Volume 15, Number 10 - 5/31/12 Twitter  Facebook  

FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT--
  • If home-based 3D printing takes off and goes prime-time, online stores and large mass manufacturers will almost certainly find their business models threatened as digital technology again forces a massive change to retail business models.


  • Bluefin tuna have been shown to carry contamination from Fukushima across the Pacific Ocean to the U.S


  • Imagine a one-acre commercial urban farm with over 1.2 million pounds of topsoil on top of a building; it’s located in the middle of Queens.


  • An Ernst &Young survey of 400 CFOs around the world finds that 15% are willing to make cash payments (bribes) to obtain or retain business, up from 9% last year.



PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

KRYON Coming to Berkeley Springs

As we discuss below, major changes now seem ubiquitous. The Eurozone is collapsing, the sun is doing things that haven’t been seen for 150 years. Governments around the world are morphing into organizations some of us never thought possible (both positive and negative) . . . and science and technology are exploding with breakthroughs that seem like science fiction.

How, in the face of all of this upheaval, can we get a fix on what is happening and where this all is going? One source that I have found to be extremely valuable is Kryon, an extraordinary entity channeled by friend Lee Carroll.

Lee and KRYON talk very specifically about the change coming and what the implications are likely to be. They both are coming to Berkeley Springs again on the 30th of June and I’d like to invite you to join us. 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.

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.

The Global Financial System

I believe that we’re full into the implosion of the global financial system – starting with Greece, followed probably by Spain and then an accelerating cascade of countries and central banks. The problems are systemic and so this framework and these players are not going to be able to fix it. It may throw more money at things and keep the boat afloat for a matter of weeks or months, but every time in the past they have thought that they solved a major problem, it has popped up again in one form or another. There are big things, like cultures and huge vested interests that must change quickly in order for the present system to survive. Absent a catastrophe, they do not change quickly, so the writing is on the wall, I believe.

On June 2, for example, precious metals expert and Chairman of Swiss America Trading Corporation, Craig R. Smith, sent out an urgent email blast stating that after the economic events that took place on Friday, the markets are primed for a new Lehman-type meltdown, similar to what took place in the financial system in 2008. I believe we are on the edge of another Lehman-type meltdown.

On May 31, World Bank President Robert Zoellick issued the same warnings of a potential 'rerun of the great panic of 2008'.

The head of the World Bank yesterday warned that financial markets face a rerun of the Great Panic of 2008.

On the bleakest day for the global economy this year, Robert Zoellick said crisis-torn Europe was heading for the ‘danger zone’.

Mr Zoellick, who stands down at the end of the month after five years in charge of the watchdog, said it was ‘far from clear that eurozone leaders have steeled themselves’ for the looming catastrophe amid fears of a Greek exit from the single currency and meltdown in Spain.

- The Daily Mail

And over at Monty Pelerin’s World, Monty sees it a way that makes sense to me: Inevitably, It’s All Falling Apart



Here’s a little levity that tries to explain the situation in another light:

The scratching, burning, socially embarrassing financial crisis

A Surreal Two Weeks

For me, at least, these last two weeks have seen some amazing, almost surreal things happen in this country. An increasing sense of fear is translating into attempts by the powers that be to control and maintain some semblance of the status quo.

It started with a New York Times piece explaining how the president of the United States has for months been meeting weekly with his staff to determine who they are going to kill next, Americans or not. If you’re reading this for the first time (perhaps in another country), you might either a) think this is farfetched and I have overstated the case, or b) say that this is no surprise – you knew the U.S. was operating in this way.

For me, the whole notion is so wildly disconnected from what I grew up believing our country and our values were about that it was rather hard to fully fathom what was really going on here. I think that Chris Floyd, writing The NYT’s Love Letter to Death Squads in CounterPunch has done a good job of capturing my open-mouthed amazement of what is going on in this country.

Then, this piece, Obama’s Secret War Against Iran Dooms Diplomacy and Imperils American Interests, suddenly brought me up short and confronted with the reality that the U.S. and Israel are literally running a full-fledged secret war against Iran. The pieces started to come together: the regular news of the assassination of yet another Iranian scientist, the then extraordinary Stuxnet computer virus that was focused specifically on destroying Iran’s ability to produce nuclear electrical power and weapons that don’t yet exist. Then this week we learn about Flame, the Computer worm that hit Iran oil terminals 'is most complex yet'.

This reminds me of the secret war in Cambodia that the U.S. was prosecuting while some of us were over there officially trying to kill Vietnamese. Only this time instead of bombs (yet) we’re supporting the killing of Iranian scientists and trying to destroy their economy while we officially kill Iraqis, Afghanis, Yemenis and Pakistanis. It’s hard not to understand, by the way, why Islamic people around the world think that all of this destruction is really a war against Islam (as we now find has been taught in some FBI and military schools here).

But, this Flame worm is something else. Read this description: Flame virus a new age cyber spy tool

Did you catch the part that the virus controls, monitors and downloads everything from a computer and accesses the Bluetooth capabilities, which would allow it to learn about and upload into everything – like phones – that link with the computer. It used the computer microphone to record and transmit what was happening in the vicinity and the machine’s camera to monitor what was going on nearby. Remember, now facial recognition algorithms allow identification of individuals with rapidly increasing accuracy.

That’s pretty extraordinary. Essentially they’ve turned something that we all are increasingly dependent upon – like food, for example – into a weapon, or, if you will, a Big Brother intrusive spying device.

This is only one of quite a few indications of a thread of governments and corporations learning about you things that you don’t even know and you don’t want them to know – for the specific purpose of controlling and manipulating you. You can see it now in Facebook (Hints Facebook Is Becoming a Full-On Identification Service) and the unconstrained efforts to proliferate these and even more powerful and invasive capabilities into every area of our lives. (Profit-Driven Surveillance and the Spectrum of Freedom: “We will offer electronic monitoring services in every state.”}

So, on one hand, we are watching the disintegration of the past and with it the principles and fundamentals that defined and sustained our lives, provided meaning, purpose and personal paradigms that engendered hope. At the same time, in a transition like this, where the familiar past rapidly erodes, the only practical operating solution is to fix on the future that will emerge. The oft-used metaphor of child birth is really germane here; we will necessarily pass through a time of increasing disruption before the new world begins to appear.

Have heart! A new world is coming.



INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

How 3-D Printing Will Change the World – (AlterNet – May 9, 2012)
While 3-D print technology isn’t nearly as versatile or as user-friendly as the science fiction dream, the implications include the potential to provide the things we need in much greener, less-centralized, less resource-intensive way. But, as with any new technology, there are also potential negative effects to balance the scales. In short: as with so many human inventions, the future of 3D printing includes the good, the bad and the grotesque. If home-based 3D printing takes off and goes prime-time, online stores and large mass manufacturers will almost certainly find their business models threatened as digital technology again forces a massive change to retail business models. The mall and the factory—the cornerstones of American consumer culture—will both find themselves increasingly irrelevant. In some US states, every part of the AR-15, a popular firearm, can be purchased without a license except for the lower receiver. Recently the design for the lower receiver was posted on Thingiverse, a Web site where users share 3D printer design files. That last part can now be printed in an individual’s home, license free.

Bio Bling: Design Your Own Cellular Jewelry – (Wired – May 15, 2012)
Would you like to give someone a truly unique gift? How about their own biology-inspired jewelry? Cell Cycle is a line of 3-D printed rings, pendants, and bracelets that let customers collaborate with designers over a web app to create custom pieces. Created by Nervous System, the company’s organic ornaments offer a glimpse into the future and trend of mass-customized design. Cell Cycle is a physible generator. Physibles are digital files destined to drive a 3-D printer or other rapid prototyping tool to create a physical object. Like MP3s, AVIs, and ISOs, physibles are things that you will send around to your friends. Unlike those other files, the final destination of the physible isn’t a speaker or a screen, it’s a 3-D printer. If computer-driven manufacturing programs like CAD are geared toward the professional set, physibles are for the rest of us.



GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY

Light-powered Bionic Eye Invented to Help Restore Sight – (BBC News – May 14, 2012)
A retinal implant - or bionic eye - which is powered by light has been invented by scientists at Stanford University in California. Implants currently used in patients need to be powered by a battery. The new device uses a special pair of glasses to beam near infrared light into the eye. This powers the implant and sends the information to the retinal chip. The Stanford researchers say their method could be a step forward by "eliminating the need for complex electronics and wiring".

Heart Attacks Without Heart Disease – (Dandelion Salad– May 2, 2012)
Something strange and ominous is happening to young people, especially women but also to a lesser extent men. They are dying of sudden heart attacks (acute myocardial infarction, AMI) without the classic symptoms of heart disease, chest pain or blocked arteries. They die quickly, as though blind-sided by a devastating accident. Every year since accounting began there have been a tiny number of persons in the U.S. who died abruptly for no apparent reason. In fact, the annual list of mortality statistics issued by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics included "unknown cause" as a category, along with heart disease, cancer, stroke, and so on, until about 10 years ago. It was about that time that I called a statistician at NCHS to ask if the number dying from unknown reasons was going up. His answer was a definite and frustrated "Yes!" The occurrence of acute myocardial infarction among the young and even the very young, was first documented in 2001. The CDC cited an increase of 281 deaths, or 30%, to women ages 15 to 34 between 1989 and 1996. Fifty-six of those were younger than 25.

Skin Cells Turn into Healthy Heart Muscle Cells – (BBC News – May 22, 2012)
Scientist say they have managed to turn patients' own skin cells into healthy heart muscle in the lab. Ultimately they hope this stem cell therapy could be used to treat heart failure patients. As the transplanted cells are from the individual patient this could avoid the problem of tissue rejection. In the latest study, the team from Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, took skin cells from two men with heart failure and mixed the cells up with a cocktail of genes and chemicals in the lab to create the stem cell treatment. The cells that they created were identical to healthy heart muscle cells. When these beating cells were transplanted into a rat, they started to make connections with the surrounding heart tissue. Lead researcher Professor Lior Gepstein, said: "What is new and exciting about our research is that we have shown that it's possible to take skin cells from an elderly patient with advanced heart failure and end up with his own beating cells in a laboratory dish that are healthy and young - the equivalent to the stage of his heart cells when just born."

The Special Scent of Age – (EurekAlert – May 30, 2012)
People can identify other people's ages based on their body odors, according to a study published in the open access journal PLoS ONE. Much of this ability is based on identifying odors of elderly individuals, but contrary to popular belief, the so-called 'old-person smell' is less intense and less unpleasant than body odors of middle-aged and young individuals, the researchers report. To test whether people can intuitively sense these changes, the researchers collected body odors, in the form of a t-shirt with underarm pads slept in for five nights, from young, middle-aged, and old participants. These scents were then assessed by a different set of evaluators, who were asked to rate the intensity and pleasantness of each odor, identify which of two scents came from the older individual, and estimate the age of the individual who produced each sample. The participants were able to discriminate between the three donor age categories, and the researchers found that it was odors from the old-age group that were driving this ability. The complete article which includes some interesting additional age- and gender-related data can be accessed here.



ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Virtually Certain Impact of Manmade Climate Change Is Observable in Artic Sea Ice – (Nation of Change – May 6, 2012)
Scientists at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Meteorology note that “Sea ice is so thin that it reacts very sensitive to the large natural fluctuations of weather and climate that prevail in the Arctic. Because these fluctuations are inherently chaotic, their specific timing cannot be reproduced by standard climate models. Such models therefore aren’t necessarily the best tool to examine if natural fluctuations did cause the observed sea-ice loss.” Jochem Marotzke, Director at MPI-M explained: “Having excluded natural fluctuations and self acceleration as the main driver for the sea-ice retreat, it was clear to us that some external driver was responsible for the observed sea-ice decline. We therefore set out to find an external driver that showed a physically plausible relationship with the observed sea-ice retreat.” The scientists examined, for example, the strength of solar radiation. “Here, a physically plausible link to the observed sea-ice retreat can only be established if solar radiation had increased in recent years.” However, solar radiation has slightly decreased in the past decades. Its fluctuations are therefore very unlikely to be the main driver of the observed sea ice loss. The scientists could not find a plausible link to changes in prevailing wind patterns, volcanic eruptions, oceanic heat transport, or cosmic rays, either. In the end, only the increase in greenhouse gas concentration showed a physically plausible link with the observed sea-ice retreat.”

A Last (Chemical) Gasp for Bees – (Yes – May 24, 2012)
Beekeepers have reported alarming losses in their hives over the last six years. The USDA reports the loss in the United States was about 30% in the winter of 2010-2011. Earlier this year, three independent studies linked agricultural insecticides to colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon that leads honeybees to abandon their hives. Studies, conducted in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, all pointed to neonicotinoids, a class of chemicals used widely in U.S. corn production, as likely contributors to colony collapse disorder.” The findings challenged the EPA’s position—based on studies by Bayer CropScience, a major producer of the neonicotinoid clothianidin—that bees are only exposed to small, benign amounts of these insecticides.

Radioactive Bluefin Tuna Carried Contamination from Nuclear Plant in Japan Across Sea to the U.S. – (Associated Press – May 28, 2012)
One of the largest and speediest fish, Pacific bluefin tuna can grow to 10 feet and weigh more than 1,000 pounds. They spawn off the Japan coast and swim east at breakneck speed to school in waters off California and the tip of Baja California, Mexico. Five months after the Fukushima disaster, Fisher of Stony Brook University in New York and a team decided to test Pacific bluefin that were caught off the coast of San Diego. To their surprise, tissue samples from all 15 tuna captured contained levels of two radioactive substances - ceisum-134 and cesium-137 - that were higher than in previous catches. To rule out the possibility that the radiation was carried by ocean currents or deposited in the sea through the atmosphere, the team also analyzed yellowfin tuna, found in the eastern Pacific, and bluefin that migrated to Southern California before the nuclear crisis. They found no trace of cesium-134 and only background levels of cesium-137 left over from nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s. The levels of radioactive cesium were 10 times higher than the amount measured in tuna off the California coast in previous years. But even so, that's still far below safe-to-eat limits set by the U.S. and Japanese governments.

Polar Bears Show Signs of Mysterious Illness – (Alaska Public – April 6, 2012)
Biologists have found Polar Bears in the Beaufort Sea with hair loss and skin lesions. Those are the same symptoms that have sickened ice seals and walruses in the arctic since last summer and led the federal government to declare the incident an unusual mortality event. Scientists are just beginning an investigation into whether polar bears are suffering from the same thing. So far, the field scientists have found hair loss on nine of the 33 bears they’ve captured. The bears have skin lesions on their head, neck and ears. Polar bears have been found with similar symptoms since 1999, but the number of effected bears makes this year unusual: “The bears appear to be healthy otherwise. We haven’t seen any dead bears, so its not a mortality event as far as we know. But the fact that its occurring at the same time as this unexplained mortality event with seals certainly raises the interest level. Scientists have ruled out a number of bacteria and viruses that are known to affect marine mammals and the latest tests to turn up negative were for two toxins that can cause harmful algae blooms.

Forest Recovering from Mt. St. Helen’s Explosion – (NASA – May 17, 2012)
Mt. St. Helens exploded 32 years ago on May 18. It began with a small series of earthquakes and culminated with the volcano erupting, a cataclysmic collapse of the flank of the mountain and the largest landslide in recorded history. This time series of data shows the explosion and subsequent recovery of life on the volcano. Landsat, a satellite program operated by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey acquired the images between 1979 and 2011. In them, scientists have an unprecedented opportunity to witness how life recovers from devastation. The animation begins with vegetation as red because early Landsat satellites couldn't 'see' blue light. That changed with launch of Landsat 5 in 1984 and its natural color abilities.



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

CIA’s View of Mobile, Internet Use – (Information Week – May 21, 2012)
A CIA report drives home the huge role smartphones will play in driving Internet usage in emerging markets. While nations such as India, Russia, and Indonesia have seen mobile penetration rates surge well above 50%, their Internet penetration rates remain mired below 20% (or in India's case, 10%). However, smartphone sales to emerging markets are soaring and that creates an opening for broader Internet adoption.

How the Internet Can Read Your Mind – (New Scientist – April 30, 2012)
Even if you're a social media prude, advanced software algorithms can glean a surprising amount of detail about your life. For example, even though most people on Facebook choose not to reveal their physical addresses, it's possible to infer the general location of the majority of users based on the few who do. Similar software can figure out who is likely to be your friend and what kind of personality you might have. A video clip attached to this article shows how these "mind-reading" algorithms are able to extract information about individuals.

The Terrifying Ways Google Is Destroying Your Privacy – (AlterNet – May 20, 2012)
In 1999, Scott McNealy, the former head of Sun MicroSystems, reportedly declared, "You have zero privacy anyway....Get over it." He unintentionally let the proverbial cat out of the bag of the digital age. Unless you have the time and technical know-how to encrypt your digital communications, none of what you transmit—however personal—through a digital wireline or wireless network is “private.” Rather, through the spectacle of post-modern capitalism, the private has become public, the property of the corporation that owns your keystrokes. The digital revolution has morphed the personal into an electronic commodity; that electronic commodity is the exchange currency of an encroaching, 21st-century digital feudalism. Two complementary forces are driving this change: short-term corporate self-interest and a self-serving security-state. The ordinary American’s traditional privacy rights are giving way to the demands of the militarized corporate state. They are determining America’s digital economy and future.

Leap Motion Reveals Super-accurate Motion Control Tech, $70 Device to Change the UI Game – (Engadget – May 21, 2012)
Leap Motion has created a new device which it claims is 200 times more accurate than existing technology and will take gesture controls to the next level. It's about the size of a pack of gum, and once connected to your computer via USB, it creates an eight-cubic-foot virtual workspace. Within that area, it tracks all ten of your fingers simultaneously to within 1/100 of a millimeter. That level of accuracy allows for rudimentary gestures like pinch-to-zoom and more complex actions like manipulating 3D-rendered objects. Users can customize it to suit their needs with custom gestures and sensitivity settings, in addition to chaining multiple Leap devices together to create a larger workspace. Leap Motion also states that its software can be embedded in almost anything with an onboard computer, from phones to refrigerators. (Editor’s note: PowerPoint presentations could soon be much smoother. Forget the clicker; with the wave of a hand, you’re on to the next slide—with a slightly different gesture, you get the previous one.)



SHELTER

How to Build Green on a Budget – (Yes – May 25, 2012)
A 2011 survey by the National Association of Homebuilders found that 60% of professional builders thought environmentally sensitive housing was too expensive for low-income people and 30% said even the middle class couldn’t afford it. But modern pioneers—from owner-builders in British Columbia to designers challenging the harsh conditions of the Aleutian Islands—are showing that green building on a budget, even to the most exacting standards, is possible with enough creativity and planning.



ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

Here Comes the Sunstorm – (Wall St. Journal – May 14, 2012)
As a peak in the cycle of solar flares approaches in 2013, U.S. electricity regulators are considering options for protecting the power grid, including new equipment standards and retrofits, while controlling costs. An extreme storm could cause blackouts lasting weeks or months, leaving some cities temporarily uninhabitable and taking a huge economic toll.

Solar Power Generation World Record Set in Germany – (Guardian – May 28, 2012)
German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours of a Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank has said. The record-breaking amount of solar power shows one of the world's leading industrial nations was able to meet a third of its electricity needs on a work day, Friday, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed. Germany gets about 20% of its overall annual electricity from renewable sources. The fiscal incentives to achieve this are provided through the state-mandated feed-in-tariff (Fit) that are not without controversy, however. The tariff is the main support for the industry until photovoltaic prices fall further to levels similar for conventional power production. The Fit for solar power adds about 2 cents per kW/h on top of electricity prices in Germany that are already among the highest in the world, with consumers paying about 23 cents kW/h, however the Fit has been falling by between 15% to 30% per year

Ultra-efficient LED – (NASA – May 21, 2012)
MIT physicists have developed a greater-than unity electrical system with an LED form factor. The resulting research publication is entitled “Thermoelectrically Pumped Light-Emitting Diodes Operating above Unity Efficiency.” The MIT Physics department demonstrated an LED that achieves 230% efficiency by applying very small input voltages to a traditional LED with a small band gap. The researchers showed that the system was able to derive extra energy from the thermal energy present in the environment. More specifically, the LED was able to convert the heat generated by the vibrations in the LED’s silicon lattice structure into additional emitted photons, increasing the LED efficiency to over twice unity.



AGRICULTURE/FOOD

As Congress Mulls Mandate on Car Black Boxes, Data Ownership Remains Unclear – (Wired – May 16, 2012)
For the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the automotive black box became a key source of impartial information in the unintended acceleration controversy focused on Toyota vehicles. That’s partly why Congress now seems set on passing legislation that would make an Electronic Data Recorder (EDR) – the technical name for an automotive black box – required equipment on all new cars. And lawmakers also want to settle who owns the data on the devices, although that issue won’t be nearly as cut-and-dried. According to Jim Harris, owner of Harris Technical Services in Miami, a firm that accesses and analyzes EDR data, almost all domestic vehicles contain EDRs that are accessible, along with their data via specialized software. A handful of Asian automakers include the devices and allow data to be accessed, but few European makers do. “There are cars that we know have EDRs and we can’t download the information because we don’t have the software,” Harris says. “And there are those that have them, but we don’t know for certain whether they do because the automaker doesn’t reveal the location or make the software available.” The feds have been slowly inching towards a blanket policy covering automotive black box mandates for the past half decade. Since 2006, NHTSA has required that consumers be informed when an automaker has installed an EDR in a vehicle, although the disclosure is typically buried on the car’s owner’s manual.

A 40 Mpg Personal Airplane – (Bloomberg – May 22, 2012)
Synergy, a 40 Mpg personal airplane project, is attracting thousands of dollars in investment on the popular crowd-funding website, Kickstarter. Approximately half-way to its stated target investment goal of $65,000, the project's developer claims the aircraft has ten times the fuel efficiency of a small jet.

E-highway of the Future – (GizMag – may 23, 2012)
The drive towards a zero emission personal electric transportation future seems very much on the horizon. But freight vehicles are also major players in pollution. Siemens is currently testing a possible solution in Germany that's based on proven railway and tram technology but has been adapted for trucks on roads. Heavy goods vehicles have been fitted with a newly-developed pantograph that can automatically raise to meet overhead cables and transfer electric power to hybrid diesel/electric power trains. Energy recovered from regenerative braking can also be fed back into the system for re-use by other vehicles. (Editor’s note: This is the vehicle equivalent of feeding solar-generated electricity back into the grid—and a substantial reduction in otherwise wasted energy.)

Solar Impulse Plane Begins First Transcontinental Flight – (Huffington Post – May 24, 2012)
An experimental solar-powered airplane took off from Switzerland on its first transcontinental flight, aiming to reach North Africa the following week. Fog on the runaway at its home base in Payerne, Switzerland, delayed the take off by two hours, demonstrating how susceptible the prototype single-seater aircraft is to adverse weather. "We can't fly into clouds because it was not designed for that," Andre Borschberg said as he piloted the lumbering plane with its 207-foot wingspan toward the eastern French city of Lyon at a cruising speed of just 43. 5 miles per hour.



AGRICULTURE/FOOD

Rooftop Farming in Queens – (Resilient Family – May 15, 2012)
Imagine an acre urban farm with over 1.2 million pounds of topsoil on top of a building.  Brooklyn Grange imagined it and created it – a commercial urban farm that provides urban resilience and a reliable source of organic produce in the middle of Queens. The farm was financed through private equity, loans, grassroots fundraising and the website Kickstarter.com. According to Brooklyn Grange, Conservation Technologies laid down a green roof system, which prevents plant roots from penetrating the surface of the roof and conserves water through an ingenuous use of drainage mats and small storage cups to hold excess water, which can then be accessed during dry conditions. During a 9-month growing season, they are growing 40 varieties of tomatoes, salad greens, carrots, fennel, beets, radishes, beans and many other crops – all of it organic. During the winter, Brooklyn Grange plants cover crops like rye, buckwheat and clover. The produce is sold directly to the community from several weekly farm stands and to several of New York’s finest restaurants.

Water Inflation – (Market Watch – May 18, 2012)
At Colorado’s premier auction for unallocated water this spring, companies that provide water for hydraulic fracturing at well sites were top bidders on supplies once claimed exclusively by farmers. A growing portion of that water now will be pumped thousands of feet underground at well sites to coax out oil and gas. State officials charged with promoting and regulating the energy industry estimated that fracking required about 13,900 acre-feet in 2010. That’s a small share of the total water consumed in Colorado, about 0.08 percent. However, this fast-growing share already exceeds the amount that the ski industry draws from mountain rivers for making artificial snow. Each oil or gas well drilled requires 500,000 to 5 million gallons of water. (Editor’s Note: The article’s water usage estimate, while presumably accurate, may also be somewhat misleading. From an industry website, “Drilling a typical Chesapeake deep shale natural gas and oil well requires between 65,000 and 600,000 gallons of water. Hydraulic fracturing of a typical Chesapeake horizontal deep shale natural gas or oil well requires an average of 4.5 million gallons per well.” Also, for example, see this industry article which notes, among other problems, a shortage of water.)



SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

Almost Half of New Veterans Seek Disability Compensation – (Nation of Change – May 29, 2012)
About 45% of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are seeking compensation for service-related injuries — more than double the 21% of veterans who filed such claims after the first Gulf War. And new veterans are claiming an average of eight or nine ailments, and in the last year, the average has jumped from 11 to 14. By comparison, Vietnam veterans are receiving compensation for fewer than four injuries on average. The new veterans also have different types of injuries than previous veterans did. That’s partly because improvised bombs have been the main weapon and because body armor and improved battlefield care allowed many of them to survive wounds that in past wars proved fatal. Women have also served in greater numbers in these wars than in the past. Some female veterans are claiming PTSD due to military sexual trauma — a new challenge from a disability rating standpoint.



TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

The NYT’s Love Letter to Death Squads – (Counterpunch – May 29, 2012)
On May 29, 2012, the New York Times ran an article entitled Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will. The NYT article noted that “Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret ‘nominations’ process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. It is the strangest of bureaucratic rituals: Every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference, to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be the next to die. This secret ‘nominations’ process is an invention of the Obama administration, a grim debating society that vets the PowerPoint slides bearing the names, aliases and life stories of suspected members of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen or its allies in Somalia’s Shabab militia. The nominations go to the White House, where by his own insistence and guided by Mr. Brennan, Mr. Obama must approve any name. He signs off on every strike in Yemen and Somalia and also on the more complex and risky strikes in Pakistan — about a third of the total.” The editorial letter printed in Counterpunch carefully deconstructs the NYT article. Both articles have a perspective; they have an opinion and a position that they would like their respective readers to come away with. Reading the two articles back-to-back, they shed light on each other. Together they shed a great deal of light on who and what the United States has become.

Homeland Security Files Show Feds Central to Occupy Movement Crackdown – (Nation of Change – May 15, 2012)
A new trove of heavily redacted documents provided by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request makes it increasingly evident that there was and is a nationally coordinated campaign to disrupt and crush the Occupy Movement. The new documents, which are likely only a subset of responsive materials in the possession of federal law enforcement agencies, only “scratch the surface of a mass intelligence network including Fusion Centers, saturated with 'anti-terrorism' funding, that mobilizes thousands of local and federal officers and agents to investigate and monitor the social justice movement. The latest documents reveal “intense involvement” by the DHS’s so-called National Operations Center (NOC). In its own literature, the DHS describes the NOC as “the primary national-level hub for domestic situational awareness, common operational picture, information fusion, information sharing, communications, and coordination pertaining to the prevention of terrorist attacks and domestic incident management.” The DHS says that the NOC is “the primary conduit for the White House Situation Room” and that it also “facilitates information sharing and operational coordination with other federal, state, local, tribal, non-governmental operation centers and the private sector.” (Editor’s Note: “non-governmental operation centers and the private sector” ??)

Only 15 Senators Voted to Stop FDA from Arresting People Without a Warrant – (Healthy Home Economist – May 25, 2012)
78 United States Senators have gone on the record as being in support of the power crazed FDA arresting small farmers without a warrant, many times decked out with guns and other high powered firearms. The vote was in response to an amendment to S. 3187 submitted by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky which would have stopped this egregious practice.  The good news is that another amendment to the same bill submitted by FDA crony, Senator Dick Durbin (D) of Illinois was also voted down which would have greatly limited Americans’ access to nutritional supplements. The article lists the 15 senators who voted against arrests without a warrant. Not one was a Democrat.



GLOBAL RELATIONS

The End of the Dominance of the U.S. Dollar – (Business Insider – April 30, 2012)
There's a major shift under way, one the US mainstream media has left largely untouched even though it will send the United States into an economic maelstrom and dramatically reduce the country's importance in the world: the demise of the US dollar as the world's reserve currency. Russia and China are leading the charge. More than a year ago, the two nations made good on talks to move away from the dollar and have been using rubles and renminbi to trade with each other since. A few months ago the second and third largest economies – China and Japan – followed suit, striking a deal to promote the use of their own currencies when trading with each other. The deal will allow firms to convert Chinese and Japanese currencies into each other directly, instead of using US dollars as the intermediary as has been the requirement for years. China is now discussing a similar plan with South Korea. Similarly, a new agreement among the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) promotes the use of their national currencies when trading, instead of using the US dollar. China is also pursuing bilateral trades with Malaysia using the renminbi and ringgit. And Russia and Iran have agreed to use rubles as a means of currency in their trades. (Editor’s Note: Given the Euro’s presently questionable life expectancy, this article is looking at a long-term trend, not major current event. The article is worth reading for its informational content; it’s tone and bias should be overlooked.)



LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

Feeding Obesity – (Nation of Change – May 21, 2012)
Attention foodies: There's a new craze in Cuisine World, and it has nothing to do with dressing locally sourced beets and arugula with artisan balsamic vinegar. The pioneering innovator in obesity grub comes from the place where anything goes, and "too much" is never enough: Las Vegas. The "Heart Attack Grill" takes pride in deep-fried, and its menu is filled with unhealthy eats. Renowned for its Quadruple Bypass Burger, Butter Fat Shakes, and Flatliner Fries cooked in pure lard, the grill brags that it serves food with "Taste Worth Dying For." Indeed, two diners have collapsed so far this year while pounding down Bypass Burgers. To add to the charm, customers weighing over 350 pounds can eat for free.



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

Planet X – New Evidence of an Unseen Planet at the Solar System’s Edge – (Space.com – May 22, 2012)
A planet four times the size of Earth may be skirting the edges of the solar system beyond Pluto, according to new research. Too distant to be easily spotted by Earth-based telescopes, the unseen planet could be gravitationally tugging on small icy objects past Neptune, helping explain the mystery of those objects' peculiar orbits. The claim comes from Rodney Gomes, a noted astronomer at the National Observatory of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. For several years, astronomers have observed that a handful of the small icy bodies that lie in the so-called "scattered disc" beyond the orbit of the planet Neptune, including the dwarf planet Sedna, deviate from the paths around the sun that would be expected based on the gravitational pulls of all the known objects in the solar system.



DEMOGRAPHICS

Some Teens Aren’t Liking Facebook as Much as Older Users – (LA Times – May 29, 2012)
Teens who belong to the first truly mobile generation — their most common form of communication is text messaging — are increasingly gravitating to services made for their smartphones and tablets like mobile social network Path. And for some teens, the novelty of Facebook has worn off -- along with that, so has their interest. They are checking out new mobile apps, hanging out on Tumblr and Twitter, and sending plain-old text messages from their phones. Parents, on the other hand, are nervous about teens swapping Facebook for services that can popularize risky behavior such as "sexting." They also don't like being unable to peek over their teens' shoulders. But, says Alice Marwick, a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research, where she studies how teens interact with technology, “That's the point.”



ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

New York and Los Angeles City Councils Approve Responsible Banking Ordinances – (Nation of Change – May 16, 2012)
City councils in the nation’s two largest cities have approved laws aimed at encouraging banks to invest more in their local communities. The laws were supported and pushed by activists from the 99 Percent Movement and religious groups who have led campaigns to move money from the nation’s largest banks. The ordinances give preference for city contracts to banks that make the most substantial investments in the local community through small business loans, home loans, foreclosure prevention, and other programs. Cleveland became the first major city to adopt a responsible banking ordinance in 1991. Pittsburgh and San Diego recently passed similar ordinances, and city councils in Seattle, Boston, and San Francisco are all considering similar laws now.

More Finance Chiefs Willing to Pay Bribes – (Bloomberg – may 23, 2012)
An Ernst & Young survey of 400 CFOs around the world finds that 15% are willing to make cash payments to obtain or retain business, up from 9% last year. And 5% said they would misstate financial results vs. 3% last time. "One of the most troubling findings of the survey is the widespread acceptance of unethical business practices," E&Y says.



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

The Dalai Lama Supports 2045’s Avatar Project – (Russia 2045 – April 30, 2012)
The 2045 initiative has received the blessing and support from the Dalai Lama, as it prepares to announce the second Global Future 2045 Congress, being held in New York, June, 2013. The 2045 initiative’s goal is to create a network of the world’s leading scientists who are focused on the development of cybernetic technology with the ultimate goal of transferring human’s individual consciousness to an artificial carrier. The 2045 Avatar Project has three steps. First, the creation of a human-like robot dubbed “Avatar A,” and a state-of-the-art brain-computer interface system to link the mind with it. Next, it be created a life support system for the human brain, which connects to the “Avatar A,” turning into “Avatar B.” The third step, named “Avatar C”, is developing an artificial brain in which to transfer one’s individual consciousness with the goal of achieving cybernetic immortality. Creating the “Avatar C” through developing an artificial brain and understanding the nature of human consciousness, says the Dalai Lama, could be attainable, and would be a great benefit to future development of science.



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

Politicians: The Same the World Over – (You Tube – November 20, 2011)
The lyrics are in Russian; the visuals, however, are beyond words. And a confirmatory quotation from Nikita Khrushchev, premier of the USSR from 1958 to 1964, can be translated: “Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.”

Underwater Hotel to Be Dubai's Latest Extravagance – (Business Week – May 14, 2012)
The Water Discus Hotel, a luxury underwater hotel in Dubai, surrounded by a coral reef, is planned to have 21 two-person rooms with huge windows and an underwater diving center. Rooms will be as deep as 10 meters below the surface, and diving training will be offered. The hotel can also rotate. A large disc-shaped structure above the water will have a spa, garden, and upper-terrace swimming pool—presumably for guests at an underwater hotel who don’t actually want to be in the ocean. Architect Paweł Podwojewski says he approached the design challenge more as if it were a ship than a building, and kept construction costs low by making the structure simple and not fixing it to the ocean floor. The hotel can surface for repairs or evacuation in anywhere from 15 minutes to 12 hours—the speed is adjustable—and be tugged to new locations. The acrylic windows are the most expensive part, he says, and can be added or removed based on the budget.

American Heads Are Getting Larger – (EurekAlert – May 30, 2012)
Forensic anthropologists at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville have examined 1,500 skulls dating back to the mid-1800s through the mid-1980s. They noticed U.S. skulls have become larger, taller and narrower as seen from the front and faces have become significantly narrower and higher. The researchers cannot pinpoint a reason as to why American head shapes are changing and whether it is primarily due to evolution or lifestyle changes. "The varieties of changes that have swept American life make determining an exact cause an endlessly complicated proposition," said Lee Jantz. "It likely results from modified growth patterns because of better nutrition, lower infant and maternal mortality, less physical work, and a breakdown of former ethnic barriers to marriage. Which of these is paramount we do not know." The scientists also noted changes that illustrate the U.S. population is maturing sooner. This is reflected in the earlier closing of a separation in the bone structure of the skull called the spheno-occipital synchondrosis, which in the past was thought to fuse at about age twenty. Researchers have found the bone is fusing much earlier—at age 14 for girls and 16 for boys.



JUST FOR FUN

Deb “Spoons” Perry – (You Tube – April 22, 2012)
Deb “Spoons” Perry performs to “Lonely Boy”, written by The Black Keys. What can we say? Sure, “Australia’s got talent”, but this goes beyond talent: it clinks of joy. And if this one made your day, check out this.



A FINAL QUOTE--

When was the last time you did something for the first time? — Anonymous, seen on a bumper sticker.



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 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
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