22,000 years of history evaporates after freezer failure melts Arctic ice cores..how inconvenient?

•April 27, 2017 • 6 Comments

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/16/arctic-ice-cores-melt-university-alberta-canada

Within them sits some 80,000 years of history, offering researchers tantalising clues about climate change and the Earth’s past. At least that was the case – until the precious cache of Arctic ice cores was hit by warming temperatures.

A freezer malfunction at the University of Alberta in Edmonton has melted part of the world’s largest collection of ice cores from the Canadian Arctic, reducing some of the ancient ice into puddles.

“For every ice-core facility on the planet, this is their No1 nightmare,” said glaciologist Martin Sharp.

The ice cores – long cylinders extracted from glaciers – contain trapped gasses and particles that offer a glimpse into atmospheric history.

“When you lose part of an ice core,” Sharp said, “you lose part of the record of past climates, past environments – an archive of the history of our atmosphere. You just don’t have easy access to information about those past time periods.”

The university had recently acquired the dozen cores, or 1.4km (0.9 miles) of ice, drilled from five locations in the Canadian Arctic, and carefully transported them from Ottawa to Edmonton.

The samples were moved into the university’s brand-new, custom-built C$4m (US$3m) facility earlier this month. Days later, one of the freezers tripped a high-heat alarm.

“The way in which the freezer failed meant that it started to pump heat into the freezer,” said Sharp. “So it wasn’t just a question of it gradually warming up … It was actually quite rapidly raised to a temperature of 40C (104F).”

Sharp rushed to the walk-in storage freezer to survey the damage and found steaming puddles gathered around the millennia-old ice. “It was more like a changing room in a swimming pool than a freezer,” he said.

“I’ve had better days, let’s say that.”

Around 13% of the archive had been exposed to high heat, representing more than 180m of ice. None of the cores were completely destroyed.

“There are some which are clearly toast and there are others which are not obviously very much affected,” Sharp said.

An ice core from the Penny Ice Cap on Baffin Island lost about a third of its mass, amounting to about 22,000 years of history, while a core from Mount Logan, Canada’s tallest mountain, saw 16,000 years melted away.

But much of the collection was unaffected by the malfunction, thanks to a stroke of luck. A television crew had been documenting the ice core move and had asked that the samples be put in a second freezer because the lighting was better. The university complied, storing nearly 90% of the collection in an unaffected freezer.

“That’s basically what saved us,” said Sharp.

The question is now whether any research can be carried out on the affected cores.

“This incident will affect research, no question,” said Sharp. “It rules out certain studies that we might have wanted to conduct on the cores, such as reconstructing continuous long-term histories where parts of the cores have been lost or contaminated.”

As returning to the Arctic to replace the damaged ice cores would be a costly endeavour, the focus is now on regularly monitoring and safeguarding the ice cores that are left.

———-

“until the precious cache of Arctic ice cores was hit by warming temperatures.”

thats a lie..warming temps had nothing to do with it..

A freezer malfunction at the University of Alberta in Edmonton has melted part of the world’s largest collection of ice cores from the Canadian Arctic, reducing some of the ancient ice into puddles.”

so now we have to trust them..like trusting bernie madoff to invest your superannuation wisely..

401

Russia court outlaws “extremist” Jehovah’s Witnesses

•April 27, 2017 • 3 Comments

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39661339

Russia’s Supreme Court has accepted the government’s request to designate Jehovah’s Witnesses as an outlawed religious group, deeming it to be an extremist organisation.

The justice ministry argued that the group had distributed pamphlets which incited hatred against other groups.

Lawyers representing the group reject the claims and say they will appeal.

The denomination says it has 175,000 members in Russia – a country where it was persecuted during the Stalin era.

An estimated eight million people worldwide are part of the Christian-based movement, best known for going door-to-door looking for new converts.

Practitioners of the faith argue that it means their activities from now on will be criminalised.

The justice ministry urged the court to close the group’s national headquarters near St Petersburg, Russian news agencies reported, in addition to banning some of its “extremist” publications.

One pamphlet distributed by the group quoted the novelist Leo Tolstoy as describing the doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church as superstition and sorcery.

Officials have accused the religion of destroying families, propagating hatred and endangering lives.

Jehovah’s Witnesses say the accusations are completely untrue. A spokesman told the AFP news agency that he was “shocked” by the ruling.

“I didn’t expect that this could be possible in modern Russia, where the constitution guarantees freedom of religious practice,” Yaroslav Sivulsky said.

————

the jay dubs..in the russian spotlight..

i wouldn’t call them extremist but they are pests..and they are very much like a cult..

“The justice ministry argued that the group had distributed pamphlets which incited hatred against other groups.”

basically anybody who isnt one of them is one of those..

401

Rolling Stone: Putin derangement syndrome arrives

•April 27, 2017 • 2 Comments

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/taibbi-putin-derangement-syndrome-arrives-w474771

So Michael Flynn, who was Donald Trump’s national security adviser before he got busted talking out of school to Russia’s ambassador, has reportedly offered to testify in exchange for immunity.

For seemingly the 100th time, social media is exploding. This is it! The big reveal!

Perhaps it will come off just the way people are expecting. Perhaps Flynn will get a deal, walk into the House or the Senate surrounded by a phalanx of lawyers, and unspool the whole sordid conspiracy.

He will explain that Donald Trump, compromised by ancient deals with Russian mobsters, and perhaps even blackmailed by an unspeakable KGB sex tape, made a secret deal. He’ll say Trump agreed to downplay the obvious benefits of an armed proxy war in Ukraine with nuclear-armed Russia in exchange for Vladimir Putin’s help in stealing the emails of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and John Podesta.

I personally would be surprised if this turned out to be the narrative, mainly because we haven’t seen any real evidence of it. But episodes like the Flynn story have even the most careful reporters paralyzed. What if, tomorrow, it all turns out to be true?

What if reality does turn out to be a massive connect-the-dots image of St. Basil’s Cathedral sitting atop the White House? (This was suddenly legitimate British conspiracist Louise Mensch’s construction in The New York Times last week.) What if all the Glenn Beck-style far-out charts with the circles and arrows somehow all make sense?

This is one of the tricks that keeps every good conspiracy theory going. Nobody wants to be the one claiming the emperor has no clothes the day His Highness walks out naked. And this Russia thing has spun out of control into just such an exercise of conspiratorial mass hysteria.

Even I think there should be a legitimate independent investigation – one that, given Trump’s history, might uncover all sorts of things. But almost irrespective of what ends up being uncovered on the Trump side, the public prosecution of this affair has taken on a malevolent life of its own.

One way we recognize a mass hysteria movement is that everyone who doesn’t believe is accused of being in on the plot. This has been going on virtually unrestrained in both political and media circles in recent weeks.

The aforementioned Mensch, a noted loon who thinks Putin murdered Andrew Breitbart but has somehow been put front and center by The Times and HBO’s Real Time, has denounced an extraordinary list of Kremlin plants.

She’s tabbed everyone from Jeff Sessions (“a Russian partisan“) to Rudy Giuliani and former Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom (“agents of influence“) to Glenn Greenwald (“Russian shill“) to ProPublica and Democracy Now! (also “Russian shills“), to the 15-year-old girl with whom Anthony Weiner sexted (really, she says, a Russian hacker group called “Crackas With Attitudes”) to an unnamed number of FBI agents in the New York field office (“moles“). And that’s just for starters.

Others are doing the same. Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, upon seeing the strange behavior of Republican Intel Committee chair Devin Nunes, asked “what kind of dossier” the Kremlin has on Nunes.

Dem-friendly pollster Matt McDermott wondered why reporters Michael Tracey and Zaid Jilani aren’t on board with the conspiracy stories (they might be “unwitting” agents!) and noted, without irony, that Russian bots mysteriously appear every time he tweets negatively about them.

Think about that last one. Does McDermott think Tracey and Jilani call their handlers at the sight of a scary Matt McDermott tweet and have the FSB send waves of Russian bots at him on command? Or does he think it’s an automated process? What goes through the heads of such people?

I’ve written a few articles on the Russia subject that have been very tame, basically arguing that it might be a good idea to wait for evidence of collusion before those of us in the media jump in the story with both feet. But even I’ve gotten the treatment.

I’ve been “outed” as a possible paid Putin plant by the infamous “PropOrNot” group, which is supposedly dedicated to rooting out Russian “agents of influence.” You might remember PropOrNot as the illustrious research team the Washington Post once relied on for a report that accused 200 alternative websites of being “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season.”

Politicians are getting into the act, too. It was one thing when Rand Paul balked at OKing the expansion of NATO to Montenegro, and John McCain didn’t hesitate to say that “the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”

Even Bernie Sanders has himself been accused of being a Putin plant by Mensch. But even he’s gotten on board of late, asking, “What do the Russians have on Mr. Trump?”

So even people who themselves have been accused of being Russian plants are now accusing people of being Russian plants. As the Russians would say, it’s enough to make your bashka hurt.

Sanders should know better. Last week, during hearings in the Senate, multiple witnesses essentially pegged his electoral following as unwitting fellow travelers for Putin.

Former NSA chief Keith Alexander spoke openly of how Russia used the Sanders campaign to “drive a wedge within the Democratic Party,” while Dr. Thomas Rid of Kings College in London spoke of Russia’s use of “unwitting agents” and “overeager journalists” to drive narratives that destabilized American politics.

This testimony was brought out by Virginia Democrat Mark Warner. Warner has been in full-blown “precious bodily fluids” mode throughout this scandal. During an interview with The Times on the Russia subject a month back, there was a thud outside the window. “That may just be the FSB,” he said. The paper was unsure if he was kidding.

Warner furthermore told The Times that in order to get prepared for his role as an exposer of 21st-century Russian perfidy, he was “losing himself in a book about the Romanovs,” and had been quizzing staffers about “Tolstoy and Nabokov.”

This is how nuts things are now: a senator brushes up on Nabokov and Tolstoy (Tolstoy!) to get pumped to expose Vladimir Putin.

Even the bizarre admission by FBI director (and sudden darling of the same Democrats who hated him months ago) James Comey that he didn’t know anything about Russia’s biggest company didn’t seem to trouble Americans very much. Here’s the key exchange, from a House hearing in which Jackie Speier quizzed Comey:

SPEIER: Now, do we know who Gazprom-Media is? Do you know anything about Gazprom, director?COMEY: I don’t.
SPEIER: Well, it’s a – it’s an oil company.

(Incidentally, Gazprom – primarily a natural-gas giant – is not really an oil company. So both Comey and Speier got it wrong.)

As Leonid Bershidsky of Bloomberg noted, this exchange was terrifying to Russians. The leader of an investigation into Russian espionage not knowing what Gazprom is would be like an FSB chief not having heard of Exxon-Mobil. It’s bizarre, to say the least.

Testimony of the sort that came from Warner’s committee last week is being buttressed by news stories in liberal outlets like Salon insisting that “Bernie Bros” were influenced by those same ubiquitous McDermott-chasing Russian “bots.”

These stories insist that, among other things, these evil bots pushed on the unwitting “bros” juicy “fake news” stories about Hillary being “involved with various murders and money laundering schemes.”

Some 13.2 million people voted for Sanders during the primary season last year. What percentage does any rational person really believe voted that way because of “fake news”?

I would guess the number is infinitesimal at best. The Sanders campaign was driven by a lot of factors, but mainly by long-developing discontent within the Democratic Party and enthusiasm for Sanders himself.

To describe Sanders followers as unwitting dupes who departed the true DNC faith because of evil Russian propaganda is both insulting and ridiculous. It’s also a testimony to the remarkable capacity for self-deception within the leadership of the Democratic Party.

If the party’s leaders really believe that Russian intervention is anywhere in the top 100 list of reasons why some 155 million eligible voters (out of 231 million) chose not to pull a lever for Hillary Clinton last year, they’re farther along down the Purity of Essence nut-hole than Mark Warner.

Moreover, even those who detest Trump with every fiber of their being must see the dangerous endgame implicit in this entire line of thinking. If the Democrats succeed in spreading the idea that straying from the DNC-approved candidate – in either the past or the future – is/was an act of “unwitting” cooperation with the evil Putin regime, then the entire idea of legitimate dissent is going to be in trouble.

Imagine it’s four years from now (if indeed that’s when we have our next election). A Democratic candidate stands before the stump, and announces that a consortium of intelligence experts has concluded that Putin is backing the hippie/anti-war/anti-corporate opposition candidate.

Or, even better: that same candidate reminds us “what happened last time” when people decided to vote their consciences during primary season. It will be argued, in seriousness, that true Americans will owe their votes to the non-Putin candidate. It would be a shock if some version of this didn’t become an effective political trope going forward.

But if you’re not worried about accusing non-believers of being spies, or pegging legitimate dissent as treason, there’s a third problem that should scare everyone.

Last week saw Donna Brazile and Dick Cheney both declare Russia’s apparent hack of DNC emails an “act of war.” This coupling seemed at first like political end times: as Bill Murray would say, “dogs and cats, living together.”

But there’s been remarkable unanimity among would-be enemies in the Republican and Democrat camps on this question. Suddenly everyone from Speier to McCain to Kamala Harris to Ben Cardin have decried Russia’s alleged behavior during the election as real or metaphorical acts of war: a “political Pearl Harbor,” as Cardin put it.

That no one seems to be concerned about igniting a hot war with nuclear-powered Russia at a time when both countries have troops within “hand-grenade range” of each in Syria other is bizarre, to say the least. People are in such a fever to drag Trump to impeachment that these other considerations seem not to matter. This is what happens when people lose their heads.

There are a lot of people who will say that these issues are of secondary importance to the more important question of whether or not we have a compromised Russian agent in the White House.

But when it comes to Trump-Putin collusion, we’re still waiting for the confirmation. As Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters put it, the proof is increasingly understood to be the thing we find later, as in, “If we do the investigations, we will find the connections.”

But on the mass hysteria front, we already have evidence enough to fill a dozen books. And if it doesn’t freak you out, it probably should.

———–

very good article written 2-3 weeks ago..

“But when it comes to Trump-Putin collusion, we’re still waiting for the confirmation. As Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters put it, the proof is increasingly understood to be the thing we find later, as in, “If we do the investigations, we will find the connections.”

how do we see it?

“One way we recognize a mass hysteria movement is that everyone who doesn’t believe is accused of being in on the plot. This has been going on virtually unrestrained in both political and media circles in recent weeks.”

401

In Facebooks future you live through your phone

•April 27, 2017 • 1 Comment

https://www.wired.com/2017/04/facebooks-future-live-phone/?mbid=social_twitter

TODAY AT FACEBOOK’S F8 developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out the company’s vision for the future. The short version: augmented reality blanketing a digital layer over everything you see and touch. The long version? A potentially thorny tangle of interactions in which your smartphone offers not just access to the world around you, but becomes the main window through which you experience it.

Augmented reality itself no longer feels like a great unknown, thanks (really!) to Pokémon Go’s glorious few weeks as mid-summer obsession. Facebook’s ambitions outstrip spurts of Snorlax-hunting, though. The company imagines a world in which AR doesn’t just enhance experiences, it defines them.

The result appears to be a world of technological marvels that both add to your immediate environment and put you at a remove from it. It also raises a question: Does filtering the world through your smartphone work to augment reality, or supplant it?

Facebook’s augmented reality dreams have a name. In fact, they have a whole platform: Camera Effects, tools available to developers that work with the camera function across all of Facebook’s apps.

“We’re making the camera the first augmented reality platform,” said Zuckerberg at the F8 conference.

The possibilities Facebook teased Tuesday have limits defined only by one’s imagination: A bowl of cereal surrounded by tiny, leaping, animated sharks. Artwork splayed on walls that, in base reality (reality prime?) are blank. Leaving a virtual note for a friend next to a menu at a local restaurant so that you can recommend the corn fritters.

On the giant display that backstopped Zuckerberg’s presentation, these interactions all seemed vibrant, and innovative, and downright cool, a special-effects version of everyday life. What the demo neglected to include, though, was a pair of hands, holding up a 4.7-inch display, swiping away notifications so that you can just watch the dang breakfast sharks. Pulling off convincing augmented reality on smartphones takes remarkable know-how. It’s also potentially a pain.

First, the more mundane but very real hardware issues that inevitably spring from having billions of users with all manner of devices.

“There are a couple of issues,” says Alan Craig, a human-computer interaction expert at the University of Illinois’ Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. “One is that phones are small, in terms of computational power, memory, things like that.” Facebook has also chosen not to offload those computations to far-flung servers, because the potential latency can disrupt the effect. That also, though, puts a lot of demands on hardware that’s not necessarily up for it.

Consider, too, that not all smartphones are manufactured equal, especially where it counts most. “It is known that wide ranges of mobile-phone-quality cameras are much less accurate in estimating the 3-D geometry of the real world,” says Allen Yang, who heads up UC Berkeley’s Center for Augmented Cognition. “If AR is to be used in more demanding applications … low-quality cameras to support AR might run into problems.”

For the near-term, that may not prove much of an impediment. Facebook’s immediate focus appears to be on small-scale effects; think more ambitious Snapchat filters. As its augmented reality vision scales up, though, it threatens to leave a chunk of users behind, or with stuttery experiences.

That’s also secondary, though, to what may be the bigger long-term Facebook AR ask—that we absorb a new version of the world through handheld OLED displays.

———–

something to look forward to?

“The short version: augmented reality blanketing a digital layer over everything you see and touch. The long version? A potentially thorny tangle of interactions in which your smartphone offers not just access to the world around you, but becomes the main window through which you experience it.”

no thanks..

401

Agricultural mega-merger could make China leading GMO producer

•April 26, 2017 • 4 Comments

https://www.rt.com/business/385398-china-agriculture-mega-merger-gmo/

A $43 billion takeover deal that would merge Chinese state-owned agriculture company ChemChina and Swiss-owned seed company Syngenta is expected to turn the world’s second largest economy into a biotech titan.

In recent weeks, the deal has been approved by EU and US authorities. Once closed it will be China’s biggest overseas acquisition. It will create the world’s largest farm-business oligopoly, concentrating agricultural power in the hands of the three countries – the US, Germany, and China.

Experts call the future merger a chance for China to acquire valuable seed technology to feed its 1.3 billion population, which is consuming more meat and dairy products as the middle class expands.

The country relies heavily on food imports. It’s a major soybeans importer and the seventh largest importer of corn.

The deal has been strongly opposed by domestic anti-GMO campaigners. In recent years scandals have rocked the country, including one of tainted baby formula in 2008 and exploding watermelons in 2011.

The Syngenta takeover conflicts with the Chinese government’s promises to protect national food security. In 2016 Beijing announced that over the next four years the government would invest three trillion yuan ($435 billion) into developing the country’s agriculture.

———–

consolidation of power..

“It will create the world’s largest farm-business oligopoly, concentrating agricultural power in the hands of the three countries – the US, Germany, and China.”

and there it is..

401

Cologne imposes no-fly zone as 50,000 left-wing activists plan to block AfD congress

•April 26, 2017 • 13 Comments

https://www.rt.com/news/385429-afd-cologne-nofly-zone/

Police and aviation authorities imposed a four-day no-fly zone over Cologne city center amid heightened security measures ahead of anti-immigrant AfD party congress. Over 50,000 left-wing protesters are planning to launch massive rallies to block the event.

The Alternative for Germany Party’s (AfD) convention is scheduled to take place this weekend at Cologne’s Maritim Hotel, but it is unlikely to go as smoothly as expected, causing more trouble to the far-right party already plagued by internal discords and shrinking popular support.

More than 4,000 police officers will be dispatched to ensure security in the city, a figure reminiscent to security measures during high-level international political events. Additionally, German authorities have imposed a four-day no-fly zone that will last from Thursday until Monday. All aircraft, including helicopters and drones, will be banned from flying over Cologne’s inner city, the police said.

The only exception will be made for German military and police flights as well as for any rescue or emergency aircraft.

Notably, a police spokesman failed to remember the last time a no-flight zone was imposed over the city, Die Welt reported.

The extraordinary security measures come as the city expects some 50,000 protesters to counter the AfD conference with organizers calling for “civil disobedience”. The activists, according to their campaign website, intend to “block” AfD members from entering the hotel by sitting and standing in their way.

Aside from the no-fly zone, authorities are also set to cordon off adjacent areas around the Maritim Hotel. Businesses in the area were told about police barriers, and were advised to decide for themselves, whether or not to remain open during the weekend, Rheinische Post reported.

————

germany..more divided than when a wall went across berlin..

“The extraordinary security measures come as the city expects some 50,000 protesters to counter the AfD conference with organizers calling for “civil disobedience”. The activists, according to their campaign website, intend to “block” AfD members from entering the hotel by sitting and standing in their way.”

what caused this angst?

401

China plans to build new city nearly three times the size of New York

•April 26, 2017 • 4 Comments

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/04/china-plans-build-new-city-nearly-three-times-the-size-of-new-york?CMP=fb_gu

A hitherto anonymous region near China’s smog-choked capital has been overrun by house buyers after Beijing unveiled “historic” plans to build a new city there in a bid to slash pollution and congestion.

Plans for the Xiongan New Area, a special economic zone that authorities say will eventually cover an area nearly three times that of New York, were announced by the Communist party’s top leaders on Saturday with a flurry of government propaganda.

In a joint statement two of China’s most powerful political bodies, the central committee and state council, described the new city, which will straddle three counties about 100km southwest of Beijing, as “a strategy crucial for a millennium to come”.

“[This is a] major historic and strategic choice made by the Chinese Communist party’s central committee with comrade Xi Jinping as the core,” the joint notice added using the latest political title to be bestowed upon China’s paramount leader.

Official news agency Xinhua said Xiongan’s creation would reduce pressure on China’s car-clogged, 22 million-resident capital, and “usher in a new chapter in the country’s historic transitioning to coordinated, inclusive and sustainable growth”.

“Xiongan will be an answer to China’s growth conundrum: breakneck urban sprawl must give way to a balanced and inclusive development strategy,” Xinhua added in a breathless commentary trumpeting the mega-project.

“More than a mere replica of China’s past success … it will tell the tale of the future of a new city.”

————

nothing surprising here really..but..

will they actually fill it with people??

401

 
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