FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT...
- NASA discovers a “water world”—a new planet unlike any previously known
- The Defense Department says the demand for drones and their expanding missions requires routine and unfettered access to U.S. domestic airspace, including around airports and cities.
- A group of middle school children and their teacher are creating the world’s biggest book (10’ x 12’) on the topic of peace.
- Watch a rare 'solar tornado', possibly the size of Earth with 300,000mph winds caught on camera by the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory.
by John L. Petersen
E.Dee Conrad Coming to Berkeley Springs
We’re continuing our Transition Talks series here in Berkeley Springs with E.Dee Conrad, who will join us on Friday, the 6th of April at 7:00 PM. This will be a great presentation that you won’t want to miss. We’ll send out more specifics in a few days.
EDee is the author of A New Dawn Awaits: The Times Ahead and How To Shift Your Consciousness, which many FE readers have found quite helpful. I’ve received many compliments on this book, especially about how clear and compelling her picture is of what is driving the present galactic and solar change and what those forces are likely to manifest in our lives in the coming months and years.
This is one of the most coherent, comprehensive and readable summaries of the big change that I know. You can see more about it and view a video here. We have some of E.Dee’s books in stock here which I will send with free domestic shipping if you order it here or click on the book (Sorry, those of you who are out of the U.S., but we’ll need to charge you shipping.)
E.Dee wanted to have a conversation when she’s with us next month, so I’ve agreed to pitch questions to her and comment on some of her ideas. You’ll have a chance to join in the conversation as well, so come for another provocative and informative evening!
Climate and Weather Change
If you’ve seen my DVD, 2012: The Year of Great Transition, you know that I believe that climate change and the unusual weather that attends it will be one of the great drivers of change on the planet in the coming years. Joe Romm, on his Climate Progress site has posted a very informative summary of some of the extreme weather that is happening in this part of the world. You’ll find it here: UPDATE: Tornadoes, Extreme Weather And Climate Change, Revisited.
Venice Frozen Over
Romm uses climate change and global warming interchangeably throughout this report and as FE readers know, I’m not yet convinced that global warming is what we’ll call this change in a couple of years. In that regard, I found it interesting that he didn’t make any mention of the extreme cold that was visited on Europe in January and February [here are some great photos], but only that the U.S. had an unusually warm winter – which appears to be the source of much of our destructive weather. Like many people, he also believes that these changes are anthropocentric and so no mention is made of the energetic changes of the sun that appears to be the source of climate changes on all of the other planets in our solar system. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
In the 2012 DVD, I also make mention of the multiple sources that point to a financial collapse this year (maybe even starting later this month!). In the last few days the U.S. government has been putting out stories telling how the economy is really coming back, an example being the stock market that is hovering at record levels.
Charles Eisenstein was here on Sunday – it was a great Transition Talk, by the way – and we had dinner the night before, chatting about some of the things that seem to be inbound. He commented about how surprised he has been about how creative (and effective, one might add) the financial system has been at fending off collapse. We both agreed that the central banks will throw as much money as they can (and change the rules, as well) to keep the present system afloat. There have been a number of occasions when many of us thought that they’d run out of options, only to be surprised by the amount of money they could print and throw around (mostly to banks) to stave off the inevitable.
But if you look past the official happy talk you can clearly see the fissures in the system growing larger. Europe is the biggest current case in point. John Mauldin in this week’s piece, Europe Is Now Creating Big Unintended Consequences That Will Carry Disastrous Outcomes, does a very good job of suggesting why Greece won’t be able to pay off its debts. This is a fairly long and detailed article, so if you’d like to see the “Cliff Notes” version, watch this great Punk Economics video from David McWilliams that graphically illustrates just what is going on and why it is not sustainable.
Now, here, from The Washington Post is a look at what it took to put the financing deal for Greece together: How the IMF reasserted its power in Greece’s debt crisis
Put all of this together – the politics, the cultures, the bureaucracy, the banks – and tell me: Is this going to work? As the IMF grimly concluded: “Given the risks, the Greek program may thus remain accident-prone.”
It’s my guess that with all of the other destabilizing stuff that our leaders are trying to get going – like a war with Iran – the next financial crisis in Greece could precipitate a wholesale rush for the exits in Europe and then the U.S. The only question is when the confidence goes out of the psychological balloon that currently supports the system.
What to Do
Of course, all of this describing of the implosion of the present system always begs the question of what each of us can do to prepare ourselves for the coming shift. Here are some resources that you may find helpful.
The Monroe Institute – One of the most influential institutions in my life has been The Monroe Institute. I’ve been through five, week-long sessions at TMI, systematically navigating through multiple levels of consciousness, and in the process, fundamentally changing my world view. I’ve experienced things first hand that have proven to me, without a shadow of a doubt, that both life and death are not at all what we commonly think they are. That, in turn, has made me very comfortable with the notion that everything is going to change on this planet and a new human and new world will soon be evolving.
As a board member of TMI, I suppose I should have mentioned them in this space sooner, but just a few days ago The Washington Post did a very nice piece on them that I encourage you to read. It gives a pretty good (but not at all complete) idea of some of the rather extraordinary things that go on at their campus south of Charlottesville, Virginia. You can find more information about TMI here.
Year Zero: Time of the Great Shift – I met Kiara Windrider a number of years ago at a conference in Sweden where we were both speaking and I was taken by the breadth of his wisdom and the way in which he integrated science and spirit in making sense of the change that was in the air. We had both spent time at the same place in India, so we had quite a bit to talk about.
I was therefore intrigued when he sent me a manuscript for his book, Year Zero: Time of the Great Shift and asked if I would write a forward for it. It was fascinating. He mixed quantum mechanics with an alternative view of the Mayan calendar, moving through magnetic pole reversals and physical pole shifts, explaining the science behind regular energetic explosions originating from the center of the galaxy (and how it changes everything) and then related it all to the wisdom of Sri Aurobindo and other sages. His description of the birthing of a new planet is really quite compelling, after which he describes the transition to the new planet/world ending with a series of exercises to prepare oneself for the rather different world that is hurtling this way.
Kiara is a very good writer and presents all of these advanced ideas with an appropriate amount of tentativeness and objectivity – trying to present the rather profound picture that he envisions without suggesting that he knows for sure how it is all going to happen. I found it all a very powerful and expanding trip that explained a number of things that I had only heard about and stitched together a large number of important ideas and concepts into a tapestry that made a lot of sense. It is an especially substantive book in a field of tomes on this general subject that have far less scope and heft.
You can find YEAR ZERO here or by clicking on the cover above.
New Consciousness For a New World: How to Thrive in Transitional Times and Participate in the Coming Spiritual Renaissance -- Kingsley Dennis lives in the UK and Spain and is the founder of WorldShift International, an organization dedicated to facilitating the shift to the new world. For some time now he has been trying to get his book to the top of my ever-growing piles of books that I’m planning to read. I tried to start it on a number of occasions and always got sidetracked onto other things. Apparently the time was not yet right. But that all changed last week when I really decided to work my way into it . . . and I was continually and happily surprised, chapter after chapter.
Kingsley approaches this whole subject of explaining the shift and laying out avenues of preparation in three clear sections focused on resilience, where it discusses this global (and cosmic) tipping point and what is associated with it, readaptation, which raises the need for--and emergence of--a global mind change and the arrival of new sciences, and renewal, that focuses on the new world, the new humanity, and the spiritual renaissance that is already in the making. It is a very nice, big picture perspective.
New Consciousness for a New World is well researched, and results in a book-long effort to aggregate common threads of thought from many different sources that all point toward and describe massive change. In his introduction, for example, Dennis quotes P. D. Ouspensky as saying: “There are periods in the life of humanity which generally coincide with the beginning of the fall of cultures and civilizations, when the masses irretrievably lose their reason and begin to destroy everything that has been created by centuries and millennia of culture. Such periods of mass madness, often coinciding with geological cataclysms, climate changes, and similar phenomena of planetary character, release a very great quantity of the matter of knowledge.” Dennis goes on to say that, “This release of knowledge that comes with upheaval can be used to help civilization push through to a higher level of functioning.”
Here’s a brief excerpt from the book.
You can buy the book by clicking on the picture above or here.
Google Confirms Gmail and YouTube Services Blocked in Iran – (Bloomberg – February 13, 20012)
Google confirms that its Gmail and YouTube services have been blocked in Iran since Feb. 10. The action serves as another reminder of how the company—along with Facebook—sits at the forefront of many governments' online efforts to block civil unrest or outside influence.
Larry Summers to Run World Bank? 37,000 Sign Petition Saying No In 24 Hours – (Huffington Post – February 24, 2012)
More than 37,000 people have signed an on-line petition expressing their dismay at the idea that Summers—who as then-president of Harvard, once famously suggested that women might lack an "intrinsic aptitude" for science and engineering—could be put in charge of the World Bank, an institution that allocates funds to developing countries. "[T]he World Bank has a lot of power over the education and training of women and girls in developing countries," reads the petition in part. "We need a nominee who believes girls have the same potential as boys." Dealbreaker reports that those 37,000 signatures came within the first 24 hours of the petition's existence. That works out to about 25 signatures a minute, or a new name every two and a half seconds. (Editor’s note: The slot at the World Bank hasn’t been filled yet—by anyone—but it's clear that on-line petitions are becoming an effective way for the general citizenry to be mobilized and heard.)
Do Mysterious Laws Link Tennis Rankings and Earthquakes? – (BBC News – February 13, 2012)
Recent studies suggest laws of mathematics may govern everything from the timing of earthquakes to tennis player rankings. But are these rules just a mirage? In the 1930s, linguist George Kingsley Zipf spotted an unusual trend in languages. In a given work of literature, the second-most commonly used word occurs half as often as the most-used. The third-most used word occurs one-third as often as the first, and so on. He had discovered what has become the most widely known "power law". Power laws show up frequently in physics, where mathematical order is no surprise. They describe how far the Earth moves between solstices, the precise colour of a hot electric stove, and how much a rubbed balloon attracts hair. But other, seemingly more random systems seem to follow power laws, such as the distribution of times and sizes of earthquakes, or how far people move around in daily life. The idea has arisen in most of these cases that some single, unknown mechanism is at work, that nature itself is imposing order in a way we simply do not yet understand. Not everyone agrees.
NASA Discovers a “Water World”—A New Planet Unlike Any Previously Known – (Daily Galaxy – February 21, 2012)
"GJ1214b is like no planet we know of. A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water," noted Zachory Berta, astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. GJ1214b was discovered in 2009 by the ground-based MEarth (pronounced "mirth") Project, which is led by CfA's David Charbonneau. This super-Earth is about 2.7 times Earth's diameter and weighs almost 7 times as much. It orbits a red-dwarf star every 38 hours at a distance of 1.3 million miles, giving it an estimated temperature of 450 ° Fahrenheit. Since the planet's mass and size are known, astronomers can calculate the density, which works out to about 2 grams per cubic centimeter. Water has a density of 1 g/cm3, while Earth's average density is 5.5 g/cm3. This suggests that GJ1214b has much more water than Earth, and much less rock. As a result, the internal structure of GJ1214b would be very different than our world. The high temperatures and high pressures would form exotic materials like 'hot ice' or 'superfluid water' - substances that are completely alien to our everyday experience.
Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Results May Be Due to Bad Cables – (Wired – February 22, 2012)
The sensational result that neutrinos can travel faster than the speed of light may turn out to be nothing more than the result of a simple mechanical error. Scientists from the OPERA collaboration at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy have “identified two issues that could significantly affect the reported result,” wrote OPERA spokesman Antonio Ereditato in an email. The first issue is a faulty connection of the fiber-optic cable bringing the GPS signal to the experiment’s master clock. The experiment’s GPS may also have been providing the wrong timestamps during synchronization between events. “These two issues can modify the neutrino time of flight in opposite directions,” Ereditato wrote.
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY
How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy – (The Atlantic – March, 2012)
Jaroslav Flegr is no kook. And yet, for years, he suspected his mind had been taken over by parasites that had invaded his brain. So the prolific biologist took his science-fiction hunch into the lab. Could organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia? The parasite, which is excreted by cats in their feces, is called Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii or Toxo for short) and is the microbe that causes toxoplasmosis—the reason pregnant women are told to avoid cats’ litter boxes. Since the 1920s, doctors have recognized that a woman who becomes infected during pregnancy can transmit the disease to the fetus, in some cases resulting in severe brain damage or death. T. gondii is also a major threat to people with weakened immunity: in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, before good antiretroviral drugs were developed, it was to blame for the dementia that afflicted many patients at the disease’s end stage. After years of being ignored or discounted, Flegr is starting to gain respectability. Outlandish as his claims may sound, many researchers, including such big names in neuroscience as Stanford’s Robert Sapolsky, think he could well be onto something. Indeed, recent findings from Sapolsky’s lab and British groups suggest that the parasite is capable of extraordinary shenanigans.
If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking? – (Discover – September 25, 2010)
Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cc, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball. The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion. “I’d call that major downsizing in an evolutionary eyeblink,” he says. “This happened in China, Europe, Africa—everywhere we look.” If our brain keeps dwindling at that rate over the next 20,000 years, it will start to approach the size of that found in Homo erectus, a relative that lived half a million years ago and had a brain volume of only 1,100 cc. Here are some leading theories about the why the human brain has been getting smaller since the Stone Age.
Why Doctors Die Differently – (Wall St. Journal – February 29, 2012)
It's not something generally talked about, but doctors die, too. What's unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared with most Americans, but how little. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care that they could want. But they tend to go serenely and gently. Why such a large gap between the decisions of doctors and patients? The case of CPR is instructive. A study by Susan Diem and others of how CPR is portrayed on TV found that it was successful in 75% of the cases and that 67% of the TV patients went home. In reality, a 2010 study of more than 95,000 cases of CPR found that only 8% of patients survived for more than one month. Of these, only about 3% could lead a mostly normal life.
Is Biological Immortality Possible? New Research Suggests “Yes” – (Daily Galaxy – February 28, 2012)
Researchers from the University of Nottingham have demonstrated how a species of flatworm overcomes the ageing process to be potentially immortal. The discovery, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may shed light on the possibilities of alleviating ageing and age-related characteristics in human cells. "We've been studying two types of planarian worms; those that reproduce sexually, like us, and those that reproduce asexually, simply dividing in two. Both appear to regenerate indefinitely by growing new muscles, skin, guts and even entire brains over and over again," said Dr. Aziz Aboobaker. "Our data satisfy one of the predictions about what it would take for an animal to be potentially immortal and that it is possible for this scenario to evolve. The next goals for us are to understand the mechanisms in more detail and to understand more about how you evolve an immortal animal."
Does the U.S. Have a Legal Responsibility to Stop Climate Change? – (Nation of Change – February 24, 2012)
Seven teenagers set a new precedent for environmental action in May 2011 by suing the federal government for not taking measures against climate change. They claim that the government’s policies regarding climate change are squandering natural resources. The young plaintiffs, led by 17-year-old Alec Loorz, filed a total of 10 suits against the federal government and individual states under the public trust doctrine, a legal principle derived from English Common Law which holds that the government is responsible for protecting resources—like water and wilderness—in trust for the public and future generations. The preliminary injunction hearing was originally slated to be held in December 2011, but has been moved from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., at the request of the federal government. A new date for the hearing has yet to be announced.
The Colorado River: Running Near Empty – (Yale University – September 22, 2011)
Photographer Peter McBride traveled along the Colorado River from its source high in the Rocky Mountains to its historic mouth at the Sea of Cortez. In this Yale Environment 360 video, he follows the natural course of the Colorado by raft, on foot, and overhead in a small plane, telling the story of a river whose water is siphoned off at every turn, leaving it high and dry 80 miles from the sea.
Photos of the Big Freeze in Europe – (Daily Mail – February 7, 2012)
See extraordinary photos of the ice-covered canals in Venice and Amsterdam among others. Remarkable, beautiful—and chilling.
World Bank Issues SOS for Oceans, Backs Alliance – (Reuters – February 24, 2012)
The World Bank has announced a global alliance to better manage and protect the world's oceans, which are under threat from over-fishing, pollution and climate change. The partnership will bring together countries, scientific centers, non-governmental groups, international organizations, foundations and the private sector. A key focus was understanding the full value of the oceans' wealth and ecosystem services. Oceans are the top source of oxygen, help regulate the climate, while mangroves, reefs and wetlands are critical to protecting increasingly populous coastal areas against hazards such as storms -- benefits that are largely taken for granted. "Whatever the resource, it is impossible to evolve a plan to manage and grow the resource without knowing its value," said World Bank President Robert Zoellick. One aim was to rebuild at least half the world's fish stocks identified as depleted. About 85% of ocean fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited or depleted. "We should increase the annual net benefits of fisheries to between $20 billion and $30 billion. We estimate that global fisheries currently run a net economic loss of about $5 billion per year," he said.
The Illusion of Choice – (Nation of Change – February 21, 2012)
Media in the United States has never been more consolidated. 6 media giants now control a staggering 90% of what we read, watch or listen to (except on the Internet). As recently as 1983, 50 companies owned 90% of the media.
Phones Become Smarter, Batteries Lag, But Changes Are Afoot – (4-Traders – February 24, 2012)
New smartphones allow us to stay in touch with work and friends, contain boarding passes and train tickets and are likely to become debit and credit cards in the near future, but they sport batteries that fade within hours. To address that, a joint venture of Duracell and the U.S.-Israeli company Powermat Ltd. is producing ultra thin recharging mats. Duracell plans to equip public places as well as cars, homes and offices with the special surfaces, allowing mobile phones to charge wirelessly by simply placing them on the wired mat. The firm plans to "start in New York and in five years we want to be everywhere." It plans a launch in the U.S. this summer and has intends to equip the indoor sports arena at New York's Madison Square Garden so fans "have the opportunity to charge their smartphones while they cheer for their favorite basketball team." In the U.S., Verizon Wireless is offering an alternative battery door option on some of its fourth-generation smartphones which allows wireless charging on Powermats. The technology is set to reach Europe early next year.
The Machines Are Talking a Lot – (Technology Review – February 14, 2012)
The rise of sensors, surveillance cameras, and other automated devices can be seen in a new analysis of Internet traffic. Cisco estimates that the amount of data that was ferried to and from mobile devices last year was eight times greater than the data on all of the Internet in 2000. Global mobile data traffic is expected to see an 18-fold increase between 2011 and 2016. Not surprisingly, video is a big reason. But you might be surprised by the second-leading source of the expected surge in traffic. It won't come from people, but from machine-to-machine communications, or "M2M." Think of sensors in cars and in appliances, surveillance cameras, smart electric meters, and devices still to come, monitoring the world and reporting to each other and to centralized computers what they're detecting. The chart below, reprinted from the Cisco report, shows just how extreme the jump in machine-to-machine communications could be. It is expected to grow, on average, 86 percent a year, and by 2016 it is expected to reach 508 petabytes a month, or half a billion gigabytes.
Mobile Apps Take Data Without Permission – (New York Times – February 15, 2012)
The address book in smartphones — where some of the user’s most personal data is carried — is free for app developers to take at will, often without the phone owner’s knowledge. Companies that make many of the most popular smartphone apps for Apple and Android devices — Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram among them — routinely gather the information in personal address books on the phone and in some cases store it on their own computers. The practice has come under scrutiny by members of Congress who saw news reports that taking such data was an “industry best practice.” Apple, which approves all apps that appear in its iTunes store, addressed the controversy after lawmakers sent the company a letter asking how approved apps were allowed to take address book data without users’ permission. Apple’s published rules on apps expressly prohibit that practice. But in its statement about the issue, Apple did not address why those apps that collect address book data had been approved.
Raspberry Pi Mini Computer Served Up for $35 – (Huffington Post – February 29, 2012)
The Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized, Linux-based computer that was served up for just $35 on February 29, through distributors Premier Farnell and RS Components. Within its tiny, naked-circuit body, the Raspberry Pi offers a 700MHz ARM processor, 256MB RAM, HDMI and RCA outputs, and much more, allowing pretty much the same experience you would get from a full-sized desktop computer. While the Raspberry Pi has the tech world all in a frenzy, the small computer was actually developed to entice school children to get involved with computer programming and other technology. Article includes photos and a video clip. See also: RaspberryPi.org and this article.
Dick Smith Offers $1 Million for Proof of Cold Fusion Technology – (Australian Skeptics – February 15, 2012)
Dick Smith, an Australian entrepreneur, businessman, aviator, political activist and founder of Dick Smith Electronics, will give $1,000,000, with no strings attached, to Andrea Rossi, an Italian inventor, if he can prove his cold fusion invention works. “I do not want to know how the unit operates, nor to have a share in the profits from any sales,” Smith says. “My satisfaction will come from knowing that if the unit is successful, some of the world’s greatest problems—especially in relation to climate change—will be solved.” Cold fusion technology (now described as low energy nuclear reaction) promises unlimited, clean, cheap, safe, and waste-free energy, but to date no-one has been able to develop a properly working system. Smith says that the energy catalyzer (ECAT) technology has been through a number of tests, some of which have been endorsed by international scientists but others which have proved unsuccessful or inconclusive, raising doubts that the technology works as described. His criterion for the proposed test is to repeat a demonstration from March 29, 2011 at which two Swedish scientists were present, and who apparently endorsed the technology. But Ian Bryce, chief investigator for Australian Skeptics (Smith is patron of the group) says that a mis-wiring of the ECAT could have provided the same energy that the scientists thought came via a cold fusion reaction.
U.S. Was Net Oil Products Exporter in 2011 – (Bloomberg – February 29, 2012)
The U.S. exported more gasoline, diesel and other fuels than it imported in 2011 for the first time since 1949, according to an Energy Department report. Shipments abroad of petroleum products exceeded imports by 439,000 barrels a day, the department said in the Petroleum Supply Monthly report. In 2010, daily net imports averaged 269,000 barrels. Total crude and product imports fell 11% from a year earlier to 8.436 million barrels a day, the lowest level since 1995. U.S. refiners exported record amounts of gasoline and distillate fuels, including heating oil and diesel, to meet higher global fuel demand while U.S. gasoline consumption sank and distillate was little changed.
France Asks EU to Halt Monsanto GMO Corn Approval – (Nation of Change – February 22, 2012)
France is not bowing down to GMO giant Monsanto, now asking the European Commission to suspend authorization to Monsanto’s genetically modified corn. The news comes after France charged Monsanto with chemical poisoning after it was found that a farmer had suffered severe adverse health reactions as a result of exposure to Monsanto’s Lasso weedkiller. Despite losing court rulings against Monsanto’s GMO corn, the environment ministry is attempting to fortify a ban on the crops over serious environmental concerns. France originally banned the growing of the genetically modified corn in 2008. The strain is currently the only GM crop approved for planting in the European Union, and has been targeted as a serious threat to the environment.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Pressure builds for Drone Flights at Home – (Associated Press – February 26, 2012)
Civilian cousins of the unmanned military aircraft that have tracked and killed terrorists in the Middle East and Asia are in demand by police departments, border patrols, power companies, news organizations and others wanting a bird’s-eye view that’s too impractical or dangerous for conventional planes or helicopters to get. Along with the enthusiasm, there are qualms. Drones overhead could invade people’s privacy. The government worries they could collide with passenger planes or come crashing down to the ground, concerns that have slowed more widespread adoption of the technology. Despite that, pressure is building to give drones the same access as manned aircraft to the sky at home. “It’s going to be the next big revolution in aviation. It’s coming,” says Dan Elwell, the Aerospace Industries Association’s vice president for civil aviation. The Defense Department says the demand for drones and their expanding missions requires routine and unfettered access to domestic airspace, including around airports and cities.
5 New Technologies Helping Police Fight Crime – (ComputerWorld – February 15, 2012)
From eye-in-the-sky drones to GPS vehicle pursuit darts and even ordinary iPads, here's a look at five tech tools that are being used or tested by police to protect their communities. Some of these technologies are relatively uncontroversial, while others have raised eyebrows among privacy and civil rights advocates. The legality of one has even been called into question by the courts, highlighting a potential pitfall of using advanced tech to conduct police work. Among others, check out throwable robotic cameras and gunshot detection systems.
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
Khader Adnan and Now-Normalized Western Justice – (Salon – February 20, 2012)
Each year, the U.S. State Department, as required by law, issues a “Human Rights Report” which details abuses by other countries. To call it an exercise in hypocrisy is to understate the case: it is almost impossible to find any tyrannical power denounced by the State Department which the U.S. Government (and its closest allies) do not regularly exercise itself. In 2010, the State Department included a long section on the oppressive detention practices of China. The “principal human rights problems” of the tyrannical Chinese government include “a lack of due process in judicial proceedings” and “the use of administrative detention.” However, the U.S. Congress just enacted, and President Obama just signed, a law that expressly permits indefinite detention and the Obama administration continues to hold hundreds of prisoners who have never been charged with any crime even as they have remained captive for many years. Worse, the U.S. has normalized this practice not merely in terms of government policy, but also the expectations of its own citizens. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found widespread support across the American ideological spectrum for maintaining Guantanamo, where more than 150 prisoners are still held without any charges of any kind.
Japan Slowly Wakes Up to Doomsday Debt Risk – (Reuters – February 17, 2012)
The Japanese government borrows more than it raises in taxes, and its debt pile amounts to two years' worth of Japan's economic output, the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the world. It costs Japan half of the country's tax income just to service its debt. Each year, Japan's debt level increases by more than the combined gross domestic product of Greece and Portugal. Technocrats who might have once dismissed worst-case scenarios are now beginning to take them seriously as doubts grow over whether Japan is ready to act and as Greece's budget meltdown stokes the euro zone's debt crisis. Conventional wisdom is that Japan is safe as long as it keeps covering about 95% of its borrowing needs at home (citizens who buy government bonds, etc.). What emerges from interviews with fund managers and officials versed in monetary and fiscal policy is that a risk of domestic investors going on a strike is what makes them particularly nervous.
Anonymous Hacks Greek Ministry Website, Demands IMF Withdrawal, Threatens It Will Wipe Away All Citizen Debts – (Zero Hedge – February 21, 2012)
Anonymous, as part of what it now calls Operation Greece, took down the Greek Ministry of Justice. While the pretext for the hacking appears to have been an arrest of the wrong people, is seems to have angered Anonymous to the point where they have left an extended message of demands on the Greek website, warning that unless the IMF withdraws from the country and the government resigns, all debts of Greek citizens will be wiped clean. (Editor’s Note: the Anonymous message ,included in the article, is worth reading for its insight into directions in which Anonymous might develop. As far as we know, nothing has become of the threat.)
African Villagers Embrace US Role In Lord’s Resistance Army Leader – (Nation of Change – February 14, 2012)
The American deployment here forms the core of a new plan constructed in Washington to end the violent cross-border marauding of Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony and his band of 200 hundred or so fighters known as the Lord's Resistance Army. Masters of survival, they move easily through thick equatorial forests and brush-littered plains in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, preying on the civilian population for food and new conscripts, killing and abducting as they go. Thousands have died in their wake. That the U.S. has joined the hunt for a group that horrifies millions of Americans but poses no direct threat to the United States is testament to the influence of human rights campaigners, who, together with evangelical Christians, lobbied Congress to pass a law requiring renewed U.S. efforts against the LRA. The Obama administration responded by dispatching 100 special operations troops to help find Kony.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
Greed Drives the Rich to Bend Ethics – (Nation of Change – February 28, 2012)
Because rich people have more financial resources, they're less dependent on social bonds for survival, the researchers reported Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As a result, their self-interest reigns and they have fewer qualms about breaking the rules. People driving expensive cars were more likely than other motorists to cut off drivers and pedestrians at a four-way-stop intersection in the San Francisco Bay Area researchers at UC Berkeley observed. Those findings led to a series of experiments that revealed that people of higher socioeconomic status were also more likely to cheat to win a prize, take candy intended for children and say they would pocket extra change handed to them in error rather than give it back. (Editor’s Note: the findings are interesting, but they only support the increased likelihood of certain types of behavior – not the motivation behind the behaviors as the title would imply.)
Walk Out, Walk On – (Walk Out, Walk On website – no date)
“Walk outs” are people who choose to leave behind a world of unsolvable problems, scarce resources, limiting beliefs and destructive individualism. They “walk on” to the ideas, beliefs and practices that enable them to give birth to new systems that serve community. This is the story of an emerging movement of leaders and communities around the world who are self-organizing to create healthy and resilient communities. Website features video clips showcasing seven communities around the world where people are using ingenuity and caring to work with what they have to create what they need.
The Peace Book Project – (Nation of Change – February 17, 2012)
A seven-year collaboration among students is culminating is a “Big Book: Pages for Peace”. The project was started by a group of children in middle school and their teacher in an effort to make the biggest book in the world on the topic of peace. The contents of the book includes letters and art submitted by people around the world including noted celebrities, politicians, veterans, world and spiritual leaders, and many more. When completed, the Big Book will measure 10 ft X 12 ft and weigh approximately one ton. The intent is to display it publically at museums and libraries upon completion. To learn more about this project see this article
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Eisenhower Met With ETs Says Ex-Government Consultant – (Huffington Post – February 14, 2012)
It's a story that has circulated in and out of the UFO community for years: Did former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower have three meetings with extraterrestrials? An ex-government consultant says the story is true that the 34th commander in chief chatted, if you will, with aliens at a New Mexico air base, according to reports. No definitive proof has ever surfaced to confirm this president-meets-aliens tale. Whether you believe this story or not, an interesting related side-story came to light in 2010. A retired New Hampshire state representative, Henry McElroy Jr., taped an intriguing video announcement in which he revealed seeing a secret briefing document intended for Eisenhower. Article includes video clip of statement by former Representative McElroy.
Solar Tornadoes Dance Across the Sun in NASA Video – (Space.com – February 17, 2012)
A rare 'solar tornado', possibly the size of Earth with 300,000mph winds, has been caught on camera by the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory. The Solar Dynamics Observatory is constantly recording high-definition videos of the sun. The video (link included) shows swirling fountains of plasma creeping across the surface of the sun during a 30-hour period between Feb. 7 and 8. But unlike tornadoes on Earth, which are wind-driven phenomena, the sun's plasma tornadoes are shaped by the powerful magnetic field of our star.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Miracle Material Graphene Can Be Used to Distill Alcohol – (BBC News – January 27, 2012)
An international team created the membrane from graphene oxide - a chemical derivative of graphene. They have shown that the membrane blocks the passage of several gases and liquids, but lets water through. This joins a long list of fascinating and unusual properties associated with graphene and its derivatives. Graphene is a form of carbon. It is a flat layer of carbon atoms tightly packed into a two-dimensional honeycomb arrangement. Because it is so thin, it is also practically transparent. As a conductor of electricity, it performs as well as copper; and as a conductor of heat, it outperforms all other known materials.
Perfect Transistor Built from a Single Atom – (TG Daily – February 20, 2012)
Physicists have created a working transistor using only a single phosphorus atom placed precisely in a silicon crystal. The development could mark a big step towards quantum computing. While single-atom transistors have been produced before, it's been by chance, with researchers either searching through many devices or tuning multi-atom devices to isolate one that works. Professor Michelle Simmons at the University of New South Wales says, "This is the first time anyone has shown control of a single atom in a substrate with this level of precise accuracy." The device even has tiny visible markers etched onto its surface so researchers can connect metal contacts and apply a voltage.
Angela Belcher Puts Viruses to Work Building Solar Cells – (Business Week – February 16, 2012)
Angela Belcher—MacArthur “genius” award winner and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology— has spent much of her career genetically engineering a type of virus known as bacteriophage to build materials similar to how abalones build their shells: using proteins to turn the minerals found in seawater into calcium carbonate. One of her latest targets is improving the efficiency of solar cells. In April 2011, Belcher and her team published research that showed that modified bacteriophages can help improve the energy production of solar cells by 33%. The viruses attach themselves to carbon nanotubes—atom-scale cylinders prized for their strength and electrical properties—and wrangle other molecules to create a layer of titanium dioxide over each one, making the tubes more conductive than usual.
Self-Healing Electronics Restore in Seconds – (You Tube – December 20, 2011)
Led by aerospace engineering professor Scott White and materials science and engineering professor Nancy Sottos, a team of Univ. of Illinois engineers has developed a self-healing system that restores electrical conductivity to a cracked circuit in less time than it takes to blink. See also: this article.
The Next 5 Emerging Economies That Will Change the World – (Atlantic – February 22, 2012)
You might say that the glass ceiling has been broken. China, once the "sick man of Asia" and one of the world's poorest places, now boasts the world's second-largest economy and may soon even surpass the U.S. in wealth. Now that we understand the global hierarchy to be less fixed than it once was, who will rise next? The conditions for a rising power are so complicated and so reliant on outside factors beyond any one country's control that accurately predicting them would be impossible. Still, some countries seem better positioned and better managed than others. Here are five emerging economies to keep an eye on, plus one outlier that could do well, if only it would pull itself together.
Icelandic Anger Brings Debt Forgiveness – (Bloomberg – February 20, 2012)
Since the end of 2008, the island’s banks have forgiven loans equivalent to 13% of gross domestic product, easing the debt burdens of more than a quarter of the population, according to a report published this month by the Icelandic Financial Services Association. The island’s households were helped by an agreement between the government and the banks, which are still partly controlled by the state, to forgive debt exceeding 110% of home values. Iceland’s $13 billion economy, which shrank 6.7% in 2009, grew 2.9% last year and will expand 2.4% this year and next, the Paris-based OECD estimates. The euro area will grow 0.2% this year and the OECD area will expand 1.6%, according to November estimates. Housing, measured as a subcomponent in the consumer price index, is now only about 3% below values in September 2008, just before the collapse. Fitch Ratings last week raised Iceland to investment grade, with a stable outlook, and said the island’s “unorthodox crisis policy response has succeeded.”
9 Strategies to End Corporate Rule – (Yes Magazine – Spring, 2012)
Corporate power is behind the politics of climate denial, Wall Street bailouts, union busting, and media consolidation, to name just a few. And policies advocated by the 1% are bankrupting the middle class. But citizens can exercise power, too. Here is a collection of 9 separate articles showcasing some of the most successful strategies.
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.
What Soldiers Look Like Before, During and After War – (Gizmodo – December 18, 2011)
Photographer Clair Felicie took photos of Marines in the 13th infantry company of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps for 2009-2010, who were stationed in Afghanistan. Each of the soldiers was photographed before, during and after the war. Here are five sets of photographs from her series.
JUST FOR FUN
The Human Planet – (BBC News – March 3, 2011)
From the icy Arctic to Africa's dense jungles - and the mountain tops of Mongolia to the deep waters of the Pacific - the BBC series Human Planet has explored mankind's incredible relationship with nature. Accompanying the film crews was photographer Timothy Allen. His stunning still images captured unique glimpses of people living in the world's most extreme environments. Take a look at some of them, and listen to him explain how he snapped the most arresting shots.
A Snowboarding Bird – (NPR – January 12, 2012)
Here is a video clip that captures a bird doing what appears to be one of the universal activities of creatures: playing.
A FINAL QUOTE...
I always avoid prophesying beforehand because it is much better to prophesy after the event has already taken place. — Winston Churchill
A special thanks to: Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Neil Freer, Ursula Freer, George Kuper, Kurzweil AI, Diane Petersen, Petra Pierterse, Deva Premal, Lynnda Pollio, Bobbie Rohn, Joel Snell, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along - thanks.
Edited by John L. Petersen