Sunday, March 31, 2013
Lawrence of Arabia aided in the fragmentation of the Middle East by encouraging the Arabs to rebel against their brothers the Ottoman Empire.
The Regions’s Borders Have Long Been Artificial. The War In Iraq Accelerated Their Demise.
Fred Kaplan writes in "Slate"
On Feb. 26, 2003, President George W. Bush gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, spelling out what he saw as the link between freedom and security in the Middle East. “A liberated Iraq,” he said, “can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region” by serving “as a dramatic and inspiring example … for other nations in the region.”
The Thirty Years Dirty War In Latin America
Pierre Abramovici writes,
At BGI Shenzhen, scientists have collected DNA samples from 2,000 of the world’s smartest people and are sequencing their entire genomes in an attempt to identify the alleles which determine human intelligence. Apparently they’re not far from finding them, and when they do, embryo screening will allow parents to pick their brightest zygote and potentially bump up every generation's intelligence by five to 15 IQ points.
Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist and lecturer at NYU, is one of the 2,000 braniacs who contributed their DNA. I spoke to him about what this creepy-ass program might mean for the future of Chinese kids.
Geoffrey Miller: As soon as Deng Xiaoping took power in the late 70s, he took the whole focus of the Chinese government from trying to manage the economy, to trying to manage the quality and quantity of people. In the 90s, they started to do widespread prenatal testing for birth defects with ultrasound, and more recently, they've spent a lot of money researching human genetics to figure out which genes make people smarter.
BGI is also doing lots of plant genetics, animal genetics, anything that’s economically relevant or scientifically interesting.
They seem mostly interested in people of Chinese and European descent. They’re basically recruiting through a scientific conference, through word of mouth. You have to provide some evidence that you’re as smart as you say you are. You have to send your complete CV, publications you’ve produced, standardized-test scores, where you went to college... stuff like that.
Once you’ve got that information and a fertilized egg that’s divided into a few cells, you can sample one of the cells to figure out the expected intelligence if it’s implanted and becomes a person.
Even if it only boosts the average kid by five IQ points, that’s a huge difference in terms of economic productivity, the competitiveness of the country, how many patents they get, how their businesses are run, and how innovative their economy is.
Actual use of the technology to do embryo screening might take five to ten years, but it could be just a few years. It depends on how motivated they are.
In fact, almost any trait other than intelligence would be easier to do. We know that intelligence depends on lots of genes while physical traits—like hair or eye color—only depend on a few genes. Things like body shape would be easier to do, physical attractiveness would be pretty complicated, personality traits might be a little simpler than intelligence—how hard working somebody is, how impulsive, how politically liberal or conservative they are would be easier. How religious you are—that’s definitely influenced by genes to some degree.
What Else Is China Doing That We Aren’t?
Well, they’re also investing a huge amount of money in education, they’re creating new systems of universities that emphasise more creative approaches to learning, and they’re sending hundreds of thousands of college students to America and Europe to see how our education systems operate so they can bring their own systems up to our standards and above.
Do You Think Global Domination Is In The Cards?
The Chinese Communist party has never really sought global domination. They think of it as restoring China to its rightful and historical place as the central culture of humanity. Europe got a temporary advantage, but they’re just restoring the natural balance as the world’s most populous country. I don’t think they have any imperial ambitions to spread China’s borders—they’re not going to act like Nazi Germany or America in the 20th century—but they do want respect and they do want influence and they don’t trust America or Europe to run the world in the right way, in terms of issues like global warming or equality or economic stability.
SEBASTIAN ABBOT reports in Chron that,
The head of a U.N.team investigating casualties from U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan declared after a secret research trip to the country that the attacks violate Pakistan's sovereignty.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Down to the Earth's Core takes viewers from the sidewalk to the center of the planet in one epic unbroken shot. Using spectacular computer generated imagery; the camera smashes through almost 9 000 kilos of solid rock to explore the hidden world beneath our feet.
Experience an earthquake inside the San Andreas Fault, blast out of a volcano, encounter bizarre cave-dwelling creatures and enter caves full of giant crystals -- all inside planet Earth.
As the camera lowers into Earth's bosom, the planet's extraordinary story, is laid bare layer by layer, showing how prehistoric forests became modern-day fuel, witnessing the dinosaur's cataclysmic death, and watching as stalactites form and gold grows before our eyes.
Deeper, beyond the reach of any mine, any drill, we find wonders beyond imagination: towering molten metal tornadoes, forests of solid iron crystals, until we reach the strangest, least understood place on the planet -- the core. To infinity and beyond, this is Earth like never before.
"Russia Today" reports the following:
The head of the United States Cyber Command says the US is developing 40 new teams of cyber-agents that will both protect America’s critical infrastructure from hackers and as well as launch attacks against the country’s adversaries.
Gen. Keith Alexander, who leads both the Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, told the US Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the 40 online support teams should be ready for action by 2015, with 13 of those units existing specifically to attack other countries.
Alexander has been reluctant to go into detail about how the newly-designed teams will engage in cyber battle with America’s enemies, but he did say that the 13 squads of offensive fighters won’t be sitting around waiting for hackers from abroad to strike first. The NSA chief described the groups as‘‘defend-the-nation’’ teams but also stressed that their role will be one that puts them on both sides of the action.
“I would like to be clear that this team. . . is an offensive team,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“The teams are analogous to battalions in the Army and Marine Corps — or squadrons in the Navy and Air Force,” said Alexander. “In short, they will soon be capable of operating on their own, with a range of operational and intelligence skill sets, as well as a mix of military and civilian personnel.”
Chris Strohm, a national security reporter for Bloomberg, says the units will “focus on missions such as protecting vital computer networks from attacks, supporting combat operations and keeping the Pentagon’s information-technology systems secure.”
The Associated Press reports that Gen. Alexander likened the teams’ duties to “knocking an incoming missile out of the sky before it hits a target,” and that they’d serve as defensive teams with added offensive capabilities. What offensive actions the teams will engage in exactly will likely remain unknown for now, however, as the US has continues to closely guard its secretive cyber operations. Anorder signed by President Barack Obama last year outlining the offensive capabilities of US cyber squads remains classified four months later, but it has been described as being the most aggressive cybersecurity directive ever. Meanwhile, the commander-in-chief and other administration officials have only said that attacks aimed at US infrastructure are increasing in frequency.
"What is absolutely true is that we have seen a steady ramping up of cyber security threats,” Pres. Obama told ABC News during an interview filmed on Tuesday.
And while Gen. Alexander’s 40 new teams won’t be ready for either side of a cyberbattle until 2015, meanwhile Washington is looking for other ways to protect an onslaught of attacks. In addition to the classified order signed by Mr. Obama in November — Presidential Policy Directive 20 — the White House has also released an executive order that will pave the way for the country’s private businesses to share threat information with the US government.
“I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs and our privacy,” Pres. Obama said during last month’s State of the Union address. Moments later during his speech, he also urged Congress to act fast on their own “by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks.” One day later members of Congress reintroduced the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, and again this week Pres. Obama asked for lawmakers on Capitol Hill to act on it.
"There are ways that we can harden our critical infrastructure, our financial sector," Obama to ABC. "They need to get this done."
Gen. Alexander and Pres. Obama’s statements come on the heels of a series of cyberattacks aimed at America’s military computers, government servers, utility companies and banks. Iran has been largely considered responsible for a series of recent attacks on US banking websites, and China has repeatedly been linked to both cyber-espionage and cyberattacks on the US Department of Defense, Department of State and the private sector. Earlier this week, hackers claiming to be from the Tunisian Cyber Army took credit for hacking a handful of government websites, and say that, along with the al-Qaeda Electronic Army and a crew of Chinese hackers, will continue to attack US websites as part of Operation BlackSummer, or #OpBlackSummer.