Wednesday, November 30, 2016

These Jill Stein Hustles Are Getting Out of Hand...,

archive |  The history of libraries is one of loss.  The Library of Alexandria is best known for its disappearance.

Libraries like ours are susceptible to different fault lines:
Legal regimes,
Institutional failure.

So this year, we have set a new goal: to create a copy of Internet Archive’s digital collections in another country. We are building the Internet Archive of Canada because, to quote our friends at LOCKSS, “lots of copies keep stuff safe.” This project will cost millions. So this is the one time of the year I will ask you: please make a tax-deductible donation to help make sure the Internet Archive lasts forever.

On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change. It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change.

For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a Web that may face greater restrictions.

wikipedia | The Five Eyes, often abbreviated as FVEY, is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. These countries are bound by the multilateral UKUSA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.

Best Believe: Personnel IS Policy

reddit |  Now, the transition is getting an assist from Heritage Foundation officials including Becky Norton Dunlop, a distinguished fellow at the foundation; former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, a distinguished fellow emeritus at Heritage; Heritage national security expert James Carafano; and Ed Feulner, who helped found Heritage. Rebekah Mercer, a Heritage board member and major pro-Trump donor, is on the transition team’s 16-member executive committee, and a transition team source said she is working with Heritage to recruit appointees for positions at the undersecretary level and below (though she has struggled to find people interested in taking lower-level jobs, according to a New York Times report).

The transition team also includes other prominent activists and thinkers with close ties to Heritage, such as former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, the activist involved with several conservative groups who is running Trump’s domestic transition team. He has written for Heritage and has personal relationships with many at the organization.  Fist tap Dale.

Chris Christie, Roman Catholic
Newt Gingrich, Roman Catholic, Council on Foreign Relations
Michael T. Flynn, Roman Catholic
Rudy Giuliani, Roman Catholic, 9/11 coadjutor, alleged Knight of Malta
Lou Barletta, Roman Catholic
Chris Collins, Roman Catholic
Tom Marino, Roman Catholic
Devin Nunes, Roman Catholic
Anthony Scaramucci, Roman Catholic, Council on Foreign Relations
David Malpass, Jesuit-trained from Georgetown, Vice President of the Council for National Policy, leading appointment selections for positions involving economic issues
Keith Kellogg, trained by Jesuit at Santa Clara University, leading appointment selections for positions involving national defense issues
Michael Catanzaro, trained by Jesuits at Fordham University and St. Ignatius High School, leading the policy implementation team for energy independence
Andrew Bremberg, graduate of Catholic University of America Executive Legal Action Lead
James Carafano, Jesuit-trained from Georgetown University , reported to be the primary aide to the State Department of Trump administration transition team
Ken Blackwell, Jesuit-trained from Xavier University, leading appointment selections for positions involving domestic issues.

Is the Pentagon Behind the WaPo's Libelous Hit on Independent Journalism?

nationofchange |  The Washington Post article in question, written by Craig Timberg — surely either one of the most credulous and lazy journalists working in a major US news organization (and that’s really an accomplishment!), or a rank propagandist for the US government posing as a journalist at the Post — relied upon only two sources for his dramatic “exposé” purporting to prove that a massive Russian propaganda campaign had surreptitiously attempted to undermine (perhaps successfully!) the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and to throw the race to Donald Trump, at the same time undermining US foreign policy and faith in the US government while elevating the reputation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both sources are falsely described by Timberg as being “two teams of independent researchers.” The assumption we clearly are meant to have is that these organizations have no institutional bias.

In fact, the first of these sources, the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), turns out to be a hoary relic of the Cold War founded in 1955 by Robert Strausz-Hupé, an Austrian emigré and passionate anti-Communist. It has continued its anti-Russian propaganda stance since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the 2002 death of its founder and now boasts on its board of trustees jailbait like former Reagan National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, a key player in the Reagan-era Iran Contra scandal who pleaded guilty to four counts of lying to Congress but was pardoned by President Reagan, arch-neocon and Russia-phobe Robert Kagan, a key promoter of the the US invasion or Iraq in 2003, and a whole host of other right-wing anti-Russian fanatics.

At least FRPI is willing to let people know who it is and who is running the joint. In contrast, the other of Timberg’s sources, PropOrNot, an organization with a website,, founded only several months ago, remains totally secret, providing no information on its site about its origins, its funding, its leadership or its staff. And yet Timberg confidently claims its information about Russia’s alleged epic propaganda effort was the result of the painstaking analytical work of these “experts.” In fact Timberg says the organization’s executive director, whom he quotes, asked for and received anonymity along with all his staff because they wanted to “avoid being targeted by Russia’s legions of skilled hackers.”

And the Post’s editors allow him to get away with this gutlessness and lack of transparency. To get the full picture of how credulous and unprofessional — or willfully biased — Timberg’s editors at the Washington Post (often still considered one of the nation’s top “newspapers of record”), were in not vetting his article, read the Intercept’s article Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist from a New, Hidden and Very Shady Group, which devastatingly eviscerates both PropOrNot and the Post.

Suffice to say that besides allowing Timberg to use as the key source of his article and dramatic media blacklist an anonymous and clearly partisan group, PropOrNot, the Post’s editors also never required their supposedly crack “technology reporter” to even attempt to contact a single editor or journalist at any of the named alleged purveyors or “useful idiots” he was accusing of secretly spreading Russian-sourced “false news.” There’s not even a perfunctory: “Efforts to contact the editors at Counterpunch were unsuccessful” in the entire piece. Timberg and the editors of a paper that once gave us the Watergate story that brought down President Richard Nixon clearly didn’t even consider such basics of journalism important!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Mysterious Interlingua

slashdot |  After a little over a month of learning more languages to translate beyond Spanish, Google's recently announced Neural Machine Translation system has used deep learning to develop its own internal language. TechCrunch reports:GNMT's creators were curious about something. If you teach the translation system to translate English to Korean and vice versa, and also English to Japanese and vice versa... could it translate Korean to Japanese, without resorting to English as a bridge between them? They made this helpful gif to illustrate the idea of what they call "zero-shot translation" (it's the orange one). As it turns out -- yes! It produces "reasonable" translations between two languages that it has not explicitly linked in any way. Remember, no English allowed. But this raised a second question. If the computer is able to make connections between concepts and words that have not been formally linked... does that mean that the computer has formed a concept of shared meaning for those words, meaning at a deeper level than simply that one word or phrase is the equivalent of another? In other words, has the computer developed its own internal language to represent the concepts it uses to translate between other languages? Based on how various sentences are related to one another in the memory space of the neural network, Google's language and AI boffins think that it has. The paper describing the researchers' work (primarily on efficient multi-language translation but touching on the mysterious interlingua) can be read at Arxiv.

Cold Fusion Lives On

scientificamerican |  Howard J. Wilk is a long-term unemployed synthetic organic chemist living in Philadelphia. Like many pharmaceutical researchers, he has suffered through the drug industry’s R&D downsizing in recent years and now is underemployed in a nonscience job. With extra time on his hands, Wilk has been tracking the progress of a New Jersey-based company called Brilliant Light Power (BLP).

The company is one of several that are developing processes that collectively fall into the category of new energy technologies. This movement is largely a reincarnation of cold fusion, the short-lived, quickly dismissed phenomenon from the late 1980s of achieving nuclear fusion in a simple benchtop electrolysis device.

In 1991, BLP’s founder, Randell L. Mills, announced at a press conference in Lancaster, Pa., that he had devised a theory in which the electron in hydrogen could transition from its normal ground energy state to previously unknown lower and more stable states, liberating copious amount of energy in the process. Mills named this curious new type of shrunken hydrogen the hydrino, and he has been at work ever since to develop a commercial device to harness its power and make it available to the world.

Wilk has studied Mills’s theory, read Mills’s papers and patents, and carried out his own calculations on the hydrino. Wilk has gone so far as to attend a demonstration at BLP’s facility in Cranbury, N.J., where he discussed the hydrino with Mills. After all that, Wilk says he still can’t tell if Mills is a titanic genius, is self-delusional, or is something in between.

New Magnetic Field Theory Gets BeeDee One Step Closer to Fusion

futurism |  Researchers from the U.S. DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Princeton University may have solved the mystery surrounding magnetic reconnection, bringing us one step closer to better solar flare prediction and (pmost notably) problems surrounding  nuclear fusion containment. Ultimately, this means that nuclear fusion, and the limitless energy it could provide, may be one step closer to reality.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Every Day I'm Hustle-in, Every Day I'm Hustle-in....,

stateofthenation |  If Stein was truly so concerned about getting to an accurate vote count of legal and legitimate voters, wouldn’t she also look at the other 47 states where voting irregularities were rife.

Wouldn’t she want to eliminate:
all the dead voters,
all the illegal alien voters,
all the unregistered voters,
all the double, triple and quadruple voters,
all the stuffed ballot boxes with nonexistent voters.

Then there are the many instances where a vote for Trump was flipped to a vote for Clinton.

This incomplete list of actual examples of vote fraud and election theft was always working to the advantage of Candidate Clinton on November 8th.  Why isn’t Stein concerned about these myriad cases of vote fraud?

The financial angle with Stein is quite HUGE! 
There is perhaps no better advice for a super sleuth trying to figure out Stein’s game that to “Follow the money!”

Here’s a presidential candidate who only raised $3,509,477 in campaign contributions during the entire 2016 election cycle.  Then, she goes out and raises well over $5,400,000 in but a few days and won’t even guarantee that the donations will fund the recount.

The Western War on Truth

PCR |  The “war on terror” has simultaneously been a war on truth. For fifteen years—from 9/11 to Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” and “al Qaeda connections,” “Iranian nukes,” “Assad’s use of chemical weapons,” endless lies about Gadaffi, “Russian invasion of Ukraine”—the governments of the so-called Western democracies have found it essential to align themselves firmly with lies in order to pursue their agendas. Now these Western governments are attempting to discredit the truthtellers who challenge their lies.

Russian news services are under attack from the EU and Western presstitutes as purveyors of “fake news.” Abiding by its Washington master’s orders, the EU actually passed a resolution against Russian media for not following Washington’s line. Russian President Putin said that the resolution is a “visible sign of degradation of Western society’s idea of democracy.”

As George Orwell predicted, telling the truth is now regarded by Western “democratic” governments as a hostile act. A brand new website,, has just made its appearance condemning a list of 200 Internet websites that provide news and views at variance with the presstitute media that serves the governments’ agendas. Does’s funding come from the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy, George Soros?

I am proud to say that is on the list.

What we see here is the West adopting Zionist Israel’s way of dealing with critics. Anyone who objects to Israel’s cruel and inhuman treatment of Palestinians is demonized as “anti-semitic.” In the West those who disagree with the murderous and reckless policies of public officials are demonized as “Russian agents.” The president-elect of the United States himself has been designated a “Russian agent.”

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Trumpism Has Dealt a Mortal Blow to Orthodox Economics and ‘Social Science’

ineteconomics |  Grappling with the shock of Donald Trump’s election victory, most analysts focus on his appeal to those in the United States who feel left behind, wish to retrieve a lost social order, and sought to rebuke establishment politicians who do not serve their interests. In this respect, the recent American revolt echoes the shock of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, but it is of far greater significance because it promises to reshape the entire global order, and the complaisant forms of thought that accompanied it.

Ideas played an important role in creating the conditions that produced Brexit and Trump. The ‘social sciences’ — especially economics — legitimated a set of ideas about the economy that were aggressively peddled and became the conventional wisdom in the policies of mainstream political parties, to the extent that the central theme of the age came to be that there was no alternative. The victory of these ideas in politics  in turn strengthened the iron-handed enforcers of the same ideas in academic orthodoxy.

It is never clear whether ideas or interests are the prime mover in shaping historical events, but only ideas and interests together can sustain a ruling consensus for a lengthy interval, such as the historic period of financialization and globalization running over the last 35 years. The role of economics in furnishing the now-rebuked narratives that have reigned for decades in mainstream political parties can be seen in three areas.

A Message to the Democratic Party

Tennessean |  In a nutshell, Trump’s Access Hollywood tape was obscene, but almost as obscene to me was the WikiLeaks revelation that Clinton Foundation money had helped pay for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding and living expenses for a decade.

More broadly, the Democratic Party has become, like Bill Maher says, a “boutique” party, a party of flashiness and glitz with its Lady Gagas and Katy Perrys and Beyonces, and with its non-stop debates on race, gender and sexuality. These issues are important, but they came at the expense of talking about bread-and-butter issues, which is why the Rust Belt voters bolted.

Liberals and the Democratic Party have some serious work to do. Among them: Don’t condescend to rural voters, the non-college-educated, and conservative Christians, and don’t paint them in a single dimension. At the very least, extend them the same courtesy you do to immigrants, Muslims, gay people. And don’t judge their groups by their worst members, the thing you – we – say about Muslims.

Further,the Democratic Party’s identity politics makes it hard for Americans to talk honestly about Islamic extremism, undocumented immigration, and many other issues.

Most of all, I mourn that the Democratic Party (and millions of Democratic voters) that prides itself on being an evidence-based party has lost its way and ignored the evidence that their candidate was deeply flawed.

In the Electoral-College-versus-popular-vote, my take is that Trump’s Electoral College victory is a more representative victory nationwide than Clinton’s popular vote victory. If we went by only popular vote tallies, in the future, populous states like California, New York and Texas may decide elections. I know this isn’t a perfect argument, though.

I’m not happy Trump won, but I’m glad Clintonism lost. The Democratic Party deserved to lose for many reasons, but especially because it had gotten annoyingly complacent about its demographic “coalition,” and smug in its convictions of its moral superiority.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

An Obituary of the New York Times

unz |  As a Swedish journalist, educated in large part on Anglo-Saxon literature, I had together with many of my peers seen The New York Times as a guiding star in standards of journalism. Its feat in publishing the Pentagon Papers- the proof that the United States had fabricated the reasons for going to war with Vietnam- was something that we read about in school, and it inspired me to want to work in the profession and uncover the dirty deals of my own government. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the very same paper had these special floors, off-limits to journalists, where the dodgiest deals with the dodgiest figures were being brokered, and that the heads of this newspaper were not even embarrassed about it. Rather, quite the contrary, they seemed to gloat.

After meeting with Keller and Sulzberger at The New York Times, I felt a heavy sense of sadness about what I had witnessed. I felt sad for the staff of the newspaper, many of whom had gone through great risks for their profession and their audience. I felt sad for my generation of journalists who had been robbed of a role-model in journalism. And I felt sad for the American readers, many of whom still had no idea of what was happening on the top floors of The New York Times Building on 8th Avenue.

Since the last few months I am however no longer sad about any of this, for during the current election cycle in the United States, The New York Times has so clearly abandoned all rudimentary standards of journalism and alienated its readership so badly, that it has sentenced itself to wither away into irrelevance. Remembered only in history books as a relic of the Cold War, much like its sister newspaper Pravda of the Soviet Union.

As a Swedish reader of The New York Times, I may be surprised that the paper has ignored election rigging in the governing party of the United States serious enough to cause its top five officials to resign. But it doesn’t really matter, since I can read the source material on it via WikiLeaks. As a foreign journalist I may be surprised that the paper has chosen to downplay the political bribes of the Clinton Foundation, but it makes little difference because the Associated Press has made the investigation available for me to report on. As a citizen of a western democracy I may be surprised that The New York Times so clearly campaigns against Trump and for Clinton, rather than reports on the policy issues of the candidates, but I can ignore this since I can read and listen to what they say themselves, while I can get a variety of more enlightened and entertaining campaigns all over the blogosphere. If I were a US citizen however, I would be more than just surprised.

And this is where The New York Times has lost it. By dropping its veneer and abandoning its self acclaimed standards of journalism, it has sentenced itself into irrelevance. Because even if the newspaper has steadily been outflanked by many blogs when it comes to audience size, it was until recently considered to be an important platform from which the US elites formed their world-view. But a newspaper with such a small reach, that is no longer taken seriously even by the main presidential candidates of its own country, a newspaper that doesn’t abide by the most fundamental journalistic standards, namely publishing rather than hiding newsworthy, correct information, has very little to offer either any powerful people or its own readers. Because even propaganda has to be good, for it to have any value.

The Mainstream Media is the Real “Fake News”

libertyblitzkrieg |  What’s particularly interesting about this list, isn’t the fact that a bunch of anonymous whiners decided to demonize successful critics of insane, inhumane and ethically indefensible U.S. government policy, but rather the fact that the Washington Post decided to craft an entire article around such a laughably ridiculous list. This just further proves a point that is rapidly becoming common knowledge amongst U.S. citizens with more than a couple of brain cells to rub together. 

The fake mainstream news media is completely failing. It is failing because rather than informing the public and criticizing the powerful, it has become merely a giant public relations organ for the U.S. government. The American public clearly sees through the bullshit, in large part due to the efforts of alternative news media. Think about it. Liberty Blitzkrieg doesn’t have a single outside employee. Other than the heroic efforts of my tech person (who spends very little of his time on this site), there’s really no one else contributing in any material way to the operation of this blog. So for a website run by a relatively unknown person to have made it onto this slanderous list (subsequently highlighted by the Washington Post), is not only a great honor, but a testament to the impact one person can have in an environment dominated by a transparently fake and desperate mainstream media.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Lessig Has Suffered a Bigger Breakdown than Krugman...,

WaPo |  Lawrence Lessig is a professor at Harvard Law School and the author of “Republic, Lost: Version 2.0.” In 2015, he was a candidate in the Democratic presidential primary.

Conventional wisdom tells us that the electoral college requires that the person who lost the popular vote this year must nonetheless become our president. That view is an insult to our framers. It is compelled by nothing in our Constitution. It should be rejected by anyone with any understanding of our democratic traditions  — most important, the electors themselves.

The framers believed, as Alexander Hamilton put it, that “the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the [president].” But no nation had ever tried that idea before. So the framers created a safety valve on the people’s choice. Like a judge reviewing a jury verdict, where the people voted, the electoral college was intended to confirm — or not — the people’s choice. Electors were to apply, in Hamilton’s words, “a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice” — and then decide. The Constitution says nothing about “winner take all.” It says nothing to suggest that electors’ freedom should be constrained in any way. Instead, their wisdom — about whether to overrule “the people” or not — was to be free of political control yet guided by democratic values. They were to be citizens exercising judgment,  not cogs turning a wheel.

But the question today is which precedent should govern today — Tammany Hall and Bush v. Gore, or one person, one vote?

The framers left the electors free to choose. They should exercise that choice by leaving the election as the people decided it: in Clinton’s favor.

The Damaged Political Psyche of the Left

thefederalist |  I have to admit, I was surprised to read this particular rant by Paul Krugman, the Nobel-winning economist and columnist for the New York Times (he won the Nobel for his work on economics, not his writing). Having read a New York Magazine piece that theorizes that some state election machines may have been “hacked,” thereby costing Clinton the election, Krugman declared:
[N]ow that it’s out there, I’d say that an independent investigation is called for…Without an investigation, the suspicion of a hacked election will never go away.
Really: “never?” Well. Krugman quickly backed off after Nate Cohn challenged this thesis (so much for “never”), but a number of hours later he shared a Vox piece: “The election probably wasn’t hacked. But Clinton should request recounts just in case.” Just in case!
It might be fair to say that Trump’s election kind of broke the brains of many people both left, right and center: nobody expected it and a great many people really didn’t want it to happen. But the Left seems to be taking it the hardest, and this is perfectly exemplified by Paul Krugman, a genuinely brilliant fellow who has started to sound like a tinfoil-hat-wearing neighborhood crank.
Just so we’re clear, the “suspicion of a hacked election” that Krugman latched onto—the one that “will never go away”—was spelled out this way:
While it’s important to note [the Center for Computer Security and Society] has not found proof of hacking or manipulation, they are arguing to the campaign that the suspicious pattern merits an independent review — especially in light of the fact that the Obama White House has accused the Russian government of hacking the Democratic National Committee.
Yes, it is surely “important to note” that there has been no “proof of hacking or manipulation.” But that doesn’t go far enough by half: there isn’t even any evidence of such, except for some voting patterns that, as Nate Cohn points out, vanish when you control for certain variables. Gabriel Sherman mixes up the cause and effect: proof is demonstrated after an investigation, the latter of which is undertaken only on the basis of strong-enough evidence—which doesn’t exist here (unless you’re an aggrieved liberal pundit, I guess).

Legislating Political Correctness in Canada

quillette |  The difference between the specifics of BillC-16 and the actual sweep of control it exerts over language is worrisome, especially now, when subjectivity rules and the definition of a hate crime can be decided by anyone who says they are a victim. If the past is any indication of the future, special interest groups — like those Cossman and Bryson support — will use that sweep, and the mob power behind it, either to expand the scope of the law or to make its words mean exactly what they want. This is what Peterson has been saying: not using the correct gender pronouns, especially in a government run institution like a university, can (and likely will) be classified as a hate crime, whether that crime is handled by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which is expensive and can result in financial ruin, or the criminal courts, which can result in a criminal record and jail time.

Cossman’s dissembling over these dangers is part of an established pattern of dissembling that many professors of Women Studies believe is necessary. For them, creative lying is compensation for the injustices women have endured for centuries. It’s a shady brand of feminism that gained momentum in the late 80s and receded in the 90s. However, judging by the vigour and confusion of the protesters supporting it now, it’s made a very successful, if malignant, comeback.

The real tragedy? Minority rights are worth protecting, but the configuration of suffering put forth by professors Cossman and Bryson is idiosyncratic, belonging to an incestuous academic sphere spinning on its own nepotism. When Bryson tries to refute decades of empirical data with her unfalsifiable social-constructionist theories it is a sign the incest has gone too far. A “body of work” may indeed suggest that biological sex isn’t an accurate reflection of everyone’s reality. But the real question is, is this body of work actually worth anything?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Age of Disintegration

oftwominds |  The Credibility Gap: The Mainstream Media lauds itself and a self-serving, failing elite: check.

The Partnerships That Failed: the SillyCon Valley tech titans were supposed to "save" the neoliberal elite by managing social media the way the MSM managed broadcast propaganda/"news": check.

The Groups That Opted Out: nobody "important" noticed those who opted out of the neoliberal Kool-Aid: check.

The Undermining of Effort: if I don't get my way, I'll block yours. There is no common ground left.

Is there any doubt about the profound political disunity in America's ruling elite? I have addressed this many times over the past seven years, most recently a year ago in Profound Political Disunity Is Now Pitting Rising Elites Against Fading Elites (November 24, 2015).

Historian Peter Turchin explores the dynamic of social disintegration in his new book Ages of Discord. The cycle of social disintegration and integration is essentially universal to complex societies--a reality I recently discussed in Ungovernable Nation, Ungovernable Economy (October 11, 2016)

The globalist, neoliberal, neoconservative consensus in the Ruling Elite has splintered, a reality I have described as a splintering of the Deep State, the unelected government that continues on regardless of which party or elected politico is currently in office.

I explored this years ago in Is the Deep State Fracturing into Disunity? (March 14, 2014) and more recently in Could the Deep State Be Sabotaging Hillary? (August 8, 2016), Why the Deep State Is Dumping Hillary (September 26, 2016) and These Blast Points on Hillary's Campaign... Only The Deep State Is So Precise (October 31, 2016).

What few in the pundit class see is that significant segments of the Deep State view the neo-con neoliberal strategy as an irredeemable failure. But the camp of neoliberals and globalists will not concede defeat and relinquish their hubris-soaked power without a fight.

Indeed, it is clear that this fading sector of the Deep State is now throwing everything in its power at Trump, his appointees, and anyone who dares question the fake-progressive neoliberal neocon narrative.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What is the Real Motivation After Decades of Hardcore Prohibition?

Independent |  World leaders have called for an end to the criminalisation of drugs.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy's annual report advocates the removal of both civil and criminal penalties for drug use and possession.

Prohibition of drugs has had "little or no impact" on the rate of drug use, the report says, with the number of drug users increasing by almost 20 per cent between 2006 and 2013 to 246 million people.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy panel includes former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, British businessman Richard Branson and the former presidents of Switzerland, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil.

The report warns prohibition of drugs fuels mass incarceration and executions in contravention of international law and drives human rights abuses by those who supply drugs.

It cites examples of successful decriminalisation policies, offering Portugal as the best example, which replaced criminal sanctions for drug use with civil penalties and health interventions 15 years ago.

The Committee also denounces the "barbaric actions" of Philippino President Rodrigo Duterte, who calls on the public to execute those involved in the drugs trade. More than 3,600 people were killed during Mr Duterte's first 100 days in office as part of his brutal crackdown on drugs.  Fist tap Big Don.

Seeking Adventurous Humans...,

geneticsandsociety |  George Church hit a nerve when he recently discussed re-creating Neanderthals with an "adventurous human female" surrogate, in Der Spiegel. The media attention rapidly became fierce, with dozens of outlets carrying the remarks. Yesterday, Church told the Boston Herald that the whole kerfuffle was based on "poor translation." As for cloning a Neanderthal, he said, "I'm certainly not advocating it … I'm saying, if it is technically possible someday, we need to start talking about it today." 

It's good to hear Church disavowing the idea of using genetic engineering, synthetic biology and human surrogates to create a Neanderthal clone baby, at least for the time being. But it's disingenuous of him to shift all the blame onto the translation process. The phrase that clearly got the most attention was "adventurous female human" — and that comes straight from the prologue of his own recent book, Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves (co-authored with Ed Regis, published in October 2012):
If society becomes comfortable with cloning and sees value in true human diversity, then the whole Neanderthal creature itself could be cloned by a surrogate mother chimp — or by an extremely adventurous female human.
Is Church personally looking for a human surrogate to gestate a Neanderthal clone, right this minute? No. Is he willing to openly advocate for the scenario that he describes in some technical detail? Not forthrightly, and both in his book and in the interview that sparked the recent furor, he includes "ifs" and caveats. Does he think that the process will be technically feasible in the foreseeable future? Emphatically yes. He's been talking about this and similar projects for several years. For example:

New York Times, 2008, discussing the recreation of Neanderthals:
Dr. Church said there might be an alternative approach that would "alarm a minimal number of people." The workaround would be to modify not a human genome but that of the chimpanzee, which is some 98 percent similar to that of people. The chimp's genome would be progressively modified until close enough to that of Neanderthals, and the embryo brought to term in a chimpanzee.
"The big issue would be whether enough people felt that a chimp-Neanderthal hybrid would be acceptable, and that would be broadly discussed before anyone started to work on it," Dr. Church said.
Archaeology, 2010:
Church proposes to use the MAGE technique to alter a stem cell's DNA to match the Neanderthal genome. That stem cell would be left to reproduce, creating a colony of cells that could be programmed to become any type of cell that existed in the Neanderthal's body. Colonies of heart, brain, and liver cells, or possibly entire organs, could be grown for research purposes.
This technique could also be used to create a person. A stem cell with Neanderthal DNA could be implanted in a human blastocyst — a cluster of cells in the process of developing into an embryo. Then, all of the non-Neanderthal cells could be kept from growing. The individual who developed from that blastocyst would be entirely the result of Neanderthal genes. In effect, it would be a cloned Neanderthal.
… "We could learn a lot more from a living adult Neanderthal than we could from cell cultures," says Church. Special arrangements would have to be made to create a place for a cloned Neanderthal to live and pursue the life he or she would want, he says. The clone would also have to have a peer group, which would mean creating several clones, if not a whole colony. According to Church, studying those Neanderthals, with their consent, would have the potential to cure diseases and save lives.
Are you playing god, sir? Because you have the beard for it.
We're engineers, we're fixing only things that are broken. …
Can you bring things back from the dead? ...
We can make copies of things that have elements of animals or bacteria and so forth that were extinct.
You guys are working on the wooly mammoth, right?
It's a possibility.
Church has tests running in the lab around Neanderthal cells as he tries to determine what this species might have looked and acted like. ... "We have lots of Neanderthal parts around the lab. We are creating Neanderthal cells. Let's say someone has a healthy, normal Neanderthal baby. Well, then, everyone will want to have a Neanderthal kid. Were they superstrong or supersmart? Who knows? But there's one way to find out."
... How far off is this brave new world? Well, according to Church, probably not far at all. "The cheap human genome was supposed to arrive 50 years from now," he says. "It arrived this year. What if a cheap Neanderthal or mammoth arrives 50 years ahead of time?"

Want to Stay Healthy? You'll Need to Become a Hybrid

io9 |  Over the past several decades, biologists have refined their transgenic techniques, including the introduction of DNA microinjection, embryonic stem cell-mediated gene transfer, and retrovirus-mediated gene transfer. 

More recently, scientists have figured out how to modify the DNA of plants and animals to much greater degrees of precision. While techniques using bacterial and viral DNA enabled scientists to transport genes into the chromosomes of various organisms, the precise target for where the transgene was to eventually land could not be controlled. The CRISPR/Cas9 system, which normally allows the bacterial immune system to store DNA 'fingerprints' of viruses, now enables scientists to choose a specific region of the genome for either gene disruption (a gene knockout) or insertion (creating a more-precise transgenic organism).

This technology is extremely powerful because the original genes of an organism (its endogenous genes) provide a direct entryway for scientists to control, or edit, an organism's biology. For instance, if someone has a mutation that causes a disease in a particular type of cell, using CRISPR/Cas9 to replace the mutant gene with a normal gene could theoretically cure that disease. Likewise, it could be used to introduce a foreign transgene. 

So, for example, scientists have used CRISPR/Cas9 to correct B-thalassemia (a condition similar to sickle-cell anemia) in human blood cell lines. They also used it to fix a mutation causing a liver disease in mice (though their technique only corrected 0.4% of mutated liver cells, these cells were able to rescue liver function). Additionally, researchers recently used the technique to create programmable antibiotics that selectively targets undesirable microbes

Today, transgenic organisms are used for a number of purposes, from toxicology and the improvement of plants and livestock to the creation of animals that simulate human diseases. They can be divided into three major functions:
  • To obtain information on gene function and regulation as well as on human diseases
  • To obtain high value products (recombinant pharmaceutical proteins and xeno-organs and xeno-tissues for humans) to be used for human therapy
  • To improve animal products for human consumption.
As noted by Emily Anthes , author of Frankenstein's Cat, genetically engineered animals could do real good for the world. As she notes in The New York Times, scientists have created transgenic salmon that can reach their adult size in a year and a half, rather than three years. There's also the famous "spider goats" — hybrid goats that secrete exceptionally strong strands of spider's silk, and transgenic glow-in-the-dark pigs and rabbits that use jellyfish DNA (the point of which kind of eludes me).

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Valodya Begins The Lawful Purge of the Russian Bankster 5th Column

thesaker |  While the word was focused in rapt attention on the outcome of the US Presidential election, Vladimir Putin did something quite amazing – he arrested Alexei Uliukaev, Minister of the Economy of the Medvedev government, on charges of extortion and corruption. Uliukaev, whose telephone had been tapped by the Russian Security Services since this summer, was arrested in the middle of the night in possession of 2 million US dollars. Putin officially fired him the next morning.

Russian official sources say that Uliukaev extorted a $2 million bribe for an assessment that led to the acquisition by Rosneft (a state run Russian oil giant) of a 50% stake in Bashneft (another oil giant). Apparently, Uliukaev tried to threaten Igor Sechin, the President of Rosneft and a person considered close to Vladimir Putin and the Russian security and intelligence services.

Yes, you read that right: according to the official version, a state-owned company gave a bribe to a member of the government. Does that make sense to you? How about a senior member of the government who had his telephone tapped and who has been under close surveillance by the Federal Security Service for over a year – does that make sense to you?

This makes no sense at all and the Russian authorities fully realize that. But that is the official version. So what is going on here? Do you think that there is a message from Putin here?

Of course there is!

The Feminization of Western Politics: Stopped or Only Briefly Stalled?

unz |  Events following Trump’s victory should remove all doubt that American elections—and perhaps American life more generally—are increasingly being feminized. Hissy fits, snarky gossip and claims of dog-whistle hate are now major political weapons and millions in the Democratic coalition—women, blacks, gays, the campus-based cupcake nation—are desperately seeking sanctuaries. It would be hard to exaggerate this transformation. Try to imagine old-fashioned pols, typically males, hugging and crying as their candidate went down to defeat. Would Chicago Mayor Richard J. Dailyget the vapors” and tearfully whine about a Republican in the White House and with his ward-heeler cronies retreat to a safe space with cuddly puppies, playdough, and coloring books to begin the process of healing? Clearly, if such a response occurred post Nixon’s 1968 victory, the Mayor’s career would be over. Not even the dutiful Democratic Blessed Sisters of the Poor in his own parish could respect such a girly man and would demand that “Hiz Honor” take it like a man, down a few stiff ones with “the boys,” stop complaining and get busy stealing the next election.

As the onward march of feminization transforms losing an election into a psychological trauma requiring therapy, what’s next”? Perhaps an officially organized post-election “healing” with a pseudo scientific name—Post-Election Defeat Traumatic Stress Disorder—so therapists can try to bill insurance companies for its treatment.

Circle-Jerking Cost the Elite Cathedral Its Control of the Government

WaPo |  In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, incoming White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon advances another view. “The media bubble is the ultimate symbol of what’s wrong with this country,” Bannon told Michael Wolff. “It’s just a circle of people talking to themselves who have no f—ing idea what’s going on. If The New York Times didn’t exist, CNN and MSNBC would be a test pattern. The Huffington Post and everything else is predicated on The New York Times. It’s a closed circle of information from which Hillary Clinton got all her information — and her confidence. That was our opening.”

Corporate Media Hates Trump and Will Never Relent

unz |  Newly elected presidents are frequently afforded what is described as a “honeymoon period” in which the criticism of their campaign positions diminishes sharply as the public and media stand by to see what actually will develop as an administration takes shape. The honeymoon can sometimes extend well into the post-inauguration time frame, as it did with President Barack Obama, and it provides for a breathing space during which the new arrivals in the White House can set an agenda and learn how the government actually works.

Unfortunately, President-elect Donald Trump will apparently not enjoy such a courtesy, at least as far as the media is concerned. The mainstream media was unrelentingly hostile to Trump both during the Republican primaries and the presidential campaign itself. The assertions emanating from media apologists contending that Trump actually benefitted from the massive press coverage that he did receive ignores the fact that the reporting was almost always negative. If Trump benefited at all it was only because the public, seeing the outpouring of sheer hatred from a media that it already distrusted, came to believe that someone so vilified by a source so questionable must actually represent something worth supporting.

The rage of the media towards Trump continues unabated. The Washington Post, a scurrilous rag emanating out of the District of Columbia that claims to be a national “newspaper of record,” has a neocon editorial page that has never seen a war that it dislikes coupled with domestic and local reporting that is multicultural, inclusive and diverse to a fault. Its globalist agenda driven hacks seamlessly churn out news stories that are more editorials for a certain world view than they are reporting of actual events. It is “invade the world-invite the world” at its finest and reminds one of Hillary Clinton at her most effusive.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Language Shapes Reality

Vox |  The film’s premise hinges on the idea, shared by many linguists and philosophers of language, that we do not all experience the same reality. The pieces of it are the same — we live on the same planet, breathe the same air — but our perceptions of those pieces shift and change based on the words and grammar we use to describe them to ourselves and each other.

For instance, there is substantial evidence that a person doesn’t really see (or perhaps "perceive") a color until their vocabulary contains a word, attached to meaning, that distinguishes it from other colors. All yellows are not alike, but without the need to distinguish between yellows and the linguistic tools to do so, people just see yellow. A color specialist at a paint manufacturer, however, can distinguish between virtually hundreds of colors of white. (Go check out the paint chip aisle at Home Depot if you’re skeptical.)

Or consider the phenomenon of words in other languages that describe universal feelings, but can only be articulated precisely in some culture. We might intuitively "feel" the emotion, but without the word to describe it we’re inclined to lump the emotion in with another under the same heading. Once we develop the linguistic term for it, though, we can describe it and feel it as distinct from other shades of adjacent emotions.

Directness is a Working Class Norm

HBR |  Michèle Lamont, in The Dignity of Working Men, also found resentment of professionals — but not of the rich. “[I] can’t knock anyone for succeeding,” a laborer told her. “There’s a lot of people out there who are wealthy and I’m sure they worked darned hard for every cent they have,” chimed in a receiving clerk. Why the difference? For one thing, most blue-collar workers have little direct contact with the rich outside of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. But professionals order them around every day. The dream is not to become upper-middle-class, with its different food, family, and friendship patterns; the dream is to live in your own class milieu, where you feel comfortable — just with more money. “The main thing is to be independent and give your own orders and not have to take them from anybody else,” a machine operator told Lamont. Owning one’s own business — that’s the goal. That’s another part of Trump’s appeal.

Hillary Clinton, by contrast, epitomizes the dorky arrogance and smugness of the professional elite. The dorkiness: the pantsuits. The arrogance: the email server. The smugness: the basket of deplorables. Worse, her mere presence rubs it in that even women from her class can treat working-class men with disrespect. Look at how she condescends to Trump as unfit to hold the office of the presidency and dismisses his supporters as racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic.

Trump’s blunt talk taps into another blue-collar value: straight talk. “Directness is a working-class norm,” notes Lubrano. As one blue-collar guy told him, “If you have a problem with me, come talk to me. If you have a way you want something done, come talk to me. I don’t like people who play these two-faced games.” Straight talk is seen as requiring manly courage, not being “a total wuss and a wimp,” an electronics technician told Lamont. Of course Trump appeals. Clinton’s clunky admission that she talks one way in public and another in private? Further proof she’s a two-faced phony.

The Hysterical Private Language of Higher-Ed

WaPo |  A doctoral dissertation at the University of California at Santa Barbara uses “feminist methodologies” to understand how Girl Scout cookie sales “reproduce hegemonic gender roles.” The journal GeoHumanities explores how pumpkins reveal “racial and class coding of rural versus urban places.” Another journal’s article analyzes “the relationships among gender, science, and glaciers.” A Vassar College lecture “theorizes oscillating relations between disciplinary, pre-emptive and increasingly prehensive forms of power that shape human and non-human materialities in Palestine.”

Even professors’ books from serious publishers are clotted with pretentious jargon. To pick just one from innumerable examples, a recent history of the Spanish Civil War, published by the Oxford University Press, says that Franco’s Spain was as “hierarchizing” as Hitler’s Germany, that Catholicism “problematized” relations between Spain and the Third Reich, and that liberalism and democracy are concepts that must be “interrogated.” Only the highly educated write so badly. Indeed, the point of such ludicrous prose is to signal membership in a closed clerisy that possesses a private language.

Institutions of supposedly higher education are awash with hysteria, authoritarianism, obscurantism, philistinism and charlatanry. Which must have something to do with the tone and substance of the presidential election, which took the nation’s temperature.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Trump Prepares to Do Battle with Peaking Energy and Huuuuuge Debt Bubbles

counterpunch |  Already we have seen how the Fed’s determination to enrich its constituents has resulted in one titanic asset-price bubble after the other. Imagine if that power was entrusted to just one individual who could be tempted to use that authority to shape economic events in a way that enhanced and perpetuated his own political power. Even so, after seven years of a policy-induced Depression that has increased inequality to levels not seen since the Gilded Age, we think it is high-time that the president use his power to choose the members who will bring the bank back under government control. Here’s more background from the LA Times:
“Donald Trump leveled unprecedented criticism at the Federal Reserve during the campaign. As president, he could get to quickly reshape it … Trump will have the opportunity to appoint as many as five new members to the seven-person Fed Board of Governors during his first year and a half in office. That includes a new chairperson to replace Janet L. Yellen, whose term expires in early 2018…

Trump hammered Yellen in the final months of the (presidential) campaign, accusing her of keeping the benchmark rate “artificially low” to help fellow Democrats President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

“I think she is very political and to a certain extent, I think she should be ashamed of herself.” Trump told CNBC in mid-September. At the first presidential debate two weeks later, he declared that “the Fed is being more political than Hillary Clinton.”

And Trump’s final campaign video included images of the Fed and Yellen, casting her has part of the “political establishment” that has “bled our country dry.”…

“Never before have we had an incoming president not just criticize how Fed policy has been executed … but accuse the Fed chair of undermining the institution by being in political cahoots with his opponent and the White House,” (James) Pethokoukis said. “We’re off the grid into uncharted territory.”… (Trump hammered the Federal Reserve as a candidate. As president, he could quickly reshape it, LA Times)
We can safely assume that the Supreme Court is going to reflect Trump’s corporate-friendly laissez-faire attitude towards big business, the question is: What can we expect from the Central Bank once it becomes the White House’s flunky?