• 05 APR 18

    Did wi-fi hotspots bring down Russian mail drone?

    Someday, in the future, our skies will be full of whirring machines delivering anything we could ever want or need, from medical supplies to pizzas to the latest item from our Amazon overlords.That day is not today.
    On Monday, Russia’s postal service tested a delivery drone in the city of Ulan-Ude, Siberia. Instead, though, the drone crashed violently into a wall of nearby building, turning the UAV into a mess of jumbled parts… SNIP

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    • 29 MAR 18

    Virtual Reality Can Leave You With an Existential Hangover

    From The Atlantic

    After exploring a virtual world, some people can’t shake the sense that the actual world isn’t real, either.

    Rebecca Searles, Dec,21, 2016

    Excerpt:
    When Tobias van Schneider slips on a virtual reality headset to play Google’s Tilt Brush, he becomes a god. His fingertips become a fiery paintbrush in the sky. A flick of the wrist rotates the clouds. He can jump effortlessly from one world that he created to another.When the headset comes off, though, it’s back to a dreary reality. And lately van Schneider has been noticing some unsettling lingering effects. “What stays is a strange feeling of sadness and disappointment when participating in the real world, usually on the same day,” he wrote on the blogging platform Medium last month. “The sky seems less colorful and it just feels like I’m missing the ‘magic’ (for the lack of a better word). … I feel deeply disturbed and often end up just sitting there, staring at a wall.”Van Schneider dubs the feeling “post-VR sadness.” SNIP

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    • 28 MAR 18

    Is our smart technology contributing to the Antarctic melting?

    Continuing on from the last two blogs, consider the possibility that our ‘smart’ technology is a not-insignificant contributing factor in the rapid and increasing melting of the Antarctic ice shelfs – with dire consequences for our modern high-tech world. The following article appears in the July 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine. It was first published on June 14, 2017 and updated on July 12 with news of the Larsen C break…
    The Larsen C Ice Shelf Collapse Is Just the Beginning—Antarctica Is Melting. The massive iceberg that broke off the Larsen C Ice Shelf may be a harbinger of a continent-wide collapse that would swamp coastal cities around the world.

    Excerpt

    Seen from above, the Pine Island Ice Shelf is a slow-motion train wreck. Its buckled surface is scarred by thousands of large crevasses. Its edges are shredded by rifts a quarter mile across. In 2015 and 2016 a 225-square-mile chunk of it broke off the end and drifted away on the Amundsen Sea. The water there has warmed by more than a degree Fahrenheit over the past few decades, and the rate at which ice is melting and calving has quadrupled…SNIP

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    • 21 FEB 18

    The Mystery of “Sonic Health Attacks” on Havana-Based Diplomats may have been from high-power microwave radiation

    Published in Radio Science Bulletin, No. 362 (September 2017) and available online through IEEE Xplore

    By James C. Lin, University of Illinois at Chicago

    Excerpt:

    The Mystery of “Sonic Health Attacks” on Havana-Based Diplomats

    For the past few weeks, media outlets have been reporting on the US State Department’s disclosure that Havana- based US diplomats were experiencing health issues [1-5]. Their residences were described to have been targeted with bursts of sound waves….Wait a minute. There actually may be a scientific explanation. It is plausible that the loud buzzing, burst of sound, or acoustic pressure waves may have been covertly delivered using high-power microwave radiation, instead of blasting the subjects with conventional sonic sources. SNIP

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    • 18 FEB 18

    A psychological perspective on the Havana “Sonic attack”: Its all just a mass psychogenic illness (Psychology Today)

    It’s perhaps inevitable that if you are a psychologist you would tend to be biassed towards considering the strange sonic occurrence at the US Embassy in Havana as a possible psychological problem, especially given that there is no explanation on what really happened. According to New Zealand sociologist and skeptic Robert Bartholomew, writing in Psychology Today (below), a likely explanation is a mass psychogenic illness (MPI). This is essentially mass hysteria or a mass nocebo effect which can tend to be diagnosed when a number of people exhibit strange behavior and those who are making the diagnosis do not know why. So, with no known reason why these 20 or so people in Havana have had these strange symptoms the psychologist’s viewpoint rides to the rescue – ‘Something is affecting these people and as there is no known cause for their affliction, it’s most likely a mass psychogenic illness!’

    An all too convenient label to a dismiss any number of environmental health issues, not just whatever is happening in Havana.

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    • 18 FEB 18

    “Sonic Weapon Attacks” on U.S. Embassy Don’t Add Up—for Anyone (Scientific American)

    HAVANA—Heated charges have flown back and forth for months between the two countries that bracket the Strait of Florida. U.S. State Department officials contended Cuba staged a sonic attack on employees of the American embassy, causing a variety of neurological symptoms. Cuba has not only denied such an attack ever took place but has also emphasized the physical impossibility of a sound wave causing neurological damage trained on such a distant target.

    But physicians and scientists from both countries now appear to be in agreement on one critical point: Both sides acknowledge they are baffled as to what happened to 24 embassy employees who were diagnosed with mild traumatic brain damage between November 2016 and August 2017. SNIP

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    • 17 FEB 18

    The X Files: Experts Confirm U.S. Diplomats Suffered Concussions From a Still Unknown Source

    A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) confirms the U.S. diplomats who suffered concussion-like symptoms in Cuba did, in fact, have concussions — without ever being hit on the head. This is real X-Files stuff!

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    • 15 DEC 17

    FCC repeals net neutrality rules, allowing Internet providers to speed up, slow down or block service for apps and websites

    From the Washington Post

    By Brian Fung, December 14, 2017

    Excerpt

    Federal regulators voted Thursday to allow Internet providers to speed up service for websites they favor — and block or slow down others — in a decision repealing landmark, Obama-era regulations overseeing broadband companies such as AT&T and Verizon.

    The move by the Federal Communications Commission to deregulate the telecom and cable industries was a prominent example of the policy shifts taking place in Washington under President Trump and a major setback for consumer groups, tech companies and Democrats who had lobbied heavily against the decision.

    The 3-2 vote, which was along party lines, enabled the FCC’s Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, to follow through on his promise to repeal the government’s 2015 net neutrality rules, which required Internet providers to treat all websites, large and small, equally. The agency also rejected some of its own authority over the broadband industry in a bid to stymie future FCC officials who might seek to reverse the Republican-led ruling. SNIP

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    • 18 OCT 17

    Huge Amounts of Radiation Won’t Harm You, Pruitt’s EPA Claims

    Scott Pruitt, chief of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), isn’t just going about destroying environmental safeguards; he has now issued a “guideline” document that states that excessive exposure to radiation is safe for human life. That means he’s not only allowing more pollution that can contribute to ill health and degradation of the environment, but he is also putting us at risk when it comes to radiation. According to Bloomberg,

    In the event of a dirty bomb or a nuclear meltdown, emergency responders can safely tolerate radiation levels equivalent to thousands of chest X-rays, the Environmental Protection Agency said in new guidelines that ease off on established safety levels…. SNIP

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    • 04 SEP 17

    Kicking sacred cows: Perhaps flu vaccinations for the very elderly are not advisable?

    Six deaths confirmed at Tasmania’s Strathdevon aged care home
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-02/six-flu-nursing-home-deaths-in-tasmania/8866068

    “All precautions to prevent an outbreak ahead of the flu season were taken, with 95 per cent of Strathdevon’s 37 residents receiving a flu vaccination,” it said in the statement.
    “All staff were offered the free vaccine, with a large number of them being immunised. “Unfortunately, despite these precautions, 31 residents were affected during the outbreak period.
    “All appropriate care was provided, with nine residents admitted to hospital for further treatment.
    “Staff did everything possible to contain and minimise the outbreak and followed all protocols, working closely with Public Health Tasmania and managing according to state Department of Heath infection control guidelines.” SNIP

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    • 31 JUL 17

    The Poison Papers

    100,000 Pages of Chemical Industry Secrets Gathered Dust in an Oregon Barn for Decades — Until Now

    From The Intercept

    Sharon Lerner

    July 27 2017, 12:43 a.m.

    For decades, some of the dirtiest, darkest secrets of the chemical industry have been kept in Carol Van Strum’s barn. Creaky, damp, and prowled by the occasional black bear, the listing, 80-year-old structure in rural Oregon housed more than 100,000 pages of documents obtained through legal discovery in lawsuits against Dow, Monsanto, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Air Force, and pulp and paper companies, among others.

    As of today, those documents and others that have been collected by environmental activists will be publicly available through a project called the Poison Papers. Together, the library contains more than 200,000 pages of information and “lays out a 40-year history of deceit and collusion involving the chemical industry and the regulatory agencies that were supposed to be protecting human health and the environment,” said Peter von Stackelberg, a journalist who along with the Center for Media and Democracy and the Bioscience Resource Project helped put the collection online. SNIP

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    • 22 JUL 17

    Now its the “Internet of Battlefield Things”…

    While all the publicity with wireless technology advances centers around the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) where all our devices, even the humble toothbrush, can wirelessly communicate with each other, giving rise to the smart home, little has been publicised about the military applications of the IoT concept. Known as the “Internet of Battlefield Things” (IoBT) it is but the latest version of the old military-industrial complex, which Eisenhower warned us about in 1961, taking advantage of new technology to create and sell, at great profit, new killing technology thereby ensuring an endless state of war which is essential for their very profitable business.

    Read on…

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    • 23 MAY 17

    Off topic: Cancer treatment hype gives false hope to many patients

    After Michael Uvanni’s older brother, James, was diagnosed with a deadly form of skin cancer, it seemed as if everyone told the family what they wanted to hear: Have hope. You can beat this, and we are here to help.

    The brothers met with doctors at a half-dozen of the country’s best hospitals, all with impressive credentials that inspired confidence…. Patients and families are bombarded with the news that the country is winning the war against cancer. The news media hypes research results to attract readers. Drug companies promise “a chance to live longer” to boost sales. Hospitals woo paying customers with ads that appeal to patients’ fears and hopes.

    “I’m starting to hear more and more that we are better than I think we really are,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society. “We’re starting to believe our own bullshit.” SNIP…

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    • 15 MAY 17

    Study Finds Link Between Brain Damage and Religious Fundamentalism

    Excerpt

    From Alternet via Bia Winter

    Excerpt

    A new study published in the journal Neuropsychologia has shown that religious fundamentalism is, in part, the result of a functional impairment in a brain region known as the prefrontal cortex. The findings suggest that damage to particular areas of the prefrontal cortex indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by diminishing cognitive flexibility and openness—a psychology term that describes a personality trait which involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness.

    Religious beliefs can be thought of as socially transmitted mental representations that consist of supernatural events and entities assumed to be real. Religious beliefs differ from empirical beliefs, which are based on how the world appears to be and are updated as new evidence accumulates or when new theories with better predictive power emerge. On the other hand, religious beliefs are not usually updated in response to new evidence or scientific explanations, and are therefore strongly associated with conservatism. SNIP

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    • 02 MAY 17

    What is “brain hacking”? Tech insiders on why you should care

    From CBS News (US)

    On Sunday, April 9, 2017 Anderson Cooper reported on some of the ways Silicon Valley insiders are hooking users on technology via apps and other software. Former Google product manager Tristan Harris said designers aren’t just programming for consumers, they’re actually programming consumers.

    Many viewers were struck by what they felt was Silicon Valley’s willingness to manipulate the bottom of the brain stem in order to bolster the bottom line.

    Silicon Valley is engineering your phone, apps and social media to get you hooked, says a former Google product manager. Anderson Cooper reports. SNIP…….

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    • 29 MAR 17

    Internet privacy to go under Trump

    Published in the Washington Post online

    Excerpt

    The House just voted to wipe out the FCC’s landmark Internet privacy protections

    By Brian Fung March 28 at 5:58 PM

    The sharply partisan vote led by Republicans is a sweeping rebuke of Internet policies enacted under the Obama administration and marks a pivot toward allowing Internet providers to collect and sell their customers’ Web browsing history, location information, health data and other personal details. The measure now heads to the White House, where President Trump is expected to sign it. SNIP

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    • 19 MAR 17

    Reykjavik Appeal on wireless technology in schools

    Abstract
    We, the signers, are concerned about our children’s health and development in schools with
    wireless technology for teaching.
    A vast amount of scientific studies have shown considerable medical risks with long-term exposure to Radiofrequency Radiation(RFR) from wireless devices and networks well below the recommended reference levels from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection(ICNIRP).

    We ask the authorities to take their responsibility for our children’s future health and wellbeing.

    Read more…..SNIP

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    • 17 JAN 17

    The link between highly-polluted air and the risk of developing dementia

    Recommended article: Why Clean Air Is Important for Your Health

    Scientists believe there may be a link between highly-polluted air, and the risk of developing dementia. It has been found that people with dementia have high levels of magnetite in their brains, though it is not clear whether or not these elevated levels are related to dementia.

    If you’re concerned about the air quality in your home or community, there are some steps you can take to clean it up. First, you’ll want to assess whether your local area has polluted air or not. In some cases, you can actually see the smog over a city. A tight-fitting mask that filters pollutants would do the trick here. At home, you’ll need to use your HVAC, and a portable air purifier is also recommended.

    Take a look at this guide and discover more about the connection between dementia and dirty air, and learn how to clean the air around you. SNIP

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    • 01 JAN 17

    And the Washington Post issues an update…

    “We specifically have been looking for signatures that match those reported last week by DHS and the FBI related to Russian actors,” Connecticut governor’s office spokesman Chris Collibee said. “We have not detected any activity matching the reported malware at this time.”

    In New York, a spokesman said Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed all state agencies to re-examine their computer systems for any security breaches. Nothing had been found.

    An attack on a U.S. power grid has long been a nightmare scenario for top U.S. officials. The National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command chief Adm. Michael Rogers have previously warned it’s not a matter of if but when attackers will also target U.S. power systems.” SNIP

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    • 01 JAN 17

    Russia Hysteria Infects WashPost Again: False Story About Hacking U.S. Electric Grid

    I have been a subscriber to the Washington Post for some time and have generally found it to be an excellent source of information on what is happening in the world. However it seems even the WP is not immune to false news stories (my last posting – to be deleted shortly). The following was sent in by Swedish investigative journalist Mona Nilsson…..The Post’s story also predictably and very rapidly infected other large media outlets. Reuters thus told its readers around the world: “A malware code associated with Russian hackers has reportedly been detected within the system of a Vermont electric utility.”….

    Excerpt:

    The Washington Post on Friday reported a genuinely alarming event: Russian hackers have penetrated the U.S. power system through an electrical grid in Vermont. The Post headline conveyed the seriousness of the threat:

    The first sentence of the article directly linked this cyberattack to alleged Russian hacking of the email accounts of the DNC and John Podesta — what is now routinely referred to as “Russian hacking of our election” — by referencing the code name revealed on Wednesday by the Obama administration when it announced sanctions on Russian officials: “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.”…. The article went on and on in that vein, with all the standard tactics used by the U.S. media for such stories: quoting anonymous national security officials, reviewing past acts of Russian treachery, and drawing the scariest possible conclusions (“‘The question remains: Are they in other systems and what was the intent?’ a U.S. official said”)….. What’s the problem here? It did not happen…. SNIP

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