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Volume 25, Number 5 – 3/1/22

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Volume 25, Number 5 – 3/1/2022

FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS

  • The human brain adapts to space flight with shifts in fluid distribution and shape changes. 
  • Designers are beginning to find ways to repurpose old wind turbine blades for infrastructure projects. 
  • Nearly silent, electric snowmobiles can go from 0 to 60mph in as little as 2.9 seconds. 
  • In approximately 10,000 years, the collision of two massive black holes is expected to send gravitational waves cascading across the universe.
PUNCTUATIONS:

The Arlington Institute is trying to help a deserving Zimbabwean mother and her son immigrate to the US.  It would be helpful to us to have a supportive immigration attorney or someone within an appropriate government agency to consult with on this issue.  If you know of such a person please send information to [email protected].  Thanks.

John L. Petersen

Penny Kelly
UFO’s, Aliens, Insights

Saturday, March 19th
in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
or via LIVESTREAM!

Penny Kelly is a naturopathic physician and a farmer.  She is a psychic … and an engineer … and a researcher in the science of how our reality manifests itself.  Along the way she has written or co-written 16 books and teaches advanced courses in developing intuition to students around the world. 

She’s also the only person that I – John Petersen – have ever met that claims to come from another star system … and remembers all of how that happened.  She came here to help humanity during this transition.

She also knows how space ships operate, extraterrestrial societies are organized and work, how this part of the galaxy runs and who is in charge, etc., and has interacted with “anomalous aerial phenomenology” and those who operate the craft. 

Sounds a bit wild and crazy, but it is amazing and fascinating when you talk to her about these subjects. And that is exactly what we are going to do at Penny’s upcoming TransitionTalk on the 19th of March.  I will interview her and ask the most provocative questions that I can … and then we’ll open the place up for questions from the audience and livestream participants. 

Over the many years that I have known Penny, we have had some of the most interesting conversations that I’ve ever had with anyone about these kinds of subjects, so I thought it would be timely and most informative to bring you into that conversation, and that’s what we’re going to do. 

I can promise you that this will be one of the most memorable events that you ever attend.  Not only is the subject matter “out of this world,” but the authority and insights that Penny Kelly brings to these discussions are unlike anything you have probably ever experienced before.  You’ll leave with a whole new perspective about what and who exists around (and on) this planet and be far better prepared for the extraordinary changes that are inbound for all of us. 

Do come. 19th of March at 1PM – either here personally in Berkeley Springs or by livestream (wherever you are).

Click below for more information about this event and to get tickets.
Click Here for Tickets and More Info
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AUTOMATICALLY at checkout!
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Penny Kelly is an author, teacher, speaker, publisher, personal and spiritual consultant, and Naturopathic physician. She travels, lectures, and teaches a variety of classes and workshops, and maintains a large consulting practice. She has been involved in scientific research and investigations into consciousness at Pinelandia Laboratory near Ann Arbor, MI.

Annual Premium Members receive a 10% discount
AUTOMATICALLY at checkout!
Please be sure you are logged in when you order.
Click Here for Tickets and More Info
Penny Kelly, ND, talks with John L. Petersen about her upcoming TransitionTALK.
THINK LINKS

Ukrainian Leader Calls on Tim Cook to Block Russian Users from the App Store – (The Verge – February 25, 2022)

In an open letter, the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, called on Apple to stop supplying products and services to Russian users as a response to the country’s ongoing invasion. “I appeal to you,” Fedorov wrote in the letter, published through his Twitter account, “to stop supplying Apple services and products to the Russian Federation, including blocking access to App Store!” Article includes scan of the letter. See also: Meta to Bar Russian State Media from Running Ads, Monetizing on Platform.  (Editor’s note: What is noteworthy here is that a government official is publicly calling on a major international corporation to function essentially like a nation state ally. And Meta – on its own initiative or not, we don’t know – is doing so.)

Metaverse vs. Employment Law: The Reality of the Virtual Workplace – (Ars Technica – February 21, 2022)

In the metaverse, an immersive virtual world accessed via wearable technology, tech groups expect us to spend a far greater proportion of time in the future, both playing and, crucially, working. When it comes to employment laws, however, it is unclear what rules of engagement apply in a universal digital realm. What counts as harassment in the metaverse? Can an avatar be discriminated against, or worse? Will national legislation protect employees or does working in the metaverse require a new rule book altogether? The global workforce has grown far more accustomed to working remotely in the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and companies have already started experimenting with virtual reality in the workplace. Hilton hotel group, for example, uses it to train staff on how to handle guests. And last year Microsoft, in its first step toward blending the physical and digital worlds of work, began rolling out a plan to enable workers to appear on its Teams collaboration software as avatars. But the metaverse takes hybrid working a step further and brings with it a host of thorny employment law issues. These range from practical challenges, such as how employees are paid, to more philosophical ones, like whether avatars have a legal identity. “The legal conundrums are about as diverse as the possibilities of the metaverse itself,” says Jonathan Newman, managing associate at law firm Simmons & Simmons. The physical world of work is regulated by national legal frameworks. However, “there are no national boundaries in the metaverse, so the first question is, ‘Where is the jurisdiction with the greater connection to the work?’” says Newman. “It could be the law of the country where the company owning the platform is… it could be the law of the country where the servers are based, or where the employee is… no one has reached an agreement on that.” And that’s just the first of the employment law issues. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article for the questions it raises about what happens in the metaverse. Because what happens in the metaverse doesn’t stay in the metaverse.)

“Ghost Particle” Experiment Limits Neutrino Mass With Unprecedented Precision – (SciTech Daily – February 14, 2022)

Neutrinos are arguably the most fascinating elementary particle in our universe. In cosmology they play an important role in the formation of large-scale structures, while in particle physics their tiny but non-zero mass sets them apart, pointing to new physics phenomena beyond our current theories. Without a measurement of the mass scale of neutrinos, our understanding of the universe will remain incomplete. This is the challenge the international KArlsruhe TRItium Neutrino (KATRIN) experiment at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) with partners from six countries has taken up as the world´s most sensitive scale for neutrinos. It makes use of the beta decay of tritium, an unstable hydrogen isotope, to determine the mass of the neutrino via the energy distribution of electrons released in the decay process. This article explains the research process, the results to date, and the ongoing work. Short version of results: The experimental data from the first year of measurements and the modeling based on a vanishingly small neutrino mass match perfectly: from this, a new upper limit on the neutrino mass of 0.8 eV can be determined. This is the first time that a direct neutrino mass experiment has entered the cosmologically and particle-physically important sub-eV mass range, where the fundamental mass scale of neutrinos is suspected to be.

Cosmonaut Brains Are ‘Rewired’ by Space Missions – (Space – February 18, 2022)

In a new study, a collaborative effort between the European Space Agency and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, researchers have explored how cosmonauts’ brains change after traveling to space and back. And they showed how the brain adapts to spaceflight, finding that the brain is almost “rewired,” and both fluid shifts and shape changes occur. These changes can last for months after a person returns to Earth, the researchers found. The strange brain changes that the team observed were “very new and very unexpected,” study lead Floris Wuyts, a researcher at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. The international research team studied the brains of 12 male cosmonauts shortly before and after their flights to the International Space Station. They also observed these same cosmonauts’ brains seven months after returning to Earth. All cosmonauts in this study took part in long-duration flights that lasted, on average, 172 days, or just over five and a half months. The team found an increase in gray and white matter. In the brain, white matter facilitates communication between gray matter in the brain and between gray matter and the rest of the body. Among other things, they discovered a shift in brain fluid and shape changes in the brain, specifically in the corpus callosum, which is a large bundle of nerve fibers that Wuyts described in the statement as “the central highway connecting both hemispheres of the brain.” Wuyts added that one measure that could reduce these effects would be artificial gravity. Artificial gravity is, in theory, created by an inertial force to replicate the feeling of gravity as, for example, we experience it here on Earth. A well-worn staple of science fiction, scientists in recent years have started to bring this concept into reality.

Scientists Make Breakthrough in Warping Time at Smallest Scale Ever – (Motherboard – February 16, 2022)

Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity is packed with weird insights about our reality, but perhaps the most mind-boggling is the fact that strong gravitational fields or incredibly high speeds can warp the passage of time, an effect known as time dilation. Now, in a major breakthrough, scientists at JILA, a joint operation between the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado Boulder, have measured time dilation at the smallest scale ever using the most accurate clocks in the world. The team showed that clocks located just a millimeter apart—about the width of a pencil tip—showed slightly different times due to the influence of Earth’s gravity. The new experiment paves the way toward clocks with 50 times the precision of those available today, which could be used for a host of practical applications, while also shedding light on fundamental mysteries about our universe, including the long-sought “union of general relativity and quantum mechanics,” according to a study published in Nature. In 2010, JILA scientists used these clocks to measure time dilation at two points with a difference in elevation of 33 centimeters (roughly a foot), which was a big advance at that point. After a decade of fine-tuning their clocks, Ye and his colleagues have managed to track frequency shifts within a sample of 100,000 extremely cold strontium atoms, enabling them to snag the unprecedented millimeter-scale effects of dilation. What’s more, the team managed to keep these atoms dancing in perfect unison for 37 seconds, setting a new record for the duration of “quantum coherence,” or the state in which the behavior of these atoms can be predicted. This can help scientists pursue some of the biggest open questions in science.

First Scan of the Dying Brain Reveals a “Last Recall” – (Technology Networks – February 22, 2022)

Neuroscientists have recorded the activity of a dying human brain and discovered rhythmic brain wave patterns around the time of death that are similar to those occurring during dreaming, memory recall, and meditation. Now, a study published to Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience brings new insight into a possible organizational role of the brain during death and suggests an explanation for vivid life recall in near-death experiences. Imagine reliving your entire life in the space of seconds. Like a flash of lightning, you are outside of your body, watching memorable moments you lived through. This process, known as ‘life recall’, can be similar to what it’s like to have a near-death experience. What happens inside your brain during these experiences and after death are questions that have puzzled neuroscientists for centuries. When an 87-year-old patient developed epilepsy, Dr Raul Vicente of the University of Tartu, Estonia and colleagues used continuous electroencephalography (EEG) to detect the seizures and treat the patient. During these recordings, the patient had a heart attack and passed away. This unexpected event allowed the scientists to record the activity of a dying human brain for the first time ever. “We measured 900 seconds of brain activity around the time of death and set a specific focus to investigate what happened in the 30 seconds before and after the heart stopped beating,” said Dr Ajmal Zemmar, a neurosurgeon at the University of Louisville, US, who organized the study. “Just before and after the heart stopped working, we saw changes in a specific band of neural oscillations, so-called gamma oscillations, but also in others such as delta, theta, alpha, and beta oscillations. Through generating oscillations involved in memory retrieval, the brain may be playing a last recall of important life events just before we die, similar to the ones reported in near-death experiences,” Zemmar speculated. “These findings challenge our understanding of when exactly life ends and generate important subsequent questions, such as those related to the timing of organ donation.”

American Woman Appears to Be Entirely Cured of HIV After Unique Medical Treatment – (Science Alert – February 16, 2022)

Ten years ago, an unnamed American woman was diagnosed with HIV. Like the tens of thousands of people who test positive in the US each year, she faced a lifetime of anti-retroviral therapies to keep the virus from obliterating her immune system. Today, that’s no longer the case. The patient is part of an extremely exclusive club of individuals who appear to have purged the virus entirely from their bodies. Just two other cases of total HIV remission have ever been satisfactorily confirmed, both following transplants of bone marrow from donors with HIV-blocking mutations in treatment of leukemia. Like these two renowned patients, the woman at the center of this latest case was also diagnosed with a blood cancer. In 2017, tests confirmed she had acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a life-threatening condition affecting bone marrow. Had the woman been White, she would have had a higher chance of finding a tissue match within the Caucasian-dominated library of willing donors. Instead, given her mixed-race heritage, specialists turned to another source of stem cells that could potentially provide the seeds for new, healthy bone marrow – umbilical cord blood. Unlike most tissue transplants, blood from a newborn’s umbilicus doesn’t require a perfect immunological match between the host and donor. Since the 1990s, more than 35,000 leukemia patients around the world have received a cord blood donation. Article explains the details and further possibilities of this treatment modality.

Engineers Are Building Bridges with Recycled Wind Turbine Blades – (The Verge – February 11, 2022)

On a former train track bed connecting the towns of Midleton and Youghal in County Cork, Ireland, workers recently excavated the rusted remains of an old railway bridge and installed a pedestrian one in its place. The bridge would have been an unremarkable milestone in the development of a new pedestrian greenway through the Irish countryside, if not for what it’s made of: recycled wind turbine blades. That makes it just the second “blade bridge” in the world. The first, installed last October in a small town in western Poland, officially opened in early January. The engineers and entrepreneurs behind these bridges are hopeful they represent the beginning of a new trend: repurposing old wind turbine blades for infrastructure projects. Creative solutions will be necessary to deal with the wind turbine blade waste that’s coming. Averaging over 150 feet in length and weighing upwards of a dozen tons each, wind turbine blades take up huge amounts of space in landfills. Once there, the ultra-sturdy, fiber-reinforced plastics they’re made of don’t break down easily. Decommissioned wind turbine blades, if they’re not just stockpiled, are often destined for landfills today. The main alternative, incinerating them for energy, creates additional pollution. The blades often have decades of life left in them after a turbine is decommissioned. And the same material properties that make blades good at harnessing wind power — strength, lightweightness, and all-weather durability — also make them attractive as engineering support structures. “These constructions should be able to exist for at least a hundred years,” said Marcin Sobczyk, a product developer at Anmet, the company behind Poland’s new blade bridge,  of blade bridges.

A Highway Paved with Recycled Diapers May Change the Cloth vs. Disposables Debate – (Washington Post – February 18, 2022)

In what might be a world-first, more than 100,000 dirty, disposable diapers — or “nappies,” as they are called in the UK — are being used to help pave a road in west Wales. This is a pilot project with intriguing environmental implications. A proliferation of diaper highways could reduce landfill waste — and influence parents around the globe weighing the vexingly difficult decision between cloth vs. disposables. These particular diapers were rinsed — thoroughly, don’t worry. Then shredded into fibrous gray pellets and mixed with asphalt that a work crew slathered over a 1.5-mile stretch of winding highway. “You’re not sure what to expect when you turn up to a nappy road,” said Ben Lake, a politician who represents this area in Britain’s Parliament. But, taking a deep breath as he strolled alongside the freshly paved, still glistening road, he pronounced: “It smells like — road.” Lake said the nappy road “could be a game-changer for how we approach infrastructure in Wales,” and while people could still be encouraged to shift to cloth diapers, this nonetheless helped to tackle the “here and now” problem of a mountain of disposables thrown away every year. In the United States, about 50 million diapers are being stuffed into Diaper Genies and the like each day, for a total of more than 18 billion a year. The majority of those end up in landfills, where even the ones billed as biodegradable can take years to break down. Jason Hallett, a professor of sustainable chemical technology at Imperial College London, said paving with recycled nappies wouldn’t “make the roads greener,” since both asphalt and plastic diapers are made of hydrocarbons. But a diaper highway “arguably gives more options for end-of-life uses for plastic in nappies, therefore it makes those products less environmentally damaging.” Several countries have experimented with roads made with plastic garbage. India led the way — glue made from shredded plastic waste has been holding together a street in Chennai since 2002, and since 2015 the Indian government has required road construction in populous urban areas to incorporate plastic waste.

I Used Apple AirTags, Tiles and a GPS Tracker to Watch My Husband’s Every Move – (New York Times – February 11, 2022)

In this case, “I” is a journalist who has been covering privacy for more than a decade and the tracking was done with her husband’s knowledge and permission. The article offers a firsthand comparison of the advantages, shortcomings, and potential for abuse of the quarter-sized Apple AirTag, a flat, credit card-shaped Bluetooth tracker made by Tile, and a hockey-puck-like GPS tracker from a company called LandAirSea.

Flooded Remains of Coal Mines Could Heat the Homes of the Future – (CNBC – February 14, 2022)

The number of operational coal mines in Britain has plunged, and last June, authorities announced Britain would stop using coal to generate electricity from October 2024, a year earlier than the original target of 2025. However in Scotland, work is underway to look at how the water that has flooded old, disused mines can be used to provide decarbonized heating to buildings. Conducting this research is the Glasgow Geoenergy Observatory, which is run by the British Geological Survey. A dozen boreholes have been drilled, with the majority in Rutherglen, a town southeast of Glasgow. Both Glasgow and Rutherglen were home to some of the busiest coal mines in Scotland. After their closure, natural floods filled them with water of about 54 degrees Fahrenheit. Mike Stephenson, who was until recently executive chief scientist for decarbonization at the British Geological Survey, said the project was about “doing research on the heat in coal mines and also, to some extent, whether you can store heat in old coal mines.” Stephenson said that the team was “experimenting with … how fast water flows amongst these mines, how warm the water is, how … fast, if you take warm water out, does the water replenish — so how fast does the warmth come back. It is a research site, not a demonstration.”  He said this would provide valuable information to both companies and local authorities interested in the idea.

DeepMind Has Trained an AI to Control Nuclear Fusion – (Wired – February 16, 2022)

The inside of a tokamak—the doughnut-shaped vessel designed to contain a nuclear fusion reaction—presents a special kind of chaos. Hydrogen atoms are smashed together at unfathomably high temperatures, creating a whirling, roiling plasma that’s hotter than the surface of the sun. Finding smart ways to control and confine that plasma will be key to unlocking the potential of nuclear fusion, which has been touted as the clean energy source of the future for decades. At this point, the science underlying fusion seems sound, so what remains is an engineering challenge. “We need to be able to heat this matter up and hold it together for long enough for us to take energy out of it,” says Ambrogio Fasoli, director of the Swiss Plasma Center at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. That’s where DeepMind comes in. The artificial intelligence firm, backed by Google parent company Alphabet, has been working on a joint research project with the Swiss Plasma Center to develop an AI for controlling a nuclear fusion reaction. Scientists use powerful magnetic coils to confine the nuclear fusion reaction, nudging it into the desired position and shaping it like a potter manipulating clay on a wheel. The coils have to be carefully controlled to prevent the plasma from touching the sides of the vessel: this can damage the walls and slow down the fusion reaction. But every time researchers want to change the configuration of the plasma and try out different shapes that may yield more power or a cleaner plasma, it necessitates a huge amount of engineering and design work. Conventional systems are computer-controlled and based on models and careful simulations, but they are, Fasoli says, “complex and not always necessarily optimized.” DeepMind has developed an AI that can control the plasma autonomously. Researchers from the two groups have taught a deep reinforcement learning system to control the 19 magnetic coils inside TCV, the variable-configuration tokamak at the Swiss Plasma Center, which is used to carry out research that will inform the design of bigger fusion reactors in the future.

The Electric Future of Snowmobiling – (Washington Post – February 18, 2022)

“You can connect so much more with the outdoors when you don’t have the noise,” said Sam Bruneau, CEO and co-founder of Taiga, a Montreal-based power sports company. “When you don’t have the smell.” Taiga is the maker of one of the world’s first electric snowmobiles, and has since applied the technology to personal watercraft as well. The company is at the forefront of a burgeoning electric recreation industry, which aims to reduce not only decibels and fumes but also reliance on fossil fuels. From the outside, the Taigas look nearly identical to their gas counterparts. But with the ability to go from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour — or approximately 62 miles per hour — in as little as 2.9 seconds, they have more torque than many combustion-engine sleds. As a Taiga employee floored the electric machine on a straightaway, it quickly caught air over a roll, and when the breaks were slammed at the other end of the field, there was silence. Bruneau hopes this type of power will appeal to performance-oriented buyers and that the quieter, cleaner experience will help attract new people to the sport: “Trying electric for the first time is easier and much more approachable than a gas sled.” Taiga snowmobiles start at about $17,490 and can travel about 60 miles on a charge. The company expects to make its first snowmobile delivery this winter, and the waiting list for its sleds is already more than a year long. “We ordered seven of them,” said Simon Boivin, a spokesperson for Sépaq, a Quebec government corporation that manages a network of national parks and wildlife reserves. See also: Lawn Care Is Going Electric.  

If You Scanned That QR Code from the Super Bowl (or Any QR Code), the FBI Has a Warning for You – (Inc. – February 22, 2022)

The most talked-about ad from the Super Bowl this year was a colorful QR code bouncing around the television screen. If you pointed the camera on your smartphone at it, you were taken to the website for Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange. The ad generated so much traffic that it crashed Coinbase’s app, which is a bad thing when you’re trying to convince people they should trust you with their financial assets. More important, however, is that the QR code seems to finally be making its way to the mainstream. One of the reasons is that they are a way to direct customers to information without having to hand them a piece of paper or take a chance that they might mistype a URL. But not every QR code is what it seems, and they’ve become a tool for bad actors. That’s why the FBI is warning consumers to be aware any time they scan a QR code, and take steps to protect their information. Article explains in detail. See also: Behind the Stalkerware Network Spilling the Private Phone Data of Hundreds of Thousands.

A New Class War Comes to Canada – (New York Times – February 19, 2022)

Michael Young, whose book The Rise of the Meritocracy, published in 1958, both coined the term in its title and predicted, in its fictional vision of the 21st century, meritocracy’s unhappy destination: not the serene rule of the deserving and talented, but a society where a ruling class selected for intelligence but defined by arrogance and insularity faces a roiling populism whose grievances shift but whose anger at the new class order is a constant. This year it’s Canada’s turn to live inside Young’s somewhat dystopian scenario, set in the 2030s but here ahead of schedule. To quote the pseudonymous writer N.S. Lyons, the trucker protests have sharpened a division between “Virtuals” and “Practicals” — meaning the people whose professional lives are lived increasingly in the realm of the “digital and the abstract,” and the people who work in the “mundane physical reality” upon which the virtual society still depends. This division is not always one of money: Plenty of Practicals do very well for themselves while plenty of Virtuals scrape along on, say, graduate-student stipends or middling think-tank salaries. But the class divide between the two categories is clear, and so is the gap between their respective influence over the central nodes of Western power. And their simmering conflict is most likely to flare up when plans devised by meritocrats create problems in the physical dimension — whether it’s a gasoline tax increase devised by French technocrats touching off protests among French drivers, or just an accumulating exhaustion with Covid restrictions among Canadians who work in the real world rather than on Zoom. Moreover, as Lyons points out, in the Canadian clash each side has used the weapons appropriate to its position. The truckers have leveraged the imposing presence of their trucks and the sympathy of other Practicals — from tow-truck drivers to cops — to attack the physical underpinnings of the capital’s economy. Meanwhile the counterstrike, while it’s finally evolved to actual physical removal, has been strikingly virtual: first a PR blitz to encourage friendly media to brand all the truckers as racists and anti-Semites and Trump supporters, then the convenient hacking and “doxxing” of donors to the convoy, and then an invocation of the Emergencies Act which lets the government attack the protesters via the digital realm, freezing bank accounts and even cryptocurrency funds connected to the protests. Since politics exists to organize fears, a major question for people caught between these two camps is which kind of power seems more frightening. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article if you want to understand why the “revolution” is going to be very fluid and impossible to ring fence.)

GoFundMe Investigated for Blocking Donations to Canadian Truckers – (CNBC – February 10, 2022)

GoFundMe announced that it would halt any fundraisers that violated its terms of service, including campaigns that condone violence. GoFundMe on February 4 said it was taking down Canadian truckers’ “Freedom Convoy” campaign protesting vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions after determining that the demonstrations had become what the company termed an “occupation,” citing “police reports of violence and other unlawful activity.” GoFundMe initially said it would give supporters of the now-defunct campaign, which raised nearly $8 million, until February 19 to request refunds. It also said it would direct any remaining donations to “credible and established charities chosen by the Freedom Convoy 2022 organizers and verified by GoFundMe.” The company later reversed course, saying it would automatically refund campaign supporters in order to simplify the process. Donors can expect refunds within 10 business days, according to GoFundMe. Four states are investigating GoFundMe after the fundraising service banned donations to an organization of truckers protesting COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in Canada. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has said that his office will investigate GoFundMe for blocking and withholding donations already made to the platform through its website. Removing the campaign from its site could violate the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act, he said. “GoFundMe’s response to an anti-mandate, pro-liberty movement should ring alarm bells to anyone using the donation platform and, more broadly, any American wanting to protect their constitutional rights,” Attorney General Paxton said in a statement. (Editor’s note: This is not a one-off occurrence. See the next blurb.)

Patreon Suspends Donation Page for Nonprofit Giving Body Armor to Ukrainian Army (CNBC – February 24, 2022)

Patreon, a start-up whose website allows people to give money to individuals and groups, said Thursday that it had suspended the fundraising campaign that a nonprofit organization was using to collect donations to distribute body armor, medical kits, and helmets to Ukrainian soldiers. Come Back Alive is a charitable foundation established in 2014 and based in Kyiv. The organization last received money from its Patreon page in August, its director, Taras Chmut, told CNBC in an interview. Chmut said it was receiving small amounts for several months. Then Russia invaded Ukraine, and over $300,000 rolled in, including many donations of less than $1,000. But shortly thereafter, people who attempted to visit the page simply saw the message “This page has been removed.” A company spokesperson told CNBC in an email, “Patreon does not allow any campaigns involved in violence or purchasing of military equipment, regardless of their cause. We are investigating because of representations on their donation page for how the funds will be used.” (Editor’s note: With the ability of small funders to readily back causes at an international level, the power of the purse, either to bestow or withhold, is becoming very visible. Economic sanctions, imposed by whomever has the power to impose them, appear to be a newly favored means of social control. The questions worth asking are who ultimately is behind the scenes making the decisions – and why.)

Divorcing Couples Fight Over the Kids, the House and Now the Crypto – (New York Times – February 13, 2022)

An ugly divorce tends to generate arguments about virtually everything. But the difficulty of tracking and valuing cryptocurrency, a digital asset traded on a decentralized network, is creating new headaches. In many cases, divorce lawyers said, spouses underreport their holdings, or try to hide funds in online wallets that can be difficult to get into. “Originally, it was under the mattress, and then it was the bank account in the Caymans,” said Jacqueline Newman, a divorce lawyer in New York who works with high-net-worth clients. “Now it’s crypto.” But digital assets are not untraceable. Transactions are recorded on public ledgers called blockchains, enabling savvy analysts to follow the money. Some divorce lawyers have come to rely on a growing industry of forensic investigators, who charge tens of thousands of dollars to track the movement of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether from online exchanges to digital wallets. The investigative firm CipherBlade has worked on about 100 crypto-related divorces over the last few years, said Paul Sibenik, a forensic analyst for the company. In multiple cases, he said, he has traced more than $10 million in cryptocurrency that a husband hid from his wife. In interviews, nearly a dozen lawyers and forensic investigators described divorce cases in which a spouse — usually the husband — was accused of lying about cryptocurrency transactions or hiding digital assets. None of the couples agreed to be interviewed. But some of the divorces have created paper trails that shed light on how these disputes unfold. Article discusses the forensics of discovery.

The Great Resignation Is Also the Great Retirement of the Baby Boomers. – (Washington Post – February 18, 2022)

Goldman Sachs estimated last fall that more than half of those who had left the workforce during the covid era’s Great Resignation were over 55. An analysis released by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found workforce exits are higher among baby boomers than pre-covid trends would indicate, with a report last month finding women — many of whom work in public-facing positions and are between the ages of 65 and 74 — among the groups leading the way. Retailers became increasingly reliant on older workers in the wake of the Great Recession. In the years leading up to the pandemic, many Americans said they wanted to work well past the traditional retirement age. In 2013, a solid 10% told Gallup they would “never” exit the workforce. Sure, some of this was driven by financial necessity — Americans, famously, do not have enough money set aside for their senior years — but it also reflected an obsession with work as a way of finding meaning in life. Their sudden exit, on the other hand, raises a host of gnarly issues. It’s potentially inflationary because employers competing for scarcer labor will have to pay higher wages, so they will raise the prices of their products. This could contribute to a wage-price spiral, where rising prices lead empowered workers to demand raises to keep up, fueling even more inflation. It could also turn into an economic drag. Long before covid, there were fears the baby boomer retirements would stress the finances of Social Security. Many older employees, however, say they would like to stay connected to their jobs in retirement, but worry that they won’t be able to do so. In a recent survey conducted by the Harris Poll for Express Employment Professionals, a staffing agency, a vast majority of respondents expressed interest in semiretirement, where they could either work a flexible schedule or reduced hours or consult — but only one in five of their employers offered up such an option. The boomers are going to retire at some point anyway. But it would be better for all of us in the immediate future if we could entice them to do it on a gradual basis.

The Biggest Galaxy Ever Found Has Just Been Discovered – (Science Alert – February 15, 2022)

Astronomers have just found an absolute monster of a galaxy. Lurking some 3 billion light-years away, Alcyoneus is a giant radio galaxy reaching 5 megaparsecs into space. That’s 16.3 million light-years long, and constitutes the largest known structure of galactic origin. The discovery highlights our poor understanding of these colossi, and what drives their incredible growth. But it could provide a pathway to better understanding, not just of giant radio galaxies, but the intergalactic medium that drifts in the yawning voids of space. Giant radio galaxies are yet another mystery in a Universe full of mysteries. They consist of a host galaxy (that’s the cluster of stars orbiting a galactic nucleus containing a supermassive black hole), as well as colossal jets and lobes that erupt forth from the galactic center. These jets and lobes, interacting with the intergalactic medium, act as a synchrotron to accelerate electrons that produce radio emission. Even the Milky Way has radio lobes. What we don’t really have a good handle on is why, in some galaxies, they grow to absolutely gargantuan sizes, on megaparsec scales. These are called giant radio galaxies, and the most extreme examples could be key to understanding what drives their growth. The team went looking for these outliers in data collected by the LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) in Europe, an interferometric network consisting of around 20,000 radio antennas, distributed throughout 52 locations across Europe.

Astronomers Discover New Type of Star with Puzzling Origins – (New Atlas – February 15, 2022)

German astronomers have discovered a new type of star, and exactly how these weird white dwarfs came to be remains a mystery. The stars are covered in a layer of “ash” that’s usually produced by burning helium, indicating they may have formed through collisions between other stars. When stars in a certain mass range run out of fuel and explode, they leave behind a dense core that can no longer undergo fusion. This remnant, called a white dwarf, slowly cools to the background temperature of the universe over the next few trillion years. White dwarfs usually have atmospheres dominated by hydrogen or helium, but these new ones have surprisingly high amounts of carbon and oxygen in their atmospheres. Rather than the usual trace amounts if anything, the team detected concentrations of both elements that were as high as 20%. Intriguingly, carbon and oxygen are the “ashes” produced when stars burn helium, something that white dwarfs are supposed to have long finished doing. Even more puzzling is that these new stars are hotter and wider than most white dwarfs, indicating that they may still be burning helium in their cores. The researchers have a hypothesis for how the strange new stars were born. Pairs of white dwarfs in close binary systems can sometimes pull each other in closer together until they collide, forming a new object. If the compositions of each original white dwarf were just right, the end result could be the new stars seen here.

Two Orbiting Black Holes Will Soon Collide in a Violent Merger – (Interesting Engineering – February 25, 2022)

Astronomers from Caltech have detected two black holes, 9 billion light-years from Earth, on the verge of a violent merger. The observations, which were made over the course of 13 years by astronomers at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory in Northern California, reveal that a previously-observed radio black hole at the center of its quasar, PKS 2131-021, has a companion black hole, making it a supermassive black hole binary. Quasars are active galactic cores in which supermassive black holes siphon material from an accretion disc. The two supermassive black holes appear to be orbiting each other once every two years, according to Caltech’s report. Each of the colossal space objects has a mass hundreds of millions of times larger than our Sun, and they are separated by a distance roughly 50 times larger than the space between our Sun and Pluto. The two black holes are expected to merge in approximately 10,000 years (a short time on the cosmic scale) leading to a violent collision that is expected to send gravitational waves cascading across the universe. In November, in fact, astronomers from the University of Colorado Boulder released their report on computer simulations of two black holes at the center of two galaxies colliding. They claimed that the impact could cause a “gravitational kick” so powerful that it could distort the shape of a galaxy.

Scientists Reveal 4.4 Million Galaxies in a New Map – (PhysOrg – February 25, 2022)

A team of international scientists have mapped more than a quarter of the northern sky using the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR), a pan-European radio telescope. The map reveals an astonishingly detailed radio image of more than 4.4 million objects and a very dynamic picture of our Universe, which now has been made public for the first time. The vast majority of these objects are billions of light years away and are either galaxies that harbor massive black holes or are rapidly growing new stars. Rarer objects that have been discovered include colliding groups of distant galaxies and flaring stars within the Milky Way. To produce the map, scientists deployed state-of-the-art data processing algorithms on high performance computers all over Europe to process 3,500 hours of observations that occupy 8 petabytes of disk space—the equivalent to roughly 20,000 laptops. This data release presents about a million objects that have never been seen before with any telescope and almost four million objects that are new discoveries at radio wavelengths.

DNA Reveals Biggest-ever Human Family Tree, Dating Back 100,000 Years – (CNN – February 24, 2022)

Research carried out by scientists from the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute combines human genomes from a variety of sources — both ancient and modern DNA — to better understand human history and evolution. As such, it can show which points in the human genome individuals share genes and where they differ, he added. “Simply put, what we did was we created the largest human family tree ever,” lead author Anthony Wilder Wohns, now a postdoctoral researcher at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, said. “We have a single genealogy that traces the ancestry of all of humanity, and shows how we’re all related to each other today.” The resource means anyone who has access to their own genetic information can work out when their ancestors moved to a particular place, and why they have certain genes. “It’s basically understanding the entire story of human history that’s written in our genes,” Wohns said. New techniques in ancient DNA analysis have provided tantalizing details about prehistory and in 2010 explosively revealed that humans interbred with Neanderthals. However, it has proven difficult to combine different databases, integrate ancient and modern genomes, and work out ways of handling such a large amount of data. The Oxford team developed algorithms to enable the combination of genomes into their tool. This allowed them to build the structure of what they described as a “human gene genealogy” which has been talked about theoretically for around 30 years, he said. As things stand, the genes of 3,609 people from 215 populations have been sequenced, with some dating from more than 100,000 years ago. The paper confirms existing conclusions about human history, including that most human evolution took place in Africa before a large movement out of the continent around 70,000 years ago, Wohns said.

A New Material That Can Absorb & Release Massive Amounts of Energy – (Principia Scientific – February 14, 2022)

A team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst has engineered a new rubber-like solid substance that has surprising qualities. It can absorb and release very large quantities of energy. And it is programmable. Taken together, this new material holds great promise for a very wide array of applications, from enabling robots to have more power without using additional energy, to new helmets and protective materials that can dissipate energy much more quickly. The new metamaterial—a substance engineered to have a property not found in naturally occurring materials—combines an elastic, rubber-like substance with tiny magnets embedded in it. This new “elasto-magnetic” material takes advantage of a physical property known as a phase shift to greatly amplify the amount of energy the material can release or absorb. A phase shift occurs when a material moves from one state to another: think of water turning into steam or liquid concrete hardening into a sidewalk. Whenever a material shifts its phase, energy is either released or absorbed. And phase shifts aren’t just limited to changes between liquid, solid and gaseous states—a shift can occur from one solid phase to another. Xudong Liang, the paper’s lead author, currently a professor at Harbin Institute of Technology, Shenzhen (HITSZ) in China who completed this research while a postdoc at UMass Amherst, said, “By embedding tiny magnets into the elastic material, we can control the phase transitions of this metamaterial. And because the phase shift is predictable and repeatable, we can engineer the metamaterial to do exactly what we want it to do: either absorbing the energy from a large impact, or releasing great quantities of energy for explosive movement.” This research, supported by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.S. Army Research Office as well as Harbin Institute of Technology, Shenzhen (HITSZ), has applications in any scenario where either high-force impacts or lightning-quick responses are needed.

Engineered Bacteria Produce Chemicals with Negative Carbon Emissions – (New Scientist – February 21, 2022)

Bacteria engineered to turn carbon dioxide into compounds used in paint remover and hand sanitizer could offer a carbon-negative way of manufacturing industrial chemicals. Michael Köpke at LanzaTech in Illinois and his colleagues searched through strains of an ethanol-producing bacterium, Clostridium autoethanogenum, to identify enzymes that would allow the microbes to instead create acetone, which is used to make paint and nail polish remover. Then they combined the genes for these enzymes into one organism. They repeated the process for isopropanol, which is used as a disinfectant. The engineered bacteria ferment carbon dioxide from the air to produce the chemicals. “You can imagine the process similar to brewing beer,” says Köpke. “But instead of using a yeast strain that eats sugar to make alcohol, we have a microbe that can eat carbon dioxide.” After scaling up the initial experiments by a factor of 60, the team found that the process locks in roughly 1.78 kilograms of carbon per kilogram of acetone produced, and 1.17 kg per kg of isopropanol. These chemicals are normally made using fossil fuels, emitting 2.55 kg and 1.85 kg of carbon dioxide per kg of acetone and isopropanol respectively. “The approach we’ve developed provides the blueprint for future development and will accelerate development of other chemicals that can be produced in a similar carbon-negative way,” says Köpke. Necessary industrial bulk and platform chemicals, acetone and isopropanol are found nearly everywhere, with a combined global market topping $10 billion. Widely used as a disinfectant and antiseptic, isopropanol is the basis for one of the two World Health Organization-recommended sanitizer formulas, which are highly effective in killing the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And acetone is a solvent for many plastics and synthetic fibers, thinning polyester resin, cleaning tools, and nail polish remover.

For Companies, Winning in China Now Means Losing Somewhere Else – (New York Times – February 18, 2022)

Some of the world’s biggest companies are caught in an uncomfortable situation as they attempt to straddle a widening political gulf between the United States and China: What is good for business in one country is increasingly a liability in the other. China is the world’s biggest consumer market, and for decades, Chinese and American business interests have described their economic cooperation as a “win-win relationship.” But gradually, as China’s economic and military might have grown, Washington has taken the view that a win for China is a loss for the United States. (China appears to have come to a similar conclusion.) The decision to locate the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing has turned sponsorship, typically one of the marketing industry’s most prestigious opportunities, into a minefield. In June, the United States will enact a sweeping law that will expand restrictions on Xinjiang, giving the United States power to block imports made with any materials sourced from that region. H&M, Nike and Intel have all blundered into public relations disasters for trying to remove Xinjiang from their supply chains. Harsher penalties could be in store. Companies that try to sever ties with Xinjiang may run afoul of China’s anti-sanctions law, which allows the authorities to crack down on firms that comply with foreign regulations they see as discriminating against China. The pressures are not only coming from the United States. Companies are increasingly facing a complicated global patchwork of export restrictions and data storage laws, including in the European Union. Chinese leaders have begun pursuing “wolf warrior” diplomacy, in which they are trying to teach other countries to think twice before crossing China, said Jim McGregor, chairman of APCO Worldwide’s greater China region. “Some companies are taking a step back and realizing that this is perhaps more trouble than it’s worth,” said Isaac Stone Fish, the chief executive of Strategy Risks, a consultancy. But many companies insist that they can’t be forced to choose between two of the world’s largest markets. Tesla, which counts China as one of its largest markets, opened a showroom in Xinjiang last month. American politicians of both parties are increasingly bent on forcing companies to pick a side. (Editor’s note:  This picture is going to change in ways that we can’t yet fully predict; within five years, India is predicted to overtake China in terms of population and, therefore, ultimately in market size.)
 

Inside the $644 Billion Business of Reselling Returned Items, from Electronics to Bizarre Finds – (CNBC – February 19, 2022)

Inside Liquidity Services’ 130,000-square-foot warehouse in Garland, Texas, the aisles aren’t lined with typical merchandise. Instead, they’re stacked with returns from Amazon, Target, Sony, Home Depot, Wayfair and more, all in the process of being liquidated. “Liquidators are coming in and they’re buying up all of this product in bulk. They’re then packaging it, palletizing it and reselling it, either to be resold on a site like eBay or Poshmark, or even to individual consumers. So it’s turned into a much bigger portion of the industry than we’ve ever seen before,” said Sonia Lapinsky of consulting group AlixPartners. The liquidation market has more than doubled since 2008, reaching a whopping $644 billion in 2020, according to data from Colorado State University. “A lot of this used to be controlled by the mafia,” said Zac Rogers, assistant professor of supply chain management at Colorado State University. “It’s a good way to hide money, honestly, because nobody’s looking at returns. Especially 40 years ago, no one was looking at returns.” But in 2021, a record 16.6% of all merchandise sold was returned, up from 10.6% in 2020, according to the National Retail Federation. For online purchases, the average rate of return was even higher, at 20.8%, up from 18% in 2020. Processing a return can cost retailers up to 66% of an item’s original price, according to returns solution company Optoro. By 2000, a year after it launched, Liquidation.com had its first major sale: a $200,000 marine vessel for the state of Georgia. Liquidity Services also handles unclaimed mail and packages for the U.S. Postal Service, out-of-service military vehicles, and items left behind at TSA checkpoints, like 14 pounds of assorted knives. Many retailers are now selling refurbished items directly as demand for secondhand items grows. Amazon has entire sections of its site devoted to this. There’s Warehouse Deals for used goods, Amazon Renewed for refurbished items, Amazon Outlet for overstock and a tongue-in-cheek daily deal site on the fringes of the Amazon community called Woot that sells a $10 “Bag of Crap.”

Depopulation for Dummies, by Hewitt E. Moore – (The Unz Review – February 4, 2022)

One of the more popular COVID conspiracy theories has been the idea of population control. Whether it be with the mRNA vaccines, the “novel” virus, or a combination of both, there are literally millions of people who believe the pandemic was a “plandemic.” In fact, according to a recent poll, 1 in 5 people think the COVID pandemic is a “depopulation tactic”.  Regardless of how you feel about the pandemic and/or the conspiracy theories that surround it, there is no denying that there are powerful people who believe the earth is overpopulated. That is essentially the underlying agenda of the “climate change” crowd. Obviously, they aren’t going to come out explicitly as depopulationists, any more than diversity advocates are going to openly endorse White genocide. But anyone who believes humans are destroying the planet are going to be de facto depopulationists to some degree. The fear that has driven the pandemic has been the notion that nobody knows who will get serious disease. Some people get sniffles, while others are placed on a ventilator. Just because the reasoning isn’t known to the public (or even the “experts”) doesn’t mean the reason isn’t known. If this virus was created in a lab (most think it was), it could be designed to attack a certain genetic sequence, that appears to infect people randomly, when in fact it doesn’t. The conspiracy theorist would posit that when conventional warfare becomes obsolete (as it has), unconventional warfare becomes conventional. After all, warfare is just a means to an end. Therefore, let’s assume that humans really are putting a huge strain on the planet’s resources and causing climate change that will inevitably become catastrophic. Combine that with the technological revolution that has transformed humans into “useless eaters” (consumers who don’t produce). If the Powers That Be (PTB) believe this to be true, are we to assume that they wouldn’t consider drastic measures? If they think the fate of the planet lies in their hands, are we to believe that these gods would sacrifice millions of lives for “freedom,” but not to save the planet? The author of this article proposes and discusses the following thesis: The PTB intend to address this issue in three phases: 1. Socially-engineered sterilization, 2. Technological escapism, 3. Space Emigration. We are in Phase 1 and on the verge of entering Phase 2. Laying out his first phase, he writes, “Socially-engineered sterilization is a systemic-endorsed collusion amongst establishment entities that actively promote the breakdown of the family unit in order to discourage reproduction. The primary methods used are feminism and homosexuality.”
Photographer Captures Toddlers in Adorable Fur Coats Who Look Like Little Russian Dolls – (Epoch Times – February 6, 2022)
Child and family photographer Elena Algazina, 44, from St. Petersburg, Russia, created a “rustic” series which showcases little kids in fur coats in the picturesque location of the Russian village of Shuvalovka was born when Elena found a brown fur coat from her childhood that was kept in her closet. “My mother kept it as a keepsake,” Elena said. “It laid in the closet for more than 30 years … many Soviet children had such fur coats, felt boots, hats, and scarves in their childhood.”
 
If we are to better the future we must disturb the present.
— Catherine Booth, co-founder of The Salvation Army
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