Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Climate change impacts to U.S. coasts threaten public health safety and economy

Climate change could displace more than half of the US population and disrupt more than half of the US gross domestic product.

Source: NOAA, USGS

According to a new technical report, the effects of climate change will continue to threaten the health and vitality of U.S. coastal communities’ social, economic and natural systems. The report, Coastal Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabilities: a technical input to the 2013 National Climate Assessment, authored by leading scientists and experts, emphasizes the need for increased coordination and planning to ensure U.S. coastal communities are resilient against the effects of climate change.

The report’s authors noted that the population of the coastal watershed counties of the U.S. and territories, including the Great Lakes, makes up more than 50 percent of the nation’s population and contributed more than $8.3 trillion to the 2011 U.S. economy but depend on healthy coastal landforms, water resources, estuaries and other natural resources to sustain them. Climate changes, combined with human development activities, reduce the ability of coasts to provide numerous benefits, including food, clean water, jobs, recreation and protection of communities against storms.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Reflections on the 100th Anniversary of the Federal Reserve

Source: The American Economic Association

From "Reflections on the 100th Anniversary of the Federal Reserve" (E5) (January 5, 2013)

This chart plots the US price level from 1775 (set equal to one) until 2012. In 1913 prices were only about 20 percent higher than in 1775 and around 40 percent lower than in 1813, during the War of 1812. Whatever the mandates of the Federal Reserve, it is clear that the evolution of the price level in the United States is dominated by the abandonment of the gold standard in 1933 and the adoption of fiat money subsequently.   One hundred years after its creation, consumer prices are about 30 times higher than what they were in 1913.  This pattern, in varying orders of magnitudes, repeats itself across nearly all countries.

You can also view a Webcast of the event.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

'Star Trek Prototype Tractor Beam Developed By Scientists

Source: The Huffington Post

Researchers at St. Andrews and the Institute of Scientific Instruments, or ISI, in the Czech Republic have figured out a way of generating an optical field that can reverse the radiation pressure of light.

"The practical applications could be very great, very exciting," Cizmar told the BBC. "The tractor beam is very selective in the properties of the particles it acts on, so you could pick up specific particles in a mixture. Eventually, this could be used to separate white blood cells, for example."

"Unfortunately, there is a transfer of energy. On a microscopic scale, that is OK, but on a macro scale, it would cause huge problems," said Cizmar.

"It would result in a massive amount of heating of an object, like a space shuttle. So trapping a spaceship is out of the question."

Tsunami from Asteroid Impacts

One of the people featured in the last episode of "Doomsday Preppers" was afraid that a comet would cause a tsunami and that he would have to be 1500 feet above sea level in order to escape the damage caused by a comet impact. So, I did a little googling, and I found a fabulous and detailed report on the potential danger from tsunami caused by asteroid or comet impact.

Source: Australian Spaceguard Survey

In order to save you from a ton of reading, it seems that the worst-case tsunami from asteroid is 230m estimated deepwater wave height (above sea level) tsunami at a point 100km from impact of an asteroid with a 2km diameter. That's about 750 feet above sea level if you are a typical American who can't do rough metric conversions in your head.

Obama to Top Brass: Will you fire on American Citizens?

Source WHDN Boston via Current TV

The Obama administration is openly escalating its campaign against private gun ownership, and shaking up the top ranks of the military command structure --but is it also preparing to make war on the American population? According to a person identified as a former senior military official, the answer to that shocking question is yes.

Hit us with your best shot, Andy

Source New York Post

Officials estimate at least 1 million semiautomatic rifles are owned in the state [of New York], sources said.

And come April 15, 2014 — when Cuomo is expected to be running for re-election — they all have to be registered with the State Police.

But because the rifles have been legal but unregistered until now, authorities don’t know who has them or where they are located.

State officials will be nervously watching the registration figures to see how many gun owners comply, sources said.

“I believe you will have people stepping forward, saying, ‘Here I am. See? I have what you call an assault rifle. Now come and take it away,’ ’’ said a gun-rights activist and boycott organizer.

That’s exactly what state officials are worried about.

“Many of these assault-rifle owners aren’t going to register; we realize that,’’ said a Cuomo-administration source who added that officials expect “widespread violations’’ of the new law. Owners who refuse to register could face a class-A misdemeanor — punishable by up to a year in prison.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Inside China: War hysteria blamed on U.S.

Source: Washington Times

The official [Chinese] communist newspaper, The Global Times, accused Washington of an “insidious strategic plot to make trouble for the Chinese-Japanese relations” in the conflict over the Diaoyudao islands, which Japan also claims and calls the Senkaku islands.

“Under the direct control by the United States, right-wing forces in Japan are using the dispute to challenge China’s sovereignty, and other countries such as the Philippines in the South China Sea region, are provoking us and acting ridiculously,” the newspaper said last week in an unusually harsh commentary stated.

“We must be clear that the United States never wants China to be strong. The U.S. is changing China from a peaceful competitor to a Soviet Union-like Cold War-era enemy.”

The article stopped short of calling for a direct war with the United States, but it warned that “China must be prepared for war; speed up economic and military preparations required of a military struggle; speed up our nuclear second-strike capabilities; and actively develop overseas strategic and military support bases.”

UN launches probe into drone strikes

Source: Al Jazeera English

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has launched an investigation into drones strikes and will review resultant civilian casualties to determine whether the attacks constitute a war crime.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Quinoa cultivation in controlled greenhouse environments

According to a recent blog post at the Guardian,

The appetite for [quinoa] has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it. Imported junk food is cheaper. In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken. Outside the cities, and fuelled by overseas demand, the pressure is on to turn land that once produced a portfolio of diverse crops into quinoa monoculture.

NASA tested hydroponic cultivation of several varieties of Quinoa in controlled greenhouse environments.
See: Quinoa: Candidate Crop for NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support Systems

Quinoa responded well to controlled environment production practices with large increases in seed production, maintenance of short canopy stature, and increased harvest index, as compared with the field.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Timothy Geithner Accused Of Alerting Banks To 2007 Interest Rate Cut For 2nd Time

Source: The Huffington Post

In the summer of 2007, as storm clouds gathered over the world's financial system, then-New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner allegedly informed the Bank of America and other banks about the possibility the U.S. central bank would lower one of its critical interest rates, according to a senior Fed official.

...

Private disclosure of confidential, market-sensitive information by the central bank would be highly unusual, but it was not immediately clear if it would be illegal. It also was not clear if strict Fed internal rules governing confidential information would have been breached, or whether any internal or external investigation was mounted.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Under the Gun - Jimmy Carter orchestrated research into guns and crime

Source: World Net Daily

Among the 23 “executive actions” President Obama announced yesterday amidst great fanfare (and shameless exploitation of children) is this:

“Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.”

Obama may want to put a hold on that one, until he comes to grips with what happened the last time a U.S. president tried it.

During the late ’70s, President Jimmy Carter and his inner circle determined to push through comprehensive new federal gun-control legislation. They decided the best way to grease the congressional skids would be to have a massive scientific study conducted which, in the end, would proclaim that gun-control laws were effective in reducing crime.

So the Carter folks handed out a major gun-control research grant to University of Massachusetts sociology professor James D. Wright and his colleagues Peter Rossi and Kathleen Daly. They spent four years and lots of tax dollars to produce what would be the most comprehensive, critical study of gun control ever undertaken. In 1981, they published the results of their research – an exhaustive, three-volume work titled “Under the Gun.”

Source: US Department of Justice - National Criminal Justice Reference Service

Title: Under the Gun - Weapons, Crime, and Violence in America

Author(s): J D Wright ; P H Rossi ; K Daly

Corporate Author: University of Massachusetts Social and Demographic Research Institute United States

Date Published: 1983

Page Count: 348

Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice US Dept Justice Office of Justice Programs United States US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub United States

Abstract:

The text looks at the number of guns in private hands and their use (household demand, sport and recreation demand), as well as police weapons use and policy. Fear of crime and popular sentiment against gun ownership are also surveyed. The book explores the characteristics of private weapons owners by region and city size, social status (class, religion, race, and sex), personality, and other factors. The text also looks at violent crime trends, the number of firearms used in crime, criminal motivations, gun control policies (Federal, State, and local regulations), and the effects of gun control legislation on violent crime. The study finds that high crime rates could be caused by widespread gun ownership but that widespread gun ownership may help keep crime rates well below what they might be otherwise. There is no good evidence anywhere that would allow a researcher to choose decisively between these possibilities. Data tables, footnotes, over 200 references, and an index are supplied.

US based customer discovers that a developer outsourced his job to China

NOTE: This blog post may not make it clear, but the employee who out-sourced his job to China worked for a "US based company" that went to Verizon Business Services for help investigating suspicious VPN logs. This was not a Verizon employee.

Update: After reading through the comments, I thought I would share this story from the Onion that sounds very similar.

I recommend that you click-through to the Verizon blog post for the full story. It's worth a read if you like true crime.

Source: The Next Web

The story goes a little something like this. A developer at a US-based critical infrastructure company, referred to as “Bob,” was caught last year outsourcing his work to China, paying someone else less than one fifth of his six-figure salary to do his job. As a result, Bob had a lot of time on his hands; in fact, during the investigation, his browsing history revealed this was his typical work day:

9:00 a.m. – Arrive and surf Reddit for a couple of hours. Watch cat videos.
11:30 a.m. – Take lunch.
1:00 p.m. – Ebay time.
2:00 – ish p.m Facebook updates – LinkedIn.
4:30 p.m. – End of day update e-mail to management.
5:00 p.m. – Go home.

Again, I want to emphasize that I haven’t invented this schedule for the sake of making this story more interesting or to have a snazzy headline. This comes straight from Verizon; take that as you will.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It Will Take The Fed Seven Years To Deliver 300 Tons Of German Gold

Read the comments! Holy Crap!!!

Source: Zero Hedge

It Will Take The Fed Seven Years To Deliver 300 Tons Of German Gold

Senator Asks CIA Nominee When Drones Can Kill Americans

Source: Wired- Danger Room

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent a letter on Monday to John Brennan, the White House’s counterterrorism adviser and nominee to be head of the CIA, asking for an outline of the legal and practical rules that underpin the U.S. government’s targeted killing of American citizens suspected of working with al-Qaida. The Obama administration has repeatedly resisted disclosing any such information about its so-called “disposition matrix” targeting terrorists, especially where it concerns possible American targets. Brennan reportedly oversees that matrix from his White House perch, and would be responsible for its execution at CIA director.

“How much evidence does the President need to determine that a particular American can be lawfully killed?” Wyden, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, asks in the letter, acquired by Danger Room. “Does the President have to provide individual Americans with the opportunity to surrender before killing them?”

“For the executive branch to claim that intelligence agencies have the authority to knowingly kill American citizens but refuse to provide Congress with any and all legal opinions that explain the executive branch’s understanding of this authority represents an alarming and indefensible assertion of executive prerogative,” Wyden writes.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

An Active-Shooter Drill Was In Progress During The Sandy Hook School Shooting

An active-shooter drill was taking place during the actual event known as the Newtown or Sandy Hook Schools Shooting.

Source: Southeast-Brewster, NY Patch

In the years following the infamous school shooting incident at Columbine, Colorado, law enforcement agencies and local school districts in Putnam County and across America developed plans and protocols to safeguard against and respond to similar acts of school violence. Since Columbine, new tactics and training have been devised and implemented for law enforcement officers for responding to situations of active shooters in schools.

By grim coincidence, even as the terrible events were unfolding in Newtown on Friday morning, the Putnam County Emergency Response Team (“ERT”) happened to be assembled for regular training in Carmel, and team members were at that very moment engaged in a mock scenario of an active-shooter in a school.

The ERT is comprised of specially trained and heavily armed officers from the Sheriff’s Office and the Carmel and Kent Police Departments.
When news broke of the Newtown shooting, the Putnam County ERT commander called Newtown Police and offered to have the ERT respond to the Sandy Hook school, but that response was not needed because Connecticut police had already secured the scene.

Aaron Swartz, Coder and Activist, Dead at 26

RIP Aaron Swartz. He did some wonderful things for society and for the Internet.

Source: Wired - Threat Level

When he was 14 years old, Aaron helped develop the RSS standard; he went on to found Infogami, which became part of Reddit. But more than anything Aaron was a coder with a conscience: a tireless and talented hacker who poured his energy into issues like network neutrality, copyright reform and information freedom. Among countless causes, he worked with Larry Lessig at the launch of the Creative Commons, architected the Internet Archive’s free public catalog of books, OpenLibrary.org, and in 2010 founded Demand Progress, a non-profit group that helped drive successful grassroots opposition to SOPA last year.

Friday, January 11, 2013

"Before and After" Star Trek Voyager Season 3 Episode 21 - Time Travel

I'm remembering several TV shows and blog posts I've read recently about time travel.

There was a recent episode of Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura on the possibility that chrononauts are abusing their knowledge of the future to gain power in the present.

Star Trek Voyager Season 3 Episode 21 - "Before and After"

Kes begins living her life backwards for only hours at a time, with large gaps in the experience spanning anywhere from one day to three years. I don't want to spoil the surprise so I'll just make a short comment: this episode artfully demonstrates some of the ways that time travel could impact the lives of those involved. I was particularly intrigued by the use of a "temporal shift" technology to penetrate Voyager's shielding with torpedoes. 

Suggested Reading after you watch "Before and After" on Netflix: Jammer's Review: "Before and After"

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why Does the American Academy of Pediatrics Put Corporate Profits Ahead of Children's Health?

Source: Counterpunch

The story of the secret Simpsonwood meeting, the CDC’s subsequent fraudulent studies, Congressional investigations and the National Institute of Environmental Health Science’s analysis of the CDD’s research is well documented. However, what is less known is the CDC’s attempts to avoid answering many NIEHS and Congress’s complaints. In a letter to Pediatrics, Dr. Ken Stoller, a UCLA pediatrician and a former fellow of the AAP, noted how then CDC Director Dr. Julie Geberding in the final moments under pressure to give account for the CDC’s wide range of errors in its study stated, “CDC concurs that conducting ecologic analysis using VSD administrative data to address potential associations between thimerosal exposure and the risk of autism spectrum disorder is not useful.”[4]

And here is the rub. Every study the pro-vaccine community quotes to discredit a thimerosal-autism association is either an ecologic study (investigating and comparing statistics between one or more populations) or cohort study (looking at risks or illness in the history of a group or population). Both types of studies are inferior to controlled studies looking at medical conditions in vitro or in vivo. Neither do they follow sound scientific protocol in order to draw definitive conclusions. Moreover, the most frequent criticism of ecologic and cohort research is the wide scope of deceptive data manipulation such studies lend themselves to in order to arrive at the researcher’s desired result. For example, in CDC studies, the agency has never compared autism rates in vaccinated children with a population of children who were unvaccinated or had not received mercury laced vaccines. The lack of such a study should have been a no-brainer for the AAP.

Not a single study in the vaccine industry’s arsenal is biologic. The federal health agencies refuse to conduct convincing biologic studies to bring the thimerosal-autism debate to closure. The reason is simple: there is not an ounce of evidence that such studies would conclude in their favor, otherwise such research would have been performed during this decades long argument.

Nevertheless, independent biologic studies have shown repeatedly that thimerosal is linked to neurological degeneration, including autism, Asperger’s, ADD and ADHD, tics and seizures, etc. A recent review of all thimerosal research recorded in the National Institutes of Health publication database, PubMed, by the Faculty of Health Sciences at the Universidade de Brasilia in Brazil determined that the biologic data reveals 1) low doses of thimerosal against isolated human and animal brain cells found in all studies characteristic mercury neurotoxicity, 2) there has yet to be studies showing the neurotoxic effects when thimersosal is combined with aluminum, another neurotoxic chemical and common vaccine ingredient, and 3) animal studies show that thimerosal exposure leads to the accumulation of inorganic mercury in the brain.[5]

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Half of Andromeda's satellite galaxies orbit in a mysterious disk

Source: Ars Technica

The authors of a new study are reticent to guess why, but it appears that our galaxy (the Milky Way), our nearest neighboring galaxy (Andromeda), and a number of much smaller galaxies are aligned within the same narrow plane. This alignment suggests the possibility that the Andromeda and the Milky Way galaxies affected the formation or orientation of each others' satellites. This new discovery will likely result in some changes in the current theories regarding formation of galaxies throughout the universe.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The American Revolution was against British gun control

Source: Examiner.com

Furious at the December 1773 Boston Tea Party, Parliament in 1774 passed the Coercive Acts. The particular provisions of the Coercive Acts were offensive to Americans, but it was the possibility that the British might deploy the army to enforce them that primed many colonists for armed resistance. The Patriots of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, resolved: “That in the event of Great Britain attempting to force unjust laws upon us by the strength of arms, our cause we leave to heaven and our rifles.” A South Carolina newspaper essay, reprinted in Virginia, urged that any law that had to be enforced by the military was necessarily illegitimate.

Whether the Semi-Auto Ban Passes May Depend on What Happens to the Senate Rules

Has everybody forgotten about 1774-1776?

Source: Gun Owners of America

A quick look at Feinstein’s semi-auto ban legislation suggests that up to 75% of all handguns currently in circulation would be banned, along with as much as 50% of all long guns.

Depending on its configuration, the AR-15 you already have would probably be treated like a machine gun. You would have to be fingerprinted, background checked by the FBI, and undergo a six-month license application process to keep it. And when you die, the government will seize it.

My Season with Jesse - An Examination of Conspiracy and Commerce

Michael J. Hobart has done a tremendous service to the community by writing summaries of Season Three episodes of Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura. Today he posted a great summary of Ventura's career and asks some interesting questions. This is well worth reading!

Source: Disinformation

Is there a Reptilian agenda? Is the existence of time travel technology being hidden from us? Are our minds being controlled by brain invaders, who secretly plan for a future without us and attack us with death rays? In my estimation, all of the conspiracies presented in Season Three of Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura are worth examining, because they present useful opportunities to determine for oneself what is real or unreal, or what is more likely or less likely to be real. Blindly trusting any source of information is a hazardous proposition, whether that source is Jesse Ventura, Alex Jones, or MSNBC.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Guns and Crime Data Brief from US DOJ

About 415,000 crime victims used a firearm to defend themselves between 1987-1992.

Source: US Department of Justice - National Criminal Justice Reference Service

In 1994 the US Department Of Justice published a data brief on "Guns and Crime"

On average in 1987-92 about 83,000 crime victims per year used a firearm to defend themselves or their property. In 1992 offenders armed with handguns committed a record 931,000 violent crimes and on average in 1987-91 there were about 667,000 crimes committed with a handgun per year.

Three-fourths of the victims who used a firearm for defense did so during a violent crime; a fourth, during a theft, household burglary, or motor vehicle theft.

Handgun crimes accounted for about 13% of all violent crimes. As measured by the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the rate of nonfatal handgun victimizations in 1992--4.5 crimes per 1,000 people age 12 or older--supplanted the record of 4.0 per 1,000 in 1982.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Can humans journey into deep space without cosmic radiation frying our brains?

Source: io9

Using the particle accelerators at NASA's Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, mice were exposed to levels of radiation that proportionally matched what humans could expect to encounter on a three-year round trip to Mars. The mice were then given a series of memory tests to track how their brains held up in the wake of such exposure.

The results weren't good. Those exposed to the radiation were significantly more likely than the unexposed control group to fail tests that depended on their ability to recall objects and locations. Worse, these mice's brains showed clear buildup of the protein beta amyloid — which, in both mice and humans, is one of the clearest hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease.