VIDEO: Peace Prize Laureate Launches Campaign to Stop Killer Robots After Winning Ban on Landmines


From DemocracyNow!:

In 1997 Jody Williams won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. In 2013 she helped launch the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. “Who is accountable? Is it the man who programmed it? Is it Lockheed Martin, who built it?” Williams asks in an interview at The Hague, where she has joined 1,000 female peace activists gathered to mark the founding of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Williams notes how some “spider-like” robots that spray tear gas are now used for crowd control, but could be stopped before they become widespread. She recalls how she was previously able to “force the governments of the world to come together and discuss [landmines]. They thought they would fly under the radar … A small group of people can and do change the world.”

Full Story at DemocracyNow.org

More info at StopKillerRobots.org

Watch a 2012 video of Amy Goodman speaking with Jody Williams on killer robots.… Read the rest

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The Future of Religion Is Bleak

Prof. Daniel C. Dennett, co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University and co-author, with Linda LaScola, of Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind, explains why the future of religion is bleak, at the Wall Street Journal:

Religion has been waning in influence for several centuries, especially in Europe and North America. There have been a few brief and local revivals, but in recent years the pace of decline has accelerated.

Today one of the largest categories of religious affiliation in the world—with more than a billion people—is no religion at all, the “Nones.” One out of six Americans is already a None; by 2050, the figure will be one out of four, according to a new Pew Research Center study. Churches are being closed by the hundreds, deconsecrated and rehabilitated as housing, offices, restaurants and the like, or just abandoned.

Religion economy.png

The national income of countries correlates negatively with their religiosity.

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We Stand to Lose Everything

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core.

 

We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.
— Carl Sagan

As the 100th anniversary of World War I rolls around, dignitaries and diplomats are commemorating the costly victories and tragic losses of that brutal and gaseous four-year melee which resulted in the deaths of somewhere between ten to sixteen million people. World War I set the stage for its horrific sequel, World War II, which showcased another four years of agonizing mayhem, replicated genocides, and the creation of a Hell on Earth. Millions of people died on battlefields, in death camps, and of disease, starvation, and lack of sanitation in galactic pits of unfathomable misery and suffering. World War II then set the stage for the Cold War, in which the United States, the Soviet Union, and eventually other jingoistic nuclear powers, held humanity hostage through aggressive threats of apocalyptic war.… Read the rest

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The White House Correspondents’ Dinner: Establishment-Friendly Edginess

Washington D.C. is, as the old saying goes, “like Hollywood for ugly people.” Lawmakers, policy wonks, and (lest we forget) lobbyists didn’t work their way inside the beltway just to sit around all day being prestigious, they like a bit of spectacle just like the rest of us. And if that spectacle ultimately serves to inflate their already bloated egos, all the better.

And thus, the rationale for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (or “WHCD”, if you’re one of those pretentious assholes who also insists on calling the president the “POTUS” and the supreme court the “SCOTUS”). It’s a night for the DC establishment to show us common folks that they don’t take themselves too seriously — which, incidentally, is something they’re very serious about.

Perhaps the most memorable Correspondents’ Dinner came in 2006, with Stephen Colbert’s epic roast of George W. Bush. It was a cathartic moment for everyone fed up with Bush’s disastrous presidency, and it had such a profound effect on Bush that he continued to be a disaster all the way up to the end of his term, at which point he decamped to Dallas to draw pictures of dogs and Vladimir Putin.… Read the rest

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Babies as young as six months using mobile media

SparkCBC (CC BY-SA 2.0)

SparkCBC (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The American Academy of Pediatrics via ScienceDaily:

More than one-third of babies are tapping on smartphones and tablets even before they learn to walk or talk, and by 1 year of age, one in seven toddlers is using devices for at least an hour a day, according to a study to be presented Saturday, April 25 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in San Diego.

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of entertainment media such as televisions, computers, smartphones and tablets by children under age 2. Little is known, however, when youngsters actually start using mobile devices.

Researchers developed a 20-item survey to find out when young children are first exposed to mobile media and how they use devices. The questionnaire was adapted from the “Zero to Eight” Common Sense Media national survey on media use in children.

Parents of children ages 6 months to 4 years old who were at a hospital-based pediatric clinic that serves a low-income, minority community were recruited to fill out the survey.

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Congress’ Hare-Brained Scheme to Shoot Rain From the Skies

dyrenforthThe headline sounds like the latest Snowpiercer-style geoengineering, but in fact it’s a history piece by Cynthia Barnett at Politico looking back at the original “Rain Maker”:

In August 1891, Robert St. George Dyrenforth, a Washington patent attorney, arrived by train to the small Midland, Texas, station in a desolate stretch of the southern plains. He had sent ahead a freight car with a bewildering assemblage of rabble: mortars, casks, barometers, electrical conductors, seven tons of cast-iron borings, six kegs of blasting powder, eight tons of sulfuric acid, one ton of potash, 500 pounds of manganese oxide, an apparatus for making oxygen and another for hydrogen, 10- and 20-foot-tall muslin balloons and supplies for building enormous kites.

Dyrenforth, his odd freight, and a small group of self-styled experts—“all of whom know a great deal, some of them having become bald-headed in their earnest search for theoretical knowledge,” joked a pundit—were met by local cattle ranchers.

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Vines and Minds — The DMT-Nexus at Aya2014

Via The Nexian:

This presentation was given by Raph Borges and David Nickles at the Aya2014 conference in Ibiza, Spain.

Despite numerous published scientific papers and anecdotal reports indicating the presence of DMT in a wide variety of plants, there is much ambiguity, contradiction, and speculation regarding the actual chemical composition of many of these plants. Discussions of indigenous preparations, which include DMT-containing plants, often treat the phytochemistry of the β-carboline-containing plants as fairly uniform. However, new examinations of these plants, utilizing modern analytical techniques, have shown them to contain a variety of compounds in differing ratios.

The DMT-Nexus has carried out unique chromatography and mass spectrometry analyses of specimens reported to contain DMT and β-carbolines, from both novel and previously examined species complexes. Thus far, we have tested species within the Acacia, Phalaris, Psychotria, Banisteriopsis and related genera, as well as Mimosa tenuiflora and Diplopterys cabrerana.

This research has elucidated questions and hypotheses regarding: indigenous botanical preparations; identities of plants found in the global market of entheogenic vendors; and the phytochemistry of plants that ethnobotanical researchers encounter in their own geographic regions.… Read the rest

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Evil Conspiracies

John Michell by Richard Adams.jpg

John Michell by Richard Adams (CC)

When I was at school the history master warned us about conspiracy theories. These, he said, are adopted by weak-minded people who cannot accept that the stupid, unjust way of the world is a result of normal human confusion, and believe that a sinister group of plotters must be behind it all.

This was the first time I had heard of conspiracy theory, and the master’s warning had the natural effect of attracting me to it. Previously I had read that the non-existence of witches was a rumour put around for their own security by witches themselves, and this dubious information led me to suspect that our teacher was up to the same game. Why should he forbid us to seek out conspiracies unless he himself was involved in one?

Freed at last from the influence of academic opinions I went properly into the subject, beginning with the infamous Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a tract that has been held largely responsible for the persecution and murder of Jews in modern Europe.… Read the rest

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Are Corporations Finally Cutting The Crap From Our Food?

It seems that at least some giant corporations have finally understood that we don’t want crap in our food, whether the crap concerned is chemical additives, high fructose corn syrup or genetically modified organisms. Last week saw an announcement by Kraft that it would eliminate chemicals from its mac and cheese and by Pepsi that it would eliminate aspartame from Diet Pepsi; this week starts with news (reported by the New York Times) from Chipotle that they won’t be serving any genetically altered food:

In a first for a major restaurant chain, Chipotle Mexican Grill on Monday will begin serving only food that is free of genetically engineered ingredients.

Chipotle

Photo: Thomas Hawk (CC)

 

“This is another step toward the visions we have of changing the way people think about and eat fast food,” said Steve Ells, founder and co-chief executive of Chipotle. “Just because food is served fast doesn’t mean it has to be made with cheap raw ingredients, highly processed with preservatives and fillers and stabilizers and artificial colors and flavors.”

In 2013, Chipotle was the first restaurant chain to indicate which items contained genetically modified organisms, and a small but growing number of restaurants, largely in fine dining, also now label their menus.

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