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Sunday, 27 May 2018

Society is not a science problem (but science's problems are social)

Martin Geddes

"Scientists are the easiest to fool. ... They think in straight, predictable, directable, and therefore misdirectable, lines. The only world they know is the one where everything has a logical explanation and things are what they appear to be. Children and conjurors—they terrify me. Scientists are no problem; against them I feel quite confident."
— James P. Hogan, Code of the Lifemaker
I semi-jokingly describe my job as being a "humanistic technophilosopher". It sounds a bit grandiose, but it's really an attempt to capture a simple idea: in our technological society, the most interesting stuff happens at the boundary of the humanities and the sciences.

Whilst it is common for scientists to lament the innumeracy of their artistic counterparts, it is my observation that scientists can be equally naive about the social. In fact, they can be even more profoundly ignorant, since the artists know they are mathematical weaklings, but the numerate are conceited that their reductionist rationalism is the right tool for political problems.

Understanding why this widespread arrogance exists may prove illuminating, and this is best shown via an example. Several people have pointed me at a published scientific paper by an Oxford University researcher about the scaling properties of "conspiracies". (Defining one is problematic, as we shall see, hence the scare quotes.) Can we take its conclusion — conspiracies don't scale well — at face value?

The paper's fatal flaw is easy to spot in its abstract and abstraction (my emphasis): "In this work, we establish a simple mathematical model for conspiracies involving multiple actors with time, which yields failure probability for any given conspiracy." Anyone who thinks complex historical narratives collapse to binary probabilities is already in deep trouble! Indeed, the idea that there is a single truth in the social is extremely contentious.

What this paper attempts is to produce a universal model of all phenomena whereby an intentional deception is jointly maintained over time by a closed group. It assumes there is a single and well-defined class of narrative called a "conspiracy", and furthermore presumes that the author has the superior wisdom and raw data to personally discriminate between truth and lies. The scientist, you see, is not so easily duped! These are also perfectly "true or false" phenomena in their totality, both in their construction (is it a conspiracy or not?) and their extinction (they either fail totally, or don't at all).

Having been a childhood victim of a Masonic conspiracy — the Jehovah's Witnesses cult — that operates persistently in the open, I feel in a somewhat privileged position to comment on Dr Grimes's epistemological endeavour. In short, it is demonstrably foolish, and illustrates why physics journals, for the sake of their credibility and integrity, should stay well away from commenting on sociological matters.

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Saturday, 26 May 2018

On Accountability in the Light of Israeli Brutality

Gilad Atzmon 

These events in Gaza proved that the nature of Israeli barbarism has no precedent in human history. Israel is not a tyrannical dictatorship deploying death squads against protestors, nor were the killings the result of an outburst by a lone commander on the battlefield. Instead, Israel’s actions resulted from a non-ethical continuum that stretched from the Israeli PM to the last IDF sniper on the Gaza dunes. The Jewish state is a democracy. Its army is a popular army. The events in Gaza were the direct outcome of a policy that remained unchanged for 6 weeks despite the high level of civilian casualties in the Palestinian side.  We are talking about an murderous system that is institutionalised  at all levels of  the state that repeatedly defines itself as ‘The Jewish State.’

The world reacted in disgust. The UN voted two days ago to send an international war crimes probe to Gaza.  Israel has already refused to cooperate with this fact finding mission. 

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Comey Tweeted About His Righteous FBI Leadership; Then a Current FBI Agent Stood Up & Absolutely Wrecked Him: “You & the FBI Ruined Our Lives”

True Pundit

James Comey just got his world rocked by a current FBI Agent.

True Pundit has written about FBI Agent Omar Montoya, a decorated agent who sued the FBI for a series of wrongful workplace discrimination-related offenses.

Montoya took to Twitter to respond to a Comey Tweet from Wednesday.

And it was not pretty.

It could be considered the shot heard around the FBI world, as a current FBI agent stood up and hammered his former FBI boss. Perhap other agents will follow Montoya’s lead.

Montoya has stones, no doubt. That’s why he joined the FBI. More on that later.

Here is the exchange.

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SEKULOW: We Have Uncovered Thousands of Docs Showing Pay-to-Play Between Hillary State Department and Clinton Foundation

The Gateway Pundit

An attorney for Trump, Jay Sekulow announced Wednesday the American Center for Law and Justice uncovered thousands of documents showing Clinton Foundation pay-to-play with Hillary’s State Department through a FOIA lawsuit.

There was no firewall between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation as Hillary previously claimed to the public.

Via the ACLJ:
As part of our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Deep State Department, we have been informed that the State Department has located – and will be forced to turn over to the ACLJ – literally thousands of documents to and about the Clinton Foundation, its subsidiaries, and its senior operatives during the duration of Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State.
The shear volume alone – some 30,000 emails – debunks the specious assertion that there was any kind of firewall whatsoever between Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton Foundation.
These documents, only now being uncovered through our FOIA request and subsequent litigation, show extensive communications exchanged between Clinton or her senior staff at State Department and Doug Band – a senior aid at the Clinton Foundation and creatorof the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).
In recent court filings, the State Department has revealed that more than 8,700 documents exist in Cheryl Mills’ and/or Huma Abedin’s files which contain the single search term, “Doug Band.” It is possible, and indeed likely, that each document consists of several pages placing the number closer to 18,000 pages or more.
The ACLJ has also learned through our litigation that another 22,000 documents exist in Cheryl Mills’ and Huma Abedin’s files (not including attachments) mentioning or referring to the Clinton Foundation or a related term referencing the foundation.
Newly released documents show Doug Band served as a liaison for Clinton Foundation donors looking for favors and official acts from the Clinton-run State Department, the ACLJ reported.

Doug Band was the ‘go-to’ guy for Clinton Foundation donors. If they needed anything from Hillary Clinton, they would email Doug Band and within minutes he would forward the message to Huma Abedin and or Cheryl Mills to help expedite the favor.

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Assange willing to testify on alleged Russian hacking


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is reportedly willing to testify in the investigation surrounding alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
The claim that Assange is willing to speak to congressional investigators was made on Friday by his long-time associate, Randy Credico. Radio host Credico told MSNBC’s Ari Melber that Assange wanted to speak with Democrat Adam Schiff “clear this whole thing up.”

Credico challenged Schiff to travel to the UK to interview Assange, saying: “He’s got the credibility, Nixon went to China.”

He said that Assange would only speak with investigators if they came to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has been in self-imposed exile since 2012. He fears that if he leaves the sanctuary of the embassy, he would be extradited to the United States to face a raft of charges relating to the release of a trove of classified US intelligence material by WikiLeaks.

“Julian Assange is at the center of all of this, yet no one has interviewed him,” Credico said. However, he went on to say that Assange had not divulged what information he is willing to share with investigators.

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Zuckerberg wants your nude photos for “safe keeping”


Facebook is asking users to send nude pictures of themselves to “prevent” them from being shared publicly on the company’s various platforms. 

“We’re now partnering with safety organizations on a way for people to securely submit photos they fear will be shared without their consent, so we can block them from being uploaded to Facebook, Instagram and Messenger,” Facebook said in a statement. “This pilot program, starting in Australia, Canada, the UK and US, expands on existing tools for people to report this content to us if it’s already been shared.”

In the UK, Facebook users will call the “Revenge Porn Hotline” which will allow them to submit nude photos of themselves that Facebook will then flag as “not for distribution.”

In other words, Facebook wants to see your nude pics to “block” them from being spread on-line.

That’s right, Facebook, whose CEO once famously called his users “dumb fucks” for trusting him with their secrets, now expects you to submit your nudes for “safe keeping.”

Friday, 25 May 2018

Family Removes Alexa Devices After a Stranger in Another Town Heard Everything They Were Saying

Rachel Bevin
Free Thought Project

(Support Free Thought) - Portland, Oregon – A concerned family is speaking out after they claim that their Amazon Alexa device recorded a conversation they were having in their home, and sent it to a random contact who alerted them to the fact that he had heard everything they said.

A homeowner named Danielle, who asked for her last name to remain anonymous, told KIRO 7 that she and her husband were in their house, discussing home improvement projects and hardwood floors when they received an urgent call from one of her husband’s employees in Seattle.

The person on the other line said, ‘unplug your Alexa devices right now, you’re being hacked,‘” Danielle said.

“We unplugged all of them and he proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house,” she said. “At first, my husband was, like, ‘no you didn’t!’ And the (recipient of the message) said ‘You sat there talking about hardwood floors.’ And we said, ‘oh gosh, you really did hear us.'”

The employee sent the couple the email he had received with the audio files, and Danielle confirmed that it was, in fact, a direct recording of their conversation. She told KIRO 7 that the Amazon Alexa had access to every room in her house because it controlled the heating, lighting and security system in her home.

My husband and I would joke and say I’d bet these devices are listening to what we’re saying,” Danielle said, noting that they never imagined the smart device would record their private conversations and then make them public.

After unplugging all of the devices, Danielle said she called Amazon multiple times before she received a response. When an Alexa engineer finally looked into Danielle’s claims, she said he acknowledged that the device had recorded conversations inside her home and emailed them to a random contact, and he then apologized profusely.

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Trump Mocks The Deep State: 'What Goes Around, Comes Around!'

Charles Spierling
Information Liberation

This is epic.

From Breitbart:

President Donald J. Trump ridiculed the purveyors of the ongoing Russian investigation Wednesday, mocking them on Twitter for getting "caught" in a scandal.

"Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State," he wrote on Twitter. "They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!"

Trump quoted Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News who said that it was "clear" that the FBI had "eyes and ears all over the Trump campaign."

Here's his tweetstorm: 

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Naturopathy, The Medicinal Use of Herbs: Wikipedia’s Skeptical Assault on Botanical Medicine

Richard Gale and Dr. Gary Null
Global Research

Wikipedia’s co-founder Jimmy Wales claims to hold high standards of objectivity and balance in the content of the online encyclopedia and the integrity of his volunteer army of editors.  Indeed this is largely true; except when it comes to the composition and editing of alternative medical systems and natural healthcare. 

A group of individuals and organizations, collectively known as Skeptics, who assert they represent “science-based medicine” now portend to be the final arbiters of what is and is not good medical science practice. However, it is our opinion the Skeptics are extremely biased  towards erroneous, preconceived ideas and categorically refuse to accept an enormous volume of published medical research because it is contrary to Skepticism’s narrow and limited understanding of medical science.

Among the many alternative health modalities that are targeted, criticized and debunked by the leaders and followers of Skepticism and Science Based Medicine (SBM) are the medicinal uses of botanical plants and herbs.  Unfortunately Wikipedia increasingly parrots Skepticism’s biased attacks against medicinal herbs. As we reported in our earlier article “Wikipedia: Our New Technological McCarthyism,” the Skeptic community has now hijacked the editorial functions on Wikipedia’s entries dealing with alternative medical practices.

Of course, Skeptics do not claim to have any expertise in naturopathy, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, nor the medicinal use of herbs. Nor are they well-educated about botanical photochemistry and the use of botanical medicines for treating illnesses for centuries, even millennia, in traditional settings. Skeptics’ claims against botanicals are specious; they ignore the well-known fact that approximately 40 percent of drugs prescribed by conventional medical physicians are derived from botanicals that have been used for centuries. Furthermore, most of the top 20 drugs sold in the US today, including aspirin, are based upon a plant phytochemicals.[1] So are some common anti-cancer drugs such as Taxol (from a northwest pacific conifer/yew tree) — often given as a first line of treatment for certain breast cancers, the anti-leukemia drug Vinblastine or Vincristine (from an African periwinkle) and the anti-tumor drug Lapachol (from the Hawaiian trumpet tree).[2]

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‘Internet safety’ just means internet censorship

Fraser Myers

t the end of a week in which the House of Commons defeated Labour’s draconian plans to regulate the press, the Tories revealed their own draconian plans to regulate the internet. The culture secretary, Matt Hancock, has pledged to make Britain ‘the safest place in the world’ to be online. But when the world’s ‘safest’ internet is currently found in China, where access is heavily restricted and censored by the state, it becomes clear how terrifying the government’s safety agenda really could be.

Digital secretary Margot James told Sky News the government would order social-media firms to take down any ‘abusive’ content immediately. Fines for non-compliance could run up to four per cent of a firm’s global turnover, which could mean up to £1 billion for the largest firms. Just as clampdowns on press freedom are often justified with tough talk against the press barons, the war on social media is presented as a fight against the new social-media oligarchs. But, in truth, clampdowns on big tech are really just a proxy for clampdowns on us, the users. After all, it is we, the public, who actually produce all the supposedly vile, offensive and abusive content that social-media companies will be ordered to censor.

If anything, outsourcing censorship to social-media firms gives them more power over us, not less – certainly over what we can and can’t see in our timelines. What constitutes material that is abusive or offensive is highly subjective. Under Hancock’s plans, that judgement, for the most part, will be left in the hands of the big social-media companies. Even without legal pressure, Twitter has permanently banned alt-light commentator Milo Yiannopoulos and right-wing rabble-rouser Tommy Robinson. When so much political debate takes place on social media, we need to push back against these companies’ attempts to cleanse our newsfeeds of problematic material – not encourage it.

Sweden Warns Every Single Household to Prep for WAR

Daisy Luther 
The Organic Prepper 

The government of Sweden has produced a 20-page pamphlet which they’ll be sending to each of the 4.8 million households in the country urging them to get prepared for…WAR.
Although they haven’t been at war for over 200 years, for some reason, right now, they want their citizens to get prepped – and fast. This goes along with an article I wrote in January of 2018 when the government urged their people to be ready to cope “without help” for at least a week.
Shortly before Christmas, the Swedish government quietly published a paper called “Resilience.” Initially, the requirement had been for people to be prepared for 3 days without help, but it seems like that was a baby step. The government itself wants to be prepared for a 3-month long civil emergency and they’re urging citizens to take responsibility, too.
It really makes you wonder what is looming ahead, doesn’t it? (source)
This, however, is a direct approach, with the preparedness instructions delivered to their doors.

Here’s what the government of Sweden is recommending.

The booklet, titled, If Crisis or War Comes, is an updated version of one distributed in the 1980s. It was compiled by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) and references several potential crises that could occur, according to the Swedish media:

  • disruptions to IT systems
  • incidents occurring in the rest of the world
  • climate change
  •  increased tension in the Baltic region
The brochure warns Swedes of things that every prepper knows. “In the event of a societal emergency, help will be provided first to those who need it most. The majority must be prepared to cope on their own for some time.” Here’s what Swedish website The Local has to say about the warnings.

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Argentina Is Suddenly on the Verge of ANOTHER Economic Collapse

Daisy Luther
Activist Post

The economic collapse of Argentina in 2001 is the stuff of prepper legends. For years, it was the example that we pointed to when trying to convince others that, yes, it really can happen. (Now, of course, that example has been replaced by the dramatic fall of Venezuela.) There’s even a fantastic book about the Argentinian collapse with survival lessons that has fueled many a prepper to get stocked up, in which Fernando Aguirre, also known as FerFal, shared the inside story.

And now, sadly, it looks like just as hopeful Argentinians believed the country was getting back on its feet, another collapse could be imminent.

President Mauricio Macri, a business tycoon who vowed to reincorporate Argentina into the global economy, has asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a hefty credit line of at least $19.7 billion to see the country through the rest of his term, which ends in 2019.

When the IMF gets involved, it tends to be the beginning of the end, as we saw in Greece, whose crisis was at its peak between 2009 and 2016.

What happened during the previous Argentinian collapse

Back in the late 1990s, Argentina was suffering. Wages were decreasing, unemployment was increasing, and the government was getting deeper and deeper into debt. This all came to a head in 2001 when the Argentinian government defaulted on a whopping 100 billion dollars of that debt.

Overnight, interest rates skyrocketed and there was a run on the banks. The government froze all the accounts and allowed patrons a small trickle of money only once per week. The banks converted all dollar accounts into pesos at the previous exchange rate (pre-default) and suddenly everyone with a deposit account lost 3/4s of their wealth, just like that.

This, of course, resulted in social unrest, riots, and rage against the government and the banking system. What followed was several years of extreme poverty and desperation for the Argentinian people.

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Thursday, 24 May 2018

Landmark lawsuit claims Monsanto hid cancer danger of weedkiller for decades

Carey Gillam
The Guardian

In June, a California groundskeeper will make history by taking company to trial on claims it suppressed harm of Roundup

Monsanto has been accused of hiding the dangers of its popular Roundup products for decades, a claim the company denies. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters.

At the age of 46, DeWayne Johnson is not ready to die. But with cancer spread through most of his body, doctors say he probably has just months to live. Now Johnson, a husband and father of three in California, hopes to survive long enough to make Monsanto take the blame for his fate.

On 18 June, Johnson will become the first person to take the global seed and chemical company to trial on allegations that it has spent decades hiding the cancer-causing dangers of its popular Roundup herbicide products – and his case has just received a major boost.
Last week Judge Curtis Karnow issued an order clearing the way for jurors to consider not just scientific evidence related to what caused Johnson’s cancer, but allegations that Monsanto suppressed evidence of the risks of its weed killing products. Karnow ruled that the trial will proceed and a jury would be allowed to consider possible punitive damages.

“The internal correspondence noted by Johnson could support a jury finding that Monsanto has long been aware of the risk that its glyphosate-based herbicides are carcinogenic … but has continuously sought to influence the scientific literature to prevent its internal concerns from reaching the public sphere and to bolster its defenses in products liability actions,” Karnow wrote. “Thus there are triable issues of material fact.”

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Bitcoin miners are using as much energy as Ireland - study


The process of mining new bitcoin is now so intensive that computers carrying out the process are using nearly as much electricity as the entire country of Ireland. 
A new study by economist Alex de Vries estimates that bitcoin mining consumes at least 2.55 gigawatts of electricity and, by the end of the year, that will have risen to 7.67 gigawatts – as much as Austria consumes in the same period.

Mining the cryptocurrency involves computers solving complex mathematical problems. As the amount of bitcoin left to mine grows smaller and smaller, the problems become increasingly complex, meaning they require an even greater amount of computing power.

"Half a Million Play-stations"

Due to the secretive nature of mining, the research is based on speculative figures. The cryptocurrency’s network is estimated to have around 10,000 connected nodes, but a single node in the network can represent either one or many machines.

“A hashrate of 14 terahashes per second can either come from a single Antminer S9 running on just 1,372 watts, or more than half a million PlayStation 3 devices running on 40 megawatts,” the research says.

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Russia provides exhaustive evidence that Ukrainian BUK systems were used in downing MH17


Russia has provided exhaustive evidence pointing to the involvement of the Ukrainian BUK system crews in the destruction of the MH17 flight, Russian Defense Ministry said.

"The Russian Defense Ministry, both in the first hours after the tragedy, and in the future, officially denied the insinuations of the Ukrainian side about the alleged involvement of Russian servicemen in the skies of Ukraine and brought the relevant evidence to the Dutch investigation team. Not a single anti-aircraft missile system of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation has ever crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border," the Russian Defense Ministry report said.

Dutch investigators in the case of the Boeing crash did not take into account eyewitness testimonies regarding the launch of a missile from territory controlled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the Russian Defense Ministry added.

"Within the framework of cooperation with Dutch law enforcement agencies, the Russian side presented exhaustive evidence... including field tests that clearly indicate the involvement of the Ukrainian Buk systems in the destruction of the passenger Boeing [aircraft] from the Netherlands in the sky of Ukraine," the Russian Defense Ministry said added.

"No airborne targets approaching the Boeing passenger plane from the eastern side, including from the direction of Snezhnoye or Pervomayskoye were detected by this radar," the ministry stressed.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Thursday expressed concern that the Dutch-led investigation of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine in 2014 justifies its conclusions by using only images from social networks that have been expertly processed by computer graphics editing tools.
Earlier on Thursday, head of the Dutch National Police's Central Crime Investigation department Wilbert Paulissen said the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) had come to the conclusion that the missile had been launched by the Buk missile system belonging to the Russian Armed Forces.

The Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, while flying to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. All 298 passengers and crew on board the aircraft died. Ukrainian government forces and the local militias traded accusations regarding the incident, which occurred at a time of heavy fighting in the region.

The JIT, made up of Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, tasked with probing the crash, found that the airliner was downed by a Buk missile system, which was brought from Russia and returned there after the crash. However, Russia's Almaz-Antey, which developed the Buk missile system, rejected the findings, saying that three simulations showed that the missile was launched from the Zaroshchenske area, which was controlled by the Ukrainian army at the time of the downing.

In April, Almaz-Antey said that Russian radars did not register a missile launch targeting flight MH17, although it would have been technically possible.

The conflict in Donbass started in 2014, when Ukrainian authorities launched a military operation against the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics that refused to recognize the new government in Kiev, which came to power after what they considered to be a coup. 

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Palestinians regularly arrested for Facebook 'incitement' - but Israelis get away with it

Danielle Alma Ravitzki

When I first heard of Dareen Tatour's story, I had this terrible feeling deep inside. I am a musician myself, I know what it is like to express oneself through art. I imagined myself in her place, being arrested and persecuted for my art. Dareen is a Palestinian poet placed under house arrest since 2015, indicted for incitement to violence against the Israeli regime through a poem she posted on Facebook. Then it dawned on me that this could not actually happen to me, since I am a Jewish citizen of Israel, not a Palestinian. Israel has this tendency to oppress minority groups, and non-Jews specifically, through its homicidal apartheid regime. I reached out to Dareen, and we immediately connected. I met a beautiful young woman, so intelligent, so loving. We became friends immediately.

This April, after an extended legal saga of over two-and-a-half years, I joined Dareen at her final court hearing in Nazareth. Driving for hours on my way there, I had an ominous premonition. Her story is nothing but Kafkaesque, and her condemnation will most probably give rise to a wave of schadenfreude on the part of Israelis, quick to rejoice at the misfortune (and injustice) of weaker populations. When I walked into the courtroom, the judge was whispering and reciting her verdict very fast: "Dareen is convicted of incitement and support of terrorism." She said it in such a low voice, she was asked to repeat her words louder a couple of times. Her stance was that after Dareen published her poem, there were many terrorist attacks against Israeli Jews. Yet, was the judge not deliberately ignoring the numerous attacks made towards Palestinians at that same time exactly? The verdict had a strong air of discrimination, it is unjust, and it is down-right detrimental to the freedom of speech and expression. This verdict not only silences art, it criminalizes it.

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As Evidence Piles Up, The Media Ignore The 'Other' Trump-Russia Scandal

Investors Business Daily

 "...while the Mueller investigation sputters along, the evidence of political abuse at the FBI and Justice is piling up."


Scandalous Media Bias: There have been two major ongoing investigations involving President Trump. One is looking into whether Trump colluded with Russia. It's borne no fruit. The other involves abuse of power at the highest levels of government to hurt Trump and is producing damning evidence by the bushel. Guess which one the press is ignoring?

National Review reporter John Fund relates an interesting story. He was waiting to go on the air and struck up a conversation with another prominent reporter in the network's green room.

Why, he asked, aren't reporters actively investigating the suspicious activities at the Justice Department and the FBI regarding the Trump/Russia and Hillary/email investigations?

Fund says the reporter "bluntly told me 'There's only room for one narrative on all this. And it's all about Trump.' "

You might think that reporters are chasing facts wherever they might lead, and "speaking truth to power," especially when that power involves the CIA, FBI and Justice Department.

Instead, it's all about the "narrative."

And when it comes to the Russia story, the only narrative the press will consider is that Trump somehow colluded with Russia to steal the election from Hillary Clinton. Or if not that, he did something illegal or improper that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will ferret out.

Anything that doesn't fit this narrative gets dismissed as conspiracy talk, fueled by conservatives and Trump supporters, to distract attention from the "real" story. 

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'All results were negative': FIFA anti-doping probe exonerates Russian football players

Frank Sellers
The Duran

The same party line that excluded Russia from participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics was again used to dampen Russia's credibility and its team's eligibility to compete in the tournament, which Russia will be hosting.

That line is that Russia cheats by doping up its players to give them an unfair edge over that of other nation's teams in order to score victory for Russia, which would then be used as a part of Russia's propaganda to show the world how great it is.

That's the party line, anyhow. But this time it hasn't worked. This time there's no 'whistleblower', but a report that led to a probe that, like the Mueller probe which investigates alleged Russian 'collusion' with the Trump campaign, failed to turn up any evidence.
The probe didn't find any evidence of doping, and the players, who were likely to participate in the World Cup competition, were exonerated.  

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Israel announces plans for 2,500 homes in occupied W. Bank days after Gaza bloodshed


Israel says it plans to build 2,500 new settler homes in the West Bank in violation of a 2016 UNSC resolution. It comes just days after the IDF killed dozens of Palestinians protesting the Israeli occupation. 
Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday that he was finalizing plans for the construction of new homes in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Writing on Twitter, Lieberman said he would seek approval for the project next week, expressing hope that the regional planning board – the High Planning Council in Judea and Samaria – would designate 1,400 of the housing units for immediate construction.

“We will promote building in all of Judea and Samaria, from the north to south, in small communities and in large ones,” Lieberman wrote, using the Biblical names for the West Bank. Some 500,000 Israelis already live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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Robotic bee could help pollinate crops as real bees decline

Comment: Well, what could possibly go wrong? Er. Everything?

You know something is really amiss when Walmart starts to get involved...
This is going to make a bad situation worse for so many reasons. a) It's the same reductionist mindset that creates such problems in the first place. In other words, mimicking nature in a bid to replace complex biodiversity dynamics doesn't work. b) It will be expensive as well as potentially harmful not just to other insects, making it more likely that it will further reduce the bee population not assist it. (Drone bees have rotor blades and are mechanical, ergo... c) This is a bid to make a big bucks not to solve the problem.


New Scientist

A drone that can pollinate flowers may one day work side by side with bees to improve crop yields.

About three-quarters of global crop species, from apples to almonds, rely on pollination by bees and other insects. But pesticides, land clearing and climate change have caused declines in many of these creatures, creating problems for farmers.

Pollination is needed for reproduction in flowering plants. Male flower parts, or stamens, produce pollen that fertilises female parts, known as pistils, to make seeds. In self-pollinating flowers, the stamen sheds pollen directly onto the pistil.

Cross-pollination, however, requires the transfer of pollen from one plant to another. This mostly relies on pollen becoming stuck to the bodies of bees and other insects when they feed on flowers, and then being deposited on the next plant they visit. It has advantages over self-pollination, in that it increases genetic diversity and improves the quantity and quality of crops.

Eijiro Miyako at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and his colleagues have used the principle of cross-pollination in bees to make a drone that transports pollen between flowers.

Read more (+video) 

See also:  'Drone Bees' Are Comically Inept, Expensive and Dangerous to Real Bees

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

New DARPA Program Plans To Patrol Cities With AI Drones

Zero Hedge

On May 10, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) unveiled the Urban Reconnaissance through Supervised Autonomy (URSA) program, which addresses the issues of reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition within urban environments.

The primary objective of the URSA program is to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of blending unmanned aerial systems, sensor technologies, and advanced machine learning algorithms to “enable improved techniques for rapidly discriminating hostile intent and filtering out threats in complex urban environments,” said FedBizOpps.

In other words, the Pentagon is developing a program of high-tech cameras mounted on drones and other robots that monitor cities, which enable identification and discrimination between civilians and terrorists through machine learning computers.

DARPA provides a simple scenario of what a URSA engagement would look like: 

“A static sensor located near an overseas military installation detects an individual moving across an urban intersection and towards the installation outside of normal pedestrian pathways. An unmanned aerial system (UAS) equipped with a loudspeaker delivers a warning message. The person is then observed running into a neighboring building. Later, URSA detects an individual emerging from a different door at the opposite end of the building, but confirms it is the same person and sends a different UAS to investigate.
This second UAS determines that the individual has resumed movement toward a restricted area. It releases a nonlethal flash-bang device at a safe distance to ensure the individual attends to the second message and delivers a sterner warning. This second UAS takes video of the subject and determines that the person’s gait and direction are unchanged even when a third UAS flies directly in front of the person and illuminates him with an eye-safe laser dot. URSA then alerts the human supervisor and provides a summary of these observations, warning actions, and the person’s responses and current location.”
The URSA program is a two-phase, 36-month development effort. The first phase of concept/development will begin in the first quarter of FY19 and continue into the second half of FY20. Phase two will start in 3Q20 and continue through 2Q22.

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