by millions of pieces of space debris — such as bits of broken satellite, discarded rocket parts and flecks of spacecraft paint. NASA estimates that there’s around 6,000 tonnes (6,614 tons) of debris in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) alone. This orbital refuse doesn’t just create navigation hazards for astronauts, it also reflects sunlight down to the surface, interfering with ground-based telescope observations. A recent study suggests that there is now nowhere on Earth free from the light pollution produced by overhead debris and satellites. Even more concerning, researchers expect the amount of debris in orbit to increase by an order of magnitude over the next decade as mega-constellations of internet-beaming mini-satellites, like SpaceX’s Starlink program, take off. With the advent of low-cost commercial rocket launch technology — which has seen the price per pound of launching cargo fall from $24,800 during the Shuttle era to just $1,240 today — the rate at which we put satellites into orbit is set to increase exponentially. In total, more than 18,000 satellites are expected to be launched into LEO by 2025 — roughly ten times the total number of satellites active in 2018. SpaceX alone has permission from the US government to launch 12,000 Starlinks into orbit (with plans to have as many as 42,000 of them), while Amazon’s Kuiper project is authorized to send up 3,236 satellites of its own in the coming years. Both of these programs seek to create an orbital network in Low Earth Orbit capable of providing high-bandwidth, low-latency internet connectivity accessible from anywhere on the planet. Though their intentions are noble, the unintended consequences of packing that many spacecraft into our skies could fundamentally change our view of the surrounding solar system.

Mysterious Radio Blasts From Space Just Got a Whole Lot Weirder – (Vice – April 8, 2021)

For years, scientists have been baffled by extremely loud radio signals, known as giant radio pulses (GRPs), that can be traced to a special type of dead star known as a pulsar. Pulsars are compact, rapidly rotating remnants of supernovae that get their name from the clockwork pulses of radiation they emit from their poles, which have made them useful natural timepieces for astronomers who use their regular bursts to measure other celestial phenomena. One of the most infamous sources of GRPs is the Crab Pulsar, the remnant of the supernova spotted by skywatchers in 1054, which sits inside the Crab Nebula some 6,500 light years from Earth. The Crab Pulsar is the only system that has shown hints that GRPs might be accompanied by enhanced emissions of other types of light, such as the visible band of the spectrum, providing a potential clue about the origin of these extra-loud radio signals. To investigate this tantalizing evidence further, scientists led by the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research in Japan spent years searching for X-ray emissions that might coincide with GRPs, from both ground and space observatories. The results revealed, for the first time, bursts of X-rays that seem connected to the radio pulses, which “implies that the total emitted energy from GRPs is tens to hundreds of times higher than previously known,” according to a study published in Science. The discovery not only sheds new light on the mechanisms behind GRPs, but also yields information about another class of mysterious signals called fast radio bursts (FRBs).

Low-cost Solar-powered Water Filter Removes Lead, Other Contaminants – (PhysOrg – March 31, 2021)

A new invention that uses sunlight to drive water purification could help solve the problem of providing clean water off the grid. The device resembles a large sponge with a gel that soaks up water but leaves contaminants—like lead, oil and pathogens—behind. To collect the purified water from the sponge, one simply places it in sunlight. The inspiration for the device came from the pufferfish, a species that takes in water to swell its body when threatened, and then releases water when danger passes, said the device’s co-inventor Rodney Priestley, the Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Princeton’s vice dean for innovation. Xiaohui Xu, a Princeton Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and co-inventor, helped develop the gel material at the heart of the device. “Sunlight is free,” Xu said, “and the materials to make this device are low-cost and non-toxic, so this is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to generate pure water.” The gel can purify water contaminated with petroleum and other oils, heavy metals such as lead, small molecules, and pathogens such as yeast. The gel maintains its ability to filter water for at least ten cycles of soaking and discharge with no detectable reduction in performance. To demonstrate the device in real-world conditions, Xu took the device to Lake Carnegie on the Princeton University campus. Most other solar-powered approaches use sunlight to evaporate water, which takes much longer than absorption and release by the new gel. Short embedded video clip shows the device in use at Lake Carnegie.

On the Verge of a Global Crisis: One Bank Warns of a “Biblical” Surge in Food Prices – (ZeroHedge – March 19, 2021)

In the Bible, Joseph interpreted a Pharaoh’s dream as meaning great abundance for seven years would be followed by an equal famine. He was then entrusted with ensuring Egypt’s storehouses were full of grain so the country could survive – which he, and it, did. In short, Joseph made the first agri commodity cycle call, where survival came before profits. Today we have seed technology, automated agriculture, and global markets. Yet we still have lean and fat years for reasons meteorological, logistical, political, and geopolitical. This report will try to do several things: Summarize price action in key agri commodities to consider if we are seeing anything unusual; disaggregate and define the main drivers of these price movements; imagine what a (global) Biblical scarcity would look like, putting forward simplified assumptions to estimate what each of them in isolation could do to food prices; look at global food insecurity to ascertain how many countries are suffering already and would do so in the scenario that prices rise higher; and consider the worrying (geo)political implications. The bank that issued the report is Rabobank, a Dutch multinational banking and financial services company headquartered in Utrecht, Netherlands. It is a global leader in food and agriculture financing and sustainability-oriented banking. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article which does an interesting job of giving reasons for a near term bull market in commodity prices and longer term look at the possible consequences of increased global food prices amid scarcity.)

Monopoly: An Overview of the Great Reset – (YouTube – April 7, 2021)

This 45 minute video gives an overview of what is currently happening in the world. The video shows the modern global systems, and focuses on the situation in the Netherlands. The film makers believe though, that people from all over the world will recognize this situation. The film examines the major global brands for different industries (for example, food and beverages or electronics) and then looks at the very few institutional investors, (mostly banks, investment firms, and insurance companies) that own the majority of all of these publically traded companies. A few of these companies, such as Black Rock and Vanguard are so large that they have enormous influence in many of the world’s governments. But who owns the largest percentages of them? If you are not aware of the extent of interlocking directorates and the role that huge family philanthropic foundations (e.g. the Rockefeller and Gates Foundations) play in influencing every aspect of global business, this is an informative primer that explains how the majority of the world’s wealth and power are concentrated in very few elite hands and how those few individuals would like to shape the world over the next 10-20 years.

How Do Big Media Outlets So Often “Independently Confirm” Each Other’s Falsehoods? – (Glen Greenwald – March 16, 2021)

That the entire Russiagate storyline itself was a fraud and a farce is conclusively demonstrated by one decisive fact that can never be memory-holed: namely, the impetus for the scandal and subsequent investigation was the conspiracy theory that the Trump campaign had secretly and criminally conspired with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election, primarily hacking into the email inboxes of the DNC and Clinton campaign chief John Podesta. And a grand total of zero Americans were accused (let alone convicted) of participating in that animating conspiracy. While Robert Mueller — like so many Washington special counsels before him — ended up snaring some operatives in alleged process crimes committed after the investigation commenced (lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice) or unrelated crimes (Manafort’s financial sleaze), the 18-month aggressive, sprawling investigation resulted in exactly zero criminal charges on the core claim that Trump officials had criminally conspired with Russia. If that were not sufficient to make every person who drowned the country in this crazed conspiracy theory feel enormous shame (and it should have been), the former FBI Director’s final Report explicitly stated that “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election.” In many cases, the Report went even further than this “did not establish” formulation to state that there was no evidence of any kind found for many of the key media conspiracies. (Editor’s note: This is a good article, but the title has almost nothing to do with the article’s content which is about the media’s biased portrayal of the “Russiagate” story and the Muller investigation, but not about how media confirmed and reinforced each other’s positions.)

A Short Story to Read on BART? These Machines Will Print You One for Free – (KQED – March 29, 2021)

These days, most Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) riders spend their travel time staring at their phones. But now, BART riders are able to use touchless Short Story Dispensers to receive free one-, three- and five-minute reads at selected stations. Local writers will have the chance to have their work published and distributed as part of the project after the one-year pilot, sponsored by the BART Communications Department and Art Program, is up and running. The kiosks are COVID-safe and touchless—a story is dispensed by simply holding your finger above a sensor—and the stories are printed on recyclable paper. Readers are encouraged to collect the stories. The program is operating in partnership with Short Édition, a French publishing house that specializes in poetry, short stories, and flash fiction. Founded in 2011 and expanding their reach to the United States in 2018, Short Édition created the Short Story Dispenser in 2016, printing and distributing their one, three, and five minute stories in public spaces around the world with the aim of uplifting literature in a digital age. The first dispenser in the country was installed at Café Zoetrope in San Francisco’s North Beach. Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, the owner of the cafe, read about the concept in The New Yorker and was enamored with it. The cafe customers love it.

Underwater Photography of the Year – (UPY – 2021)

Underwater Photographer of the Year, a UK-based group, has announced its awards for 2021. There are a lot of spectacular images (which, despite the name, include some above-water photos, too): looking up at sharks in French Polynesia at sunset; a frog in a mire in Glasgow one night in early spring; tunnels in Mexico’s Cenote Monkey Dust; jellyfish, sea lions, fish, whales, divers. Link takes you to a .pdf that includes each photo’s description and back story.
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News Alert – April 19, 2021