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Volume 22, Number 12 - 6/15/19 Twitter  Facebook  JLP Blog  


FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT--
  • We may think we own things because we paid for them and brought them home, but as long as they run software or have digital connectivity, the sellers continue to have control over the product.
  • Researchers at the University of New Mexico believe they have found a vaccination to prevent Alzheimer’s.
  • Ben & Jerry's announces plans to make CBD-infused ice-cream.
  • Since August, the African Swine Fever virus has spread to pig herds in every mainland Chinese province, as well as to Vietnam, Cambodia and Mongolia.


PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

Free Book Offer

Our friends at The Fetzer Memorial Trust would like to give you a free hard-cover copy of the book “John E. Fetzer and the Quest for The New Age” by Brian Wilson, Ph. D.

John E. Fetzer, was a pioneer in the broadcast industry, owner of the World Series Detroit Tigers, advisor to two presidents and one of America's 400 most wealthy individuals. Driven by a deep spiritual quest and interest in scientific exploration he is a true inspiration.

I found this biography of John Fetzer most interesting. Here was a titan of industry who had another life that was involved in helping to fund and enable a great deal of research in the metaphysical area and who set up a major foundation that continues to explore the leading edge of our reality.

The Fetzer Institute has always had a very impressive, big outlook on this world and what was possible and I’m pleased that they are making this hardcover book available at no cost to FUTUREdition subscribers.

I certainly would encourage you to take advantage of this offer. -- JLP

To Receive Your Gift click here
(Limited to the first 500 requests)

Your book will be mailed to you free of charge. This is truly a free gift from The Fetzer Memorial Trust. The only mail you will receive from them, will be this book. You will not be added to a mailing list.



PENNY KELLY COMING TO BERKELEY SPRINGS

Author, researcher, experiencer, therapist, farmer and our friend, Dr. Penny Kelly, will be returning to Berkeley Springs Transition Talks for the fourth time on the 6th of July to talk about Trump, the Catastrophe Cycle, and the Imperative for Developing Consciousness.

Always highly interesting and provocative, Penny has systematically opened up to our TransitionTalks audiences over the years about her extraordinary experiences, capabilities and insights about who we are, where we’re going and how we’re likely to get there. The coming 6-8 years are going to be fundamentally critical for the future of humanity and Penny will be explaining how the indicators are all around us of the amazing transition that we will be experiencing.

Are we entering a grand solar minimum? Is the climate getting hotter, or are we entering an ice age? Are we facing a magnetic pole reversal? What is all the talk about the 'solar flash,' also known as the sun's micro-nova? These are big questions affecting our future, yet they are coming to us at a time when everyone in our country is distracted by Trump and the chaos taking place in our government. What does this governmental chaos say about us and human consciousness? What is the real fight, why is 80% of it hidden, and what is at stake here in these United States? How is the situation in our government tangled in an extraordinary synthesis of scientific information highlighting how global warming, the ice age, magnetic pole reversal, and the sun's nova cycle fit together? We are at a fork on the road to eternity and the only real option is to develop consciousness. How do we do that and in what ways would our perception change? How long would it take to make this change and how would the reality around us be different? Join us for an powerful look at our solar system, our planet, our future, and the great need to raise and expand consciousness. You will come away with a deep understanding of many of the ancient stories and prophecies, as well as how to move forward in the face of massive change.

Here’s an interview that we did with her for our PostScript show the last time she visited us. As you can see, this is a very special woman who has a first-hand perspective of not only how this world works (informed by her psychic skills), but also a unique personal understanding of how “advanced races” who visit our planet and will surely engage with us increasingly in the coming years, think and why they are coming here. The significant uptick in news about these UFOs and visits that now are found in the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, CNN, FOX and almost all mainline media, are a harbinger of great change in how humans are in the early stages of expanding not only in consciousness . . . but also beyond this planet. This is really “big idea” stuff – literally about how our species is rapidly evolving.

Penny has collaborated in the writing of 14 books and just finished her ninth individual book and will have it available for signing. So, come ready for a rocket ride into the unknown and the future with this leader in the transition to a new human and new world.

You can find all information at TransitionTalks.org.

Penny Kelly is an author, teacher, speaker, publisher, personal and spiritual consultant, and Naturopathic physician. She travels, lectures, and teaches a variety of classes and workshops, and maintains a large consulting practice. She has been involved in scientific research and investigations into consciousness at Pinelandia Laboratory near Ann Arbor, MI.



GREGG BRADEN AT TRANSITION TALKS IN AUGUST

New York Times best-selling author, Gregg Braden will be returning to Berkeley Springs on the 17th of August for an all-day event. Almost 100 people have already registered, so this is certainly going to be a sell-out again. If you’d like to spend a day with Gregg, register early at TransitionTalks.org Gregg will be presenting a brand-new program, based on his new book that will be out later this year. Complete information at TransitionTalks.org



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






THINK LINKS



INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

We Are Tenants on Our Own Devices – (Wired – May 20, 2019)
A decade ago, Amazon abruptly deleted copies of George Orwell's 1984 from the Kindles of its American customers. The move instantly evoked the “memory holes” in the novel's totalitarian dystopia, and it inspired about equal measures of shock, outrage, and jokes. In that particular case, Amazon said the books had been added to the Kindle Store by a vendor who didn't actually have the rights to them. “When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers' devices, and refunded customers,” said a spokesperson at the time. Amazon quickly apologized and said that in the future it would leave books on people's devices even if there was an error in how they got there. But one thing the company couldn't take back was the demonstration of its sheer power. Even the biggest traditional retailer could hardly dream of reaching into people's houses and taking back what it had sold them. Today, we may think we own things because we paid for them and brought them home, but as long as they run software or have digital connectivity, the sellers continue to have control over the product. We are renters of our own objects, there by the grace of the true owner. Connectivity and embedded intelligence are being used by large corporations to increase their profits and to exercise as much control as they can get away with. Perhaps the most egregious example involves John Deere tractors—those iconic, bright green giants that rumble across big fields, noisily harvesting wheat, corn, and soy. For generations, farmers have repaired their tractors right on the farmstead. But in its push toward building ever more automated, sensor-packed agricultural equipment, John Deere has put draconian software locks on its tractors, forcing customers to visit the company's own repair shops. Farmers complain they are charged exorbitant sums for even simple repairs. And they lose crucial time heading out to the shop during the harvest season. Desperate farmers have taken to hanging out in shady internet forums, looking for software that will get around John Deere's locks, trying to assert their right to repair the tractors they ostensibly own.



NEW DISCOVERIES

Mysterious, Gaping Holes in Antarctic Ice Explained – (Live Science – June 11, 2019)
Enormous holes in the Antarctic winter ice pack have popped up sporadically since the 1970s, but the reason for their formation has been largely mysterious. Scientists, with the help of floating robots and tech-equipped seals, may now have the answer: The so-called polynyas (Russian for "open water") seem to be the result of storms and salt, new research finds. Polynyas have gotten a lot of attention lately because two very large ones opened in the Weddell Sea in 2016 and 2017; in the latter event, the open waters stretched over 115,097 square miles. Now, the most comprehensive look ever at the ocean conditions during polynya formation reveals that these stretches of open water grow due to short-timescale climate variations and particularly nasty weather. The polynyas also release a lot of deep-ocean heat into the atmosphere, with consequences that scientists are still working out. It may modify weather patterns around Antarctica," said study leader Ethan Campbell, a doctoral student in oceanography at the University of Washington.



GENETICS / HEALTH TECHNOLOGY / BIOTECHNOLOGY

Nutrition for One? Scientists Stalk the Dream of a Personalized Diet – (New York Times – June 10, 2019)
A decade ago, spurred by the success of the Human Genome Project and the affordability of genetic sequencing, scientists began to explore the promise of “nutrigenomics.” Could personalized nutrition, informed by knowledge of an individual’s DNA, help prevent and even treat diet-related diseases? The results of early studies from Harvard, Stanford and elsewhere were compelling: Genetic differences seemed to predispose individuals to lose different amounts of weight on different types of diets. A multimillion-dollar industry soon sprang up, premised on marketing DNA-based diets. But subsequent research has failed to show any statistically significant difference in weight loss between overweight people who “eat right for their genotype” and those who do not. What, then, explains the large variation in individual metabolism? Last year, Tim Spector and Sarah Berry, epidemiologists at King’s College, London, and Dr. Andrew Chan, of Harvard Medical School, began an ambitious new search for the answer. Their new study, called Predict, is the world’s largest and most comprehensive experiment to look at individual responses to food. Their preliminary results documented, for the first time, substantial and surprising variations in how well participants processed fats and carbohydrates, even among identical twins. How efficiently a person metabolized one macronutrient was no predictor of how that person might respond to another. “We are getting closer to being able to provide guidance for each person for what their ideal diet should be,” said Dr. Eric Topol, a geneticist at the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, Calif., who was not affiliated with the study. “We’re not there yet, but the new study is another major milestone to get us there.” Article goes on to describe details of the research.

Sleeping with the TV on May Make You Gain Weight – (Fox News – June 10, 2019)
Dozing off to late-night TV or sleeping with other lights on may mix up your metabolism and lead to weight gain and even obesity, provocative but preliminary U.S. research suggests. The National Institutes of Health study isn't proof, but it bolsters evidence suggesting that too much exposure to light at night could pose health risks. Mounting research suggests disrupting that typical sleep-wake cycle may contribute to poor health, increasing risks for high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and obesity. The researchers analyzed health and lifestyle data on nearly 44,000 U.S. women enrolled in an ongoing study seeking clues to causes of breast cancer. The analysis focused on data on sleep, light exposure and weight gain during the study, Women in the study had medical exams and filled out health and lifestyle questionnaires when they enrolled and periodically after. Those who reported sleeping at night in a room with a television on or a light were more likely to gain at least 11 pounds over about five years than those who slept in darkness. They were also about 30% more likely to become obese. Lead author Dale Sandler, a scientist with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health, said she is confident that the added weight wasn't from things like snacking at night, because the analysis accounted for other variables that could have led to weight gain such as diet, physical activity and sleep duration. Sandler said it's likely similar results would be found in men. Animal research and previous smaller studies in humans have linked prolonged light exposure with weight gain.

Russian Biologist Plans More CRISPR-edited Babies - (Nature - June 10, 2019)
A Russian scientist says he is planning to produce gene-edited babies, an act that would make him only the second person known to have done this. It would also fly in the face of the scientific consensus that such experiments should be banned until an international ethical framework has agreed on the circumstances and safety measures that would justify them. Molecular biologist Denis Rebrikov has told Nature he is considering implanting gene-edited embryos into women, possibly before the end of the year if he can get approval by then. Chinese scientist He Jiankui prompted an international outcry when he announced last November that he had made the world’s first gene-edited babies — twin girls. The experiment will target the same gene, called CCR5, that He did, but Rebrikov claims his technique will offer greater benefits, pose fewer risks and be more ethically justifiable and acceptable to the public. Rebrikov plans to disable the gene, which encodes a protein that allows HIV to enter cells, in embryos that will be implanted into HIV-positive mothers, reducing the risk of them passing on the virus to the baby in utero. By contrast, He modified the gene in embryos created from fathers with HIV, which many geneticists said provided little clinical benefit because the risk of a father passing on HIV to his children is minimal.

Researchers Develop Vaccine to Possibly Prevent Alzheimer's Disease – (WKRG – June 11, 2019)
As of now, a cure for Alzheimer's Disease does not exist, but researchers at the University of New Mexico believe they have found a way to prevent it. Kiran Bhaskar has been passionate about studying Alzheimer's Disease for the last decade. As an associate professor for UNM's Health and Sciences Department, he and his team started to test the vaccine on mice. "We used a group of mice that have Alzheimer's Disease, and we injected them over a series of injections," says Nicole Maphis. PhD student Nicole Maphis says the vaccine was created to target a specific protein that's commonly found in the brain of patients with Alzheimer's. "What we chose to pursue was a specific region of tau, as you saw pathological tau the red structures, that are common in Alzheimers Disease. We wanted to make a vaccine against that," says Maphis. "These antibodies seem to have cleared pathological tau. Pathological tau is one of the components of these tangles that we find in the brains of patients with Alzheimers Disease," she says. The mice were then given a series of maze-like tests. The mice that received the vaccine performed a lot better than those that hadn't. Maphis and Bhaskar say this isn't a complete success just yet. Being able to get the vaccine to people will not only take a few more years, but can cost up to a billion dollars. In order to test just a small group would cost the Health Sciences Department $2 million.




ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Canada Announces Plan to Ban Single-use Plastics – (Nation of Change – June 11, 2019)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada will ban single-use plastics as early as 2021. Specific items included in the ban will be plastic straws, cotton swabs, drink stirrers, plates, cutlery, and balloon sticks. Other items will be added once the government completes a science-based review. Trudeau says the inspiration came from the European Union vote to impose a ban on single-use plastics in March. If EU states vote in favor of the measure passed by the European Parliament a ban against a range of plastic products will go into effect starting in 2021. Efforts by the EU and Canada are in an attempt to limit pollution of plastics in waterways, fields, and oceans. Less than 10% of plastic used in Canada each year gets recycled. Nearly 3 million tons of plastic waste is thrown away each year just from Canada, with more than 34 million plastic bags being thrown away every day. Plastic production has skyrocketed since the 1950s, when the world’s population produced 1.5 million tons of plastic. In 2016 the number had reached 320 million tons of plastic, a number set to double by 2034. Plastic pollution is especially persistent in oceans and beaches all over the world, with estimates stating there may be 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the ocean. Plastic makes up anywhere from 60 to 90% of all marine debris studied.



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

Microsoft Says Mandatory Password Changing Is “Ancient and Obsolete” – (Ars Technica – June 3, 2019)
In a largely overlooked post published in May, Microsoft said it was removing periodic password changes from the security baseline settings it recommends for customers and auditors. After decades of Microsoft recommending passwords be changed regularly, Microsoft employee Aaron Margosis said the requirement is an “ancient and obsolete mitigation of very low value.” The change of heart is largely the result of research that shows passwords are most prone to cracking when they’re easy for end users to remember, such as when they use a name or phrase from a favorite movie or book. Over the past decade, hackers have mined real-world password breaches to assemble dictionaries of millions of words. Combined with super-fast graphics cards, the hackers can make huge numbers of guesses in off-line attacks, which occur when they steal the cryptographically scrambled hashes that represent the plaintext user passwords. Even when users attempt to obfuscate their easy-to-remember passwords—say by adding letters or symbols to the words, or by substituting 0’s for the o’s or 1’s for l’s—hackers can use programming rules that modify the dictionary entries. As a result, those measures provide little protection against modern cracking techniques. Researchers have increasingly come to the consensus that the best passwords are at least 11 characters long, randomly generated, and made up of upper- and lower-case letters, symbols (such as a %, *, or >), and numbers.

Are Passwords Obsolete? 5 Things That Could Replace Them – (Tech Republic – May 1, 2019)
Perhaps the problem isn’t expiring passwords, but passwords altogether. Companies including Microsoft have already announced intentions to replace traditional typed passwords with other secure credentials. Considering current trends, it's likely that within five years, biometric-based identification systems will be more widespread, and used alongside two-factor authentication for extra security, said Paul Lipman, CEO of cybersecurity firm BullGuard in an email. Here are five things that could replace passwords in the near future, according to Lipman: biometrics, zero login, implanted microchips, brain passwords, and DNA indentification.

Most US Mobile Banking Apps Have Security and Privacy Flaws, Researchers Say – (Tech Crunch – June 11, 2019)
New findings from security firm Zimperium show that most of the top banking apps have security flaws that put user data at risk. The security firm, which has a commercial stake in the mobile security business, downloaded the banks’ iOS and Android apps and scanned for security and privacy issues, like data leaks, which put private user data and communications at risk. The researchers found most of the apps had issues, such as failing to adhere to best coding practices and using old open-source libraries that are infrequently updated. Some of the apps were using open-source code from GitHub from more than three years ago, said Scott King, Zimperium’s director of embedded security. Worse, more than half of the banking apps are sharing customer data with at least one advertiser, the researchers said. The researchers, who didn’t name the banks, said one of the worst offending iOS apps scored 86 out of 100 on the risk scale for several privacy lapses, including communicating over an unencrypted HTTP connection. The same app was vulnerable to two known remote bugs dating back to 2015. The researchers said the risk scores for the banks’ corresponding Android apps were far higher. Zimperium said two-thirds of the Android banking apps are targeted by several malware campaigns, such as BankBot, which tricks users into downloading fake apps from Google Play and waits until the victim signs in to a banking app on their phone. Using an overlay screen, the malware campaigns steal logins and passwords.

Alarming AI Clones Both a Person’s Voice and Their Speech Patterns – (Futurism – June 11, 2019)
Engineers at Facebook’s AI research lab created a machine learning system that can not only clone a person’s voice, but also their cadence — an uncanny ability they showed off by duplicating the voices of Bill Gates and other notable figures. This system, dubbed Melnet, could lead to more realistic-sounding AI voice assistants or voice models, the kind used by people with speech impairments — but it could also make it even more difficult to discern between actual speech and audio deepfakes. The Facebook team used audio from TED Talks to train its system, and they share clips of it mimicking eight speakers, including Gates, on a GitHub website. The speech is still somewhat robotic, but the voices are recognizable — and if researchers can smooth out the system even slightly, it’s conceivable that Melnet could fool the casual listener into thinking they’re hearing a public figure saying something they never actually uttered. (Editor’s note: Watch it in action: This Deepfake of Mark Zuckerberg Tests Facebook’s Fake Video Policies.)



ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

Swapping CO2 for Water Could Make Fracking Greener and More Effective – (PhysOrg – May 30, 2019)
Fracking is a technique used to extract resources from unconventional reservoirs in which fluid (usually water mixed with sand, foaming agents, biocides, and other chemicals) is injected into the rock, fracturing it to release the resources within. Of the approximately 7-15 million liters of fluid injected, 30%-50% remains in the rock formation after extraction ends. Its high water consumption, environmental risks, and frequent production issues have led to concerns about fracking among both industry experts and environmental advocates. Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and China University of Petroleum (Beijing) have demonstrated that CO2 may make a better hydraulic fracturing (fracking) fluid than water. Their research could help pave the way for a more eco-friendly form of fracking that would double as a mechanism for storing captured atmospheric CO2. Benefits of CO2 fracturing include eliminating the need for a hefty water supply (which would make fracking viable in arid locations), reducing the risk of damage to reservoirs (as often happens when aqueous solutions create blockages in the rock formation), and providing an underground repository for captured CO2. However, CO2 is not likely to become commonly used as a fracking fluid unless it is more effective than water at resource production. To investigate the differences between CO2 and water as fracturing fluids on a microscopic level, Sun and his team collected shale outcrops from Chongqing, China and fractured them with both fluids. They found that CO2 outperformed water, creating complex networks of fractures with significantly higher stimulated volumes. While the researchers believe this hydraulic fracturing technology will be scalable, its large-scale development is currently limited by CO2 availability. The cost of CO2 captured from emission sources is still prohibitively expensive to make CO2 an industry-wide fracking fluid replacement.



TRANSPORTATION

The Grand Tour: China's Road Network – (You Tube – February 16, 2019)
Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May are in China exploring the 84,000 miles of motorway, more than any other country in the world including a bridge that is 34 miles long. In 1988, China had no motorways at all; 30 years later, it has 84,000. Since 2011, China has been building 6,000 miles of motorway. (Editor’s note: This video clip is under 2 minutes in length, and you need to watch it to begin to understand what China is pulling off.)

To Improve Air Safety, Let Pilots Nap in the Cockpit – (Fast Company – June 4, 2019)
Airline pilots are often exhausted. An extreme example happened in 2008, when a pilot and a co-pilot both fell asleep at the controls, missing their landing in Hawaii–earning pilot’s license suspensions as well as getting fired. More recently, overtired pilots came very close to landing on top of another airplane at San Francisco International Airport in 2017. The airline industry and the government agency that regulates it, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), have taken steps to reduce pilot fatigue, but many pilots and others remain worried that two pilots are required to remain awake and alert for the entire flight, though one or both may be dealing with symptoms of fatigue. One possible suggestion is letting pilots take brief naps in the cockpit. As researchers of consumer opinions about the airline industry, we’ve found that the American public is wary of this idea, but may feel better about it once they’ve heard an explanation of how it actually makes their flights safer. It’s widely known that a short nap can improve a pilot’s alertness. The official procedure to allow for pilots to nap in the cockpit is called “controlled rest in position” (CRIP). Some countries, including Canada and Australia, allow for pilots to nap in the cockpit. The rules are strict. The Air Canada Flight Operations Manual, for instance, says a pilot who wants to rest must notify the co-pilot and a flight attendant. The pilot can sleep for no more than 40 minutes, and must wake up at least half an hour before the descent for landing. The scientific research provides empirical evidence as to its advantages, and while consumers are somewhat hesitant, pilots seem very supportive of it. Given the scientific evidence supporting CRIP to counter fatigue, perhaps it’s time to listen to the pilots we trust to fly these airplanes and let them rest when they need to – within reason – so they can fly more safely.



AGRICULTURE/FOOD

Walmart Employees Will Soon Deliver Groceries to Your Fridge When You're Not Home and Wear Body Cameras So You Can Watch Them Doing It – (Business Insider – May 7, 2019)
The new Walmart InHome Delivery service will allow Walmart workers to access customers' homes using smart lock technology that is controlled by a mobile phone. Workers will drive in Walmart-branded cars and wear body cameras so customers can watch them remotely while they are inside their homes. The Walmart workers will also be able to complete returns for customers by transporting items back to Walmart stores on their behalf. The new service is rolling out to more than one million customers this fall in three markets: Kansas City, Missouri; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Vero Beach, Florida. Walmart has plans to "learn and scale from there," said Walmart CEO Doug McMillon. Walmart workers will gain access to customers' homes using smart lock technology controlled from a mobile phone. Customers who want to participate in the service will need to purchase the smart locks from Walmart, a spokeswoman told Business Insider. Employees chosen for the roles will go through a training program that will teach them how to best organize food in a refrigerator.

Singing Frogs Farm: The Science of Healthy Soil - (Peak Prosperity – January 8, 2019)
Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser are the owners of Singing Frogs Farm, a small micro-farm in northern California. Developed over years of combining bio-intensive land/forestry management theory with empirical trial & error, the farming practices at Singing Frogs have produced astounding results. First off and most important, no tilling of any kind is done to the soil. No pesticide/herbicide/fungicide sprays (organic or otherwise) are used. And the only fertilizer used is natural compost. These practices result in a build-up of nutrient-dense, highly bio-rich topsoil. Where most farms have less than 12 inches of 'alive' topsoil in which they can grow things, Singing Frogs' extends to a depth over 4 feet. This high-carbon layer of soil retains much more water than conventional topsoil, requiring much less irrigation than used at most farms (a very important factor given the historic drought the West is suffering). All these advantages combine to enable Singing Frogs Farm to produce 5-7 harvests per year on their land, vs the 1-2 harvest average of other farms. And since the annual crop yield is so much higher, so is the revenue. Most other farms in northern California average $14,000 in gross revenue per acre. Singing Frogs grosses nearly $100,000 per acre — a stunning 5x more. Article includes a video interview with the Kaisers.

As Swine Fever Roils Asia, Hogs Are Culled and Dinner Plans Change – (New York Times – May 14, 2019)
The recent scene at a Hong Kong landfill was part of a government effort to kill and dispose of 6,000 pigs from a slaughterhouse where one of the animals had been found to have African swine fever. It was the latest turn in an outbreak that has decimated pig herds in the Chinese mainland and rapidly spread elsewhere in Asia in recent months, and which experts say shows no sign of stopping — particularly since containing the disease is a challenge in a region where many producers are small-scale farmers. Because China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork, the mainland government’s move to cull more than a million pigs is now being felt across a sprawling global industry that includes truckers, pork dealers and soybean feed farmers. The current outbreak was first reported in mainland China in August. Since then, the virus has spread to pig herds in every mainland Chinese province, as well as to Vietnam, Cambodia and Mongolia. Vietnam has culled nearly 90,000 pigs since February, according to figures published by the United Nations food agency. About 700 million hogs were slaughtered in China last year, far more than in any other country. Analysts at Rabobank, a Dutch lender, predicted last month that China’s total would fall by about 150 million to 200 million this year because of deaths from infection or culling. China’s tendency to hush up disease outbreaks has engendered widespread public distrust, and many farmers and livestock analysts say they assume the disease has infected more pigs, in more places, than officials have publicly acknowledged. Chinese officials have recently started giving farmers about $116 to $174 for every infected pig carcass they cull, he said. But even that can create the wrong kind of incentives. “You either give too much and they want to have the disease,” he said, “or you give too little and they will not tell you they have the disease.” See also: 200 Million Pigs Facing Slaughter Due To Swine Fever, an article with a clear bias, but good factual details about the history of the disease.

Ben & Jerry's Announces Plans to Make CBD-infused Ice-cream – (Guardian – May 30, 2019)
Usually people reach for the ice-cream after ingesting cannabis. Now hippie-capitalist ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry’s is hoping to speed the whole process up by producing CBD-infused ice-cream. Long known for stoner-hinting flavors such as Bonnaroo Buzz, Phish Food and Half Baked, the US company’s decision to add CBD to its products as soon as the plant extract is legalized at the federal level comes as the market of cannabinoids-infused products has exploded over the past several years. CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound from the cannabis plant. Its supporters claim it produces relaxation and calm, but unlike its cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is not psychoactive and will not get a user high. As it stands, the US Food and Drug Administration prohibits adding CBD to food and beverages, through the ordinance is lightly, if ever, enforced, and the regulatory body has announced a public hearing on the legalization on the issue for 31 May. The regulator has said it plans to use the public comments to inform a federal working group looking “to explore potential pathways for dietary supplements and/or conventional foods containing CBD to be lawfully marketed”.



SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

GI Suicide: Maybe It’s the Job? (LobeLog – June 11, 2019)
The suicide rate among veterans and, now, among active-duty GIs is at an historic high. The U.S. Marine Corps, for example, just turned in an all-time record in 2018 for attempted and successful suicides in a year (354 active and reserve). Marine Colonel Dom D. Ford, writing in the Marine Times, is grasping at straws to explain the rising rates, from claiming there is too little Christian religion in the ranks to the Marines not being willing to accept counsel and advice. As for the too little Christianity in the ranks, as an advisory board member of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, I know the opposite is true: there is too much Dominionist Christianity in the ranks. Let’s look at a few of the likely reasons for high GI suicide rates that such leaders are either too stupid to detect or too afraid to call out. First, as the University of Minnesota’s Francis Shen and Cornell’s Douglas Kriner have pointed out in The Casualty Gap, the past 18 years of constant wars have been the most inequitable years in U.S. history. That is, the poor and the disadvantaged have done the bleeding and dying while the well-off have escaped scot-free. That reality alone must drive some GIs to despair. Second, these GIs have killed or helped to kill more than 400,000 human beings in these wars. Killing at that level affects people, particularly when they are unable to explain the reason for the killing or, worse, when they know the reasons and don’t care for them. The U.S. government has told these young men and women that they are killing these people for freedom’s sake, for democracy, for women’s rights, for justice, to protect Americans, and for all manner of reasons that these troops know are just so much hogwash. Third, the United States—with many of these GIs as the executors—have committed war crimes from Bagram to Baghdad and from Guantanamo to Bangkok. The United States has broken treaties, defied the rule of law, and smashed international covenants at will. To top it off, today the U.S. president wants to pardon war criminals. Fourth, the 99% of America with no skin in the game of war makes sure to say quite frequently “thank you for your service” to any of these GIs encountered at airports, in restaurants, on the street, or elsewhere. From my own experience talking with serving troops and veterans—including a triple-amputee at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center— nothing galls them more. They see the 99% assuaging their guilt with a few meaningless words that don’t do a thing to alleviate the GIs’ concerns. In fact, such triteness deepens those concerns.



TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

Election Rules Are an Obstacle to Cybersecurity of Presidential Campaigns – (New York Times – June 6, 2019)
One year out from the 2020 elections, presidential candidates face legal roadblocks to acquiring the tools and assistance necessary to defend against the cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns that plagued the 2016 presidential campaign. Federal laws prohibit corporations from offering free or discounted cybersecurity services to federal candidates. The same law also blocks political parties from offering candidates cybersecurity assistance because it is considered an “in-kind donation.” The issue took on added urgency after lawyers for the Federal Election Commission advised the commission to block a request by a Silicon Valley company, Area 1 Security, which sought to provide services to 2020 presidential candidates at a discount. Christopher Wray, the F.B.I. director, warned in April that Russian election interference continued to pose a “significant counterintelligence threat” and that Russian efforts in the 2016 and 2018 elections were “a dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020.” A bill introduced last month by Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, would have allowed political parties to provide greater cybersecurity assistance to candidates. But it stalled in the Senate after the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said he would not bring any election security bills to the floor for a vote.

Lessons from the Gulf of Tonkin Incident – (LobeLog – May 21, 2019)
Disturbing similarities between the run-up to the Iraq War of 2003 and the Trump administration’s bellicosity toward Iran keep accumulating. They include war-selling rhetoric seemingly derived from the same script. But in some respects, the more striking parallel to the present occurred over half a century ago, beyond the living memory of most Americans. The time was August 1964, and the place was the dark nighttime waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. Then, as now, a U.S. administration wanted to show toughness against an Asian country deemed to be an adversary. Lyndon Johnson, who had become president nine months earlier when John Kennedy was assassinated, was facing Barry Goldwater in the coming presidential election. Johnson had to balance his posture as the more peace-loving candidate with evidence that he had the backbone to use force when necessary. Then, as now, the United States was deploying its military forces assertively, to the point of brinksmanship, in the backyard of the would-be adversary. U.S. and South Vietnamese naval forces were conducting two operations at the time in the Gulf of Tonkin. One was intelligence-gathering by U.S. warships, including the two destroyers that would be involved in the incident, the Maddox and the Turner Joy. The other was a series of South Vietnamese raids and infiltrations along the North Vietnamese coast. Then, as now, policymakers in the U.S. administration welcomed—even sought—an incident as a rationale for air strikes against the adversary, in the absence of anything else that North Vietnam was doing that was a threat to U.S. interests. Today, spinning an incident into a rationale for offensive military action is likely to involve not just whether an incident occurred but also who was responsible for whatever did occur. The reported sabotage of oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates is just one example of the kind of incident that could be spun. As with Vietnam in 1964, politicians are susceptible to being swept up by a mood of revenge and bellicosity. In the current case, follow-the-leader partisanship will accentuate this tendency among members of the president’s party. See also: Pretexts for an Attack on Iran.

The Supreme Court Nixes Corporate Contributions for the 2020 Campaign – (Nation of Change – June 11, 2019)
In the aftermath of 2010’s Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC, in which the court allowed corporations to buy unlimited amounts of political ads, many court watchers thought the justices’ next move would be to get rid of the corporate contribution bans that exist in federal elections, as well as those that exist in a little under half the states. According to the National Council of State Legislatures, 22 states ban corporations from giving directly to political campaigns in state races. But a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court delivered a surprising rebuke to those who think corporations just don’t have enough influence on U.S. elections. In declining to hear the case of 1A Auto, Inc. vs. Sullivan, the court essentially guaranteed that corporations will be sidelined for at least the next election cycle. Some background: since the passage of the Tillman Act of 1907, corporate contributions have been banned in federal elections. The Tillman Act was violated most famously by President Nixon’s re-election campaign in 1972, in which illegal corporate money was used to fund even more illegal campaign activities, like the break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate. A more recent example of a Tillman Act violation was committed by President Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen, who was convicted of facilitating payments from the National Enquirer’s parent company American Media Inc. to an alleged Trump mistress. The company got off with a non-prosecution agreement and the obligation to not break the law again, but Cohen is now in jail for this and other crimes.

DOJ Bloodhounds on the Scent of John Brennan – (Consortium News – June 13, 2019)
The New York Times reports that the Justice Department plans to interview senior CIA officers to focus on the allegation that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian intelligence to intervene in the 2016 election to help Donald J. Trump. DOJ investigators will be looking for evidence to support that remarkable claim that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report failed to establish. Despite the collusion conspiracy theory having been put to rest, many Americans, including members of Congress, right and left, continue to accept the evidence-impoverished, media-cum-“former-intelligence-officer” meme that the Kremlin interfered massively in the 2016 presidential election. As we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity have warned numerous times over the past two plus years, there is no reliable forensic evidence to support the story that Russia hacked into the DNC. Moreover, in a piece I (Ray McGovern) wrote in May, “Orwellian Cloud Hovers Over Russia-gate,” I again noted that accumulating forensic evidence from metadata clearly points to an inside DNC job — a leak, not a hack, by Russia or anyone else. So Brennan and his partners, FBI Director James Comey and National Intelligence Director James Clapper were making stuff up and feeding thin but explosive gruel to the hungry stenographers that pass today for Russiagate obsessed journalists. With Justice Department investigators’ noses to the ground, it should be just a matter of time before they identify Brennan conclusively as fabricator-in-chief of the Russiagate story. Evidence, real evidence in this case, abounds, since the Brennan-Comey-Clapper gang of three were sure Hillary Clinton would become president. Consequently, they did not perform due diligence to hide their tracks. Worse still, intelligence analysts tend to hang onto instructions and terms of reference handed down to them by people like Brennan and his top lieutenants. It will not be difficult for CIA analysts to come up with documents to support the excuse: “Brennan made me do it.”



INTERNATIONAL TRENDS

US Election Meddling Extends to Britain – (Nation of Change – June 11, 2019)
Mike Pompeo, America’s current Secretary of State, on a visit to the U.K., assured a group of British Jewish leaders in a closed-door meeting that the US would work to prevent Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn from becoming prime minister if his party were to win enough votes in the next national parliamentary election to get the opportunity to try and form a new British government. A questioner on the tape leaked to the Washington Post is heard asking Pompeo, “Would you be willing to work with us to take on actions if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the UK?” — an obvious reference to a rabid ongoing campaign in the largely conservative U.K. media and among Zionist groups in the U.K. to tar Corbyn as an anti-Semite because of his outspoken defense of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Pompeo, obviously not aware he is being taped, appears to suggest in his answer that the U.S. would seek to prevent Corbyn from becoming PM. “It could be that Mr. Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected,” he says. “It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things [presumably making life ‘difficult for the Jews in the UK’] to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.” This — an acknowledgment that the U.S. would try to influence the selection of Britain’s parliamentary leader — is truly an astonishing statement coming from a top U.S. government official, and particularly a secretary of state.

The Unrelenting State – (Lew Rockwell – June 1, 2019)
We are seriously worried about the condition of Julian Assange. He was too unwell to appear in court yesterday, and his Swedish lawyer, Per Samuelson, found him in a state where he was unable to conduct a conversation and give instructions. There are very definite physical symptoms, particularly rapid weight loss, and we are not satisfied that genuine and sufficient diagnostic efforts are being made to determine the underlying cause. Julian had been held for the last year in poor, highly confining and increasingly oppressive conditions in the Ecuadorean Embassy and his health was already deteriorating alarmingly before his expulsion and arrest. A number of conditions, including dental abcesses, can have very serious consequences if long term untreated, and the continual refusal by the British government and latterly the Ecuadoreans to permit him access to adequate healthcare while a political asylee was a callous denial of basic human rights. If this were a dissident publisher in Russia, what would the UK political and media class be saying about his being dragged out by armed police, and convicted and sentenced to jail by a judge without a jury, just three hours later, after a farce of a “trial” in which the judge insulted him and called him a “narcissist” before he had said anything in his defense? The Western media would be up in arms if that happened in Russia. Here, they cheer it on.

NSA Gave Israel Access to All US Citizens' Communications Data, Leaked Documents Show – (Russia Insider – June 1, 2019)
Frustrated by a legal ban on sharing intelligence with Israeli operatives conducting targeted assassinations against Hezbollah, the NSA crafted a loophole giving them total access even to US citizens' data, leaked documents show. The Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU), the NSA's counterpart in Tel Aviv, convinced the Americans to circumvent the legal prohibition on providing surveillance data for targeted assassinations during Israel's 2006 war with Lebanon, according to the newest revelation from the archives obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Using the familiar rationale of "terrorism" to excuse cooperation they knew was illegal, the NSA and ISNU found a workaround using the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that provided the Israelis with all the intel they needed, according to an October 2006 article in the NSA's internal publication. "To ISNU, this prohibition [on sharing data for targeted killings] was contrary not only to supporting Israel in its fight against Hizballah but overall, to support the US Global War on Terrorism," said an article in SIDToday. Apparently unsatisfied with the legal loophole the Americans had created for them, the Israelis sought and received full access to the NSA's massive surveillance data troves after the war. A 2009 memorandum of understanding officially gave ISNU unrestricted access to the NSA's raw intelligence data – including the phone and internet records of American citizens and citizens of third-party countries. Only American officials' data was excluded, on an honor-system basis (with ISNU instructed to "destroy upon recognition" any records originating with a government official). Almost no strings were attached to this bonanza – the Israelis could even release the identities of Americans whose information had been scooped up in the dragnet, as long as they asked the NSA for permission first, and could pass the data on to anyone at all if the names were redacted.



LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

Could Prostitution Be Next to Be Decriminalized? – (New York Times – May 31, 2019)
Marijuana has gone mainstream, casino gambling is everywhere and sports wagering is spreading. Could prostitution be next? Lawmakers across the country are beginning to reconsider how to handle prostitution, as calls for decriminalization are slowly gaining momentum. Decriminalization bills have been introduced in Maine and Massachusetts; a similar bill is expected to be introduced to the City Council in Washington D.C. in June; and lawmakers in Rhode Island held hearings in April on a proposal to study the impact of decriminalizing prostitution. “This is about the oldest profession, and understanding that we haven’t been able to deter or end it, in millennia,” said Senator Jessica Ramos, a Democrat from Queens who is one of the plan’s backers. “So I think it’s time to confront reality.” Nonetheless, some advocates for sex-trafficked and abused women characterize such efforts in New York and elsewhere as misguided. They believe that full decriminalization will create a demand that will be filled by more women. Others who work with women in the sex trade say that supporters of decriminalization gloss over a raft of gruesome details about the profession, including rape, physical abuse by clients and pimps, commonplace drug use and an often ravaging physical toll of multiple sex partners, sometimes in the span of a few hours.

Getting Poorer While Working Harder: The ‘Cliff Effect’ – (Nation of Change – June 12, 2019)
Forty percent of all working-age Americans sometimes struggle to pay their monthly bills. There is no place in the country where a family supported by one minimum-wage worker with a full-time job can live and afford a 2-bedroom apartment at the average fair-market rent. Given the pressure to earn enough to make ends meet, you would think that low-paid workers would be clamoring for raises. But this is not always the case. Because so many American jobs don’t earn enough to pay for food, housing and other basic needs, many low-wage workers rely on public benefits that are only available to people in need, such as housing vouchers and Medicaid, to pay their bills. Earning a little more money may not automatically increase their standard of living if it boosts their income to the point where they lose access to some or all of those benefits. That’s because the value of those lost benefits may outweigh their income gains. Given the possibility of a downside, many Americans in this situation decide it’s better to decline what on the surface looks like a good opportunity to escape poverty. This uncertainty leads workers to forgo raises rather than take the risk of getting poorer while working harder. Having to stress out about potentially losing benefits that keep a roof over their heads and food on their table prolongs their own financial instability.



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

Shrinking Moon May Be Generating Moonquakes – (NASA – May 13, 2019)
The Moon is shrinking as its interior cools, getting more than about 150 feet skinnier over the last several hundred million years. Just as a grape wrinkles as it shrinks down to a raisin, the Moon gets wrinkles as it shrinks. Unlike the flexible skin on a grape, the Moon’s surface crust is brittle, so it breaks as the Moon shrinks, forming “thrust faults” where one section of crust is pushed up over a neighboring part. “Our analysis gives the first evidence that these faults are still active and likely producing moonquakes today as the Moon continues to gradually cool and shrink,” said Thomas Watters, senior scientist in the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington. “Some of these quakes can be fairly strong, around five on the Richter scale.” These fault scarps resemble small stair-step shaped cliffs when seen from the lunar surface, typically tens of yards high and extending for a few miles.

Astronomers Detect a Huge, Unexplained Mass Under a Giant Crater on the Moon – (Science Alert – June 11, 2019)
The Moon is home to one of the largest known impact craters in the Solar System. At 1,550 miles across, the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the Moon's far side covers nearly a quarter of the lunar surface - and there's something massive buried beneath it. We can't see it from here on Earth, but detailed readings made using lunar orbiters indicate there is something huge enough under that crater to be causing a significant gravitational anomaly. "Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground," said geophysicist Peter James of Baylor University. "That's roughly how much unexpected mass we detected." The anomaly was discovered in two sets of data. The first was from NASA's GRAIL mission, a pair of orbiting spacecraft that mapped the Moon's gravitational field in 2011 and 2012 to try to shed some light on its interior structure. This mass, the researchers believe, is weighing the floor of the basin downward by more than 800 meters, around 10% of its total depth, explaining a depression in the bottom of the basin previously attributed to contraction. "One of the explanations of this extra mass," James said, "is that the metal from the asteroid that formed this crater is still embedded in the Moon's mantle."

New Study Dramatically Narrows the Search for Advanced Life in the Universe – (PhysOrg – June 10, 2019)
Scientists may need to rethink their estimates for how many planets outside our solar system could host a rich diversity of life. In a new study, a UC Riverside–led team discovered that a buildup of toxic gases in the atmospheres of most planets makes them unfit for complex life as we know it. Traditionally, much of the search for extraterrestrial life has focused on what scientists call the "habitable zone," defined as the range of distances from a star warm enough that liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. That description works for basic, single-celled microbes—but not for complex creatures like animals, which include everything from simple sponges to humans. The team's work shows that accounting for predicted levels of certain toxic gases narrows the safe zone for complex life by at least half—and in some instances eliminates it altogether.

Please, God, Let It Be Aliens and Not Trump’s Space Force – (Vanity Fair – May 30, 2019)
Perhaps the only thing more curious than the news that the U.S. Navy is establishing new guidelines for reporting UFO sightings is the decision to let the public know. And now, we’re reading about UFOs in the New York Times, seeing footage of them on video, and pilots are putting their names to their sightings. We hear the pilots chattering and laughing in a manner that’s almost ominous. One of the vehicles in question is said to have resembled “a giant Tic Tac” the size of a commercial plane, and the UFOs were able to “accelerate, slow down and then hit hypersonic speeds.” Another is said to be “like a sphere encasing a cube.” According to the Times story, they “appeared almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015” in the skies above the East Coast. Some people speculate that the U.S. government, by making these sightings public, is softening us up for a revelation, either regarding extraterrestrial life or a world-disruptive technology. It’s sad to say that alien life seems like the safer option. If the UFOs turned out to be man-made, then the first worry would be that the inventors weren’t American. The second worry would be that they were. See also: ‘Wow, What Is That?’ Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying Objects.



NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

Stronger Than Aluminum, a Heavily Altered Wood Cools Passively – (Ars Technica – May 23, 2019)
Most of our building practices aren't especially sustainable. Concrete production is a major source of carbon emissions, and steel production is very resource intensive. Once completed, heating and cooling buildings becomes a major energy sink. There are various ideas on how to handle each of these issues, like variations on concrete's chemical formula or passive cooling schemes. But now, a team of US researchers has found a single solution that appears to manage everything using a sustainable material that both reflects sunlight and radiates away excess heat. The miracle material? Wood. Or a form of wood that has been treated to remove one of its two main components. Wood is mostly a composite of two polymers. One of these, cellulose, is made by linking sugars together into long chains. Cellulose is mixed with a polymer called lignin, which is not really a single polymer. The new chemical treatment essentially removes the lignin from wood. The precise nature of the process isn't mentioned in the paper, which suggested it might be nightmarishly complex or involve extremely toxic chemicals. But a check of the supplemental material shows that the process involves dumping the wood in concentrated hydrogen peroxide and boiling it. There are myriad ways to measure toughness: resistance to bending, stretching, impacts, etc. The researchers measured a number of these, and the modified wood came out ahead of untreated wood by large margins—anywhere from three to 10 times wood's value. Strikingly, for at least one of these measures (tensile strength), it edged out some types of steel and titanium. All of which means that it should be possible to use this material in places where wood wouldn't normally be considered.



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

Imperial Launches World’s First Centre for Psychedelics Research – (Imperial College London – April 26, 2019)
Funded by more than £3 million from five founding donors, the new Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research will build on over a decade of pioneering work in this area carried out at Imperial, including a clinical trial that has kick-started global efforts to develop psilocybin therapy into a licensed treatment for depression. It will also investigate their potential for treating other conditions, including anorexia. Led by Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, the Centre will focus on two main research themes: the use of psychedelics in mental health care; and as tools to probe the brain’s basis of consciousness. The Centre also aims to develop a research clinic that could help to gather additional clinical evidence and become a prototype for the licensed psychedelic care facilities of the future. Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research, said: “This new Centre represents a watershed moment for psychedelic science; symbolic of its now mainstream recognition.” Imperial’s Psychedelic Research Group was the first in the world to investigate the brain effects of LSD using modern brain imaging and the first to study psilocybin – the active compound in magic mushrooms – for treating severe depression. These studies have laid the groundwork for larger trials that are now taking place around the world.

The Chernobyl Disaster May Have Also Built a Paradise – (Wired – May 13, 2019)
On April 26, 1986, a nuclear power plant called Chernobyl, on the Pripyat River about 70 miles north of Kiev, blew up and caught fire, spewing radiation across the northern hemisphere. The Soviets ended up evacuating 300,000 people from nearly 2,000 square miles around the plant. The bulk of that area is now called the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, and the old power plant is now encased in a giant concrete sarcophagus. But what happened to the Exclusion Zone after everyone left is the subject of disagreement in the scientific community. For decades, research in the area said that plant and animal life had been denuded, and the life that remained was mutated, sick. Newer research says otherwise—that plants have regrown, and animal life is even more diverse than before the accident. The Exclusion Zone hasn’t been rewilded so much as de-humaned. It’s a living experiment in what the world will be like after humans are gone, having left utter devastation in our wake. Wolves, raccoon dogs, wild boar, and foxes are in population numbers as high as you’d expect in a region with no people trying to kill these animals. Since the accident, brown bears have colonized—or perhaps recolonized—the Exclusion Zone. In the late 1990s, European researchers introduced the nearly extinct Przewalski’s horse. Bison are thriving there too. The Exclusion Zone is all but unique. There are only a few other places on Earth that used to have humans but no longer do. They become models for a different kind of world, even if—or maybe especially because—two of those places, Chernobyl and Fukushima, are also radioactive.

Is the Universe Conscious? (NBC News – June 16, 2017)
Gregory Matloff, a veteran physicist at New York City College of Technology, has published a paper arguing that humans may be like the rest of the universe in substance and in spirit. A “proto-consciousness field” could extend through all of space, he argues. Stars may be thinking entities that deliberately control their paths. Put more bluntly, the entire cosmos may be self-aware. The notion of a conscious universe sounds more like the stuff of late night TV than academic journals. Called by its formal academic name, though, “panpsychism” turns out to have prominent supporters in a variety of fields. New York University philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers is a proponent. So too, in different ways, are neuroscientist Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose, renowned for his work on gravity and black holes. The bottom line, Matloff argues, is that panpsychism is too important to ignore. “It’s all very speculative, but it’s something we can check and either validate or falsify,” he says. Three decades ago, Penrose introduced a key element of panpsychism with his theory that consciousness is rooted in the statistical rules of quantum physics as they apply in the microscopic spaces between neurons in the brain. In 2006, German physicist Bernard Haisch, known both for his studies of active stars and his openness to unorthodox science, took Penrose’s idea a big step further. Haisch proposed that the quantum fields that permeate all of empty space (the so-called "quantum vacuum") produce and transmit consciousness, which then emerges in any sufficiently complex system with energy flowing through it. And not just a brain, but potentially any physical structure. Intrigued, Matloff wondered if there was a way to take these squishy arguments and put them to an observational test.



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

Is This $50 Lab-Made 'Whiskey' as Good as the Real Thing? – (Forbes – October 29, 2018)
Can whiskey produced in a lab be classified as ‘whiskey’? That’s the boundary San Francisco startup Endless West is pushing with its first-ever ‘whiskey’ release, a drink called Glyph currently available only at select trade events in New York and San Francisco, though will be dispatched by the end of this year at a likely price between $35 and $50 per bottle (at the time of this writing). Here’s Glyph’s answer to the question posed above: If it looks like high-end whiskey, smells like high-end whiskey, and tastes like high-end whiskey, then that’s probably what it is. Or is it? Rather than go through the costly and time-consuming process of brewing, distillation, and maturation that whiskey requires, Endless West instead has identified the exact types of molecules and proportions present in a high-quality whiskey, sourced the desired isolated compounds wherever possible, and mixed them together into a product not so different from whiskey made by traditional methods. Glyph’s recipe aims to recreate the flavor of a whiskey influenced by maturation in sherry casks. In the U.S., Glyph legally qualifies as a 'spirit whiskey’. The company has met the legal requirement for this label as set by the Tax and Trade Bureau by adding a small amount - 5% - of "distilled clean whiskey" consisting of neutral grain spirit, though Endless West says the addition is imperceptible in the final taste. Arvind Gupta, founder IndieBio, one of Endless West’s investors, sees a wide-open future: “The potential of this business is on the scale of an Uber, where you can reinvent an industry through changing scarcity to abundance.” See also an interesting You Tube clip: How the 'World's First Molecular Whiskey' Gets Made.



JUST FOR FUN

Animals Reacting to Musical Instruments – (You Tube – September 30, 2018)
Like their human counterparts, as long as they sense no danger, animals are naturally curious. Watch them as live musicians bring something new to their ears.



A FINAL QUOTE

So often do the spirits of great events stride on before the events. And in today already walks tomorrow. - Samuel Taylor Coleridge



A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Riggs Hohmann, 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
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