Tag Archives | News

Why US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is the Biggest Threat to World Peace


Brian Cloughley writes at CounterPunch:

The terrorist threat posed by the barbarians of Islamic State is clearly of most serious concern to much of the world — but there are other threats of equal immediacy, not the least being the determination of Washington to continue confronting Russia and China.

The US Navy Times headline of November 5 summed up Washington’s policy as regards the South China Sea by recording that “Pentagon chief takes jab at China with aircraft carrier stop.”

This intriguing insight to America’s official thinking about China was one result of the visit by intellectual US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an enormous aircraft carrier in the South China Sea where, ten days previously, on  October 27, the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen had been ordered to try to provoke China to react to a coat-trailing confrontational incursion into territorial waters claimed by China.

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Scientists work with artists to learn more about the brain

Halogen Gallery (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Halogen Gallery (CC BY-SA 2.0)

University of Houston via ScienceDaily:

Researchers from the University of Houston have analyzed brain activity data collected from more than 400 people who viewed an exhibit at the Menil Collection, offering evidence that useable brain data can be collected outside of a controlled laboratory setting. They also reported the first real-world demonstration of what happens in the brain as people observe artwork.

“You can do testing in the lab, but it’s very artificial,” said Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering at UH. “We were looking at how to measure brain activity in action and in context.”

The researchers reported their findings in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. In addition to Contreras-Vidal, the research team included Kimberly Kontson and Eugene Civillico, scientists with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; artist Dario Robleto; Menil curator Michelle White, and Murad Megjhani, Justin Brantley, Jesus Cruz-Garza and Sho Nakagome, all of whom work in the UH Laboratory for Non-Invasive Brain Machine Interfaces.

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Sorry, Einstein. Quantum Study Suggests ‘Spooky Action’ Is Real.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 7.11.19 PM

Part of the laboratory setup for an experiment at Delft University of Technology, in which two diamonds were set 1.3 kilometers apart, entangled and then shared information. Credit Frank Auperle/Delft University of Technology


John Markoff via NYTimes:

In a landmark study, scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlandsreported that they had conducted an experiment that they say proved one of the most fundamental claims of quantum theory — that objects separated by great distance can instantaneously affect each other’s behavior.

The finding is another blow to one of the bedrock principles of standard physics known as “locality,” which states that an object is directly influenced only by its immediate surroundings. The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated “spooky action at a distance,” and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion.

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Australia to lift ban on medical cannabis

Hog's Breath, Sativa-3
Australia is about to legalize medical marijuana.

Hilary Whiteman via CNN:

The Australian government has announced plans to allow cannabis to be legally grown for medical and scientific purposes.

Under current laws, marijuana is classified as an illegal drug, and while penalties vary from state to state, people who grow, use, possess or sell it can be fined or sent to prison.

In a statement Saturday, the government said the Narcotics Drugs Act 1967 would be amended to allow the drug to be grown locally, without breaching the country’s international obligations as a signatory to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961.

“This Government is incredibly sympathetic to the suffering of those Australians with debilitating illnesses and we want to enable access to the most effective medical treatments available,” Health Minister Sussan Ley said in a statement.

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h/t Trevor Smith

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Announcing the Sploid Short Film Festival

As Disinfo’s 5am Film Series has been mildly successful, I thought readers would be interested in Sploid’s Short Film Festival. They’re still accepting submissions (until Oct. 31) and viewers can vote by liking the films on YouTube.

For more information on this, go here.

As of this post, here are the films that are currently showing (at least one of these has been featured here).


Zerogon is a lonely creature, from a lonely planet, who becomes abducted into the false allure of a computer generated world.

Directed by John Mattiuzzi and Joshua Planz.

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Mysterious Wooden Idol Found in Russia is 11,000 years old


The Shigir Idol was found in a peat bog in Russia over 125 years ago. It had previously been dated at 9,500 years old, but new research from Mannheim, Germany suggests the idol is actually 11,000 years old. That’s twice as old as Stonehenge and the Pyramids. Even more mysterious, the idol is covered in some kind of “encrypted code.”

Professor Mikhail Zhilin of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archeology said: ‘The ornament is covered with nothing but encrypted information. People were passing on knowledge with the help of the Idol.’

The researchers in Mannheim, Germany used tiny fragments of the idol for analysis by Accelerated Mass Spectrometry to determine its new age.

For more reading: The Huffington Post and Yahoo News.

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With Final Stamp of Approval, White House Places Fate of Arctic in Shell’s Hands

Activists in Seattle protest against Shell's Arctic drilling plans. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

Activists in Seattle protest against Shell’s Arctic drilling plans. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. See more of Lauren McCauley’s posts here.

Placing the “fate of the Arctic” in the care of Big Oil, the Obama administration on Monday granted Shell the final permit to drill deep into the waters off the Alaskan coast.

The permit, issued by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), comes days after President Barack Obama announced an upcoming Alaska visit to highlight what he said was “one of the greatest challenges we face this century: climate change.”

Shell applied for the permit after the icebreaker, the MSV Fennica, was held up due to damage. The vessel carries the “capping stack,” which the BSEE requires to be easily deployed ahead of drilling in potential oil-bearing zones “in the unlikely event of a loss of well control.”

“The capping stack, staged on the vessel M/V Fennica, is now in the region and capable of being deployed within 24 hours,” the BSEE statement said.… Read the rest

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Are we entering a digital dark age?

This podcast explores the risks of humanity storing as much info as it is on digital formats. Of interesting note, when NASA turned off Voyager 1‘s camera to save on battery usage, no computer remained in existence which could decode the date from the satellite’s camera system.

It is possible for the cameras to be turned on, but it is not a priority for Voyager’s Interstellar Mission. After Voyager 1 took its last image (the “Solar System Family Portrait” in 1990), the cameras were turned off to save power and memory for the instruments expected to detect the new charged particle environment of interstellar space. Mission managers removed the software from both spacecraft that controls the camera. The computers on the ground that understand the software and analyze the images do not exist anymore.

From OnTheMedia’s website:

On this week’s episode of On the Media, we’re engaging in some chillingly informed speculation: what would happen if we, as a species, lost access to our electronic records?

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Is There a Human Right to Kill?

tai chang hsien (CC BY-NC 2.0)

tai chang hsien (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon write at CounterPunch:

On a cool spring day in May 2012, the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) met in McCormick Place, Chicago. The 28 heads of state comprising the military alliance had come to the Windy City to discuss the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan, among other strategic matters. Nearly a decade before, in August 2003, NATO had assumed control of the International Security Assistance Force, a coalition of more than 30 countries that had sent soldiers to occupy the most troubled regions in Afghanistan. Not long before the Chicago summit, President Barack Obama had publicly declared that the United States would begin pulling out its troops from Afghanistan and that a complete withdrawal would be achieved by 2014. NATO was therefore set to decide on the details of a potential exit strategy.

A few days before the summit, placards appeared in bus stops around downtown Chicago urging NATO not to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.

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