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FE Archive Volume 15, Number 7

Volume 15, Number 7 - 4/15/12 Twitter  Facebook  

FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT...
  • A geophysicist advances an explanation for the strange, low frequency sounds that have been occurring in many parts of the planet since last summer.

  • A ‘bioprinter’ has been designed that can print human tissue, providing surgeons with tissue on demand and potentially helping to solve the global shortage of human organs.

  • Bloomberg News reports the newest surveillance products “can also secretly activate laptop webcams or microphones on mobile devices,” change the contents of written emails mid-transmission, and use voice recognition to scan phone networks.

  • Humans appear to have achieved a controlled use of fire 1 million years ago—300,000 years earlier than previously thought.


PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

KRYON Coming to Berkeley Springs

Lee Carroll who channels the extraordinary entity KRYON is coming to Berkeley Springs again on the 30th of June. We always have a good turnout for this full-afternoon event, so I wanted to let you know now so that you could plan accordingly.

Over the last 20-plus years, KRYON has provided unparalleled wisdom – often about our science – that has always turned out to be accurate. Over and over again he has explained the mechanics of aspects of biology, physics, astronomy and many other physical domains, only to have the exact descriptions published in major scientific journals a year or two later by scientists who “discovered” the principles to be true.

Most recently, KRYON has been describing the functioning of DNA and how humans are evolving into a new version of the species. It is a message that is quite encouraging.

In this year of epic changes, hearing the insightful, forward-looking perspectives of Lee and KRYON will certainly help anyone position themselves for the coming global transition.

Hope you can make it. Get more information here.

Unusual Sun and Earth Events

Some interesting things have been happening lately relative to both the sun and our planet. There seems to be a convergence of unusual energy from the sun and changes in the earth’s gravitational field that are spawning a series of unprecedented earth changes.

The sun has been doing some unusual things in the recent weeks. Big solar storms and phenomena never before seen (like tornadoes – see video here) are being seen. See videos here and here of flares of the last few days.

The massive expulsions of material and magnetic energy from the sun distorts the earth’s magnetosphere which, in turn, “pressures” the earth such that there appears to be a direct relationship between significant storms on the sun and earthquakes and volcanoes which show up here 12-36 hours later. For example, there were a number of these big solar storms the day before the big earthquake off of the coast of Japan a year ago which generated the extraordinary tsunami that caused so much damage and pain. See this rather amazing summary of the more than 12,000 earthquakes that attended that event.

It’s not just earthquakes and volcanoes; scientists believe that all of this energy is generating the unusual sounds that are being heard at various places around the world.

The bigger issue is that as the solar anomalies increase, so do the planetary one. Here’s something from two days ago.

15 April 12. - 09:00

Quake Expert: Earth Cracking Up

croatiantimes.com

A leading earthquake scientist has warned that the planet could be cracking up after a series of massive quakes in just 48 hours.

Expert Gheorghe Marmureanu - from Romania's National Institute of Earth Physics - says 39 quakes have occurred all over the globe within two days.

The series started with two massive quakes in Indonesia measuring 8.6 and 8.2 on the Richter scale rapidly followed by three more only slightly smaller in Mexico within hours.

"There is no doubt that something is seriously wrong. There have been too many strong earthquakes," said Marmureanu.

He added: "The quakes are a surprise that cannot be easily explained by current scientific knowledge. With the Indonesian quake for example, statistically, there should be one big earthquake in this part of Asia every 500 years. However, since 2004, there were already three quakes with a magnitude of over 8, which is not normal.

LOS ANGELES (CBS)Four large earthquakes struck around the Pacific Rim Wednesday with one setting a record, as the most powerful strike-slip quake ever recorded.

Geologists have nicknamed the Pacific Rim the “ring of fire” because of frequent volcanic and seismic activity.

The rash of earthquakes sent shock waves of concern across the globe. Two giant quakes struck in Indonesia, one measuring a magnitude of 8.6. People were seen running in fear . . . .

An 8.6 magnitude on a strike-slip had never been recorded before Wednesday’s, according to scientists. “And now we have this 8.6 off of that interface out in the ocean floor and that’s really — I mean it’s shocking actually,” said Thomas Heaton with CALTECH.

Here’s a map of the major earthquakes in the last week.



So, you get earthquakes from the activity on the sun, but that’s not the only place. Peter Vogt, from the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office has said, “Almost all tectonic movement can be linked to magnetic reversals. Seafloor spreading, sea level changes, mountain growth, earthquakes, and volcanism all seem to speed up whenever the frequency of reversals speeds up.” The fact that the planet’s magnetic field is rapidly deorganizing is well known, which many scientists believe is the harbinger of an impending magnetic pole reversal.

There are some Russian scientists who believe that there are direct examples of the magnetic field change causing recent earthquakes and other “explosions” in Russia. Read report

It is also possible that the magnetic field and explosions on the sun are coupled in some way with the magnetic field of the earth and, like a transformer, the energetic changes from our star are very effectively communicated deep into the earth. In any case, there appears to be a direct relationship, if not connection, between the two.

Patrick Geryl at his website howtosurvive2012.com has a great deal of information suggesting that there is a correlation between solar storms, earth changes and the alignment of planets and the sun – there is a tendency of the sun to generate big solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) when two or three planets are all adding their gravitic (and other?) forces in the most concentrated manner. He thinks April 22nd will be a big day. (We’ll know next week!)

Physical and Emotional Implications

This recent intensive amount of solar activity is affecting both the Earth and Humans. Solar flares can affect the central nervous system, all brain activity, along with human behavior and all psycho-physiological (mental-emotional-physical) response.   An article on PreventDisease.com discusses How Solar Activity Is Influencing Human Consciousness

According to Mitch Battros – Earth Changes Media, “One of the best known prophecies/ predictions of our Mayan elders is the message of a changing paradigm of our era.  In the words of the Maya, it is said that we are now in a time of “change and conflict”.  The change is coming from the ‘outside’ in the way of weather, natural phenomena, celestial disturbance (sun flares) and manmade self-inflicted trauma.  The conflict comes from the ‘inside’ in the way of personal challenge, grief, bewilderment, depression, anxiety, and fear.  It is said we are “at the cross roads”: a time of choosing a new path, deciding on a new self and community direction, venturing into the unknown, finding our true identity of being.  Others will choose to stay on the same road, stay with the familiar, and place great effort to maintain “predictability.”

A recent study published in New Scientist, indicates a direct connection between the Sun’s solar storms and human biological effect.  The conduit which facilitates the charged particles from the Sun to human disturbance is the very same conduit which steers Earth’s weather through the Magnetic Field on Earth, and also through the magnetic fields around humans. 

“Solar flares can cause us to be nervous, anxiousness, worrisome, jittery, dizzy, shaky, irritable, lethargic, exhausted, have short term memory problems and heart palpitations, feel nauseous, queasy, and to have prolonged head pressure and headaches. Do you have any of the above lately?”

Heather Carlini from the Carlini Institute for Therapy, Research and Transpersonal Education also thinks that these energy bursts from the sun are causing significant physical and emotional changes in humans.

“Let’s look at the symptoms that are being reported.  I have to say that many who wrote me felt they couldn’t tell others around them about the symptoms they were experiencing for fear of others thinking they were crazy. Little do they know that people all over the world were experiencing the same symptoms at the same time.  Many wrote of going to doctors for a battery of tests only to have them come back negative.  I am included in this as I also had the same thing happen to me twice.

“I am hearing about people experiencing head pressure, headaches, migraines, the inability to think straight, losing words in the middle of a thought (that’s me) ☺, and ringing in the ears.  Our hypothalamus and pituitary glands tune into this new frequency coming in from the solar flares, and within each of our cells there are receptors in the protein channels that pick up vibrations from the outside.

“Many of my readers reported feeling exhausted, which is the body’s way saying it needs rest to process all this incoming energy.  We are intimately connected to this change in frequency and more and more people are becoming intuitively aware of this as well.  It feels as if time is speeding up. Many people have new intuitive abilities waking up, which I also discuss in detail in my new book.”


Predictions of More Earthquakes

I guess the thing that really caught my attention this past week was finding that The Hathors explain that we are entering a period of increasing solar flares and that this is likely to generate more earthquakes, while Ken Carey in his STARSEED: The Third Millennium says that the earth will experience the largest energetic event in recorded history that will result in very large earthquakes, and the folks that speak through E. Dee Conrad in A New Dawn Awaits say that there will be huge earthquakes and events in the sky this year.

Seems like a trend to me. Fortunately, all three sources (and others not mentioned here) suggest the same general approach of developing a pervasive attitude of love and gratitude as being the sole way of safely transiting this period of great change.

Important Resource: A New Dawn Awaits

E. Dee Conrad was here in Berkeley Springs giving a presentation last week. She’s the author of the wonderful book, A New Dawn Awaits: The Times Ahead and How To Shift Your Consciousness that we’ve mentioned here before. I was interviewing E. Dee that evening so I read her book again to be updated for the interchange, and I must say, it was again a rather moving experience to see the outline of what appears to be on our horizon and to internalize the very concrete suggestions on how to prepare ourselves for this momentous change. The book catalogs a coming time of great earthquakes and other unprecedented planetary events (that many other sources also predict) and then says:

“The coming events and dislocations will be the result of errant behavior as far as the norms of the universe are concerned. Meaning, it is man’s rejection of living in harmony with itself, nature and the universe that will create so much heartbreak and bloodshed. Man is not being punished for his errant behavior. Rather, he has made the situation far more difficult and painful than it has to be to get to the next level. As we have said before, some have chosen this way of ending, while others will just be carried away by the strong tide of events. There are still others among you who will know what the right course is and will follow it. And by following it they will arrive safely on the next level of evolution.

“We keep making this point because we want to make sure you understand there will be three groups of people from here – those who are listening to the call of the universe, those who are absolutely not listening and who have no intention of listening, and those poor souls who through the lack of any strong beliefs or principles will just be carried away in the streams of devastation and destruction that will affect your planet soon.”


In a later chapters, she reiterates statements like this: “The more you connect with this loving universe, the stronger and more able you will be to cope with the coming times and to cross into the next level of consciousness,” and she then goes on the clearly and practically describe just how to prepare and what to do on a daily basis to begin to reorient yourself.

I believe that we are on the edge of something that is truly momentous that will try our souls as nothing in the past has ever done and it catapult prepared individuals into a new reality that is hard, from this current vantage point, to imagine. It really could be a new world . . . and a new dawn. I have found A New Dawn Awaits to be one of the most valuable resources for thinking about the coming future and I recommend it highly. You can get this book by clicking on the picture of the book’s cover on the right or clicking here.



NEW REALITIES

Strange Sounds in Sky Explained by Scientist – (GeoChange Journal – January 28, 2012)
Dr. Elchin Khalilov is a geophysicist who works in the area of geodynamics and geotectonics. In commenting on the nature of the unusual very low-pitched sounds reported by a great number of people in different parts of the planet since the summer of 2011, he notes, “We have analyzed records of these sounds and found that most of their spectrum lies within the infrasound range, i.e. is not audible to humans. What people hear is only a small fraction of the actual power of these sounds. They are low-frequency acoustic emissions in the range between 20 and 100 Hz modulated by ultra-low infrasonic waves from 0.1 to 15 Hz. In geophysics, they are called acoustic-gravity waves; they are formed in the upper atmosphere, at the atmosphere-ionosphere boundary in particular. There can be quite a lot of causes why those waves are generated: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, storms, tsunamis, etc. However, the scale of the observed humming sound in terms of both the area covered and its power far exceeds those that can be generated by the above-mentioned phenomena.” Thus in his opinion, the source of such strong and widespread acoustic-gravity waves must be powerful solar flares and the huge energy flows generated by them, rushing towards Earth's surface and destabilizing the magnetosphere, ionosphere and upper atmosphere.

Mysterious Siberian Blasts Point to Rapid Pole Reversal – (European Union Times – February 26, 2012)
A report prepared by Viktor Seleznyov, director of the Geophysical Institute at the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SB RAS), on the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the Tyva Republic in Russia’s East Siberia earlier today warns that more seismic activity should be expected within the coming weeks and that this event is part of an ever increasing body of evidence pointing to a “rapid” shifting in our Earth’s magnetic poles. Director Seleznyov, and other SB RAS scientists, have been increasingly concerned over the past fortnight about this region after the 9 February and 12 February “mysterious blasts” in the Kemerovo Region reminiscent of the 30 June 1908 Tunguska Event that remains the largest explosion of its type in modern times that for over a century has yet to be fully explained. The common linkage between these mysterious explosions and increasing seismic events in Siberia, this report says, is due to the rapid shifting of the Earth’s magnetic North Pole that has doubled in the last 50 years, and in the 1990s “picked up speed in a big way,” moving north–northwest into the Arctic Ocean at more than 55 kilometers per year.

Scientists Discover That Plants Can “Talk” – (Daily Telegraph – April 4, 2012)
"Everyone knows that plants react to light, and scientists also know that plants use volatile chemicals to communicate with each other: for instance, when danger - such as a herbivore - approaches," University of Western Australia researcher Monica Gagliano said. "I was working one day in my herb garden and started to wonder if maybe plants were also sensitive to sounds - why not? - so I decided as a scientist to find out." Dr. Gagliano, along with colleagues, found that the roots of young plants emitted and reacted to particular sounds. They also found that when the roots were suspended in water, they leaned toward the source of a continuous sound emitted in the region of 220Hz, which was within the frequency range that the same roots emitted themselves.



GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY

“Bad” LDL Cholesterol May Protect Us Against Cancer – (Alliance for Natural Health – April 3, 2012)
There may be a link between low levels of “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol—that is, not enough of it—and increased cancer risk, according to new research. Scientists at Tufts University looked at 201 cancer patients and 402 cancer-free patients. They found that cancer patients who never took cholesterol-lowering drugs on average had lower LDL cholesterol levels for an average of about 19 years prior to their cancer diagnosis. In other words, they were “healthier” according to current medical understanding. Previous studies, which looked at patients who did take cholesterol-lowering drugs, also suggested a strong link between low LDL cholesterol levels and higher cancer risk. This finding underscores the notion that the “HDL cholesterol is good and LDL is bad” message is, at the very least, an oversimplification.

New Hormone for Lowering Blood Sugar – (Science Daily – April 3, 2012)
New evidence points to a hormone that leaves muscles gobbling up sugar as if they can't get enough. That factor, which can be coaxed out of fat stem cells, could lead to a new treatment to lower blood sugar and improve metabolism, according to a report in the April issue of Cell Metabolism. This new fat-derived hormone would appear to be a useful alternative or add-on to insulin; it can do essentially the same job, sending glucose out of the bloodstream and into muscle. The researchers manipulated a key developmental pathway in the fat stem cells of mice to find that the animals showed remarkably low blood sugar levels. The animals' muscles were taking up glucose at two to four times the usual rate.

Organovo: 3-D Bioprinter – (Invetech – no date)
"Imagine being able to print human tissues on demand." Organovo had a vision to produce a 3D bioprinter that would make this dream a reality, providing surgeons with tissue on demand and helping solve the global shortage of human organs. For decades the goal of tissue engineers has been to advance beyond simple two-dimensional cell cultures to creating three-dimensional organs. Finally a partnership of the firms Invetech and Organovo has solved engineering challenges that had confounded the biomedical industry for decades and has designed and manufactured the world’s first commercial 3D bioprinter. The initial focus of the bioprinter is on producing simple tissues, like blood vessels and nerve conduit, but potentially any tissue or organ can be built.

Handicapping the Obesity Race – (Seeking Alpha – April 11, 2012)
How good are the new obesity medications? There are three companies competing for the obesity market, if the FDA approves them: Vivus Pharmaceuticals, Orexigen Therapeutics, and Arena Pharmaceuticals. Their meds are Qnexa, Contrave, and Lorcaserin, respectively. Vvus and Arna come up for FDA decision and possible sales first. The weight loss is modest. However, the meds' clinical trials and other studies show that even a 5% reduction significantly lowers blood pressure, lipid levels, risk for diabetes, etc. Most of these benefits result from the weight loss (Lorcaserin seems to have an advantage in diabetes prevention). Therefore, the article focuses just on weight loss. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the three drugs.



ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Extreme Weather Is the New Normal – (Inter Press Service – April 3, 2012)
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released Mar. 28, provides solid evidence that record-breaking weather events are increasing in number and becoming more extreme. Last year the U.S. endured 14 separate billion-dollar-plus weather disasters including flooding, hurricanes and tornados. This will only increase in future decades, as will heavier rainfall events in tropical regions and the high latitudes, according to the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). The hottest day that occurs once in 20 years is likely to become a one-in-two year event by the end of the century, except in the high latitudes of the Northern hemisphere, where it is likely to happen once every five years. The average tropical cyclone maximum wind speed is likely to increase, but the global frequency of tropical cyclones is likely to decrease or remain unchanged.

The Majestic Plastic Bag – (You Tube – 2011)
This video clip, presented by Heal the Bay, elegantly traces the cycle of life of the plastic bag. Heal the Bay is a nonprofit environmental organization working to make Southern California coastal waters and watersheds safe, healthy and clean.

Tokyo Soil – Blanketed with Fukushima Radiation – Would Be Considered “Radioactive Waste” in the United States – (Washington’s Blog – March 26, 2012)
Some parts of Tokyo have more radiation than existed in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zones and there are indications that radiation levels are increasing in Tokyo. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen took 5 random soil samples in Tokyo recently, and found that all 5 were so radioactive that they would be considered radioactive waste in the United States, which would have to be specially disposed of at a facility in Texas. Article includes video clip with further information. See also: Fukushima Daiichi Site: Cesium-137 is 85 times greater than at Chernobyl Accident and Worst Case Scenario: Government Plans for Forced Evacuation of Tokyo

Controversy Deepens over Pesticides and Bee Collapse – (Wired – April 6, 2012)
A controversial new study of honeybee deaths has deepened a bitter dispute over whether the developed world’s most popular pesticides are causing an ecological catastrophe. Researchers led by biologist Chensheng Lu of Harvard University report a direct link between hive health and dietary exposure to imidacloprid, a so-called neonicotinoid pesticide linked to colony collapse disorder, the mysterious and massive die-off of bees across North America and Europe. The study isn’t without critics, who say doses used in the study may be unrealistically high. But even critics say the findings are troubling. Developed in the 1990s as a relatively less-toxic alternative to pesticides that seriously harmed human health, neonicotinoids soon became the world’s fastest-growing pesticide class and an integral part of industrial agricultural strategy. In the United States alone, neonicotinoid-treated corn now covers a total area slightly smaller than the state of Montana. See also: Suggestion that colony collapse may be linked to residue of imidacloprid in high-fructose corn syrup feed to bees by beekeepers, and this article from Purdue University that explains more about how the insecticides are being released into the soil and plant tissue.



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

This Internet Provider Pledges to Put Your Privacy First. Always. – (Cnet – April 11, 2012)
A new privacy-protecting Internet service and telephone provider still in the planning stages could become the ACLU's dream and the FBI's worst nightmare. Nicholas Merrill is planning to revolutionize online privacy with a concept as simple as it is ingenious: a telecommunications provider designed from its inception to shield its customers from surveillance. Merrill, 39, who previously ran a New York-based Internet provider, told CNET that he's raising funds to launch a national "non-profit telecommunications provider dedicated to privacy, using ubiquitous encryption" that will sell mobile phone service and, for as little as $20 a month, Internet connectivity. The ISP would not merely employ every technological means at its disposal, including encryption and limited logging, to protect its customers. It would also—and in practice this is likely more important—challenge government surveillance demands of dubious legality or constitutionality. Merrill is in the unique position of being the first ISP exec to fight back against the Patriot Act's expanded police powers—and win.

Physicists Create First Long-distance Quantum Link – (Science – April, 2012)
For more than a decade, physicists have been developing quantum-mechanical methods to pass secret messages without fear that they could be intercepted. But they still haven't created a true quantum network—the fully quantum-mechanical analog to an ordinary telecommunications network in which an uncrackable connection can be forged between any two stations or "nodes" in a network. Now, a team of researchers in Germany has built the first true quantum link using two widely separated atoms. A complete network could be constructed by combining many such links, the researchers say.

Designing a Smart-Phone Alphabet for the Illiterate – (Technology Review – March 30, 2012)
Peanut farmers in India are helping to design a text-messaging app that could aid the many millions who can't read or write. In 2007, Swiss computer scientists and Indian agricultural scientists offered to install wireless sensors in the peanut fields at CK Pura and collect data the farmers might find useful for improving their yields. There was just one problem: few of the farmers could read the recommendations. Now the farmers are testing smart-phone software designed specifically for illiterate users. An early version communicated valuable information about the farmers' crops, but the latest version should also let them send and receive text messages, using icons that are translated into words. The work could lead to other tools that give illiterate people elsewhere access to mobile communications.

Carriers Band to Fight Cellphone Theft – (Wall St. Journal – April 9, 2012)
The nation's major wireless providers have agreed to a deal with the U.S. government to build a central database of stolen cellphones—part of a broad effort to tame an explosion of thefts nationwide. The database, which the wireless companies will build and maintain, will be designed to track phones that are reported as lost or stolen and deny them voice and data service. The idea is to reduce crime by making it difficult or impossible to actually use a stolen device, reducing resale value. Cellphone theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S., law-enforcement officials nationwide say. The deal between the FCC and the wireless carriers is partly the result of pressure from frustrated police chiefs. Similar stolen-phone databases are already in use abroad, including in the U.K., Germany, France and Australia. The U.K. database was set up in 2002. Australia's was set up in 2004. Crime hasn't stopped, but the number of incidents has declined.



ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

Study Ties Oil, Gas Production to Midwest Quakes – (Associated Press – April 7, 2012)
Oil and gas production may explain a sharp increase in small earthquakes in the nation's midsection, a new study from the U.S. Geological Survey suggests. The researchers reported that from 1970 to 2000, the region they studied averaged about 21 quakes a year. That rose to about 29 a year for 2001 through 2008, they wrote, and the three following years produced totals of 50, 87 and 134, respectively. The changes are "almost certainly man-made." Outside experts were split in their opinions about the report. It's not clear how the earthquake rates might be related to oil and gas production, the study authors said. They note that others have linked earthquakes to injecting huge amounts of leftover wastewater deep into the earth.

Self-sustaining Solar Reactor Creates Clean Hydrogen Fuel – (Geek – April 4, 2012)
It may sound too good to be true, but a mechanical engineer working out of the University of Delaware has come up with a way to produce hydrogen without any undesirable emissions such as carbon dioxide. The totally clean fuel production is made possible due to a new solar reactor created by Erik Koepf that only relies on concentrated sunlight, zinc oxide, and water to produce hydrogen. The reactor is capable of using sunlight to increase the heat inside its cylindrical structure above 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Zinc oxide powder is then gravity fed through 15 hoppers into the ceramic interior where it converts to a zinc vapor. At that point the vapor is reacted with water separately, which in turn produces hydrogen.



AGRICULTURE/FOOD

Building a Village Starts with Building the Tractor – (NPR – February 19, 2012)
Do-it-yourselfers have made everything from bamboo bicycles to 3-D printers, but nothing as ambitious as what's happening on a farm in northwest Missouri where tractors and other industrial machines are being made from scratch. Marcin Jakubowski earned a Ph.D. in physics, but when Jakubowski graduated in 2004, he wanted nothing to do with physics or academia. So he moved to Missouri and eventually bought a 30 acre farm. He grew wheat, raised goats and tended a fruit orchard. But then one day, his tractor broke. "I came from an institution of higher learning, so I had no practical skills," he says. "I picked up a welder and a torch and started using it." Jakubowski actually made a tractor from scratch, using square steel tubing that he bolted together. Jakubowski says the experience of making his own tractor transformed him and he set about designing and building affordable alternatives to industrial machines. The documentation and design are available for free online as part of his Open Source Ecology project. See also: a TED interview with Jakubowski.

Food Stamps Helped Reduce Poverty Rate – (New York Times – April 9, 2012)
A new study by the Agriculture Department has found that food stamps, one of the country’s largest social safety net programs, reduced the poverty rate substantially during the recent recession. The food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, reduced the poverty rate by nearly 8% in 2009, the most recent year included in the study, a significant impact for a social program whose effects often go unnoticed by policy makers. The food stamp program is one of the largest antipoverty efforts in the country, serving more than 46 million people. But the extra income it provides is not counted in the government’s formal poverty measure, an omission that makes it difficult for officials to see the effects of the policy and get an accurate figure for the number of people beneath the poverty threshold, which was about $22,000 for a family of four in 2009.



SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

Britain Set for Sweeping Internet and Phone Monitoring – (Reuters – April 1, 2012)
Britain is to allow one of its intelligence agencies to monitor all phone calls, texts, emails and online activities in the country to help tackle crime and militant attacks, according to the Interior Ministry. "It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public," a Home Office spokesman said. The proposed law already has drawn strong criticism, from within the ruling Conservative Party's own ranks, as an invasion of privacy and personal rights. "What the government hasn't explained is precisely why they intend to eavesdrop on all of us without even going to a judge for a warrant, which is what always used to happen," Member of Parliament David Davis said.

Planning a Trip from the UK to Canada or the Caribbean? US Immigration May Have Other Ideas. – (Independent – March 26, 2012)
New rules require British Airways and other airlines flying to certain airports outside America to submit passengers' personal data to U.S. authorities. The information is checked against a "No Fly" list containing tens of thousands of names. Even if the flight plan steers well clear of US territory, travelers whom the Americans regard as suspicious will be denied boarding. Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: "The concern by the U.S. for its own security is entirely understandable, but it seems to me it's a whole different issue that American wishes should determine the rights and choices of people traveling between two countries neither of which is the U.S.." For several years, every U.S.-bound passenger has had to provide Advance Passenger Information (API) before departure. Washington has extended the obligation to air routes that over-fly U.S. airspace, such as Heathrow to Mexico City or Gatwick to Havana. Now the U.S. is demanding passengers' full names, dates of birth and gender from airlines, at least 72 hour before departure from the UK to Canada.

Navy Sends Robot Helicopters to Find Pirates – (Discovery News – April 7, 2012)
The U.S. Navy is deploying robot helicopters that can spot pirate boats—even when they're in a crowded sea lane. Navy ships try to identify the thieves by deploying both drones with cameras and human pilots, but in coastal areas with a lots of boats, it isn't easy to spot the one that's hostile. The Navy turned to a combination of different sensing technologies to address this. Called the Multi-Mode Sensor Seeker, or MMSS, an unmanned helicopter uses high-definition cameras, mid-wave infrared sensors and laser-radar (LADAR) to find the boat. Meanwhile, sophisticated software allows the helicopter to identify the target independently of the operator. The software on board compares a 3-D image to templates and schematics in its memory.



TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

Our Men in Iran? – (New Yorker – April 6, 2012)
The terrain of the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security Site, with its arid high plains and remote mountain peaks, has the look of northwest Iran. The site, sixty-five miles northwest of Las Vegas, was once used for nuclear testing, and now includes a counterintelligence training facility and a private airport capable of handling Boeing 737 aircraft. It was here that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a dissident Iranian opposition group known in the West as the M.E.K. In the 1970s, it was linked to the assassination of six American citizens. In 1997, it was listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department. Five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated since 2007. M.E.K. spokesmen have denied any involvement in the killings, but early last month NBC News quoted two senior Obama Administration officials as confirming that the attacks were carried out by M.E.K. units that were financed and trained by Mossad, the Israeli secret service. NBC further quoted the Administration officials as denying any American involvement in the M.E.K. activities.

Thirteen Ways the Government Tracks Us – (Nation of Change – April 10, 2012)
The Washington Post reported there are 3,984 federal, state and local organizations working on domestic counterterrorism. Most collect information on people in the US. Soon, police everywhere will be equipped with handheld devices to collect fingerprint, face, iris and even DNA information on the spot and have it instantly sent to national databases for comparison and storage. Bloomberg News reports the newest surveillance products “can also secretly activate laptop webcams or microphones on mobile devices,” change the contents of written emails mid-transmission, and use voice recognition to scan phone networks. This article lists thirteen examples of how some of the biggest government agencies and programs track people.



GLOBAL RELATIONS

Torture in Bahrain Becomes Routine with Help from Nokia Siemens – (Bloomberg – August 22, 2011)
Computers loaded with Western-made surveillance software generated the transcripts wielded in the interrogationof Bahraini activist Al Khanjar and scores of other detainees whose similar treatment was tracked by rights activists, Bloomberg Markets magazine reported in its October issue. The use of the system for interrogation in Bahrain illustrates how Western-produced surveillance technology sold to one authoritarian government became an investigative tool of choice to gather information about political dissidents -- and silence them. Companies are free to sell such equipment almost anywhere. For the most part, the U.S. and European countries lack export controls to deter the use of such systems for repression. The spy gear in Bahrain was sold by Siemens AG (SIE), and maintained by Nokia Siemens Networks and NSN’s divested unit, Trovicor GmbH, according to two people whose positions at the companies gave them direct knowledge of the installations. Both requested anonymity because they have signed nondisclosure agreements. The sale and maintenance contracts were also confirmed by Ben Roome, a Nokia Siemens spokesman based in Farnborough, England. See also the MSNBC report: These Companies Sell Tech to Dictators



LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

Measure Progress in Terms of Happiness, Not Money Urges Bhutan – (Nation of Change – April 4, 2012)
"We are starting a global movement on this issue," Jigme Thinley, the prime minister of Bhutan, told IPS after a high-level meeting on "Happiness and Well-being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm" held at United Nations (U.N.) headquarters. The phrase "gross national happiness" was first coined in 1971 by the fourth king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who declared, "Gross national happiness (GNH) is more important than gross domestic product." Bhutan has developed nine domains – psychological wellbeing, health, education, time use, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standards – that help measure GNH. "It's imperative that we build a new, creative guiding vision for sustainability and our future," said Nasir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, president of the General Assembly. "That will bring a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach." See also: The Mismeasure of Wealth

Top Five Regrets of the Dying – (Guardian – February 2, 2012)
Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. "When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently," she says, "common themes surfaced again and again." The article lists the top five regrets that people articulate when they near death.

Eloping Does Not Mean What It Once Did – (New York Times – March 26, 2012)
Elopements are no longer confined to black-sheep members of the family who skulk off to a Las Vegas chapel because Mom and Dad do not approve. With the cost of a 200-guest wedding spiraling upward, and many people getting married (and remarried) at ages when they no longer feel a need to be the stars of their Big Day, couples are now considering a table for two as a civilized alternative to 12 months of planning hell. Still, they want the day to be special. This is particularly true in an era when wedding blogs and Facebook photos have made nuptials a public spectacle. Why shell out for another rubber chicken dinner for Aunt Beatrice from Tuscaloosa, when what really matters are the luscious photos capturing the style and pageantry, which can be “liked” and “pinned” by users of social media sites?



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

“Authentic Alien Artifact” – (Daily Mail – March 26, 2012)
A Smithsonian-associated museum is displaying an item it says is an 'authentic alien artifact' from a 1986 alleged UFO crash in Russia. The National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas unveiled an exhibit titled Area 51: Myth or Reality, which presents historical records of the U.S. military site that has long been called the most secret place on Earth. Among the items is a series of small bits of debris from an incident known as the Russian Roswell.



DEMOGRAPHICS

Senior Citizens Continue to Bear Burden of Student Loans – (Washington Post – April 1, 2012)
The burden of paying for college is wreaking havoc on the finances of an unexpected demographic: senior citizens. New research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that Americans 60 and older still owe about $36 billion in student loans, providing a rare window into the dynamics of student debt. More than 10% of those loans are delinquent. Some of these older Americans are still grappling with their first wave of student loans, while others took on new debt when they returned to school later in life in hopes of becoming more competitive in the labor force. Many have co-signed for loans with their children or grandchildren to help them afford ballooning tuition. As a result, consumer advocates say, it is not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished or for debt collectors to harass borrowers in their 80s over student loans that are decades old.



NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

Print Your Own Robots – (BBC News – April 4, 2012)
Funded by a $10m grant from the National Science Foundation, printed-on-demand robots might be a reality before the end of the decade if the project achieves its goals. Researchers aim to build a desktop technology that would allow an average person to design and print a machine within 24 hours. The team says that making it easier to create specialized robots could have a "profound impact on society". The five-year project involves robotics experts at MIT, Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania. The team members admit it would be unrealistic to hope to have created a "universal robot-making machine" within that time limit. However, they intend to have developed a computer program which would allow users to specify certain characteristics - such as the ability to navigate an environment or manipulate certain types of objects.

Integrated Cyber-vision – (Extinction Protocol – April 4, 2012)
A video released by Google (which can be accessed from the article) shows potential uses for Project Glass. A man wanders around the streets of New York City communicating with friends, seeing maps and information, and snapping pictures. It concludes with him video-chatting with a girlfriend as the sun sets over the city. All of this is seen through the augmented-reality glasses. Project Glass could hypothetically become Project Contact Lens. Mr. Parviz, an associate professor at the University of Washington, specializes in bionanotechnology, which is the fusion of tiny technologies and biology. He most recently built a tiny contact lens that has embedded electronics and can display pixels to a person’s eye.



ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Can New Corporate Pledges of Zero Waste Make Landfills Obsolete? – (AlterNet – April 11, 2012)
Last month the Cradle-to-Cradle certification program affixed its stamp of approval to its first products made exclusively with materials that can be returned to the production line as “technical nutrients” or to the earth as “biological nutrients”. The “zero waste” concept has been around for at least a decade; the basic idea has been around since the 1970s. Now, finally, it may be taking off. For example, Walmart has expanded the number of waste streams that it tracks from 30 in 2009 to nearly 138 now. (Editor’s note: Actually this idea has been around for many centuries. For a fascinating—and illuminating—history of real “zero waste”, read Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash by Susan Strasser.)



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

Business Lessons from a Baby Elephant – (Fast Company – April 9, 2012)
Vijay Govindarajan is the co-author, with Chris Trimble, of Reverse Innovation: Create Far From Home, Win Everywhere. The book explores the reasons why American businesses needs to “study abroad”. As Govindarajan explains, “Historically, multinationals innovated in rich countries like the U.S. and sold products in poor countries like India. Reverse innovation is doing the exact opposite, about innovating in a poor country like India, and bringing products to the U.S. It’s completely counterintuitive, because it’s logical to see why a poor man would want a rich man’s product, but it’s not that logical to see why a rich man would want a poor man’s product. There are two components here. First, why do we need to innovate, for example, in India at all? Why not simply send products to India? Second, why would those innovations defy gravity and flow uphill?” The answers to those two questions are the basis of the book. For international corporations to flourish in the developing world and in the developed world, they are important.

The Best, Most Revealing Reporting on Our Healthcare System – (Nation of Change – March 30, 2012)
As we wait for the Supreme Court to issue its verdict on the health-care reform law, here is a collection of some excellent articles on the issues. Articles (with links to the originals) are grouped roughly into those on costs and those on insurance. Sources: the New Yorker, Reuters, the New York Times and others.



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

Humans Used Fire 1 Million Years Ago – (Live Science – April 6, 2012)
Ash and charred bone, the earliest known evidence of controlled use of fire, reveal that human ancestors may have used fire a million years ago, a discovery that researchers say will shed light on this major turning point in human evolution. Scientists analyzed material from Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa, a massive cavern located near the edge of the Kalahari Desert. Previous excavations there had uncovered an extensive record of human occupation. "The analysis pushes the timing for the human use of fire back by 300,000 years, suggesting that human ancestors as early as Homo erectus may have begun using fire as part of their way of life," said researcher Michael Chazan, a paleolithic archaeologist at the University of Toronto and director of the university's archaeology center. Fire would have helped early humans stay warm and keep nighttime predators at bay, and enabled cooking, which would have made food more digestible. In addition, "socializing around a campfire might actually be an essential aspect of what makes us human," Chazan said. "The control of fire would have been a major turning point in human evolution."



JUST FOR FUN

Draw a Stickman - (Stickman.com - no date)
If you have young children or grandchildren, here is a delightful tale in the time-honored tradition of bedtime stories that you can play together—on the internet.  It's all about the power of imagination and solutions that become real as soon as you draw them. 



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: Thomas Bergin, Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Kurzweil AI, Oliver Markley, Diane Petersen, Petra Pierterse, Bobbie Rohn, Gary Sycalic, 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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Publication Date:
04/15/2012