FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT--
- Interconnected aquifers of brine have been discovered beneath Antarctica’s dry valleys that could sustain life and shed light on ancient climate change.
- In a world first, Chinese scientists have reported editing the genomes of human embryos.
- The FBI head agent in charge of the anthrax investigation following the 9/11 attacks has just filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit calling into question the entire FBI investigation.
- Among hundred-dollar bills in circulation, the portion held overseas jumped to 71% in 2011, from 49% 20 years ago.
by John L. Petersen
Gregg Braden and Joe Dispenza coming to Berkeley Springs
Two of the most provocative and insightful thinkers, writers and speakers about the leading edge of the global and personal shift that is reconfiguring the world are coming to Berkeley Springs Transition Talks on the 8th and 9th of May. Templeton Prize nominee Gregg Braden (www.greggbraden.com) and NYT best-selling author, Dr. Joe Dispenza (www.drjoedispenza.com) will be together in an extraordinary, Friday night and all day Saturday event that clearly could change your life.
Individually, both of these extraordinary communicators have helped thousands of people understand how they could better engage the present and prepare for the future. Together, they present an opportunity for personal enlightenment that shouldn’t be missed.
Last year Gregg filled the Star Theatre for a wonderful three-hour event that finally spilled out onto the sidewalk. This year, with both Gregg and Dr. Joe with us we’re moving to the high school auditorium, the largest room in the county. We expect a sell-out, so if you can come, make your reservations as soon as possible.
Dr. Joe Dispenza
Come for the weekend and experience small-town West Virginia. It’s almost heaven!
You can get complete information at www.transitiontalks.org. Come be with us!
The whole notion behind “Punctuations” and the “TransitionTalks” presumes that we are in the middle of extraordinary change on this planet that is dramatically and increasingly reorganizing the fundamentals of who we are as humans and how we live. This is literally an epochal transition that is more profound than any in the history of the world as it is typically taught.
It really is one thing to abstractly talk about this reorganization as an event in history and being representative of other such shifts in the past, but quite another to observe the implosion of the familiar and emergence of something that is dramatically new.
That is particularly the case with the news of the last couple of weeks. Articles are emerging that call into question those things that are the fabric of what we in the US (and the West, at least) have presumed to be “real” and upon which we have based our lives and our understanding of reality.
Here are a number of articles that directly challenge the presumption that many of us have had for most of our lives, particularly about the honesty of our government.
Here’s one where the head of one of the investigations associated with the 9/11 series of events says that it was contrived.
HEAD of the FBI’s Anthrax Investigation Says the Whole Thing Was a SHAM Posted on April 17, 2015 by WashingtonsBlog
Agent In Charge of Amerithrax Investigation Blows the Whistle
In the fall of 2001, following the 9/11 attacks, a series of anthrax mailings occurred which killed five Americans and sickened 17 others. Four anthrax-laden envelopes were recovered which were addressed to two news media outlets in New York City (the New York Post and Tom Brokaw at NBC) and two senators in Washington D.C. (Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle). The anthrax letters addressed to New York were mailed on September 18, 2001, just seven days after the 9/11 attacks. The letters addressed to the senators were mailed 21 days later on October 9, 2001. A fifth mailing of anthrax is believed to have been directed to American Media, Inc. (AMI) in Boca Raton, Florida based upon the death of one AMI employee from anthrax poisoning and heavy spore contamination in the building.
Executive management at FBI Headquarters assigned responsibility for the anthrax investigation (code named “AMERITHRAX”) to the Washington Field Office (WFO), dubbing it the single most important case in the FBI at that time. In October 2002, in the wake of surging media criticism, White House impatience with a seeming lack of investigative progress by WFO, and a concerned Congress that was considering revoking the FBI’s charter to investigate terrorism cases, Defendant FBI Director Mueller reassigned Plaintiff from the FBI’s San Diego Field Office to the Inspection Division at FBI Headquarters and placed Plaintiff in charge of the AMERITHRAX case as an “Inspector.” While leading the investigation for the next four years, Plaintiff’s efforts to advance the case met with intransigence from WFO’s executive management, apathy and error from the FBI Laboratory, politically motivated communication embargos from FBI Headquarters, and yet another preceding and equally erroneous legal opinion from Defendant Kelley – all of which greatly obstructed and impeded the investigation.
Read more . . .
Did you find that article at all interesting? If you did, you should appreciate it while you can as we now have legislators trying to make publishing a piece like that – that goes against the government’s position – illegal. Now that’s really different from the past!
Truth Is Washington’s Enemy — Paul Craig Roberts
US Representative Ed Royce (R, CA) is busy at work destroying the possibility of truth being spoken in the US. On April 15 at a hearing before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs of which Royce is chairman, Royce made use of two minor presstitutes to help him redefine all who take exception to Washington’s lies as “threats” who belong to a deranged pro-Russian propaganda cult.
Washington’s problem is that whereas Washington controls the print and TV media in the US and its vassal states in Europe, Canada, Australia, Ukraine, and Japan, Washington does not control Internet sites, such as this one, or media, such as RT, of non-vassal states. Consequently, Washington’s lies are subject to challenge, and as people lose confidence in Western print and TV media because of the propaganda content, Washington’s agendas, which depend on lies, are experiencing rougher sledding.
Truth is bubbling up through Washington’s propaganda. Confronted with the possibility of a loss of control over every explanation, Hillary Clinton, Ed Royce, and the rest are suddenly complaining that Washington is “losing the information war.” Huge sums of taxpayers’ hard earned money will now be used to combat the truth with lies.
Read more. . . .
Here’s something else that they might not want you to know some day.
Government Says Big Pharma Kills More People Than All Illegal Drugs Combined
John Vibes, Activist Post
A new study has shown that pharmaceutical drugs cause more overdoses and more deaths than all of the illegal drugs on the market combined. According to the government’s own statistics, listed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, deaths relating to pharmaceutical drugs rose to roughly 23,000 last year, which accounts for over half of the total overdose deaths in the country for that time period.
Additionally, a recent study conducted by researchers with the University of Virginia, University of Arkansas, the Partnership for Drug Free Kids, and the American Institutes for Research reconfirmed the known dangers of pharmaceutical drug abuse.
The study concluded that,
Teens need help before they reach these tipping points for prescription drug abuse. Adults spotting teens with very high levels of anxiety and at least moderate use of other restricted substances should realize that these are students with a high likelihood of prescription abuse. Male teens with a high need to be popular and teens in general appear to be at exceptional risk. Campaigns must target parents as well, since they clearly underestimate both the physical risks of prescription drugs and the likelihood that their children will abuse these drugs.
Sadly, the authors of the study described any average teenager, however, it does give us some insight into the root causes of teenage drug abuse.
As the study noted, teens are being pushed towards drug use by the high-stress environment that is created by modern culture and government schools. Many times, these students are even prescribed a wide variety of these medications to help them cope with the stresses of teenage life, which means that doctors are essentially putting their stamp of approval on daily teenage use of amphetamines like Adderall or tranquilizers like Xanax.
A study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) highlighted this phenomena, pointing out that
Prescription drugs are seen as blessed by a trusted institution, the FDA, while increasingly aggressive advertising by drug companies simultaneously floods parents and children with messages that these substances are safe, popular, and beneficial.
John Vibes writes for TheAntiMedia.org, where this article first appeared. Tune in to the Anti-Media radio show Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific.
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at bookpatch.com.
So, they don’t want you to know the truth? Why would that be?
One reason might be that events are being manipulated to a particular end and if you found out what was happening you would not support the manipulation efforts. That could make one wonder what it was that was being manipulated such that it required these kinds of extraordinary efforts to fight the truth. As we’ve mentioned here before, there is a great deal of history showing that governments generate false flag events to justify their behaviors. Here’s a good summary.
False Flag Terrorism: Are Terrorist Acts Being Manipulated?
Definition of False Flag
"False flag terrorism" occurs when elements within a government stage a secret operation whereby government forces pretend to be a targeted enemy while attacking their own forces or people. The attack is then falsely blamed on the enemy in order to justify going to war against that enemy. Or as Wikipedia defines it:
False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to deceive the public in such a way that the operations appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one's own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations, and have been used in peace-time; for example, during Italy's strategy of tension.
The term comes from the old days of wooden ships, when one ship would hang the flag of its enemy before attacking another ship in its own navy. Because the enemy's flag was hung instead of the flag of the real country of the attacking ship, it was called a "false flag" attack.
9/11 Note: For those wanting to explore the possibility of 9/11 as a false flag operation, click here.
Historical False Flag Attacks
There are many examples of false flag attacks throughout history. For example, it is widely known that the Nazis, in Operation Himmler, faked attacks on their own people and resources which they blamed on the Poles, to justify the invasion of Poland. And it has now been persuasively argued — as shown, for example, in this History Channel video — that Nazis set fire to their own parliament, the Reichstag, and blamed that fire on others. The Reichstag fire was the watershed event which justified Hitler's seizure of power and suspension of liberties.
And in the early 1950s, agents of an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including U.S. diplomatic facilities, then left behind "evidence" implicating the Arabs as the culprits (one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to identify the bombers). Israel's Defense Minister was brought down by the scandal, along with the entire Israeli government. Click here for verification.
The Russian KGB apparently conducted a wave of bombings in Russia in order to justify war against Chechnya and put Vladimir Putin into power (see also this essay and this report). And the Turkish government has been caught bombing its own and blaming it on a rebel group to justify a crackdown on that group. Muslim governments also play this game. For example, the well-respected former Indonesian president claimed that their government had a role in the Bali bombings.
This sounds nuts, right? You've never heard of this "false flag terrorism," where a government attacks its own people then blames others in order to justify its goals, right? And you are skeptical of the statements discussed above? Please take a look at these historical quotes:
"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." - U.S. President James Madison
"Why of course the people don't want war ... But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship ... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." - Hermann Goering, Nazi leader.
What about the U.S.?
Is it logical to assume that, even if other countries have carried out false flag operations (especially horrible regimes such as, say, the Nazis or Stalin), the U.S. has never done so? Well, as documented by the New York Times, Iranians working for the C.I.A. in the 1950's posed as Communists and staged bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected president (see also this essay).
And, as confirmed by a former Italian Prime Minister, an Italian judge, and the former head of Italian counterintelligence, NATO
carried out terror bombings in Italy with the help of the Pentagon and CIA and blamed communists in order to rally people's support for their governments in Europe in their fight against communism. As one participant in this formerly-secret program stated: "You had to attack civilians, people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security."
Moreover, declassified U.S. Government documents show that in the 1960s, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan code-named Operation Northwoods to blow up American airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. The operation was not carried out only because the Kennedy administration refused to implement these Pentagon plans.
For lots more on the astonishing Operation Northwoods, see the ABC news report; the official declassified documents; and watch this interview with James Bamford, the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. One quote from the the declassified Northwoods documents states: "A 'Remember the Maine' incident could be arranged: We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba. Casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation."
What about Al-Qaeda?
You might think Al-Qaeda is different. It is very powerful, organized, and out to get us, right? Consider this Los Angeles Times article, reviewing a BBC documentary entitled The Power of Nightmares, which shows that the threat from Al Qaeda has been vastly overblown (and see this article on who is behind the hype). And former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski testified to the Senate that the war on terror is "a mythical historical narrative."
And did you know that the FBI had penetrated the cell which carried out the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, but had – at the last minute – cancelled the plan to have its FBI infiltrator substitute fake powder for real explosives, against the infiltrator's strong wishes? See also this TV news report.
Have you heard that the CIA is alleged to have met with Bin Laden two months before 9/11? Did you know that years after 9/11 the FBI first stated that it did not have sufficient evidence to prosecute Bin Laden for 9/11? (See also this partial confirmation by the Washington Post) And did you see the statement in Newsweek by the CIA commander in charge of the capture that the U.S. let Bin Laden escape from Afghanistan?
Have you heard that the anthrax attacks – which were sent along with notes purportedly written by Islamic terrorists – used a weaponized anthrax strain from the top U.S. bioweapons facility? Indeed, top bioweapons experts have stated that the anthrax attack may have been a CIA test "gone wrong." For more on this, see this article by a former NSA and naval intelligence officer and this statement by a distinguished law professor and bioterror expert (and this one).
It is also interesting that the only Congress members mailed anthrax letters were key Democrats, and that the attacks occurred one week before passage of the freedom-curtailing PATRIOT Act, which seems to have scared them and the rest of Congress into passing that act without even reading it. And though it may be a coincidence, White House staff began taking the anti-anthrax medicine before the Anthrax attacks occurred.
Even General William Odom, former director of the National Security Agency, said "By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In ‘78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism, yet in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation" (the audio is here).
Why Does This Matter?
Please read what the following highly respected people are saying:
Former prominent Republican U.S. Congressman and CIA official Bob Barr stated that the U.S. is close to becoming a totalitarian society and that elements in government are using fear to try to bring this about.
Republican U.S. Congressman Ron Paul stated that the government "is determined to have martial law." He also said a contrived "Gulf of Tonkin-type incident" may occur to gain popular support for an attack on Iran." Former National Security Adviser Brzezinski told the Senate that a terrorist act might be carried out in the U.S. and falsely blamed on Iran to justify yet another war.
The former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, Paul Craig Roberts, who is called the "Father of Reaganomics" and is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and Scripps Howard News Service, has said
"Ask yourself: Would a government that has lied us into two wars and is working to lie us into an attack on Iran shrink from staging 'terrorist' attacks in order to remove opposition to its agenda?"
Retired 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who prepared and presented Presidential Daily Briefs and served as a high-level analyst for several presidents, stated that if there was another major attack in the U.S., it would lead to martial law. He went on to say:
"We have to be careful, if somebody does this kind of provocation – big violent explosions of some kind – we have to not take the word of the masters there in Washington that this was some terrorist event because it could well be a provocation allowing them, or seemingly to allow them to get what they want."
The former CIA analyst would not put it past the government to "play fast and loose" with terror alerts and warnings and even terrorist events in order to rally people behind the flag.
General Tommy Franks stated that if another terrorist attack occurs in the United States "the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government." Former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter stated before the Iraq war started that there were no weapons of mass destruction. He is now saying that he would not rule out staged government terror by the U.S. government. And British Parliament Member George Galloway stated that "there is a very real danger" that the
American government will stage a false flag terror attack in order to justify war against Iran and to gain complete control domestically.
The abundance of reliable information in this essay suggests that not only has the U.S. in the past conducted false flag operations, but there is a possibility that 9/11 involved some element of this deceit, and a future false flag operation cannot be ruled out. Let us spread this news to all who care so that we might build the critical mass necessary to stop these secret operations and work together for a more caring civil society.
Special Note: For a collection of reliable, verifiable information suggesting that 9/11 may have been a form of false flag operation, please see the 9/11 Information Center available at this link. For a list of more false flag terrorism operations with links for verification, see this webpage.
Read original article.
In the middle of all of this, the inventor of antivirus software is alleging the National Security Agency is putting malicious software on all phones so that they can monitor most of everything that you do. Why would a government of the kind that we always thought we had do something like this? What is behind this trend to keep track of the smallest events of our lives?
Inventor of Antivirus Software: The Government Is Planting Malicious Software On Your Phone So It Can Bypass Encryption and See What You’re Doing
April 14, 2015 by WashingtonsBlog
Spy Agencies Are Intentionally Destroying Digital Security
Top computer and internet experts say that NSA spying breaks the functionality of our computers and of the Internet. It reduces functionality and reduces security by – for example – creating backdoors that malicious hackers can get through.
Remember, American and British spy agencies have intentionally weakened security for many decades. And it’s getting worse and worse. For example, they plan to use automated programs to infect millions of computers.
Smart Phones Vulnerable to Spying
We documented in 2013 that smart phones are very vulnerable to spying:
The government is spying on you through your phone … and may even remotely turn on your camera and microphone when your phone is off.
Read more . . .
Want another indication of potential big change? Here’s a really big one.
Triggers: are China and Russia getting ready to pull them? Bill Holter
Russia President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in the Kremlin in Moscow © AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
The big story regarding the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was the application by the Israelis. This came just prior to the deadline and of course at the displeasure once again to Washington. Britain was the early defector followed by Germany, France and Italy. Eyebrows were raised when Saudi Arabia made their announcement but I believe what was truly missed was the application by Taiwan.
If you are old enough to remember, Taiwan was "recognized China" in the eyes of the U.S.. Mainland China was "Red" China and not officially recognized by the U.S., the application by Taiwan slipped by with little to no comment. I believe Taiwan's application holds great significance because it means the "elder families" are on board and have given their approval. This is truly big news yet not even spoken of in the West? As I understand it, the application must now be approved, a potential sticking point is the name "Taiwan", this will be very interesting to watch!
Why is the AIIB such a big deal? There are several reasons but I believe the biggest is because it is a very public piece to the bigger picture. Not only has the bank attracted the Asian countries one would expect, it has attracted many Western countries and even those closest to the U.S.. Going one step further, ALL of these applications came against U.S. lobbying and were followed by public rebukes from Washington. This was the first instance where the world collectively (including long time U.S. allies) has expressly denied Washington's wishes.
The AIIB is only one piece to the puzzle. Another is the clearing system set to directly compete with SWIFT. Yet another is the BRICS bank, and let's not forget the Shanghai physical metals exchange set to go live shortly. Can you see the picture these pieces are putting together? China, Russia and the rest of the world could see what is coming but they have not been ready for it...yet. Each one of these pieces amounts to preparation for what is to come. When I say "preparation", much of it has been put into place to buffer the East (and rest of the world) from the financial collapse of the West.
The clearing system for instance will allow and aid trade to continue between nations should the Western financial system close because of insolvencies or bankruptcies. Call it contingency planning and they know what the contingencies are. Another way to look at these plans is to see the U.S. becoming isolated. The U.S. has been trying to isolate Russia and cut them off from liquidity and trade, China (and Russia) have been isolating the U.S. little by little with each new deal signed but have not pulled any triggers along the way.
Until now and until these preparations were made, the East could not afford for the West to fall because they would have been taken down with it. Now, the East has alternatives. There are clearing alternatives, financial ones, new trade deals and routes, and of course even currency alternatives being made ready. The U.S. has relied on the dollar being THE only alternative for the world to clear trade, this monopoly is ending. What I am trying to explain is this, there are now very few preparations left unattended.
When the U.S. originally began pushing economic and financial sanctions on Russia, I immediately was confused. I was confused because in my mind, Russia had the ability to destroy the U.S.. They had all sorts of options, they could sell their Treasury securities and dollars and simply blow up either the gold or silver markets. They could have defaulted on their debts or gone hot in Syria, there were many possibilities but none ever pursued. Don't get me wrong, Russia would have suffered greatly, but, the U.S. has been wobbly enough for a direct effort to have tipped the scales. Again, because they were not ready, no trigger was ever pulled and I believe we have been "carried" like an aging prize fighter, "they" being the Russians and the Chinese.
One last preparation has been longer term, the accumulation of gold. You must ask yourself "why" Russia and China have been accumulating so much gold? The answer is twofold, they understand gold to be money but more importantly they know "where" their purchases were coming from. This preparation involved not only amassing "money" but also bleeding the West of their money (gold).
It is truly scary to see all of the pieces that have been put into place because they are all locked and loaded. Nearly all of the future plans and programs are now in place. The only one we are awaiting is for the Shanghai precious metals exchange to go live which should be very soon. This exchange can either be a trigger or a barometer. Should China decide to revalue and reset the system, they can easily do this by marking gold up using their physical exchange. You can deny this if you will but it is the reality. COMEX and LBMA do not have the inventories to compete with or supply Eastern demand, China will eventually set price whether you want to believe it or not.
This needs a little explanation and can be defined in one word, "arbitrage". Should China decide on a markup phase (they will) for gold, all they need to do is bid their own physical price higher. Should COMEX or LBMA lag behind this move, traders will then have the incentive to purchase Western "paper" and simply demand physical delivery. The delivered gold (while it lasts) will then be sold at the higher price in China and thus a profit for the trader. This is Mother Nature at her finest and China could not be accused of "busting" the Western exchanges purposely because the arbitragers would be doing the dirty work. To put the game in perspective, COMEX registered gold inventory amounts to about 2 days worth of Chinese imports, these shelves are nearly bare in the grand scheme!
They do not even have to act in a direct fashion other than to announce how much gold they have accumulated. China undoubtedly has already accumulated more than 10,000 tons and probably more like the 20-25,000 tons Alisdair McLeod believes. Were China to announce they hold 10,000 tons of gold, what do you believe the market's reaction will be? The price of gold will explode on any announcement such as this because the math and common sense behind it. The world (West) will be slapped in the face that China "believes" in gold. The speculation of a gold backed yuan will run rampant AND the natural question of "where did all this gold come from?" will be asked. As I have mentioned several times before, another tactic could be China simply "bidding" for any and all gold at a specified price using their dollar hoard to effectively "set" the new price. This avenue will only be traveled once it becomes apparent that Western vaults have been emptied.
My point is this, the number of potential triggers is staggering and they don't even necessarily need to be pulled ...but they can now be pulled with less recoil than there would have been previously. The fiat Ponzi scheme will fail on its own and without any help, however, "triggers" can now be pulled because there are alternatives and contingency plans to continue trade, operations, finance and business in general to the exclusion of dollars and specifically the U.S.. Think of it as a giant wall being erected around the United States and the West to contain or limit the damage that spills forth. The final bricks to this wall are being put in place!
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The change is not all bad. Here’s a very interesting report from Russia about how we all communicate with each other in ways that many suspect but science didn’t know.
People can draw energy from each other - the same as plants do Pravda-TV Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:49 UTC
A biological research team at Bielefeld University has made a groundbreaking discovery showing that plants can draw an alternative source of energy from other plants. This finding could also have a major impact on the future of bioenergy eventually providing the evidence to show that people draw energy from others in much the same way. Members of Professor Dr. Olaf Kruse's biological research team have confirmed for the first time that a plant, the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, not only engages in photosynthesis, but also has an alternative source of energy: it can draw it from other plants.
The research findings were released this week in the online journal Nature Communications published by the renowned journal Nature. Flowers need water and light to grow and people are no different. Our physical bodies are like sponges, soaking up the environment.
"This is exactly why there are certain people who feel uncomfortable in specific group settings where there is a mix of energy and emotions," said psychologist and energy healer Dr. Olivia Bader-Lee.
Plants engage in the photosynthesis of carbon dioxide, water, and light. In a series of experiments, Professor Dr. Olaf Kruse and his team cultivated the microscopically small green alga species Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and observed that when faced with a shortage of energy, these single-cell plants can draw energy from neighboring vegetable cellulose instead.
The alga secretes enzymes (so-called cellulose enzymes) that 'digest' the cellulose, breaking it down into smaller sugar components. These are then transported into the cells and transformed into a source of energy: the alga can continue to grow.
'This is the first time that such a behavior has been confirmed in a vegetable organism', says Professor Kruse. 'That algae can digest cellulose contradicts every previous textbook.
To a certain extent, what we are seeing is plants eating plants'. Currently, the scientists are studying whether this mechanism can also be found in other types of alga. Preliminary findings indicate that this is the case.
"When energy studies become more advanced in the coming years, we will eventually see this translated to human beings as well," stated Bader-Lee. "The human organism is very much like a plant, it draws needed energy to feed emotional states and this can essentially energize cells or cause increases in cortisol and catabolize cells depending on the emotional trigger."
Bader-Lee suggests that the field of bio-energy is now ever evolving and that studies on the plant and animal world will soon translate and demonstrate what energy metaphysicians have known all along — that humans can heal each other simply through energy transfer just as plants do.
"Human can absorb and heal through other humans, animals, and any part of nature. That's why being around nature is often uplifting and energizing for so many people," she concluded.
Here are five energy tools to use to clear your space and prevent energy drains while releasing people's energy:
Stay centered and grounded. If you are centered within your spiritual self (instead of your analyzer or ego) you will sense right away when something has moved into your space. If you are fully grounded, you can easily release other people's energy and emotions down your grounding cord with your intention.
Be in a state of non-resistance. What we resists sticks. If you feel uncomfortable around a certain person or in a group, don't go into resistance as a way to protect yourself as this will only keep foreign energy stuck in your space.
Move into a state of non-resistance by imagining that your body is clear and translucent like clear glass or water. This way, if someone throws some invalidation at you, it will pass right through you.
Own your personal aura space. We each have an energetic aura surrounding our body. If we don't own this personal space we are vulnerable to foreign energy entering it. Become aware of your aura boundaries (about an arms length away from your body all the way around, above and below) as a way to own your personal space.
Give yourself an energy cleanse. The color gold has a high vibration which is useful for clearing away foreign energy. Imagine a gold shower nozzle at the top of your aura (a few feet above your head) and turn it on, allowing clear gold energy to flow through your aura and body space and release down your grounding. You will immediately feel cleansed and refreshed.
Call back your energy. When we have our energy in our own space there is less room for other's energy to enter. But as we focus on other people and projects we sometimes spread our energy around.
Create an image of a clear gold sun several feet above your head and let it be a magnet, attracting all of your energy back into it (and purifying it in the gold energy).
Then bring it down through the top of your aura and into your body space, releasing your energy back into your personal space.
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Maker Faire Founder Dale Dougherty on the Past, Present, and Online Future of the Maker Movement – (Fast Company – April 29, 2015)
What started a decade ago as an influential magazine—and became a beloved global series of events—is about to become a new social network. "More than mere consumers of technology, we are makers, adapting technology to our needs and integrating it into our lives. Some of us are born makers and others, like me, become makers almost without realizing it." With those words, technology writer Dale Dougherty opened his column in the premiere issue of Make magazine, dated February 2005. As its contents indicated, the new publication was aimed at hands-on technologists. But it turned out that he was also coining a term—maker—and creating a manifesto for a movement that has evolved in ways that nobody could have guessed with any precision. In the April/May 2015 issue of Make, for instance, that ethos is reflected in stories on 3-D-printing a quadcopter, cloning a fig, and constructing a Raspberry Pi-powered spy camera small enough for your cat to wear. The first Maker Faire—a gathering of makers young and old—took place in the San Francisco Bay Area in April 2006. Hundreds of such events have since taken place all over the world; a million people are expected to attend them in 2015.
Salty Aquifer, Previously Unknown Microbial Habitat Discovered under Antarctica – (Science Daily – April 28, 2015)
Many view Antarctica as a frozen wasteland. However, it turns out there are hidden interconnected lakes underneath its dry valleys that could sustain life and shed light on ancient climate change. Jill Mikucki, a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, microbiology assistant professor, was part of a team that detected extensive salty groundwater networks in Antarctica using a novel airborne electromagnetic mapping sensor system called SkyTEM. The research, funded by the National Science Foundation, provides compelling evidence that the underground lakes and brine-saturated sediments may support subsurface microbial ecosystems. The researchers believe the newly discovered brines harbor similar microbial communities in the deep, cold dark groundwater. The brines may provide insight on how microbes survive such extreme conditions. They also may provide the basis for future exploration of a subsurface habitat on Mars.
MRI Based on a Sugar Molecule Can Tell Cancerous from Noncancerous Cells – (Johns Hopkins – March 27, 2015)
When certain cells become cancerous, they shed sugar molecules from their outer membranes. Johns Hopkins researchers took advantage of this fact to create a cancer detection method using MRI that does not rely on injected contrast dyes. Preliminary testing on lab-grown cells suggests MRI could one day replace biopsies for diagnosing cancer.
Google Maps for the Human Body – (Daily Mail – March 30, 2015)
A radical new imaging system is able to create a zoomable 'Google map of the body'. Using previously top-secret technology to zoom through the human body down to the level of a single cell, it could be a 'game-changer' for medicine, researchers say. They are using an image of the human knee joint to assess patients and develop new therapies. The imaging technology, developed by high-tech German optical and industrial measurement manufacturer Zeiss, was originally developed to scan silicon wafers for defects. The system is able to take MRI and other scans and use's Google's algorithms to create zoomable images from them. Critical to this work has been the development of microscopy that allows seamless imaging of organs and tissues across length scales – centimeters at the whole-joint level down to nanometer-sized molecules – as well s the capacity to sift and analyze huge sets of data.
Chinese Scientists Genetically Modify Human Embryos – (Nature – April 22, 2015)
In a world first, Chinese scientists have reported editing the genomes of human embryos. The results are published in the online journal Protein & Cell and confirm widespread rumors that such experiments had been conducted. In the paper, researchers led by Junjiu Huang, a gene-function researcher at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, tried to head off such concerns by using 'non-viable' embryos, which cannot result in a live birth, that were obtained from local fertility clinics. The team attempted to modify the gene responsible for β-thalassaemia, a potentially fatal blood disorder, using a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR/Cas9. The researchers say that their results reveal serious obstacles to using the method in medical applications. "I believe this is the first report of CRISPR/Cas9 applied to human pre-implantation embryos and as such the study is a landmark, as well as a cautionary tale," says George Daley, a stem-cell biologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. "Their study should be a stern warning to any practitioner who thinks the technology is ready for testing to eradicate disease genes." The team injected 86 embryos and then waited 48 hours, enough time for the CRISPR/Cas9 system and the molecules that replace the missing DNA to act — and for the embryos to grow to about eight cells each. Of the 71 embryos that survived, 54 were genetically tested. This revealed that just 28 were successfully spliced, and that only a fraction of those contained the replacement genetic material. “If you want to do it in normal embryos, you need to be close to 100%,” Huang says. “That’s why we stopped. We still think it’s too immature.”
Biohackers Develop Night Vision Eye Drops to See in the Dark – (GizMag – March 30, 2015)
It sounds like something from a science-fiction movie, but a biohacking group in California has managed to develop eye drops that temporarily give a human being excellent night vision. The chemicals used are still very much at the experimental stage – this isn't something you'd want to try at home just yet – but the first trial has been a successful one. The main ingredient in the eye drop solution is Chlorin e6. It's found in certain deep sea fish, enabling them to find their way around underwater, and it's also been used to treat humans with poor night vision. Essentially, it creates a microscopic chemical reaction that amplifies low light sources as they pass through. By combining Ce6 with insulin in a saline solution, the Science for the Masses group was able to create a mixture that gave excellent night vision for several hours. The solution was dropped into the conjunctival sac between the eyeball and eyelid, where it could be absorbed into the retina. The initial black color disappeared after a few seconds according to the researchers. By the morning, the Ce6 subject's eyes had returned to normal, and no ill effects have been reported 20 days later.
Portland Bans Insecticide to Protect Declining Honey Bees – (Reuters – April 1, 2015)
Despite protests from farmers who argued the insecticide was crucial for crop production, the Portland City Commission voted unanimously to immediately suspend use of products that contain neonicotinoids. Such pesticides are widely used on crops and on plants as well as trees in gardens, parks and commercial nurseries. Portland brings to at least eight the number of U.S. municipalities, including Seattle and Spokane in neighboring Washington state, that have banned the chemicals amid what conservationists say is mounting evidence the insecticide is a culprit in the decline of bees and other pollinating insects. The federal Fish and Wildlife Service is to prohibit neonicotinoid use at national wildlife refuges by next January. The agency found that the insecticide, which is taken up by plants through roots and leaves, was not preferred because it could be broadly distributed and potentially affect "a broad spectrum of non-target species."
Monsanto’s “Discredit Bureau” Really Does Exist – (Dailykos – March 27, 2015)
Reuters is reporting that Monsanto is demanding a sit-down with members of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). This international scientific body is being called on the carpet for reporting that Monsanto’s most widely sold herbicide, which is inextricably linked to the majority of their genetically engineered products, is probably carcinogenic to humans. A talk given by Monsanto’s Dr. William Moar presented the latest project in their product pipeline dealing with RNA. He also spoke about Monsanto’s efforts to educate citizens about the scientific certainty of the safety of their genetically engineered products. The audience was mostly agricultural students many of whom were perhaps hoping for the only well-paid internships and jobs in their field. One student asked what Monsanto was doing to counter the “bad science” around their work. Dr. Moar, perhaps forgetting that this was a public event, then revealed that Monsanto indeed had “an entire department” (waving his arm for emphasis) dedicated to “debunking” science which disagreed with theirs. This is the first time a Monsanto functionary has publically admitted that they have such an entity which brings their immense political and financial weight to bear on scientists who dare to publish against them. The “discredit department” will not be found on their official website.
Talking to the Future -- Hey, There's Nuclear Waste Buried Here! – (Forbes – April 17, 2015)
How will “STAY OUT!” be written 5,000 years from now? When we’ve had some kind of apocalypse, all society is gone, no one remembers America even existed, let alone how to read English. But we’re still drilling for oil. This science fiction notion of how to warn future humans about buried radioactivity has resurfaced now that the defunct nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain is back on the lips of Congress and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said interim storage for spent nuclear fuel is fine for over a hundred years. More than 60 years of study has provided scientific consensus that deep geologic disposal is the best thing to do with nuclear waste (National Academy of Sciences). So if we’re going to bury it in a great big hole for thousands of years, many people think we have to warn future generations to stay away from the nasty stuff. With nuclear waste accumulating at the surface, society needs a repository in the next century or so, but we have much more time than that to decide on the messages. Or to decide there shouldn’t be a message at all. This article is a thoughtful analysis of the possibilities and potential value of designing warnings meant to last 5,000 years – along with the conceivable backfire of just such warnings.
The Hackers’ New Weapons: Routers and Printers – (Technology Review – April 28, 2015)
Attacks that take down websites by flooding them with traffic have been popular among computer criminals for years. Traditionally, such assaults are launched using PCs infected with malware. But two security companies say they have seen the emergence of a worrying new tactic: home routers, Internet-connected printers, and even webcams being used to knock targeted sites offline. In a recent report, Chinese security company NSFocus said that it had seen a significant increase in the use of networked home and office devices in so-called denial-of-service attacks. NSFocus get its data from hardware it sells to companies to defend against denial-of-service attacks. Its customers include the giant Chinese social networking company Tencent. In December 2014, one of the largest denial-of-service attacks to date took down the online gaming services of Microsoft and Sony for several days. NSFocus researchers say their data indicates that 30 percent of the devices flooding the sites under attack were networked devices, mostly home and office routers. The attackers took control of the routers using malware that looked for devices with default passwords.
Smartphone Secrets May Be Better Than a Password – (Technology Review – April 28, 2015)
In a research project dubbed ActivPass, researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur in West Bengal, India, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign studied how well participants could answer questions based on a log of activity, including Facebook posts, websites visited, songs downloaded, and people called and texted. In a recent experiment, the researchers report that asking questions about recent, infrequent events (such as a phone call yesterday from a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while) worked 95 percent of the time in testing. “Whenever there’s something you and your phone share and no one else knows, that’s a secret, and that can be used as a key,” says Romit Roy Choudhury, an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a coauthor of the paper. . Eventually, this kind of authentication may replace the growing list of usernames and passwords most of us have, or at least serve as a new kind of backup for when you forget a password. Researchers also believe it could cut down on sharing of passwords for services like Netflix.
Live Small, Be Happy? The Next New Big Thing – (BBC Capital – April 21, 2015)
While the tiny house movement has been well documented, a bigger idea for smaller living space is on the rise: that of the micro-condo or tiny apartment. Driven by housing shortages and an affordability crisis in cities across the globe, these pint-sized pads — also referred to as “apodments,” micro-digs, nano-suites and micro-lofts — are being planned and promoted by developers both as luxury rentals and as an affordable entry into competitive housing markets. They offer living spaces of less than 500square feet and are becoming popular with entry-level income, young professionals who want to be close to urban conveniences, job opportunities and city life in places like New York, London, Paris and Vancouver. New York City, no stranger to cramped, high-density living, will open the doors of a pioneer project, called My Micro NY, at the end of 2015. The 11-floor tower will have so-called nano-units ranging from 260sq foot to 360sq foot, which will rent for $2,000 to $3,000 a month. But, these high-spec micro digs will be different from the stereotyped New York “shoe box”, said the building's project manager, Tobias Oriwol of Monadnock Development. He explained, “We’ve built to optimize every inch of space inside, so there are no unused nooks and crannies.”
These Gorgeous, Net-Zero Houses Were Built in a Factory – (Fast Company – April 29, 2015)
Affordable, high-quality prefab homes have long been a dream not quite within reach. The market today is limited (only 2% of new single-family homes), and known for flimsy cookie-cutter models that don’t appeal to most mainstream Americans. But that’s slowly starting to change as premium factory-built homes become a more viable option for average property owners. The company most responsible for this trend in the U.S. is Blu Homes, a Bay Area startup founded in 2008. Using its online software, Blu Homes allows customers to mix, match, and personalize their dream home down to the small details. From there, it takes care of almost everything else, including permitting. By developing an origami-like folding system that allows it to economically ship larger houses all around the country than can normally fit on a flatbed truck, it has been able to create higher-quality, for a larger consumer market. Its projects can be completed from beginning to end in as little as a few months with no contractors needed, as opposed to the often multi-year, time-intensive process of typical home construction. While the homes are still expensive, Blu Homes wants to do for the factory model of home production what Ford did with the car. Higher volumes on its production line will eventually lower costs for everyone. Today, Blu Homes are more in the range of would-be Tesla buyers. Eventually, co-founder Maura McCarthy envisions something closer to the Model T.
Over-Unity Reactionless Generator Invented in India – (Collective Evolution – April 15, 2015)
A Reactionless AC Synchronous Generator (RLG) has been invented by Paramahamsa Tewari, electrical engineer and former Executive Director of Nuclear Power Corporation of India. His background includes engineering project management for construction of nuclear power stations. The efficiency of models he has built, which have also been independently built and tested, is as high as 250%. The design uses the same types of materials used in current generators, but the magnetic circuit within the machine is configured to cancel back torque while inducing current and producing power. Article includes further technical details.
Keeping Your Car Safe from Electronic Thieves – (New York Times – April 15, 2015)
In recent months, there has been a slew of mysterious car break-ins in my neighborhood in Los Angeles. But these break-ins seem to happen only to cars that use remote keyless systems, which replace traditional keys with wireless fobs. Security researchers I spoke with said that most cars with a keyless entry system can be hacked. But none of the devices I heard about seemed to be what the teenagers whom I saw breaking into my Prius had used. I finally found what seems like the most plausible answer when I spoke to Boris Danev, a founder of 3db Technologies, a security company based in Switzerland. When I told him my story, he knew immediately what had happened. The teenagers, he said, likely got into the car using a relatively simple and inexpensive device called a “power amplifier.” He explained it like this: In a normal scenario, when you walk up to a car with a keyless entry and try the door handle, the car wirelessly calls out for your key so you don’t have to press any buttons to get inside. If the key calls back, the door unlocks. But the keyless system is capable of searching for a key only within a couple of feet. Mr. Danev said that when the teenage girl turned on her device, it amplified the distance that the car can search, which then allowed my car to talk to my key, which happened to be sitting about 50 feet away, on the kitchen counter. And just like that, open sesame. Mr. Danev said his company was in talks with several car manufacturers to install a chip that can tell how far the key is from the car, thereby defeating the power-amplifier trick. But until car companies solve the problem, he said, the best way to protect my car is to “put your keys in the freezer, which acts as a Faraday Cage, and won’t allow a signal to get in or out.”
Seed Libraries Fight for the Right to Share – (Sharable – February 11, 2015)
Seed libraries—a type of agricultural commons where gardeners and farmers can borrow and share seed varieties, enriching their biodiversity and nutrition—have sprouted up across the U.S. in recent years, as more Americans seek connection to food and the land. This new variety of seed sharing has blossomed from just a dozen libraries in 2010 to more than 300 today. The sharing of seeds “represents embedded knowledge that we’ve collected over 10,000 years,” says Jamie Harvie, executive director of the Institute for a Sustainable Future, based in Duluth, Minnesota. “Healthy resilient communities are characterized not by how we control other people, and more about valuing relationships.” Sharing these wellsprings of sustenance may sound innocuous enough, yet this increasingly popular exchange—and wider seed access—is up against a host of legal and economic obstacles. The players in this surreal saga, wherein the mere sharing of seeds is under attack, range from agriculture officials interpreting seed laws, to powerful corporations expanding their proprietary and market control. As Harvie suggests, seed libraries offer a profound alternative to the corporate takeover of seeds, which has reached frightful proportions: according to the non-profit ETC Group, just three firms control more than half of the worldwide seed business (more than doubling their 22% share in 1996), while the top ten corporations now occupy 76 percent of the global market. Monsanto alone has 26 percent of the world’s seed market, with Du Pont and Syngenta not far behind. See also: Seed sharing is illegal in nearly 30% of US states.
Pushing Farming Beyond Organic – (Utne – Spring, 2015)
Greenhorns is a nontraditional grassroots organization dedicated to recruiting and supporting a new generation of farmers. They do this via social media, videos, podcasts, art projects, and activism, of course, but they also engage in old-fashioned networking—including mixers, barn dances, and an on-farm singles event called “weed dating.” The young farmers in the Greenhorns are nontraditional practitioners as well, in the sense that while their tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, dairy products, and meat look the same as the produce from farms run by their parents’ generation, the methods by which they achieve their harvests and the goals that motivate their work are very different. It’s called “beyond organic,” and it includes new ideas about no-till seeding, cover cropping, animal power, bioenergy production, carbon sequestration, open-source networking, and entrepreneurial business models aimed at creating local food systems. If that weren’t enough, these young people are also defined by the substantial challenges they face, including the difficulty in finding affordable farmland, making a living in a world dominated by corporate agriculture, navigating a dense labyrinth of regulations, and adapting to the intensifying effects of climate change.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot to Just Sit Back and Enjoy Collapse of United States – (The Onion – April 15, 2015)
Putting the nation on alert against what it has described as a “highly credible terrorist threat,” the FBI announced today that it has uncovered a plot by members of al-Qaeda to sit back and enjoy themselves while the United States collapses of its own accord. Multiple intelligence agencies confirmed that the militant Islamist organization and its numerous affiliates intend to carry out a massive, coordinated plan to stand aside and watch America’s increasingly rapid decline, with terrorist operatives across the globe reportedly mobilizing to take it easy, relax, and savor the spectacle as it unfolds. “We have intercepted electronic communication indicating that al-Qaeda members are actively plotting to stay out of the way while America as we know it gradually crumbles under the weight of its own self-inflicted debt and disrepair,” FBI Deputy Director Mark F. Giuliano told the assembled press corps. “If this plan succeeds, it will leave behind a nation with a completely dysfunctional economy, collapsing infrastructure, and a catastrophic health crisis afflicting millions across the nation. We want to emphasize that this danger is very real.” Additionally, FBI officials made public an internal al-Qaeda video today in which the terrorist organization’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri chillingly exhorts his followers to “take a load off” and “unwind” in the name of jihad. “Praise Allah, for soon every American city shall be plagued with disaster and hardship,” al-Zawahiri said in the video, which includes several minutes of footage of young, masked al-Qaeda militants casually sipping beverages as they thumb through the latest issues of Time and U.S. News And World Report.
Head of the FBI’s Anthrax Investigation Says the Whole Thing Was a Sham – (Washington’s Blog – April 17, 2015)
The Onion, which put out the “news” article above, is strictly a satirical publication; Washington’s Blog is serious. The FBI head agent in charge of the anthrax investigation following the 9/11 attacks – Richard Lambert – has just filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit calling into question the entire FBI investigation. On July 6, 2006, Plaintiff provided a whistleblower report of mismanagement to the FBI’s Deputy Director pursuant to Title 5, United States Code, Section 2303. In April 2008, some of Plaintiff’s foregoing whistleblower reports were profiled on the CBS television show 60 Minutes. The segment was critical of FBI executive management’s handling of the AMERITHRAX investigation, resulting in the agency’s embarrassment and the introduction of legislative bills calling for the establishment of congressional inquiries and special commissions to examine these issues – a level of scrutiny the FBI’s Bruce Ivins attribution could not withstand. After leaving the AMERITHRAX investigation in 2006, Plaintiff continued to publicly opine that the quantum of circumstantial evidence against Bruce Ivins was not adequate to satisfy the proof-beyond-a-reasonable doubt threshold required to secure a criminal conviction in federal court. Plaintiff continued to advocate that while Bruce Ivins may have been the anthrax mailer, there is a wealth of exculpatory evidence to the contrary which the FBI continues to conceal from Congress and the American people. However, there is already plenty of exculpatory evidence already in the public record. For example, the Ft. Detrick facility – where Ivins worked – only handled liquid anthrax. But the killer anthrax was a hard-to-make dry powder form of anthrax. Ft. Detrick doesn’t produce dry anthrax; but other government labs – for example Dugway (in Utah) and Batelle (in Ohio) – do. Further, the killer anthrax in the letters had a very high-tech anti-static coating so that the anthrax sample “floated off the glass slide and was lost” when scientists tried to examine it. Specifically, the killer anthrax was coated with polyglass and each anthrax spore given an electrostatic charge, so that it would repel other spores and “float”. This was very advanced bio-weapons technology to which even Ivins’ bosses said he didn’t have access. Top anthrax experts like Richard Spertzel say that Ivins didn’t do it. Spertzel also says that only 4 or 5 people in the entire country knew how to make anthrax of the “quality” used in the letters, that Spertzel was one of them, and it would have taken him a year with a full lab and a staff of helpers to do it. As such, the FBI’s claim that Ivins did it alone working a few nights is ludicrous. The article continues with further details that clearly point in a direction far from Dr. Bruce Ivins as the source of the anthrax.
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
U.S. Blocked Declaration of “Right to Health Care”, Says Bolivia’s President at OAS Summit – (Global Research – April 16, 2015)
Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has blamed U.S. President Barack Obama for the failure of the recent OAS (Organization of American States) Summit of the Americas to issue a final declaration. Morales says that a major sticking point for Mr. Obama was Obama’s opposition to a provision in the proposed declaration that would have said that health care is a human right. Mr. Obama insisted that it’s instead a privilege, access to which must be based primarily upon an individual’s ability-to-pay, as is the case in the United States. Said Mr. Morales: “One point (in the drafted declaration) was important: health as a human right, and the U.S. government did not accept that health should be considered a human right ... President Obama did not accept that concept. The 8-point draft had resulted from four months of negotiations between the participating countries prior to the Summit in Panama, which was held on April 10-11. There was such strong sentiment for declaring health care to be a right, so that this provision was included in the draft despite Obama’s opposition to it. A report from the Latin American television network Telesur announced at the start of the conference, that, “The Seventh Summit of the Americas begins Friday in Panama without a final declaration because the US Government has expressed its disagreement with some of the clauses, which blocked agreement. Furthermore, this was personally done by U.S. President Obama: “This information was confirmed by Foreign Minister of Argentina, Hector Timerman, who described the event as ‘a debate among presidents’.” That’s how personal, and top-level, the ideological disagreement here was.
Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Minister Has Dared to Tell the Truth about Saudi Arabia – (Spectator – March 28, 2015)
A few weeks ago Margot Wallström, the Swedish foreign minister, denounced the subjugation of women in Saudi Arabia. As the theocratic kingdom prevents women from travelling, conducting official business or marrying without the permission of male guardians, and as girls can be forced into child marriages where they are effectively raped by old men, she was telling no more than the truth. Wallström went on to condemn the Saudi courts for ordering that Raif Badawi receive ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website that championed secularism and free speech. These were ‘mediaeval methods’, she said, and a ‘cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression’. The backlash ensued: Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador and stopped issuing visas to Swedish businessmen. The United Arab Emirates joined it. The Organization of Islamic Co-operation, which represents 56 Muslim-majority states, accused Sweden of failing to respect the world’s ‘rich and varied ethical standards’ — standards so rich and varied, apparently, they include the flogging of bloggers and encouragement of pedophiles. Yet there is no ‘Wallström affair’. Outside Sweden, the western media has barely covered the story, and Sweden’s EU allies have shown no inclination whatsoever to support her. However, Sweden is the world’s 12th largest arms exporter — quite an achievement for a country of just nine million people. Its exports to Saudi Arabia total $1.3 billion. In other words, she threatened Swedish arms companies’ ability to make money. Thirty chief executives signed a letter saying that breaking the arms trade agreement ‘would jeopardize Sweden’s reputation as a trade and co-operation partner’. Beyond that, His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf himself hauled Wallström in at the weekend to tell her that he wanted a compromise. As so often, the real scandal is that there isn’t a scandal.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
Millennials: Not So Cheap, After All – (Atlantic – April 21, 2015)
We reported in 2011 and early 2012, car companies were legitimately terrified that young people were abandoning their product. Young people value “access over ownership,” Sheryl Connelly, head of global consumer trends at Ford, told us. “I don’t think car-buying for Millennials will ever be what it was for Boomers." As young people moved closer to city centers, public transportation would replace the function of a car for many young families and another mobile technology, the smartphone, would replace the spirit of independence, connectivity, and responsibility that used to be intrinsic to a teenager's first car. This week, Bloomberg reports new data from J.D. Power & Associates, which finds that Millennials, or Generation Y (essentially: anybody born in the 1980s or 1990s), now account for 27% of new car sales. That's more than Generation X, and second only to Boomers. Connelly's central observation—“I don’t think car-buying for Millennials will ever be what it was for Boomers"—is still true. But Millennial demand for cars is growing quickly. New vehicle sales among young people are rising as if drawn on a ruler.
National Poll Finds Deep Partisan Split on Israel and Iran – (Bloomberg – April 15, 2015)
The schisms over Middle East policy, deeper than they've ever been, are already playing a potent role in the 2016 presidential campaign. Israel has become a deeply partisan issue for ordinary Americans as well as for politicians in Washington, a shift that may represent a watershed moment in foreign policy and carry implications for domestic politics after decades of general bipartisan consensus. Republicans by a ratio of more than 2-to-1 say the U.S. should support Israel even when its stances diverge with American interests, a new Bloomberg Politics poll finds. Democrats, by roughly the same ratio, say the opposite is true and that the U.S. must pursue its own interests over Israel's. The survey also highlight how differently the nuclear negotiations with Iran are seen between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats, by a nearly 3-to-1 ratio, said they were more optimistic than pessimistic that a tentative deal with Iran announced this month will contain Iran's ability to get nuclear weapons and thus make the world safer. By a 2-to-1 margin, Republicans were more pessimistic than optimistic about the impacts of a deal. Majorities of Americans in both parties say any deal Obama makes with Iran should be subject to congressional approval, and that Iran is an unreliable negotiating partner because it is a religious theocracy. See also: Religious Fanaticism is a Huge Factor in Americans’ Support for Israel.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Is this ET? Mystery of Strange Radio Bursts from Space – (New Scientist – March 31, 2015)
Bursts of radio waves flashing across the sky seem to follow a mathematical pattern. If the pattern is real, either some strange celestial physics is going on, or the bursts are artificial, produced by human – or alien – technology. Telescopes have been picking up so-called fast radio bursts (FRBs) since 2001. They last just a few milliseconds and erupt with about as much energy as the sun releases in a month. Ten have been detected so far, most recently in 2014, when the Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia, caught a burst in action for the first time. The others were found by sifting through data after the bursts had arrived at Earth. No one knows what causes them, but the brevity of the bursts means their source has to be small – hundreds of kilometers across at most – so they can't be from ordinary stars. And they seem to come from far outside the galaxy. The weird part is that they all fit a pattern that doesn't match what we know about cosmic physics.
10 Surprises about Our Solar System – (EarthSky – April 14, 2015)
Remember those styrofoam models of the solar system we made in elementary school? The solar system is even cooler than that! Here are 10 things you might not know. For example: The hottest planet isn’t closest to the sun. Pluto is smaller than the USA; and We live inside the sun. Check out the data behind these statements and 7 others.
The Well-Being of All 436 U.S. Congressional Districts, Mapped and Indexed – (Fast Company – April 29, 2015)
How long can you expect to live? How much will you earn? It depends on where you are—and the disparities are stark. In the last 35 years, the U.S economy has tripled in size, but the wages of average American workers have barely gone up at all. In fact, between 2000 and 2010, typical Americans saw their incomes fall by $2,200. That's one example of how economic growth doesn't necessarily lead to human progress, and how common metrics like Gross Domestic Product can be deceiving. GDP—or the sum total of all transactions in the economy—reveals something about general economic vitality, but little about the quality of individual lives. The maps here show America on a more granular scale, and go beyond a purely economic perspective. They cover all 436 congressional districts and, using metrics like earnings, life expectancy and education achievement, give each district a "human development" (HD) score. They were developed by Measure of America, an initiative of the Social Science Research Council.
$100s Closing in on $1s for Most Common Currency – (CNBC – April 21, 2015)
One-dollar bills and hundreds make up the vast majority of U.S. currency, according to the 2015 World Almanac. There are 10.7 billion ones in circulation, and 9.7 billion hundreds. One-dollar bills and hundreds make up the vast majority of U.S. currency, according to the 2015 World Almanac. There are 10.7 billion ones in circulation, and 9.7 billion hundreds. Twenty years ago, hundreds made up only 14% of the bills in circulation, now they're more than a quarter. Hundreds made up around three-quarters of the total value of U.S. currency in 2014, or $968 billion of the total $1.3 trillion in circulation at the end of the year, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Among hundred-dollar bills in circulation, the portion held overseas jumped to 71% in 2011, from 49% 20 years ago.
The Numbers Are Staggering: U.S. Is 'World Leader' in Child Poverty – (AlterNet – April 13, 2015)
America's wealth grew by 60% in the past six years, by over $30 trillion. In approximately the same time, the number of homeless children has also grown by 60%. The U.S. has one of the highest relative child poverty rates in the developed world. As UNICEF reports, "[Children's] material well-being is highest in the Netherlands and in the four Nordic countries and lowest in Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and the United States." Over half of public school students are poor enough to qualify for lunch subsidies, and almost half of black children under the age of six are living in poverty. Nearly half of all food stamp recipients are children, and they averaged about $5 a day for their meals before the 2014 farm bill cut $8.6 billion (over the next ten years) from the food stamp program. In 2007 about 12 of every 100 kids were on food stamps. Today it's 20 of every 100. For every 2 homeless children in 2006, there are now 3.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
New Smartphone Camera Could Tell You What Things Are Made Of – (GizMag – April 2, 2015)
How would you like to be able to know the chemical composition of something, just by taking a snapshot or video of it with your smartphone? You may eventually be able to, thanks to a compact hyperspectral imaging camera being developed at Tel Aviv University. Hyperspectral imaging involves scanning light spectra not visible to the human eye, in order to identify the unique electromagnetic "fingerprints" of various substances and processes. While this can already be done with larger cameras, a team led by Tel Aviv's Prof. David Mendlovic is developing a much smaller optical component that could conceivably be built into a smartphone. It utilizes MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) technology, and is reportedly "suitable for mass production and compatible with standard smartphone camera designs." In order for the images it captures to mean anything, however, it would need to be paired up with a database of different substances' hyperspectral signatures. "The optical element acts as a tunable filter and the software – an image fusion library – would support this new component and extract all the relevant information from the image," explained Mendlovic. A working prototype should be ready by June. (Editor’s note: An accurate image fusion database may be a bigger issue than the technology, particularly given the proprietary nature of many chemically complex substances used in manufacturing.)
IndieBio's Plan to Bioengineer a Better World – (Fast Company – April 17, 2015)
IndieBio, is a new biotech accelerator in San Francisco where early-stage biotech ventures get mentorship, access to lab space, and seed funding. When I visited out the space, IndieBio had been open for just two weeks, but was already buzzing with scientists working on projects that sound like they're straight out of Silicon Valley's collective vision of an ideal future. Everything a science-based startup might want is available in the space, from basic biotech lab equipment (centrifuges and lots of machines with three-letter names) to a cell culture area and a designated hardware room. "We want everyone who comes through to feel more entrepreneurial and start companies, even if they fail," says Arvind Gupta, co-founder of IndieBio and partner at SOS Ventures. The hope is that IndieBio's support can allow biotech entrepreneurs to flourish without feeling the need to work inside university or big corporate infrastructures. The startups in IndieBio are all working on big-picture issues. For example. Pembient, the company that concocted my rhino horn lotion, wants to fight animal poaching by creating synthetic versions of the items that poachers want—starting with rhino horns. In South Africa alone, 1,215 rhinos were poached in 2014, causing the world to lose 4% of the total rhino population. Part of the problem is that rhino horns are used as traditional medicine (for reducing fevers, among other things) in parts of Asia. Rhino horns are worth $30,000 per pound. See also: The Last Male Northern White Rhino Left On Earth Is Protected By Armed Guards 24/7.
The Key to Our Happiness is Connection, Not Competition – (Guardian – March 20, 2015)
Charles Darwin is normally associated with the "survival of the fittest" theory. He also ... wrote that the communities most likely to flourish were "those with the most sympathetic members", an observation backed up by research that we are wired to care about each other. But we have such a strong cultural narrative about the selfish side of humanity that we adopt systems and behaviors that undermine our natural co-operative tendencies. This starts in schools and, where the relentless focus on exams and attainment instills in young people the idea that success is about doing better than others and continues in our workplaces, where employees compete with each other for performance-related rewards. This "get ahead or lose out" ethos [is] deeply flawed. Research shows that "givers" - people who help others without seeking anything in return - are more successful in the long term than "takers" - who try to maximize benefits for themselves, rather than others. For society as a whole, the World Happiness Report 2013, a major global study, found that two of the strongest explanatory factors for national wellbeing are levels of social support and generosity.
Letters at 3AM: The Nameless Moon, Etc. – (Austin Chronicle – May 16, 2014)
Herein Michael Ventura unpacks his folders full of sentences without homes, and other remnants excised from this and that. For example: Look for patterns. Be it a historical event or a family fight, once you find the pattern you're halfway home. If you don't find a pattern, you're not looking hard enough. There are always patterns. Or this one: People are more than what happens to them, and more than what they do. People are about what didn't happen as much as what did. People are as much what they refused to do or failed to do as what they did. And people are their unobserved stillnesses – like a stillness in which a bad person was good, a good person bad, an indistinct person glorious, an honorable person dishonorably soiled, even if only in private and for mere moments. Moments count. And then this one: Human beings didn't invent music. We found it. (Editor’s note: This article offers a rich meal. Enjoy.)
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.
Ten Enduring Mysteries of the Longyou Caves – (Ancient Origins – January 21, 2014)
Located near the village of Shiyan Beicun in Zhejiang province, China, lies the Longyou caves - an extensive, magnificent and rare ancient underground world considered in China as ‘the ninth wonder of the ancient world’. The Longyou grottoes, which are thought to date back at least 2,000 years, represent one of the largest underground excavations of ancient times and are an enduring mystery that have perplexed experts from every discipline that has examined them. Scientists from around the world in the fields of archaeology, architecture, engineering, and geology have absolutely no idea how they were built, by whom, and why. First discovered in 1992 by a local villager, 36 grottoes have now been discovered covering a massive 30,000 square metres. Carved into solid siltstone, each grotto descends around 30 metres underground and contains stone rooms, bridges, gutters and pools. There are pillars evenly distributed throughout the caves which are supporting the ceiling, and the walls, ceiling and stone columns are uniformly decorated with chisel marks in a series of parallel lines. Only one of the caves has been opened for tourism, chosen because of the stone carvings found inside which depict a horse, fish and bird. The Longyou caves truly are an enigma and here we will explore ten mysteries that are still unexplained despite more than two decades of research.
JUST FOR FUN
The Writer Automaton, Switzerland – (BBC/YouTube – April 17, 2014)
A 240 year old doll that can write is a clockwork creation fabricated by Pierre Jaquet-Droz, a Swiss watchmaker. The doll is able to write any custom text up to 40 letters long, and it uses a goose feather to write, which he inks from time to time, including a shake of the wrist to prevent ink from spilling. His eyes follow the text being written, and the head moves when he takes some ink. You can view this doll in person at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire of Neuchâtel, in Switzerland.
A FINAL QUOTE--
We know what we are, but know not what we may be -- Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5
A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, 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