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Did you know that the word “transhuman” literally means “beyond human”? All over the world, scientists and intellectuals are joining the transhumanism movement. Those that adhere to this philosophy believe that the time has come for us to use technology to take control of our own evolution. By doing so, they believe that we can give ourselves superhuman powers and radically extend our lifespans. Right now, the most popular movie in America is “Avengers: Age of Ultron“, and in recent years we have watched films about “mutants” and “superheroes” become some of Hollywood’s biggest moneymakers. But transhumanists believe that we will soon be able to literally turn ourselves into such superheroes as technology continues to increase at an exponential rate. And once we have superhuman powers and superhuman intelligence, they are convinced that we will eradicate all sickness, disease, poverty and war. Many of them actually believe that we will be able to achieve immortality and establish a utopia on Earth just a few decades from now. In other words, we won’t need a “God” because we will have become our own gods.
At the core of the transhumanist movement is an unshakable faith in the inevitable technological progress of humanity. Yes, there are some transhumanists that have doubts, but for most transhumanists the solution to all of our problems is more technology. If you are not familiar with transhumanism, the following is a really good definition that I recently came across…
Transhumanism is a cultural and intellectual movement promoting the aim of transforming the human condition fundamentally by developing – and making available – technologies to enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capabilities. Transhumanist thinking studies the potential benefits and hazards of emerging technologies that could overcome basic human limitations. It also addresses ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. Some transhumanists predict that human beings may eventually transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities that they justify a state of being known as ‘posthuman’.
Transhumanists want to help humans live much longer, and they also want to dramatically increase the quality of those lives. Ultimately, most transhumanists are fully convinced that they will be able to defeat death altogether. The following is a short excerpt from an ExtremeTech article…
One of the core concepts in transhumanist thinking is life extension: Through genetic engineering, nanotech, cloning, and other emerging technologies, eternal life may soon be possible. Likewise, transhumanists are interested in the ever-increasing number of technologies that can boost our physical, intellectual, and psychological capabilities beyond what humans are naturally capable of (thus the term transhuman). Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), for example, which speeds up reaction times and learning speed by running a very weak electric current through your brain, has already been used by the US military to train snipers. On the more extreme side, transhumanism deals with the concepts of mind uploading (to a computer), and what happens when we finally craft a computer with greater-than-human intelligence (the technological singularity).
So would you like to live forever armed with superhuman powers?
The most famous transhumanist in the world, Ray Kurzweil, actually believes that he is going to be able to do that. But first he has to stay alive long enough for the technologies that he believes are coming to be developed. So Kurzweil takes 150 supplements a day in an attempt to keep his body in peak condition…
The youthful 65-year-old currently takes 150 supplements a day, which he argues is the first bridge.
The idea is to build enough bridges to ensure the body holds out long enough for life-lengthening technology to come into its own.
He has likened the biology of the body to computer software and believes we are all ‘out of date’.
Kurzweil is absolutely convinced that if he can just stretch his life out long enough that technologies that will enable him to achieve immortality are right around the corner. In fact, in a piece that he wrote for CNN he expressed his belief that our medical technologies will be “a million times more powerful” than they are today just two decades from now…
Health and medicine is now an information technology and is therefore subject to what I call the “law of accelerating returns,” which is a doubling of capability (for the same cost) about each year that applies to any information technology.
As a result, technologies to reprogram the “software” that underlie human biology are already a thousand times more powerful than they were when the genome project was completed in 2003, and will again be a thousand times more powerful than they are today in a decade, and a million times more powerful in two decades.
So will he be right?
We will just have to wait and see.
For a long time, many in the transhumanist movement (including Kurzweil) have been pointing to a time period between 2030 and 2050 during which they believe something remarkable will happen. They believe that during that time period something known as “the singularity” will occur. As technology increases at an exponential rate, they believe that artificial intelligence will begin to greatly surpass human intelligence at some point, and that humanity will merge with this new super intelligence. Once that happens, they believe that the world will change in ways that we cannot even comprehend today…
Kurzweil and his followers believe that a crucial turning point will be reached around the year 2030, when information technology achieves ‘genuine’ intelligence, at the same time as biotechnology enables a seamless union between us and this super-smart new technological environment. Ultimately the human-machine mind will become free to roam a universe of its own creation, uploading itself at will on to a “suitably powerful computational substrate”. We will become essentially god-like in our powers.
Does that sound good to you, or does it sound frightening?
Other transhumanists are not quite as optimistic as Kurzweil and his followers. Just consider what Max Tegmark, the author of Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality, had to say about what life will be like after “the singularity”…
After this, life on Earth would never be the same. Whoever or whatever controls this technology would rapidly become the world’s wealthiest and most powerful, outsmarting all financial markets, out-inventing and out-patenting all human researchers, and out-manipulating all human leaders. Even if we humans nominally merge with such machines, we might have no guarantees whatsoever about the ultimate outcome, making it feel less like a merger and more like a hostile corporate takeover.
Even some of the most prominent scientists in the world are skeptical of what an ultra-powerful artificial intelligence would mean for the future of humanity. The following is an excerpt from an article co-authored by Stephen Hawking…
Looking further ahead, there are no fundamental limits to what can be achieved: there is no physical law precluding particles from being organized in ways that perform even more advanced computations than the arrangements of particles in human brains. An explosive transition is possible, although it may play out differently than in the movie: as Irving Good realized in 1965, machines with superhuman intelligence could repeatedly improve their design even further, triggering what Vernor Vinge called a “singularity” and Johnny Depp’s movie character calls “transcendence.” One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.
But despite these reservations from many in the scientific community, many transhumanists are pushing ahead as hard as they can. Many of them are absolutely convinced that what they are doing will bring a new golden age to this planet. Just consider the words of transhumanist Zoltan Istvan…
Despite this, people continue to worry that technology and science that make our species more transhuman will be used to create a deeper divide in society for the haves and have-nots. Those worries are unfounded. A close examination of the issues show that transhumanist technology and science liberates us, brings us better health, and has improved the living standards of all people around the world. If you value liberty, equality and progress, it makes sense to embrace the coming age of transhumanism.
Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
And there are even some transhumanists that couch their hopes and dreams for the future in religious terminology. For example, transhumanist Mark Pesce is fully convinced that transhumanism will allow ordinary humans “to become as gods”…
“Men die, planets die, even stars die. We know all this. Because we know it, we seek something more—a transcendence of transience, translation to incorruptible form. An escape if you will, a stop to the wheel. We seek, therefore, to bless ourselves with perfect knowledge and perfect will; To become as gods, take the universe in hand, and transform it in our image—for our own delight. As it is on Earth, so it shall be in the heavens. The inevitable result of incredible improbability, the arrow of evolution is lipping us into the transhuman – an apotheosis to reason, salvation – attained by good works.”
That is some pretty strong stuff.
So what do you think about all of this? Please feel free to join the discussion by leaving a comment below…
GMO Biotech Companies and Compliant Politicians: Infiltrating India Using Baseless Claims and Deception
“Motivated by greed with a complete disregard for food safety and biodiversity.” Why Food Sovereignty...
Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer et al.: Through Political Cooptation and Corruption, the GMO Biotech Sector...
The proposal to hand back some decision powers to member states of the European Union regarding GMO approvals is currently being discussed (1). It will be voted on by member states on 12 June. According to Corporate Europe Observatory, biotech firms regard it as an opportunity to break the stalemate and finally get their GM crops growing in
“This is all about getting more GM crops into the ground more quickly. Collective decision making hasn’t allowed GM crops to be grown widely in the EU because the majority of EU countries don’t want them.”
“If member states back down from highlighting the environmental harms of RoundUp Ready GM crops, these could be fast-tracked into the ground in some parts of
Europe… We need to be improving the GM risk assessments not facilitating contamination of food, feed and seed in the European market with GM crops that nobody wants.”
“The idea of individual countries being able to ban GM sounds appealing, but sadly it won’t work. Pollen and seed don’t respect national boundaries any more than they give way on a roundabout, and experience shows that once the GM genie is out there we cannot put it back in the bottle. The costs can be huge.”
“GM supporters, including our own Environment Minister Owen Paterson, are throwing away the whole concept of a common market to further their own support for a technology that raises far more questions than it answers. Their refusal to first put in place a reasonable, clear liability regime to protect the food system and the environment speaks volumes.”
“Ministries, least of all ‘promoting’ Ministries, should not have the authority to allow the novel technology of GMOs into Indian agriculture bypassing authentic democratic processes. Those processes require the widest possible and transparent consultation… After all, it is every woman, man and child, and our animals, an entire nation that will quite literally have to eat the outcome of a GM policy that delivers up our agriculture to it: if a GMO is unsafe, it will remain irreversibly unsafe. And it will remain in the environment and that is another dimension of impact.” (17)
Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – The first country to defy the ‘War on Drugs’ by legalizing marijuana is Uruguay. It was described as a revolutionary act against the prohibition of a plant that is used by millions worldwide under the former Marxist guerilla and political prisoner who is now the President of Uruguay Jose Mujica. Seems like the Mujica government is allowing Monsanto, Syngenta and Dupont among others to operate in Uruguay and harvest marijuana through their GMO-based seeds. Details of how the new marijuana laws will operate by monitoring the population through a database that would collect fingerprints and other parts of your body to assure you are using government controlled “Genetically Modified Marijuana”.
Last December the Associated Press reported on Uruguay’s decision to move forward to experiment on legalized marijuana to undermine illegal drug trafficking and crime in an article titled ‘From Seed to Smoke, Uruguay Testing Legalized Pot.’ The report stated what the Mujica government’s intentions were concerning the legalization of marijuana:
President Jose Mujica’s goal is to drive drug traffickers out of the dope business and reduce consumption by creating a safe, legal and transparent environment in which the state closely monitors every aspect of marijuana use, from seed to smoke. That means designing and maintaining an industry that is small, contained and profitable. Congress only approved Mujica’s grand “experiment” in broad strokes.
The fine print must strike a delicate balance on issues including what strength to allow for marijuana, what price to charge, who can farm it, how to crack down on illegal growers, how to persuade users to buy from the state instead of a dealer, and how to monitor use without being seen as Big Brother. If the rules are too lenient, or too strict, the whole project could fail
The report also quoted Uruguayan Senator Lucia Topolansk (President Mujica’s wife) when she said that “the state would provide cloned seeds whose plants can be traced.” It should not surprise anyone, especially those who understand what corporations such as Monsanto are trying to achieve on a global scale. Mainstream media outlet CNBC reported in 2010 that “most large agribusiness producers and distributors wouldn’t comment on any marijuana cultivation plans while it’s still largely illegal.” Now, Uruguay is fair game since they passed legislation to legalize marijuana. Although they did say that “seed and agri-chemical maker Monsanto isn’t focused on it, says spokesman Darren Wallis, adding that even if that changed tomorrow, development of a mass-scale crop takes time.” Yes, it does take time to produce. CNBC also did say that “other big food and agricultural firms would not comment, saying the proposition was too hypothetical or inappropriate given the largely illegal current status of the drug.” Well, it is not hypothetical anymore since Uruguay passed laws to legalize marijuana cultivation and use. It is now a reality for biotech corporations to move forward with genetic manipulation of the crop because now they have an incentive to dominate the marijuana industry starting with Uruguay. An interesting analysis by www.cannabisculture.com titled ‘Manipulating Marijuana: Monsanto and Syngenta Invest in RNA Interference Technology’ by Tracy Giesz-Ramsay on Monsanto and Syngenta’s investments in RNA Interference (RNAi) technology and what it means for the production of Marijuana in the future. Giesz-Ramsey wrote the following:
Having been cultivated and used ceremonially, recreationally and medicinally for thousands of years, cannabis – despite prohibitive laws surrounding the non-medicinal use of the plant – is undoubtedly on the radar of big agribusiness.
These companies would certainly turn a profit from developing a patentable transgenic seed for sole distribution if the use of cannabis were to become legal. It would be easy for these companies to create a monopoly over the industry by abusing their ties with federal regulators. This has all been a point of much debate within the cannabis community for many years.
With this in mind, it’s fair to say that one of the only positives of marijuana prohibition, with the art of breeding, growing and distributing cannabis heavily underground for most of its commercial history, the Big 6 seed and chemical companies have not been able to dominate the industry with their patented technologies.
The trouble: things may change soon. Monsanto, Syngenta, BASF, Bayer, Dow and DuPont have, until recently, largely focused their energy on monopolizing the food industry, but some have developed a keen interest in this still-illegal plant as well.
The biggest concern with cannabis and GM control now remains. While they gain a monopoly over medical marijuana, the challenge of governments who continue to wage the ostensible “War on Drugs” is being taken on by some of the Big 6. Monsanto and Syngenta are currently investing millions of dollars into a new GM technology called RNA interference.
RNAi, as it’s also known, is a method where the RNA – which is the code from a plant or animal’s DNA that tells its proteins how to organize in order to create, say, what colour the plant will be – is interfered with. In RNAi, double-stranded RNA is inserted so that this original code is obstructed; so that the pigmentation instructions don’t make it to the proteins
As we already know about Monsanto’s GMO seeds, they are genetically modified plants that are resistant to chemical herbicides such as “Round-Up.” The herbicides kill other plants, allowing genetically altered plants to resist the herbicide and be planted closer together than traditional crops normally used by farmers. It apparently allows farmers to gain more from crop production on their farmland than ever before. The seeds are known as “Round-Up Ready.” Farmers are required to purchase the GMO-laced seeds every season once they agree to use the product. Uruguay is falling into a danger zone when it comes to planting GMO seeds in the agricultural-rich country. It can affect natural food crops in the long-run as Monsanto and other agri-businesses would eventually expand into other areas of food production.
With Uruguay’s decision to allow multi-national biotech corporations to operate on its lands, it also opens the door to a police state monitoring its citizens who will use “cloned” marijuana as reported by RT news earlier this month in a report titled “Uruguay rolls out marijuana legal sale details.” It described Uruguay’s methods:
Police will be able to carry out on-the-spot checks to make sure drivers are not under the influence while behind the wheel. Companies and trade unions will also be permitted to carry out random checks to make sure employees are not stoned, particularly while undergoing risky or dangerous work.
The strains of the drug will also be limited to five, which will be allowed a maximum THC level of 15 percent. Each bag of marijuana will be barcoded and radio-frequency tagged, which will allow authorities to determine its origin and legality.
People who buy pot in pharmacies will be identified by fingerprint readers to preserve their anonymity, but their consumption of the drug will be tracked on a government database.
This will allow police to test for illegal weed when they come across it, and arrest anyone possessing marijuana without the proper tracers
Uruguay’s control over all facets of the new marijuana industry with a national database does seem “Orwellian” as it borders on fascism for the fear that legalizing marijuana can lead to higher drug use among the population. It is understandable, but imposing a police state to control drug-use and crime is not an answer to the war on drugs. However, not collecting taxes on marijuana is a good start. Uruguay has also approved a law that will exempt marijuana producers and sales of the crop from taxes that would undermine marijuana illegally imported from other countries such as Paraguay. Reuters reported on Uruguay’s tax policy regarding the issue of legalized marijuana when it said that “The principal objective is not tax collection. Everything has to be geared toward undercutting the black market,” said Felix Abadi, a contractor who is developing Uruguay’s marijuana tax structure. “So we have to make sure the price is low.” Which is true in a sense, since a high risk of incarceration increases the price of marijuana. Uruguay’s new law will also issue licenses to farmers to produce cannabis according to Reuters “Uruguay will auction up to six licenses to produce cannabis legally in the next weeks. The government is also considering growing marijuana on a plot of land controlled by the military to avoid illegal trafficking of the crop.”
Mujica met with US President Barack Obama earlier this month after his government released the details of the new marijuana law to discuss stronger relations between both countries. Obama welcomed President Mujica when he said:
President Mujica personally has extraordinary credibility when it comes to issues of democracy and human rights given his strong values and personal history, and is a leader on these issues throughout the hemisphere. And we share an interest in strengthening further the people-to-people bonds between our two countries, particularly around the issues of science, technology and education
Uruguayan President Mujica’s response:
We have been looking toward everywhere, but towards ourselves a bit also. And from the humbleness of my little Uruguay, my people, who are there amongst an enormous area of fertile and much water, come here to seek out knowledge and research in all groups of the biological sciences, particularly in land that require local research, because the continent must produce much food for the world. And besides, this is the most advanced country in the world for biological sciences, but we don’t want to merely send students out because they get married — and the American corporations pay more money, so we lose these qualified people. We have to bring teachers so then can come, but we need to make arrangements so that they can continue to contribute to Social Security here. Wisdom must be looked for there where it is
President Mujica has called for ‘normalized relations’ between Cuba and the US to end the embargo and has supported South American leaders such as Bolivian President Evo Morales during the time when the US and EU forced Morales’s plane to land in Vienna to search for NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden. “We are not colonies any more,” Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, said. “We deserve respect, and when one of our governments is insulted we feel the insult throughout Latin America” according to the Guardian. In many ways President Mujica is a revolutionary against Western imperialism. But allowing GMO crops in Uruguay is a step in the wrong direction although he probably does believe that allowing GMO’s would actually feed the world. Maybe he is misinformed, which I do believe is the case, after all he believes that smoking marijuana is an “addiction.” However, I do believe he does mean well. President Mujica should reconsider using any form of Genetic Modified crops that is dangerous to humans no matter what he thinks about marijuana use. Hopefully he will create a committee to re-evaluate proven research on the effects of GMO’s. Biotech Corporations just want to exploit Uruguay’s lands as an experiment. Let’s hope the Mujica government will make a U-turn away from corporate dominance.
“We are forced to conclude that the decision to withdraw our paper was based on unscientific double standards applied by the editor. These double standards can only be explained by pressure from the GMO and agrochemical industry to force acceptance of GMOs and Roundup. The most flagrant illustration is the appointment of Richard Goodman, a former Monsanto employee, onto the FCT editorial board, soon after the publication of the NK603 study. Worse, this pro-industry bias also affects regulatory authorities, such as EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), which gives favourable opinions on risky products based on mediocre studies commissioned by the companies wishing to commercialize the products, as well as systematically dismissing the findings of independent scientists which cast doubt on their safety.”
“The GMO debate is far from being over, as some GMO proponents claim. Instead the evidence of risk and actual harm from GM foods and crops to health and the environment has grown in the two years since we brought out the first edition. The good news is that GMOs are not needed to feed the world. The report shows that there are far better ways of ensuring a safe and sustainable food supply.”
1) The report debunks the claims by pro-GMO lobbyists that 1,700 studies show GM foods are as safe. The studies show nothing of the sort. Many of them not only show evidence of risk, but the review also excludes or glosses over important scientific controversies over GMO safety issues. (See page102 of the new report.)
2) A review purportedly showing that GM foods are safe on the basis of long-term animal studies actually shows evidence of risk and uses unscientific double standards to reach a conclusion that is not justified by the data. (p. 161)
3) A laboratory study in human cells shows that very low levels of glyphosate (the main chemical ingredient of Roundup herbicide, which most GM crops are engineered to tolerate) mimicked the hormone estrogen and stimulated the growth of breast cancer cells. The level of glyphosate that had this effect was below the level allowed in drinking water in
Europe and far below the level allowed in the . It was also below the level found in GM glyphosate-tolerant soy, which is imported into USA Europe for animal feed and human food. If confirmed in animal studies, this finding would overturn regulatory assumptions of safe levels of glyphosate. (p. 221)
4) Séralini’s study is far stronger and more detailed than many industry studies that are accepted as proof of safety for GMOs. The European Food Safety Authority had to reject the study in order to protect its own previous opinions on this and other GMOs, for reasons explained in the report. The findings of this study, if confirmed, would overturn regulatory assumptions of safe levels of glyphosate and Roundup. (pp. 94, 147)
“There is evidence that Roundup, even at the low levels permitted in food and drinking water, could lead to serious effects on health over time, such as liver and kidney toxicity. Based on this evidence, it appears that the levels of exposure currently held as safe by regulators around the world are questionable.”
“The GMO industry is built on myths. What is the motivation behind the deception? Money. GM crops and foods are easy to patent and are an important tool in the global consolidation of the seed and food industry into the hands of a few big companies. We all have to eat, so selling patented GM seed and the chemicals they are grown with is a lucrative business model. GMO Myths and Truths offers a one-stop resource for the public, campaigners, policy-makers, and scientists opposing the GMO industry’s attempts to control our food supply and shut down scientific and public debate.”
British Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Owen Paterson is a staunch supporter of the GM sector (1). Despite criticisms of him being an industry puppet (2) and content to ignore the devastating, deleterious health, environmental, social and agricultural impacts of GMOs (3), both he and other officials like the EU’s chief science advisor Anne Glover (4) have been more than happy to act as mouthpieces for the GM sector by making false statements and claims about the benefits and safety of GMOs that fly in the face of scientific findings.
Civil servants hosted a meeting with industry leaders in June 2013 to decide how to present the government’s agri-tech strategy. Officials at the Business, Innovations and Skills (BIS) department even emailed the ABC asking for advice on how to promote the policy. Poulter writes that one BIS official asked for “any ideas you may have that will showcase agri-tech – as you are aware it will need to be eye-catching but reflect the main themes of the strategy.”
“The evidence strongly suggests the Government is colluding with the GM industry to manipulate the media, undermine access to GM-free-fed meat and dairy products and plot the return of GM crops to Britain. The public have a right to know what is going on behind closed doors… Ministers who should be protecting our environment have put Monsanto and Syngenta in the driving seat of policy on GM crops and foods.”
Can genetically modified (GM) food crops be kept out of
Open field planting and the release of GM organisms into the environment are part of a deliberate ploy to contaminate non-GM crops and eventually render the GM/non-GM debate obsolete. This is not a wild claim: one only has to look at the widespread contamination of wheat and rice in the
A recent report (5) that appeared in The Australian newspaper notes that most Australian farmers grow GM-free food. The current non-binding recommendation guidelines for managing GM canola cultivation in
Does Oakland Really Need a High-Tech ‘Domain Awareness Center’? Evidence Suggests Surveillance Doesn’t Do...
By James F. Tracy
This story originally appeared here and at Global Research in July 2012. It was recently selected by an international panel of evaluators as Story Number 14 in Project Censored’s Top 25 Most Under-Reported Stories for 2012-2013. The article is featured in the new volume Censored 2014: Fearless Speech in Fateful Times (Seven Stories Press, 2013).
Electromagnetic pollution is one of the greatest threats to human health today. Over the past several years this public health menace has only intensified with the rollout of “smart meters” that replace standard analog meters on residences and businesses throughout the nation and world.
Wireless Technology and the Accelerated Toxification of America
As a multitude of hazardous wireless technologies are deployed in homes, schools and workplaces, government officials and industry representatives continue to insist on their safety despite growing evidence to the contrary. A major health crisis looms that is only hastened through the extensive deployment of “smart grid” technology.
In October 2009 at Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) solar energy station President Barack Obama announced that $3.4 billion of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act would be devoted to the country’s “smart energy grid” transition. Matching funds from the energy industry brought the total national Smart Grid investment to $8 billion. FPL was given $200 million of federal money to install 2.5 million “smart meters” on homes and businesses throughout the state.
By now many residents in the United States and Canada have the smart meters installed on their dwellings. Each of these meters is equipped with an electronic cellular transmitter that uses powerful bursts of electromagnetic radiofrequency (RF) radiation to communicate with nearby meters that together form an interlocking network transferring detailed information on residents’ electrical usage back to the utility every few minutes or less. Such information can easily be used to determine individual patterns of behavior based on power consumption.
The smart grid technology is being sold to the public as a way to “empower” individual energy consumers by allowing them to access information on their energy usage so that they may eventually save money by programming “smart” (i.e, wireless enabled) home appliances and equipment that will coordinate their operability with the smart meter to run when electrical rates are lowest. In other words, a broader plan behind smart grid technology involves a tiered rate system for electricity consumption that will be set by the utility to which customers will have no choice but to conform.
Because of power companies’ stealth rollout of smart meters a large majority of the public still remains unaware of the dangers they pose to human health. This remains the case even though states such as Maine have adopted an “opt out” provision for their citizens. The devices have not been safety-tested by Underwriters Laboratory and thus lack the UL approval customary for most electronics. Further, power customers are typically told by their utilities that the smart meter only communicates with the power company “a few times per day” to transmit information on individual household energy usage. However, when individuals obtained the necessary equipment to do their own testing they found the meters were emitting bursts of RF radiation throughout the home far more intense than a cell phone call every minute or less.
America’s Telecom-friendly Policy for RF Exposure
A growing body of medical studies is now linking cumulative RF exposure to DNA disruption, cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, and autoimmune diseases. Smart meters significantly contribute to an environment already polluted by RF radiation through the pervasive stationing of cellular telephone towers in or around public spaces and consumers’ habitual use of wireless technologies. In the 2000 Salzburg Resolution European scientists recommended the maximum RF exposure for humans to be no more than one tenth of a microwatt per square centimeter. In the United States RF exposure limits are 1,000 microwatts per centimeter, with no limits for long term exposure. Such lax standards have been determined by outdated science and the legal and regulatory maneuvering of the powerful telecommunications and wireless industries.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ceased studying the health effects of radiofrequency radiation when the Senate Appropriations Committee cut the department’s funding and forbade it from further research into the area. Thereafter RF limits were codified as mere “guidelines” based on the EPA’s tentative findings and are to this day administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
These weakly enforced standards are predicated on the alleged “thermal effect” of RF. In other words, if the energy emitted from a wireless antenna or device is not powerful enough to heat the skin or flesh then no danger is posed to human health. This reasoning is routinely put forward by utilities installing smart meters on residences, telecom companies locating cellular transmission towers in populated areas, and now school districts across the US allowing the installation of cell towers on school campuses.
The FCC’s authority to impose this standard was further reinforced with the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act that included a provision lobbied for by the telecom industry preventing state and local governments from evaluating potential environmental and health effects when locating cell towers “so long as ‘such facilities comply with the FCC’s regulations concerning such emissions.’”
In 2001 an alliance of scientists and engineers with the backing of the Communications Workers of America filed a federal lawsuit hoping the Supreme Court would reconsider the FCC’s obsolete exposure guidelines and the Telecom Act’s overreach into state and local jurisdiction. The high court refused to hear the case. When the same group asked the FCC to reexamine its guidelines in light of current scientific studies the request was rebuffed. Today in all probability millions are suffering from a variety of immediate and long-term health effects from relentless EMF and RF exposure that under the thermal effect rationale remain unrecognized or discounted by the telecom industry and regulatory authorities alike.
Take Back Your Power, an important new documentary on the relationship between electro-pollution and its health and privacy-related consequences, was released in September 2013. The film constitutes must-see viewing for those concerned over the immediate and long term dangers posed to human health and freedom by “smart meters” and similar silent weapons.-JFT
Growing Evidence of Health Risks From RF Exposure
The main health concern with electromagnetic radiation emitted by smart meters and other wireless technologies is that EMF and RF cause a breakdown in the communication between cells in the body, interrupting DNA repair and weakening tissue and organ function. These are the findings of Dr. George Carlo, who oversaw a comprehensive research group commissioned by the cell phone industry in the mid-1990s.
When Carlo’s research began to reveal how there were indeed serious health concerns with wireless technology, the industry sought to bury the results and discredit Carlo. Yet Carlo’s research has since been upheld in a wealth of subsequent studies and has continuing relevance given the ubiquity of wireless apparatuses and the even more powerful smart meters. “One thing all these conditions have in common is a disruption, to varying degrees, of intercellular communication,” Carlo observes. “When we were growing up, TV antennas were on top of our houses and such waves were up in the sky. Cell phones and Wi-Fi have brought those things down to the street, integrated them into the environment, and that’s absolutely new.”
In 2007 the BioInitiative Working Group, a worldwide body of scientists and public health experts, released a 650-page document with over 2000 studies linking RF and EMF exposure to cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, DNA damage, immune system dysfunction, cellular damage and tissue reduction.
In May 2011 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer categorized “radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless cellphone use.”
In November 2011 the Board of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), a national organization of medical and osteopathic physicians, called on California’s Public Utilities Commission to issue a moratorium on the continued installation of smart meters in residences and schools “based on a scientific assessment of the current available literature.” “[E]xisting FCC guidelines for RF safety that have been used to justify installations of smart meters,” the panel wrote,
only look at thermal tissue damage and are obsolete, since many modern studies show metabolic and genomic damage from RF and ELF exposure below the level of intensity which heats tissues … More modern literature shows medically and biologically significant effects of RF and ELF at lower energy densities. These effects accumulate over time, which is an important consideration given the chronic nature of exposure from “smart meters.”
In April 2012 the AAEM issued a formal position paper on the health effects of RF and EMF exposure based on a literature review of the most recent research. The organization pointed to how government and industry arguments alleging the doubtful nature of the science on non-thermal effects of RF were not defensible in light of the newest studies. “Genetic damage, reproductive defects, cancer, neurological degeneration and nervous system dysfunction, immune system dysfunction, cognitive effects, protein and peptide damage, kidney damage, and developmental effects have all been reported in the peer‐reviewed scientific literature,” AAEM concluded.
The rollout of smart meters proceeds alongside increased installation of wireless technology and cell phone towers in and around schools in the US. In 2010 Professor Magda Havas conducted a study of schools in 50 US state capitols and Washington DC to determine students’ potential exposure to nearby cell towers. A total 6,140 schools serving 2.3 million students were surveyed using the antennasearch.com database. Of these, 13% of the schools serving 299,000 students have a cell tower within a quarter mile of school grounds, and another 50% of the schools where 1,145,000 attend have a tower within a 0.6 mile radius. The installation of wireless networks and now smart meters on and around school properties further increases students’ RF exposure.
Many school districts that are strapped for cash in the face of state budget cuts are willing to ignore the abundance of scientific research on RF dangers and sign on with telecom companies to situate cell towers directly on school premises. Again, the FCC’s thermal effect rule is invoked to justify tower placement together with a disregard of the available studies.
The School District of Palm Beach County, the eleventh largest school district in the US, provides one such example. Ten of its campuses already have cell towers on their grounds while the district ponders lifting a ban established in 1997 that would allow for the positioning of even more towers. When concerned parents contacted the school district for an explanation of its wireless policies,the administration assembled a document, “Health Organization Information and Academic Research Studies Regarding the Health Effects of Cell Tower Signals.” The report carefully selected pronouncements from telecom industry funded organizations such as the American Cancer Society and out-of-date scientific studies supporting the FCC’s stance on wireless while excluding the long list of studies and literature reviews pointing to the dangers of RF and EMF radiation emitted by wireless networks and cell towers. 
The Precautionary Principle / Conclusion
Surrounded by the sizable and growing body of scientific literature pointing to the obvious dangers of wireless technology, utility companies installing smart meters on millions of homes across the US and school officials who accommodate cell towers on their grounds are performing an extreme disservice to their often vulnerable constituencies. Indeed, such actions constitute the reckless long term endangerment of public health for short term gain, sharply contrasting with more judicious decision making.
The 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment & Development adopted the precautionary principle as a rule to follow in the situations utilities and school districts find themselves in today. “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.” In exercising the precautionary principle, public governance and regulatory bodies should “take preventive action in the face of scientific uncertainty to prevent harm. The focus is no longer on measuring or managing harm, but preventing harm.”
Along these lines, the European Union and the Los Angeles School District have prohibited cell phone towers on school grounds until the scientific research on the human health effects of RF are conclusive. The International Association of Fire Fighters also interdicted cell towers on fire stations pending “’a study with the highest scientific merit and integrity on health effects of exposure to low-intensity [radio frequency/microwave] radiation is conducted and it is proven that such sitings are not hazardous to the health of our members.’”
Unwitting families with smart meters on their homes and children with cell towers humming outside their classrooms suggest the extent to which the energy, telecom and wireless industries have manipulated the regulatory process to greatly privilege profits over public health. Moreover, it reveals how the population suffers for want of meaningful and conclusive information on the very real dangers of RF while the telecom and wireless interests successfully cajole the media into considering one scientific study at a time.
“When you put the science together, we come to the irrefutable conclusion that there’s a major health crisis coming, probably already underway,” George Carlo cautions. “Not just cancer, but also learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and psychological and behavioral problems—all mediated by the same mechanism. That’s why we’re so worried. Time is running out.”
 Energy.gov, “President Obama Announces $3.4 Billion Investment to Spur Transition to Smart Energy Grid,” October 27, 2009, http://energy.gov/articles/president-obama-announces-34-billion-investment-spur-transition-smart-energy-grid
 Ilya Sandra Perlingieri, “Radiofrequency Radiation: The Invisible Hazards of Smart Meters,” August 19, 2011, GlobalReserach.ca, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=26082
 Dr. Bill Deagle, “Smart Meters: A Call for Public Outrage,” Rense.com, August 30, 2011, http://www.rense.com/general94/smartt.htm. Some meters installed in California by Pacific Gas and Electric carry a “’switching mode power-supply’ that ‘emit sharp spikes of millisecond bursts’ around the clock and is a chief cause of ‘dirty electricity.’” See Perlingieri, “Radiofrequency Radiation: The Invisible Hazards of Smart Meters.” This author similarly measured bursts of radiation in excess of 2,000 microwatts per meter every 30 to 90 seconds during the day, and once every two-to-three minutes at night.
 Magda Havas, BRAG Antenna Ranking of Schools, 2010, http://electromagnetichealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/BRAG_Schools.pdf
 Susan Luzzaro, “Field of Cell Phone Tower Beams,” San Diego Reader, May 18, 2011, http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2011/may/18/citylights2-cell-phone-tower/?page=1&
 FCC Office of Engineering and Technology, http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety
 Luzzaro, “Field of Cell Phone Tower Beams”; Marc Freeman, “Cell Towers Could Be Coming to More Schools,” South Florida Sun Sentinel, January 5, 2012, http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-01-05/news/fl-cell-towers-schools-palm-20120105_1_cell-towers-cellular-phone-towers-stealth-towers
 Amy Worthington, “The Radiation Poisoning of America,” GlobalResearch.ca, October 9, 2007, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7025
 Worthington, “The Radiation Poisoning of America.”
 Sue Kovach, “The Hidden Dangers of Cell Phone Radiation,” Life Extension Magazine, August 2007, http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2007/aug2007_report_cellphone_radiation_01.htm
 Susan Luzzaro, “Field of Cell Phone Tower Beams”; Bioinitiative Report: A Rationale For a Biologically-based Public Exposure Standard For Electromagnetic Fields, http://www.bioinitiative.org/freeaccess/report/index.htm.
 World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer, “IARC Classifies Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields as Possibly Carcinogenic,” May 31, 2011, www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf; Joseph Mercola, “Be Aware: These Cell Phones Can Emit 28 Times More Radiation,” Mercola.com, June 18, 2011, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/06/18/finally-experts-admit-cellphones-are-a-carcinogen.aspx.
 American Academy of Environmental Medicine, “A Proposed Decision of Commissioner Peevy [Mailed 11/22/2011] Before the Public Utilities Commission of the State of California,” (pdf) January 19, 2012. www.aaemonline.org. The list of references upon which the decision is based may be accessed at http://aaemonline.org/images/referencelistemf.pdf
 American Academy of Environmental Medicine, “American Academy of Environmental Medicine Calls for Immediate Caution regarding Smart Meter Installation,” (pdf) April 12, 2012, http://www.aaemonline.org/
 Havas, BRAG Antenna Ranking of Schools, 31-38.
 Donna Goldstein, “Health Organization Information and Academic Research Studies Regarding the Health Effects of Cell Tower Signals,”Planning and Real Estate Development, Palm Beach County School District, January 30, 2012.
 Havas, BRAG Antenna Ranking of Schools, 17.
 Multinational Monitor, “Precautionary Precepts: The Power and Potential of the Precautionary Principle: An Interview with Carolyn Raffensperger,” September 2004, http://multinationalmonitor.org/mm2004/09012004/september04interviewraffen.html.
 Luzzaro, “Field of Cell Phone Tower Beams.”
 Kovach, “The Hidden Dangers of Cell Phone Radiation.”
See also Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri, “Smart Meter Dangers: The Health Hazards of Wireless Electromagnetic Radiation Exposure,” GlobalResearchca, July 13, 2012.
The wealthy are spending more to protect themselves from all the rest of us than ever before. So why are they so concerned about the future? Do they know something that the rest of us don’t? Or do they just have the money to buy the type of security that the rest of us would [...]
If you live in the United States, you live in a high tech surveillance grid that is becoming more oppressive with each passing day. In America today, the control freaks that run things are completely obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and recording virtually everything that we do. If we continue on the path that [...]
By Mathieu Bessé
18 October 2013
BlackBerry, the manufacturer of BlackBerry smartphones, is slashing a further 4,500 jobs—40 percent of its now much-diminished worldwide workforce—and actively seeking a buyer.
The company, which was previously known as Research in Motion or RIM, has already announced the closure of a customer service office in Bedford, Nova Scotia that employs 350 people and the elimination of 300 jobs in Waterloo, Ontario, where the company is headquartered.
Coming weeks will see the announcement of further job cuts, since BlackBerry management vowed last month, on announcing a US $965 million loss for the second quarter of its financial year, that it will eliminate 4,500 positions by the end of 2013.
These job cuts are on top of the 5,000 layoffs that RIM announced in 2012, with the stated aim of saving $1 billion per year. From a worldwide workforce of 19,000 at the beginning of 2011, BlackBerry will be reduced to about 7,000 employees when the latest restructuring is completed.
Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, a Toronto-based financial holding company, has made a US $4.7 billion cash offer to purchase BlackBerry and under a tentative-sale agreement has been granted access to the company’s books.
However, many industry observers doubt the purchase will be completed or, even if it does go through, that BlackBerry will long survive as a distinct entity.
Fairfax, which claims to be working in conjunction with an unnamed—and as of yet uncommitted—consortium, has not explained where it will find the money to pay for the purchase.
BlackBerry, for its part, is actively searching for alternate buyers. Mike Lazaridis (a former RIM co-CEO), Google, Cisco Systems, and Microsoft are all rumored to have expressed interest in buying the company.
In 2009 Fortune magazine, pointing to RIM/BlackBerry’s average annual sales growth of 77 percent over the previous three years, named the company the “fastest growing” in the world. And as recently as the beginning of 2010, it still had a 40 percent share of the US smartphone market.
But in the face of competition from Apple, Samsung and other smartphone makers, its North American market share has collapsed, including in the business and government sector, which was the original source of its dominance.
Earlier this week, BlackBerry published full-page or otherwise prominent advertisements in 30 daily newspapers in nine different countries so as to proclaim that customers can “continue to count on BlackBerry”—in other words, with a view to countering mounting fears that the company will soon disappear.
In June 2008, that is some three months before the Wall Street financial crisis, BlackBerry had a stock market capitalization of $83 billion, making it among Canada’s most valuable companies.
Now some analysts argue that BlackBerry’s most valuable asset are its patents and it is widely predicted that BlackBerry’s ultimate fate will be to be sold off piecemeal by speculators in the same way carrion is pecked apart by vultures.
The Fairfax takeover deal calls for BlackBerry to be taken private. In explaining his company’s bid, Prem Watsa, the CEO of Fairfax, claimed it “opens an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees.” Watsa then went on to spell out who would be the principal beneficiaries of a Fairfax takeover, declaring that his company is confident it will make money on the deal and “deliver immediate value to the shareholders.”
While the local newspaper, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, has tried to downplay the significance of the impending job cuts, there is little doubt they will have a major impact on the Waterloo Region, which is Canada’s tenth largest metropolitan area. Approximately a thousand workers previously employed at BlackBerry and related firms have been able to find employment in the Waterloo Region for lower wages through Communitech, a firm that helps with start-ups and networking for tech companies.
Manufacturing companies, traditionally major employers in this part of southwestern Ontario, have also been decimated, cutting thousands of jobs since the middle of the last decade, and especially since 2008. Major layoffs and closures include the shuttering of the Schneider’s meat packing plant, which eliminated 1,400 jobs, the closure of an A.O. Smith water-heater plant in Fergus that employed 300, and the layoff of 230 workers at Knape & Vogt (formerly Waterloo Furniture).
BlackBerry was until recently the great success of Canada’s high-tech sector. It helped pioneer smartphones and was unique among telecommunications companies in providing secure, encrypted messaging systems.
BlackBerry’s rise served as a counterpoint to the demise of Nortel (formerly Northern Telcom), which unraveled in the years following the collapse of the DotCom boom. Nortel, which once employed more than 90,000 workers worldwide, filed for bankruptcy in 2009, leaving plant closures, mass layoffs and gutted pensions in its wake.
BlackBerry’s sudden reversal of fortune has caused considerable angst in Canadian business and political circles. But the fate of the workers and the Waterloo region hardly matter in all this. The loss of shareholder value and of a strategic position in a key industry are what trouble Canada’s elite.
“As a Canadian, I would like to see a solution that gives me profitability and a viable company,” said Leo de Bever, the CEO of Alberta Investment Management Corporation. “But so far that hasn’t been happening.”
The Conservative government has rejected calls for it to provide direct assistance to BlackBerry, but has said any purchase by a foreign-based transnational would be subject to review on “national security” grounds.
On the pages of Canada’s corporate-owned dailies, various capitalist ideologues have dismissed the impact of BlackBerry’s fall as the inevitable product of “creative destruction.” They celebrate a socially destructive process whereby a tiny elite enriches itself at the expense of workers in Canada and all over the world—at the expense of the BlackBerry programmers, support staff and other workers who are now being thrown onto the street; and at the expense of the workers who make rival smartphones in the factories of Foxconn, where working conditions are so terrible that the company has had to install safety nets so as to prevent suicides.
Meanwhile, Fairfax Financial Holdings, which, as the holder of $18.5 billion in credit default swaps in the US sub-prime market in 2008, benefited directly from the bailout of the financial aristocracy by the US and Canadian governments, stands to reap handsome profits from organizing a further downsizing and more likely the outright asset-stripping of BlackBerry.
Should the U.S. government be trying to figure out how to use technology to change the beliefs of “religious extremists”? Before you answer yes to that question, perhaps you should consider whether or not the U.S. government considers you to be a “religious extremist”. After all, as I have documented previously, conservatives, libertarians, Tea [...]
Should the U.S. government be trying to figure out how to use technology to change the beliefs of “religious extremists”? Before you answer yes to that question, perhaps you should consider whether or not the U.S. government considers you to be a “religious extremist”. After all, as I have documented previously, conservatives, libertarians, Tea Party activists and evangelical Christians are all considered to be “extremists” in various U.S. government documents. So if we open up Pandora’s Box and say that it is okay for the government to use technology to wipe away the religious beliefs of some “extremists”, what would stop them from using that same technology on you someday? The truth is that this kind of technology should never be used on anyone, and it is very disturbing that the government seems so determined to develop it.
We would probably know very little about the development of this technology if a whistleblower had not recently come forward. The following is a YouTube video in which investigative reporter Ben Swann interviews this whistleblower and explains what the U.S. government is actually trying to do…
That video should chill you to the core.
And apparently this kind of technology already exists. It is called “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation” and it can reportedly alter your most cherished beliefs. The following is a short excerpt from Ben Swann’s interview with the whistleblower that worked on this project…
Ben: Phase III is fairly interesting. I noticed in the documentation it says lets not talk too much about this because who knows if we’ll ever get there. But when you do read what Phase III is it is a little surprising, it’s called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. This is not something that’s science fiction, it’s not something they’ve cooked up. This is a real technique that’s already been used in the past, correct?
Whistleblower: Yes, it started out in the psychiatry field when people were depressed and when you’re depressed certain parts of your brain are not functioning correctly. So they created this technology, which is basically a big magnet, and you put it on their brain and it turns off that part of the brain that’s bad or wrong and it would help them with their depression for several weeks to a month and they’d go back and do it again. So this technology has been around for ten or fifteen years.
Ben: So it’s very high tech propaganda, what we’re talking about.
Whistleblower: High tech and validated propaganda, yes. So if they’re able to turn off a part of the brain and get rid of that master narrative that will make you not believe in a particular statement, they would have validated this propaganda. So if they turn off portion X, they know that the propaganda is going to work and the individual is going to believe whatever is being told to them.
Once the U.S. government starts using this technology on people, will there be any limit on who they can use it on?
As Ben Swann noted, the label “extremist” can be applied to almost any kind of religious belief…
After all, aren’t extremist Muslims dangerous? Extremist Christians? See the problem with the question is who gets to define extremist? Who decides if religious beliefs are inherently dangerous?
And if we believe that government should have the power to control how the extremist thinks… wouldn’t they have the authority to decide how and what we all think?
Don’t be tempted to think that this can’t happen. Just this week Fox News reported that the American Family Association, a very mainstream evangelical Christian organization, was classified as “a domestic hate group” during a U.S. Army briefing…
Several dozen U.S. Army active duty and reserve troops were told last week that the American Family Association, a well-respected Christian ministry, should be classified as a domestic hate group because the group advocates for traditional family values.
The briefing was held at Camp Shelby in Mississippi and listed the AFA alongside domestic hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam.
And this is hardly an isolated incident. In a previous article entitled “72 Types Of Americans That Are Considered ‘Potential Terrorists’ In Official Government Documents“, I listed a whole bunch of different types of Christians that are considered to be “extremists” in U.S. government documents.
And this attitude of animosity toward Christians is manifesting itself in a multitude of ways all over the country. In fact, according to the new Religious Hostility Survey, the number of incidents of hostility toward Christians in the United States is growing at a very frightening pace…
Hostility against Christian Americans is growing at an alarming rate, according to a new survey from the Family Research Council and Liberty Institute.
The Liberty Institute’s Jeff Mateer noted that while last year’s survey was based on 600 cases, “this survey that we’re releasing right now is almost 1,200. So we’ve almost doubled in just one year.”
One such case involved college student named Audrey Jarvis, who was asked twice to remove her cross, or at least hide it, at a student orientation.
“My supervisor came up to me out of nowhere and asked me to remove my cross necklace because he thought it would be offensive to incoming freshmen,” she recalled.
Will we eventually get to the point where evangelical Christianity is looked down upon so much in this nation that it is considered acceptable for the government to use technology to wipe away the religious beliefs of “extremist” Christians?
Once upon a time, it would have been insane to even suggest such a thing. But now the technology is being developed and mainstream evangelical Christians are being labeled as “extremists” and “potential terrorists” in official U.S. government documents.
It is frightening to think about where all of this might end up.
So what do you think about all of this? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
GMOs and the Destruction of Indian Agriculture: Government in Collusion with the Biotech Conglomerates
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Israel’s “New Army” Will Use “Technological Advantages” Including More Drones in Future Middle East...
A computer systems hiccup has left the Mars rover Curiosity out of action after the probe detected the first chemical evidence of possible alien life. The rover was sidelined earlier this month following a first bout of technical troubles.
Scientists had previously said that operations would be resumed on Monday after a problem with the Rover’s computer memory caused the mission to be put on hold two weeks ago.
However, the latest technical upset that arose on Sunday forced engineers to extend the unexpected break in the mission.
"This is not something that is rare or even uncommon," John Grotzinger, lead scientist at the California Institute of Technology assured press at a news conference during the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston. He added that the setback is likely to delay the latest science results from the rover for the next couple of days.
The latest hiccup occurred during an information transmission to Earth on Sunday night.
The problems have arisen at a crucial time in the rover’s mission, just after the mission uncovered the first ever telltale signs that there was once life on the red planet.
Chemical analysis of a sample obtained by NASA’s curiosity last month revealed traces of a benevolent environment capable of supporting life. The analysis also unearthed a life-sustaining chemical footprint comprised of sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and simple carbon.
The rover’s camera and Russian-manufactured probe are currently located in Mars’ Yellowknife Bay region, where more evidence of water has been discovered than anywhere else on the planet.
"I see the difference between Yellowknife and the area which is just before Yellowknife ... showing the different distribution of water. This is a significant variation," Maksim Litvak of the Space Research Institute in Moscow told reporters.
The rover mission, which was extended indefinitely in December of last year, seeks to ascertain whether Mars’ Gale Crater was able to support microbial life at some point in its history. The groundbreaking discoveries made by NASA’s mission are expected to pave the way for possible habitability studies during future exploration missions.
“We have found a habitable environment that is so benign and supportive of life that probably if this water was around and you had been on the planet, you would have been able to drink it,” said Grotzinger.
Technology reshapes the landscape of our emotional lives, but is it offering us the lives we want to lead?
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/jayfish
February 19, 2013 |
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The following is an excerpt from Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.
Online connections were first conceived as a substitute for face-to-face contact, when the latter was for some reason impractical: Don’t have time to make a phone call? Shoot off a text message. But very quickly, the text message became the connection of choice. We discovered the network—the world of connectivity—to be uniquely suited to the overworked and overscheduled life it makes possible. And now we look to the network to defend us against loneliness even as we use it to control the intensity of our connections. Technology makes it easy to communicate when we wish and to disengage at will.
A few years ago at a dinner party in Paris, I met Ellen, an ambitious, elegant young woman in her early thirties, thrilled to be working at her dream job in advertising. Once a week, she would call her grandmother in Philadelphia using Skype, an Internet service that functions as a telephone with a Web camera. Before Skype, Ellen’s calls to her grandmother were costly and brief. With Skype, the calls are free and give the compelling sense that the other person is present—Skype is an almost real-time video link. Ellen could now call more frequently: “Twice a week and I stay on the call for an hour,” she told me. It should have been rewarding; instead, when I met her, Ellen was unhappy. She knew that her grandmother was unaware that Skype allows surreptitious multitasking. Her grandmother could see Ellen’s face on the screen but not her hands. Ellen admitted to me, “I do my email during the calls. I’m not really paying attention to our conversation.”
Ellen’s multitasking removed her to another place. She felt her grandmother was talking to someone who was not really there. During their Skype conversations, Ellen and her grandmother were more connected than they had ever been before, but at the same time, each was alone. Ellen felt guilty and confused: she knew that her grandmother was happy, even if their intimacy was now, for Ellen, another task among multitasks.
I have often observed this distinctive confusion: these days, whether you are online or not, it is easy for people to end up unsure if they are closer together or further apart. I remember my own sense of disorientation the first time I realized that I was “alone together.” I had traveled an exhausting thirty-six hours to attend a conference on advanced robotic technology held in central Japan. The packed grand ballroom was Wi-Fi enabled: the speaker was using the Web for his presentation, laptops were open throughout the audience, fingers were flying, and there was a sense of great concentration and intensity. But not many in the audience were attending to the speaker. Most people seemed to be doing their email, downloading files, and surfing the Net. The man next to me was searching for a New Yorker cartoon to illustrate his upcoming presentation. Every once in a while, audience members gave the speaker some attention, lowering their laptop screens in a kind of curtsy, a gesture of courtesy.
Outside, in the hallways, the people milling around me were looking past me to virtual others. They were on their laptops and their phones, connecting to colleagues at the conference going on around them and to others around the globe. There but not there. Of course, clusters of people chatted with each other, making dinner plans, “networking” in that old sense of the word, the one that implies having a coffee or sharing a meal. But at this conference, it was clear that what people mostly want from public space is to be alone with their personal networks. It is good to come together physically, but it is more important to stay tethered to our devices. I thought of how Sigmund Freud considered the power of communities both to shape and to subvert us, and a psychoanalytic pun came to mind: “connectivity and its discontents.”
Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali (C) arrives for a meeting with representatives of Tunisia's main political parties in Carthage, outside Tunis on Monday, Feb. 18, 2013.
Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali says his plan to resolve the political crisis gripping the country through the formation of a new government of technocrats has failed.
On Monday, Jebali said Tunisia's main political parties had been unable to form a cabinet of technocrats to address the national crisis that began after the assassination of a prominent opposition politician, Reuters reported.
"The initiative of a cabinet of technocrats did not receive full political consensus and failed… but work is continuing with all parties in order to form a government which has the agreement of most of the political parties," Jebali told reporters at a press conference following the meeting in Carthage, outside Tunis.
He did not say whether he would resign but said that he would meet with President Moncef Marzouki on Tuesday to discuss the next steps.
The crisis began after leftist opposition leader Shokri Belaid was fatally shot outside his home in the capital on February 6.
Belaid's assassination triggered violent demonstrations across the country, with the headquarters of the ruling Ennahda party being attacked in more than a dozen cities.
Opposition groups have accused Ennahda of being behind the assassination. However, the party’s leader, Rashid al-Ghannouchi, condemned the deadly assault and rejected the allegation.