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Volume 22, Number 1 - 1/1/19 Twitter  Facebook  JLP Blog  


FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT--
  • Norway has become the first country to stop its biofuel industry from buying palm oil which has been linked to catastrophic deforestation.
  • For news, Americans now officially prefer social media to newspapers.
  • More than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country.
  • China plans to build a deep sea base run entirely by AI.


PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

Happy New Year!

We all wish you a very meaningful and blessed New Year. No matter how you approach it, 2019 appears to have all of the makings of an extraordinary – indeed, pivital – moment in this transition to a new world.

Many thanks to the many of you who generously supported us in our fundraising effort. Your contributions make a very large difference in keeping FUTUREdition coming your way!

I was the presenter at our last TransitionTalks event here in Berkeley Springs. I’m going to try to produce a video of the talk, but you can get a taste of some of it here in our PostScript interview, which I did with Gary Sycalik just before the talk:



Renowned Teacher, Healer Next TransitionTalks Presenter

Our next TransitionTalk will be on February 23rd with Pierre DuBois. Pierre is a very special guy, with highly developed abilities to access other dimensions and translate those inputs into practical advice for preparing for the coming changes.

Toward an Ascended Tomorrow
Predictions, strategies, and suggestions for a graceful transition into future earth.

A cursory look at the world today will reveal that we are standing on a razor’s edge. The dream of planetary growth: the promise of the golden age of evolutionary transformation and change is being challenged by regressive ideas, fear mongering, and xenophobia where factual, empirical, historical and scientific evidence seen to evaporate leaving behind a haze of blind obedience to unscrupulous and manipulative leaders. It is evident that a separation, schism, and fragmentation between extreme is being created setting humanity up for rivalry, combat, and battle.

What is really happening? Forces that are far beyond the obvious are at play. It is not simply that corporate sponsored leaders are abusing power by enflaming core fears, but that those leaders are the center of a centrifuge or vortex that is seeking to amass souls in a process that will lead into a split into parallel realities. The planet is shifting into multiple realities each calibrated to a different root vibration, frequency, and emotions. As human beings begin to identify on a visceral level with core emotions that exist in their subconscious mind, they will be choosing which parallel reality they go into.

Keep in mind that parallel realities are not higher or lower dimensions. Going into a parallel reality is moving horizontally, while going into a higher or lower dimension is moving vertically. The Milky Way is a flat and spiral galaxy and as the earth rotates around the sun, they both rotate around the core of the Milky Way a process that takes 250 million years to complete. During that journey the earth will crest above and below the thickness of the Milky Way 8 times in one galactic year. At each cresting the earth and its inhabitants become completely bathed by the light of the galactic equator and are presented with a unique opportunity to evolve and ascend en mass. In the Galactic Core, these periods are called the great harvest.

Existence at the time of the shift is complicated for multiple realities are occupying the same space while struggling with each other for dominance and control. Understand that the core emotions of these parallel world also exist in you and they will emotionally trigger you to react thus leading you horizontally. Put differently, the space that they occupy exist in you. You will be experiencing a myriad of contradictory and opposite emotions and sensations leaving you feeling lost, confuse and without a compass.

How is one supposed to navigate these emotional and dimensional turbulences? Form a spiritual stand point, what are the predictions of where we are headed? Knowing this, what are the preparatory strategies and suggestions that can help us transition gracefully into the ascended tomorrow?

Join us for and evening of revelations, discussions, and exchange of ideas about the shift into parallel and higher dimensions.

Click here for more information and registration.


Our e-Magazine has complete information on our TransitionTalks series with articles from past speakers
Gregg Braden, Joe Dispenza & Bruce Lipton:




New Energy: The Linchpin to Unprecedented Change and the Emergence of a New Era by John Petersen

1 hour and 10-minute presentation by John Petersen on downloadable digital video:

This is a dynamic presentation showing you the path that mankind is on and how a new human being is emerging.

Get the complete details here.










THINK LINKS



INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

Taylor Swift Has Become Big Brother – (Fast Company – December 13, 2018)
You know facial recognition has become mainstream when one of pop’s biggest stars joins the likes of the Chinese Communist Party in surveilling the public. At a Swift concert in California’s Rose Bowl this past May, Swift’s security teams installed a kiosk that displayed highlights of her rehearsals for the show that fans coming to the concert could stop and take a look at. The only thing is, as that fans did this, little did they know they were being watched too. That’s because the kiosk had a camera in it that immediately recorded an image of each person and then sent these images thousands of miles away to Swift’s Nashville, Tennessee “command post,” where facial recognition tech was used to identify if any of the concertgoers were one of the hundreds of Swift’s known stalkers. At no time were those concertgoers, who thought the kiosk was only there so they could watch Swift’s rehearsal footage, made aware of the fact that their image was being recorded and scanned into a database controlled by Swift and her security team. This isn’t against the law, as a concert is technically a private event and thus concert organizers can use virtually any kind of surveillance techniques they want to on unsuspecting attendees.

The Future of Entertainment – (Rolling Stone – December 10, 2018)
With the dawn of AI and the rise of social media, technology is scarier — and more exciting — than ever. Here’s how it’s changing music, TV, sports and more. Article explores 9 trends. For example, the battle for live sports. As more consumers cut cable — and with the rights packages for the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB all set to expire by 2025 — it seems just a matter of time until sports are streaming-only entertainment. The transition took a step forward when MLB gave Facebook Watch exclusive rights to Wednesday-afternoon games in 2018. It was the first time a major sports league had produced broadcasts specifically for a streaming platform. An MLB source said the league was “pleased” with what they learned, particularly via viewer feedback, which included suggestions as simple as shrinking the score box on the screen because it proved distracting. The experiment also drew under-40 viewers to a game that’s struggled to connect with young fans.



NEW DISCOVERIES

Scientists Identify Vast Underground Ecosystem Containing Billions of Micro-organisms – (Guardian – December 10, 2018)
The Earth is far more alive than previously thought, according to “deep life” studies that reveal a rich ecosystem beneath our feet that is almost twice the size of that found in all the world’s oceans. Despite extreme heat, no light, minuscule nutrition and intense pressure, scientists estimate this subterranean biosphere is teeming with between 15bn and 23bn tons of micro-organisms, hundreds of times the combined weight of every human on the planet. Researchers at the Deep Carbon Observatory say the diversity of underworld species bears comparison to the Amazon or the Galápagos Islands, but unlike those places the environment is still largely pristine because people have yet to probe most of the subsurface. “It’s like finding a whole new reservoir of life on Earth,” said Karen Lloyd, an associate professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. “We are discovering new types of life all the time. So much of life is within the Earth rather than on top of it.” The team combines 1,200 scientists from 52 countries in disciplines ranging from geology and microbiology to chemistry and physics. Samples were taken from boreholes more than 5km deep and undersea drilling sites to construct models of the ecosystem and estimate how much living carbon it might contain. One organism found 2.5km below the surface has been buried for millions of years and may not rely at all on energy from the sun. Instead, the methanogen has found a way to create methane in this low energy environment, which it may not use to reproduce or divide, but to replace or repair broken parts. Lloyd said: “The strangest thing for me is that some organisms can exist for millennia. They are metabolically active but in stasis, with less energy than we thought possible of supporting life.”

Yes, the Octopus Is Smart. But Why? – (New York Times – November 30, 2018)
It has eight arms, three hearts — and a plan. For decades, researchers have studied how certain animals evolved to be intelligent, among them apes, elephants, dolphins and even some birds, such as crows and parrots. But all the scientific theories fail when it comes to cephalopods, a group that includes octopuses, squid and cuttlefish. For scientists who study animal behavior, intelligence comprises sophisticated cognitive skills that help an animal thrive. Intelligent animals don’t rely on fixed responses to survive — they can invent new behaviors on the fly. Only a few species stand out in these studies, and by comparing them, scientists have identified some shared factors. The animals have big brains relative to their body size, they live for a long time, and they can form long-lasting social bonds. The only feature that cephalopods share with other smart animals is a relatively big brain. Mr. Amodio, an expert on animal intelligence, and his colleagues think the evolutionary history of cephalopods may explain their intelligence. About 275 million years ago, the ancestor of most cephalopods lost the external shell. It’s not clear why, but it must have been liberating. Now the animals could start exploring places that had been off-limits to their shelled ancestors. Octopuses could slip into rocky crevices, for example, to hunt for prey. On the other hand, losing their shells left cephalopods quite vulnerable to hungry predators. This threat may have driven cephalopods to become masters of disguise and escape. They did so by evolving big brains and the ability to solve new problems. Still, sooner or later, they get eaten. Natural selection has turned them into a paradox: a short-lived, intelligent animal.



GENETICS / HEALTH TECHNOLOGY / BIOTECHNOLOGY

Prions, Nearly Indestructible and Universally Lethal, Seed the Eyes of Victims – (Scientific American – December 5, 2018)
It was probably only a matter of time until someone connected the dots. Prions – infectious proteins -- had turned up in the eyes of victims of prion diseases. Infected donor corneas had transmitted prion disease to recipients on at least a few occasions. In the case of spontaneous Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (sCJD), the most common prion disease, half of patients are dead within six months of symptom onset. That figure reaches 95% within a year. In a particularly vexing twist, prions are also nearly impervious to destruction, even when attacked using a strenuous combination of disinfectants, heat, and pressure. And often, patients who later turn out to be infected with prions have eye trouble for which they seek medical attention and testing before they are aware they are infected. What if … ? The possibility was horrifying. But it demanded investigation. A study has found that the eyes of human prion victims are loaded with infectious particles even before they have begun to exhibit symptoms. Further, these particles are present on the surface of their corneas, the covering of the eye. 100% of the eyes of 11 sCJD victims who donated their bodies for study were seeded throughout with prions. On the plus side, this finding, combined with the relative ease of assessing the retina, suggests a new target for traditionally tricky CJD diagnosis by non-invasive methods as electroretinograms. On the other hand, all remaining implications are disturbing. Undiagnosed CJD patients may seek testing. And the diagnostic equipment used to test them may then become contaminated, the authors write. Meanwhile, corneal transplants are becoming increasingly popular worldwide. According to the authors, 185,576 were performed in 116 countries in 2012, a new high. The United States leads the world per capita, with 64,000 performed each year. But there are yet more worrying implications of these findings. One question suggested by this research is whether the eyes of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients are likewise filled with amyloid-beta, alpha-synuclein, and tau, and if that is the case, if the accumulation of those proteins in eyes might be exploited to aid diagnosis, a notoriously tricky proposition for these diseases. Another is – and I am entering deep speculative territory here, as in, no one actually qualified to render an opinion on this has said it, whether ophthalmological equipment could act as a vector for those diseases, as surgical equipment has already been hypothesized to do. See also: The red-hot debate about transmissible Alzheimer's.

Scientists Crack the CRISPR Code for Precise Human Genome Editing – (PhysOrg – December 13, 2018)
Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute have discovered a set of simple rules that determine the precision of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing in human cells. These rules, published in Molecular Cell, could help to improve the efficiency and safety of genome editing in both the lab and the clinic. Before CRISPR can be safely applied in the clinic, scientists need to make sure that they can reliably predict precisely how DNA will be modified. "Until now, editing genes with CRISPR has involved a lot of guesswork, frustration and trial and error," says Crick group leader Paola Scaffidi, who led the study. By examining the effects of CRISPR genome editing at 1491 target sites across 450 genes in human cells, the team have discovered that the outcomes can be predicted based on simple rules. These rules mainly depend on one genetic 'letter' occupying a particular position in the region recognized by the 'guide RNA' to direct the molecular scissors, Cas9 . Guide RNAs are synthetic molecules made up of around 20 genetic letters (A,T,C,G), designed to bind to a specific section of DNA in the target gene. Each genetic letter has a complementary partner—A binds to T and C binds to G—which stick together a bit like Velcro. The guide RNA is like the 'hook' side of Velcro, designed to stick to the 'loop' side on the target gene. The researchers found that the outcome of a particular gene edit depends on the fourth letter from the end of the RNA guide, adjacent to the cutting site. The team discovered that if this letter is an A or a T, there will be a very precise genetic insertion; a C will lead to a relatively precise deletion and a G will lead to many imprecise deletions. Thus, simply avoiding sites containing a G makes genome editing much more predictable. The team also discovered that how 'open' or 'closed' the target DNA is also affects the outcome of gene editing. Adding compounds that force DNA to open up—allowing Cas9 to scan the genome—led to more efficient editing, which could help when modifications need to be introduced in particularly closed genes.

Google Launches Thai AI Project to Screen for Diabetic Eye Disease – (Reuters – December 13, 2018)
Google has launched an artificial intelligence program in Thailand to screen for a diabetic eye disease which causes permanent blindness. The eye screening program in Thailand follows a similar Google program in India and highlights a push by big tech companies to show the social benefits of new AI technologies. Google’s Thailand diabetes program was announced in partnership with a Thai state-run Rajavithi Hospital. This followed a joint-study which found the AI program to have an accuracy rate of 95% when it comes to disease detection, compared with 74% from opticians or eye doctors. Thailand is one of the world’s most important sugar producers and high sugar consumption is common amongst its 69 million population. The Thai government has been campaigning against behavior that can lead to diabetes and has made the diabetic eye screening one of the country’s national health indicators since 2015. Thailand has only around 1,400 eye doctors for its 5 million diabetic patients, who are all at risk of the vision loss, Paisan Ruamviboonsuk, Ravajithi Hospital’s assistant director, told reporters.

Johns Hopkins Researchers: Plant Compounds May Be Better Than Current Antibiotics at Treating Persistent Lyme Bacteria – (Outbreak News Today – December 3, 2018)
There are an estimated 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year in the United States. Standard treatment with doxycycline or an alternative antibiotic for a few weeks usually clears the infection and resolves symptoms. However, about 10-20% of patients report persistent symptoms including fatigue and joint pain–often termed “persistent Lyme infection” or “post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome” (PTLDS) that in some cases can last for months or years. Oils from garlic and several other common herbs and medicinal plants show strong activity against the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, according to a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. These oils may be especially useful in alleviating Lyme symptoms that persist despite standard antibiotic treatment, the study also suggests. The study, published in the journal Antibiotics, included lab-dish tests of 35 oils that are pressed from plants or their fruits and contain the plant’s main fragrance, or “essence.” The Bloomberg School researchers found that 10 of these, including oils from garlic cloves, myrrh trees, thyme leaves, cinnamon bark, allspice berries and cumin seeds, showed strong killing activity against dormant and slow-growing “persister” forms of the Lyme disease bacterium. “We found that these essential oils were even better at killing the ‘persister’ forms of Lyme bacteria than standard Lyme antibiotics,” says study senior author Ying Zhang, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Bloomberg School.




ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Norway to Heavily Restrict Palm Oils Linked to Deforestation – (Independent – December 4, 2018)
Norway has become the first country to stop its biofuel industry from buying palm oil which has been linked to catastrophic deforestation. The parliamentary decision, which is set to come into force from 2020, has been welcomed as a victory in the fight to save rainforests, prevent climate change and protect endangered orangutans. It comes after a gradual process in which Norwegian politicians have pushed to ban palm oil, including a vote last year to stop the government itself purchasing the biofuel. However, that decision was never fully implemented as the government opted to rely on voluntary measures instead. The current vote was not only stronger, with majority government support, it was also more comprehensive as it covered the entire fuel market. The decision comes after Norway’s consumption of palm oil in fuels reached an all-time high last year, a result of measures to cut fossil fuel use in transport.

The Insect Apocalypse Is Here – (New York Times – November 27, 2018)
In the United States, scientists recently found the population of monarch butterflies fell by 90% in the last 20 years, a loss of 900 million individuals; the rusty-patched bumblebee, which once lived in 28 states, dropped by 87% over the same period. A paper by an obscure German entomological society had brought the problem of insect decline into sharp focus. The German study found that, measured simply by weight, the overall abundance of flying insects in German nature reserves had decreased by 75% over just 27 years. If you looked at midsummer population peaks, the drop was 82%. The study would quickly become the sixth-most-discussed scientific paper of 2017. “We notice the losses,” says David Wagner, an entomologist at the University of Connecticut. “It’s the diminishment that we don’t see.” Ornithologists kept finding that birds that rely on insects for food were in trouble: eight in 10 partridges gone from French farmlands; 50 and 80% drops, respectively, for nightingales and turtledoves. Half of all farmland birds in Europe disappeared in just three decades. At first, many scientists assumed the familiar culprit of habitat destruction was at work, but then they began to wonder if the birds might simply be starving. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article for its analysis of the ways in which the insect world is the critical lynchpin for so much of the rest of the natural world.)

Black Costa Rican Monkeys Are Turning Yellow – (Science Alert – December 8, 2018)
With the exception of some orange hairs in the rear, the black mantled howler monkey (Alouatta palliata) is predominantly covered in pitch black fur. This is true for all the black howler monkeys in the forests of Central America and the north of South America. But in Costa Rica, something strange is going on. In the past five years, howler monkeys in this region have begun to sprout yellow fur. Scientists have now reported at least 21 howler monkeys with yellow fur, living in the wild along the coast of Costa Rica. The patches of yellow fur appear to be growing not only in number but also in size. In fact, scientists have reported at least two wild monkeys fully covered in yellow fur, with no black coloration at all. In most black mantled howler monkeys, a pigment called eumelanin reigns, producing black, gray or dark brown fur. But in some howler monkeys, the melanin switches to pheomelanin, which produces yellow, red or orange tones instead. And while it's still not clear exactly why these pigments are changing, pesticides are suspected to be the main culprit. It turns out, that the pigment responsible for the monkey's yellow fur contains sulfur, and sulfur, incidentally, forms the basis for most pesticides used in the world. The researchers propose that as these Costa Rican monkeys are exposed to more pesticides, the abundance of sulfur messes with the pigment of their fur, changing the structure of melanin and, therefore, their overall color. This isn't some crazy hunch. In Costa Rica, pineapple, banana and African palm oil farms have recently begun to use a greater number of sulfur-containing pesticides. And scientists are noticing that most of the animals with unusual colors come from the forests surrounding these farms.



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

The Young and the Reckless – (Wired – April 17, 2018)
The trip from Ontario, Canada to Delaware was only supposed to last a day. David Pokora, a bespectacled University of Toronto senior with scraggly blond hair down to his shoulders, needed to travel south to fetch a bumper that he’d bought for his souped-up Volks¬wagen Golf R. In the detention area of the adjoining US Customs and Border Protection building, an antiseptic room with a lone metal bench, Pokora pondered all the foolish risks he’d taken while in thrall to his Xbox obsession. When he’d started picking apart the console’s software a decade earlier, it had seemed like harmless fun—a way for him and his friends to match wits with the corporate engineers whose ranks they yearned to join. But the Xbox hacking scene had turned sordid over time, its ethical norms corroded by the allure of money, thrills, and status. And Pokora had gradually become enmeshed in a series of schemes that would have alarmed his younger self: infiltrating game developers’ networks, counterfeiting an Xbox prototype, even abetting a burglary on Microsoft’s main campus. In those early hours after his arrest, Pokora had no clue just how much legal wrath he’d brought upon his head: For eight months he’d been under sealed indictment for conspiring to steal as much as $1 billion worth of intellectual property, and federal prosecutors were intent on making him the first foreign hacker to be convicted for the theft of American trade secrets. Several of his friends and colleagues would end up being pulled into the vortex of trouble he’d helped create; one would become an informant, one would become a fugitive, and one would end up dead. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article for its careful accounting of “how one thing led to another”.)

For News, Americans Now Officially Prefer Social Media to Newspapers – (Futurism – December 11, 2018)
Or at least this is the first time they're admitting it. Now about 20% of Americans said they “often” go to social media for news, while about 16% often read a print newspaper, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted over the first two weeks of August. Break down the survey’s 3,425 responses by age and it becomes clear that this trend is likely to increase over time — social media is the most popular source of news for people under 30 years old, with 36% saying they use it often and only 2% reading a physical newspaper. In spite of this trend, neither the newspaper nor social media are a particularly popular source of news for Americans. Television still dominates 49% of the market, and news websites take another 33%. It’s not like everyone who used to read the paper every morning suddenly decided to sign into Twitter instead — Pew’s data suggest that newspaper readership has been declining steadily while social media use more or less flatlined in 2017. But TV’s reign may be short-lived: television news viewership seems to directly correlate with age — 81% of people over the age of 65 regularly watch TV news, as do 65% of people between 50 and 64 years old. Meanwhile, just 16% of Americans under 30 regularly watch TV news.



TRANSPORTATION

The UK Has a Plan to Prep for the Electric Car Revolution – (Wired – November 30, 2018)
In 2019, the UK will be host to the world’s largest trial of electric vehicles. Its aim: to work out all the myriad of ways in which we are hopelessly unprepared to ditch the internal combustion engine once and for all. The project, called Optimize Prime and backed by energy regulator Ofgem, is unusual as its focus is less on electric vehicles and more on the infrastructure that makes them viable. If the National Grid struggles when millions of kettles are switched on at half-time during an England match, what will happen at dinnertime when millions of electric cars and vans return home and are connected to a charging point? It’s this type of question that a consortium of companies – from Centrica to UK Power Networks and Uber to Hitachi – are trying to answer. Around 3,000 electric vehicles will be deployed in the second half of 2019, with data collected from the fleet being analyzed to assess their impact on grids in urban, rural and suburban areas across the south and east of England. Here are just a handful of the problems that will have to be overcome. For example: EV charging systems across the UK are not standardized. Charging speeds, the available chargers, wattage, connections and availability of charging ports all vary significantly. Road safety legislation and legally mandated charging points in certain areas could take a long time to arrive. This means that some areas – think big cities – could have fully developed electric vehicle infrastructures, while other areas lag well behind.



AGRICULTURE/FOOD

McDonald’s Announces New Antibiotic Use Reduction Policy in Beef, a First-of-its-kind – (Nation of Change – December 13, 2018)
McDonald’s has announced its intent to address the use of antibiotics in its international supply chain for beef. The company’s new policy will require international suppliers of beef to reduce livestock antibiotics use practices starting with 10 global markets. In the United States,’ McDonald’s is the first and largest fast-food restaurant to commit to such a policy for all beef sold at its domestic restaurants. As “one of the first companies to end the use of medically important antibiotics in its chicken supply back in 2015,” McDonald’s new policy, which experts hope will “spark a wave of change in the beef industry,” will start implementing its new antibiotic use reduction policy next year through a pilot program with completion by 2021, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reported. “This important step forward raises the bar for other burger chains and sends an unmistakable market signal to beef producers worldwide,” Lena Brook, the interim director of the Food & Agriculture program at the NRDC, said.

University of Washington Designs 'Backpack' for Bees to Help Local Farmers – (KOMO News – December 13, 2018)
UW’s School of Computer Science & Engineering is the first to create a sensing system - complete with wireless communication and location tracking - that fits on the back of a bumblebee. Researcher Vikram Iyer says they chose bumblebees because they can fly much longer than drones. "In this work, we leverage nature's flying machines to carry wireless sensors we can use for things like smart farming," Iyer said. The tiny backpack sensors can collect data on crops like temperatures, humidity and overall health. They also collect data on their own locations. "At the same time, we broadcast radio signals to tiny circuits on the bees to track where they're going in a 2-D space," Iyer said. He adds that bumblebees return to a hive each night, so data from their sensors can be uploaded and their tiny batteries recharged.




SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

Loose "Shoot and Scoot" Missiles and the Threat to Aviation – (New Yorker – December 13, 2018)
More than a million man-portable air-defense systems, or manpads, have been produced by more than twenty countries over the past five decades. Among the most common is the SA-7 (also known as the Strela-2), designed during the Soviet era, and the U.S.-produced Stinger. The majority of these weapons are still in government arsenals, but thousands have quietly made their way into an ever-expanding black market as a result of uprisings, wars, political chaos, and financial greed. A U.S. task force has tracked down and eliminated more than thirty-nine thousand manpads, in thirty countries, that were vulnerable to illicit proliferation, a State Department official told me. But at least seventy-two non-state groups—including extremists and rebel insurgents—have fielded manpads and related missile systems over the past two decades. They have posed a threat in dozens of countries, from the United Kingdom to Ukraine, Spain to Sudan, Kosovo to Kenya, and Ivory Coast to Colombia, according to the Small Arms Survey, a nonprofit group that tracks the use of the weapons worldwide. The mobile missiles are a more widespread threat than any weapons of mass destruction—nuclear weapons, biological or chemical weapons, and ballistic missiles, according to Matthew Schroeder, a senior researcher at the Small Arms Survey. “The danger is not theoretical,” he told me. “It’s already happened repeatedly in multiple theatres.” Since 1975, manpads have been fired at more than fifty civilian aircraft in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Twenty-eight were shot down. “The nightmare scenario is that a terrorist group with the resources and connections required to obtain several functional manpads will stage multiple attacks at major airports in different countries over a week or two,” according to Matthew Schroeder, a senior researcher at the Small Arms Survey. “That would bring civil aviation to a halt—globally. The threat is very real until we lock down these weapons worldwide, the prospects for which are currently limited.”



INTERNATIONAL TRENDS

US and Hungary Only Two Nations to Vote No on Helping Refugees at UN General Assembly – (Nation of Change – December 18, 2018)
Only two nations rejected a recent global pact on refugee introduced at the United Nations General Assembly. The United States and Hungary were the only two countries to vote against the Global Compact on Refugees, while 181 nations approved it and three nations – the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, and Libya – abstained. The global compact on refugees “emanates from fundamental principles of humanity and international solidarity, and seeks to operationalize the principles of burden – and responsibility – sharing to better protect and assist refugees and support host countries and communities,” the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stated. The global compact is non-political and not legally binding, instead, “it represents the political will and ambition of the international community as a whole for strengthened cooperation and solidarity with refugees and affected host countries,” the report stated. “While the vote does not represent a formal withdrawal from the Compact, it does send a signal that the wealthiest country the world intends to abdicate global leadership in working towards the Compact’s objectives,” Refugees International said. Two thirds of all refugees come from just 5 countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Somalia. Imagine what peace in just one of those countries could mean.

Beijing Eyes Two-child Policy U-turn, But 'Lonely Generation' Has Moved On – (NBC – December 24, 2018)
For nearly 40 years, the Chinese government harshly restricted childbearing through the one-child rule in order to control population growth. That may soon change. Beijing appears to be on the cusp of abolishing all of its family planning rules — and is even encouraging young couples to have more children as a matter of patriotic urgency. China’s average birth rate fell to a record low of 1.04 in 2015, among the lowest in the world. In contrast, the U.S. birth rate in the U.S. was 1.80 last year, according to the World Bank. But attitudes toward parenthood have changed. Even though there is a two-child policy in place now, many Chinese still don’t want to have more than one child — or any at all. “I think having one child is enough,” said Chen Yiwen, a 25-year-old accountant and newlywed. Chen is not the only woman in the country who shares that sentiment — and that has China’s ruling Communist Party worried. She said that, for now, she and her husband, a 27-year-old midlevel bank manager, are settling into married life and are focusing on “enhancing our self-value” and their careers. “Besides, we already have two little babies — a poodle and a corgi,” she said.

Japan Suffers Biggest Natural Population Decline Ever in 2018 – (CNN – December 23, 2018)
Facing an even more severe population crisis, Japan has suffered its biggest natural population decline ever this year, government statistics show. The fast-graying nation also posted a record-low birthrate, as the estimated number of babies born in 2018 dipped to 921,000 -- the lowest since records began in 1899 -- according to a report published by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The number of newborns is estimated to have shrunk by 25,000 from 2017, and the figure remains under the 1 million mark for the third year running. Deaths in 2018 also hit a postwar record high of 1.369 million, with a natural population decline of 448,000 -- the highest ever. Japan is a "super-aged" nation, meaning more than 20% of its population is older than 65. The country's total population stands at 124 million this year -- but by 2065 it is expected to have dropped to about 88 million.

Xi Jinping Has Changed China’s Winning Formula – (Financial Times – December 21, 2018)
To travel from Washington to Beijing is to experience an utter contrast in political cultures. Donald Trump’s Washington is a reality television show. Outrageous violations of protocol are essential and the president regularly belittles his predecessors. Xi Jinping’s Beijing is a stately opera. Every word and action is predictable and the president asserts authority by laying claim to the legacy of revered predecessors. President Xi performed this ritual this week, as he gave a solemn speech in the Great Hall of the People, marking the 40th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping’s policy of reform and openness. Deng’s reforms are worth celebrating. The unpromisingly named Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist party in 1978 laid the foundations for the transformation of the country. Modern China has achieved levels of prosperity that were unimaginable back then. Central Beijing, thronged with bicycles in 1978, is now clogged with SUVs. Measured by purchasing power, China is now the largest economy in the world. It is little wonder that Mr Xi portrays himself as Deng’s heir. But the reality is more complex and troubling. The past year has seen domestic and international changes that profoundly threaten Deng’s legacy. And much of that is down to Mr Xi himself.



LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

How Do You Recover after Millions Have Watched You Overdose? – (New York Times – December 13, 2018)
As opioid deaths have soared in recent years, police departments and strangers with cameras have started posting raw, uncensored images of drug users passed out with needles in their arms and babies in the back seats of their cars. The videos rack up millions of views and unleash avalanches of outrage. Then some other viral moment comes along, and the country clicks away. But life is never the same for the people whose bleakest, most humiliating moments now live online forever. Before the videos, users shuffled unnoticed from the streets to rehab to jail and back in a cycle of use and arrests. But their anonymity disappeared after being outed by social media, as news cameras showed up at their front doors and reporters attended their court dates on charges including drug possession and child endangerment. Angry Facebook messages arrived months, even years, later, when strangers stumbled across the videos. But for others, the viral attention also became their emergency flare. Rehab centers and drug counselors reached out, waived fees and helped them bypass waiting lists to get into treatment. Addiction experts say the videos are doing little else than publicly shaming drug users, and the blunt horror of the images may actually increase the stigma against them. Users themselves disagree on whether the humiliation helped them clean up their lives. Daniel Raymond, deputy director of policy and planning at the Harm Reduction Coalition, an advocacy group, said, “The intent is not to help these people. The intent is to use them as an object lesson by scapegoating them.” But police departments say they are simply trying to reveal the brutal reality of what they see every day. The sheriff’s office in Volusia County, Fla., posted a video of two adults passed out in the front seat of their car, with a sweating, hungry baby boy strapped into the back seat.

How Feminists Corrupt Domestic Violence Research – (A Voice for Men – February 4, 2012)
Analyses of data from 32 nations in the International Dating Violence Study (Straus 2007; Straus and International Dating Violence Research Consortium 2004) found roughly equal perpetration rates and a predominance of mutual violence in all 32 samples, including non-Western nations. Moreover, data from that study also show that, within a couple relationship, domination and control by women occurs as often as by men and are as strongly associated with perpetration of partner violence (PV) by women as by men (Straus 2007). Feminists have created two important new social institutions: shelters for battered women and treatment programs for male perpetrators. However, the exclusive focus on male perpetrators and the exclusive focus on just one of the many causes has stymied this extension of the rule of law and the effort to end domestic violence. Ironically, it has also handicapped efforts to protect women from PV and end PV by men (Feld and Straus 1989; Medeiros and Straus 2006; Straus 2007). Consequently, information on how this could have occurred can be helpful in bringing about a change. This commentary identifies seven of the methods used to conceal and distort evidence on symmetry in partner violence. Here is a link to the Graham-Kevan article, Gender symmetry in partner violence: The evidence, the denial, and the implications for primary prevention and treatment being discussed. (Editor’s note: This article, brought to our attention by one of FUTUREdition’s readers, seeks to examine the reasons why the media and the public are far more aware of domestic violence perpetrated by men than by people in general even though the evidence shows that the ratio of men to women in domestic violence incidences is roughly even.)



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

This May Be the Most Distant Object in Our Solar System – (Science Mag – December 17, 2018)
Astronomers have announced the discovery of the solar system’s most distant resident, a tiny dwarf planet located at a distance 120 times farther than Earth is from the sun. The planet, given the provisional designation 2018 VG18 and nicknamed “Farout” by its discovery team, is pinkish in hue, reflecting an icy composition, and is likely some 500 kilometers in diameter. Scientists first spotted Farout with the Japanese Subaru 8-meter telescope located atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii on 10 November. It was confirmed this month during a week of observations from the Magellan telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. Like the recent “Goblin” planet, astronomers spotted Farout while searching for a hypothesized ninth giant planet. Farout’s orbit, however, is not yet known, so researchers can’t yet say whether its path, which likely takes more than 1000 years to swing around the sun, hints at gravitational tugs from the hypothetical Planet Nine—or even a 10th planet. See also: Newly discovered ‘goblin’ world hints at the presence of Planet Nine.

Saturn Is Losing Its Iconic Planetary Rings – (Quartz – December 18, 2018)
Saturn, the jewel of Earth’s celestial neighbors, is losing its rings. The rings are made up largely of frozen water, and they’re actively dumping incredible amounts of ice onto the planet constantly. A recent paper suggests that 22,000 pounds of material falls from the rings every single second, and over time that rain will bleed the rings completely dry. Two NASA space probes—Voyager 1 and Voyager 2—have played pivotal roles in confirming as much. “The rings are being pulled into Saturn by gravity as a dusty rain of ice particles under the influence of Saturn’s magnetic field,” the space agency said, adding the ring loss is happening at a “worst-case scenario” rate. It will take just under 300 million years for them to totally vanish, but that’s a blip in time compared to the age of the planet, which is estimated to be at about 4 billion years old. The science behind the research may help one of astronomers’ longstanding questions: Did Saturn always have its rings, or were they acquired during its long lifespan? The conditions by which the rings are disappearing suggest the latter. In fact, scientists at NASA estimate the rings we see surrounding the planet today are only 100 million years old, at most.

Matter Sucked in by Black Holes May Travel into the Future, Get Spit Back Out – (Live Science – December 18, 2018)
Black holes are among the most mysterious places in the universe; locations where the very fabric of space and time are warped so badly that not even light can escape from them. According to Einstein's theory of general relativity, at their center lies a singularity, a place where the mass of many stars is crushed into a volume with exactly zero size. However, two recent physics papers, published on Dec.10 in the journals Physical Review Letters and Physical Review D, respectively, may make scientists reconsider what we think we know about black holes. Black holes might not last forever, and it's possible that we've completely misunderstood their nature and what they look like at the center, according to the papers. Loop quantum gravity is a difficult mathematical theory that has resisted the making of testable predictions inside black holes. However, Abhay Ashtekar and Javier Olmedo at Pennsylvania State University and Parampreet Singh at Louisiana State University have applied loop quantum gravity to the center of black holes. They claim that the result is not a singularity. Their calculation predicts that space-time is curved very strongly near the center of the black hole. The result is that space-time continues into a region in the future that has the structure of a white hole. A white hole is like a black hole in reverse, meaning that unlike a black hole, which pulls matter in, a white hole shoots matter out. There is perhaps another way to imagine what they are predicting. It is well-known that in strong gravitational fields, time slows down. And black holes contain the strongest gravitational fields in the universe. Because of this, one possible interpretation of this new work is that matter falls into a black hole and then "bounces," shooting the mass back across the cosmos. Because time is so slow near the center of a black hole, that process simply is taking an enormous amount of time. If the researchers are correct, in the very distant future, where there are now black holes, matter will be erupting, spreading matter throughout the cosmos.



STATISTICS/DEMOGRAPHICS

Key Findings about U.S. Immigrants – (Pew Research Center – November 30, 2018)
The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world. Today, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country, accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants in 2016. The population of immigrants is also very diverse, with just about every country in the world represented among U.S. immigrants. Immigrants today account for 13.5% of the U.S. population, nearly triple the share (4.7%) in 1970. However, today’s immigrant share remains below the record 14.8% share in 1890, when 9.2 million immigrants lived in the U.S. Most immigrants (76%) are in the country legally, while a quarter are unauthorized, according to new Pew Research Center estimates based on census data adjusted for undercount. In 2016, 45% were naturalized U.S. citizens. Some 27% of immigrants were permanent residents and 5% were temporary residents in 2016. Another 24% of all immigrants were unauthorized immigrants. From 1990 to 2007, the unauthorized immigrant population tripled in size – from 3.5 million to a record high of 12.2 million. During the Great Recession, the number declined by 1 million and since then has leveled off. Mexico is the top origin country of the U.S. immigrant population. In 2016, 11.6 million immigrants living in the U.S. were from there, accounting for 26% of all U.S. immigrants. The next largest origin groups were those from China (6%), India (6%), the Philippines (4%) and El Salvador (3%).

US Adults Aren’t Getting Taller, But Still Putting on Pounds – (Associated Press – December 20, 2018)
A new report shows U.S. adults aren’t getting any taller but they are still getting fatter. The average U.S. adult is overweight and just a few pounds from obese, thanks to average weight increases in all groups — but particularly whites and Hispanics. Overall, the average height for men actually fell very slightly over the past decade. There was no change for women. One height factor may be the shift in the country’s population. There’s a growing number of Mexican-Americans, and that group tends to be a little shorter, said one of the report’s authors, Cynthia Ogden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC records date back to the early 1960s, when the average man was a little over 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighed 166 pounds. Now, men are almost 1 inch taller and more than 30 pounds heavier. But today’s average height of 5 feet, 9 inches is about a tenth of an inch shorter than about a decade ago. The average woman in the early 1960s was 5 feet, 3 inches and 140 pounds. Now, women are a half-inch taller and about 30 pounds heavier, on average. The average height is about the same as it was a decade earlier: 5 feet, 4 inches.



NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

Spying on the Dog (or Cat) – (New York Times – December 11, 2018)
Do you really want to know what your pets are doing while you’re away? Among the latest gadgets vying for a slice of the estimated $72 billion pet industry, these three Wi-Fi-enabled cameras come loaded with features to entertain animals and assuage their absentee owners’ guilt, including treat-dispensers, laser-pointing games, and two-way audio that lets you hear and talk to your pet remotely. One device even offers two-way video, so your pet can see you. And it’s all controlled by a smartphone. What could be easier? Article includes a review of three pet video cams, their various features, and vulnerability to hacking.

China Plans to Build a Deep Sea Base Run Entirely by AI – (Futurism – November 28, 2018)
Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences plan to construct a research base deep in the South China Sea, and they want artificially intelligent robots to run it. This base could be the “first artificial intelligence colony on Earth,” said those involved in the project. The researchers will reportedly construct the base between 19,685 to 36,100 feet below the South China Sea’s surface, though they’ve yet to pinpoint a specific location. Cables running from the base up to a ship or platform will provide it with power. The base will have docking platforms like a space station. Robotic submarines will leave the base from these stations to conduct exploratory missions, surveying new areas and collecting data about marine lifeforms. They’ll also collect samples of minerals that the base will be capable of analyzing autonomously. See also: China Launches Rover for First Far Side of the Moon Landing.

Measuring the Age of the Universe with Gravitational Waves – (Science Daily – October 23, 2018)
The current most important puzzle in the study of the universe as a whole can be summarized in one question: How old is it? For nearly a century, we have known the answer. It is about 13.8 billion years old (using current data). But in just the past decade the two alternative measurement methods have narrowed the uncertainties in their results to a few percent to reach a stunning conclusion: The two do not agree with each other. Since both methods are based on exactly the same model and equations, our understanding of the universe is somehow wrong — perhaps fundamentally so. Enter the most exciting technical achievement in astronomy for decades, the detection of gravitational waves (GW) caused by the mergers of black holes or neutron stars with each other. The GW method of distance measurement is completely independent of both earlier methods. General relativity alone provides the intrinsic strength of the GW signal from its peculiar ringing signal, and its observed strength provides a direct measure of its distance. Astronomers conclude that within the next five years it is likely that the GW method will determine the age of the universe to a precision of 2%, and to 1% in a decade, good enough to exclude one or even both of the other methods.



ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Ghosting at Work Is Now Big Enough That It Caught the Fed’s Attention – (Quartz – December 13, 2018)
The new Beige Book from the Federal Reserve Bank contains some millennial slang to describe a rising trend in the workplace: ghosting. The mention in the Fed publication also comes with a helpful definition: “A number of contacts said that they had been ‘ghosted,’ a situation in which a worker stops coming to work without notice and then is impossible to contact.” Until recently, ghosting was almost exclusively used to refer to one person disappearing from a romantic relationship, whether in an online app or after a few face-to-face dates. The idea is that by disappearing, both parties are spared the awkward conversation about at least one half’s lack of interest. Employers should know that it can happen at any time—after a job interview, after a hiring, or even after someone has started on the job. In a perverse way, it’s a positive sign of a strong economy and a strong labor market. The unemployment rate has been hovering below 4% for several months; it’s been nearly 50 years since the last time it was this low. Solid data on ghosting has yet to materialize, but anecdotal reports suggest that it’s happening in various categories of jobs. It’s becoming more common not only at restaurants and hotels, where you’d expect a high turnover rate, but also in offices. An executive from Robert Half, a global staffing firm, said that its recruiters have seen a 10% to 20% increase in ghosting in 2018.

China’s Tech Giants Want to Go Global. Just One Thing Might Stand in Their Way. – (Technology Review – December, 2018/January, 2019)
China boasts nine of the world’s 20 largest tech companies, including three in the top 10. The country’s powerful tech companies, along with a few ambitious startups, are now shaping business models in Silicon Valley—and driving debate over internet controls and surveillance in the process. They have succeeded in large part because of a scrappy entrepreneurialism. As they get bigger and set their sights overseas, what holds them back may no longer be a lack of talent or resources. Rather, it may be their ties to the Chinese government—the very institution that set off China’s tech boom when it began the economic reform program 40 years ago. Even as China’s tech startups are now nurtured by government support, they are also increasingly co-opted. Unlike the internet or free scholarly inquiry, mobile payments and facial recognition do not threaten authoritarian rule; they reinforce it. WeChat payment data can reveal where a person went on a particular day, down to the minute. An advanced facial-recognition system can tell where that person is right now. Since he took office in 2012, Xi Jinping has moved to swiftly consolidate power, stifle dissent, and persecute China’s Uighur Muslim minority. And the tech companies have been enlisted in that quest. Such alliances could foil the companies’ efforts to create breakthrough products that appeal to consumers around the world. Worries about surveillance have already blocked Huawei’s phones from the US, though it still ships more of them worldwide than Apple. (Editor’s note: This entire issue of Technology Review is focused on China and all of the articles are interesting.)



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

There Is No Such Thing as Conscious Thought – (Scientific American – December 20, 2018)
Peter Carruthers, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland, College Park, is an expert on the philosophy of mind who draws heavily on empirical psychology and cognitive neuroscience. He outlined many of his ideas on conscious thinking in his 2015 book The Centered Mind: What the Science of Working Memory Shows Us about the Nature of Human Thought. More recently, in 2017, he published a paper with the astonishing title of “The Illusion of Conscious Thought.” In the following excerpted conversation, Carruthers explains the reasons for his provocative proposal. (Editor’s note: Carruthers’ idea that there is no such thing as a conscious thought is a very carefully reasoned argument which can’t adequately be summarized. If you’re interested, you’ll have to read it.)



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

Award-winning Reporter at Germany’s Der Spiegel, and CNN 2014 Journalist of the Year Is Forced to Admit He Made Up Stories - (Daily Mail - December 19, 2018)
Yes, Virginia, there is Fake News. Germany's respected news weekly Der Spiegel stunned the media world by revealing that one of its award-winning reporters had for years falsified stories. Claas Relotius 'made up stories and invented protagonists' in at least 14 out of 60 articles that appeared in the magazine's print and online editions, Der Spiegel wrote, warning that other outlets could also be affected. Relotius, 33, resigned after admitting to the scam. He had written for the magazine for seven years and won numerous awards for his investigative journalism, including CNN Journalist of the Year in 2014. Earlier this month, he was named German Reporter of the Year for a story about a young Syrian boy.The cheating came to light after a colleague who worked with him on a story along the US-Mexican border raised suspicions about some of the details in Relotius's reporting. The colleague eventually tracked down two alleged sources quoted extensively by Relotius in the article, which was published in November. Both said they had never met Relotius. In a lengthy article, Spiegel said it was 'shocked' by the discovery and apologized to its readers as well as to anyone who may have been the subject of 'fraudulent quotes, made up personal details or invented scenes at fictitious places'.



JUST FOR FUN

British Parrot Goes on Shopping Sprees through Alexa – (NY Daily News – December 15, 2018)
A sweet-natured and incredibly intelligent parrot living in England is causing his handler a ton of trouble by ordering groceries and housewares through Amazon’s voice-activated device Alexa. Rocco is an African Grey parrot that lives with National Animal Welfare Trust sanctuary worker Marion Wischnewski in Oxfordshire, which is located about 55 miles west of London. He became so used to hearing his owners converse with Alexa that he began doing it himself when he was left alone. Already, the clever bird has placed orders for broccoli, watermelon, ice cream, raisins and strawberries. But thanks to a parental lock feature, none of the orders, fortunately, have gone through. “I have to check the shopping list when I come in from work and cancel all the items he’s ordered,” said Wischnewski. Even more incredibly, she said Rocco asks Alexa to play romantic music, which she claims is indicative of his “sweet personality” and love for dance. “Rocco and Alexa chat away to each other all day,” said Wischnewski. (Editor’s note: Who needs a pet cam as long you’ve got a parental lock on Alexa?)



A FINAL QUOTE

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. – Winston Churchill

Sit, be still, and listen for you are drunk and we are at the edge of the roof. – Rumi



A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Thomas Golden, Abby Porter, 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.
johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org




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Edited by John L. Petersen
johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org
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