Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Neurotoxin chemical warfare soon against protesters near you?

From Neuroethicists are not saying enough about the problem of dual-use:

The minutes of many U.K. Ministry of Defense's secret committees' meetings held during the Cold War period are now available  to the public in the National Archives. Thus, we know that one March day in 1959, the Chemistry Committee of the U.K.'s Advisory Council on Scientific Research and Technical Development met in London to discuss the possibilities for developing new chemical incapacitating weapons agents--including ones with neurological effects--something both the United Kingdom and its allies were trying to achieve. According to the minutes of the meeting, the technical experts were not optimistic. One of them, identified as Dr. Bowman, said the field was not particularly promising given what was known from the large amount of work done by pharmaceutical firms working on cures for mental illnesses. Following this, the minutes of the meeting state that :"...THE CHAIRMAN, however, emphasised that the Committee was looking for [an] agent which would produce, not cure, psychoses; we might succeed by modifying the curative agents..." The Chairman, therefore, held a very modern view of dual-use in which civil science could produce materials, technologies, and knowledge that might be misused later by those with hostile intent--not the usual Cold War view, in which military research produced civilian spin-offs, such as the Internet.

To be sure, the current concern about dual-use both recognizes this possible role of civilian institutions generally and also extends this concern specifically to substances with neurological effects. The second recommendation of the 2006 U.S. National Academies report entitled “Globalization, Biosecurity, and the Future of the Life Sciences”--often called the Lemon-Relman report--states: "Adopt a broadened awareness of threats beyond the classical 'select agents' and other pathogenic organisms and toxins, so as to include, for example, approaches for disrupting host homeostatic systems..." Homeostatic systems include the chemical neurotransmitters and neuromodulators that regulate the human nervous system.

Since the end of the Cold War, we also have seen the rise of a new sub-division of bioethics: neuroethics. Neuroethics is concerned with both philosophical issues about the relationship between brain and mind and practical issues about the impact of our growing ability to understand and manipulate the brain upon society. It is therefore of some interest to discover what this comparatively recent field of study has to say about the problem of dual-use.

[ ... ]

Yet, in regard to the question of dual-use the advances in neuroscience have already seen application in the Russian use of some form of fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, as a novel incapacitating chemical agent to break the 2002 Moscow theater siege.  Moreover, Russia is unlikely to be the only state interested in the development of such new agents, given the changing nature of modern warfare. One can only hope that neuroethicists will begin to pay some attention to the clear and present danger that the hostile misuse of modern neuroscience could lead to the erosion of the prohibition of chemical weapons embodied in the Chemical Weapons Convention and make a valuable contribution to the discussion of this problem in the run up to the 3rd Five Year Review Conference of the convention in 2013. For example, the peaceful purpose defined in Article II.9 (d) as “Law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes” could be read to mean that ordinary domestic riot control agents are a sub-category of a larger group of chemical agents that can be used legally. ...

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Sergeant meant no offence by pierced penis 'party trick'

He referred to it as his ''party trick'' - exposing his genital piercing, or opening a beer bottle with a bottle opener attached to it.

And police officer Sergeant Andrew Lawrance is certain no one was offended when he performed the trick to a small group of fellow officers and their wives at a Christmas party at Tommy's Chinese Restaurant in Yamba, egging him on.

One woman, he told the Industrial Relations Commission yesterday, had asked to see the piercing after he talked about it.

One man, however, took offence: his ultimate boss, Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, who wants Mr Lawrance gone from the force, saying he has lost confidence in him. He argued the offence was made worse by the fact that Mr Lawrance was one of the most senior officers at the party in December 2008.

Mr Lawrance said there were no other patrons left at the Yamba restaurant when he went to the toilet to attach the bottle opener to the piercing, before exposing it two or three times to about six other people including his wife.

The sergeant - who now works part-time in a bottle shop - had been involved in a similar incident at a hotel in Wanaaring, west of Bourke, more than three years earlier and had received counselling because of it. Since the latest incident he had received counselling and modified his alcohol intake, the court heard.

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"the most craziest vacation you will never forget"

From EBay 'Hippie Vacation' Auction Spawns Cult Following:

Michelle Land was not so thrilled when her brother-in-law, Cody, pulled up to her Arkansas home in his "huge hippie van" a few weeks back and set up camp in her backyard.

Cody, who is 24 and had been living in the van in California, is, as Michelle says, "a little touched in the head."

During his short stay in Arkansas, Cody lost a job at the local Butterball factory, was arrested for a number of misdemeanor violations and was spotted by neighbors running around the property naked.

"He just does stupid stuff," said 29-year-old Michelle, who also worried Cody might not be the best influence on her three young children. "He thinks he can do anything. He talks kind of crazy."

Michelle and her husband, Sam (Cody's brother), figured it was about time for Cody to be hitting the road. As avid eBay sellers, Michelle and Sam came up with an original scheme to get Cody out of their hair -- market a cross-country trip with him as the "Ultimate Hippie Vacation" and sell it to the highest bidder.

On their auction page, the Lands enticed a broad spectrum of potential buyers:

Old Hippies -- Relive the Good Ol' Days!

New Hippies -- Experience the USA Like You Never Have Before!

Crazy People -- Hang Out With One of Your Own Kind!

There were, however, a few caveats for the trip, including having to sell T-shirts for gas and food money. In return, Cody was promising "the most craziest vacation you will never forget."

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Scientist urges government to address peak phosphate risk (BusinessGreen Exclusive)

Peak oil presents the world with an energy crisis once supplies start to dwindle any time from 2015. But another growing crisis is looming, with potentially devastating consequences for the world's food supply.

Phosphorous is an essential nutrient for plant growth, along with nitrogen and potassium. It is a key component in DNA and plays an essential role in plant energy metabolism. Without it, crops would fail, causing the human food chain to collapse.

Phosphate production is predicted to peak around 2030 as the global population expands to a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050. And unlike oil, where there are renewable energy alternatives to fossil fuels, there is no substitute for phosphorus, according to the US Geological Survey.

As imported rock phosphate becomes more expensive and may one day run out, there could be a solution much closer to home, says Professor Brian Chambers, a leading UK soil scientist.

Professor Chambers is calling on the government to respond to the threat of peak phosphate by recovering nutrients from household compost, livestock and human manure and municipal waste.

Western Europe imports all of its phosphate for agricultural use, but Professor Chambers from environmental consultancy ADAS, believes that more than 50 per cent of the UK's total requirement could come from organic sources, saving the agricultural industry between £20m and £30m a year.

"People often talk about human's addiction to oil. We've got exactly the same addiction to phosphate fertilisers too," he said.

"Our primary source – rock phosphate – is mined for use in fertilisers and that's expected to peak around 2030. It means that right at the time we need to be doubling our food-growing capacity to feed the rising global population, we'll be starting to run out of phosphorus. It's a nightmare scenario."

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The Million-Dollar Penny

The ulta-rich are splurging again as the rest of us muddle through the Great Recession.

Every summer, several financial firms competing to get the banking business of the world's mega millionaires release what amounts to scorecards on global wealth. These data-packed reports tally the current number of our international rich and super-rich, by nation and region.

World Wealth Report 2010 is the most comprehensive of these scorecards. It's got some fascinating details about the planet's wealthiest of the wealthy, those households worth at least $30 million--that's not counting their primary residence and "collectibles."

These "ultra-high-net worth" households make up less than 1 percent of the global millionaire total, yet in 2009 and 2008 they held more than a third of combined global millionaire wealth. In other words, the global financial crash that mega-millionaire speculation triggered has ended up concentrating even more wealth in mega millionaire pockets.

The Merrill Lynch and Capgemini researchers who prepared this report also offer some lusciously revealing information about what they call "passion investing," the vast sums the rich plow into everything from country club memberships and yachts to jewelry and fine art.

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Aboriginal warrior killed in 1833 reburied in Australia after skull returned from England

The remains of 19th-century Aboriginal warrior Yagan have been laid to rest in western Australia, nearly 180 years after he was killed and his severed head was displayed in a British museum.

The private ceremony held Saturday by the Noongar tribe coincided with the opening of the Yagan Memorial Park in Swan Valley, just outside of Perth.

"The Yagan Memorial Park is a fitting tribute to the life, struggles and death of Yagan and to the memory of all Aboriginal people who suffered and died in support of their land, culture and heritage," West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said in a statement.

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Musical InnerLube: TooL - Reflection



Artwork by Alex Grey

On World Population Day, take note: population isn’t the problem

A green myth is on the march. It wants to blame the world's overbreeding poor people for the planet's peril. It stinks. And on World Population Day, I encourage fellow environmentalists not to be seduced.

Some greens think all efforts to save the world are doomed unless we "do something" about continuing population growth. But this is nonsense. Worse, it is dangerous nonsense.

For a start, the population bomb that I remember being scared by 40 years ago as a schoolkid is being defused fast. Back then, most women round the world had five or six children. Today's women have just half as many as their mothers -- an average of 2.6. Not just in the rich world, but almost everywhere.

This is getting close to the long-term replacement level, which, allowing for girls who don't make it to adulthood, is around 2.3. Women are cutting their family sizes not because governments tell them to, but for their own good and the good of their families -- and if it helps the planet too, then so much the better.

This is a stunning change in just one generation. Why don't we hear more about it? Because it doesn't fit the doomsday agenda.

[ ... ]

The population bomb is being defused right now -- by the world's poor women. Sadly, the consumption bomb is still primed and ever more dangerous.

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10 Ways We Are Being Tracked, Traced, and Databased


The war on terror is a worldwide endeavor that has spurred massive investment into the global surveillance industry - which now seems to be becoming a war on "liberty and privacy."  Given all of the new monitoring technology being implemented, the uproar over warrantless wiretaps now seems moot.  High-tech, first-world countries  are being tracked, traced, and databased, literally around every corner.  Governments, aided by private companies, are gathering a mountain of information on average citizens who so far seem willing to trade liberty for supposed security.  Here are just some of the ways the matrix of data is being collected:
  • Internet -- Internet browsers are recording your every move forming detailed cookies on your activities.  The NSA has been exposed as having cookies on their site that don't expire until 2035.  Major search engines know where you surfed last summer, and online purchases are databased, supposedly for advertising and customer service uses.  IP addresses are collected and even made public.  Controversial websites can be flagged internally by government sites, as well as re-routing all traffic to block sitesreal-time social network monitoring are already being used.  The Cybersecurity Act attempts to legalize the collection and exploitation of your personal information.  Apple's iPhone also has browsing data recorded and stored.  All of this despite the overwhelming opposition to cybersurveillance by citizens. the government wants to censor. It has now been fully admitted that social networks provide NO privacy to users, while technologies for 
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How your Apple iPhone spies on you

As the communications device grows in popularity, technology experts and US law enforcement agencies are devoting increasing efforts to understanding their potential for forensics investigators.

While police have tracked criminals by locating their position via conventional mobile phone towers, iPhones offer far more information, say experts.

"There are a lot of security issues in the design of the iPhone that lend themselves to retaining more personal information than any other device," said Jonathan Zdziarski, a former computer hacker who now teaches US law enforcers how to retrieve data from mobile phones.

"These devices organise people's lives and, if you're doing something criminal, something about it is going to go through that phone." Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones since the product was launched in 2007.

[ ... ]

An example was the iPhone's keyboard logging cache, which was designed to correct spelling but meant that an expert could retrieve anything typed on the keyboard over the past three to 12 months, he said.


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Moody dark photography of American Protests, homeless and the Post-Apocalypse



Projected at the De Young Museum, April 16th, 2010.
Original photography and music by Anthony Kurtz
see more at http://anthonykurtz.com

~ Via Photography Served ~

America’s DNA Profile Has Been All Over Afghanistan Since 1973

From Sibel Edmonds' Boiling Frogs Post:

In the two years since the publication of our book Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story we have had the chance to address dozens of forums and radio audiences around the United States about Afghanistan. It has been an illuminating exercise, not so much in terms of what Americans understand about the Afghanistan/Pakistan region (which unfortunately isn't very much) but by the way it reveals how Americans are struggling to catch up with a world that seems to have left them behind. A morning-drive-time radio talk show host in Chicago wanted to know whether a nuclear bomb dropped on the Hindu Kush wouldn't solve the problem. When we replied that using a nuclear weapon to kill a few thousand suspected terrorists would kill millions of innocent people, he responded abruptly before cutting us off: The Japanese got the message when we dropped it on them.

Most people are confused about the America they find themselves in, in the 21st century. They wonder where “their” America went. According to the popular mythology, the U.S. started the decade as the world's lone hyper-power, beholden to none. It ends the first decade of the new millennium as a debt-hobbled-capitalist shell, beholden to a rising communist China a rising communist China and a host of oil-rich medieval Middle-East Sheikdoms.  Americans are frustrated and resentful, denying any responsibility for the ongoing Afghan fiasco while expressing anger and often disbelief that our leadership has refused to learn the lessons of Vietnam and taken us on yet another mindless ride into a hopeless quagmire.

When we are asked why the U.S. is still in Afghanistan after a decade, we explain that America's DNA profile has been all over that country since 1973. While no one was looking, the CIA's secret mission became entangled with Pakistan's support for Afghanistan's small core of foreign-trained right wing Islamic extremists. Thanks to President Jimmy Carter's national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, this entanglement blossomed into a marriage following the 1978 Marxist coup and a full-blown commitment to holy war and the Islamization of Pakistan – long before the Soviet invasion of 1979.

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