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Volume 26, Number 12 – 6/16/2023

Volume 26, Number 12 – 06/16/2023


  • There are five major hurdles to making AI safe for humanity.
  • 60% of clothing ends up in a landfill within 12 months of its manufacturing date. 
  • Chinese automakers have embarked on a major expansion in the Russian market and are expected to reach a 60% share of total sales this year.
  • Inspired by photosynthesis, researchers have developed an “artificial leaf” that can convert CO2, water and sunlight into multi-carbon fuels.


Initiation means ‘to become conscious’. But just how does one become conscious?

Long ago there existed a secret ritual from which initiates returned ‘awakened’ or ‘risen from the dead’, and right up to the Greek era the experience was considered a pinnacle of spiritual development, where no physical death was ever involved. With roots in Japan c.8000 BC as ‘the Way of the Gods’, the tradition moved westward to be adopted by Christian gnostics as the ‘living resurrection’.

A dangerous out-of-body experience, it involved techniques to guide more penetrating frequencies into the body, raising its frequency and allowing direct experience of the Otherworld. It was regarded as the most secret of all practices within Mysteries schools, whose practitioners, including Pythagoras and Plato, were called ‘the ‘few’. As one banned gnostic gospel explains, “to live a human existence ordinarily is to live a spiritual death, but the moment a person experiences living resurrection is the moment they discover enlightenment: It is the revealing of what truly exists and a transition into newness,” and anyone exposed to this in life became spiritually awakened.

 … to live a human existence ordinarily is to live a spiritual death, but the moment a person experiences living resurrection is the moment they discover enlightenment …

Discover where initiation was practiced around the world, why no bodies were found in Egyptian pyramids, why priestesses held the highest level of office, and how a sacred narrative was twisted to create the false story of one practitioner, Jesus.

Join us July 15th, 2023, In Person or via Livestream.  Coolfont Resort, 3621 Cold Run Valley Road, Berkeley Springs, WV. 1:00 – 5:00 ET.

If you can’t make it in person, connect with the livestream. You can watch it anytime for six months!

Hope to see you on Saturday July 15th. More details HERE.

Click Here for Tickets and More Info
Freddy Silva is a best-selling author, and leading researcher of ancient civilizations, restricted history, sacred sites and their interaction with consciousness. He is also a leading expert on crop circles.

He has published six books in six languages.

ChatGPT Took Their Jobs. Now They Walk Dogs and Fix Air Conditioners.  – (Washington Post – June 2, 2023)

Economists predict artificial intelligence technology like ChatGPT could replace hundreds of millions of jobs, in a cataclysmic reorganization of the workforce mirroring the industrial revolution. For some workers, this impact is already here. Those that write marketing and social media content are in the first wave of people being replaced with tools like chatbots, which are seemingly able to produce plausible alternatives to their work. Experts say that even advanced AI doesn’t match the writing skills of a human: It lacks personal voice and style, and it often churns out wrong, nonsensical or biased answers. But for many companies, the cost-cutting is worth a drop in quality. In a rush to mainstream the technology, Silicon Valley companies are pushing these products to millions of users and — for now — often offering them free.
For years, consumer-product companies, grocery stores and warehouse logistics firms have used predictive algorithms and robots with AI-fueled vision systems to help make business decisions, automate some rote tasks and manage inventory. But the recent wave of generative artificial intelligence — which uses complex algorithms trained on billions of words and images from the open internet to produce text, images and audio — has the potential for a new stage of disruption. The technology’s ability to churn out human-sounding prose puts highly paid knowledge workers in the crosshairs for replacement, experts said. “In every previous automation threat, the automation was about automating the hard, dirty, repetitive jobs,” said Ethan Mollick, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. “This time, the automation threat is aimed squarely at the highest-earning, most creative jobs that … require the most educational background.” Sarah T. Roberts, an associate professor at University of California in Los Angeles specializing in digital labor, noted that since chatbots work by predicting the most statistically likely word in a sentence, they churn out average content by design. That provides companies with a tough decision, she said: quality vs. cost. One copywriter who discovered she’d been replaced by ChatGPT, is starting a job as a dog walker. “I’m totally taking a break from the office world,” Olivia Lipkin said. “People are looking for the cheapest solution, and that’s not a person — that’s a robot.” (Paywall waived.)

AI Chatbots Lose Money Every Time You Use Them. That’s a Problem. – (Washington Post – June 5, 2023)

The enormous cost of running today’s large language models, which underpin tools like ChatGPT and Bard, is limiting their quality and threatening to throttle the global AI boom they’ve sparked. Their expense, and the limited availability of the computer chips they require, is also constraining which companies can afford to run them and pressuring even the world’s richest companies to turn chatbots into moneymakers sooner than they may be ready to. The tech giants staking their future on AI rarely discuss the technology’s cost. In December, not long after its launch, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman estimated the cost of ChatGPT at “probably single-digits cents per chat.” That might not sound like much, until you multiply it by upward of 10 million users per day, as analysts have estimated. In February, SemiAnalysis calculated that ChatGPT was costing OpenAI some $700,000 per day in computing costs alone, based on the processing needed to run GPT-3.5, the default model at the time. OpenAI (the maker of ChatGPT), Microsoft and Google all declined to comment. But experts say cost is the most glaring obstacle to Big Tech’s vision of generative AI zipping its way across every industry, slicing head counts and boosting efficiency.
The intensive computing AI requires is why OpenAI has held back its powerful new language model, GPT-4, from the free version of ChatGPT, which is still running a weaker GPT-3.5 model. Running a query on the GPT-3.5 Turbo model costs less than one tenth as much as its top-of-the-line GPT-4. ChatGPT’s underlying data set was last updated in September 2021, making it useless for researching or discussing recent events. And even those who pay $20 per month for GPT-4 can send only 25 messages every three hours because it’s so expensive to run. (It’s also much slower to respond.) Critics note that generative AI also comes with costs to society. Based on estimates of ChatGPT’s usage and computing needs, data scientist Kasper Groes Albin Ludvigsen estimated that it may have used as much electricity in January as 175,000 people — the equivalent of a midsize city. (Paywall waived.)

Why Making AI Safe Isn’t As Easy As You Might Think – (BBC News – June 12, 2023)

Artificial-intelligence experts generally follow one of two schools of thought – it will either improve our lives enormously or destroy us all. But how could AI be made safe? Here are five of the challenges ahead. First of all: defining what artificial intelligence is. The European Parliament has taken two years to come up with a definition of an AI system – software that can “for a given set of human-defined objectives, generate outputs such as content, predictions, recommendations or decisions influencing the environments they interact with”.
The next challenge is reaching any sort of global agreement on how it should be legally addressed. Former UK Office for Artificial Intelligence head Sana Kharaghani points out the technology has no respect for borders. “This is not a domestic matter. These technologies don’t sit within the boundaries of one country.” But there is currently no plan for a global, United-Nations-style AI regulator – although, some have suggested it – and different territories have different ideas. And that’s just the beginning of a very tangled AI regulatory situation. See also this YouTube podcast, Ex-Google Officer, Mo Gawdat, Finally Speaks Out on the Dangers of AI. (Editor’s note: We recommend both of these articles.)

Vaccine Fallout: David Martin Says Best Case Scenario for Covid Jabs is “about 600 Million People Incapacitated” – (Natural News – June 6, 2023)

Starting with the number three billion, which is a rough estimate for how many people around the world took a COVID injection or injections, Martin looked at which jab lots and batches were most harmful and which were least harmful. From that, he calculated that around 600 million people in a best-case scenario will soon be incapacitated – if they are not already incapacitated. here’s been a lot of conversation about the fact that there are certain batches that had high degrees of problematic adverse events, and then certain batches that seemed to have no effect at all,” Martin explained.
“If you look at the number of problematic batches – about 7 – 15%, somewhere in that range – that had extremely severe adverse events … we’re talking about in the best case … we’re talking about death or permanent disability to 300 million people – that is the best case. That is the entire population of the United States distributed across the world – that is the number we’re talking about and that is the best case.” Such incapacitation includes long-term health problems such as stroke, paralysis, neurodegenerative problems, Alzheimer’s disease, and other things resulting in disability. Another 300 million people at least will be taken out of the workforce and out of normal everyday life by the sheer fact that they will have to look after the other 300 million people. This incapacitated group may include family members, friends, and caretakers of the sick and disabled who got jabbed.

All Vaccines Are Safe and Effective… Or Are They? – (Global Research – June 4, 2023)

If there is one overarching message that has come from the scientist and physician whistleblowers who have informed and warned us about the Covid-19 vaccines over the last three years — from people who were formerly esteemed within the medical establishment and who believe in vaccines and used them in their medical practices — it is that the Covid-19 vaccines have been shown to be neither safe nor effective. But is this really the first time this story has been told? Many of us may think that it is. Many of us may think that the tragedy unfolding as a result of the authorization of the Covid-19 vaccines is an aberration in an otherwise clean and successful history of the use of vaccines to promote and protect public health.
But is this true? As it turns out, a great deal of evidence suggests otherwise. What if the massive atrocity committed through the global use of Covid-19 vaccines were just one more chapter in a long history of the misrepresentation of the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and the cover-up of the deaths and injuries that have followed in their wake? But now that we have seen what can happen when a set of false beliefs guides decision-making for global public health, we need to look more deeply to discover the whole truth about all vaccines. The following information is meant to offer a broader understanding of the way the collective hubris which has taken root within the medical and scientific community has blinded us from seeing the truth hidden beneath deceptive scholarship, elevated through tenacious marketing to the position of the gold standard in medicine. The remained of this article represents more than 30 years of research on this topic, including an in-depth examination of the toxicological data and a look at how many vaccines have undergone clinical trials evaluating active vaccine against a placebo, in which the placebo was a saline solution instead of another vaccine.

The Oldest Known Burial Site in The World Was Not Made by Our Species – (Science Alert – June 6, 2023)

Paleontologists in South Africa say they have found the oldest known burial site in the world, containing remains of a small-brained distant relative of humans previously thought incapable of complex behavior. Led by palaeoanthropologist Lee Berger, researchers said they discovered several specimens of Homo naledi – a tree-climbing, Stone Age hominid – buried about 30 meters (100 feet) underground in a cave system within the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO world heritage site near Johannesburg.? The findings challenge the current understanding of human evolution, as it is normally held that the development of bigger brains allowed for the performing of complex, “meaning-making” activities such as burying the dead.? The oldest burials previously unearthed, found in the Middle East and Africa, contained the remains of Homo sapiens – and were around 100,000 years old.? Those found in South Africa by Berger, whose previous announcements have been controversial, and his fellow researchers, date back to at least 200,000 BC.
?Critically, they belong to Homo naledi, a primitive species at the crossroads between apes and modern humans, which had brains about the size of oranges and stood about five feet tall. With curved fingers and toes, tool-wielding hands and feet made for walking, the species discovered by Berger had already upended the notion that our evolutionary path was a straight line. The oval-shaped interments at the centre of the new studies were found there during excavations started in 2018.? The holes, which researchers say evidence suggests were deliberately dug and then filled in to cover the bodies, contain at least five individuals. “These discoveries show that mortuary practices were not limited to H. sapiens or other hominins with large brain sizes,” the researchers said. The burial site is not the only sign that Homo naledi was capable of complex emotional and cognitive behavior, they added. Engravings forming geometrical shapes, including a “rough hashtag figure”, were also found on the apparently purposely smoothed surfaces of a cave pillar nearby.? “That would mean not only are humans not unique in the development of symbolic practices, but may not have even invented such behaviors,” said Berger. Such statements are likely to ruffle some feathers in the world of paleontology, where the 57-year-old has previously faced accusations of lacking scientific rigor and rushing to conclusions. Carol Ward, an anthropologist at the University of Missouri not involved in the research, said that “these findings, if confirmed, would be of considerable potential importance”. “I look forward to learning how the disposition of remains precludes other possible explanations than intentional burial, and to seeing the results once they have been vetted by peer review,” she said.

Scientists Extract a Kilometer of Rock from Earth’s Mantle in Record-breaking Mission – (Live Science – June 8, 2023)

For the first time, scientists have drilled into an underwater mountain to collect a record-breaking core of rock that’s more than 3,280 feet (1 kilometer) long. This was achieved by drilling into Atlantis Massif, an underwater mountain located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge deep beneath the North Atlantic Ocean. By aligning a drill at this location, geologists punched a hole as deep as 4,156 feet into the mountain and extracted a “staggering” amount of serpentinite rocks — metamorphic rocks that form at deep tectonic-plate boundaries — from Earth’s interior.The researchers took advantage of a “tectonic window” — a region where mantle rocks have been pushed above their usual resting place — to sink the drill and extract the material. Without success, geologists have been trying to extract significant tranches of Earth’s mantle since 1961. This has meant that to study chunks of Earth’s mantle for clues into diverse processes such as volcanism and the planet’s magnetic field, scientists have had to rely on rock chunks spat out from volcanic eruptions, all of which have been altered by their journey to the surface. 
The geologists, members of the International Ocean Discovery Program aboard the JOIDES Resolution scientific drilling vessel, embarked on their mission to Atlantis Massif not because they wanted to extract mantle cores, but because they were searching for the origins of life on Earth. Massif’s rocks contain olivine, which reacts with water in a process called serpentinization to produce hydrogen, an essential food source for microbial life. Some signs of the rock being altered by interactions with seawater could mean it is from the lower crust and not the upper mantle, but the scientists are still drilling for even deeper samples to put their discovery beyond doubt. Inside these rocks lies a treasure trove of information that geologists will pore over to learn more information about Earth’s inner workings.

‘I Spot Brand New TVs, Here to be Shredded’: The Truth about Our Electronic Waste – (Guardian – June 3, 2023)

Located in Fresno, California, Electronics Recyclers International (ERI) is the largest electronics recycling company in the US. Today, ERI has eight facilities across the US and processes 57,000 tonnes of scrap electronics a year. Waste electrical and electronic equipment (better known by its unfortunate acronym, Weee) is the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. Electronic waste amounted to 53.6m tonnes in 2019, a figure growing at about 2% a year. Consider: in 2021, tech companies sold an estimated 1.43bn smartphones, 341m computers, 210m TVs and 548m pairs of headphones. And that’s ignoring the millions of consoles and other battery-powered devices we buy every year. Globally, only 17.4% of electronic waste is recycled. Between 7% and 20% is exported, 8% thrown into landfills and incinerators in the global north, and the rest is unaccounted for. Yet Weee is, by weight, among the most precious waste there is. One piece of electronic equipment can contain 60 elements, from copper and aluminum to rarer metals such as cobalt and tantalum, used in everything from motherboards to gyroscopic sensors. A typical iPhone, for example, contains 0.018g of gold, 0.34g of silver, 0.015g of palladium and a tiny fraction of platinum. Multiply by the sheer quantity of devices and the impact is vast: a single recycler in China, GEM, produces more cobalt than the country’s mines each year. The materials in our e-waste – including up to 7% of the world’s gold reserves – are worth £50.9bn a year.
The centerpiece of the facility is the shredder, a hulking beast that stretches the length of the building, three stories high, making a prodigious racket. (Hence the earplugs.) “We used to have 15 pickers on this line. Now we have two or three,” Blum says. The company spent a lot of money training the robot, which picks far faster than any human could and is now 97% accurate. Near the end of the line, more metals roll into their super sacks. ERI’s biggest material streams, by weight, are steel, plastic, aluminum and brass. The circuit boards are sent to LS Nikko, a metals manufacturing giant based in South Korea; the aluminum goes to the US smelting giant Alcoa. “The steel might go to your large steel buyers in the US – they might send it to mills in Turkey, but otherwise, everything stays domestic.” As we pass back through the factory, something catches my eye: a pallet of TV screens from a major manufacturer, still neatly boxed and plastic-wrapped. They are brand new, but here to be shredded: “They don’t want this product resold and competing against their new products, so they want it all destroyed.” (Editor’s note: We highly recommend this article – there’s much more there than this blurb can convey and it’s an eye-opener.)

The Recycling Idea at Levi’s, Adidas, Zara to Stop Trillions in Fast Fashion from Going to Waste – (CNBC – June 11, 2023)

Roughly 97% of clothing eventually ends up in a landfill, according to McKinsey, and it doesn’t take very long for the lifecycle of the latest apparel to reach its end: 60% of clothing ends up in a landfill within 12 months of its manufacturing date. In the last two decades, that concerning trend in clothing production has accelerated enormously with the rise of fast fashion, multinational production, and the introduction of cheaper plastic fibers. So far, refashioning old clothing into new clothing has barely made a dent in the industry. Currently, less than 1% of textiles produced for clothing are recycled into new clothing. One big problem is the blending of textiles now common to the manufacturing process. With the majority of textiles in the fashion industry blended, it is harder to recycle one fiber without harming another. A typical sweater can contain multiple different types of fibers including a blend of cotton, cashmere, acrylic, nylon and spandex. None of the fibers can be recycled in the same pipeline, as has been economically done in the metals industry. 
The complexity of the fashion recycling problem is behind new business models that have emerged at companies including Evrnu, Renewcell, Spinnova, and SuperCircle, and some big new commercial operations. Textile waste, by some measures, is a bigger issue than plastics waste, and it has a similar problem. “It is a really low-cost product where the output doesn’t have significantly high value and the cost to identify, sort, aggregate, and collect items is much higher than what you can get from the actual recycled output,” according to Chloe Songer, CEO of SuperCircle. But slowly, trends are changing. Levi Strauss is making progress in its attempt to fashion a circular economy with its iconic 501 blue jeans now made from 40% fiber from Renewcell, and 60% organic cotton. Adidas says it is on track to using only recycled polyester by the end of 2023 — currently at 96% — which is a year ahead of its original goal. Evrnu — which ranked No. 37 on the 2023 CNBC Disruptor 50 list developed a textile recycling platform, NuCycl, that can transform discarded clothing into new fiber, which it says equal or outperform 90% of fibers, including cotton, nylon, and polyester, on cost and quality using existing textile supply chain equipment.

Threatening Botnets Can Be Created with Little Code Experience, Akamai Finds – (Tech Republic – May 31, 2023)

Researchers at Akamai’s Security Intelligence unit find a botnet specimen that reveals how successful DDoS, spam and other cyberattacks can be done with little finesse, knowledge or savvy. Botnets, especially botnets-for-hire, are lowering the bar to technology access for those seeking to launch distributed denial of service — or DDoS — attacks, run crypto mining operations, create spamming exploits and spin up other nefarious applications. Botnets are also getting easier to build and deploy because, like legitimate software development, malicious botnets can be created using existing codebases.
One example of how little technical sophistication is required is the botnet dubbed Dark Frost. In spite of its use of cobbled-together code from older botnets, Dark Frost has roped in over 400 compromised devices for exploits. According to the research, the Dark Frost actor is selling the tool as DDoS-for-hire exploit and as a spamming tool. The Dark Frost actor’s gaming-industry exploits include targeting game server hosting providers, online streamers, modders (people who modify commercial games to make them more compelling and relevant) and other members of the community. “This is not the first exploit by this actor,” said Allen West, a security researcher on Akamai’s Security Intelligence Response team, who noted that the attacker favors Discord to openly tout their wares and brag. “He was taking orders there, and even posting screenshots of their bank account, which may or may not be legitimate. If we look at all the malware that comes in, this one stuck out because he literally signed it, ” said West. “On public repositories it’s easy to find malware that has worked effectively in the past and string together something with very minimal effort. Dark Frost is the perfect example; and how brazenly they talk about it just adds to the picture of someone who doesn’t really get what they are doing or the implications of their actions.”

Artist Transforms Drab City Streets Painting 130 Houses–Increasing Everyone’s Home Values Too – (Good News Network – June 10, 2023)

Tash Frootko has been painting houses in Gloucester since 2018, providing free makeovers for entire streets and several squares within the city in southwest England. Locals say it has not only created a better atmosphere for positive living but has even pushed home values up by 30%—which is also great for Tash, who works as a property developer. Now she has unveiled her fifth and largest project to date: 63 houses on Hopewell Street painted in bold and vivid colors. Tash’s project began five years ago when she painted the houses on a small street to “reinvigorate” the local area with creativity. Since then, 134 houses have been wrapped in her eye-popping color palette with over 1,300 liters of paint. The 44-year-old long-time Gloucester resident says her efforts demonstrate what an individual with a vision can achieve. Article includes photos and a short video clip. See also: Berlin Artists Transform Swastika Graffiti into Friendly Works of Street Art.

Driving on Sunshine: Clean, Usable Liquid Fuels Made from Solar Power – (University of Cambridge – May 11, 2023)

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have harnessed the power of photosynthesis to convert CO2, water and sunlight into multicarbon fuels – ethanol and propanol – in a single step. These fuels have a high energy density and can be easily stored or transported. Unlike fossil fuels, these solar fuels produce net-zero carbon emissions and are completely renewable, and unlike most bioethanol, they do not divert any agricultural land away from food production. While the technology is still at laboratory scale, the researchers say their ‘artificial leaves’ are an important step in the transition away from a fossil fuel-based economy. (According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, almost 45% of all corn grown in the US is used for ethanol production.)
Professor Erwin Reisner, who led the research, and his group have been developing sustainable, zero-carbon fuels inspired by photosynthesis – the process by which plants convert sunlight into food – using artificial leaves. Now, the artificial leaf can directly produce clean ethanol and propanol without the need for the intermediary step of producing syngas. The researchers developed a copper and palladium-based catalyst. The catalyst was optimized in a way that allowed the artificial leaf to produce more complex chemicals, specifically the multi-carbon alcohols ethanol and n-propanol. Both alcohols are high energy density fuels that can be easily transported and stored. Other scientists have been able to produce similar chemicals using electrical power, but this is the first time that such complex chemicals have been produced with an artificial leaf using only the energy from the Sun. At present, the device is a proof of concept and shows only modest efficiency. Further work be required to make the process scalable so that it can produce large volumes of fuel.

World’s First Maritime Electric-tanker to Offer Clean Energy Transport – (Interesting Engineering – May 30, 2023)

Japanese-based clean energy startup PowerX is offering a maritime solution to transport clean energy from places abundant in renewable resources to places deficient in green energy sources. To enable such transport, a detailed design of the first-ever ‘Battery Tanker,’ christened ship X was released by the firm, aiming for completion by 2025. The firm believes that such Battery Tankers can store and transport excess electricity produced from renewable sources. “Decommissioned or idle thermal power plants located near ports can be retrofitted into charge/discharge points for the Battery Tankers, where the power is transmitted to users via grid connections on the land, enabling further effective use of renewable energy,” said a statement from PowerX.
As the video notes, all of the technology, such as highly efficient battery storage, to make this viable over long distances doesn’t exist yet, but this is one piece of what is necessary to achieve decarbonization. Article includes embedded 5 minute video. (Editor’s note: We think of renewable energy sources, such as sunlight and wind as being “everywhere”, but it may not be cost efficient or environmentally sound to build collectors “everywhere”. The concept of battery tankers is similar to oil tankers: transport potential energy across oceans to port stations from which it can be fed a nation’s energy system, in this case, into the electric grid rather than refineries.)

An Electric Cruise Ship with Gigantic Solar Sails Is Set to Launch in 2030 – (CNN – June 8, 2023)

Adventure cruise company Hurtigruten Norway today revealed plans for a zero-emissions electric cruise ship with retractable sails covered in solar panels, which is due to set sail in 2030. The company currently has a fleet of eight ships, each with a capacity of 500 passengers, that travel along the Norwegian coast from Oslo to the Arctic Circle. Although a relatively small firm, CEO Hedda Felin hopes that this innovation “can inspire the entire maritime industry.” The project, named “Sea Zero,” was initially announced in March 2022 and since then, Hurtigruten Norway, along with 12 maritime partners and Norway-based research institute SINTEF, has been exploring technological solutions that could help to achieve emission-free marine travel.
The resulting design will run predominantly off 60 megawatt batteries that can be charged in port with clean energy, as renewables account for 98% of Norway’s electricity system.
Gerry Larsson-Fedde, SVP of marine operations for Hurtigruten Norway estimates that the batteries will have a range of 300 to 350 nautical miles, meaning that during an 11-day round trip, one liner would have to charge around seven or eight times. To reduce reliance on the battery, when it’s windy, three retractable sails – or wings – will rise out of the deck, reaching a maximum height of 50 meters. They can adjust independently, shrinking to pass under bridges or changing their angle to catch the most wind, explains Larsson-Fedde. He adds that the sails will be covered in a total of 1,500 square meters of solar panels that will generate energy to top up the batteries while sailing. Its streamlined shape will result in less air resistance, helping to further reduce energy use. The ship will be fitted with 270 cabins to hold 500 guests and 99 crew.

The Secret Push to Bury a Weedkiller’s Link to Parkinson’s Disease – (Guardian – June 2, 2023)

The global chemical giant Syngenta has sought to secretly influence scientific research regarding links between its top-selling weedkiller and Parkinson’s, internal corporate documents show. While numerous independent researchers have determined that the weedkiller, paraquat, can cause neurological changes that are hallmarks of Parkinson’s, Syngenta has always maintained that the evidence linking paraquat to Parkinson’s disease is “fragmentary” and “inconclusive”. But the scientific record they point to as proof of paraquat’s safety is the same one that Syngenta officials, scientists and lawyers in the US and the UK have worked for decades to create and at times, covertly manipulate, according to the trove of internal Syngenta files reviewed by the Guardian and the New Lede. The files reveal an array of tactics, including enlisting a prominent UK scientist and other outside researchers who authored scientific literature that did not disclose any involvement with Syngenta; misleading regulators about the existence of unfavorable research conducted by its own scientists; and engaging lawyers to review and suggest edits for scientific reports in ways that downplayed worrisome findings. A key goal was to “create an international scientific consensus against the hypothesis that paraquat is a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease,” the documents state.
Paraquat has been shown in some research to increase the risk of Parkinson’s by 150% and is cited in a 2020 book, Ending Parkinson’s Disease, by four of the world’s leading neurologists as a causal factor for the disease. The documents revealing Syngenta’s efforts to influence science build on other evidence of questionable corporate practices with regard to paraquat. A set of internal documents revealed last year by the Guardian and the New Lede made clear, among other things, that Syngenta had evidence 50 years ago that paraquat could accumulate in the human brain. Those documents showed that Syngenta was aware decades ago of evidence that exposure to paraquat could impair the central nervous system, triggering tremors and other symptoms in experimental animals similar to those suffered by people with Parkinson’s. (Editor’s note: Paraquat is used most on the following types of crops and trees: wheat, corn, soy, almonds, peanuts, garlic, cotton, and artichokes. Paraquat weed killer does not contain Roundup and Roundup does not contain paraquat, but both herbicides are similar in their popularity among agricultural operations. Paraquat’s active ingredient is methyl viologen. Roundup’s active ingredient is glyphosate. Exposure to glyphosate has been linked to cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.)

These May Be the World’s Best Warships. And They’re Not American – (CNN – June 3, 2023)

Not only is China’s navy already the world’s largest, its numerical lead over the US is getting wider, with the head of the US Navy warning recently that American shipyards simply can’t keep up. Some experts estimate China can build three warships in the time it takes the US to build one. But experts say a potential solution to the Chinese fleet’s numerical advantage is within reach, if the US is prepared to think outside the box. Washington, they say, has something Beijing doesn’t: Allies in South Korea and Japan who are building some of the highest spec – and affordable – naval hardware on the oceans. Buying ships from these countries, or even building US-designed vessels in their shipyards, could be a cost-effective way of closing the gap with China, they say. Buying ships from these countries, or even building US-designed vessels in their shipyards, could be a cost-effective way of closing the gap with China.
The problem is, US law currently prevents its Navy from buying foreign-built ships – even from allies – or from building its own ships in foreign countries due to both security concerns and a desire to protect America’s shipbuilding industry. Blake Herzinger, a research fellow at the United States Studies Center in Australia, and Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center in Hawaii are among a growing body of experts who say it may be time to rethink that law to give the US an edge in the battle for the seas.

Join the Military, Become a US Citizen: Uncle Sam Wants You and Vous and Tu – (AP – June 11, 2023

Struggling to overcome recruiting shortfalls, the Army and the Air Force have bolstered their marketing to entice legal residents to enlist, putting out pamphlets, working social media and broadening their outreach, particularly in inner cities. One key element is the use of recruiters with similar backgrounds to these potential recruits. The military has had success in recruiting legal immigrants, particularly among those seeking a job, education benefits and training as well as a quick route to becoming an American citizen. But they also require additional security screening and more help filling out forms, particularly those who are less proficient in English.
Both the Army and the Air Force say they will not meet their recruiting goals this year, and the Navy also expects to fall short. Pulling more from the legal immigrant population may not provide large numbers, but any small boosts will help. The Marine Corps is the only service on pace to meet its goal. The shortfalls have led to a wide range of new recruiting programs, ad campaigns and other incentives to help the services compete with often higher-paying, less risky jobs in the private sector. In addition, they say that little more than 20% meet the physical, mental and character requirements to join.

12 Million Americans Believe Violence Is Justified to Restore Trump to Power – (Guardian – June 9, 2023)

Two and a half years after the January 6 attack on the Capitol, an estimated 12 million American adults, or 4.4% of the adult population, believe violence is justified to restore Donald Trump to the White House. Chicago University’s Chicago Project on Security & Threats (CPOST) research center has been conducting Dangers to Democracy surveys of American adults on political violence and attitudes towards democracy since shortly after the January 6 attacks. In new data from April, researchers found a continued support for violence to achieve various political goals on both sides of the aisle, and a general distrust for democracy.
The survey found that almost 14% – a minority of Americans, but still a significant number – believe the use of force is justified to “achieve political goals that I support”. More specifically, 12.4% believe it’s justified to restore the federal right to abortion, 8.4% believe it’s justified to ensure members of Congress and other government officials do the right thing, 6.3% think it’s justified to preserve the rights of white Americans, and 6.1% believe it’s justified to prevent the prosecution of Trump. The most recent survey from April 2023 found that an estimated 142 million Americans believe that elections won’t solve America’s most fundamental problems – up from 111 million last September. And one in five American adults still believe that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, representing very little change from 2021. “We’re heading into an extremely tumultuous election season,” said Robert Pape, a professor at the University of Chicago who directs CPOST. “What’s happening in the United States is political violence is going from the fringe to the mainstream.”

Chinese ‘Palm Pay’ Technology Rollout Brings CCP Closer to Total Social Control of Citizens – (Fox News – June 7, 2023)

On May 21, Tencent’s WeChat Pay rolled out a new “Palm Pay” service allowing users to make transactions by scanning the palm of their hand. Recognition of a unique palm print triggers an automatic payment through the user’s WeChat account. Currently, users who enroll in the palm-recognition service can pay for metro rides at station turnstiles in Beijing, but Tencent is planning to roll out the service in other settings including offices, campuses, retail outlets and restaurants across mainland China, according to South China Morning Post
Chinese expert Gordan Chang warned about China conglomerate Tencent rolling out its biometric palm payment technology will bring the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) one step closer to “total social control” of its citizens.”This palm technology, biometric recognition, this just gives Beijing even more information about people in China,” Chang said. “The state is becoming more effective because it will actually force companies like Tencent to offer these biometric recognition systems and these companies will then try to get people to use them. This is a regime initiative, it’s from the top down,” he added. (Editor’s note: When the Chinese government already has almost everyone’s facial and iris scans and requires people to have the right color code on their cell phones to travel, we don’t really see how Palm Pay increases ‘total social control’.)

Russia’s New Auto Sales Up 2.7 Times – (Russia Briefing – May 8, 2023)

The re-positioning of auto manufacturers in the Russian market appears to have been largely completed as sales of new vehicles jumped nearly three times higher than the same period last year. The exit from the Russian auto market by Western brands has taken time to accomplish given the large investments, retooling and retraining of assembly and manufacturing plants to new models, however the result has been spectacular for Chinese brands.
Russian auto analytics agency Avtostat revealed that new passenger car sales jumped 2.7 times in April compared to the same period in 2022, while more than 75,000 new vehicles were sold this April, 8% more than in March. Avtostat said that 44% of the cars sold were Chinese brands, while another 35% were Russian made. The combined share of South Korean, Japanese, European, and American automobiles fell to just over 20%. Chinese automakers have embarked on a major expansion in the Russian market and are expected to reach a 60% share of total sales this year, according to car dealer chain Autodom. China also exported over 160,000 cars to Russia last year, more than doubling its share of the country’s auto market. Iranian auto makers are also expected to launch sales in Russia this year in a market that was valued at US$10 billion in sales in 2021 and is now rebounding. See also: Sanctions Against Russia Failed. I Saw It Firsthand.

Americans Push Back against ‘Tip Creep’ — ‘It’s Time to Take a Stand,’ Expert Says – (CNBC – June 8, 2023)

From self-service fast-food restaurant kiosks to smartphone delivery apps, there are more opportunities to tip for a wider range of services than ever before. But cash-strapped consumers are starting to tip less — and resent tipping prompts even more. Many feel the pressure to tip has increased over the last year, NerdWallet’s consumer budgeting report also found. However, two-thirds of Americans have a negative view about tipping, according to Bankrate, particularly when it comes to contactless and digital payment prompts with pre-determined options that can range between 15% and 35% for each transaction.
Tipping 20% at a sit-down restaurant is still the standard, etiquette experts say. But there’s less consensus about gratuity for a carryout coffee or other transactions that didn’t involve a tip at all in the past. While tipping at full-service restaurants has held steady, tips at quick-service restaurants by guests fell to a five-year low of 16.7% in the first quarter of 2023, according to Toast’s most recent restaurant trends report. “Part of it is tip fatigue,” said Eric Plam, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based startup Uptip, which aims to facilitate cashless tipping. Yet, since transactions are increasingly cashless, having a method to tip workers in the service industry earning minimum or less than minimum wage is critical, Plam added. In fact, the average wage for fast-food and counter workers is $14.34 an hour for full-time staff and $12.14 for part-time employees, including tips, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “People should know that the livelihood of that person is largely based on how much tipping happens,” Plam said. In other cases where workers don’t rely on gratuity for income, “we, as consumers, should use our own judgment.”  “It’s time to take a stand,” he said.

Fixit Culture Is on the Rise, But Repair Legislation Faces Resistance – (NPR – May 27, 2023)

Americans are responsible for throwing out more stuff than any other nation in the world. According to the Public Interest Research Group, people in the US generate more than 12% of the planet’s trash, though it represents only 4% of the global population. Throwing things away comes with an environmental cost. Some materials, like plastic, never decompose. But the throwaway culture is a relatively new phenomenon. It started about a hundred years ago with the rise of mass manufacturing. Nevertheless, the appetite for fixing things is on the rise. Online how-to videos are getting hundreds of thousands of hits. And people are flocking to community repair workshops in cities across the country. Those started to take off around 2009, with organizations like Fixit Clinic and Repair Cafe now offering well over a hundred repair events in the U.S. each year.
But where devices such as phones, microwave ovens and cars are concerned, it will take more than getting people to watch DIY videos and attend fixit clinics to save the planet. That “more” is legislation that empowers people to fix things themselves or do so through a repair provider of their choice. “Right to Repair” legislation is focused on getting manufacturers to provide consumers and independent repair companies access to their parts, tools and service information. Dozens of Right to Repair bills are working their way through the legislative process, and have passed in a few states. In New York, starting later this year, for instance, electronic devices will have to be repairable by law. But these bills face stiff opposition. The New York bill, for example, was originally meant to encompass everything from home appliances to farm equipment. By the time the state’s governor signed it into law late last year, its scope had been reduced to just small consumer electronics. “Our concerns are that the bills are going to mandate that manufacturers provide unvetted third parties with sensitive diagnostic information tools and parts without requiring any of the critical consumer protections that are afforded by authorized repair networks like training and competency certification,” said David Edmonson, vice president of state policy and government relations for TechNet, a tech sector trade association that represents companies like Apple, Google and Toyota. (Editor’s note: “Unvetted third parties” doesn’t sound like a worse outcome for the consumer and the planet than simply having to throw stuff away.)

Software Offers New Way to Listen for Signals from the Stars – (PhysOrg – May 30, 2023)

The Breakthrough Listen Investigation for Periodic Spectral Signals (BLIPSS), led by Akshay Suresh, Cornell doctoral candidate in astronomy, is pioneering a search for periodic signals emanating from the core of our galaxy, the Milky Way. The research aims to detect repetitive patterns, a way to search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) within our cosmic neighborhood. The researchers developed software based on a Fast Folding Algorithm (FFA), an efficient search method offering enhanced sensitivity to periodic sequences of narrow pulses.. Pulsars—rapidly rotating neutron stars that sweep beams of radio energy across the Earth—are natural astrophysical objects that generate periodic signals but humans also use directed periodic transmissions for a variety of applications, including radar. Such signals would be a good way to get someone’s attention across interstellar space, standing out from the background of non-periodic signals, as well as using much less energy than a transmitter that is broadcasting continuously. “BLIPSS is an example of cutting-edge software as a science multiplier for SETI,” said Suresh. “Our study introduces to SETI, for the first time, the Fast Folding Algorithm; our open-source software utilizes an FFA to crunch over 1.5 million time series for periodic signals in roughly 30 minutes.”
BLIPSS is a collaborative effort between Cornell, the SETI Institute, and Breakthrough Listen. The project significantly enhances the probability of capturing evidence of extraterrestrial technology by focusing on the central region of the Milky Way, known for its dense concentration of stars and potentially habitable exoplanets. In contrast to pulsars, which emit across a wide swath of radio frequencies, BLIPSS looked for repeating signals in a narrower range of frequencies, covering less than one-tenth of the width of an average FM radio station. “The combination of these relatively narrow bandwidths with periodic patterns could be indicative of deliberate technological activities of intelligent civilizations,” said co-author Steve Croft, Breakthrough Listen project scientist. “Breakthrough Listen captures huge volumes of data, and Akshay’s technique provides a new method to help us search that haystack for needles that could provide tantalizing evidence of advanced extraterrestrial life forms.”

Brightest Gamma-ray Burst Ever Seen, the Largest Known Explosion Since Big Bang, Has a Jet Structure Unlike Any Other – ( – June 7, 2023)

Scientists may finally know what made the largest explosion in the universe ever seen by humankind so powerful. Astronomers have discovered that the brightest gamma-ray burst (GRB) ever seen had a unique jet structure and was dragging an unusually large amount of stellar material along with it. This might explain the extreme properties of the burst, believed to have been launched when a massive star located around 2.4 billion light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Sagitta underwent total gravitational collapse to birth a black hole, as well as why its afterglow persisted for so long. The GRB officially designated GRB 221009A but nicknamed the BOAT, or the brightest of all time, was spotted on October 9, 2022, and stood out from other GRBs due to its extreme nature. It was seen as an immensely bright flash of high-energy gamma-rays, followed by a low-fading afterglow across many wavelengths of light.
Even before the BOAT was spotted, GRBs were already considered the most powerful, violent, and energetic explosions in the universe, capable of blasting out as much energy in a matter of seconds as the sun will produce over its entire roughly ten billion-year lifetime. “Our work clearly shows that the GRB had a unique structure, with observations gradually revealing a narrow jet embedded within a wider gas outflow where an isolated jet would normally be expected,”  co-author and Department of Physics at the University of Bath scientist  Hendrik Van Eerten said. “For a long time, we have thought about jets as being shaped like ice cream cones,” study co-author and George Washington University associate professor of physics Alexander van der Horst said. “However, some gamma-ray bursts in recent years, and in particular the work presented here, show that we need more complex models and detailed computer simulations of gamma-ray burst jets.”

Three Industries Ripe for Automation, According to a Robotics Guru – (CNBC – June 3, 2023)

Jeff Burnstein, an automation industry guru and president of the Association for Advancing Automation, outlines how automation could be applied in agriculture, food processing and health care. Tractor maker Deere & Co. , for example, offers a suite of automated-assistance features such as turning and guidance for crop row lines. Deere is working on an autonomous tractor that can “see, think, and work on its own, freeing up time for farmers to complete other tasks simultaneously,” according to its website. Other automated technologies for agriculture include drones that can spray pesticides over crops, remote-controlled tractors, automated harvesting systems, and other data and logistics farming apps.
Harvesting and sorting chicken parts is exactly the kind of dull, dirty, dangerous jobs automation could assist in doing, Burnstein says. At the automation convention, at least two companies were showcasing food-sorting robots whose abilities included identifying what types of cuts fit into a tray for packaging. Beyond efficiency advantages, there are health and safety benefits, too, advocates point out. The machine can’t sneeze. It can’t rub its face. It can’t have hair fall into anything. Tyson Foods CEO Donnie King says the company has 50 lines for deboning chickens that are fully automated. Automation in health care could be viable in a variety of cases — from transportation of goods and personal medications to someone’s bedside, to cleaning and disinfecting tools. Aethon is a Pittsburgh-based robotics company that’s made strides in the health-care sector with an autonomous mobile robot called the TUG. The robots are capable of navigating around a hospital independently, according to the company’s website.

Space Tractor Beams May Not Be the Stuff of Sci-fi for Long – (PhysOrg – June 1, 2023)

On Feb. 10, 2009, a defunct Russian satellite orbiting Earth crashed into a communications satellite called Iridium 33 moving at a speed of thousands of miles per hour. Both spacecraft erupted into a rain of shrapnel, sending more than 1,800 chunks of debris spiraling around the globe. No other spacecraft (or humans) were harmed, but for many aerospace engineers, the event was a sign of things to come. Space, it seemed, was getting crowded. NASA currently estimates that about 23,000 chunks of debris the size of a softball or larger currently swirl through space. All that junk means that another collision like the one that destroyed Iridium 33 becomes increasingly likely every year—only this time, the fallout could be much worse. Julian Hammerl, a doctoral student in aerospace engineering sciences at CU Boulder and a team led by Professor Hanspeter Schaub have a plan for stopping those cascades before they start. “We’re creating an attractive or repulsive electrostatic force,” said Schaub. “It’s similar to the tractor beam you see in Star Trek, although not nearly as powerful.”
The researchers are employing a new facility to replicate the surprisingly complex environment around Earth. They’re also setting their sights on how tractor beams might someday remove debris from the region of space between Earth and the moon. In Earth’s geosynchronous orbit, or “GEO,” begins about 22,000 miles from the planet’s surface, you can find some of the most expensive satellites ever built—military and telecommunications spacecraft that reach the size of school buses and weigh well over a ton. “GEO is like the Bel Air of space,” Schaub said. It’s also getting crowded. Engineers estimate that there are about 180 potential geosynchronous orbital parking spots where satellites can sit. All of them have been claimed or are already occupied. Tractor beams, Schaub said, may be able to safely move old spacecraft out of the way, making room for the next generation of satellites. Article explains the theory and discusses the complications.

‘No regrets,’ Says Edward Snowden, after 10 Years in Exile – (Guardian – June 8, 2023)

Edward Snowden has warned that surveillance technology is so much more advanced and intrusive today it makes that used by US and British intelligence agencies he revealed in 2013 look like child’s play. In an interview on the 10th anniversary of his revelations about the scale of surveillance – some of it illegal – by the US National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ, he said he had no regrets about what he had done and cited positive changes. Snowden views the widespread use of end-to-end encryption as one of the positive legacies of the leaks. The Big Tech companies had been embarrassed by revelations that they had been handing personal data over to the NSA. End-to-end encryption “was a pipe dream in 2013 when the story broke”, Snowden said. “An enormous fraction of global internet traffic traveled electronically naked. Now, it is a rare sight.”
The intelligence agencies in the US and the UK acknowledge there was benefit from the debate on privacy that Snowden provoked but still argue this is outweighed by the damage they claim was done to their capabilities, including MI6 having to close down human-intelligence operations. Their other complaint is that the narrative in 2013 portrayed the NSA and GCHQ as the sole malign actors, ignoring what Russia and China were doing on the internet. Snowden disputes such claims. He said no one at the time thought Russia and China were angels. As for damage, he said the agencies have never cited any evidence. “Disruption? Sure, that is plausible,” he said. “But it is hard to claim ‘damage’ if, despite 10 years of hysterics, the sky never fell in.”

First There Were Neo-Nazis, Then There Were No Nazis, Then There Were – (Scheerpost – June 6, 2023)

Thomas Gibbons–Neff is a square-jawed former Marine covering the Ukraine war for The New York Times—strictly to the extent the Kyiv regime permits him to do so, as he explains with admirable honesty. His job currently is to persuade us that all those Ukrainian soldiers wearing Nazi insignia, idolizing Jew-murdering, Russophobic collaborators with the Third Reich, gathering ritually in Nazi-inspired cabals, marching through Kyiv in Klan-like torch parades are not what you think. Nah, Tom tells us. They look like neo–Nazis, they act like neo–Nazis, they dress like neo–Nazis, they profess Fascist and neo–Nazi ideologies, they wage this war with the Wehrmacht’s visceral hatred of Russians—O.K., but whyever would you think they are neo–Nazis? The slipping and sliding starts early in “Nazi Symbols on Ukraine’s Front Lines Highlight Thorny Issues of History,” the piece Gibbons–Neff published recently. He begins with three photographs of neo–Nazi Ukrainian soldiers, SS insignia plainly visible, that the Kyiv regime has posted on social media, “then quietly deleted,” since the Russian intervention began last year. “The photographs, and their deletions,” Gibbons–Neff writes, “highlight the Ukrainian military’s complicated relationship with Nazi imagery, a relationship forged under both Soviet and German occupation during World War II.” Stop right there, Mr. Semper fi.  Ukraine’s neo–Nazi problem is not about a few indiscreetly displayed images. Sorry. The Ukrainian army’s “complicated relationship” is with a century of ultra-right ideology drawn from Mussolini’s Fascism and then the German Reich.
I hardly need remind paying-attention readers that the neo–Nazis-who-are-not-neo–Nazis were for years well-reported as simply neo–Nazis in the years after the U.S.–cultivated coup in 2014. The Times, The Washington Post, PBS, CNN—the whole sorry lot—ran pieces on neo–Nazi elements in the AFU and elsewhere. In March 2018, Reuters published a commentary by Jeff Cohen under the headline “Ukraine’s Neo–Nazi Problem.”  Three months later The Atlantic Council, for heaven’s sake, published a paper, also written by Cohen, titled, “Ukraine’s Got a Real Problem with Far–Right Violence (And no, RT Didn’t Write This Headline).” I recall, because it was so surprising coming from the council, that the original title on that paper was “Ukraine’s Got a Neo–Nazi Problem,” but that version now seems lost to the blur of stealth editing.

Why and How Bots Make It So Hard to Buy Nikes – (CNBC – June 1, 2023)

Sneakers are among the most sought-after collectible items. They’re also a prime target for scalpers. Grand View Research values the global sneaker industry at $86 billion and predicts it will reach $128 billion by 2030. The resale market is also going strong, with Cowen Research estimating it will grow to $30 billion by the end of the decade. Such popularity makes sneakers an easy target for bots, or software applications that can replace humans in performing certain tasks. Sneaker bots can accelerate the checkout process, wait in a virtual line or even fill out billing information. Sneaker bots took off in 2012, when Nike released its Air Jordan Doernbecher 9 shoes on Twitter. Nike required users to direct message the company for a chance to reserve the shoe. What followed was the creation of bots that messaged Nike when they found keywords like “RSVP now,” and “Doernbecher.” The bots were able to react faster than humans, beating out customers for a chance at the shoes. 
Sneaker bots now represent big business for the people behind them. “In 2022, I made a gross profit of $131,000,” said “Botter Boy Nova,” a sneaker bot developer and YouTube creator who goes by that alias due to security concerns. Jesper Essendrop, CEO of Queue-it, agrees. His company specializes in controlling internet traffic with virtual waiting rooms. For “sales of high-profile goods like sneakers,” 40% to 95% “of all traffic coming into web shops is from bots.” In 2021, cybersecurity software company Imperva found that nearly 23% of retail site traffic came from bots with malicious intent. And CHEQ, another cybersecurity vendor in the space, found that 1 in 4 Black Friday shoppers in 2022 were fake. Top sneaker brands like Nike , Adidas and New Balance are under constant attack from bots. Nike says its SNKRS App receives an average of 12 billion bot calls, or entries trying to game the system, a month. According to Nike, bots can make up to 10% to 50% of entries depending on demand. For example, in the 2023 release of the Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Low OG “Olive,” nearly half of the entries were bots. But Nike told CNBC it has up to a 98% success rate combating bots in the high-demand launches. Article includes an embedded 14 minute video on sneaker bots and how companies like Nike are handling them.

How to Avoid a Civil War – (Guardian – June 10, 2023)

Peter Turchin is a historian at the University of Connecticut who pointed out that waves of social and political disruption that tend to recur every 50 years. He was able to predict the turbulent 2020s by looking at economic and social indicators from 100 historical crises, gathered together in a database called CrisisDB. They range from medieval France to 19th-century Britain, and show that periods of instability are pretty consistently preceded by a decline in wages, the emergence of a wealth pump, and most combustibly, elite overproduction. His book, End Times,  provides a clear theory about how we got into this mess (on a global level) and how to get out of it. There are some familiar concepts here – falling living standards leading to mass discontent – but others, “elite overproduction” in particular, are much less widely recognized.
“Elite overproduction” is a phrase coined by Turchin’s colleague, the sociologist Jack Goldstone. “The social pyramid has grown top heavy,” he explains, with rich families and top universities churning out more wealthy graduates than the system can accommodate. There’s always been a limited number of powerful positions, be they senator, governor, supreme court justice or media mogul. In an era of elite overproduction, rather than chairs being taken away whenever the music stops, the number of competitors increases. Before you know it, there are far more people than can realistically attain high office. Fights break out. Norms are overturned as “elite aspirants” – those who have been brought up in the expectation of a say in how things are run – turn into counter-elites, prepared to smash the system to get their way. This isn’t just a US problem, by the way; Turchin says that Britain is on a similar trajectory. In fact, among OECD countries, it’s next in line. Germany is further behind, but also on the same “slippery slope”.  “The road out of crisis opens up a whole set of possibilities,” he says, “from pretty mild instability all the way to collapse. At this point, pretty much anything is possible.” (Editor’s note: We recommend this article.)

1000 Days Mushroom Growth Time Lapse – (You Tube – May 19, 2023)

In his basement somewhere in Germany, a photographer named Jens spent three years growing mushrooms and capturing the magic on video. In brilliant time-lapse, lion’s mane, enoki, red oysters, and ten other varieties emerge and morph into other-worldly forms. We take those champignons, chestnut mushrooms, and chanterelles for granted as we so blithely chop and sauté, but what a wonder to see their beginnings. (HT to Rob Gurwitt).
If we can recognize that change and uncertainty are basic principles, we can greet the future and the transformation we are undergoing with the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic. –– Hazel Henderson, British American futurist and environmental activist
A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Abby Porter, Bobbie Rohn, Hal Taylor, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past.  If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.

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