Volume 25, Number 13 – 7/1/22

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Volume 25, Number 13 – 7/1/2022


  • Researchers have identified a molecule in the blood that is produced during exercise which can effectively reduce food intake and obesity in mice.
  • A bionic robo-fish can collect and remove ocean-borne microplastics.
  • Virtual children that play with you, cuddle you, and even look like you may become commonplace in 50 years.
  • Blockchain bridges, offering users a way of transferring their assets from one blockchain to another, have become a prime target for hackers due to vulnerabilities in their underlying code.
Dr. David Martin
2027 … Big Financial Disruption

Saturday, July 23rd, 1:00 pm
in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

One of the largest financial crises of our lifetimes occurred in 2008.  Starting with the US Congress voting in an emergency session for a $700 billion bailout of the banks which had issued thousands of subprime mortgages to individuals who were not qualified to pay them, there followed a huge freefall that, among many other things, resulted in the collapse of Lehman Brothers investment bank and a loss in household wealth in the US of $11 trillion. 

Almost 18 months before that event, In July 2006, Dr. David Martin gave two Arlington Institute Spring Side Chats in Berkeley Springs laying out the coming events that would begin in December of 2007 and become known as the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.  It was an extraordinary example of predictive analysis.

Similarly, in 2012, Dr. Martin laid out the events that would usher in the State Council of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and anticipated the use of bioterrorism as an agent of enabling the associated geopolitical instability. 

Now David Martin comes again to Berkeley Spring to TransitionTalks in July of 2022 – 17 years after John Petersen and David met —  to once again paint a picture of a great, inbound disruption guaranteed five years from now, at which time the United States will become bankrupt, unable to pay social security, Medicare, Medicaid and the pensions of many millions of people, This upheaval will occur along with many other converging factors that promise a near future that will be unlike anything that any of us have experienced before. 

Come and hear Dr. Martin detail what is in our future and talk about what we can do to prepare for this extraordinary event.

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In this brief interview David Martin lays the foundation for his upcoming talk.
Join us on July 23rd (In Person or via Livestream) for the big reveal!

Globalist Elites Beg for Trust Despite an Unending Stream of COVID Lies and Massive Censorship – (Global Research – June 8, 2022)

Dr. Peter Gluckman, who formerly served as Chief Science Advisor to the prime minister of his home nation of New Zealand, lamented the lack of trust afforded to “elites” from citizens with regards to the imposition of COVID response measures over the last two years. And making a hard distinction between citizens and “elites,” he said, “and I think where we saw vaccine resistance is often related to the fact there was not trust in the elite, even political, scientific, or academic, but it was then reinforced or the excuse that was given was those of conspiracy.” But with regard to citizens trusting the “elites,” Dr. Robert Malone suggests it would be helpful if there was not such a well-documented track record of those in power issuing so many “lies” over the last couple of years and he provided the following sample of such blatant falsehoods. For example: SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has a far higher fatality rate than influenza virus by several orders of magnitude; Everyone has a significant risk of death from COVID-19; No one has immunity, because this virus is new (“novel”) and so expedited vaccine development and deployment is essential; Everyone is dangerous and spreads the infection; Locking down- closing schools and businesses, confining people to their homes, stopping non-COVID medical care, and eliminating travel will stop/eliminate the virus; Masks will protect everyone and stop the spread; and Immune protection can only be obtained with a vaccine.  In a peer-reviewed Surgical Neurology International paper published April 22, neurosurgeon Dr. Russel Blaylock provides a description of the “‘fact-check’ scam” listing a sample of 17 propositions which were identified by such outlets as “misinformation” or “conspiracy theories” but which were later proven to be true. Five of those are listed in the article.

At Least 77,000 Deaths and 7.3 Million Injured Due to COVID Vaccination Across USA, Europe, UK and Australia – (Expose – June 11, 2022)

The latest reports released by medicine regulators around the world reveal that there have been at least 7.3 million injuries reported as adverse reactions to the Covid-19 injections up to late May and early June 2022, including 77,068 deaths. The UK’s medicine regulator is the Medicine and Healthcare product Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and since early 2021 they have publishing weekly updates on adverse events reported against the Covid-19 injections. According to the MHRA, 492657 injuries have been reported in the UK due to the Pfizer Covid-19 injection and these include 778 deaths.  Data from the USA reveals that the Covid-19 vaccination is proving to be at least 49x deadlier than Flu vaccination per number of doses administered. The article does a deep dive into the statistics from the UK’s MHRA, the US, Australia, and Europe.

New Lancet Study Destroys the CDC’s Justification for School Mask Mandates – (TownHall – June 1, 2022)

The Lancet, a world-renown medical journal, is out with a new study debunking a highly-cited CDC study that was used to support mask mandates in schools. Specifically, the study not only replicates the CDC study, which found a “negative association” between masks and pediatric cases of Covid-19, it also extends the study to include more districts over a longer period of time. In the end, the new study had nearly “six times as much data as the original study.” “Replicating the CDC study shows similar results; however, incorporating a larger sample and longer period showed no significant relationship between mask mandates and case rates,” the study finds. “These results persisted when using regression methods to control for differences across districts. Interpretation: School districts that choose to mandate masks are likely to be systematically different from those that do not in multiple, often unobserved, ways. We failed to establish a relationship between school masking and pediatric cases using the same methods but a larger, more nationally diverse population over a longer interval. Our study demonstrates that observational studies of interventions with small to moderate effect sizes are prone to bias caused by selection and omitted variables. Randomized studies can more reliably inform public health policy.”

New Understanding of Earth’s Architecture: Updated Maps of Tectonic Plates – (Science Daily – June 19, 2022)

“We looked at the current knowledge of the configuration of plate boundary zones and the past construction of the continental crust,” said Dr. Derrick Hasterok, Lecturer, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Adelaide who led the team that produced the new models. The team produced three new geological models: a plate model, a province model, and an orogeny model. “There are 26 orogenies – the process of mountain formation – that have left an imprint on the present-day architecture of the crust. Many of these, but not all, are related to the formation of supercontinents,” said Dr. Hasterok. “The biggest changes to the plate model have been in western North America, which often has the boundary with the Pacific Plate drawn as the San Andreas and Queen Charlotte Faults. But the newly delineated boundary is much wider, approximately 1500 km, than the previously drawn narrow zone. “Our new model for tectonic plates better explains the spatial distribution of 90% of earthquakes and 80% of volcanoes from the past two million years whereas existing models only capture 65% of earthquakes.”

Plants Appear to Be Breaking Biochemistry Rules by Making ‘Secret Decisions’ – (Science Alert – June 14, 2022)

Researchers have just discovered a previously unknown process that makes sense of the ‘secret decisions’ plants make when releasing carbon back into the atmosphere. “We found that plants control their respiration in a way we did not expect, they control how much of the carbon from photosynthesis they keep to build biomass by using a metabolic channel,” said University of Western Australia plant biochemist Harvey Millar. “This happens right as the step before they decide to burn a compound called pyruvate to make and release CO2 back to the atmosphere.” The researchers, led by University of Western Australia plant molecular scientist Xuyen Le, labeled pyruvate with C13 (a carbon isotope) to track where it was being shifted during the citric acid cycle, and found that pyruvate from different sources was being used differently. This means the plant can actually track the source of the pyruvate and act accordingly, choosing to either release it, or hold on to it for other purposes. This ability to make decisions, the team suggests, breaks the normal rules of biochemistry, where typically, every reaction is a competition and the processes don’t control where the product goes. “Metabolic channeling breaks these rules by revealing reactions that don’t behave like this, but are set decisions in metabolic processes that are shielded from other reactions,” says Millar. “This is not the first metabolic channel to ever be found, but they are relatively rare, and this is the first evidence of one governing this process in respiration.”

The Most Likely Origin of the Black Death Was Finally Revealed in an Unexpected Place – (Science Alert – June 15, 2022)

When a collection of thirty-odd skeletons was exhumed from graves in northern Kyrgyzstan in the late 1880s, little did archaeologists know that nearly 130 years later, the remains would reveal new evidence about the origins of the Black Death. Despite its immense impact, the origins of the disease have long thwarted researchers, who have since traced long-buried ancient genomes of Y. pestis across the continent. This new study, which suggests the Black Death emerged in Central Eurasia, is actually just the latest in a slew of archeological and paleoecological findings that are steadily rewriting our understanding of the plague. Now, new research done by University of Stirling historian Phil Slavin, who worked alongside lead author Maria Spyrou, an archaeogeneticist at the University of Tu¨bingen, and biochemist Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology pushes the likely origins of the Black Death even farther east into Central Asia, with DNA evidence from the remains of seven individuals exhumed from two cemeteries in modern-day Kyrgyzstan. The cemeteries, located in the Chu¨y Valley near Lake Issyk-Kul, had actually been excavated between 1885 and 1892, and contained a cluster of burials marked by tombstones inscribed with vague details of an unknown pestilence. The timing of the local outbreak fitted with the onset of the second plague pandemic, but the exact cause of death was never confirmed. To investigate, the team extracted DNA from the teeth of the recovered skeletons, sequenced the genetic material and compared it to modern and historical genomes of Y. pestis. In the teeth of three out of the seven skeletons, they found traces of ancient DNA of the plague bacterium, Y. pestis, and matched these skeletons to their headstones using historic diaries of the original excavations. Two of the reconstructed ancient genomes represented a single strain, dated to the first half of the 14th century. Genomic comparisons suggested this ancestral strain gave rise to a massive expansion of diverse plague strains that branched out and spawned the pandemic. “We found that the ancient strains from Kyrgyzstan are positioned exactly at the node of this massive diversification event,” Spyrou says. “In other words, we found the Black Death’s source strain and we even know its exact date.” That date is the year 1338, which was inscribed in the ancient Syriac language on the skeleton’s headstones.

Scientists Have Developed a Revolutionary New Treatment for Diabetes – (SciTech Daily – June 12, 2022)

A group of researchers from the University of Missouri, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Harvard University has proved the successful use of a novel Type 1 diabetes treatment in a large animal model in a new study published in Science Advances. Their method includes transferring insulin-producing pancreas cells, known as pancreatic islets, from a donor to a recipient without the need for long-term immunosuppressive medicines. “The major problem with immunosuppressive drugs is that they are not specific, so they can have a lot of adverse effects, such as high instances of developing cancer,” said Haval Shirwan, a professor of child health and molecular microbiology and immunology at the MU School of Medicine and one of the study’s primary authors. “So, using our technology, we found a way that we can modulate or train the immune system to accept, and not reject, these transplanted cells.” Article goes into detail on the molecular level.

Major Scientific Breakthrough Toward the Benefits of Exercise in a Pill – (SciTech Daily – June 17, 2022)

Researchers have identified a molecule in the blood that is produced during exercise and can effectively reduce food intake and obesity in mice. The discovery improves our understanding of the physiological processes that underlie the interplay between exercise and hunger. Scientists from Baylor College of Medicine, Stanford School of Medicine and collaborating institutions reported the findings on June 15 in the journal Nature. “We wanted to understand how exercise works at the molecular level to be able to capture some of its benefits,” said co-corresponding author Jonathan Long, MD, assistant professor of pathology at Stanford Medicine and an Institute Scholar of Stanford ChEM-H (Chemistry, Engineering & Medicine for Human Health). “For example, older or frail people who cannot exercise enough, may one day benefit from taking a medication that can help slow down osteoporosis, heart disease or other conditions.” Xu, Long, and their colleagues conducted comprehensive analyses of blood plasma compounds from mice following intense treadmill running. The most significantly induced molecule was a modified amino acid called Lac-Phe. It is synthesized from lactate (a byproduct of strenuous exercise that is responsible for the burning sensation in muscles) and phenylalanine (an amino acid that is one of the building blocks of proteins). In mice with diet-induced obesity (fed a high-fat diet), a high dose of Lac-Phe suppressed food intake by about 50% compared to control mice over a period of 12 hours without affecting their movement or energy expenditure. When administered to the mice for 10 days, Lac-Phe reduced cumulative food intake and body weight (owing to loss of body fat) and improved glucose tolerance.

New Kidney Transplant Approach Could Eliminate Need for Lifelong Immune Drug – (NBC – June 15, 2022)

Three children who have undergone kidney transplants in California will likely be spared from ever having to take anti-rejection medication, because of an innovative technique that eliminates the need for lifelong immunosuppression, ground-breaking new research suggests. Scientists at Stanford Medicine said that all three children have an extremely rare genetic disease called Schimke immuno-osseous dysplasia, or SIOD, that often destroys a person’s ability to fight off infection and leads to kidney failure. In each case, a parent donated stem cells taken from bone marrow, as well as a kidney. About three years after the transplants, the children have normal kidney and immune system function. The technique — called a dual immune/solid organ transplant — involves a stem cell transplant  that trains the immune system not to reject a subsequent kidney donation. The protocol used at Stanford isn’t new, but its success is. Though SIOD is so rare — estimated to affect just a few dozen children worldwide — experts in the field of kidney transplantation say the results seen in these kids hold tremendous promise for transplants in general. What’s more, it could eliminate the need for additional organ transplants in recipients. Donated organs generally only last a decade or two before succumbing to rejection and needing replacement.

Scientists Unveil Bionic Robo-fish to Remove Microplastics from Seas – (Guardian – June 22, 2022)

Researchers at Sichuan University have designed an innovative solution to track down ocean-born microplastics: a tiny self-propelled robo-fish that can swim around, latch on to free-floating microplastics, and fix itself if it gets cut or damaged while on its expedition. The robo-fish is just 13mm long, and thanks to a light laser system in its tail, swims and flaps around at almost 30mm a second, similar to the speed at which plankton drift around in moving water. “It is of great significance to develop a robot to accurately collect and sample detrimental microplastic pollutants from the aquatic environment,” said Yuyan Wang, a researcher at the Polymer Research Institute of Sichuan University and one of the lead authors on the study. Her team’s novel invention is described in a research paper in the journal Nano Letters. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first example of such soft robots.” The researchers created the robot from materials inspired by elements that thrive in the sea: mother-of-pearl, also known as nacre, which is the interior covering of clam shells. The team created a material similar to nacre by layering various microscopic sheets of molecules according to nacre’s specific chemical gradient. This made them a robo-fish that is stretchy, flexible to twist, and even able to pull up to 5kg in weight. Most importantly, the bionic fish can absorb nearby free-floating bits of microplastics because the organic dyes, antibiotics, and heavy metals in the microplastics have strong chemical bonds and electrostatic interactions with the fish’s materials. The newly created material also seems to have regenerative abilities, said Wang, who specializes in the development of self-healing materials. So the robot fish can heal itself to 89% of its ability and continue adsorbing even in the case it experiences some damage or cutting – which could happen often if it goes hunting for pollutants in rough waters.

Picasso‘s Favorite Pigment May One Day Recycle Metals from Your Cell Phone – (Ars Technica – June 20, 2022)

Gold and certain other precious metals are key ingredients in computer chips, including those used in consumer electronics such as smart phones. But it can be difficult to recover and recycle those metals from electronic waste. Japanese researchers have found that a pigment widely used by artists called Prussian blue can extract gold and platinum-group metals from e-waste much more efficiently than conventional bio-based absorbents. “The amount of gold contained in one ton of mobile phones is 300-400 grams, which is much higher by 10-80 times than that in one ton of natural ore,” the authors wrote, according to a recent paper published in the journal Scientific Reports. “The other elements have a similar situation. Consequently, the recovery of those precious elements from e-wastes is much more effective and efficient when compared to their collections from natural ore.” Prussian blue is the first modern synthetic pigment. Beyond paint, the pigment has other uses. It’s often used to treat heavy metal poisoning from thallium or radioactive cesium because its lattice-like network structure—similar to a jungle gym—can trap metal ions from those metals and prevent them from being absorbed by the body. Prussian blue helped remove cesium from the soil around the Fukushima power plant after the 2011 tsunami. The researchers analyzed how Prussian blue uptakes multi-valent metals—like platinum, rhodium, molybdenum, and palladium, among others—using x-ray and ultraviolet spectroscopy. They were surprised at how well the pigment retained its jungle-gym structure while substituting iron ions in the framework—the secret to its impressive uptake efficiency compared to bio-based absorbents.

A Gull Flaps Its Wings and a Deadly Virus Explodes – (New York Times – June 17, 2022)

A great black-backed gull migrating from Europe to Eastern Canada last winter may have been the first carrier to North America of the deadly strain of avian influenza that has killed tens of millions of domestic poultry and devastated wild bird populations resulting in the deaths of nearly 400,000 wild birds worldwide. The wide-scale outbreaks have provided researchers with a new opportunity to fine-tune their understanding of the disease by studying which wild bird species, behaviors and ecologies play key roles in transmission. Knowing which migratory species carry the pathogen, for example, can help predict when and where it might arrive based on migration routes. After the migrating gull came ashore, the highly pathogenic avian influenza, also known as the H5N1 virus, exploded across North America. More than 77 million poultry, most raised in crowded conditions that fueled the spread and evolution of the virus, have been culled in dozens of countries. For some experts, the toll wrought by this H5N1 strain on wild birds — it has struck more than 100 species so far — has been alarming and unprecedented in its depth and breadth. Among wild birds, the spread can be very difficult to contain, posing a greater threat of spillover to other wildlife. And some wild bird species, like cranes and some seabirds, are particularly vulnerable, especially those with low reproductive rates and those already endangered. It has long been assumed that the primary hosts for avian flu are dabbling ducks, such as mallards, teals and shovelers, that feed on the surface and just below with their rumps in the air. They are critical to the spread because they have mild or no symptoms and they carry it far and wide. The new study, however, found that other birds, like geese, played an underestimated role because of their natural history. “Geese are a little more tolerant of human-disturbed areas,” said Dr. Nichola Hill, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston and lead author of a new paper on the topic. “Imagine a commercial poultry operation or backyard operation where they spread grain around.” That attracts “geese and other scavenging birds, like gulls and crows and magpies, so there’s an interface between them,” she said.

Blue Holes Show Hurricane Activity in the Bahamas Is at a Centuries-Long Low – (Smithsonian – June 13, 2022)

The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season was the third most active in 171 years of record-keeping. The 2020 season was even worse—there were so many tropical cyclones that meteorologists tore through their list of possible storm names and needed the Greek alphabet to keep track of the overflow. But a new study shows that even this flurry of activity may be something of a lull in the centuries-long record of Atlantic hurricanes. The evidence that hurricane activity is at a historical low is hiding on the Caribbean seafloor, tucked away in odd geological features called blue holes. These open pits form in limestone, often above collapsed caverns. Prolonged erosion weathers the edges into an eerily circular shape. The seafloor at the base of a blue hole acts like a calendar of past storms. Much like an ice core or tree ring grows season after season, the sediment at the bottom of a blue hole builds up over time. Natural currents coax a sugary sprinkle of small sand grains into the hole, while violent hurricanes pitch larger grains into the pit. By comparing layers of coarse and fine grains in this sedimentary lasagna, researchers can count how many hurricanes passed nearby. What makes a blue hole a valuable long-term record is that once this sediment settles, there’s very little activity in the pit to disturb it. “Over the last 170 years, we’ve had about five hurricanes per century on average,” says Tyler Winkler, a geologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts who led the study. “But the rate has been almost eight times that in the past.” Article gives details of the study.

Inside the U.S. Government Project to Create Tiny Nuclear Reactors Like Batteries – (CNBC – June 15, 2022)

At one of the United States government’s preeminent nuclear research labs, the Idaho National Lab, the technical lead is Yasir Arafat. He is leading the effort to build a tiny, relatively inexpensive micronuclear reactor. The prototype will be called the MARVEL reactor, an acronym for the name of the project Microreactor Applications Research Validation and Evaluation, and the goal is to have the first one operating by December 2023, making it the first advanced microreactor in the United States. Beyond being potential clean-energy options for remote locations or small communities, the MARVEL micro-reactor could become a key component of a clean energy grid that includes renewable solar and wind energy and battery storage, Arafat said. “The entire hardware can be built in a factory, like the way we make automobiles or cars,” Arafat said, allowing for the production of hundreds of microreactors a year. Already there are a slew of private companies developing microreactors, and their goal is the same as the government’s: To develop an emissions-free, reliable energy source. A single microreactor could power a community from 1,000 to 10,000 people, whether that’s a hospital or remote military base. The current electricity grid in the United States is based on a system of generating electricity at a centralized location and distributing it to the end users. But microreactors are a component in a future vision for the electricity grid that is less centralized more resilient against natural disasters.

A Huge Offshore Wind Farm Is Jumping on a Growing Industry Trend — Recyclable Turbine Blades – (CNBC – June 17, 2022)

A major offshore wind farm being built in waters off the Netherlands is set to use recyclable blades from Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy — the latest in a line of companies attempting to tackle an issue that’s proved to be a challenge for the wind energy sector. Swedish energy firm Vattenfall said some of the wind turbines at the 1.5 gigawatt Hollandse Kust Zuid facility would use Siemens Gamesa’s RecycableBlades. These blades use “a resin type that dissolves in a low-temperature, mildly acidic solution.” That enables the resin to be separated from other components within the blade — carbon fiber, wood, fiberglass, metal and plastic — “without significantly impacting their properties.” The components can then be recycled and used again. Vattenfall is one of several companies looking into recycling and reusing wind turbine blades — an aim that feeds into the idea of creating a “circular economy” in which waste is minimized and products repurposed and reused. Article also provides details about other companies with plans to make recyclable blades.

Hydrogen-powered Trains to Be Used in Germany’s Capital Region – (CNBC – June 28, 2022)

Siemens Mobility Has been commissioned by rail operator Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn to provide seven of its Mireo Plus H trains for a network in the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan region of Germany. The two-carriage vehicles will use fuel cells and lithium ion batteries, and are slated to be delivered in the fall of 2024. Siemens Mobility, which is a separately managed company of industrial giant Siemens, said the trains would provide “completely CO2 emission-free mobility” and have a top speed of 160 kilometers per hour (around 99 mph). According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), rail represents “one of the most energy-efficient transport modes.” It is responsible for 9% of worldwide motorized passenger movement and 7% of freight, the IEA says, but only accounts for 3% of transport energy use. It does, however, rely heavily on oil, which represented 55% of the sector’s total energy consumption in 2020. Under the IEA’s scenario for a net-zero energy system by the year 2050, oil use in rail would have to drop to “almost zero” by the middle of the century.

Hackers Can Bring Ships and Planes to a Grinding Halt. And It Could Become Much More Common – (CNBC – June 27, 2022)

Armed with little more than a computer, hackers are increasingly setting their sights on some of the biggest things that humans can build. Vast container ships and chunky freight planes — essential in today’s global economy — can now be brought to a halt by a new generation of code warriors. “The reality is that an aeroplane or vessel, like any digital system, can be hacked,” said David Emm, a principal security researcher at cyber firm Kaspersky. Indeed, this was proven by the U.S. government during a “pen-test” exercise on a Boeing aircraft in 2019. Often it’s easier, however, to hack the companies that operate in ports and airports than it is to access an actual aircraft or vessel. In December, German firm Hellmann Worldwide Logistics said its operations had been impacted by a phishing attack. Hellmann, a global company, disconnected its data centers around the world and shut down some of its systems to limit the spread. “One of the drastic decisions we then made when we saw that we had some systems infected is we disconnected from the internet,” Awad-Hartmann said. “As soon as you make this step, you stop. You’re not working anymore.” Everything had to be done manually and business continuity plans kicked in, Awad-Hartmann said, adding that some parts of the business were able to handle this better than others. The company, which offers airfreight, sea freight, road and rail, and contract logistics services, was forced to stop taking new bookings for several days. It’s unknown how much revenue it lost as a result.

US Department of Defense Admits in Public Document that There Are 46 US Military-Funded Biolabs in Ukraine – (Global Research – June 14, 2022)

Victoria Nuland, the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in Eurasia, admitted during testimony before a US Senate committee the existence of biological research labs in Ukraine. Then Russia released alleged captured documents from Ukraine exposing evidence of US Military Biolabs in Ukraine. Russia made the accusations in front of the United Nations General Assembly. Article includes screen grab from the Russian Defense Ministry showing purported US-sponsored biolabs in Ukraine. The Pentagon then admitted in a public statement that there are 46 US-funded biolabs in Ukraine. From the Pentagon statement: “The United States has also worked collaboratively to improve Ukraine’s biological safety, security, and disease surveillance for both human and animal health, providing support to 46 peaceful Ukrainian laboratories, health facilities, and disease diagnostic sites over the last two decades.  The collaborative programs have focused on improving public health and agricultural safety measures at the nexus of nonproliferation.” (Editor’s note: Presumably the Russian government would not want biological pathogens released in an area to which they have deployed thousands of Russian troops and which could spread in an uncontrolled manner. But undoubtedly, they would be very interested to learn more about the research being done in labs they have previously identified. The risk to the public is probably fairly low; the risk of the Pentagon’s losing control of classified information is likely much higher.)

Forty-Nine Million People in 43 Countries One Step Away from Famine, Secretary-General Warns in Briefing to Security Council on Conflict, Food Security – (United Nations – May 19, 2022)

The following is excerpted from UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ briefing to the Security Council on conflict and food security: When war is waged, people go hungry. Some 60% of the world’s undernourished people live in areas affected by conflict.  No country is immune.  In April, the World Food Program (WFP) and its partners distributed food and cash to more than 3 million Ukrainians.  Until March, their country was feeding the world with abundant supplies of food. Last year, most of the 140 million people suffering acute hunger around the world lived in just 10 countries:  Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.  Eight of these countries are on the agenda of this Council.  Let there be no doubt:  when this Council debates conflict, you debate hunger.  When you make decisions about peacekeeping and political missions, you make decisions about hunger.  And when you fail to reach consensus, hungry people pay a high price. At its most basic level, armed conflict creates hunger when fighting destroys farms and factories, drives people from their crops, creates shortages, and pushes up prices.  Today, the impact of conflict is being amplified by the climate crisis and economic insecurity, heightened by the pandemic.  As a result, decades of progress on hunger are being reversed. See also: Russia-Ukraine War: ‘Apocalyptic’ Food Shortage Threatens, Says Bank of England Governor.

China Bank Protest Stopped by Health Codes Turning Red, Depositors Say – (Reuters – June 14, 2022)

A protest planned by hundreds of bank depositors in central China seeking access to their frozen funds has been thwarted because the authorities have turned their health code apps red, several depositors told Reuters. The depositors were planning to travel to the central province of Henan this week from across China to protest against an almost two-month block on accessing at least $178 million of deposits, which has left companies unable to pay workers and individuals unable to access savings. Without a green code on their smartphone app, citizens lose access to public transport and spaces such as restaurants and malls, as well as the right to travel across the country. “They are putting digital handcuffs on us,” said a depositor from Sichuan province surnamed Chen, who declined to use his full name for fear of government retribution. The protest would have been the latest among numerous such demonstrations in Henan in recent months. More than 200 depositors were similarly blocked when their health codes turned red, according to members of a WeChat group. “I can’t do anything, I can’t go anywhere. You’re treated as though you’re a criminal. It infringes on my human rights,” said Liu, who declined to give his full name for fear of government repercussions. For more background on the bank closures, see Chinese Depositors Left in Dark as Three Local Banks Freeze Deposits (and Withdrawals).

‘Tamagotchi kids’: Virtual Children That Play with You, Cuddle You, and Even Look Like You Will Be Commonplace in 50 Years – (Daily Mail – May 31, 2022)

Virtual children that play with you, cuddle you, and even look like you will be commonplace in 50 years, and could help to combat overpopulation, an artificial intelligence expert has claimed. These computer-generated offspring will only exist in the immersive digital world known as the ‘metaverse’, which is accessed using virtual reality technology such as a headset to make a user feel as if they’re face-to-face with the child. They will cost next to nothing to bring up, as they will require minimal resources, according to Catriona Campbell, one of the UK’s leading authorities on AI and emerging technologies. In her new book, AI by Design: A Plan For Living With Artificial Intelligence, she argues that concerns about overpopulation will prompt society to embrace digital children. She describes them as the ‘Tamagotchi generation’ — a reference to the handheld digital pets that became wildly popular among Western youngsters in the late 1990s and the 2000s. “As the metaverse evolves, I can see virtual children becoming an accepted and fully embraced part of society in much of the developed world.’ Ms Campbell believes that people will one day be able to use high-tech gloves that are able to deliver tactile feedback to replicate physical sensations. This would allow someone to cuddle, feed and play with their digital offspring as though it were a real child. She notes, ‘On the basis that consumer demand is there, which I think it will be, AI children will become widely available for a relatively small monthly fee.” (Editor’s note: We suspect the AI generated children will be robotic rather than strictly virtual, but we think Campbell is right that there will be consumer demand for artificial children. Pushing her notion of a small monthly fee, we can even imagine a premium subscription which would allow you to upgrade and “age” your child every six months.)

Ways to Find Hidden Cameras in Hotels and Rental Homes – (CNBC – June 26, 2022)

Nearly 60% of Americans said they were worried about hidden cameras in Airbnb homes in 2019. And 11% of vacation home renters said they had discovered a hidden camera during a stay, according to a survey by the real estate investment company IPX1031. Here are three methods to locate hidden spy cameras in hotel rooms and rental properties, including: how to conduct an effective physical search; how to check the Wi-Fi network to find connected devices; and, as a last option, buy a spy camera detector.

NASA Rover Sighting Reignites Fears about Human Space Debris – (Guardian – June 16, 2022)

NASA’s Perseverance rover typically beams back evocative images of bleak dusty landscapes, red-hued sandstorms and Martian rock samples. So its operators were surprised to receive an image on Monday of a shiny silver object wedged between two rocks. The object, the NASA team concluded, is a piece of debris discarded by the robotic craft during its touchdown in February 2021. “My team has spotted something unexpected: It’s a piece of a thermal blanket that they think may have come from my descent stage, the rocket-powered jet pack that set me down on landing day back in 2021,” the Perseverance Twitter account reported. The image has reignited concerns that space exploration risks contaminating the pristine Martian and lunar environments. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 created an obligation under international law to avoid the harmful contamination of outer space, the moon and other celestial bodies, but some argue that the law is not detailed enough to ensure protection. However, in the case of the Perseverance litter, Prof Andrew Coates, a space scientist at UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory, said: “The good news is that everything is sterilized before it goes to Mars, and the space radiation environment helps during the nine-month trip to Mars as does the harsh surface environment.” Avoiding contamination is crucial for missions like Perseverance, which is hunting for signs of ancient life in Mars’ Jezero crater.

China Says Signal from Advanced Alien Civilization Might Have Been Detected – (Newsweek – June 15, 2022)

The Chinese state media outlet Science and Technology Daily reported that researchers under professor Zhang Tongjie, described as chief scientist of the China Extraterrestrial Civilization Research Group at Beijing Normal University, had found a number of “possible technological traces” from intelligent civilizations elsewhere in the cosmos. The signals were detected by China’s FAST radio telescope, also referred to as the “Sky Eye” telescope. With a dish diameter of 1,600 ft, it is the largest of its kind in the world, and since 2020 the telescope has been involved in researching alien life. The FAST telescope works by scanning the skies for specific radio signals that could be produced artificially. These narrow-band signals must be picked out from the background noise of other radio emissions that come from deep space, so sensitive equipment is necessary. In some cases the telescope targeted exoplanets—planets that orbit stars other than the sun. Tongjie and his team identified two groups of what were referred to as “suspicious” signals back in 2020 and that a further signal was identified this year. The signals are certainly not proof of alien life just yet. Tongjie said: “The possibility that the suspicious signal is some kind of radio interference is also very high, and it needs to be further confirmed and ruled out. This may be a long process.”

Mars Has So Much Radiation, Any Signs of Life Would Be Buried Six Feet Under – (Science Alert – June 28, 2022)

The search for life on Mars may have just gotten a whole lot more complicated.  While rovers such as Curiosity and Perseverance scour the surface looking for traces of ancient life, new evidence reveals we may have to dig much deeper to find them. Any evidence of amino acids left over from a time when Mars may have been habitable are likely buried at least 2 meters (6.6 feet) under the ground. That’s because Mars, with its lack of magnetic field, and flimsy atmosphere, is subject to a much higher dose of cosmic radiation on its surface than Earth is. We know this, and we know that cosmic radiation destroys amino acids. Now, thanks to experimental data, we also know that this process takes place on very short timescales, geologically speaking. Cosmic radiation is actually a huge concern for Mars exploration. An average human on Earth is exposed to about 0.33 millisieverts of cosmic radiation per year. On Mars, that annual exposure could be over 250 millisieverts. This high-energy radiation, streaming from solar flares and energetic events such as supernovae, can penetrate rock, ionizing and destroying any organic molecules it encounters. Once upon a time, Mars is thought to have had a global magnetic field, and a much thicker atmosphere, much like Earth. There’s also evidence – lots of it – that liquid water once sat on the Martian surface in the form of oceans, rivers, and lakes. This combination of features suggests that Mars could have been habitable (perhaps repeatedly) in its past. Any amino acids on the Martian surface earlier than about 100 million years ago are probably long gone, irradiated into nothing. Given that Mars’ surface hasn’t been hospitable to life as we know it for much longer than that – billions of years, rather than millions – the few centimeters that Curiosity and Perseverance can dig down to is unlikely to pony up amino acids. Both the rovers have found organic material on Mars, but since the molecules could have been produced by non-biological processes, they can’t be taken as evidence of life. In addition, the team’s research shows that those molecules may have been significantly altered since their formation by ionizing radiation. But every now and again, material from below the Martian surface does actually make its way to Earth. In fact, amino acids have even been found therein. We might have to wait until we have more hardcore digging tools on Mars to find out more, though.

Puberty Starts Earlier Than It Used To. No One Knows Why. – (New York Times – May 19, 2022)

Marcia Herman-Giddens first realized something was changing in young girls in the late 1980s, while she was serving as the director for the child abuse team at Duke University Medical Center. During evaluations of girls who had been abused, Dr. Herman-Giddens noticed that many of them had started developing breasts at ages as young as 6 or 7. A decade later, she published a study of more than 17,000 girls who underwent physical examinations at pediatricians’ offices across the country. The numbers revealed that, on average, girls in the mid-1990s had started to develop breasts — typically the first sign of puberty — around age 10, more than a year earlier than previously recorded. The decline was even more striking in Black girls, who had begun developing breasts, on average, at age 9. Studies in the decades since have confirmed, in dozens of countries, that the age of puberty in girls has dropped by about three months per decade since the 1970s. A similar pattern, though less extreme, has been observed in boys. No one knows what risk factor — or more likely, what combination of factors — is driving the age decline or why there are stark race- and sex-based differences. Obesity seems to be playing a role. Researchers are also investigating chemicals associated with stress and those found in certain plastics. The girls with the earliest breast development in [a] 2009 study had the highest urine levels of phthalates, substances used to make plastics more durable.

Earthquake Tech Could Limit Deaths. Afghanistan Shows It’s Not Easy. – (Washington Post – June 24, 2022)

Very recently, eastern Afghanistan was ravaged by an earthquake, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring 1,600 others, marking the deadliest earthquake in the country in two decades. In the days since, search-and-rescue efforts have been hobbled by rain and landslides, closing off towns and villages to ambulances and aid. Residents have been left to dig out their loved ones, houses and prized possessions from amid the rubble. These are scenarios that artificial intelligence experts focused on disaster management are trying to prevent. Researchers are using deep-learning algorithms to filter out city noise so earthquake data can be collected better. Algorithms analyze seismic data from previous earthquakes to predict earthquakes earlier and notify people more quickly. Because AI can be very fast, it can give more warning time for people. Increasing it to 20 seconds, 30 seconds to a minute. The warning can be very helpful in saving lives, especially in cases like Afghanistan, where most of the buildings in the quake area were poorly constructed one-story buildings. They were not very tall or huge. In that situation, even 10 seconds can save a lot of lives, because people can quickly escape. But the situation in Afghanistan, researchers note, shows the structural challenges artificial intelligence faces in places with crumbling infrastructure. Article goes into depth on the challenges AI solutions face in countries such as Afghanistan.

$100 Million Worth of Crypto Has Been Stolen in Another Major Hack – (CNBC – June 24, 2022)

Hackers have stolen $100 million in cryptocurrency from Horizon, a so-called blockchain bridge, in the latest major heist in the world of decentralized finance. Details of the attack are still slim, but Harmony, the company behind Horizon, said it has singled out an individual account it believes to be the culprit. Blockchain bridges play a big role in the DeFi — or decentralized finance — space, offering users a way of transferring their assets from one blockchain to another. In Horizon’s case, users can send tokens from the Ethereum network to Binance Smart Chain. Harmony said the attack did not affect a separate bridge for Bitcoin. Like other facets of DeFi, which aims to rebuild traditional financial services like loans and investments on the blockchain, bridges have become a prime target for hackers due to vulnerabilities in their underlying code. Bridges “maintain large stores of liquidity,” making them a “tempting target for hackers,” according to Jess Symington, research lead at blockchain analysis firm Elliptic. “In order for individuals to use bridges to move their funds, assets are locked on one blockchain and unlocked, or minted, on another,” Symington said. “As a result, these services hold large volumes of cryptoassets.”

Breeding 2,000 Generations of Bacteria May Have Solved This Major Debate in Biology – (Science Alert – June 16, 2022)

Since the dawn of genetics in the early 20th century, biologists have debated whether evolution is driven more by chance mutations or by the original diversity in the gene pool. Having a lot of genetic options to choose from might make natural selection move a lot faster at the start, but do the genetic mutations that happen over time contribute more to species survival in the end? To attempt to resolve this long-standing argument once and for all, researchers at Michigan State University have tested the adaptive ability of 72 different populations of Escherichia coli bacteria over 2,000 generations (around 300 days). Each population of bacteria was engineered to have different amounts of genetic diversity at the start of the experiment. On one end of the spectrum, the population was bred from a single clone, so every cell was genetically identical to every other cell. In the middle of the spectrum, populations were grown from one pre-existing population of bacteria. On the far end of the spectrum, E. coli populations were created by mixing a few pre-existing populations together, creating the maximum amount of genetic diversity possible. At the early stages of the experiment (around 50 generations in), the wealth of genetic diversity in the initial population was important for adaptation. But, by the 500th generation, the diversity at the start of the experiment “no longer mattered” because the new mutations were “sufficiently large”, the authors write in their preprint, which is available on BioRxiv ahead of peer review. By the 500th (and continuing to the 2,000th generation), there were “no differences in fitness” among all the different populations of bacteria, despite the variation in fitness at the start. This result may close the book on the longest-running argument in evolutionary biology when it comes to bacteria. Scientists studying animals and plants tend to emphasize the diversity of the gene pool as the major source of evolutionary capacity because it isn’t practical to wait around for hundreds of years for mutations to mix things up. Those studying bacteria and viruses tend to look to mutations as the major source of evolution. But really, both forces – mutation and existing genetic diversity – “can contribute sequentially, simultaneously, and even synergistically to the process of adaptation by natural selection”, the researchers say.

Wintergatan – Marble Machine (Music Instrument Using 2000 Marbles) – (YouTube – March 1, 2016)

Watch as 2,000 marbles and one creative genius make music. If you are fascinated, here are two more video clips, Part One and Part Two, in which the designer shows how the instrument works.
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– Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations
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