Volume 19, Number 15 - 8/15/16 Twitter  Facebook  JLP Blog  


FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT--
  • MIT researchers are able now to detect heart rate and breathing information remotely with 99% accuracy from a Wi-Fi signal that they reflect off of your body.

  • Japan has more electric car charge points than gas stations.

  • Huge 3D printer creates nearly zero-cost homes out of mud.

  • The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General says that the US Army had $6.5 trillion in unaccountable expenditures (over approximately 15 years) for which there is simply no paper trail.



PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

Explaining the Paradigm Shift: Steve McDonald coming to Berkeley Springs

Steve McDonald, an extraordinary Australian thinker and researcher who arguably knows as much about the structure of the global planetary transition that we are experiencing as anyone on the planet is coming to Berkeley Springs on the 24th of September.

Few people can draw the coherent pictures he does from the deep insights of Clair W. Graves and then paint clear, explanatory images of not only how humanity has evolved to this point, but what is inevitably on our horizon . . . and how this epic transition will continue to play out.

Steve’s operating structure and framework is an integrated, multidimensional one that synthesizes and explains what is happening now (in science, politics, geopolitics, attitude shifts, consciousness, values and perspectives) and what it is evolving into. This is inherently predictive and very enlightening, making clear why US politics is in disarray and the Middle East is chaotic . . . and science and technology are exploding, for example. This is a story about the very interworkings of the evolution of a new world and a new human.

The result? One of the clearest outlines of the emerging new world that you will find anywhere.

Come hear this message of hope that will help you make sense of all of the swirling change that is everywhere that we look. This will be a very powerful presentation that will pull away the curtains from the window that looks out onto the path ahead.

Steve will be speaking on Saturday, the 24th of September at the Ice House Theatre starting at 2PM. For complete information go to www.transitiontalks.org

Gregg Braden Returns in October

Internationally acclaimed author, Gregg Braden, returns again to Transition Talks on Saturday, the 29th of October. This will be a whole new presentation that Gregg has prepared that shows how the cycles and patterns of the past point directly at what is now coming our way.

What would it mean to discover that life events—everything from our success and abundance to our betrayals and hurts—are based upon natural rhythms that can be known and predicted? Does an artifact from our ancient past hold the key to understanding nature’s cycles in our lives today? The recent discovery of Fractal Time now gives us everything we need to answer these questions, and more. Doing so, however, opens the door to even deeper mysteries!

We always have a great crowd when Gregg is with us, so plan for this now and register as soon as possible to assure yourself of a seat at this transformational day.

Full information is at www.transitiontalks.org



Our PostScript interviews with music maestro Robert Coxon and his partner Lilly Wong are now up. Robert and I discussed the essential nature of life, how it was essentially organized as music, and how particular musical sounds resonate with DNA. It was a fascinating discussion about the nature of everything. Click on the images below.





THINK LINKS



INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

There’s No Such Thing as Innocuous Personal Data – (Slate – August, 2016)
When you think about which of your devices and apps contain your most sensitive data, you probably think about your text messages, Gchats, or Reddit account. The fitness tracking device you’re sporting right now may not immediately come to mind. After all, what can people really learn about you from your heart rate or your step count? More than you might think. In fact, an expanding trove of research links seemingly benign data points to behaviors and health outcomes. Much of this research is still in its infancy, but companies are already beginning to mine some of this data, and there’s growing controversy over just how far they can—and should—go. That’s because like most innovations, there’s a potential bright side, and a dark side, to this data feeding frenzy. Let’s go back to the example of heart rates. In a study conducted in Sweden and published in 2015, researchers found that low resting heart rates correlated with propensity for violence. It’s unclear whether these findings will hold up to further investigation. But if the connection is confirmed in the future, perhaps it could be cross-indexed, introduced into algorithms, and used, in conjunction with other data, to profile or convict individuals, suggests John Chuang, a professor at Berkeley’s School of Information and the director of its BioSense lab. (Biosensing technology uses digital data to learn about living systems like people.) “It’s something we can’t anticipate—these new classes of data we assume are innocuous that turn out not to be,” says Chuang. MIT researchers are able now to detect heart rate and breathing information remotely with 99% accuracy from a Wi-Fi signal that they reflect off of your body. “In the future, could stores capture heart rate to show how it changes when you see a new gadget inside a store?” imagines Chuang. “These may be things that you as a consumer may not be able to opt out of.” (Editor’s note: If you only have time for one article here, read this one.)



NEW DISCOVERIES

Ancient DNA Suggests the First Americans Sidestepped the Glaciers – (Science – August 10, 2016)
Ask any school kid how the first people came to the Americas, and you might get some version of the following: They crossed a spit of land connecting Alaska and Siberia and made their way south between melting glaciers at the end of the last ice age. Until recently, science agreed. But mounting evidence has shown that the dry land exposed by the melted route—known as the ice-free corridor—may not have been passable until long after humans had already settled the Americas. So when did it become a viable route for people? Using ancient DNA, along with the remains of pollen, plants, and animals collected from lake sediments, a new study has an answer: about 12,600 years ago. This suggests that the earliest humans to make their homes in the New World, including people from the Clovis civilization, must have taken a very different route. Until recently, most researchers thought that the ice-free corridor (see map) was the most likely route south, once the glaciers began melting 14,000–15,000 years ago. For years, those dates fit the timing of the Clovis people, big game hunters thought to have inhabited the lower 48 about 13,000 years ago. But in the past decade, scientists have discovered even earlier settlements, revealing that humans made the journey to the Americas as early as about 15,000 years ago. So just how did they get here? So-called “environmental DNA” (eDNA) may have some answers. This is DNA lingering in the soil from, for example, plant leaves, rootlets, animal feces, urine, or even skin cells. Because DNA is electrically charged, it can bind to sediment particles, helping to preserve it from degradation over time.

Petroglyphs Discovered in Hawaii – (Live Science – August 9, 2016)
Shifting sands on a Hawaiian beach have revealed — and then concealed again — carvings that Hawaii's indigenous people made on the shoreline at least 400 years ago. So far, 17 carvings have been found in the sandstone shoreline on the west coast of Oahu, including one measuring almost 5 feet long. Most are of human figures, and some include carvings of the figures' fingers, said Alton Exzabe, an archaeologist with the U.S. Army, which manages many of the archeological sites in Hawaii. Fingers and hands are somewhat unusual on Hawaiian petroglyphs. Also rare is finding petroglyphs directly on the shoreline. Some locals said that they've seen these carvings before, Exzabe said, but no one has recorded them scientifically. They've already been covered up again by the sands. Petroglyph sites are scattered across the Hawaiian Islands. Among the most famous are the Pu`u Loa petroglyphs, which are easily accessible to visitors at Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. According to the National Park Service, there are more than 23,000 petroglyphs at that site. Article includes a link to photos.



GENETICS/HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/BIOTECHNOLOGY

Feds Open Talks on Growing Human Organs in Animals – (CNN – August 6, 2016)
Researchers in Brazil who are trying to help people with spine injuries gain mobility have made a surprising discovery: Injured people doing brain training while interacting with robot-like machines were able to regain some sensation and movement. The findings suggest that damaged spinal tissue in some people with paraplegia can be retrained to a certain extent. Even people with severe injuries can regain some sensation and function through physical therapy if some nerve fibers remain. In fact, this isn't a new idea for treating injuries of the spinal cord. The eight paralyzed people in the Brazilian study didn't regain enough mobility to support their own weight on their legs, but Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, a neuroscientist and physician with Duke University who led the research, says his experimental subjects did make "partial recovery" — improvements that significantly helped their quality of life. What was new was that Nicolelis and his team trained people with paraplegia to visualize moving their muscles, by having them wear virtual reality goggles and giving them tactile feedback on their arms. The idea was to create brain signals that could be picked up by electrodes and used to control the bulky robotic apparatus. As people improved their ability to visualize limb movements, they were also regaining some feeling and movement as well. Nicolelis’ patients had been paralyzed for three to 13 years.

These Bacterium-Mimicking Microbots May Be the Future of Medicine – (Tech Times – July 25, 2016)
Researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne (EPFL) and the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETHZ) have designed a prototype shape-shifting robot that imitates a bacterium whose tail folds away upon entering the bloodstream. The robot is able to transport drugs to specific locations throughout the body via the bloodstream, as well as to provide the help needed when in the middle of difficult operations. Researchers say the bio-inspired robots, which are soft, flexible and motor-less, were created by using biocompatible hydrogel and magnetic nanoparticles that serve two purposes. First, the nanoparticles give the robots their shape during the manufacturing process. Second, they react to electromagnetic fields, prompting them to swim and move whenever the fields are applied. Furthermore, a laser beam can be used to heat the robot, causing it to change shape. The end result of all this is the creation of a robot that mimics the behavior of the African trypanosomiasis, a parasitic bacterium that uses its flagellum (tail) for propulsion, but wraps it around itself when inside the host's body. It should be noted, however, that these microbots are still in development and not yet ready for real operations or drug delivery. There are still several factors that need to be examined first, such as the possible side-effects the microbots will have on a patient's body.

Being Overweight Ages Your Brain by 10 Years – (NY Daily News – August 8, 2016)
We already know that obesity is linked to cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Now it turns out that being overweight also ages your brain to look 10 years older than a skinnier person’s the same age, according to a new study. Researchers from Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience analyzed 473 people ages 20 to 87, and divvied them up into fat and lean groups. All of our brains naturally shrink and lose white matter, or the part that transmits information, as we age. But this study noted that the overweight group had much less white matter than the skinnier group. So a hefty 50-year-old had a brain scan more closely resembling that of a lean person aged 60. However, both fat and skinny groups scored the same on tests of knowledge and understanding. This difference was only seen from middle-age on, so younger people have some time to take a load off their minds. But scientists don’t know the full implications of these changes in brain structure yet. “This must be a starting point for us to explore in more depth the effects of weight, diet and exercise on the brain and memory,” stated the report.

Why Do So Few Amish Kids Get Asthma? U. of C. Scientists Suggest Answer – (Chicago Tribune – August 3, 2016)
New research by University of Chicago scientists focused on two farming-based religious communities that shun modern ways but that have dramatically different childhood asthma rates. The goal was to find an explanation for why asthma is so uncommon among Amish communities, where children run barefoot in dairy barns and farm fields, but much higher in the other group. Blood samples, house dust and mice experiments revealed some tantalizing clues, suggesting something in the dust was protecting the Amish children. The study involved 60 school-aged children — 30 each from an Amish community in Middlebury, Indiana, and from a Hutterite colony near Mitchell, South Dakota. Amish and Hutterites both originated in Europe, share old-style Protestant beliefs and lifestyles and have similar genetic ancestry. But Hutterites live on large highly industrialized communal farms, use modern agricultural machinery, and children are more isolated from livestock. By contrast, the Amish have family-run farms, they use horse-drawn plows, their barns often are located near their homes and their children have daily exposure to farm animals, the researchers explained. Blood tests confirmed both groups of children had similar genetic profiles. But Amish children had far more white blood cells called neutrophils — important in fighting infections. Plus, these cells looked younger in Amish kids, suggesting their immune system was constantly stimulated by exposure to germs to produce more. The second "gee-whiz moment" came after researchers collected Amish and Hutterite house dust and tested it on special mice sensitized to develop asthma symptoms. Hutterite dust triggered breathing troubles and inflamed airways in the mice; Amish dust did not. The study authors theorized that the difference could be microbes including bacteria from dairy cows. If protective germs can be identified, it might someday be possible to create an asthma blocker for all children.

Menstrual Pain Reliever Drug Mefenamic Acid Shows Promise As Alzheimer's Disease Treatment – (Tech Times – August 11, 2016)
Many women who suffer from menstrual pain turn to mefenamic acid, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), for relief during their monthly period. It appears, though, that the common anti-inflammatory drug also shows promise as treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The drug works by targeting an inflammatory pathway known as NLRP3 inflammasome, which is known to damage brain cells. In a new animal study, David Brough, from The University of Manchester, and colleagues found that the drug can completely reverse memory loss and brain inflammation, the hallmark changes observed in individuals with Alzheimer's disease. The results suggest that inflammation causes the neurological disease to get worse, and treatment of the inflammation may reduce its effects. Brough and colleagues treated two groups of mice with symptoms of Alzheimer's disease with either a mefenamic acid over a period of one month or placebo. They found that memory loss was reversed in mice that were treated with the drug, and their memory returned to levels comparable with those mice without the disease. See also: New Alzheimer’s Treatment Fully Restores Memory Function. and this article which discusses a different approach may lead to treatments for atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and other age-related disorders: Embryonic gene Nanog reverses aging in adult stem cells.

Can This Brain Exercise Put off Dementia? – (Wall St. Journal – July 25, 2016)
A new, 10-year study showed that speed training—computer exercises that get users to visually process information more quickly—beat out memory and reasoning exercises, two other popular brain-training techniques. Speed training is designed to improve the speed and accuracy of processing visual information and expand the useful field of view, or UFOV—the visual area over which a person can make quick decisions and pay attention without moving the eye or head. UFOV decreases with age and is associated with a decline in performance on daily tasks, particularly driving a car. Researchers found that a total of 11 to 14 hours of speed training has the potential to cut by as much as 48% the risk of developing dementia 10 years later. The study, called Active, for Advanced Cognitive Training in Vital Elderly, is believed to be the first to demonstrate that a behavioral intervention can reduce the incidence of dementia. Previous research released as part of the Active study showed all three types of brain training tested led to improvements in cognitive function and the ability to perform daily living skills, such as preparing a meal. Speed training topped the other techniques in reducing the incidence of at-fault car crashes and forestalling declines in health, and was the only intervention to protect against symptoms of depression. The speed-training participants had 10 one-hour training sessions over five weeks with an instructor on hand for help. Some had booster sessions a year later and three years later. “For the majority of brain fitness products sold today the marketing hype has exceeded the science,” says Murali Doraiswamy, director of the neurocognitive disorders program at Duke University Health System in Durham, N.C. “The Active results will definitely provide a big credibility boost to the field,” Dr. Doraiswamy says.

Stanford Researchers Coax Human Stem Cells to Rapidly Generate Bone, Heart Muscle – (Medical News Today – July 16, 2016)
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have mapped out the sets of biological and chemical signals necessary to quickly and efficiently direct human embryonic stem cells to become pure populations of any of 12 cell types, including bone, heart muscle and cartilage. The ability to make pure populations of these cells within days rather than the weeks or months previously required is a key step toward clinically useful regenerative medicine - potentially allowing researchers to generate new beating heart cells to repair damage after a heart attack or to create cartilage or bone to reinvigorate creaky joints or heal from trauma. Irving Weissman, MD, the director of Stanford's Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, said,"It took us years to be able to isolate blood-forming and brain-forming stem cells. Here we used our knowledge of the developmental biology of many other animal models to provide the positive and negative signaling factors to guide the developmental choices of these tissue and organ stem cells. Within five to nine days we can generate virtually all the pure cell populations that we need." They learned that often the cells progressed down the developmental path through a series of consecutive choices between two possible options. The quickest, most efficient way to micromanage the cells' developmental decisions was to apply a simultaneous combination of factors that both encouraged the differentiation into one lineage while also actively blocking the cells from a different fate - a kind of "yes" and "no" strategy.


ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Melting Ice In Greenland Could Expose Serious Pollutants From Buried Army Base – (NPR – August 5, 2016)
Buried below the ice sheet that covers most of Greenland, there's an abandoned U.S. Army base. Camp Century had trucks, tunnels, even a nuclear reactor. Advertised as a research station, it was also a test site for deploying nuclear missiles. The camp was abandoned almost 50 years ago, completely buried below the surface. But serious pollutants were left behind. Now a team of scientists says that as climate warming melts the ice sheet, those pollutants could spread. When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built Camp Century in 1959, an Army film touted it as an engineering marvel — a cavernous home dug into the ice sheet, big enough for up to 200 people. Some sections were more than 100 feet deep. "On the top of the world," the film's narrator intoned, "below the surface of a giant ice cap, a city is buried. Today on the island of Greenland, as part of man's continuing efforts to master the secrets of survival in the Arctic, the United States Army has established an unprecedented nuclear powered Arctic research center." What the public did not know about was a secret effort there called Project Iceworm. Engineers built railways running along huge tunnels. The plan was to test the idea of putting nuclear missiles on tracks below the ice, aimed at the Soviet Union. But the ice sheet began shifting. The Army realized that the tunnels wouldn't last, so they abandoned the camp in 1967. Ice and snow continued to accumulate, burying it even deeper. Five years ago, an arctic researcher in Greenland heard stories about the camp. "When you go to the site nowadays," William Colgan says, "it just looks like flat white. It looks like everywhere else on the ice sheet, but it's only when you start to understand what lies beneath the site that it takes on a special significance." Colgan is a physical geographer at York University in Canada. He found unclassified records that described what was left behind there — for example, the nuclear reactor was removed, but low-level radioactive cooling water used in it was not.

First Death in Russia's Arctic Anthrax Outbreak – (Moscow Times – August 1, 2016)
A 12-year old was announced as the first victim of a rare outbreak of anthrax in northern Russia's Yamal-Nenets autonomous region Monday as the deadly virus appears to leapfrog from local reindeer populations to humans. The boy was under supervision in a local hospital when he died. The boy's grandmother died last week after eating reindeer meat infected with the virus. The anthrax outbreak is believed to have begun last month when unusually high temperatures caused the corpse of a reindeer, which died decades ago and was infected with anthrax, to thaw. Living reindeer, weakened by the heat, ate the unfrozen remains — and then transmitted the virus to local nomad herders. Nine people have so far been officially diagnosed with anthrax and 72 people are currently in hospital suspected of suffering from the infection in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous region. A total of 2,349 reindeer have also died as a result of the anthrax outbreak, Interfax reported Monday, citing local officials. However, several experts attributed the reindeer deaths to the high temperatures and other diseases.



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

Apple Wants to Bust Your Bootlegs by Blocking iPhone Video Recording at Concerts – (Digital Trends – June 30, 2016)
If you’ve ever sheepishly held up your iPhone at a concert to record a video of your favorite band playing your favorite song, the day is likely coming soon when hitting record will result in nothing getting recorded. Why? Because Apple just patented a method to use invisible infrared signals to tell your phone that recording is a no-no at the big show. Or the movie theater. Or during your tour of Area 51. The system works by using infrared light emitters that hit your phone’s camera system when you try to record something. However, the system also works in the reverse: it can trigger additional information to pop up on your screen when you’re using your camera, say, at a museum, or a trade show, or to pop open a map … of Area 51. These are also known as infrared beacons and Google is working on it as well, according to Patently Apple. Exactly when this tech might show up in your phone is still unknown.

Police Just 3D-Printed a Murder Victim’s Finger to Unlock His Phone – (Futurism – July 21, 2016)
Officers located in Michigan recently turned to scientists working at the University of Michigan in the hopes of reproducing the fingerprint of a murder victim. They planned to do this using a prerecorded scan and (oddly enough) a 3D model of the finger itself. Ultimately, this model would be used to create a false fingerprint, which the officers could then use in order to unlock the phone. Though completed, details on the ongoing case are, naturally scarce. As such, it is not clear whether the technique was successful. It also isn’t immediately obvious why police were not able to use the cadaver to obtain the necessary fingerprints. Notably, researchers have previously helped law enforcement officials re-create working fingerprint molds for a variety of purposes. However, this seems to be the very first time that police used such a technique for the purposes of unlocking a phone in a currently ongoing investigation.


SHELTER/ARCHITECTURE

World’s Largest Delta 3D Printer Creates Nearly Zero-cost Homes Out of Mud – (Inhabitat – August 13, 2016)
The massive BigDelta printer stands 12 meters tall (40 feet), and it's nearly completed its first house at a cost of just 48 euros so far. Italian innovator Massimo Moretti launched the World’s Advanced Saving Project (WASP) with the goal to “create a means for affordable fabrication of homes, and provide these means to the locals in poverty stricken areas.” WASP’s affordable housing solution combines 3D printing with biomimicry, drawing inspiration from the mud dauber wasp that constructs its home from one of the world’s oldest building materials: mud. The choice of clay and mud inputs for the portable BigDelta was a conscious choice; although many 3D printers use cement, Moretti chose earth because of its low environmental footprint, local availability, and natural insulating benefits. Based on previous prototypes, the BigDelta will presumably build full-size houses using open-source software and a mixture of mud, clay, and plant fibers for reinforcement. WASP has come an impressively long way in a short span of time, especially considering that the company doesn’t receive any public financing. They revealed their four-meter tall BigDelta prototype last year, and now their first 3D printed home is nearly complete. The BigDelta printer builds thick walls, and it’s able to lay down 60 cm – 1 meter of material every day. WASP has nearly completed its first house at a cost of just 48 euros so far. Now they’re organizing workshops and inviting local makers to participate as they work towards printing their first Earth home in an Italian “technological village”. Article includes numerous photos.



ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

Scientists Have Built a Microbial Fuel Cell That Runs without External Power – (Science Alert – July 4, 2016)
For the first time, scientists have built a microbial fuel cell that produces an electrical current without any external power. The 3D fuel cell is made out of paper, and is only a proof-of-concept at this stage. But it suggests that the batteries of the future could be powered by microbes instead of rare earth metals like lithium. Microbial fuel cells use the activity of bacteria to effectively break down chemical energy (food) and emit electrons. Those electrons can be turned into electrical power. But in order to ensure a continuous supply of food, scientists currently need to actively pump it to the microbes. If the food stops, the electrons stop too, so for years scientists have had to use external power to keep these microbial fuel cells running, which defeats the purpose of generating electricity in the first place. Now a team from Iowa State University have created a 3D paper fuel cell that automatically keeps supplying food - in this case, potassium ferricyanide - to the microbes, without any pumping required. Using their new set-up, the team showed that a microbial fuel cell could continue to generate an electrical current for five days, without any external power or human interference. Article explains prototype in greater depth.



TRANSPORTATION

China Actually Demoes Futuristic Straddling Bus – (Forbes – August 3, 2016)
It took six years to transform the revolutionary concept of a bus which runs above street level into a working prototype, but looks like Chinese designers finally made it. Its first road test occurred in the northern city of Qinhuangdao, in the Hebei province. The demo took place on a 300-meters demo track, with the 72-feet-long, 26-feet-wide vehicle moving slowly in front of a cheering audience. The interior of the new vehicle closely resembles that of a subway, with a large, empty space in the middle of the upper deck and people sitting at each side, rather than having long rows of seats like on a regular train. The elevated bus will run on rails placed at the edges of the two lanes it straddles, on a fixed route. Article includes photos. But don’t stop reading now. See this August 5, 2016 article from Popular Mechanics: Traffic-Straddling Bus a Total Scam According to Chinese State. Media This article gives you the “fine print”, explaining why this vehicle is not likely to be carrying any regular passengers any time soon – if ever.

Japan Now Has More Electric Car Charge Points Than Petrol Stations – (Guardian – May 10, 2016)
When it comes to electric vehicles, Japan is speeding ahead of the rest of the world, blissfully free of the range anxiety that afflicts plug-in drivers elsewhere. The country now has more electric car charging stops than petrol stations, according to a recent survey by Nissan. The Japanese automaker, whose fully battery-powered Leaf can travel up to 107 miles on a single charge, said there were more than 40,000 places nationwide where electric car owners could recharge their vehicles, compared with fewer than 35,000 petrol stations. While the US – where there are currently only 9,000 public charging stations but 114,500 filling stations – and other countries have been slow to develop the infrastructure to encourage electric vehicle purchase, the Japanese government subsidies for people buying electric, hybrid and other low-emission cars have spawned a network of public and private power points. Nissan’s figures include a huge number of chargers installed in private garages that, for the most part, are used by a single owner. But industry experts are predicting single-user charging stations will become a thing of the past with the emergence of a charge point version of Airbnb that allows private owners to share with other drivers.



AGRICULTURE/FOOD

Scientists Think Cockroach Milk Could Be the Superfood of the Future – (Science Alert – July 25, 2016)
An international team of scientists has just sequenced a protein crystal located in the midgut of cockroaches. It’s more than four times as nutritious as cow’s milk and, the researchers think it could be the key to feeding our growing population in the future. Diploptera punctate, which is the only known cockroach to give birth to live young, has been shown to pump out a type of ‘milk’ containing protein crystals to feed its babies. The fact that an insect produces milk is pretty fascinating – but what fascinated researchers is the fact that a single one of these protein crystals contains more than three times the amount of energy found in an equivalent amount of buffalo milk (which is also higher in calories then dairy milk). Clearly milking a cockroach isn’t the most feasible option, so an international team of scientists headed by researchers from the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India decided to sequence the genes responsible for producing the milk protein crystals to see if they could somehow replicate them in the lab. "The crystals are like a complete food - they have proteins, fats and sugars. If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids," said Sanchari Banerjee, one of the team. Not only is the milk a dense source of calories and nutrients, it’s also time released. As the protein in the milk is digested, the crystal releases more protein at an equivalent rate to continue the digestion.



SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

Judge Says FBI Can Hack Computers Without a Warrant Because Computer Users Get Hacked All the Time – (Tech Dirty – June 24, 2016)
The FBI's use of a Network Investigative Technique (NIT) to obtain info from the computers of visitors to a seized child porn site has run into all sorts of problems. The biggest problem in most of the cases is that the use of a single warrant issued in Virginia to perform searches of computers all over the nation violated the jurisdictional limits set down by Rule 41(b). Not coincidentally, the FBI is hoping the changes to Rule 41 the DOJ submitted last year will be codified by the end of 2016, in large part because it removes the stipulation that limits searches to the area overseen by the magistrate judge signing the warrant. But for defendant Edward Matish, the limits of Rule 41 don't apply. He resides in the jurisdiction where the warrant was signed. During the trial, Judge Henry Coke Morgan Jr.'s has denied several motions by Matish. As the judge sees it, the FBI really didn't even need a warrant. Morgan Jr. says there's no expectation of privacy in an IP address, even if Tor is used to obscure it, which follows other judges' conclusions on the same matter. However, Morgan Jr. goes much further. Morgan Jr. hints at the Third Party Doctrine but refuses to consider the fact that this information was not obtained from third parties, but rather directly from the user's computer via the FBI's hacking tool. His reading of the Third Party Doctrine closely aligns with how the DOJ prefers it to be read. If someone knowingly or unknowingly turns over identifying info to a third party, it now belongs to the government -- even if the government obtains it directly through a search/seizure, rather than approaching third parties. But more disturbing than this is Judge Morgan Jr.'s declaration that no expectation of security is the same thing as no expectation of privacy.



TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

Pentagon Money Pit – (CounterPunch – August 11, 2016)
What if the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services were to report that $6.5 billion in spending by that federal agency was unaccounted for and untraceable? You can imagine the headlines, right? What if it was $65 billion? The headlines would be as big as for the first moon landing or for troops landing on Omaha Beach in World War II. But how about a report by the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General saying that the US Army had $6.5 trillion in unaccountable expenditures for which there is simply no paper trail? That is 6,500 billion dollars! Have you heard about that? Probably not. That damning report was issued back on July 26 — weeks ago — but as of the publication of this article it has not even been reported anywhere in the corporate media. It’s not that it’s secret information, or hard to come by. The report is available online at the Department of Defense’s OIG website. This doesn’t mean that $6.5 trillion has been stolen, or that this is money in addition to the $600 billion that the Pentagon spent in fiscal 2015. It means that for years — and $6.5 trillion represents at about 15 years’ worth of US military spending — the Department of Defense has not been tracking or recording or auditing all of the taxpayer money allocated by Congress — what it was spent on, how well it was spent, or where the money actually ended up. There are enough opportunities here for corruption, bribery, secret funding of “black ops” and illegal activities, and or course for simple waste to march a very large army, navy and air force through. But incredibly, no mainstream reporter or editor in the US has seen this as a story worth reporting to the American public.



GLOBAL RELATIONS

If Oil Prices Don't Rise, the Middle East Will Sink – (Real Money – August 13, 2016)
The ongoing collapse in oil prices that began two years ago is setting the stage for a catastrophic situation in the Middle East if it continues. That catastrophe could come in three stages of war: civil war within the boundaries of each sovereign; war between sovereign states; and most broadly, for the intra-Islamic fight between the Sunnis and Shias to devolve into a war of finality between them, with one side vanquishing, conquering and perhaps even attempting to extinguish the other. Shortly after the collapse in prices began in 2014, the general assumption was that U.S. alternative oil producers would be driven out of business. But that has not remotely happened. It is unknown if it is possible for the alternative producers to continue operating with oil prices at these levels, but it is beginning to appear that they are the marginal producers of oil globally, which means they, not the Saudis, are the group with the capacity to determine the price of oil. The most daunting result of this is that the Saudis are running the largest fiscal budget deficit of all the OPEC members, with the exception of Libya, and as a result must produce oil, regardless of OPEC-mandated limits, in order to meet fiscal budget requirements. The fiscal spending is required to fund the social welfare programs the citizens have come to rely upon. The government is fearful that reducing these programs could lead to social unrest and even civil war. However, this is causing the other countries to suffer economically and raising the possibility of social unrest and civil war in them. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article for its thoughtful, balanced analysis.)

Uruguay’s Victory Over Phillip Morris Will Change the World – (Huffington Post – July 19, 2016)
After more than six years of litigation, the International Centre for Investment Disputes, a little-known and opaque international trade tribunal, found against Philip Morris International (PMI) in its suit against the government of Uruguay over rules on tobacco packaging. To emphasize their decision, the tribunal ordered PMI to pay most of Uruguay’s legal costs. The Uruguay decision strongly affirmed the right, and indeed duty, of governments to regulate in the public interest. Tobacco is world’s number one preventable killer, but there are many other health risk factors for which policy is still in its infancy. The affirmation goes beyond health, and will yield policy space to governments on broader issues such as the environment, labor, and human rights. The Uruguay case will embolden other governments who have the political will to fight the tobacco epidemic but have been understandably circumspect about the possibility of multi-million dollar litigation. For decades, trade tribunals have, behind closed doors, reliably overturned public interest regulations in the interest of corporate profits, even when the regulations are not discriminatory against foreign goods or services. There have been hundreds of legal treatises about the friction between trade and investment rules on the one hand and public interest legislation on the other. This decision is a small indication that the needle may be moving in the right direction.


LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

Simplifying Childhood May Protect Against Mental Health Issues – (Huffington Post – March 10, 2016) In reading Kim John Payne's book, Simplicity Parenting, one message leapt off the page for the author of this article. Normal personality quirks combined with the stress of "too much" can propel children into the realm of disorder. Payne describes the four pillars of excess as having too much stuff, too many choices, too much information and too much speed. A child who is systematic may be pushed into obsessive behaviors. A dreamy child may lose the ability to focus. Payne conducted a study in which he simplified the lives of children with attention deficit disorder. Within four months 68% went from being clinically dysfunctional to clinically functional. The children also displayed a 37% increase in academic and cognitive aptitude, an effect not seen with commonly prescribed drugs like Ritalin. Early in his career, Payne volunteered in refugee camps, where children were dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. He describes them as, "jumpy, nervous, and hyper-vigilant, wary of anything novel or new." Years later Payne ran a private practice in England, where he recognized many affluent children were displaying the same behavioural tendencies as the children he'd seen living in war zones. Why would these children living perfectly safe lives show similar symptoms? Payne explains that although they were physically safe, mentally they were also living in a war zone of sorts. "Privy to their parents' fears, drives, ambitions, and the very fast pace of their lives, the children were busy trying to construct their own boundaries, their own level of safety in behaviors that weren't ultimately helpful."



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

NASA Releases Apollo Mission Transcripts on Alien Encounter – (YourNewsWire - August 18, 2016)
NASA have released a trove documents on their website showing evidence of Apollo mission astronauts encountering aliens and alien structures on the moon. The documents appear to show that numerous Apollo astronauts were followed by UFO’s during their missions and had various alien encounters in space. The following NASA transcripts come from the Apollo missions and make some fascinating references: Apollo 8 Transcript, Apollo 10 transcript, Apollo 11 transcript, and Apollo 14 transcript. All of these transcripts can be verified at NASA’s website. (Editor’s note: The transcripts are somewhat more ambiguous than the article would seem to indicate, however there certainly are some curious comments recorded.) One of the most fascinating documents comes from the FBI archive and indicates, among other things, that: part of the disks carry crews; others are under remote control; their mission is peaceful; the visitors contemplate settling on this planet; these visitors are human-like but much larger in size; they are not excarnate Earth people but come from their own world; and the disks posses some type of radiant energy. (Editor’s note: The documents on the FBI archive are so poorly scanned that they practically illegible; without painstaking effort, it’s hard to know what they show. That doesn’t mean that the information is not there exactly as stated, it just means that we weren’t able to vet it.)

Enormous X-Shaped Structure Discovered at the Center of the Milky Way – (Futurism – July 21, 2016)
A three-dimensional bulge lies at the heart of the Milky Way’s flat structure. Melissa Ness, a post doctoral researcher from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany notes, “If we understand the bulge we will understand the key processes that have formed and shaped our galaxy.” The bulge is evidence that no other major astronomical event since the Milky Way was formed has taken place—otherwise, the distinctive ‘X’ shape would not have been maintained. And its discovery could possibly spur a deeper understanding of how the galaxy was formed. Other scientists, such as Luke Davies of the International Centre of Radio Astronomy Research, point out that while the data was “reasonably compelling;” this is just “the first evidence we have for it, and there should be lots more detailed observations to confirm it before you say it’s irrefutable,”



STATISTICS/DEMOGRAPHICS

Spending on Jails Outpaced Spending on Schools by Three Times over the Last 30 Years – (Miami Herald – July 7, 2016)
Over the last 30 years, local and state governments increased how much they spend on putting people in jail three times more than how much they spend on educating students, according to a new analysis by the Department of Education. The department examined corrections spending and education spending data from 1979-1980 to 2012-2013 and found that over that time, governments increased spending on incarceration by 324% (from $17 to $71 billion). This is more than three times the spending increase on education, which only grew 107% (from $258 to $534 billion) over the same time period. All of the 50 states had lower expenditure growth rates for PK-12 education than for corrections. Seven states increased corrections budgets more than five times as quickly than they did K-12 education budgets:  Idaho, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia . Texas had the largest percentage increase over 30 years, hiking incarceration spending by 850%. “These aren’t just statistics. When I think about the lives of those who are incarcerated, I can’t help but feel disheartened,” Education Secretary John King said. King also cited research showing a relationship between education rates and incarceration rates: A 10% increase in high school graduation rates leads to a 9% decrease in the rates of criminal arrest, and reduces murder and assault rates by 20%.



NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

Physicists Achieve Atomic Data Storage – (Motherboard – July 18, 2016)
Researchers from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have created a rewritable data-storage device capable of storing information at the level of single atoms representing single bits of information. The technology is capable of packing data as dense as 500 terabytes per square inch. Theoretically, the device could store the entire contents of the US Library of Congress within a 0.1-mm-wide cube—though the proof-of-concept demonstrated by the group topped out at 1 kilobyte. Physicists have been capable of manipulating single atoms for 25 years, but there are several problems that preclude easily implementing atomic-scale memory. For one thing, atoms don't tend to sit still very well given the thermal perturbations found at most reasonable temperatures. And then there is the problem of finding a suitable material and process that allows for the detection and manipulation of the atoms. Said manipulation is done here using a scanning tunneling microscope (STM), an invaluable tool for imaging and tweaking surfaces at atomic scales. In 1990, physicist Don Eigler famously spelled out the letters "IBM" with 35 xenon atoms via an STM, but the Delft group achieves their information storage in sort of an inverse manner. Rather than arranging atoms in various ways, their storage grid is based on atomic vacancies—spaces within a layer where atoms should be. Steven Erwin, a computational materials scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory, said. "In contrast to the xenon atoms of ‘IBM’, these spots are not atoms but rather their absence—that is, vacancies in a layer of chlorine atoms deposited on a copper substrate. The vacancies can be easily and reproducibly manipulated by moving one of the four adjacent atoms using an STM tip." The vacancy method has a couple of key advantages. One, because the vacancies are relatively stable, the storage device doesn't have to be kept quite as cold—rather than liquid helium (-210°C), we "only" need liquid nitrogen (-196°C). See also: One of the First Real-World Quantum Computer Applications Was Just Realized.



ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Why American Internet Giants Fail in China – (Today – August 10, 2016)
If it is any consolation, Uber has joined a glittering alumni of slain United States tech giants, many of whom still have carcasses rotting in the Chinese cyberspace. They include Google, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, MySpace, Groupon, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. The record of major American Internet companies in China has been abysmal and there are recurring themes behind their failures. Most of these tech giants committed a classic mistake of replicating its successful business model at home in China. But as a famous management cliché goes, whatever got you here will not get you there. The article includes numerous examples of why/where things went wrong. Here’s one: It is believed that a Chinese cyber clone can be ready in Zhongguancun in Beijing, the Silicon Valley of China, within weeks of a fresh start-up taking off across the Pacific. By the time a US tech giant is ready to enter China, several copycats have already been sucking up market share in the mainland.

Bitcoin's Latest Economic Problem - Market Ouvert Or Squatters' Rights – (Forbes – August 6, 2016)
Recently Bitcoins valued somewhere above $65M were stolen from the Bitcoin “bank” of Bitfinex. With respect to the legal recourse rights of Bitfinex victims, even though they may have lost their right to pursue Bitfinex for compensation, they are still going to be entitled to track the funds across the blockchain to seek recourse from whomsoever receives the bitcoins in their accounts. That’s good news for victims, but mostly likely very bad news for bitcoin’s fungible state and thus its status as a medium of exchange. Just one successful claim by a victim who tracks his funds to an identifiable third party, and the precedent is set. Any exchanges dealing with bitcoin in a legitimate capacity would from then on be inclined to do much stronger due diligence on whether the bitcoins being deposited in their system were connected to ill-gotten gains. This in turn would open the door to the black-listing of funds that cannot prove they were originated honestly via legitimate earnings. Of course, people should not steal things. And yet for a currency to work it has to be possible to take the currency at its face value. Thus it may well be that the bank robber paid you for his beer with stolen money but you got it fair and square and thus the bank doesn’t get it back as an when they find out. Another way to put this is that the crime dies with the criminal. And yet the blockchain upends all of that. Because every transaction in which any one bitcoin has been involved in is traceable.



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

The First Human on Earth to Live to Be 1,000 Years Old is Alive Today – (Daily Galaxy – August 7, 2016)
“The first person to live to be 1,000 years old is certainly alive today …whether they realize it or not, barring accidents and suicide, most people now 40 years or younger can expect to live for centuries,” claims Cambridge University geneticist Aubrey de Grey. "The only difference between my work and the work of the whole medical profession," de Grey adds, "is that I think we're in striking distance of keeping people so healthy that at 90 they'll carry on waking up in the same physical state as they were at the age of 30, and their probability of not waking up one morning will be no higher than it was at the age of 30." “I just don't think [immortality] is possible,” countered Sherwin Nuland, a former professor of surgery at the Yale School of Medicine. “Aubrey and the others who talk of greatly extending lifespan are oversimplifying the science and just don't understand the magnitude of the task. His plan will not succeed. Were it to do so, it would undermine what it means to be human.” It’s interesting that Nuland first says he doesn’t think it will work but then adds that if it does, it will undermine humanity. So, which is it? Is it impossible, or are the skeptics just hoping it is? Perhaps de Gray is way too optimistic, but others have joined the search for a virtual fountain of youth. In fact, a growing number of scientists, doctors, geneticists and nanotech experts—many with impeccable academic credentials—are insisting that there is no hard reason why ageing can’t be dramatically slowed or prevented altogether. Not only is it theoretically possible, they argue, but a scientifically achievable goal that can and should be reached in time to benefit those alive today. (Editor’s note: We don’t know if living 1,000 years is possible or not, but we doubt that it’s possible for anyone living the average contemporary western lifestyle. At age 30, with relatively little complaint, our bodies let us get away with a lot; will they still do that at age 300?)



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

Solved: The Mystery of Why Sunflowers Turn to Follow the Sun– (NPR – August 5, 2016)
Scientists have answered a burning question central to the charm of sunflowers: Why do young flowers move their blooms to always face the sun over the course of a day? And then: Once sunflowers reach maturity, why do they stop tracking the sun and only face east? The researchers say the young plant's sun-tracking (also called heliotropism) can be explained by circadian rhythms – the behavioral changes tied to an internal clock that humans also have, which follow a roughly 24 hour cycle. A young flower faces east at dawn and greets the sun, then slowly turns west as the sun moves across the sky. During the night, it slowly turns back east to begin the cycle again. The researchers found that the plant's turning is actually a result of different sides of the stem elongating at different times of day. As overall growth slows down, the circadian clock ensures that the mature plant reacts more strongly to light early in the morning than in the afternoon or evening, so it gradually stops moving westward during the day. The researchers compared mature flowers facing east with those they turned to face west, and found that the east-facing blooms attracted five times as many helpful pollinators. That's because the east-facing flowers heat up faster. And, "bees like warm flowers," as one researcher puts it.



JUST FOR FUN

A Fabulous Fake – (Crop Circle Connector – August, 2016)
Like most of the crop circles, this one which recently turned up on August 12, 2016 on a field in Ansty, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK is geometrically precise and very complex. In fact, it’s elegant. And it just happens to be a total rip-off of the logo of Mothership Glass, a company in Bellingham, Washington, USA. The company makes very high end hand-blown glass smoking equipment and the image features stylized marijuana leaves. We seriously doubt that the extraterrestrials are behind this one. But it does raise huge questions to which we’d still love to have answers: Exactly how are the crop circles made – and made so quickly, so precisely, and so beautifully? By whom? Oh, yes, and one other question: If this one if is a spoof, how many of others are also glorious fakes? All of them?



A FINAL QUOTE

I don't try to describe the future. I try to prevent it. - Ray Bradbury



A special thanks to: Bernard Calil, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, Abby Porter, Gary Sycalik, David Townsend, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along - thanks. johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org




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Edited by John L. Petersen
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