FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT--
- The forests around Chernobyl aren’t decaying properly.
- Scientists demonstrate first contagious airborne wi-fi virus.
- Ducati announces wireless airbag jackets for riders and passengers.
- NASA-funded study: Is industrial civilization headed for 'irreversible collapse'?
by John L. Petersen
Come With Us to Damanhur and Findhorn
In October I’m leading a small group of new world explorers to visit some of the most iconic and important sites on this planet that point (in practical terms) toward the new world that is emerging. We’re going to amazing Damanhur to see the extraordinary temples (called the 8th wonder of the world by many) and learn from them about their advanced social system that integrates multiple villages, businesses and lots of people into a progressive, enlightened community. They’ve worked out a unique approach to social systems, economics, conflict resolution, etc., that will tell us about new ways of living.
Then we’ll go down to Portofino on the Italian Riviera for a couple of days of rest before we jet up to Scotland to visit Findhorn – another leading edge community that has learned how to live in concert with the land – and each other – in uniquely successfully ways. Findhorn is one of the leading centers of prototypical approaches to sustainability in the world.
We’ll end the two weeks with a train trip through the length of Scotland and England to visit Salisbury and nearby Stonehenge, Avebury, Glastonbury and other extraordinary places.
If you can join us, this will be one of the most memorable trips that you will take in your life. You will see wonderful new things, relax and get rejuvenated, and, importantly, learn a great deal about how you and your community – as well as all of us as humans – can begin to practically plan for the unprecedented future that is fast upon us.
Get complete information here
Do come and join us on this certain to be memorable exploration of both the past and the future.
Penny Kelly in Berkeley Springs Next Week
Intuitive and naturopathic physician, Penny Kelly will be our speaker at the next Berkeley Springs Transition Talks presentation, on Saturday the 12th of April. Penny is going to talk about Letting Go of Belief. When times change – particularly when the shift is rapid – the only way to survive and thrive is by giving up old beliefs and embrace new ideas.
We all have beliefs, and many of us defend them enthusiastically, nurture them religiously, or weed them out vehemently . . . only to replace them with other beliefs. Not many people really understand what beliefs are or how they operate to control us. Fewer examine them coherently, and even fewer probe beyond them or venture into the unknown.
What happens when you let go of belief? Is there a system of perception and action that could fill in the gap? What does it feel like when you have
no beliefs? And how does the world appear to you without these habitual anchors? Join us for a look at what happens when you let go of beliefs and take a peek into another perceptual system that is the basis for an entirely different kind of experience . . . and a wholly different kind of world.
Get the details on Penny’s presentation (and the rest of the Transition Talk line up) at www.transitiontalks.org.
And don’t forget, Gregg Braden will be with us Saturday, the 24th of May. Make sure you plan for that!
Hurting Never Helps
Although I spent 29 years of my life actively associated with the military in one way or another, these days I find the notion of killing people in order to accomplish national goals to be a rather barbaric and ineffective approach to providing the quality of life that we all desire. Like the need for policemen, it’s hard for me to visualize a world where you don’t need an armed force for defense and dealing with the rough edges of society, but I (and some of my very senior military leader friends), came to the conclusion many years ago that wars and violence never accomplish what the politicians think they will.
The significant, lingering and unintended consequences of the organized process of killing people produce more problems than they solve these days. N.B. There has been no conflict that the U.S. has been involved in since WWII that has both fully resolved the problem that was the basis for the use of violence and not produced secondary issues that, in some cases, were more problematic than the one that started it all. Wars really don’t work.
The same can be said unequivocally about torturing people (for whatever reason). Torture is really barbaric and is little different in concept than the common medieval and inquisitional approaches to dealing with undesirable situations that we now find so unpalatable. We’re getting better, though. Certainly we, as a species are (slowly) learning that that stuff doesn’t work, wouldn’t you think?
Appears not – particularly in the case of the U.S. Our country, which seems to think that it has a unique responsibility for criticizing how others treat their citizens, is this week now being exposed for the systematic torturing that it gave to a whole bunch of prisoners. We’re not talking here about the poor individuals who are presently being held in Guantanamo without any charges. It would be pretty easy to call that kind of behavior mental or emotional torture for sure. But what’s in the news today is a Senate Intelligence Committee study of thousands of pages that systematically shows that all of the torturing that we did to these prisoners did absolutely no good at all in terms of any intelligence gained. Watch this short video with Chris Matthews that recounts all of main points of the report.
They discovered all of this in World War II. There was a significant study that I read shortly after 9/11 summarizing the findings of interrogation methods after that big war; it was clear that far more intelligence was gained from being kind and friendly to prisoners than from threatening and torturing them. The most effective interrogator laid out very clearly how his approach was to befriend the prisoners and commiserate with them in their situation.
One of the points made was that the CIA actively tried to disinform the American people about their program, which is clearly against the law.
This reminds me about another issue making the news: The Director of National Intelligence, retired general James Clapper, admitted last week that federal law allows warrantless searches of Americans and that the National Security Agency was, in fact searching the communications of millions of Americans . . . after he had told the senate committee earlier that the government wasn’t, in fact, doing exactly that. He has now effectively admitted that he lied to Congress, but the U.S. Attorney General who is supposed to investigate such things has so far refused to do so. Watch this video which summarizes the situation.
Here’s the big question in my mind: Will these exposes gain enough critical mass such that the American people demand change? There is a place – and we’re getting closer to it – where the pendulum swing in this direction will stop and head toward more control of the system. Maybe these, along with the growing list of issues of government and corporate deception, incompetence, and misbehavior, will force change . . . before the system itself implodes.
Are You Ready for the Internet of Cops? – (Kurzweil AI – March 3, 2014)
FirstNet — a state-of-the-art communications network for paramedics, firemen and law enforcement at the federal, state and local level — will give cops on the streets unprecedented technological powers, and possibly hand over even more intimate data about our lives to the higher ends of the government and its intelligence agencies. FirstNet will allow users to “tag” a disaster victim with a small device to allow patients’ vital signs to be monitored from a control center, allowing medical staff to keep an eye on who needs treatment the most at any one time. But FirstNet will also give local law enforcement the ability to take digital “fingerprints from the field,” record and share high-quality video, with facial recognition, and instantaneously marry these freshly sourced data with others over the network. There is also the possibility that this will create a new means for the federal government to harvest massive quantities of the biometric data being collected by local agencies.
Quantum Experiment Shows How Time 'Emerges' from Entanglement – (Medium – February 09, 2014)
Time is an emergent phenomenon that is a side effect of quantum entanglement, say physicists. And they have the first experimental results to prove it. Entanglement is a deep and powerful link and, in 1983, the theorists Don Page and William Wootters, showed how it can be used to measure time. Their idea was that the way a pair of entangled particles evolve is a kind of clock that can be used to measure change. But the results depend on how the observation is made. But there is another way to do it that gives a different result. This is for an observer inside the universe to compare the evolution of the particles with the rest of the universe. In this case, the internal observer would see a change and this difference in the evolution of entangled particles compared with everything else is an important a measure of time. This is an elegant and powerful idea. It suggests that time is an emergent phenomenon that comes about because of the nature of entanglement. And it exists only for observers inside the universe. Any god-like observer outside sees a static, unchanging universe, just as the Wheeler-DeWitt equations predict. Of course, without experimental verification, Page and Wootter’s ideas are little more than a philosophical curiosity. And since it is never possible to have an observer outside the universe, there seemed little chance of ever testing the idea. Until now. Today, Ekaterina Moreva at the Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRIM) in Turin, Italy, and a few pals have performed the first experimental test of Page and Wootters’ ideas. And they confirm that time is indeed an emergent phenomenon for ‘internal’ observers but absent for external ones.
MIT Engineers Design Hybrid Living/nonliving Materials – (Kurzweil AI - March 26, 2014)
MIT engineers have coaxed bacterial cells to produce biofilms that can incorporate nonliving materials, such as gold nanoparticles and quantum dots. These “living materials” combine the advantages of live cells — which respond to their environment, produce complex biological molecules, and span multiple length scales — with the benefits of nonliving materials, which add functions such as conducting electricity or emitting light. This approach could one day be used to design more complex devices such as solar cells, self-healing materials, or diagnostic sensors, says Timothy Lu, an MIT assistant professor of electrical engineering and biological engineering.
The Earth's Zebraprint Jacket: NASA Discovers New Giant Striped Structure in the Planet's Radiation Belt – (Daily Mail – March 20, 2014)
Scientists have uncovered a mysterious structure that surround the earth rather like a giant zebraprint jacket. Stripes extend through the inner radiation belt, moving as the Earth rotates. The radiation belts are dynamic doughnut-shaped regions around our planet, extending high above the atmosphere, made up of high-energy particles, both electrons and charged particles called ions, which are trapped by Earth's magnetic field. Radiation levels across the belts are affected by solar activity that causes energy and particles to flow into near-Earth space. NASA's twin Van Allen Probes spacecraft discovered the new, persistent structure in one of two radiation belts surrounding Earth. The structure is produced by the slow rotation of Earth, previously considered incapable of affecting the motion of radiation belt particles, which have velocities approaching the speed of light. Scientists had previously believed that increased solar wind activity was the primary force behind any structures in our planet's radiation belts. However, these zebra stripes were shown to be visible even during low solar wind activity, which prompted a new search for how they were generated.
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY
First Comprehensive Atlas of Human Gene Activity Released – (Kurzweil AI – March 28, 2014)
A large international consortium of researchers has produced the first comprehensive, detailed map of the way genes work across the major cells and tissues of the human body. The findings describe the complex networks that govern gene activity, and the new information could play a crucial role in identifying the genes involved with disease. “Now, for the first time, we are able to pinpoint the regions of the genome that can be active in a disease and in normal activity, whether it’s in a brain cell, the skin, in blood stem cells or in hair follicles,” said Winston Hide, associate professor of bioinformatics and computational biology at Harvard School of Public Health. “This is a major advance that will greatly increase our ability to understand the causes of disease across the body.”
Harvard Study: Fluoride Can Increase Autism and Attention Deficit Disorder – (Washington’s Blog – March 10, 2014)
A Harvard University study found that fluoride can lower children’s IQ by 7 points, and that numerous government reports have shown that fluoride can injure the brain and neurological system. Now, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals – Lancet – has published a Harvard study showing that fluoride is one of the chemicals which can increase autism and attention deficit disorder. “In 2006, we did a systematic review and identified five industrial chemicals as developmental neurotoxicants: lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene. Since 2006, epidemiological studies have documented six additional developmental neurotoxicants—including fluoride” For some background on the use of fluoride as a pharmaceutical product (sold by Merck), see also: Fluoride Was Once Prescribed as an Anti-Thyroid Drug.
Scientists Show How Your Thoughts Can Cause Specific Molecular Changes to Your Genes – (Tuned Body – December 10, 2013)
A recent study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of intensive mindfulness practice. The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” says study author Richard J. Davidson, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Glyphosate, Pathways to Modern Diseases II: Celiac Sprue and Gluten Intolerance – (Interdiscip Toxicology – 2013)
From the abstract of the article: Celiac disease, and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5% of the population now suffers from it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia and depression. It is a multifactorial disease associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies as well as reproductive issues and increased risk to thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer. Here, we propose that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup®, is the most important causal factor in this epidemic. (Editor’s note: We don’t usually link to articles in medical journals, but we feel it is worth pointing to the fact that there exists substantial research with extensive documented support that herbicides, and specifically Roundup, are linked to serious disease. The medical term “sprue” refers to a chronic form of malabsorption syndrome.)
Genetic Mugshot Recreates Faces from Nothing but DNA – (New Scientist – March 20, 2014)
What if the police could issue a wanted poster based on a realistic "photofit" likeness built from that DNA? Not if, but when, claim researchers who have developed a method for determining how our genes influence facial shape. One day, the technique may even allow us to gaze into the faces of extinct human-like species that interbred with our own ancestors. It's already possible to make some inferences about the appearance of crime suspects from their DNA alone, including their racial ancestry and some shades of hair colour. And in 2012, a team led by Manfred Kayser of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, identified five genetic variants with detectable effects on facial shape. It was a start, but still a long way from reliable genetic photofits. To take the idea a step further, a team led by population geneticist Mark Shriver of Pennsylvania State University and imaging specialist Peter Claes of the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) in Belgium used a stereoscopic camera to capture 3D images of almost 600 volunteers from populations with mixed European and West African ancestry. Because people from Europe and Africa tend to have differently shaped faces, studying people with mixed ancestry increased the chances of finding genetic variants affecting facial structure.
NASA: Earth Just Dodged Solar Blast in 2012 – (Register – March 19, 2014)
A new analysis of data from NASA's Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) by Chinese and Berkeley helioboffins shows that a July 2012 solar storm of unprecedented size would have wiped out global electronic systems if it had occurred just nine days earlier. "Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous," said UC Berkeley research physicist Janet Luhmann. "We measure magnetic fields in 'Tesla' and this CME was 80 nanoTesla," said Antti Pulkkinen, a space weather scientist at NASA Goddard. He explained that the Carrington Event was measured at 110 nanoTesla, but the 2012 eruption is the largest ever detected by the STEREO mission. The cost of an extreme space weather event, if it hits Earth, could reach trillions of dollars with a potential recovery time of 4 to 10 years.
Forests around Chernobyl Aren’t Decaying Properly – (Smithsonian – March 14, 2014)
It wasn't just people, animals and trees that were affected by radiation exposure at Chernobyl, but also the decomposers: insects, microbes, and fungi. Nearly 30 years have passed since the Chernobyl plant exploded and caused an unprecedented nuclear disaster. Animals and plants still show signs of radiation poisoning. Birds around Chernobyl have significantly smaller brains that those living in non-radiation poisoned areas; trees there grow more slowly; and fewer spiders and insects—including bees, butterflies and grasshoppers—live there. Additionally, game animals such as wild boar caught outside of the exclusion zone—including some bagged as far away as Germany—continue to show abnormal and dangerous levels of radiation. However, there are even more fundamental issues going on in the environment. According to a new study published in Oecologia, decomposers—organisms such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects that drive the process of decay—have also suffered from the contamination. These creatures are responsible for an essential component of any ecosystem: recycling organic matter back into the soil. Issues with such a basic-level process, the authors of the study think, could have compounding effects for the entire ecosystem. See also: How close do you live to a US nuclear power plant? See Smithsonian interactive map.
Scientists Demonstrate First Contagious Airborne WiFi Virus – (Science Blog – February 25, 2014)
Researchers at the University of Liverpool have shown for the first time that WiFi networks can be infected with a virus that can move through densely populated areas as efficiently as the common cold spreads between humans. The team designed and simulated an attack by a virus, called “Chameleon”, and found that not only could it spread quickly between homes and businesses, but it was able to avoid detection and identify the points at which WiFi access is least protected by encryption and passwords. Researchers from the University’s School of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and Electronics, simulated an attack on Belfast and London in a laboratory setting, and found that “Chameleon” behaved like an airborne virus, travelling across the WiFi network via Access Points (APs) that connect households and businesses to WiFi networks. Areas that are more densely populated have more APs in closer proximity to each other, which meant that the virus propagated more quickly, particularly across networks connectable within a 10-50 meter radius. Alan Marshall, Professor of Network Security at the University, said: “When “Chameleon” attacked an AP it didn’t affect how it worked, but was able to collect and report the credentials of all other WiFi users who connected to it. The virus then sought out other WiFi APs that it could connect to and infect.”
Three Strikes and We’re Out (of the Open Internet) – (Brenda Cooper – January 27, 2014)
Someone interviewing me [i.e. the author, Brenda Cooper, a futurist] for a magazine asked me what current technology tomorrow’s children would find obsolete. I almost answered “The Internet.” Then I decided to think about that answer a little bit because it’s pretty scary. Then I decided it’s true. Shortly, humans may find today’s wide open Internet as archaic as we now find phones that are wired to walls. Here’s why. There are three huge pressures on the internet as we know it today – the one where I can write this essay, post it on my website, and you can find it and read it. Whoever and wherever you are.
Tips for Protecting Your Privacy Online – (Nation of Change – March 15, 2014)
One of the easiest and simplest things you can do to protect your privacy is to be a smarter Web browser. This is surprisingly difficult because most popular Web browsing software is set up to allow users to be tracked by default. The reason is simple economics – you don’t pay for Web browsing software, so the companies that make it have to find other ways to make money. The most egregious example of this conflict came in 2008 when Microsoft’s advertising executives helped quash a plan by the engineers to build better privacy protections into the Internet Explorer 8 Web browser. Microsoft has since added additional protections – but they are not turned on by default. The situation is no better at Google, whose Chrome Web browser has a “buried and discouraged” the Do Not Track button, and is pioneering the use of new tracking technology that cannot be blocked. And it’s worth noting that the other big Web browser maker, Mozilla Corp., receives 85% of its revenues from its agreement to make Google the default search engine on Firefox. Even worse, many of the tools that Web browsers offer to protect privacy are not effective. Tracking companies have refused to honor the Do Not Track button. And Google Chrome’s “Incognito” mode and Internet Explorer’s “InPrivate Browsing” mode won’t protect you from being tracked. Those settings simply prevent other people who use your Web browser after you to see where you’ve been online. Article contains some practical suggestions.
Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic Dome Home to be Restored as Museum – (Arch Daily – March 20, 2014)
In April, Southern Illinois University (SIU) will begin to restore the world’s first geodesic dome home, built by Buckminster Fuller. Originally assembled in just seven hours from 60 wooden triangle panels, the dome was occupied by Fuller and his wife, Lady Anne, in the 1960s during his residency at SIU. After Fuller’s death, the dome was used as student housing before falling into disrepair. In 2001, the home was donated to a non-profit that had it listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. It will now be restored and preserved as a museum in Carbondale.
A Record 36% of North Dakota Fracked Gas Flared in December – (Counter Punch – March 11, 2014)
The recent March 6 House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing titled “Benefits of and Challenges to Energy Access in the 21st Century: Fuel Supply and Infrastructure” never had over 100 online viewers watching the livestream at any point in time. But the poor attendance record had no relation to the gravity of the facts presented by testifiers. Among other things, one presenter revealed 36% of the gas by-product from oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin was flared off as waste during a brutally cold Midwest winter with no end in sight. Wasteful flaring is also a growing quagmire in Texas, which has seen a 10-fold increase in flaring permits since 2010. According to World Bank data, the U.S. is now one of the top five flarers in the world. Why Flare? Profit: While it’s profitable to capture the gas, it’s more profitable to drill the next oil well. So if you’re an oil company with a limited amount of money to spend — as they all are — it’s a rational short-term option. In the long-term, that’s very short-sighted and a waste of the value of that resource, but the market is pushing companies in that direction. “I’ll tell you why people flare: It’s cheap,” said Troy Anderson, lead operator of a North Dakota gas-processing plant owned by Whiting Petroleum. “Pipelines are expensive: You have to maintain them. You need permits to build them. They are a pain.”
Plug It on the Window – (Yanko Design – April 26, 2013)
The Window Socket offers a neat way to harness solar energy and use it as a plug socket. So far we have seen solutions that act as a solar battery backup, but none as a direct plug-in. Simple in design, the plug just attaches to any window and does its job intuitively. Use the suction cup to stick the plug to a window; charge fully in 5-8 hours; detach and take ten hours of power with you. That’s the concept anyway. As designers, Kyuho Song and Boa Oh, note: “The technology is possible. However, the use of electricity and charge time is not efficient. But soon, [we] believe it will be resolved technically.” (Editor’s note: We’re looking forward to this product – the concept is elegant.)
Ducati Announces Wireless Airbag Jackets for Riders and Passengers – (GizMag – March 24, 2014)
Ducati has announced a new version of its stunning Multistrada 1200 sports-tourer (check out the video review) that wirelessly inflates airbag jackets for both rider and passenger in the event of a crash. A step forward from the motorcycle airbag Honda showcased in its Goldwing series, the Ducati system can protect the rider and passenger even once they’ve separated from the bike. Teaming up with Ducati is motorcycle clothing company, Dainese, which has been experimenting with suit-mounted airbags since 2008 – its D-Air system is already available in Race and Street versions. The Race version pops out of the collar to protect neck, shoulders and collarbones, and the Street version is a much larger bag that protects the wearer’s entire torso, front and back. These systems activate in a slide or a crash, using data from a bike-mounted control box to decide when it’s time to pull the pin.
Farmers Confront “Big Data” Revolution – (Wichita KWTX – March 29, 2014)
Farmers from across the nation gathered this month in Washington in an annual effort to seek action on the most important matters in American agriculture and this time a new issue emerged. There’s growing unease about how the largest seed companies are gathering vast amount of data from sensors on tractors, combines and other farm equipment. The sensors measure soil conditions, seeding rates, crop yields and many other variables. Seed companies want to harness the data to help farmers grow more food with the same amount of land, but some farmers worry that the information could be hacked or exploited by corporations or government agencies. They are serving notice that Congress might need to become involved in yet another debate over electronic security and privacy.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Obama Has Four Options for Revamping NSA Phone Surveillance, and None Are Ideal – (New York – February 26, 2014)
In his speech in January on post-Snowden changes to the NSA, President Obama said, "The challenge is getting the details right, and that's not simple." That's apparent from the options Obama administration lawyers have come up with for handling the NSA's collection of phone data. The president said the massive amount of phone metadata should not be held by the NSA, and asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Justice Department to report to him by March 28 on possible ways to restructure the controversial program. The agencies are ahead of schedule, and have already presented four alternatives that will each anger a different group. The last of the four options, doing away with the program altogether, seems pretty simple, but it may actually be the most complex. Intelligence officials won't just give up on a program that they insist is crucial for fighting terrorism, so they would try to obtain the information through other investigative methods, which would likely raise a host of other privacy concerns. (Editor’s note: This is basically an admission that the intelligence community cannot be effectively policed by any currently standing body – including Congress and the White House. See the next article in the next section.)
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
“Do You Think That Because I’m Chairman of the Intelligence Committee That I Just Say “I Want It”, and They Give It to Me?” – (Washington’s Blog – March 25, 2014)
In 2007, reporter Charles Davis interviewed then-Chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee – Jay Rockefeller. The sentence above is a direct quote from Senator Rockefeller. He went on to say, “They Control It. All Of It. ALL of It. ALL THE TIME. I Only Get – and My Committee Only Gets – What They WANT To Give Me.” That was in 2007. Bringing things up to date: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in August that the committee has less information about, and conducts less oversight of, intelligence-gathering that relies solely on presidential authority. She said she planned to ask for more briefings on those programs. The well-supported upshot of this article is that the intelligence agencies are rogue – apparently often in concert with the White House. The article provides a breadth of detail.
America’s $1 Trillion National Security Budget – (Counter Punch – March 14, 2014)
The Pentagon’s current leadership and most on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in Congress describe President Obama’s 2015 defense budget request as painfully austere, if not dangerously inadequate. The defense trade press is full of statements from generals, admirals and politicians from both political parties that there is not nearly enough money available to buy adequate amounts of new hardware, maintain current pay and benefits or provide even low amounts of training and equipment maintenance. As a result, they are looking for ways to relieve the Pentagon from its penury. However, Pentagon costs, taken together with other known national security expenses for 2015, will exceed $1 Trillion. How can that be? The trade press is full of statements about the Pentagon’s $495.6 billion budget and how low that is. There is much more than $495.6 billion in the budget for the Pentagon, and there are piles of national security spending outside the Pentagon-all of it as elemental for national security as any new aircraft and ships and the morale and well-being of our troops. The table included in the article details what a careful observer will find in President Obama’s 2015 budget presentation materials. The amounts for the Pentagon are well above the advertised $495.6 billion, and there are several non-Pentagon accounts that are clearly relevant. The equivalent data for 2014 is also presented for comparison.
Legalization is a Human Rights Issue: Latin America Steps Up Resolve to End the Drug Wars – (Yes – March 21, 2014)
Communities all over Mexico have suffered drug war violence for years—and some of them have challenged the drug traffickers—but after Mexican poet, writer, and activist Javier Sicilia’s appeal, a national movement quickly coalesced. The drug war has devastated so many lives on both sides of the border. Washington State Rep. Luis Moscoso says, "We lost the war on drugs decades ago. We still have such an investment in DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency] and other groups that are down there fighting the cartels and the coca growers. It's a waste of money." For Moscoso, legalization is an international human rights issue. "The whole [illicit drug] industry and crime element behind it have just been allowed to grow and prosper around the world. Our market drives that. We take no responsibility for the fact that our appetite [for drugs] causes major problems in other countries. This is why these things need to be homegrown and home marketed."
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
The 75-Year Study That Found the Secrets to a Fulfilling Life – (Huffington Post – August 11, 2013)
What if there was a study dedicated to unearthing the secrets to a happy and purposeful life? It would have to be conducted over the course of many decades, following the lives of real people from childhood until old age, in order to see how they changed and what they learned. A group of Harvard researchers has undertaken such a study, producing a comprehensive, flesh-and-blood picture of some of life’s fundamental questions: how we grow and change, what we value as time goes on, and what is likely to make us happy and fulfilled. The study, known as the Harvard Grant Study, provides an unrivaled glimpse into a subset of humanity, following 268 male Harvard undergraduates from the classes of 1938-1940 (now well into their 90s) for 75 years, collecting data on various aspects of their lives at regular intervals. And the conclusions are universal.
Toronto 9/11 Ad Campaign Launched: Subway Riders Will See Footage of WTC 7 Collapse - (Activist Post - March 18, 2014)
The ReThink911 group has launched a new ad campaign that is showcased within the Toronto subway system (TTC.) This campaign will be running for 2 weeks and approximately 1.2 million residents of Toronto will see video footage of the collapse of World Trade Center 7 compared to a controlled demolition with the caption “ReThink911.org.” The decision to bring this information to the screens and actually show people the collapse of Building 7 was inspired by a scientific poll. The poll found that 51% of Canadians who are shown video footage of the collapse of Building 7 suspect that it was a controlled demolition, compared to 18% who suspect it was caused by fires. When the people were asked who they were more inclined to believe – the U.S. government which still states that the building was brought down by fires, or the critics such as Architects and Engineers For 9/11 Truth who argue that it was a controlled demolition, 49% agree with the critics, while only 20% believe the official story from the government. 44% are in support of reopening the investigation while only 14% are opposed. Article includes the 16 second video clip ad.
Inside the Berlin Shop Where You Borrow Instead of Buy – (BBC News – March 28, 2014)
Locals call it a Leihladen - the borrowing shop. North of Berlin's center, Leila is a library of things - a pioneer of sharing in a consumer society. Founded by Maike Majewski and Nikolai Wolfert, the shop-without-money now has 500 members who donate goods to be loaned out. (To become a member, you simply have to donate something.) In return, members can borrow any of the shop's 2,000 items. Power tools are among the most popular. But you can also find inflatable boats, kitchen appliances, ice skates and toys. The not-for-profit venture is run by volunteers who seek to create not just a resource of goods to share, but also a community center at the heart of the neighborhood. Article includes video clip with more details.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang’s Smoking Gun – (New York Times – March 17, 2014)
One night late in 1979, an itinerant young physicist named Alan Guth, with a new son and a year’s appointment at Stanford, stayed up late with his notebook and equations, venturing far beyond the world of known physics. He was trying to understand why there was no trace of some exotic particles that should have been created in the Big Bang. Instead he discovered what might have made the universe bang to begin with. A potential hitch in the presumed course of cosmic evolution could have infused space itself with a special energy that exerted a repulsive force, causing the universe to swell faster than the speed of light for a prodigiously violent instant. If true, the rapid engorgement would solve paradoxes like why the heavens look uniform from pole to pole and not like a jagged, warped mess. The enormous ballooning would iron out all the wrinkles and irregularities. Those particles were not missing, but would be diluted beyond detection, like spit in the ocean. And now Dr. Guth’s starship has come in. Radio astronomers have reported that they have seen the beginning of the Big Bang, and that his hypothesis, known undramatically as inflation, looked right. Reaching back across 13.8 billion years to the first sliver of cosmic time with telescopes at the South Pole, a team of astronomers led by John M. Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics detected ripples in the fabric of space-time — so-called gravitational waves — the signature of a universe being wrenched violently apart when it was roughly a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old. They are the long-sought smoking-gun evidence of inflation, proof, Dr. Kovac and his colleagues say, that Dr. Guth was correct.
'Paycheck to Paycheck' HBO Doc Shows Us What It's Like to Be a Single Mom in America – (Huffington Post – March 13, 2014)
According to The Shriver Report, more than 42 million women and the 28 million children who depend on them are either living in poverty or teetering on the brink of it. Katrina Gilbert is one of them. The 30-year-old single mom is at the center of "Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert," a new HBO documentary executive produced by Maria Shriver that attempts to put a human face on the startling stat. Filmed over the course of one year in Chattanooga, TN, the doc chronicles the highs and lows in the life of Gilbert, a mom of three who's barely scrapping by on the $9.49 an hour she receives as a certified nursing assistant.
Are There Really 21 Million Slaves Worldwide? – (BBC News – March 10, 2014)
Film director Steve McQueen said at the Academy Awards there are 21 million slaves worldwide. The figure mentioned by McQueen comes from the UN's International Labor Organization (ILO), which has been producing a global figure for nearly 10 years. The ILO provides estimates for different world regions and its report suggests Asia has the most slaves - 11.7 million. Another measurement of global slavery comes out with a much higher worldwide total - the Global Slavery Index says there are 29.8 million, half of which are in India. "There is trafficking of young women and boys into commercial sexual exploitation," says lead author Kevin Bales, a professor of contemporary slavery at the University of Hull. "There's slavery in carpet weaving, mining and ship breaking." The most common form is called collateral debt bondage, which involves people who have borrowed money pledging themselves and their family as bonded laborers to the loan shark or slaveholder, which can carry on through generations until the debt is paid. Article includes link to full report and further statistical breakdowns.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Top 10 Emerging Technologies for 2014 – (Business Insider – February 26, 2014)
The World Economic Forum, famous for its annual Davos convention in Switzerland, has put out a new report identifying the top technological trends for the coming year. From wearable electronics to brain-computer interfaces, here are the big technologies to look out for this year. For example, Brain-Computer Interfaces: The ability to control a computer using only the power of the mind is closer than one might think. Brain-computer interfaces, where computers can read and interpret signals directly from the brain, have already achieved clinical success in allowing quadriplegics, those suffering 'locked-in syndrome' or people who have had a stroke to move their own wheelchairs or even drink coffee from a cup by controlling the action of a robotic arm with their brain waves. In addition, direct brain implants have helped restore partial vision to people who have lost their sight.
Red Dot Awards – Design Concept 2014 – (Red Dot – 2014)
Here are literally a few hundred of the newest product innovations. They range from very low tech (e.g. water wheel washing machine, bamboo and rattan crutches) to very high tech things that you’ve never seen before (What is a pacam, a lenify or an eco-mobius?). They range from practical to whimsical to “huh?” – and most of them are fascinating. Each product shown on the main page can be clicked on for a complete description.
Here Is the FT's Gold Price Manipulation Article That Was Removed – (Zero Hedge – February 26, 2014)
Recently, the Financial Times (FT) released a clear, informative and fact-based article, titled simply enough "Gold price rigging fears put investors on alert" in which author Madison Marriage, citing a report by the Fideres consultancy, revealed that global gold prices may have been manipulated on 50 per cent of occasions between January 2010 and December 2013. To those who have been following the price action of gold in the past four years, gold manipulation is not only not surprising, but accepted and widely appreciated (because, like the Chinese, those who buy gold would rather do so at artificially low rather than artificially high fiat prices). However, very soon thereafter, the FT article became unavailable. Zero Hedge goes on to state: And since we can only assume the article has been lost to FT readers due to some server glitch, and not due to post-editorial censorship or certainly an angry phone call from the Bank of England or some comparable institution, we are happy to recreate it in its entirety.”
NASA-funded Study: Industrial Civilization Headed for 'Irreversible Collapse'? – (Guardian – March 14, 2014)
A new study partly-sponsored by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilization could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution. The study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that "the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history." Cases of severe civilizational disruption due to "precipitous collapse - often lasting centuries - have been quite common." By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilizational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy. These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity"; and "the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or "Commoners") [poor]" These social phenomena have played "a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse," in all such cases over "the last five thousand years."
Camel Bones: Archeology Shows Bible Written Later Than Previously Thought – (Informed Content – February 6, 2014)
A new paper by Israeli archeologists Lidar Sapir-Hen and Erez Ben-Yosef, [pdf] posted at the University of Tel Aviv web site, is bad news for biblical literalists and far right wing Israeli nationalists who use the Bible for support. The Hebrew Bible’s oldest chapters– Genesis, Exodus, and even Judges purport to discuss events thousands of years ago. The custom in Western biblical scholarship is to date Abraham to roughly 2000 B.C. But we now have archeological proof that the Bible was written later than previously thought and projects later developments into the distant past: for example, it alleges that people had domesticated camels four millennia ago in what is now Israel – which is simply not true. That is the finding of Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef. E.g. Genesis 24: 64 says, “Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel.” If this encounter happened circa 2026 BC, it was happening a thousand years before anyone was riding camels. The archeologists’ digs near the Jordanian border find evidence of domesticated camels around 930-900 BC. But they don’t find that evidence in any settlements older than 930 BC. There is a pretty clear dividing line between the pre-domestic camel and post- domestic camel settlements. The article includes further similar examples.
Jefferson’s Final Warnings - (Freeman’s Perspective – Febuary 27, 2014)
In a letter to William T. Barry in 1822, Jefferson writes: “The foundations are already deeply laid by their [the Supreme Court Justices'] decisions for the annihilation of constitutional State rights, and the removal of every check, every counterpoise to the engulfing power of which themselves are to make a sovereign part.” Jefferson continues: ”If ever this vast country is brought under a single government, it will be one of the most extensive corruption, indifferent and incapable of a wholesome care over so wide a spread of surface.” Here is a fragment from Jefferson’s letter to C. W. Gooch in 1826: … I have little hope that the torrent of consolidation [centralization of government] can be withstood." And a passage from his letter to William B. Giles, in 1825: I see… with the deepest affliction, the rapid strides with which the federal branch of our government is advancing towards the usurpation of all the rights reserved to the States, and the consolidation in itself of all powers, foreign and domestic; and that too, by constructions which, if legitimate, leave no limits to their power. See also: Thomas Jefferson: “We Failed.” (Editor’s note: Few of us are historians enough to have read Jefferson’s late correspondence. Leaving aside the leanings of the writer and the e-publication, we recommend this article for the author’s research into Jeffersonian thought reveals the deeply insightful vision of a former president. We also recommend the “We Failed” article for its excerpts from the letters of George Washington, Samuel Adams, and Benjamin Franklin.)
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.
Probe Identifies Suspects over Lockerbie Bomb – (Aljazeera – March 11, 2014)
Twenty-five years after the Lockerbie bombing, Al Jazeera has uncovered evidence which casts doubt over the entire investigation and trial into what was the biggest case of mass murder ever seen in Scotland. Documents obtained by the network, and verified by security and legal experts, point to the involvement of Iran's secret service, Hezbollah and the armed group The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) - General Command. The investigation found that the PFLP was responding to requests from Iran to avenge the shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 by the USS Vincennes in July 1988, which killed 290 people. Classified US Defence Intelligence Agency cables obtained by Al Jazeera say: "The execution of the operation was contracted to Ahmad Jabril, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PLFLP-GC) leader. Money was given to Jabril upfront in Damascus for initial expense. The mission was to blow up a Pam-Am flight."
JUST FOR FUN
Towel Dance – (Flixxy – February 15, 2014)
Here is the "Towel Dance" by Cirque du Soleil performers Les Beaux Frères on the French TV Show "The World’s Greatest Cabaret" hosted by Patrick Sebastien. Watch as 2.2 towels provide the entire “costume” for two consummate performers.
A FINAL QUOTE--
It is vain to be always looking toward the future and never acting toward it. - John Frederick Boyes, English essayist (1811 - 1879)
A special thanks to: Tom Burgin, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Judy Gardiner, Michael Ostrolenk, Diane Petersen, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along - thanks.
Edited by John L. Petersen