Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BURN THE WITCH!!! she consorteth with the devil and slaughtereth the innocent....,

WaPo |  Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards on Tuesday for the first time directly addressed members of Congress about undercover videos purporting to show that the women’s health organization illegally sells fetal tissue for profit, telling members of the House Oversight committee that the allegations are “offensive and categorically untrue.”

At a hearing centering on whether federal funding should continue for the group, Richards forcefully defended her organization, calling it a critical source for cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, contraception care and other services for millions of women, particularly those who are low-income.

“For many American women, Planned Parenthood is the only health-care provider they will see this year,” she said during her opening testimony. “It is impossible for our patients to understand why Congress is once again threatening their ability to go to the health-care provider of their choice.”

But the hearing quickly turned into a grilling, with Republican lawmakers aggressively questioning Richards on everything from her annual salary to the support of Democratic candidates provided by the group’s political action committee; often delivering rapid-fire questions that left little time for her to respond.

watching the necropolitical manueverings of so-called western democracies...,

guardian |  Jeremy Corbyn used his Labour conference speech to call for the Ministry of Justice to drop its bid for a Saudi prisons contract, citing the case of pro-democracy protester, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who has been sentenced to crucifixion.
Nimr is facing a death sentence, handed down when he was 17, which is largely based on a “confession” he was forced to sign following what he says were days of torture while in custody.
The sentence will be carried out in jail by the Saudi prison service. Corbyn called on the British government to protest against this sentence by dropping its bid for a £5.9m contract to provide prison expertise to the Saudis.
The bid was put in by Justice Solutions International, the commercial arm of the MoJ that was set up by the last justice secretary, Chris Grayling, to sell its expertise in prisons and probation – including in offender management, payment by results, tagging and privatisation – around the world.
Last month the new justice secretary, Michael Gove announced that he was closing down JSI, telling MPs it was because “of the need to focus departmental resources on domestic priorities”.

the neverending necropolitical fruits of bitter lake...,

guardian |  Riyadh has sanctioned more than a hundred beheadings so far this year – more, it is claimed, than Islamic State.
The Saudi foreign ministry files, passed to Wikileaks in June, refer to talks with British diplomats ahead of the November 2013 vote in New York. The documents have now been been translated by the organisation UN Watch – a Geneva-based non-governmental human rights organisation that scrutinises the world body – and newspaper the Australian.
The classified exchanges, the paper said, suggest that the UK initiated the secret negotiations by asking Saudi Arabia for its support. Both countries were eventually elected to the UNHRC, which has 47 member states.
The Saudi cables, dated January and February 2013, were translated separately by the Australian and UN Watch. One read: “The delegation is honoured to send to the ministry the enclosed memorandum, which the delegation has received from the permanent mission of the United Kingdom asking it for the support and backing of the candidacy of their country to the membership of the human rights council (HRC) for the period 2014-2016, in the elections that will take place in 2013 in the city of New York.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

when the music's over....,

metro |  A Mexican councillor has got into a spot of bother after suggesting homeless people should be culled by lethal injection.

Olga Guiterrez Machorro’s suggestion for the town of Tecamachalco, Puebla, was met with anger.
She said: ‘Yes they’re a little crazy, but they’re harmless. Which is why I think to myself wouldn’t it be kinder to just give them a lethal injection?’

She’s since apologised, adding that she didn’t think the idea would create such outrage.

In a twist of irony, Machorro is actually the chairman of the Commission for Vulnerable Groups for the council.

Her comments were recorded and published by a local newspaper. She also claimed that some homeless people were being taken to a psychiatric hospital before being left in the middle of a motorway to be run over.

neuroscience and technology have far outpaced the training and practice of psychiatry...,

behaviorismandmentalhealth |  Joel Yager, MD, is a Professor of Psychiatry, University of Colorado at Denver School of Medicine.  He started his career as a US Army psychiatrist in 1969, and has held a wide range of clinical and teaching positions in the intervening years.  He has received numerous awards, including lifetime achievement awards from the National Eating Disorders Association (2008) and from the Association for Academic Psychiatry (2009).  He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers, many of which are concerned with the training of psychiatrists.

In January 2011, Dr. Yager published The Practice of Psychiatry in the 21st Century: Challenges for Psychiatric Education, in the journal Academic Psychiatry.  This paper received favorable comment from Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, President of the APA, in the article Training the Psychiatrists of the Future, in the November 26, 2013 issue of Psychiatric News.  As my regular readers will know, I am an avid fan of Dr. Lieberman’s, and it is my belief that anything he recommends warrants close scrutiny.

The stated purpose of Dr. Yager’s article is:

“To consider how shifting scientific, technological, social and financial pressures are likely to significantly alter psychiatric practice, careers, and education in the 21st century…”

and to review

“…trends and innovations likely to have an effect on tomorrow’s psychiatrists and their educators.”

It’s a wide-ranging and optimistic article.  Here are some quotes, interspersed with my thoughts and observations.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Measurement-based disease-management care will progress as even chronically ill psychiatric patients increasingly use computer-based tools in waiting rooms to rate their clinical status before office appointments.”

From his use of the terms “disease” and “ill,” it is clear that Dr. Yager is immersed in the medical model.  There is nothing in the article to suggest even an awareness of the fact that this model is under considerable criticism at the present time, nor that this reality may have some relevance for psychiatrist training.

Is there a hint of condescension in the phrase “even chronically ill psychiatric patients”?  And is having the client fill in boxes on a computer screen in the waiting room an improvement over talking to him in the office?  Will the 15-minute med check be reduced to 10 minutes?

'wiring diagrams' link lifestyle to brain function

nature |  The brain’s wiring patterns can shed light on a person’s positive and negative traits, researchers report in Nature Neuroscience1. The finding, published on 28 September, is the first from the Human Connectome Project (HCP), an international effort to map active connections between neurons in different parts of the brain.

The HCP, which launched in 2010 at a cost of US$40 million, seeks to scan the brain networks, or connectomes, of 1,200 adults. Among its goals is to chart the networks that are active when the brain is idle; these are thought to keep the different parts of the brain connected in case they need to perform a task.

In April, a branch of the project led by one of the HCP's co-chairs, biomedical engineer Stephen Smith at the University of Oxford, UK, released a database of resting-state connectomes from about 460 people between 22 and 35 years old. Each brain scan is supplemented by information on approximately 280 traits, such as the person's age, whether they have a history of drug use, their socioeconomic status and personality traits, and their performance on various intelligence tests.

Monday, September 28, 2015

eigenvalues: influence of hyparchic folding via the backward arrow of time...,

parabola |  For thousands of years people have wondered about creative power. All this world around us was believed to have been made and did not just happen. Yet humans themselves make things. Are we then creators within a meta-Creation or mere “apes of god”? A primary realm of experience in which these and far more profound questions played out was in the making of words, or poetry. The authenticity of our poetry had to be granted us. This was the origin of the idea of the muse. The word itself has origins associated with mind, deriving from the proto-Indo-European root men “to think.” 

Mousika, from which we get our word “music,” was performed metrical speech. The speaking of verse was once the recognized form of intelligence and Plato had to argue it should be superseded by philosophical discourse (prose one might say) to open up to sceptical enquiry. This had vast implications since the very meters of verse were considered gods. (The secularization of language was completed only about five hundred years ago with the emergence of the form we call “sentence.”) Practically, for example in Norse poetry, there were different meters for different purposes, such as FornyrĂ°islag or “meter of ancient words” and Malahattr or “meter of speeches”.  By following and excelling in the forms, the bards were in tune, we could say, with the gods. The idea of intelligence and even “sacredness” residing in language itself rather than in people (capable only of temporary ableness) came down through the ages to Giambattista Vico and James Joyce and continues in modern commentators such as R. Calasso and George Steiner.

The making of verse and other manifestations of the Muses were expressions of making as such, including the making of the world and even evolution (in its various senses over the ages) once identified by the idea of the demiurge as in the writings of Plato and Aristotle. The demiurge became the arch-villain in Gnostic writings because he was seen as tied to the material world and creating a “prison-reality” such as depicted in the film The Matrix.

In many cultures the role of the demiurge was symbolized by the potter. Pottery and its art were deeply revered and appear to go back at least to Palaeolithic times. The abstract idea of it is that the demiurge has to use already existing material to fashion a world in contrast to the higher creation of ex nihilo, “out of nothing.”

On a personal level, the early Greeks had the idea of the daimon. It is mentioned in the Symposium that Socrates had problems with his daimon because it would indicate dangers but never tell him what to do–which is rather as we picture the unconscious these days.

R.B. Onians, who comments extensively on the terminology of early Greek thought, avers that the daimon had a personal physical location in the head and was associated with sex. It was only later, around the time of Plato, that the idea of thought originating in the brain was entertained. It is possible then to see the daimon in the head as a placement of creativity beyond the conscious mind. Onians traces the image into later times and links it with the appearance of energy around the head that became the “halo” of sacred individuals. The daimon as sexual and creative was also considered “irrational” and then became the “evil” demon. There are a myriad of evolutes of the idea including its translation in Roman times into the term “genius.” This very multiplicity of meaning is essential to its meaning. Just consider that special people (such as Lamia the queen of Libya) could become a daimon. Philip Pullman turned daimons into animals in his novels.

The people we imagined around their camp fire look to their artificial blaze and cannot see the deeper light in the “black” that surrounds them. Creativity has to be beyond consciousness. Yet, only in the world of consciousness can we seem to have choice and will. In the practical world–such as in industry or in psychotherapy–we strive to find ways of co-operation between the conscious and trans-conscious realms.  Nobody knows what happens at the critical moment which makes a process creative; consciousness is always somewhat downstream from reality. When Christ said while on the Cross, “Forgive them for they know not what they do,” it was the declaration of the central human predicament.

Commonly, people have located higher intelligences in the atmosphere or inside the sun. A more interesting “location” is the future, or at least in some order of greater time than our own moment. Until quite recently these intelligences were located in the “far-past” as in the days of creation. Bennett places them in a special time he called the hyparchic future, a phrase which means what is ahead of us capable of altering present time. Such a quasi-scientific view carries a sense of dealing with the higher intelligence and ourselves as a system. 

There is an aspect of all this that is mathematical and technical with no particular stake in spirituality. This is to look into process or action when they are self-reflective. An action that feeds into itself is infinite and requires no entity to “do” it but will exhibit what are called eigenvalues that appear as entities (that can be named). Speculatively, then, higher order operations or actions will incur higher beings. One of the most intriguing speculations in modern physics is that the very existence of the universe requires a multitude of what are called “Boltzmann observers.” And, as far as the reality of “I” is concerned there is a parallel in the singularity at the heart of a black hole in that it remains uncertain whether it can ever be observed.


MIT News | A team including the scientist who first harnessed the CRISPR-Cas9 system for mammalian genome editing has now identified a different CRISPR system with the potential for even simpler and more precise genome engineering.
In a study published today in Cell, Feng Zhang and his colleagues at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, with co-authors Eugene Koonin at the National Institutes of Health, Aviv Regev of the Broad Institute and the MIT Department of Biology, and John van der Oost at Wageningen University, describe the unexpected biological features of this new system and demonstrate that it can be engineered to edit the genomes of human cells.
“This has dramatic potential to advance genetic engineering,” says Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute. “The paper not only reveals the function of a previously uncharacterized CRISPR system, but also shows that Cpf1 can be harnessed for human genome editing and has remarkable and powerful features. The Cpf1 system represents a new generation of genome editing technology.”
CRISPR sequences were first described in 1987, and their natural biological function was initially described in 2010 and 2011. The application of the CRISPR-Cas9 system for mammalian genome editing was first reported in 2013, by Zhang and separately by George Church at Harvard University.
In the new study, Zhang and his collaborators searched through hundreds of CRISPR systems in different types of bacteria, searching for enzymes with useful properties that could be engineered for use in human cells. Two promising candidates were the Cpf1 enzymes from bacterial species Acidaminococcus and Lachnospiraceae, which Zhang and his colleagues then showed can target genomic loci in human cells.
“We were thrilled to discover completely different CRISPR enzymes that can be harnessed for advancing research and human health,” says Zhang, the W.M. Keck Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
The newly described Cpf1 system differs in several important ways from the previously described Cas9, with significant implications for research and therapeutics, as well as for business and intellectual property:

some folding bits - just because...,

sciencedaily |  A new analysis supports the hypothesis that viruses are living entities that share a long evolutionary history with cells, researchers report. The study offers the first reliable method for tracing viral evolution back to a time when neither viruses nor cells existed in the forms recognized today, the researchers say.

The new findings appear in the journal Science Advances.

Until now, viruses have been difficult to classify, said University of Illinois crop sciences and Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology professor Gustavo Caetano-Anollés, who led the new analysis with graduate student Arshan Nasir. In its latest report, the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses recognized seven orders of viruses, based on their shapes and sizes, genetic structure and means of reproducing.

"Under this classification, viral families belonging to the same order have likely diverged from a common ancestral virus," the authors wrote. "However, only 26 (of 104) viral families have been assigned to an order, and the evolutionary relationships of most of them remain unclear."

Part of the confusion stems from the abundance and diversity of viruses. Less than 4,900 viruses have been identified and sequenced so far, even though scientists estimate there are more than a million viral species. Many viruses are tiny -- significantly smaller than bacteria or other microbes -- and contain only a handful of genes. Others, like the recently discovered mimiviruses, are huge, with genomes bigger than those of some bacteria.

The new study focused on the vast repertoire of protein structures, called "folds," that are encoded in the genomes of all cells and viruses. Folds are the structural building blocks of proteins, giving them their complex, three-dimensional shapes. By comparing fold structures across different branches of the tree of life, researchers can reconstruct the evolutionary histories of the folds and of the organisms whose genomes code for them.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

fractally uncompressing terraforming machinery - some bits doing the unfolding, other bits waiting to be unfolded

Wiley | The nature of the role played by mobile elements in host genome evolution is reassessed considering numerous recent developments in many areas of biology. It is argued that easy popular appellations such as “selfish DNA” and “junk DNA” may be either inaccurate or misleading and that a more enlightened view of the transposable element-host relationship encompasses a continuum from extreme parasitism to mutualism. Transposable elements are potent, broad spectrum, endogenous mutators that are subject to the influence of chance as well as selection at several levels of biological organization. Of particular interest are transposable element traits that early evolve neutrally at the host level but at a later stage of evolution are co-opted for new host functions [Emphasis mine, Ed.].

where there is water, there will be a deduplicated and compressed backup fractal terraforming system...,

space |  A giant slab of ice as big as California and Texas combined lurks just beneath the surface of Mars between its equator and north pole, researchers say.

This ice may be the result of snowfall tens of millions of years ago on Mars, scientists added.

Mars is now dry and cold, but lots of evidence suggests that rivers, lakes and seas once covered the planet. Scientists have discovered life virtually wherever there is liquid water on Earth, leading some researchers to believe that life might have evolved on Mars when it was wet, and that life could be there even now, hidden in subterranean aquifers. [‪Photos: The Search for Life on Mars]

The amount of water on Mars has shifted dramatically over the eons because of the Red Planet's unstable obliquity — the degree to which the planet tilts on its axis of rotation. Unlike Earth, Mars does not have a large moon to keep it from wobbling, and so the direction its axis points wanders in a chaotic, unpredictable manner, regularly leading to ice ages.

Although researchers have long known that vast amounts of ice lie trapped in high latitudes around the Martian poles, scientists have recently begun to discover that ice also is hidden in mid-latitudes, and even at low latitudes around the Martian equator.

Learning more about past Martian climates and where its water once was "could help us understand if locations on Mars were once habitable," study lead author Ali Bramson, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, told

To look at ice hidden beneath the Martian surface, Bramson and her colleagues focused on strange craters in a region called Arcadia Planitia. This area lies in the mid-latitudes of Mars, analogous to Earthly latitudes falling between the U.S.-Canadian border and Kansas.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

water like oil for money....,

NYTimes |  Gazing out of a turboprop high above his company’s main asset — 34,000 acres in the Mojave Desert with billions of gallons of fresh water locked deep below the sagebrush-dotted land — Scott Slater paints a lush picture that has enticed a hardy band of investors for a quarter-century.

Yes, Mr. Slater admits, his company, Cadiz, has never earned a dime from water. And he freely concedes it will take at least another $200 million to dig dozens of wells, filter the water and then move it 43 miles across the desert through a new pipeline before thirsty Southern Californians can drink a drop.

But tapping cash, as opposed to actual water, has never been a problem for Cadiz. “I think there’s plenty of money out there,” Mr. Slater said.

Real profits may be nearly as scarce as snow in the High Sierra, but Wall Street, as it is wont to do, smells profit as California endures its worst drought in decades.

“Investing in the water industry is one of the great opportunities for the coming decades,” said Matthew J. Diserio of Water Asset Management, a New York firm that is a major backer of Cadiz. “Water is the scarce resource that will define the 21st century, much like plentiful oil defined the last century.”

this water gotta go!

aljazeera |  Researchers have found high levels of lead in the water supply in Flint, Michigan, after the economically battered city switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in an attempt to save money. The city issued a lead warning on Friday, ramping up residents' health concerns — and questions about the tradeoffs cash-strapped cities make to revive their economies.
One set of study results, released on Thursday, analyzed the blood lead levels in more than 1,500 children in Flint and said the overall number with elevated levels rose to 4 percent in 2015 after the water source was switched, from 2.1 percent in 2013. In some areas, the levels rose to 6.3 percent from 2.5 percent. The study was led by Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley Medical Center in Flint.
A separate study, conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech, tested water samples from homes in Flint andconcluded that the city “has a very serious lead in water problem.”  They announced the results in mid-September,saying the lead levels in several samples of city water exceeded 100 parts per billion — well over the EPA’s allowed level of 15 parts per billion.
Flint, synonymous with a perennially devastated rust belt, has long been a poster child of economic depression. Like nearby Detroit, Flint was put into the hands of a succession of emergency managers appointed by the governor. Jerry Ambrose, the most recent emergency manager, was tasked with improving the city's finances — and made the decision to switch Flint from Lake Huron water through the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, to water from the Flint River, to save $12 million a year. Ambrose could not immediately be reached for comment at the time this story was published.

where the water go?

guardian |  Residents near a northern California lake are left with nothing but the rotting carcasses of dead fish after the reservoir mysteriously lost all its water overnight.

The Mountain Meadow reservoir, also known as Walker Lake, was a popular spot for fishing before its 5,800 acres dried up the weekend of September 12.

Now thousands of fish are dead and those used to relaxing near the water near the city of Susanville face a putrid stench.

''It's amazing how many people have come out to see the destruction,' local Eddy Bauer, 56, said. 'My wife, for instance, was holding her nose, can't even stand the smell'.

Water rights to the lake are owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, which says that no one opened up the dam holding back the reservoir and the water simply ran out.

'It’s the situation we worked hard to avoid but the reality is we’re in a very serious drought, there’s also concerns for the fish downstream,' PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno said.

He told KTVN that the company stopped using water from the reservoir in March after deciding that there was not enough left for 2015. 

With PG&E saying that it didn't open the dam to downstream, it remains uncertain how the water left the lake, where people had been fishing a day before it went dry.

Bauer said he estimated that there were two weeks worth of water left right before it drained.

Friday, September 25, 2015

sounds like sympathy, feels like fear, will act like self interest...

time |  I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.

Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.

Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and – one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.

when this caterpillar sneezes, y'all fitna catch pneumonia...,

dailyimpact |  In order to have an industrial economy you have to build industrial things — roads, ports, buildings, power stations and their grids, airports, houses and shopping centers — and you have to replace them when they wear out. Such building is the activity on which an industrial society rests, the primary source of jobs and all the consequent economic activity that flows from people with jobs. What every one of these building projects needs, in addition to capital and workers, is heavy machinery. That is why the health of Caterpillar, the world’s dominant manufacturer of heavy equipment, and to a lesser extent England”s JCB, are taken as precursors of the world’s financial health.

Call hospice.

It’s bad enough the Caterpillar’s world sales were down 11% year-to-year in August, worse that they have declined by a similar amount every month this year. What is truly awful is that Caterpillar has a string of such sales declines — on average 10% per month —  going back almost three years. It’s the longest stretch of sales declines in the history of the company. To those who regard Caterpillar as a bellwether, and it has been reliable in the past, our future is going to be called the Second Great Depression.

kansas city becomes 6th regional fed survey flashing red

regional Fed survey collapse goes on... Dallas, Richmond, New York, Philly, Chicago, and now Kansas City...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

all-volunteer warsocialism a recipe for military, government, and societal failure...,

therealnews |  I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. Larry Wilkerson is a retired United States Army colonel and former chief of staff to the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. Larry, thank you so much for joining us today.


PERIES: Larry, you've been reading a very important book, Skin In the Game: Poor Kids and Patriots by Gen. Dennis Laich, where he makes a compelling case that the all-volunteer military force no longer works in a world defined by terrorism and high debt and widening class differences. Tell us more about the book and the case he makes in it.

WILKERSON: Gen. Laich, Dennis Laich, is a 30-plus year member of the United States Army Reserves. Obviously became a general officer, and now he's written this book. And this book very vividly and very dramatically illustrates how what the Gates Commission created for Richard Nixon in 1972-73, the all-volunteer force, is no longer sustainable. It demonstrates it's not sustainable physically, that is to say it's not sustainable in dollar terms, and it probably is not sustainable in terms of the moral impact on the nation.

As we've seen throughout these last 14 years of war, we've had poor people, essentially, less than 1 percent of the nation, bleeding and dying and defending the other 99 percent. This is an ethical and moral position I think that's unsustainable. The fiscal position, though, is such that if you just do a linear progression of the defense budget and the cost of people out to about 2025, 2030, you wind up spending almost the entire Army and Marine Corps budget on people. So it's impossible to sustain this force. Another indicator is how we've gone from 2.7 percent women in the ranks to over 15 percent women in the ranks because we can't find enough men. This is not the way to fill out your military. However equitable and egalitarian you may think it is, it's not the way to fill out your military. And it's not the way to build a military that is sustainable over the next few years.

We've come up with a solution, I think, and the solution's rather unique. It's drafting by lottery into the reserve components. Not into the active components. Therefore I think deflecting some of the political criticism and political opposition we'd get, though we don't hesitate to say this is going to be a difficult task to achieve.

PERIES: And one of the other issues surrounding this question is the fact that the United States used to have a military, and military that is equipped to respond in a situation of war if needed. But now we seem to be in a perpetual state of war where we are constantly financing the military and arms and the military forces to be able to respond to all the time. What do you make of that?

WILKERSON: I think you're onto a point that we see as part of this ethical, moral dimension of this all-volunteer force. It is clear to us after lots of conversations with military leaders, with civilian leaders and actual security experts and others, that part of the reason that the president of the United States feels no real strain or pressure about going to war and staying at war is the fact that no one has any skin in the game. When you've got people who are not capable, really, because of their intellectual capacity or more often their ability to pay, to be in college or to be in some other more productive employment than being in the military, then they have to be in the military.

And that's how we're creating our military these days. We're taking the 1 percent that can't get it anywhere else, by and large, and we're putting them in the military. And we're putting upon them the burden of defending this nation. Defending the other 320-some odd million people in this country who don't have any skin in the game at all. When you have congressmen with no skin in the game, when you have business leaders, corporate leaders, others, religious leaders, no skin in the game, then you have the ability to go to war without any real restraint on you. And this is in addition to other problems we have, the military-industrial complex, other forces that are constantly agitating agitating for conflict, for war. And it makes it just too simple for the President of the United States to go to war.

PERIES: Larry, if you replace the current volunteer system to address the class nature of our military with a draft system, how would it change the nature of the force?

WILKERSON: We put it this way. You don't find the Ivy Leagues in the Army. You don't find the Ivy Leagues in the Marine Corps. If you do it's the exception that proves the rule, like Seth Moulton from Harvard, for example, now a congressman. But there are not many Ivy Leaguers in the Army or the Marine Corps.

And what's happening in order to recruit those people who are in the services, especially in the infantry, the Marine Corps and the Army, is really unconscionable. Let me just point out a few factors here. First of all, of the 2-2.5 million 18-year-olds that come into the Selective Service system every year, roughly one-third of them are not recruitable because they're too fat. They're too obese. Another third can't pass the ASVAB, which is the basic entrance exam for the armed forces. So that cuts the pool to a third of that 2-2.5 million every year.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

unacknowledged special access programs

alternet |  Imagine for a moment a genuine absurdity: somewhere in the United States, the highly profitable operations of a set of corporations were based on the possibility that sooner or later your neighborhood would be destroyed and you and all your neighbors annihilated.  And not just you and your neighbors, but others and their neighbors across the planet. What would we think of such companies, of such a project, of the mega-profits made off it?

In fact, such companies do exist. They service the American nuclear weapons industry and the Pentagon’s vast arsenal of potentially world-destroying weaponry.  They make massive profits doing so, live comfortable lives in our neighborhoods, and play an active role in Washington politics.  Most Americans know little or nothing about their activities and the media seldom bother to report on them or their profits, even though the work they do is in the service of an apocalyptic future almost beyond imagining.

Add to the strangeness of all that another improbability.  Nuclear weapons have been in the headlines for years now and yet all attention in this period has been focused like a spotlight on a country that does not possess a single nuclear weapon and, as far as the American intelligence community can tell, has shown no signs of actually trying to build one.  We’re speaking, of course, of Iran.  Almost never in the news, on the other hand, are the perfectly real arsenals that could actually wreak havoc on the planet, especially our own vast arsenal and that of our former superpower enemy, Russia.

In the recent debate over whether President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran will prevent that country from ever developing such weaponry, you could search high and low for any real discussion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, even though the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimates that it contains about 4,700 active warheads.  That includes a range of bombs and land-based and submarine-based missiles. If, for instance, a single Ohio Class nuclear submarine -- and the Navy has 14 of them equipped with nuclear missiles -- were to launch its 24 Trident missiles, each with 12 independently targetable megaton warheads, the major cities of any targeted country in the world could be obliterated and millions of people would die.

Indeed, the detonations and ensuing fires would send up so much smoke and particulates into the atmosphere that the result would be a nuclear winter, leading to worldwide famine and the possible deaths of hundreds of millions, including Americans (no matter where the missiles went off).  Yet, as if in a classic Dr. Seuss book, one would have to add: that is not all, oh, no, that is not all.  At the moment, the Obama administration is planning for the spending of up to a trillion dollars over the next 30 years to modernize and upgrade America’s nuclear forces.

simple, conventional terrarism

tomdispatch |  They’ve run the most profitable companies in history and, to put it bluntly, they are destroying the planet.  In the past, given an American obsession with terrorists, I’ve called them “terrarists.”  I’m referring, of course, to the CEOs of the Big Energy companies, who in these years have strained to find new ways to exploit every imaginable reservoir of fossil fuels on the planet and put them into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide emissions.  One thing is certain: just as the top executives running tobacco companies, the lead industry, and asbestos outfits once did, they know what their drive for mega-profits means for the rest of us -- check out the fire season in western North America this year -- and our children and grandchildren.  If you think the world is experiencing major refugee flows right now, just wait until the droughts grow more extreme and the flooding of coastal areas increases.
As I wrote back in 2013:
“With all three industries, the negative results conveniently arrived years, sometimes decades, after exposure and so were hard to connect to it.  Each of these industries knew that the relationship existed.  Each used that time-disconnect as protection.  One difference: if you were a tobacco, lead, or asbestos exec, you might be able to ensure that your children and grandchildren weren’t exposed to your product.  In the long run, that’s not a choice when it comes to fossil fuels and CO2, as we all live on the same planet (though it's also true that the well-off in the temperate zones are unlikely to be the first to suffer).”
Remarkably enough, as Richard Krushnic and Jonathan King make clear today, the profits pursued by a second set of CEOs are similarly linked in the most intimate ways to the potential destruction of the planet (at least as a habitable environment for humanity and many other species) and the potential deaths of tens of millions of people.  These are the executives who run the companies that develop, maintain, and modernize our nuclear arsenal and, as with the energy companies, use their lobbyists and their cash to push constantly in Washington for more of the same.  Someday, looking back, historians (if they still exist) will undoubtedly consider the activities of both groups as examples of the ultimate in criminality.

we can't even understand the non-human intelligences right beside us..., (cetaceans, pachyderms, cephalopod molluscans)

dailymail |  He explained that if aliens exist and they are intelligent, they will already be encrypting their communications, but this means, ‘if you have an alien civilisation trying to listen for other civilisations, or our civilisation trying to listen to other aliens, there's only one small period in the development of their society when all of their communications will be set at the most primitive and unprotected means.’

He pointed out that perfectly encrypted messages wouldn’t be detected by a security agency looking for such communications, and would instead seem like background noise.

Therefore aliens may be communicating but humans are deaf to any messages being broadcast.
‘When we think about everything we're hearing through our satellites and everything that they're hearing from our civilisation - if there are indeed aliens out there - all of their communications are encrypted by default so what we are hearing that's actually an alien television show or a phone call or a message between their planet and their own GPS constellation (or whatever it happens to be), is indistinguishable to us from cosmic microwave background radiation,’ he said.

Tyson said: ‘You're assuming they [aliens] have the same security issues that we have here on Earth,’ to which Snowden replied: ‘Maybe they're a little more enlightened'.

Snowden is not the only person who believes aliens may be trying to make contact with us, but we are unable to hear them.

chromatophoric panoptopus

rifters |  I once spoke to a man who’d shared consciousness with an octopus.

I’d expected his tale to be far less frightening than those I’d studied up to that point. Identity has a critical mass, after all; fuse with a million-brain hive and you become little more than a neuron in that network, an insignificant lobe at most. Is the Olfactory Bulb self-aware? Does Broca’s Area demand the vote? Hives don’t just assimilate the self; they annihilate it. They are not banned in the West without reason.

But octopi? Mere invertebrates. Glorified snails. There’s no risk of losing yourself in a mind that small. I might have even tried it myself, for the sheer voyeuristic thrill of perceiving the world through alien eyes.

Before I met Guo, at least.

We met at lunchtime in Stanley Park, but we did not eat. He could not stomach the thought of food while reflecting on his own experience. I suspect he reflected on it a lot; talking to Guo was like interviewing a scarecrow.

It had been, he told me, a simple interface for a simple system: a Pacific Octopus liberated from the captive colony at Yaquina Bay, outfitted with a B2B wrapped around its brain like a spiderweb. Guo had one of his own, a force-grown lattice permeating his corpus callosum in service of some Cloud-killing gig he’d held in Guangdong. The protocols weren’t completely compatible, but could be tweaked.

“So what’s it like to be an octopus?” I asked him.

He didn’t speak for a while. I got the sense he wasn’t so much gathering his thoughts as wrestling with them.

“There’s no such thing as an octopus,” he said at last, softly. “They’re all— colonies.”


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

meanwhile, outside Irving, u.s. appoints saudis to behead u.n. human rights council...,

unwatch |  U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and EU foreign minister Federica Mogherini should condemn and work to reverse the appointment of Saudi Arabia as head of a key UN Human Rights Council panel that selects top officials who shape international human rights standards and report on violations worldwide, said UN Watch, a non-governmental watchdog organization based in Geneva.

“It is scandalous that the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS to be head of a key human rights panel,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. “Petro-dollars and politics have trumped human rights.”

“Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women’s rights, and continues to imprison the innocent blogger Raif Badawi,” Neuer added.

“This UN appointment is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief, and underscores the credibility deficit of a human rights council that already counts Russia, Cuba, China, Qatar and Venezuela among its elected members.”

who is ahmed mohammed's PR person?

fortune |  The Irving, Texas high school student who freaked out his teachers and was arrested by local police for bringing a home-made clock to school, now has a bunch of new tech swag, including a Surface Pro 3 from his new best friends at Microsoft MSFT 1.45% .

Mohamed’s arrest sparked an outcry among those who felt the reaction was overkill and that he was targeted because he is Muslim. One contention was that, since the bomb squad was never called, there was never any real fear that the clock, a bundle of circuit boards and wiring, was a bomb, as first suggested. Mohamed’s sister documented much of what happened and her photos helped spur the story on. Some of the flailing presidential campaigns might take note of this strategy.

Since the kerfuffle, Mohamed has appeared on MSNBC, gotten invitations to MIT (reportedly his “dream school”) as well as Harvard, received a T-shirt from NASA; a White House invitation from President Barack Obama; and praise from Facebook FB 1.22% CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The general thinking was that Mohamed is the sort of can-do techie this country needs.

clock in a box unleashed fifty megatons of stoopid...,

guardian |  The evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins found himself at the centre of controversy on Sunday when he questioned the motives of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old boy who was arrested and detained in Texas when a teacher thought a clock he had made was a bomb.

Dawkins did not dispute that Mohamed should not have been arrested, but questioned whether the boy had truly “invented” the clock, as has been reported. 

Dawkins, the author of books including the groundbreaking The Selfish Gene, the bestselling The God Delusion and the memoir A Sense of Wonder, is a leading critic of religious belief and an advocate for rational thought. 

On Sunday, the emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford said he was simply looking for the truth of the Texas schoolboy’s story.

In a tweet, the scientist linked to a YouTube video entitled Ahmed Mohammed [sic] Clock is a FRAUD, in which user Thomas Talbot alleges Mohamed’s clock “is in fact not an invention. The ‘clock’ is a commercial bedside alarm clock removed from its casing”.

Dawkins eventually retreated. He devoted tweets to questioning police motives and tweeted a reference to the new leader of Britain’s opposition Labour party: “Sorry if I go a bit over the top in my passion for truth. Not just over a boy’s alleged ‘invention’ but also media lies about J[eremy] Corbyn.”

ahmed mohammed's clock in a box

artvoice |  So, this story about a 14 year old boy in Texas that was arrested on suspicion of creating a bomb hoax (who, apparently just wanted to show off his latest electronics project to his teachers) that has blown up (no pun intended) all over the news and social media, caught my attention immediately. Not because of his race, or his religion, the seeming absurdity of the situation, the emotionally charged photo of a young boy in a NASA t-shirt being led off in hand cuffs, the hash tags, the presidential response… no, none of that. I’m an electronics geek. I was interested in the clock! I wanted to figure out what he had come up with.

I found the highest resolution photograph of the clock I could. Instantly, I was disappointed. Somewhere in all of this – there has indeed been a hoax. Ahmed Mohamed didn’t invent his own alarm clock. He didn’t even build a clock. Now, before I go on and get accused of attacking a 14 year old kid who’s already been through enough, let me explain my purpose. I don’t want to just dissect the clock. I want to dissect our reaction as a society to the situation. Part of that is the knee-jerk responses we’re all so quick to make without facts. So, before you scroll down and leave me angry comments, please continue to the end (or not – prove my point, and miss the point, entirely!)

Monday, September 21, 2015

pope enacts confession/repentence/forgiveness jubiliee, and still can't catch a break......,

thenation |  In reality, the letter offers false compassion. It’s one of many missteps this Pope has made in what is, I’m sure, a sincere effort to understand and honor women. For instance, he has insisted that the subject of women priests is off the table. And while he speaks of putting more women in positions of power in the church, he rejected the idea of appointing women to head Vatican agencies as tokenism. He talks about the “feminine genius” of women who are kind, conciliatory and self-sacrificing, and he says we need a new theology of women (not persons)—but he does nothing about it. 

It’s notable, too, that the launch date for the Jubilee Year is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, an infallible church doctrine which holds that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was conceived free of the stain of original sin, unlike the rest of us, including women. That holiday reminds women of the impossibility of meeting the saintly ideal of being both virgin and mother. Ever since Eve, the sins of the world, especially those related to sex, fall on our shoulders. 

Just a few days ago the Pope, claiming to be a “bit feminist” praised nuns for their courage. He noted that nuns “have this desire to always go to the front lines. Why? Because you’re mothers, you have the maternal instinct of the church, which makes you be near” to those who suffer. This inability to see women as anything other than mothers contributes to the inability to see the decision not to continue a pregnancy as a denial of womanhood, a sin against nature. 

Most troubling about Francis’ letter is that at the same time as he gives all priests the power to absolve the sin of abortion, he orders them to counsel the women who confess about the grave harm they have done. No doubt some priests will be kind. But some priests are picketing in front of abortion clinics and raging against abortion on Sundays. I fear for the well-being of a woman who sincerely seeks reconciliation and ends up in the confessional of one of these priests. 

Francis is trying. But his own inability to understand women as people, not mothers, will enable those priests to hear only that part of Francis’ message that tells women they did a bad thing—and not recognize why women did the best thing they could, given their circumstances.

bedroom issues far more crucial than christianity to conservative catholics

WaPo |  When Steve Skojec heard that Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been elected pope, he got a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. He can’t say why, exactly — though he follows Vatican politics closely, he didn’t know much about Francis then. But as he watched the new Catholic leader greet the crowds on his office television in Manassas, Va., he was filled with dread.

“I felt a discontinuity,” he said. “A disruption.”

At first, he didn’t want to make too big a deal of it. Though Skojec blogs regularly about Catholicism at the Web site he founded, OnePeterFive (tag line: Rebuilding Catholic culture. Restoring Catholic tradition.), he mostly avoided the subject. “I wanted to withhold judgement,” he said.

Six months later, he was ready to judge. What really turned Skojec against Francis was the pope’s October 2013 interview in the Jesuit magazine America. Buried in the transcript was a comment, by Francis, that the world’s biggest evils are youth unemployment and loneliness.

“That’s a jarring statement . . . when you’re on the front lines of the culture wars, looking at the death toll of abortion,” Skojec said. “There was definitely a sense that this could be trouble.”

Among Americans Catholics, Francis is wildly popular, with an approval rating hovering near 90 percent. The faithful are drawn by the pope’s humility and inclusive message. But a growing number in the church’s conservative wing don’t feel so welcome. Just 45 percent of conservative Catholics have a favorable opinion of Francis, down from 72 percent a year ago.

They worry that Francis is loosening the church’s strict teachings on morality (he famously told a prominent Italian atheist that “everyone has his own idea of good and evil” and has said “who am I to judge” when asked about gay priests). They accuse him of deserting them on issues such as abortion and contraception (he has said he avoids those issues because the church has become too “obsessed” with them).

And they say his attacks on capitalism are ill-conceived and amount to a plea for redistribution of wealth — or worse.