Volume 15, Number 8 - 4/30/12 Twitter  Facebook  

FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT...
  • New terahertz scanner lets mobile phones see through Walls - and through clothes.


  • Monsanto, being blamed for contributing to the dwindling bee population, has bought up one of the leading bee collapse research organizations.


  • A bill already passed by the U.S. Senate and set to be rubber stamped by the House would make it mandatory for all new cars in the United States to be fitted with black box data recorders from 2015 onwards.


  • Biodegradable fast food containers can now be made from waste straw.



PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

Our New Transition Store

The change that is headed this way is so profound that I think we all need as much information as possible about the coming months and years. We’ve recommended so many different books and DVDs in the past that I thought were particularly helpful in painting a picture of the big change that appears on our horizon – and concrete suggestions about how to prepare for the coming shift – that we’ve put them all together in a new Transition Store where you can browse all of the titles. We’ll mention other books and videos as we hear of them here in FUTUREdition and we’ll also put them in the new store. You can visit it by clicking here or on the banner.

The Nature of Big Change

(This is a foreword that I wrote for INFINITE ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES, a great new book that will be published soon.)

We are living in unprecedented times . . . but, of course, everyone has said that at any given period in the past. Nevertheless, technically it’s true. Every year is a fresh, new one that might seem familiar, but essentially, is not. Unless all change could be eliminated, we’re necessarily producing new realities every moment that have never existed before.

Parallels with historical times, at best, therefore, reflect only a very rough congruity with an earlier time that certainly did not have the technology, communications, ideas and values of the present. So, sure, these are unprecedented times.

But in important ways, this time it is really unprecedented. There is always change, but the rate of change that we are experiencing these days has never been seen before . . . and it is accelerating exponentially. That means that if present trends continue, every week or month or year going forward will produce significantly more change than in the previous one. Humans have never experienced this rate of change before.

Let me give you an example. Futurist Ray Kurzweil, in his important book, The Singularity is Near, cataloged the rate of technological change in many different dimensions. His bottom-line assessment was that our present century will see 1000 times the technological change as the last century – during which the automobile, airplane, Internet and nuclear wars emerged. Transportation rates went from that limited by the gallop of a horse to chemically propelled space craft that traverse more than 15,000 miles in an hour. And, of course, we visited the moon.

Now, think about what 1000 times that change would be. What kind of a world might show up in 100 years if we lived through a thousand times the change of the 20th century? Well, you can’t reasonably do it. No one can. The implications are so great that you are immediately driven into science fiction land where all of the current “experts” just dismiss you with a wave of a hand.

Try it. With two compounded orders of magnitude change over the period of a century, you could literally find yourself in a place where humans didn’t eat food or drink water (which would eliminate agriculture). They might be able to read minds telepathically and be able to visually read the energetic fields of anyone they looked at – immediately knowing about the past experiences, present feelings, and honesty of statements. Just that, of course, would eliminate all politicians and advertising!

But maybe, as some sources seriously suggest, you could manifest physical things at will – just by focusing your mind. Think of what that would do to the notion of economics as we know it. In this handful of future human characteristics you’d also be able to transport yourself wherever you wanted by thinking yourself there. In that world, no one would know what airplanes were.

You might think that what I’ve just described is farfetched, and if so, then you just made my point. Even though there are credible analysts and observers who seriously propose that the above changes will happen in far less than a century, change of this sort is more than we can reasonably understand and visualize. Just to parse it down to the next decade – 70-80 times the change of the last century – boggles the mind!

Well, it’s my business to think about these things and even I have a hard time visualizing how this all might turn out, just because it is so severe and disruptive, but I can tell you a bit about what a revolution of this magnitude means.

First of all, it means that we are in a transition to a new world – a new paradigm. All of this change has direction and it is leading us to a new world that operates in very different ways.

Secondly, in this kind of shift, things change fundamentally. We’re not talking about adjustments around the edge. The only way to support and sustain this rate of change is if there are extraordinary breakthroughs across almost every sector of human activity.

Already, for example, there are serious efforts afoot to make it possible to control many processes with only your thoughts and the ability to make physical things invisible has made great strides. In a very short time it will be possible to capture, store and search on everything you say in any public (or even private) environment and extract it at will. As this book suggests, unlimited energy and the control of gravity are all in the works.

Thirdly, the tempo accelerates -- things change more quickly. The rate of change is increasing so bigger things are coming faster. And as they converge, these extraordinary events and driving forces interact and cause chain reactions, generating unanticipated consequences. There’s a pretty good chance that the inventors of Facebook and Twitter didn’t think they were going to be part of bringing down governments . . . and it’s certainly clear that most governments didn’t anticipate that this new technology might threaten their ability to govern.

Fourthly, much of the change will therefore be strange and unfamiliar. When very rapid, profound, interconnected forces are all in play at the same time, the unanticipated consequences are likely to move quite quickly into threatening the historical and conventional understanding of how things work. Our situation is exacerbated by the fact that significant cosmic changes are influencing the behavior of the sun and therefore major systems (like the climate) on our planet. These are contextual reorganizations that are so large and unprecedented that the underlying systems – agriculture, economic, government, etc. – will not be able to respond effectively.

Because of that, human systems will have a hard time adapting to the change. Research has shown that civil and social systems (legal, education, government, families, et. al.) reconfigure themselves thousands of times slower than the rate of technological change that we are experiencing.

Therefore, it is inevitable that the old systems will collapse. They will not have the capability to change fast enough, and in some cases (like the global financial system), have structurally run out of the ability to sustain the status quo.

So, lastly, a new paradigm will emerge from all of this upheaval that only seems chaotic because we’re in the middle of it. Something new will arise to fill the vacuum left by the implosion of the legacy systems. If history gives us any indicator of what the new world will be, it is certain that it will be radically different from the world in which we all now find familiar.

In physical terms, there is no more fundamental and basic influence on the way we live and behave than the availability and form of energy that we use. Every aspect of our lives, food, clothing, shelter and transportation . . . and therefore every derivative activity (work, government, recreation, etc.) changes when the affordable source of energy changes. The modern world has been directly enabled by the discovery, development and availability of petroleum, for example. When that era ends, many other ways of doing things will also necessarily end.

Thomas Kuhn famously stated that new paradigms in science emerge only when the leadership of the old generation dies, leaving space for the emergence of the new ideas. What he was saying is that the incumbent system fights new ideas – regardless of whether it is science, education or spirituality. In all cases, the current generation has vested interests (reputations, income streams, influence) in the present way things operate. These individuals and organizations have devoted a great deal of time and wealth to building and shaping the present paradigm and would lose a great deal if their ideas, processes, investments and infrastructure were suddenly deemed obsolete. Like white corpuscles rushing to attack invading germs that are advancing through a break in the integrity of the skin, those with reputations and resources immediately respond to threatening new ideas that could potentially upset what they have worked so hard to put in place.

But Kuhn was describing the dynamics of evolutionary change – change from within. What we’re experiencing is revolutionary change that is driven as much by uncontrollable externalities as from internal system dynamics. If rapid climate change sweeps away the assumptions of the past, everyone will have to rethink how things are done. If we begin running out of oil, everyone will be in the business of finding new energy sources. And similarly, if the financial system collapses of its own weight, space will quickly be made for new ideas . . . and these are just conventional scenarios. If alien life comes by to introduce itself or solar cosmic rays turn on strings of dormant human DNA, suddenly providing us with radical new capabilities – well, all bets are off and new ideas will really prevail!

That’s what I think is happening. We are full into the most significant global revolution in the history of our species. We are about to watch our world turn sideways as the result of the collision of both conventional and unconventional forces and one big story in that shift will be energy. That’s why this book is important.

In many cases, the new ideas that rise to fill the void produced by large-scale change had their origins long before the environment finally presented the opening that allowed their proliferation. (Interesting new ideas about alternative financial systems and economies, for example, are now anticipating the collapse of the present financial system). More than likely the system fought those insurgent concepts when they first showed up, finding them threatening. Nevertheless, over the years some small groups continued to develop and refine the ideas, trying to ready them for a market opening. The coming months and years are going to present that opportunity.

As mentioned earlier, the nature of this revolution is that there will be widespread, fundamental breakthroughs. They are already happening in every area of science, technology and society. Ultimately, for the system to operate with some stability, the big changes will migrate throughout the organism so that there is an internal consistency within the interface, communication and operation of the subsystems of the larger network. Finding that equilibrium is the process that we will be experiencing during the near future. As breakthroughs happen in certain spaces, they will force other areas to operate differently. If they are unable to efficiently adapt, those threatened institutions or ideas or processes will fail . . . and new ideas, institutions and processes will show up that fulfill the required function (e.g. economy, government), but in a way that is necessarily compatible with the big, forcing change that precipitated the whole thing.

KRYON Coming to Berkeley Springs

Lee Carroll who channels the extraordinary entity KRYON is coming to Berkeley Springs again on the 30th of June. We always have a good turnout for this full-afternoon event, so I wanted to let you know now so that you could plan accordingly.

Over the last 20-plus years, KRYON has provided unparalleled wisdom – often about our science – that has always turned out to be accurate. Over and over again he has explained the mechanics of aspects of biology, physics, astronomy and many other physical domains, only to have the exact descriptions published in major scientific journals a year or two later by scientists who “discovered” the principles to be true.

Most lately, KRYON has been describing the functioning of DNA and how humans are evolving into a new version of the species. It is a message that is quite encouraging.

In this year of epic changes, hearing the insightful, forward-looking perspectives of Lee and KRYON will certainly help anyone position themselves for the coming global transition.

Hope you can make it. Get more information here.



INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

Crowd Sourcing Expands Power of Brain Research – (New York Times – April 15, 2012)
In the largest collaborative study of the brain to date, scientists using imaging technology at more than 100 centers worldwide have for the first time zeroed in on genes that they agree play a role in intelligence and memory. “What’s really new here is this movement toward crowd-sourcing brain research,” said Paul Thompson, a professor of neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and senior author of one of the papers. “This is an example of social networking in science, and it gives us a power we have not had.” The genes, which influence elements of brain size, may have subtle effects on how people think and behave, though many other factors, including education and general health, play a role in intelligence and could easily offset the effect of any single gene.

New Terahertz Scanner Lets Mobile Phones See Through Walls - and Through Clothes – (Daily Mail – April 19, 2012)
Comic-book superpowers could become reality as scientists have designed a phone that works as 'X-Ray spex'. A hi-tech chip allows a phone to 'see through' walls, wood and plastics - and (although the researchers are coy about this) through fabrics such as clothing. Doctors could also use the imagers to look inside the body for cancer tumors without damaging X-Rays or large, expensive MRI scanners. The researchers claim it could allow DIYers to detect studs within walls, or allow businesses to detect counterfeit money. At present, it's designed to work over a short range - and works with a normal-sized microchip that could fit into phones or other handheld electronics. The team's research involves tapping into an unused range in the electromagnetic spectrum. But the terahertz band of the electromagnetic spectrum, one of the wavelength ranges that falls between microwave and infrared, has not been accessible for most consumer devices.



NEW REALITIES

Physicists Continue Work to Abolish Time as Fourth Dimension of Space – (PhysOrg – April 14, 2012)
In the 106 years since Einstein, the prevailing view in physics has been that time serves as the fourth dimension of space, an arena represented mathematically as 4D Minkowski spacetime. However, some scientists, including Amrit Sorli and Davide Fiscaletti, founders of the Space Life Institute in Slovenia, argue that time exists completely independent from space. In a new study, Sorli and Fiscaletti have shown that two phenomena of special relativity - time dilation and length contraction - can be better described within the framework of a 3D space with time as the quantity used to measure change (i.e., photon motion) in this space.



GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY

Anti-germ Products May Be Adding to Antibiotic Resistance – (Business Line – April 12, 2012)
With swine flu, gastric and other respiratory diseases growing by the year, anti-bacterials, such as triclosan, are being added to an increasing number of personal and home care products, according to a study by Ahmedabad-based Consumer Education & Research Society (CERS) and its international partner, CHOICE, located in Australia. While the efficacy of these products is not under question, a consumer research organization says the long-term harm that overuse of these products can cause is by contributing to emerging antibiotic resistance. According to their findings, while anti-bacterial soaps and cleansers are needed in healthcare facilities, they provide little benefit in homes. The findings say that since anti-bacterials do not distinguish between bacteria, these can destroy good bacteria, which are vital for human health. Also, triclosan, the most common anti-bacterial ingredient, could be an endocrine disrupter as it interferes with both thyroid and sex hormones. The study says soap and water are equally good, if not better, in keeping away infections.

Neuroprosthesis Restores Hand Movement in Paralyzed Monkeys – (GizMag – April 20, 2012)
Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a neuroprosthesis that restores complex movement in the paralyzed hands of monkeys. By implanting a multi-electrode array directly into the brain of the monkeys, they were able to detect the signals that generate arm and hand movements. These signals were deciphered by a computer and relayed to a functional electrical stimulation (FES) device, bypassing the spinal cord to deliver an electrical current to the paralyzed muscles. With a lag time of just 40 milliseconds, the system enabled voluntary and complex movement of a paralyzed hand. The experiments were carried out on two healthy monkeys, whose electrical brain and muscle signals were recorded by the implanted electrodes when they grasped, lifted and released a ball into a small tube. Using these recordings, the researchers developed an algorithm to decode the monkeys’ brain signals and predict the patterns of muscle activity that occurred when they wanted to move the ball. The monkeys were then given an anesthetic to locally block nerve activity at the elbow, resulting in temporary paralysis of the hand. The monkeys were able to regain movement in the paralyzed hand and pick up and move the ball with almost the original level of dexterity.



ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Japanese Earthquake Visualization Map for 2011 – (You Tube – February 4, 2012)
In just under 7 minutes, this website displays the location and severity of all the earthquakes that occurred in Japan in 2011—all 19,349 of them. It then goes on to graphically present other related earthquake data for Japan. This is worth watching not only for the information but also to see how it presents data in a way that is so readily comprehended.

Grappling with a Garbage Glut – (Wall St. Journal – April 18, 2012)
Each week, we push our trash to the curb, and it seemingly disappears. But where does it all go: the spent cartons of milk, the computer keyboard fried by spilled coffee, those empty dog food cans? A team of researchers at MIT decided to find out. In 2009, they began attaching transmitter chips to thousands of pieces of ordinary garbage. They tossed this "smart trash" into the bin, sat back and watched the tortuous, disturbing path that our garbage often takes: the meanderings of electronic waste as it headed for distant shores, of ratty old sneakers that ran the equivalent of a dozen marathons, of printer cartridges that traversed the continent not once but twice on the road to recycling. The experiment threw a spotlight on the biggest, costliest, dirtiest secret about our garbage: our ignorance of how much we produce, what it contains and what happens to it once it leaves our hands. The statistics presented in the article are eye-opening.

Eyeless Shrimp and Fish with Tumors: The Horrific Consequences of BP’s Oil Spill – (AlterNet – April 18, 2012)
Two years after the April 20th, 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling unit used by BP 40 miles off the Louisiana coast, scientists at the 17th annual Tulane Environmental Law Summit presented recent photographs of shrimp with no eyes and fish with cancerous tumors born long after the gulf was declared "safe" for fishing. It turns out that testing water and fish flesh under the surface oil after the spill was not very telling about long term impacts as oil and water don't mix and the chronic, toxic impacts were delayed until long after BP was put in charge of the "clean up." When BP sprayed chemical dispersants containing a slew of toxic heavy metals including arsenic, the oil didn't magically disappear. It sank into the sediment. Disturbingly, the allowable levels set by the government for the toxins in our seafood are based on health impacts for a 176 pound adult eating less than 2 medium shrimp a day. The testing is for 1 chemical out of a crude oil mixture containing thousands of chemicals. No synergistic effects are considered. This in no way protects children, fetuses, people who weigh less than 176 pounds or anyone who eats seafood on a daily basis like the folks here on the Gulf Coast.

Blamed for Bee Collapse, Monsanto Buys Leading Bee Research Firm – (Natural Society – April 19, 2012)
Monsanto, the biotechnology company being blamed for contributing to the dwindling bee population, has bought up one of the leading bee collapse research organizations. Recently banned from Poland with one of the primary reasons being that the company’s genetically modified corn may be devastating the dying bee population, it is evident that Monsanto is under serious fire for their role in the downfall of the vital insects. Monsanto scooped up the Beeologics firm back in September 2011. During this time the correlation between Monsanto’s GM crops and the bee decline was not explored in the mainstream, and in fact it was hardly touched upon until Polish officials addressed the serious concern amid the monumental ban. Owning a major organization that focuses heavily on the bee collapse and is recognized by the USDA for their mission statement of “restoring bee health and protecting the future of insect pollination” could be very advantageous for Monsanto.



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

FBI: Thousands of PCs Could Lose Internet Access in July – (IT Pro – April 25, 2012)
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned that thousands of people who are lax about their PC’s anti-virus protection could lose internet access in July. The problem is caused by a piece of malware called DNSChanger, which dates back to 2007, and has infected millions of computers around the world. The malware is understood to have infected PCs, redirecting their web browsers to rogue DNS servers to help criminals make money through ad click fraud. Had the FBI simply shut down the rogue servers, infected users would have lost internet access immediately. However, on the evening of the raid, a consultant was hired to install two clean servers to take the place of the impounded ones. These servers were due to shut down on 8 March, but a federal judge extended the deadline to 9 July. A free scan which does not download anything to your computer can be accessed at DNS Changer Work Group website www.dcwg.org To validate the legitimacy of the dcwg.org website, click on the “about/contact” menu tab of the website. See also: this article.

China Cuts Off Internet Access in a Bid to Exert Control – (Telegraph – April 12, 2012)
As the Chinese government continues to tighten its control over the internet, the country became an island for roughly an hour recently, with all access to websites beyond its borders cut off. A number of internet companies in China, when contacted, pointed to the “Great Firewall” – the censorship shield that keeps unwanted websites, like Facebook and Twitter – out of China. The Chinese government has never admitted that the firewall exists and instead claims that China has an entirely free internet. Sina and Tencent, two of China's internet giants, have been punished for allowing users to comment freely on Weibo. A new law states that all 300 million Weibo users should register their real names with the companies. In reality, many users have not done so, and report still being able to use the service.

Scientists Establish First Working Quantum Network, Quantum Internet on the Way – (Geeko System – April 13, 2012)
Quantum has become the next big thing that could revolutionize the computing world. IBM is even on the cusp of building actual quantum computer protoypes. But what good is any of that if we don’t have a quantum Internet? Fortunately, we do. A team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have just established the first working quantum network. The team has managed to rig up a laser to fire and hit the first networked atom in a way that the atom preserves its quantum state, but also produces a photon with that information plastered onto it. The photon then shoots off down the fiber optic cable delivering it to the second atom. Network achieved. However, as with most firsts, the network is quite primitive at the moment, and connects a mere two atomic nodes with 60 meters of fiber-optic cable.



SHELTER

A Palace of Trash and the World It’s Changing – (Huffington Post – April 17, 2012)
The story of changing the world often starts this way. An ordinary man, with an extraordinary idea and the gumption to make it real, makes waves of change that ripple through the sea of humanity. Harvey Lacey’s idea is called Ubuntu-Blox -- named this way because the term Ubuntu refers to our innate interconnectedness, speaking to our common dignity and community. What Harvey created is a process to make building blocks, not out of cement, but rather out of recycled styrofoam and plastic bags. With these plastic blocks, reinforced with metal wire, homes can be constructed—and for every home constructed, one 40 foot shipping container worth of trash is removed from our oceans. On its face, the idea sounds wonderful: get trash out of the oceans, and use it to make building blocks for homes that can then be built in the poorest of communities, whether in Port au Prince, Haiti or the slums of Mumbai. But first Harvey had to prove to the world his vision could be real.



ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

Folding Light: Wrinkles and Twists Boost Power from Solar Panels – (EurekAlert – April 27, 2012)
Taking their cue from the humble leaf, researchers have used microscopic folds on the surface of photovoltaic material to significantly increase the power output of flexible, low-cost solar cells. The team, led by scientists from Princeton University, reported that the folds resulted in a 47% increase in electricity generation. Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo, the principal investigator, said the finely calibrated folds on the surface of the panels channel light waves and increase the photovoltaic material's exposure to light. "On a flat surface, the light either is absorbed or it bounces back," said Loo, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Princeton. "By adding these curves, we create a kind of wave guide. And that leads to a greater chance of the light's being absorbed."



TRANSPORTATION

Mandatory ‘Big Brother’ Black Boxes in All New Cars from 2015 – (Info Wars – April 18, 2012)
A bill already passed by the Senate and set to be rubber stamped by the House would make it mandatory for all new cars in the United States to be fitted with black box data recorders from 2015 onwards. Section 31406 of Senate Bill 1813 (known as MAP-21), calls for “Mandatory Event Data Recorders” to be installed in all new automobiles and legislates for civil penalties to be imposed against individuals for failing to do so. Although the text of legislation states that such data would remain the property of the owner of the vehicle, the government would have the power to access it in a number of circumstances, including by court order, if the owner consents to make it available, and pursuant to an investigation or inspection conducted by the Secretary of Transportation. Given the innumerable examples of both government and industry illegally using supposedly privacy-protected information to spy on individuals, this represents the slippery slope to total Big Brother surveillance of every American’s transport habits and location data. (Editor’s Note: This legislation might significantly increase the resale value of your 2014 vehicle.)



AGRICULTURE/FOOD

'Pink Slime' Found in Most Grocery Ground Beef – (CBN News – March 11, 2012)
According to new reports, the chemically-enhanced filler known as "lean finely textured beef" (or “pink slime”) wasn't only used in fast food burgers, it's in 70% of the ground beef Americans purchase at the supermarket. Waste such as connective tissue and excess fat is collected, treated, and sprayed with ammonia to kill any bacteria. Then it's added to ground beef as a cheap filler. The person who approved the mix was former Undersecretary of Agriculture Joann Smith. After stepping down from the USDA, she was appointed to the board of directors of Beef Products, Inc. who makes the beef filler. She's been paid more than $1 million while serving on the company’s board over the past 17 years.

FDA Numbers Reveal Food Animals Consume Lion’s Share of Antibiotics– (Center for a Livable Future – December 24, 2010)
According to data released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), of the antibiotics sold in 2009 for both people and food animals almost 80% were reserved for livestock and poultry. A huge portion of those antibiotics were never intended to fight bacterial infections, rather producers most likely administered them in continuous low dosages through feed or water to increase the speed at which their animals grew. In accordance with a 2008 amendment to the Animal Drug User Fee Act, for the first time the FDA released an annual amount of antimicrobial drugs sold and distributed for use in food animals. The grand total for 2009 is 28.8 million pounds. See also: Superbugs from Swine? Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Found in Flies, Roaches on Hog Farms

Biodegradable Fast Food Containers Made from Waste Straw – (GizMag – April 19, 2012)
Not only are polystyrene fast food containers usually not recyclable, but they also take eons to break down in a landfill, can emit harmful compounds, and require petroleum to create. Using paper is one alternative, but Hong Kong-based company Innovasians is now offering another – 100% biodegradable containers made from waste straw left over after wheat harvesting. The straw used in the process comes from China, and would otherwise be burnt. The technology itself is Canadian. Although the production process is confidential, the finished containers are composed of 60% straw, and 40% ... well, something else. Not only are they biodegradable, but they are also reportedly non-toxic, microwavable, dishwasher-safe (and thus reusable), and stable at temperatures from -40 to 260ºC (-40 to 500ºF). No petroleum-based materials are used in their production, nor are any toxins released into the environment.



SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

New Cyber Bill Getting Big Push from Spy and Tech Worlds – (Constitution Campaign – April 16, 2012)
Congress is busy pushing a bill that “would give government intelligence agencies broad powers to work with private companies to share information about Internet users.” The bill, known as the Cyber (CISPA), provides companies and the government “free rein to bypass existing laws in order to monitor communications, filter content, or potentially even shut down access to online services for ‘cyber security purposes.’” Understandably, corporate contractors to the intelligence community are lobbying for this bill. What is surprising is the support it’s getting from the tech world. The lists of organizations pushing for this bill include Facebook, AT&T, and Microsoft.



TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

First They Come for the Muslims – (TruthDig – April 16, 2012)
Tarek Mehanna, a U.S. citizen, was recently sentenced in Worcester, Mass., to 17½ years in prison. It was another of the tawdry show trials held against Muslim activists since 9/11 as a result of the government’s criminalization of what people say and believe. These trials, where secrecy rules permit federal lawyers to prosecute people on “evidence” the defendants are not allowed to examine, are the harbinger of a corporate totalitarian state in which any form of dissent can be declared illegal. Mehanna, a teacher at Alhuda Academy in Worcester, was convicted after an eight-week jury trial of conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq and providing material support to al-Qaida, as well as making false statements to officials investigating terrorism. His real “crime,” however, seems to be viewing and translating jihadi videos online, speaking out against U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and refusing to become a government informant.

Vermont Senate Votes to Amend – (Move to Amend – April 11, 2012)
The Vermont State Senate has voted calling for an amendment to the Constitution that would make clear that corporations are not people and that money is not speech and can be regulated in political campaigns. The vote was 26-3. State Senator Virginia Lyons (D) spearheaded the effort, working with Move to Amend in 2011 to introduce a resolution that came back this year. Vermont is poised to become the first state to call for an amendment to abolish the doctrine known as “Corporate Personhood” which gives corporations constitutional rights meant to protect people. Hawaii and New Mexico have passed resolutions against the Citizens United v. FEC ruling by the Supreme Court, but the Vermont resolution goes beyond simply overturning that case and aims to remove corporations from the constitution altogether and make clear that money is not speech and that campaign spending and political contributions can be regulated by the government.

From “Militant” to “Terrorist Enablers” – (Nation of Change – April 26, 2012)
In the fall of 2010, the media discovered that Pennsylvania's Office of Homeland Security (DHS) was monitoring and filing intelligence reports on citizens speaking out against the then nascent shale gas industry's presence in the Marcellus Shale basin. In one bulletin, PA Homeland Security refers to "militants" and "environmental extremists" who dare to question the fossil fuel industry's practices. That incident came and went, with many believing it was an isolated incident. It wasn't. Far from it, in fact. (Editor’s Note: Looking behind this article, we note that it is a short step from labeling protestors, who should be protected under the rights to freedom of speech and of assembly, as “eco-terrorists” or “enviro-terrorists”. At that point, they are open to being arrested or detained on charges of terrorism under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, Title X, Subtitle D.)

Rise of the Killer Drone: How America Goes to War in Secret – (Rolling Stone – April 16, 2012)
The remote-control nature of unmanned missions enables politicians to wage war while claiming we're not at war – as the United States is currently doing in Pakistan. What's more, the Pentagon and the CIA can now launch military strikes or order assassinations without putting a single boot on the ground – and without worrying about a public backlash over U.S. soldiers coming home in body bags. The immediacy and secrecy of drones make it easier than ever for leaders to unleash America's military might – and harder than ever to evaluate the consequences of such clandestine attacks. Today, the Pentagon deploys a fleet of 19,000 drones, relying on them for classified missions that once belonged exclusively to Special Forces units or covert operatives on the ground. American drones have been sent to spy on or kill targets in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Libya. Drones routinely patrol the Mexican border, and they provided aerial surveillance over Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In his first three years, Obama has unleashed 268 covert drone strikes, five times the total George W. Bush ordered during his eight years in office. All told, drones have been used to kill more than 3,000 people designated as terrorists, including at least four U.S. citizens. In the process, according to human rights groups, they have also claimed the lives of more than 800 civilians. Obama's drone program, in fact, amounts to the largest unmanned aerial offensive ever conducted in military history; never before have so few killed so many by remote control.



GLOBAL RELATIONS

Chinese-based Hacking Proving Pervasive, Presents Diplomacy Opportunities – (Nation of Change – April 22, 2012)
Hackers in China are now considered among the world’s best, and certainly most prolific, and Washington is amping up its efforts to limit the threat. A cramped office in a hastily developed area of Beijing that still feels half-rural is home to one of China’s first self-described “patriotic computer hackers.” He talks about how it all began in college, a couple of decades ago. James Lewis directs the Technology & Public Policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Lewis leads a set of talks and war games with Chinese counterparts on cyber issues, called Track 1.5 Diplomacy. One goal is to prevent cyber-attacks from escalating into military hostilities, something the Chinese don’t want.

Greek Finance Ministry Site Hacked in Tax Grab Protest – (Reuters – April 24, 2012)
"To them, you are just economic indicators, deficits and balance sheets - but there are no indicators for misery," said a statement on the Greek Finance Ministry website after it was hacked in protest over government plans to fight tax evasion by tapping into citizens' bank, telephone, and credit card data. It's the 3rd attack since February. (Editor’s note: One almost certain effect of the proposed government action would be/will be to further drive capital out of the banks and deposit it under mattresses, significantly increasing cash transactions and the grey market economy—at a time when the banks are critically in need of recapitalization.)

Wars of Attrition – (Nation of Change – April 24, 2012)
Even granting the need to spin the assaults as failures, the official American reaction to the recent coordinated attacks in Kabul, the Afghan capital, as well as at Jalalabad airbase, and in Paktika and Logar Provinces, reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of guerrilla warfare and, in particular, of the type being waged by the Haqqani network, a crime syndicate transformed by the conflict into a leading insurgent group. More than 40 years after the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive, after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan, even after reviving counterinsurgency doctrine (only to see it crash-and-burn in short order), the U.S. military still doesn’t get it. Think of this as a remarkably unblemished record of “failure to understand” stretching from the 1960s to 2012, and undoubtedly beyond. This article analyzes the means and successes of a small guerrilla force taking on the most sophisticated and well-financed military force in history—in Afghanistan just as another guerrilla force did in Vietnam.

Backed into a Corner – (Foreign Policy – April 13, 2012)
This op-ed piece is written by Ambassador Hossein Mousavian, a research scholar at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and a former spokesman for Iran's nuclear negotiating team. In it, he notes that the Obama administration has done more to undermine Iran over the past three years than any U.S. presidency in the 33 years since the Iranian revolution. Yet this coercive approach has failed to resolve the future of Iran's nuclear program. The primary issue is mistrust. American and Western politicians continuously reiterate their mistrust of Tehran but seem not to understand that this mistrust is mutual. This article looks at the reasons for mistrust, particularly on the part of the Iranian government.



LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

Weird Flavors: Bacon Shakes, PB&J Vodka, BLT Chips – (IndyStar – April 18, 2012)
This weird flavor stuff may be getting tough to swallow. Like peanutbutter and jelly flavored vodka. Birthday cake Oreos. Rainbow sherbet gum. And, for the strong of stomach, bacon milkshakes. At issue: Are marketers reaching to the very limits of their powers to extend and differentiate their brands in order to attract attention and ring up sales in very tough times, or have America's taste buds really become this wacky? It appears to be the latter. Here’s a list of 2012's rollouts that dare consumers to try them.

Netherlands Judge Backs Café Cannabis Ban – (BBC News – April 27, 2012)
A judge in the Netherlands has upheld a new law to ban foreign tourists from entering cannabis cafes. While soft drugs are tolerated, there is growing concern at tourists visiting just for drugs, and foreign dealers selling illegally at home. The ban is due to start in three southern provinces next month, and go nationwide by the end of the year. The ban is being strongly opposed by the Mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, because around a third of the city's tourists visit to smoke cannabis in the cafes. In November the city of Maastricht brought in a coffee shop ban for foreign tourists from all countries—except Belgium and Germany, from where the majority of foreign customers come. If the cannabis shop owners lose their case they say they will take it to the European Court of Human Rights, on the grounds that the Dutch should not be allowed to discriminate against people on the basis of where they live. The moves are part of a tougher approach to drugs introduced by the coalition conservative-led government, elected 18 months ago. (Editor’s Note: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his cabinet tendered their resignations to Queen Beatrix on April 23, 2012, after his ruling coalition lost support of a far-right party due to disagreements over new budget measures. Elections are being called for as soon as possible. Based on the outcome of the elections, the cannabis café ban is likely to be impacted—either reaffirmed or dropped.)



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

NASA Trick to Remove Alien Evidence from Moon, Mars Revealed – (Before It’s News – April 14, 2012)
The article’s title overstates things, but two French artists using a little known NASA digital imaging process for a stunning exhibit of abandoned cities may have done Ufology researchers a huge favor: they've revealed a technique that NASA photo experts can apply to eliminate evidence of alien artifacts on the Moon and Mars. Ostensibly the technology is used for analyzing stars, but a different use may be employed for heavenly bodies much closer to Earth. For many years, NASA has been suspected of a massive cover-up concerning the existence of Unidentified Flying Objects and interplanetary alien artifacts. At least two former NASA insiders claim NASA doctored, obfuscated, and obscured thousands of photos over the years and allege that the U.S. space agency systematically erases inconvenient anomalous artifacts on certain inconvenient photos—primarily from the Moon and Mars.

PayPal’s Elon Musk Talks SpaceX – (Huffington Post – March 19,2012)
After trying his hand at the web, photovoltaic products and services, biotechnology, and electric cars, it's no surprise that the $2 billion entrepreneur and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk has now moved on to building spacecrafts—especially given the obvious passion he has for space ( watch him speak about it in attached video clip). Musk founded SpaceX right after eBay bought PayPal back in 2002, and—along with sending a greenhouse onto Mars with an intercontinental ballistic missile—one of his objectives with the company was to make space travel more available to the public. And now that Musk has proven he can send things into orbit, his next step is the test launch of an unmanned spacecraft named Dragon to carry cargo to the International Space Station.



DEMOGRAPHICS

The Demographics of Health Care – (Ad Agency – April 09, 2012)
You might think that, averaged across all populations, disease would be pretty evenly distributed. You would be wrong. As part of the American Consumer Project, we asked GfKMRI to run their 25,000 household survey data through the Patchwork Nation segments. We then developed this cheery map of disease prevalence. Certain areas—which represent places where certain consumer segments are dominant—are more prone to certain kinds of illnesses. But more important is what the residents there do when they get sick. This is critical for health-care marketers, clearly, but also for other sectors because the increasing dollars being spent on health-care aren't being spent on other products. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health-related categories such as insurance, medications and supplies take up 6.6% of total spending, up from 5.4% in 2000. Millennials in their 20s are spending a whopping 78% more than the baby boomers did when they were in their 20s. Article includes a link to download a complete data set that may be of interest but is not well explained.

U.S. Standard of Living Has Fallen More Than 50% - (The Street – April 3, 2012)
The author of this piece used to state that it takes two spouses working to equal the wages of a one-income family of 40 years ago. Unfortunately, that is now an understatement. In fact, U.S. wages have plummeted so low that a two-income family is now (on average) 15% poorer than a one-income family of 40 years ago. Using the year 2000 as the numerical base from which to "zero" all of the numbers, real wages peaked in 1970 at around $20/hour. Today the average worker makes $8.50/hour (adjusted to dollars as valued in 2000)-- more than 57% less than in 1970. And since the average wage directly determines the standard of living of our society, we can see that the average standard of living in the U.S. has plummeted by over 57% over a span of 40 years. A graph makes this all easily visible. However, the 57% decrease is based on an inflation figure corrected for real inflation as determined by shadowstats.com rather than the official government figures.



NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

Using 3D Printing Technology to Restore Chinese Forbidden City Artifacts – (GizMag – April 16, 2012)
We’ve already seen the 3D printing technology that promises to turn a household desk into a mini manufacturing plant used by the Smithsonian Institution to produce replicas of key models for display and traveling exhibitions. Using 3D digital technologies developed over the past few years at, the restoration process of artifacts should be sped up significantly, saving both time and money. After the shape of the original objects is captured using laser or optical scanners, damaged areas can be digitally restored ready for 3D printing. While such a technique has been possible for a while, England’s Loughborough University by PhD student Fangjin Zhang and colleagues is developing a formalized approach specifically tailored to the restoration of historic artifacts.

MIT and Others Launch a Tech Education Revolution – (Computer World – April 19, 2012)
Four programs deliver traditional -- and nontraditional -- education options for techies. For example, MIT's free online course, 6.002x: Circuits and Electronics, is a hit. The course, which began in March and ends on June 8, prompted 120,000 registrations. This online course is no different than the circuits and electronics course taught to undergrads on campus, said Anant Agarwal, director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, who leads 6.002x. The class is part of an open education program called MITx. Discussing the curriculum of MITx, Agarwal said, "It's not watered down; it's the same thing -- it's as hard" as the classes all MIT students take.



ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

The Unwitting Move Towards a Global Gold Standard – (FT Alphaville – April 23, 2012)
A shortage of safe assets may be driving an epic hunt for “safe collateral” — driving down yields on traditional fixed-income investments — because there are more debt liabilities/ obligations than safe collateral in the system. In a zero-yielding environment like this, gold begins to look remarkably attractive. This is especially the case if gold remains a liquid store of value, which is widely accepted as collateral across the system. What’s more, there’s little to differentiate it from a zero-yielding Treasury bond. In fact, the Treasury bond eventually expires, while gold doesn’t. All that is missing for this to be a de jure gold standard is some regulatory and legal recognition and one has been proposed: the Basel Committee for Bank Supervision, the maker of global capital requirements, is studying making gold a bank capital Tier 1 asset.

Mixed Verdict for Ex-Prime Minister of Iceland – (CNN – April 23, 2012)
Former Prime Minister Geir Haarde of Iceland has been found guilty of a charge of negligence related to the collapse of the country's banking system in 2008—but he was cleared of three other charges and will face no punishment, according to a court official. Iceland's banking system collapsed spectacularly that year, wiping out billions of dollars in savings. Haarde was forced from office the following year, and was put on trial last month. He is the only politician on the planet to face charges in connection with the global financial crisis. (Editor’s note: Except perhaps in a few specific cases, the politicians did not do anything illegal; they simply passed laws: laws that were later found to have benefited a few while putting the public at far more risk than anyone had known. However, there is nothing illegal about passing laws.)



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

Being (or Not) in the “Place of Soul” – (Nation of Change – April 24, 2012)
The poet Donald Hall defined happiness as absorbedness, the experience of being so taken up by a project, (in his case, writing a poem), that he lets go of everything else. Absorbedness like that defines the bliss of satisfying work—and, also, the contentment of being in love. For a time, you forget yourself. It is, perhaps, another way of describing what it might mean to “be in the place of one’s soul”, or, to use yet another phrase that our culture has, it seems, forcibly eliminated from both public and private discourse over the last three decades, “to live an authentic life”. This op-ed piece is a “long and winding” ribbon of thoughtfully assembled considerations which may or may not strike a note with any particular reader; in either case, Hall’s definition of happiness, in and of itself, is worth savoring.



FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.

Fear and the Coming Collapse of Civilization – (Information Clearing House – February, 2012)
This TED presentation given by Paul Gilding, a writer and advisor on sustainability, opens with four words that say almost everything: “The Earth is full.” Gilding is not a hater of technology, or someone who doesn’t believe in the power of innovation. Indeed he says we are a brilliant and creative species, but so big we’ve outgrown our host. “This is not a philosophical analysis. It’s just science … We’re living beyond our means.” The global economy simply cannot sustain growth forever, and when things aren’t sustainable, they stop. And in this case, “Stop” means that civilization will collapse. Many people presume that markets will overcome these obstacles, and that the ingenuity and resourcefulness of scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs will find a way circumvent these problems. Gilding takes a moment to acknowledge this position, saying: “We regularly solve complex problems with amazing creativity,” but he also claims that the emperor has no clothes. The real problem is that humanity is planning on doubling in just 40 years. Gilding is not without hope, but he’s also rational.



JUST FOR FUN

Dakuwaqa’s Garden – (You Tube – October 4, 2011)
Exquisite underwater footage from Fiji and Tonga.



A FINAL QUOTE...

We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims. ~ R. Buckminster Fuller



A special thanks to: Thomas Bergin, Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Kurzweil AI, Diane Petersen, Petra Pieterse, 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.
johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org



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Edited by John L. Petersen
johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org
www.arlingtoninstitute.org

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