Friday, October 25, 2019

America's Healthcare Rip-off

nakedcapitalism |  Yves here. Reader Christopher J sent a contribution from Down Under, with a long note about his treatment for his first major medical treatment. I thought I would run it as a long-form example of how health care works in other advanced economies. Admittedly, my personal data points are stale, but when I was in Sydney (2002-2004), the caliber of health care was on a par with the US, and even with my paying out of pocket, the charges were about a third of what they would have been in the US. A couple I knew who had the option of the wife giving childbirth in New York City or Sydney chose Sydney because they deemed the care to be better. 

One of the big things that allows for America’s health care looting to go well beyond what ought to have been its sell by date is our provincialism. 

You can read about the Australian scheme here; the short version is citizens and permanent residents pay 2% of their annual income over a threshold for Medicare; they can then either buy private insurance or pay a surcharge for the balance of their coverage.

Christopher J lives in Cairns, which is a remote city of 150,000 near the Great Barrier Reef. 

By Christopher J
I follow your blog most days and have been a part time commenter for well over 10 years now, since I worked for the Bureau of Transport Economics in Canberra. 

Here is a story about my first medical emergency. I was born in the UK in 1961 and now live in Cairns after working in the public sector for 30 plus years in the finance and treasury sectors. I currently work for self as handyman and have a partner who also works.

Last September 2018, I gave up smoking cigarettes due to the expense. Heavily taxed to ‘discourage use’, a 20 pack of Marlboros now costs around A$30 – $20 US. And, I reckon my habit was costing around $750 a month, or the cost of an annual river cruise in Europe! I’d given up several times for months or even years, but this was the first time I’d given up arising from anger at how the Federal Government was tackling the problem with a huge tax on, mostly, working people.

After that first month, I withdrew the money I’d saved in cash and bought myself a flash wallet to put it in. Smug I was at the pub around my smoking friends. I found huge improvements in my health. For many years sleeping on my side led to my arms going to sleep as my circulation was constricted by all that smoke residue. After a month or so of not smoking, my blood circulation improved and I found I could sleep again on my side. I told partner we were going to extend all our run circuits by about 800 m and we started to hike up Mount Whitfield, and jog down, about an 8km round trip with an up and down of around 350m, with the trail along the ridge line. I was feeling very fit for my age and was feeling generally positive about my health and well being.

At the end of May, or so, and out of the blue, I found a lump as I was sitting on the bed one morning. This was a Monday about 4 months ago. At the top of my right thigh and groiu area was a lump, not painful, about the size of a small egg.’

What About Spending It On Medicaid Instead?

counterpunch |  Something very unusual happened on Thursday, Oct. 17. The New York Times suddenly ran an article on its opinion page explaining how to cut $300 billion from the $1-trillion military budget — enough, the article explained, to fund Bernie Sanders’ proposed program for an expanded Medicare program to cover all Americans without raising a dime in new taxes.

The article, written by Lindsay Koshgarian, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ National Priorities Project, explained that by shifting the US diplomatic and military strategy from one of confrontation, endless wars, expansive overseas basing, and unilateralism to one of diplomacy, a pull-back from foreign bases and global deployments, with a concomitant reduction in the nation’s 2.4 million-person military could be accomplished with no threat to US national security.

Koshgarian’s opinion article actually listed the cuts that could be made, attaching a dollar value to each one. Examples were:

* End the practice of supplemental appropriations for war funding, much of which is actually used for more spending on other unintended military programs and which have only led to unending wars that have done nothing to make the US safer, for example in Iraq and Afghanistan. Savings: $66 billion per year.

* End funding for other nations’ militaries. Savings $14 billion a year.

* Close foreign bases (Almost one-third of all uniformed US military personnel serve abroad, most of them in non-crisis-zone locations or combat zones). Savings: $90 billion

Why 2+ Million American Expats Live in Mexico

businessinmexico |  If you’ve ever considered a move across the southern border, you may wonder what healthcare in Mexico is like for expats. While in many ways, the Mexican system is much friendlier than the U.S. healthcare system — so much so that Americans cross the border to get healthcare — there are still a lot of things you need to know.

What kind of healthcare system does Mexico have? Can you get insurance there as a resident, or while doing business in Mexico? What is the IMSS, or Seguro Popular, and how do those apply to you as a non-citizen? When it comes to medical care, south of the border, understanding your options is essential.

When many Americans think of Mexico, they think of a poverty-stricken country that people are trying to escape. While that might be true in some cases, primarily because of corruption, Mexico is a cosmopolitan 21st-century country and its healthcare system reflects that.

There are thousands of healthcare facilities throughout the country, about one-third of which belong to the taxpayers. Most healthcare providers in Mexico received at least part of their education in the United States, Canada or Europe. Finding an English speaking doctor should not be a problem.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

We Switched from Meth Labs to Mexican Cartels

kctv5 |  As the officer in charge of COMBAT, Jackson County’s Drug Trafficking Task Force Dan Cumming deals with a lot of dangerous people.

“About 100% of what we recover, if you follow it back far enough up the drug train so to speak, comes from Mexico and is cartel related,” Cummings said.

Just last week, COMBAT worked a case at the request of Independence police.

A tip led them to a Kansas City, Missouri street where a search warrant led to the seizure of tires filled with meth.

“My guess is that’s the way it was shipped from Mexico to Kansas City,” Cummings said.
Cartels get creative when smuggling drugs in customs and border protection has a few recent examples.

Fentanyl in a vehicle transmission, heroine in a gas tank, marijuana inside a car door and cocaine in clay figurines.

Cummings says he’s seeing more cartel related drug busts in Kansas City now than he has in his 35 plus years in law enforcement.

Los Chapitos Put the Lie to the Myth of Sovereign Force Monopoly

reuters |  The mug shot-style photo of Ovidio Guzman that appeared as he was apprehended oozed defiance. Chin jutting out, eyes trained on the camera, the handsome youth bore a strong resemblance to his infamous father, jailed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. 

He had reason to be cocksure. In response to his capture in an upscale neighborhood, hundreds of heavily-armed Sinaloa Cartel henchmen, guns blazing, were pouring into Culiacan, briefly taking the modern city of about a million people near Mexico’s Pacific coast hostage. 

Within hours they had pried him loose from authorities. 

It was like nothing Mexico had seen before, a military-style operation that outfoxed and outnumbered security forces, leaving the city shocked and smoldering. The show of strength dashed hopes the cartel was seriously weakened by the life sentence the elder Guzman received in the United States this year. 

Not only were the new generation of Guzmans, collectively known as Los Chapitos, keeping alive their family’s near-mythical outlaw reputation, they were doing it with a brazenness akin to open warfare. 

“We’re facing a new generation of organized crime that doesn’t respect civilians,” Cristobal Castaneda, head of Sinaloa state security, told Reuters after the attacks. 

Four surviving sons of El Chapo were already regulars in Culiacan’s nightclubs and restaurants, despite U.S. indictments against them, before last Thursday’s dramatic act of armed insurrection.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Toothpick Hanging Out His Mouth - Ole Warren Put a Brick Through Overton's Window

Now Let's You Jus Drop Em'Pants...,

sicsempertyrannis |  Any fair reporter with half a brain would see these events as pointing to a conspiracy. But not the liars at the New York Times. But the Times does tip us off to the upcoming mad scramble for life boats. It will it the FBI and DOJ against the DNI, the CIA and NSA. According to the Times:

It is not clear how many people Mr. Durham’s team has interviewed outside of the F.B.I. His investigators have questioned officials in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence but apparently have yet to interview C.I.A. personnel, people familiar with the review said. Mr. Durham would probably want to speak with Gina Haspel, the agency’s director, who ran its London station when the Australians passed along the explosive information about Russia’s offer of political dirt.

There is no abiding affection between the FBI and the CIA. They mix like oil and water. In theory the FBI only traffics in "evidence." The CIA deals primarily with well-sourced rumors. But the CIA will argue they were offering their best judgement, not a factual conclusion. Brennan and Clapper will insist they were not in a position to determine the "truth" of what they were reporting. It is "intel" not evidence.

The Horowitz report will not deal with the CIA and NSA directly. Horowitz can only point out that the FBI folks insisted that they were relying on the intel community and had no reason not to trust them. This is likely to get ugly and do not be surprised to see the intel folks try to throw the FBI under the bus and vice versa. Grab the popcorn.

Squeeze Clapper Hard Now

sicsempertyrannis |  U.S. officials had been concerned that Russian sources could be at risk of exposure as early as the fall of 2016, when the Obama administration first confirmed that Russia had stolen and publicly disclosed emails from the Democratic National Committee and the account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.

In October 2016, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a joint statement that intelligence agencies were “confident that the Russian Government directed” the hacking campaign. . . .

In January 2017, the Obama administration published a detailed assessment that unambiguously laid the blame on the Kremlin, concluding that “Putin ordered an influence campaign” and that Russia’s goal was to undermine faith in the U.S. democratic process and harm Clinton’s chances of winning.

“That’s a pretty remarkable intelligence community product — much more specific than what you normally see,” one U.S. official said. “It’s very expected that potential U.S. intelligence assets in Russia would be under a higher level of scrutiny by their own intelligence services.”

Sounds official. But there is no actual forensic or documentary evidence (by that I mean actual corroborating intelligence reports) to back up these claims by our oxymoronically christened intelligence community.

Vladimir Putin ordered the hack? Where is the report? It is either in a piece of intercepted electronics communication and/or in a report derived from information provided by Mr. Smolenkov. Where is it? Why has that not been shared in public? Don't have to worry about exposing the source now. He is already in the open. What did he report? Answer--no direct evidence.

Then there is the lie that the Russians hacked the DNC. They did not. Bill Binney, a former Technical Director of the NSA, and I have written on this subject previously (see here) and there is no truth to this claim. Let me put it simply--if the DNC had been hacked by the Russians using spearphising (this is claimed in the Robert Mueller report) then the NSA would have collected those messages and would be able to show they were transferred to the Russians. That did not happen.

This kind of chaotic leaking about an old intel op is symptomatic of panic. CIA is already officially denying key parts of the story. My money is on John Brennan and Jim Clapper as the likely impetus for these reports. They are hoping to paint Trump as a national security threat and distract from the upcoming revelations from the DOJ Inspector General report on the FISA warrants and, more threatening, the decisions that Prosecutor John Durham will take in deciding to indict those who attempted to launch a coup against Donald Trump, a legitimately elected President of the United States.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

We Can Never Be China's Friend

asiatimes |  Trump’s real liability isn’t impeachment. It’s China and the economy. What the Trump administration has been doing so far, vis-à-vis China, is an own goal — ein Eigentor [“an owner”].

Why is it an eigentor?

Because the effect of the tariffs on the US economy is at least as bad as the effect of the tariffs on the Chinese economy. American export orders are collapsing. We have the weakest industrial reading since June of 2009. We are in a manufacturing recession, according to the Federal Reserve. Factory output is contracting. Trump won in 2016 by carrying key manufacturing states like Pennsylvania,
Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. This blunder could lose him the election. This is much more dangerous than the impeachment masquerade. China’s also suffering, but appears to be suffering less.

And the big difference is Xi Jinping [China’s president] doesn’t have a presidential election in 2020 and Trump does.

In fact, President Xi will never face an election. He is elected for life.

That is true. But all that can change if he fails to succeed.

You have compared the situation that the US is facing toward China to the siege and conquest of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258.

The Mongols, by themselves, did not have the capability to penetrate the twelve-foot-thick walls of the city of Baghdad. But they hired a thousand Chinese siege engineers. Within three weeks, the Chinese mercenaries breached the walls, at which point the Mongol horsemen went in and killed the entire population of Baghdad.

Who are today’s Chinese siege engineers who are breaching the American fortress?

Huawei very much is the spearhead, because in the Chinese model of economic expansion and the development of world economic power, broadband is the opener to everything else.
It’s a company with a lot of very talented people. Ten years ago – if you asked people, “What Chinese products do you buy?” – you wouldn’t mention a single brand name. But everyone now knows Huawei. They produce the world’s best smartphones. They certainly dominate 5G internet. But Huawei is not a Chinese company. It is an imperial company.

The Chinese empire is doing better than us because it’s absorbed the talent of a very large number of others.

As Important as Preference Falsification - The Overton Window

oftwominds |   If you're truly interested in finding solutions to humanity's pressing problems, then start helping us pry open the Overton Window. 

The Overton Window describes the spectrum of concepts, policies and approaches that can be publicly discussed without being ridiculed or marginalized as "too radical," "unworkable," "crazy," etc. The narrower the Overton Window, the greater the impoverishment of public dialog and the fewer the solutions available. Those holding power in a socio-economic-political system that's unraveling devote their remaining energy to closing the Overton Window so that only "approved" narratives and policies that support the status quo are "allowed" into the public sphere.

Everything outside this narrow band of status-quo-supportive narratives is immediately disparaged as "fake news," "Kremlin talking points," or other highly charged accusations designed to close the Overton Window--a process Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman called manufacturing consent: if no "outside" ideas are allowed, people accept the status quo as "all there is and all there can possibly be." 

This narrow Overton Window benefits those in power who are "legally looting" the system. There is another source of a narrow Overton Window: the cultural, social and political elites have no new ideas and so they cling to doing more of what's failed, relying on the past successes of now-failing strategies to cement their power. 

Michael Grant described how this failure of imagination and devotion to the past leads inevitably to decline and collapse in his excellent account The Fall of the Roman Empire, a short book I have been recommending since 2009:

Monday, October 21, 2019

Round this Trash Up On Its Way Back Into the U.S...,

NYTimes |  Speaker Nancy Pelosi has traveled to Jordan to meet with the Jordanian king for “vital” discussions about the Turkish incursion into Syria and other regional challenges, amid uncertainty about whether an American-brokered cease-fire with Turkey in northern Syria was holding.

The visit by senior United States officials came as sporadic clashes continued on Sunday morning along the Turkish-Syrian border, where, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry, a Turkish soldier was killed by Kurdish fighters in the Syrian border town of Tel Abyad. 

Confusion and continued shelling have marred the cease-fire deal announced by Vice President Mike Pence last week, with both Turkey and Kurdish leaders accusing each other of violating the truce.

Ms. Pelosi, a California Democrat, led a nine-member bipartisan congressional delegation to Jordan that included Representatives Adam Schiff, Democrat of California; Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York; and Mac Thornberry, Republican of Texas. The group met with King Abdullah II of Jordan on Saturday evening.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Take Back Apokolips

Tulsi Schmacked the Stank Clean Out of Hitlery's Girdle

tomluongo |  Tulsi Gabbard has stones. She has the kind of stones born of a life dedicated to the cause of serving others. 

She is the direct opposite of Hillary Clinton, for whom all causes serve herself and her enormous narcissism and pathology.

So seeing Gabbard go directly after Hillary Clinton after her debate performance the other evening where she explicitly called out both the New York Times and CNN (the hosts of the debate) for the hit jobs on her puts to rest any idea she’s someone else’s stalking horse.

Two weeks ago I asked if five tweets from President Trump changed U.S. foreign policy for good, Gabbard does him two better with these three tweets of absolute, Oscar Wilde-like beauty.


There is so much goodness to unpack in these tweets it is almost beyond my ability to do so.

Tulsi Gabbard Kicking Ass, Taking Names, and Looking Good....,

But perhaps the highlight was her directly calling out the very sponsors of the debate, CNN and the New York Times, for their “despicable” and baseless attacks. 
“Just two days ago, the New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears. This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia. Completely despicable,” she said.
The CNN charge specifically referenced comments made by Bakari Sellers on New Day on the morning of the debate. He said Gabbard is the “antithesis” of what the Democratic Party and the other candidates stand for, adding, “There is no question that Tulsi Gabbard, of all the 12, is a puppet for the Russian government.”

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Very Interested in These Lost Red-Headed Stepchildren....,

ineteconomics |  Under the shadow of a future darkened by climate crises, political instability, inequality, and super-human machines, how to best proceed? For some, the answer is more technology and scientific advancement; for others, better policies and political arrangements. Or some combination of these. 

Not enough, warns Jeremy Lent, author of The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning. First we’ll need to confront something deep in our psyches that prods us toward destruction. 

To get at that something, Lent traces a “cognitive history” of the human species in a book delivering big, sweeping ideas and a discipline-hopping approach drawing from neuroscience, archaeology, linguistics, and systems theory, the study of complex living systems. 

Lent argues that how we view the world arises out of language, specifically core metaphors that shape our values and culture, which in turn mold history in a reciprocal feedback loop. Cultural templates are often long lasting, but can also shift dramatically, sometimes in a generation or two. The process of cultural evolution, Lent observes, determines how well humans fare as much as the genes we inherit (there’s a feedback loop between culture and genes, too). 

As Lent sees it, you and I are in the midst one of history’s great transitions — a process which could lead to conditions far less hospitable for most, or even a total collapse of global civilization. To avoid these dire fates, we can train our brains to adopt alternative metaphors that allow us to live less destructively. 

So which metaphors are causing the trouble? For one, Lent faults a tendency to conceive a dualistic universe of binary categories, like mind and matter, reason and emotion, self and other. This framework, as the postmoderns observed, drives us to favor one category over the other and to build societies based on hierarchy and separation. 

The pattern is not universal: Lent presents evidence that early hunter-gatherers emphasized connectivity rather than separation, a mindset that engendered a more egalitarian social structure. (Unfortunately, they also lived by a metaphor of nature as an endlessly giving parent, resulting in problems like overhunting, which illustrates that even seemingly harmless metaphors can eventually lead to catastrophe).

To What Extent is Color a Physical Thing in the Physical World?

bbc | Depending on what language you speak, your eye perceives colours – and the world – differently than someone else. The human eye can physically perceive millions of colours. But we don’t all recognise these colours in the same way. 

Some people can’t see differences in colours – so called colour blindness – due to a defect or absence of the cells in the retina that are sensitive to high levels of light: the cones. But the distribution and density of these cells also varies across people with ‘normal vision’, causing us all to experience the same colour in slightly different ways. 

Besides our individual biological make up, colour perception is less about seeing what is actually out there and more about how our brain interprets colours to create something meaningful. The perception of colour mainly occurs inside our heads and so is subjective – and prone to personal experience.

Take for instance people with synaesthesia, who are able to experience the perception of colour with letters and numbers. Synaesthesia is often described as a joining of the senses – where a person can see sounds or hear colours. But the colours they hear also differ from case to case.

Another example is the classic Adelson’s checker-shadow illusion. Here, although two marked squares are exactly the same colour, our brains don’t perceive them this way.

Since the day we were born we have learnt to categorise objects, colours, emotions, and pretty much everything meaningful using language. And although our eyes can perceive thousands of colours, the way we communicate about colour – and the way we use colour in our everyday lives – means we have to carve this huge variety up into identifiable, meaningful categories.

Painters and fashion experts, for example, use colour terminology to refer to and discriminate hues and shades that to all intents and purposes may all be described with one term by a non-expert.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Preference Falsification

wikipedia |  Preference falsification is the act of communicating a preference that differs from one's true preference. Individuals frequently convey, especially to researchers or pollsters, preferences that differ from what they genuinely want, often because they believe the conveyed preference is more socially acceptable than their actual preference. The idea of preference falsification was put forth by the social scientist Timur Kuran in his book Private Truth, Public Lies as part of his theory of how people's stated preferences are responsive to social influences. It laid the foundation for his theory of why unanticipated revolutions can occur. It is related to ideas of social proof as well as choice blindness

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Exemplars or Mutant Fakirs?

wikipedia |  David Goggins (born February 17, 1975) is an American ultramarathon runner, ultra-distance cyclist, triathlete, motivational speaker and author. He is a retired United States Navy SEAL and former United States Air Force Tactical Air Control Party member who served in the War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War. He is a former world record holder for the most pull-ups done in 24 hours. His self-help memoir, Can't Hurt Me, was released in 2018. 

wikipedia |  Dean Karnazes (English: /kɑːrˈnɛˈzɪs/ car-NEH-zis; born Constantine Karnazes; August 23, 1962), is an American ultramarathon runner, and author of Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner, which details ultra endurance running for the general public.[3][4]

When Will the Sub-Two Hour Marathon Happen in Open Competition?

wired |  On Saturday morning in Vienna, Austria, Eliud Kipchoge, the world's finest marathoner, became the first person in history to run 26.2 miles in under two hours. His time of 1:59:40 required him to maintain an average pace of just under 4:35 per mile. That is, to put it mildly, soul-searing speed. Even a supremely fit person would struggle to run at so aggressive a clip for more than five or six minutes in a row. On Saturday, Kipchoge held it for just shy of 120.

But Kipchoge's performance will not be recognized as an official world record. The event was not an open competition; it was held for Kipchoge and Kipchoge alone. What's more, a rotating cast of pacers shielded him from wind throughout the run, and a bicycle-riding support team was on hand at all times to deliver him water and fuel. It was not so much a race, in other words, as an exhibition event designed for speed. A one-man, all-or-nothing time trial.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Eliminate Carbs for 3 Days - Use Protein and Fat for Energy Instead - See What Happens...,

healthline |  A no-carb diet is a way of eating that eliminates digestible carbs as much as possible.
Carbs are your body’s primary source of energy. They’re found in grains, beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables, milk, yogurt, pasta, bread, and baked goods.

Therefore, someone on a no-carb diet must avoid most of these foods and instead eat foods that contain primarily protein or fat, such as meats, fish, eggs, cheese, oils, and butter.

There is no strict rubric for a no-carb diet. Some people who follow it eat nuts and seeds, non-starchy vegetables, and high-fat fruits like avocado and coconut.

Even though these foods have some carbs, they’re high in fiber. Therefore, they have only a minuscule number of digestible or net carbs, which is calculated by subtracting the amount of fiber from the total number of carbs (1).

A no-carb diet resembles a ketogenic diet, which limits your carb intake to fewer than 30 grams per day and encourages you to get 70% or more of your daily calories from fat (2Trusted Source). 

Depending on what you choose to eat, a no-carb diet can be more restrictive than keto.

FOH with Caloric Restriction! Ashy-Assed Betas are Simply Ashy-Assed Betas...,

technologyreview |  My bitterness peaked midway through day four of the “Fast-Mimicking Diet,” when a parent arrived at my daughter’s softball game with doughnuts. As little girls and fellow coaches crowded around the box, I stood apart, glumly sipping out of my special water bottle with its “proprietary” blend of nutrients.

For breakfast, I’d consumed a nut bar the size of a small cracker and a couple of vitamins. Lunch was five olives from Seville.

Frankly, I’d begun to resent Valter Longo, the inventor of Prolon, the five-day, $250 fad diet causing my misery. True, the Italian-born biochemist had seemed perfectly nice when I’d reached him at his office at the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute a few days before to speak with him about the science behind the diet and what it might do for my general health and longevity. He had patiently explained how the diet would temporarily shift my body into a starvation state that would prompt my cells to consume years of accumulated cellular garbage before unleashing a surge of restorative regeneration. Getting rid of garbage had sounded like just what I needed. But now I blamed him for my predicament. I wanted a doughnut.

My Prolon “meal kit” had arrived in a white cardboard container a little bigger than a shoebox. Inside I’d found a meal program card spelling out the menu, a large empty water bottle emblazoned with the word “Prolon,” and five smaller cardboard boxes, each labeled with a corresponding day. I opened the box for day one, billed as a higher-calorie “transition day,” and was pleasantly surprised. It didn’t look so bad. I’d be sampling many of the diet’s highlights: a small packet of kale crackers, powdered tomato soup blend, algae oil supplements, a bag of olives, herbal tea, and not one but two nut-based bars (albeit distressingly small).

When I opened up day two, however, I began to get a better sense of what I was in for. One of the puny nut bars had been replaced by a glycerin-based “energy” drink, which I was instructed to add water to and sip on throughout the day. There was more herbal tea—hibiscus, mint, and lemon (I don’t even like herbal tea)—plus a couple more powdered-soup packs and two tiny packets of olives. Where was the rest of it?

Monday, October 14, 2019

Cosmic Longevity - Prerequisite for the Conquest of Space

technologyreview |  Izpisúa Belmonte believes epigenetic reprogramming may prove to be an “elixir of life” that will extend human life span significantly. Life expectancy has increased more than twofold in the developed world over the past two centuries. Thanks to childhood vaccines, seat belts, and so on, more people than ever reach natural old age. But there is a limit to how long anyone lives, which Izpisúa Belmonte says is because our bodies wear down through inevitable decay and deterioration. “Aging,” he writes, “is nothing other than molecular aberrations that occur at the cellular level.” It is, he says, a war with entropy that no individual has ever won.

But each generation brings new possibilities, as the epigenome gets reset during reproduction when a new embryo is formed. Cloning takes advantage of reprogramming, too: a calf cloned from an adult bull contains the same DNA as the parent, just refreshed. In both cases, the offspring is born without the accumulated “aberrations” that Izpisúa Belmonte refers to.

What Izpisúa Belmonte is proposing is to go one step better still, and reverse aging-related aberrations without having to create a new individual. Among these are changes to our epigenetic marks—chemical groups called histones and methylation marks, which wrap around a cell’s DNA and function as on/off switches for genes. The accumulation of these changes causes the cells to function less efficiently as we get older, and some scientists, Izpisúa Belmonte included, think they could be part of why we age in the first place. If so, then reversing these epigenetic changes through reprogramming may enable us to turn back aging itself.

Izpisúa Belmonte cautions that epigenetic tweaks won’t “make you live forever,” but they might delay your expiration date. As he sees it, there is no reason to think we cannot extend human life span by another 30 to 50 years, at least. “I think the kid that will be living to 130 is already with us,” Izpisúa Belmonte says. “He has already been born. I’m convinced.”

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Psyche - Foundation of Our Level II Constructions

Forbes |  NASA is preparing to explore a world made of metal. Confirming that the exciting Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration-led Psyche mission is now entering the build phase, NASA’s probe is now set to visit a mysterious asteroid between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It could be nothing less than the exposed core of a dead planet, with some suggesting that it could be worth a staggering $10,000 quadrillion.

What is asteroid Psyche?

While most asteroids are rocky or icy bodies, Psyche is thought to be a stripped planetary core, a very rare object in the solar system. While NASA missions like InSight drill into Mars to discover the origins of planets, Psyche offers an opportunity to inspect and study a planetary core up close. It appears to be the exposed iron-nickel core (just like Earth’s) of a proto-planet, a small world that formed early in the solar system's history, but never reached planetary size—much like Vesta and Ceres, which NASA's Dawn spacecraft explored. Could asteroid Psyche be the heart of an early planet as big as Mars that lost its rocky outer layers? Was it involved in violent collisions? NASA will help planetary scientists find out, and so tease-out lessons for how the solar system’s planets likely formed.

With or Without Compact Fusion - Mankind IS ALREADY WILL GET Permanently Off-World | NNSA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) joined forces to address a unique challenge: developing a power source able to support deep space travel and outlast existing fuel sources. NNSA came through with the technical expertise required to achieve this goal.

“The relationship between NNSA and NASA is a ‘win-win’ partnership,” said Patrick Cahalane, NNSA’s Principal Deputy Associate Administrator for Safety, Infrastructure and Operations. “NASA gets a prototype demonstration for a kilowatt-range fission power source, and NNSA gets a benchmark-quality experiment that provides new nuclear data in support of our Nuclear Criticality Safety Program.”

The experiment, nicknamed KRUSTY (Kilowatt Reactor Using Stirling TechnologY), was part of NASA’s larger Kilopower project. KRUSTY was designed to test a prototype fission reactor coupled to a Stirling engine. Stirling technology is efficient, doesn’t require significant maintenance, and does not degrade in performance over time.

Scientists from NNSA’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Nevada National Security Site partnered with NASA to develop and test the KRUSTY design at the National Criticality Experiments Research Center (NCERC).

Researchers designed and performed initial testing of the KRUSTY reactor design using a surrogate, or non-fissile, reactor core and resistive heating elements. Experts from NNSA’s Y-12 National Security Complex manufactured the uranium reactor core, which was delivered to the NCERC in the fall of 2017. 

Let's Act Brand New and Pretend We Don't Already Know....,

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Soft Disclosure? Limited Hangout? Age of Star Trek Discovery?

thedrive |  The War Zone has been reporting on a set of bizarre patents assigned to the U.S. Navy that describe radical new technologies that could absolutely revolutionize the aerospace field, and frankly, the very way we live our lives. These include high-energy electromagnetic fields used to create force fields and outlandish new methods of aerospace propulsion and vehicle design that basically read as UFO-like technology. You can learn all about these patents, their viability, and the issues surrounding them in these exclusive features of ours. Now, the same mysterious Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division engineer behind those patents has produced another patent—one for a compact fusion reactor that could pump out absolutely incredible amounts of power in a small space—maybe even in a craft. 

Energy dominance has become a cornerstone of American military policy as laboratories seek to develop the ‘Holy Grail’ of power generation: nuclear fusion. These attempts at developing stable fusion reactors utilize incredibly powerful magnetic fields in order to contain the nuclear reactions occurring inside. Creating a stable fusion reaction is difficult enough, but some laboratories are going even further by attempting to create compact reactors small enough to fit inside shipping containers or even possibly vehicles.

While Lockheed Martin’s CFR designs have garnered quite a bit of media attention and internet buzz in recent years, it appears one of the Skunk Works' major clients is also hard at work in this field. The U.S. Navy has filed a potentially revolutionary patent application for a radical new compact fusion reactor that claims to improve upon the shortcomings of the Skunk Works CFR, and judging from the identity of the reactor’s inventor, it's sure to raise eyebrows in the scientific community.

This latest design is the brainchild of the elusive Salvatore Cezar Pais, the inventor of the Navy’s bizarre and controversial room temperature superconductors, high energy electromagnetic field generators, and sci-fi-sounding propulsion technologies that The War Zone has previously reported on. The patent for Pais’ “Plasma Compression Fusion Device” was applied for on March 22, 2018, and was just published on September 26, 2019. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

We Won't Pretend Biden is Turd Solo if You'll Admit He's a Big Stinky Floater

"The fact that my predecessor had a son who was paid $50,000 a month to be on a Ukrainian board, at the time that vice president Biden was leading the Obama Administration’s efforts in Ukraine, I think is worth looking into." - VP

theintercept |   The problem for Democrats is that a review of Hunter Biden’s career shows clearly that he, along with Joe Biden’s brother James, has been trading on their family name for decades, cashing in on the implication — and sometimes the explicit argument — that giving money to a member of Joe Biden’s family wins the favor of Joe Biden. Democrats have been loath to give any credibility to the wild rantings of Trump or his bagman Rudy Giuliani, leaving them to sidestep the question of Hunter Biden’s ethics or decision-making, and how much responsibility Joe Biden deserves. Republicans, though, have no such qualms, and have made clear that smearing the Bidens as corrupt will be central to Trump’s reelection campaign. The Trump approach is utterly without shame or irony, with attacks even coming from failson Eric Trump.

Biden has been taking political hits over of the intersection of his family’s financial dealings and his own political career for some four decades. Yet he has done nothing publicly to inoculate himself from the charge that his career is corruptly enriching his family, and now that is a serious liability. By contrast, one of his opponents in the presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., went so far as to refuse to endorse his son Levi Sanders when he ran for Congress, saying that he does not believe in political dynasties. In defending the Biden’s nepotistic relationship, Democrats would be forced to argue that, to be fair, such soft corruption is common among the families of senior-level politicians. But that’s a risky general-election argument in a political moment when voters are no longer willing to accept business-as-usual. For now, Biden’s opponents in the presidential campaign appear to all hope that somebody else will make the argument, while congressional Democrats don’t want to do anything to undermine their impeachment probe. And so Biden skates.

Heed the Words of the Weinstein!

apple |  In this episode of the Portal, Eric checks in with his friend Andrew Yang to discuss the meteoric rise of his candidacy; one that represents an insurgency against a complacent political process that the media establishment doggedly tries to maintain. Andrew updates Eric on the state of his campaign and the status of the ideas the two had discussed as its foundation when it began. Eric presents Andrew with his new economic paradigm; moving from an 'is a [worker]' economy to a 'has a [worker]' economy. The two also discuss neurodiverse families as a neglected voting block, the still-strong but squelched-by-the-scientific-establishment STEM community in the US, and the need to talk fearlessly - and as a xenophile - about immigration as a wealth transfer gimmick. 

Did China Just Niggerize Do to the NBA What America Did to Johnson Publishing?

foxnews |  In recent years, the NBA has become famously political. During the heyday of the Black Lives Matter movement, the NBA permitted players to wear slogan-printed T-shirts in support, and stars like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul spoke out loudly on the issue.

The Sacramento Kings actually announced a partnership with the local branch of the movement. And NBA players have had little problem denouncing President Trump, whom James called a "bum."
In 2017, Commissioner Adam Silver actually tried to blackmail the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, by pulling the All-Star Game, all in an attempt to restore the so-called "bathroom bill" for transgender people.

The NBA has reaped the benefit from its benevolent attitude toward left-leaning social activism, too. Silver, like former Commissioner David Stern before him, has been praised ad infinitum by the press, compared favorably to that alleged corporate hobgoblin Roger Goodell of the NFL.

Silver told CNN just last year that "part of being an NBA player" is social activism and a "sense of an obligation, social responsibility, a desire to speak up directly about issues that are important." Silver stated the league wants players to "be multi-dimensional people and fully participate as citizens." He specifically explained that the league had a role in ensuring that the situation remains "safe" for players afraid of suffering career blowback.

Then the NBA came up against its own corporate interests.

And the NBA caved.

Late last week, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted an eminently uncontroversial statement: "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong." That's about as milquetoast a statement about Hong Kong as it's possible to make. But that didn't matter to the Chinese government, which immediately stated that it would cut relations with the NBA and the Rockets in particular.

Speculation quickly ran rampant that Morey might lose his job. Morey was forced to delete his tweet and walk it back: "I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives." James Harden, star of the team, tweeted, "We apologize. We love China. We love playing there." Silver's NBA put out an apology in Chinese saying (as translated), "We are extremely disappointed in the inappropriate comment by the general manager of the Houston Rockets."

Thursday, October 10, 2019

We'll Be Right Back After A Brief Message About What Really Matters

theconversation |  Research we have just had published sheds new light on this Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. We focus on what platinum can tell us about it.

Platinum is known to be concentrated in meteorites, so when a lot of it is found in one place at one time, it could be a sign of a cosmic impact. Platinum spikes have been discovered in an ice core in Greenland as well as in areas as far apart as Europe, Western Asia, North America and even Patagonia in South America. These spikes all date to the same period of time.  

Until now, there has been no such evidence from Africa. But working with two colleagues, Professor Louis Scott (University of the Free State) and Philip Pieterse (University of Johannesburg), I believe there is evidence from South Africa’s Limpopo province that partly supports the controversial Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis.

The new information has been obtained from Wonderkrater, an archaeological site with peat deposits at a spring situated outside a small town to the north of Pretoria. In a sample of peat we have identified a platinum spike that could at least potentially be related to dust associated with a meteorite impact somewhere on earth 12,800 years ago. 

The platinum spike at Wonderkrater is in marked contrast to almost constantly low (near-zero) concentrations of this element in adjacent levels. Subsequent to that platinum spike, pollen grains indicate a drop in temperature. These discoveries are entirely consistent with the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. 

Wonderkrater is the first site in Africa where a Younger Dryas platinum spike has been detected, supplementing evidence from southern Chile, in addition to platinum spikes at 28 sites in the northern hemisphere. 

We are now asking a question which needs to be taken seriously: surely platinum-rich dust associated with the impact of a very large meteorite may have contributed to some extent to major climatic change and extinctions?

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Joe’s Ambition Trumped Joe’s Desire to Protect Hunter

neweconomicperspectives |  Goldberg’s column is unusually honest for a Democrat like Goldberg.  It includes two important admissions about Joe and Hunter Biden’s poor judgment in dealing with Ukrainian matters.
As all this was happening, Biden’s son, Hunter, sat on the board of Burisma Holdings, a natural gas company that Zlochevsky co-founded, at some points earning $50,000 a month. Zlochevsky might have thought he could ingratiate himself with the Obama administration by buying an association with the vice president. All available evidence suggests he was wrong.
We need to put Hunter Biden’s $50,000 per meeting in perspective, he began receiving it in 2014, when the purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita GDP figure for Ukraine was slightly over $8,500.  In a single month, Hunter Biden received fees over six times what a typical Ukrainian received in a year.  Hunter Biden had no relevant expertise to be on the Ukrainian firm’s board of directors.  The only disagreement I have with Goldberg’s description is her use of the word “earning” instead of “received.”  Hunter Biden does not “earn” his money.  He makes money off those who seek to get in good with his dad.  The Trump children, of course, have super-charged this sleaze.

Hunter’s one real job miraculously led to his ludicrously rapid promotion to EVP of a major bank.  The bank, of course, was a major contributor to his dad.  Hunter’s miraculous advancement to EVP is a typical sleazy payoff to elite politicians’ kids.  Both parties do it.  The sole reason Zlochevsky hired Hunter was to try to influence favorably his dad and the Obama administration.  This too is typical elite sleaze.  Yes, we should remember that Trump’s spouse, children, and their spouses, make Hunter look like a highly competent saint when it comes to cashing in on their tawdry Trump ties.

Goldberg correctly notes the modest nature of the sleaze in the Bidens’ case.  There is no evidence that hiring Hunter Biden ingratiated the Ukrainian firm with the Obama administration.  There is no evidence that hiring Hunter Biden ingratiated the Ukrainian firm with Joe Biden.  Joe Biden’s successful effort to fire the corrupt non-prosecutor increased the chances that the Ukrainian government would sanction the firm.  Trump’s claim that the fired prosecutor was an anti-corruption hero investigating Hunter’s purported corruption is a double lie.  Trump’s attacks on Joe and Hunter Biden are lies.  This should not surprise us.  First, Trump always lies.  Second, Joe and Hunter Biden’s sketchy actions are not crimes or ethical violations.  They may be ‘corrupt’ in the broad sense of that word in everyday usage, but not in the legal sense of statutes against corruption.  Trump, therefore, has substituted lies for the nuanced reality.

Too Complicated - I Think The Classholes Did It

quillette |  Understanding American politics has become increasingly confusing as the old party labels have lost much of their meaning. A simplistic Left vs. Right worldview no longer captures the complexity of what’s going on. As the authors of the October 2017 “Pew Survey of American Political Typologies” write, “[I]n a political landscape increasingly fractured by partisanship, the divisions within the Republican and Democratic coalitions may be as important a factor in American politics as the divisions between them.”

To understand our politics, we need to understand the cultural values that drive it. The integral cultural map developed by philosopher Ken Wilber identifies nine global cultural value systems including the archaic (survival), tribal (shaman), warrior (warlords and gangs), traditional (fundamentalist faith in God), modern (democracy and capitalism), and postmodern (world-centric pluralism). When combined with Pew’s voter typologies, Wilber’s cultural levels offer a new map of America’s political landscape.

Of Wilber’s nine global value systems, the Traditional, Modern, and Postmodern categories are most useful to understanding our moment. Traditional culture values disciplined adherence to assigned gender and social roles: men are providers and heads of households, marriage is between one man and one woman, and the institutions of the military, law enforcement, and the clergy are all highly respected. Historically, traditional cultures were monarchies or states ruled by “strongmen.” Modern culture superseded traditional systems in the West during the Enlightenment, and values rationality, democracy, meritocracy, capitalism, and science. Individual rights, free speech, and free markets harness an entrepreneurial spirit to solve problems.

Postmodern culture offers a borderless, geocentric political view that values pluralism. It challenges a pro-American narrative by focusing on the horrors of American history, including the exploitation of Native Americans, slavery, and persistent inequality disproportionately affecting historically disadvantaged groups. Those left behind by modernity and progress now seek recognition, restoration, and retribution via a politics of protest, and show little interest in building political organizations or institutions. We are currently living in a postmodern political moment of disruption, best described by author Helen Pluckrose in her Areo essay How French Intellectuals Ruined the West: Postmodernism and its Impact, Explained”:
If we see modernity as the tearing down of structures of power including feudalism, the Church, patriarchy, and Empire, postmodernists are attempting to continue it, but their targets are now science, reason, humanism and liberalism. Consequently, the roots of postmodernism are inherently political and revolutionary, albeit in a destructive or, as they would term it, deconstructive way.
When we overlay Pew’s data with Wilber’s Value levels, six cultural political categories emerge: Traditional Left and Right, Modern Left and Right, and Postmodern Left and Right.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Yo Quiero Chalupas |  Two Senate chairmen want to know whether the Justice Department has acquired information from Ukrainian prosecutors that may contradict the stated reasoning behind former Vice President Joe Biden’s threat to withhold U.S. assistance from Ukraine. They are also renewing an inquiry into the department’s response to reported efforts by Ukrainians, in coordination with Democratic Party associates, to acquire damaging information on Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) are seeking additional information about the department’s review of the Russia investigation’s origins, including the DNC’s reported work with Ukraine to undermine candidate Trump.   
“Ukrainian efforts, abetted by a U.S. political party, to interfere in the 2016 election should not be ignored. Such allegations of corruption deserve due scrutiny, and the American people have a right to know when foreign forces attempt to undermine our democratic processes,” the Senators wrote in the letter. 
The letter follows a July, 2017, inquiry from Grassley to the department referencing reports that a DNC consultant coordinated with the Ukrainian government to acquire opposition research on Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. According to a Politico investigation, “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump” and “helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers…” Though media reports indicate that U.S. Attorney John Durham is investigating whether Ukraine played a role in the counterintelligence probe during the 2016 election, the Justice Department has yet to confirm whether it has begun an investigation into coordination between the Ukrainian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Hillary Clinton or the Democratic National Committee.
Separately, a report yesterday revealed new documents that call into question the stated reasons behind a 2016 ultimatum by then Vice-President Biden to fire a Ukrainian prosecutor who had investigated a company for which Biden’s son was a board member. According to the report, Ukrainian officials have tried to forward documents related to the matter to the department, to no avail. Grassley and Johnson are requesting details on any actions the department is taking to review the material referenced in the report.
Full text of the Grassley-Johnson letter to Barr follows:

Monday, October 07, 2019

Talm'bout a Joker...,

tomluongo |  Trump’s strengths and weaknesses as a political player have been on full display from the beginning. And he’s made a number of errors which have cost him dearly to this point.

Most of these have to do with foreign policy, which I have outlined in gory detail nearly every day for three years. And it was these deals he’s made on foreign policy, outsourcing it to advisers like H.R. McMaster, John Bolton and James Mattis, to gain time to deal with his domestic enemies that have done the most damage.

I think Trump now sees the traps set for him and how badly they will boomerang on him this election season. He’s begun changing course on issues like Iran, Syria and, yes, Ukraine.

And for this he is now being targeted, quite amateurishly, for removal from office. Of this I’m convinced at this point.

Since Ukraine cuts across so many different narratives of the past few years, going all the way back to 2013 EU accession talks, it is no wonder that President Trump calls to the new Ukrainian President, who isn’t one of ‘our guys’ like Poroshenko was, would be heavily scrutinized.

Anything that sniffed even vaguely like Presidential overreach would be used against Trump to remove him from office. This is the standard Alinsky tactic of accusing your opponent of what you are guilty of to de-legitimize any information that comes out of the investigation.

This tactic is nothing new. It’s all they ever do folks, because Trump has already proven he’s immune to Nuts and Sluts.