Endtime News Update 2-11-2018

Israel “Preparing For War In North”, Boosts Air Defenses; Warns Iran

One day after the most “significant escalation” in tensions between Israel and Syria/Iran, when an Israeli F-16 was shot down over the Golan Heights after it attacked a Syrian base which allegedly launched a drone into Israeli airspace, Israel appears to be “preparing for war in the North” according to the Jerusalem Post, which reports that the Jewish state has boosted its air defense in the region along the Syrian border following the “significant confrontation between the Jewish State, Syria and Iran.”

Witnesses cited by JPost reported seeing a convoy of missile-defense batteries heading north near the Israeli-Arab city of Baka al-Gharbiya. Other witnesses posted photos of several trucks carrying the batteries on central highways in northern Israel.

Israel’s air defenses currently include the Iron Dome, designed to shoot down short-range rockets.

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Additionally there is the Arrow system, which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere and the David’s Sling missile-defense system, which is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles fired from ranges of between 40 km. to 300 km.

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Meanwhile, according to AFP, Israel issued a stark warning on Sunday over Iran’s presence in neighbouring Syria after the previously reported confrontation between the neighboring nations threatened to open a new and unpredictable period in Syria’s seven-year civil war, which now appears to also be engaged in de facto war against Israel.

In a dramatic escalation, Israel carried out major air raids in Syria on Saturday, including against what it described as Iranian targets – the first time it had publicly acknowledged doing so since the war began. The raids came after an Israeli F16 fighter was shot down by Syrian air defenses. The pilots survived, but it was Israel’s first loss of a warplane in battle since 1982.

Commenting on the escalation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday’s cabinet meeting that “we inflicted on Saturday a heavy blow to Iranian and Syrian forces,” adding that “w made clear to everyone that our rules of engagement will not change in any way. We will continue to harm anyone who tries to harm us. This was our policy and this will remain our policy.”

Other Israeli ministers spoke of refusing to accept Iran entrenching itself militarily in Syria, as Netanyahu has said repeatedly. Tehran denies it is doing so.

And while several analysts said they did not expect a further escalation in the coming days, some spoke of the possibility of the Syrian war entering a new phase. While we have yet to see how oil will trade after the tension filled weekend, Israel’s stocks dropped as much as 1.3%, after Israel and Iran moved closer to confrontation in Syria.

Quoted by Bloomberg, Ilanit Sherf, head of equity research at Israel’s largest institutional investor, Psagot Investment House said that the drop in Israeli stocks on Sunday is “mainly due to developments in the security arena over the weekend,” and that “the confrontation in Syria was “irregular in a number of ways, and there is concern, of course, of further entanglement.”

In a surprise to some, Ofer Zalzberg of the International Crisis Group think tank said that Syria has become more emboldened to try to stop Israeli strikes inside the country, while Israel wants to maintain its ability to operate there when it sees fit. Imagine that: a country daring to defend its sovereignty.

* * *

Still, optimists believe that the latest escalation will remain contained: “I think this incident is more likely to be contained because fundamentally it is a gradual attempt to renegotiate the so-called rules of the game,” Zalzberg said, adding that Russia should mediate.

Furthermore, on Saturday, Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus warned that Syria and Iran were “playing with fire”, but stressed that Israel was not seeking an escalation. “This is the most blatant and severe Iranian violation of Israeli sovereignty” in recent years, Conricus said.

After Saturday’s escalation, Iran dismissed Israeli “lies” and said Syria had the right to defend itself against Israeli attacks. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said “Iran does not have a military presence in Syria, and has only sent military advisers at the request of the Syrian government.”

Meanwhile, Russia stressed the need to “avoid any measure that could lead to a dangerous escalation”.

As reported last night, Netanyahu spoke with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after Saturday’s confrontation.

Naturally, Washington backed Israel and blamed Iran for the escalation. Tillerson on Sunday begins a Middle East tour that will take him to Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Kuwait.

Ultimately the decision whether a full-blown war emerges from the latest conflict will fall on Netanyahu and Putin: The Israeli PM has met regularly with the Russian president in recent months in a bid to convince Russia to keep Iranian forces away from Israeli territory. Russia and Israel have also established a hotline to avoid accidental clashes in Syria.

 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Vows “Hell To The Zionists” As Putin Warns Netanyahu

Iran has called reports that they sent a UAV into Israeli airspace “ridiculous,” while an Iranian commander warns that they could unleash “hell” on the “Zionist regime” by destroying all US bases in the area.

“The claim about the flight of an Iranian drone and Iran’s involvement in the downing of a Zionist fighter jet is so ridiculous that it does not merit a comment,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi, while claiming that Iranian officials are only advising the Syrians “at the request of the… legitimate and lawful government.”

Moreover, any “aggressive actions” by Israel would trigger a serious response by Iran, creating “hell for the Zionists” according to Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards. His statement below:

The Zionist regime in the Muslim world was shaped by the will of the United States and Britain, and they built a cemetery from the Islamic world. You have heard the story of the domination of the world of arrogance after World War II, the tragic story of Muslim slaughter in the wars that Britain has launched and know the role of the United States and Britain in the formation of the Zionist regime, or aware of the defeats of the Arab armies of the Zionist regime by American support.

The United States was banning us and wanted to be paralyzed, but we advanced, and today, from this point on, today we can destroy all American bases in the region and create hell for Zionists.

Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran is more powerful than ever. We trust in God; this was a confession two years ago when we seized the American Marines and the American inability to confront us. –Gen. Hossein Salami via Tasnim News (translated)

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Israeli Prime Minister Benajamin Netanyahu in a Saturday phone call to avoid an escalation of the situation in Syria, reports Reuterswhile Netanyahu asserted Israel’s right to “defend against aggression.”

They discussed the situation around the actions of the Israeli air force, which carried our missile strikes on targets in Syria,” Interfax quoted the Kremlin as saying.

The phone conversation took place less than two weeks after a face-to-face meeting between the Israeli and Russian leaders in Moscow, the duo’s seventh face to face meeting in two years, in which the two leaders who are currently reshaping the middle east in the power vacuum left by the US, were said to have discussed military cooperation on Syria and Iran’s influence in the region. It is unclear whether today’s events were part of the talking points.

Netanyahu also spoke with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Saturday where he reiterated Israel’s stance. Tillerson is about to embark this weekend on a five-nation tour of the Middle East, visiting Turkey, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan and Lebanon.

“Our policy is clear,” said Netanyahu. “Israel will defend itself against any aggression and any attempt to violate its sovereignty,” adding “Iran undertook such attempt today. It violated our sovereignty, and infiltrated its drone into Israeli airspace from Syria.”

 

Israel to be key player in the next chapter of Syria’s war

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israel-to-be-key-player-in-the-next-chapter-of-Syrias-war-542326

By Anna Ahronheim
February 11, 2018 18:58
For Israel, the next chapter in Syria’s war will be a nightmare scenario.
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu chats with Israeli soldiers at a military outpost during a visit to Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights overlooking the Israel-Syria border in 2015.. (photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)
The incident on Israel’s northern border on Saturday was not only a significant event for Israel but a serious incident that shows how the disastrous war in Syria is far from over, rather that a new chapter is just beginning, with Israel poised to be a central character.

Since the intervention of the Russians and the Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias including Hezbollah, the tide has turned in favor of Syrian President Bashar Assad who has become more brazen as he regains control over more territory.

Early on Saturday morning, an advanced Iranian drone believed to be a copy of a US stealth drone that was downed in Iran in 2011, drone took off from the T4 airbase deep in the Syrian province of Homs.

The drone was spotted by Israel and was intercepted near the town of Beit She’an by an Apache attack helicopter after it had flown 1.5 minutes into Israeli territory.

In response, Israeli F-16 fighter jets took off to strike the launch site and were met by massive Syrian antiaircraft fire, over 20 missiles launched from SA-5 and SA-17 batteries.

The pilots of one of the F16s ejected from their jet, which crashed in the lower Galilee. It is assumed that the jet was hit by shrapnel by the Syrian antiaircraft fire.

It was the first time in 30 years that an Israeli jet was lost in a combat situation. This led to an extensive retaliation by Israel with additional strikes against both the Syrian missile batteries and Iranian military targets. CCTV of F-16 crash in northern Israel. (Credit: Mako News)

According to IAF chief of air staff Brig.-Gen. Tomer Bar, the second in command of Israel’s air force, it was the most extensive Israeli attack against Syrian air defenses since 1982.

Syria’s army was almost decimated over the course of the deadly civil war, with some questioning how “Syrian Arab” is the Syrian Arab Army, which is propped up by some 80,000 fighters belonging to the Lebanese Shia terror group Hezbollah and another 10,000 other Shi’ite militia fighters.

As troops loyal to Assad continue to march back to Israel’s border, winning battles with local rebel and al-Qaida linked groups, Israel is watching with concern.

Officials have been warning of Iranian entrenchment on the Golan Heights, an area of key strategic importance for the Jewish state, stressing that it is a red line for Jerusalem.

Once the Assad regime re-cements its hold on the entirety of the country, these fighters, who have been trained and equipped by Iran are unlikely to return to their homes in Lebanon, Afghanistan or Iran.

Their sights will likely turn towards Israel, Syria’s old foe.

On Sunday, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoel Strick warned that while Israel is not interested in escalating the situation, the IDF would not allow an Iranian presence in Syria.

“Those who cross the border will, on any level, receive an appropriate response. Iranian involvement in the region is a disturbing threat to Israel and the entire world. Iran wants to create a front command in Syria – we will not allow it,” he said at a ceremony marking the change of the command in the Northern Command’s 210th “Bashan” Division, which is responsible for guarding the Syrian border and the Golan Heights.

“We are not inclined toward escalation, but we have high-level capabilities and we will not hesitate to use them,” Strick added.

Incoming commander Brig.-Gen. Amit Fisher warned not only of the Iranian entrenchment across the border but the return of Syrian troops to an area which was relatively quiet for close to six years while under the control of rebels.

“We must prepare ourselves operationally and in terms of intelligence for the growing threat: The return of the Syrian army and Iranian forces, Hezbollah and others.”

For Israel, the next chapter in Syria’s war will be a nightmare scenario.

 

Arizona Senate Passes Bill To Allow Tax Payments In Bitcoin

The Arizona Senate passed a bill on Feb. 8 to allow residents in the state to pay their taxes with cryptocurrencies, public records indicate.

The Senate Bill 1091, which intends to enable cryptocurrencies for tax payment, was introduced Jan. 10, 2018 and passed by the Senate Finance Committee by a 4-3 vote on Jan. 24. On Feb. 8, the Senate passed the bill by a 16-13 margin, with one no-vote.

The bill has now been sent to Arizona’s House of Representatives.

If the bill is adopted, Arizona would become the first state in the U.S. to accept cryptocurrency tax payments by the year of 2020, as stated on the public record. The bill would allow taxpayers of the state to use “a payment gateway, such as Bitcoin, Litecoin or any other cryptocurrency recognized by the department, using electronic peer-to-peer systems.”

According to the bill, the Arizona Department of Revenue, upon receiving payments in crypto for “tax and any interest and penalties”, would be obligated to convert the cryptocurrency payments to U.S. dollars within 24 hours.

Arizona State Republican Rep. Jeff Weninger, who co-sponsored the bill, said the tax measure intends to turn the state into a center of  “blockchain and digital currency technology in the future”. Referring to the tax bill, Weninger told Fox News this week:

“It’s one of a litany of bills that we’re running that is sending a signal to everyone in the United States, and possibly throughout the world, that Arizona is going to be the place to be for blockchain and digital currency technology in the future.”

In September, 2017, Cointelegraph reported that the municipality of Chiasso, Switzerland will enable its residents to pay taxes in Bitcoin starting January 2018, following the lead of Zug.

 

 

The Mark of the Best is HERE!

 

Cancer ‘vaccine’ eliminates all traces of cancer in mice

Bodywide immune stimulation without adverse side effects
February 5, 2018

Injecting minute amounts of two immune-stimulating agents directly into solid tumors in mice was able to eliminate all traces of cancer in the animals — including distant, untreated metastases (spreading cancer locations), according to a study by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers.

The researchers believe this new “in situ vaccination” method could serve as a rapid and relatively inexpensive cancer therapy — one that is unlikely to cause the adverse side effects often seen with bodywide immune stimulation.

The  approach works for many different types of cancers, including those that arise spontaneously, the study found.

“When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body,” said Ronald Levy*, MD, professor of oncology and senior author of the study, which was published Jan. 31 in Science Translational Medicine. “This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn’t require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient’s immune cells.”

Many current immunotherapy approaches have been successful, but they each have downsides — from difficult-to-handle side effects to high-cost and lengthy preparation or treatment times.** “Our approach uses a one-time application of very small amounts of two agents to stimulate the immune cells only within the tumor itself,” Levy said. “In the mice, we saw amazing, bodywide effects, including the elimination of tumors all over the animal.”

Cancer-destroying T cells that target other tumors in the body

Levy’s method reactivates cancer-specific T cells (a type of white blood cell) by injecting microgram (one-millionth of a gram) amounts of the two agents directly into the tumor site.*** Because the two agents are injected directly into the tumor, only T cells that have infiltrated the tumor are activated. In effect, these T cells are “prescreened” by the body to recognize only cancer-specific proteins.

Some of these tumor-specific, activated T cells then leave the original tumor to find and destroy other identical tumors throughout the body.


“I don’t think there’s a limit to the type of tumor we could potentially treat, as long as it has been infiltrated by the immune system.” — Ronald Levy, MD.


The approach worked “startlingly well” in laboratory mice with transplanted mouse lymphoma tumors in two sites on their bodies, the researchers say. Injecting one tumor site with the two agents caused the regression not just of the treated tumor, but also of the second, untreated tumor. In this way, 87 of 90 mice were cured of the cancer. Although the cancer recurred in three of the mice, the tumors again regressed after a second treatment. The researchers saw similar results in mice bearing breast, colon and melanoma tumors.

Mice genetically engineered to spontaneously develop breast cancers in all 10 of their mammary pads also responded to the treatment. Treating the first tumor that arose often prevented the occurrence of future tumors and significantly increased the animals’ life span, the researchers found.

Finally, researchers explored the specificity of the T cells. They transplanted two types of tumors into the mice. They transplanted the same lymphoma cancer cells in two locations, and transplanted a colon cancer cell line in a third location. Treatment of one of the lymphoma sites caused the regression of both lymphoma tumors but did not affect the growth of the colon cancer cells.

“This is a very targeted approach,” Levy said. “Only the tumor that shares the protein targets displayed by the treated site is affected. We’re attacking specific targets without having to identify exactly what proteins the T cells are recognizing.”

Lymphoma clinical trial

Read more: http://www.kurzweilai.net/cancer-vaccine-eliminates-tumors-in-mice

 

 

Future of Artificial Intelligence and its Impact on Society

http://www.kurzweilai.net/talk-council-on-foreign-relations-future-of-artificial-intelligence-and-its-impact-on-society

 

MIT nanosystem delivers precise amounts of drugs directly to a tiny spot in the brain

… without interfering with the normal functions of the rest of the brain
January 28, 2018

MIT researchers have developed a miniaturized system that can deliver tiny quantities of medicine to targeted brain regions as small as 1 cubic millimeter, with precise control over how much drug is given. The goal is to treat diseases that affect specific brain circuits without interfering with the normal functions of the rest of the brain.*

“We believe this tiny microfabricated device could have tremendous impact in understanding brain diseases, as well as providing new ways of delivering biopharmaceuticals and performing biosensing in the brain,” says Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT and one of the senior authors of an open-access paper that appears in the Jan. 24 issue of Science Translational Medicine.**

The researchers used state-of-the-art microfabrication techniques to construct cannulas (thin tubes) with diameters of about 30 micrometers (width of a fine human hair) and lengths up to 10 centimeters. These cannulas are contained within a stainless steel needle with a diameter of about 150 micrometers. Inside the cannulas are small pumps that can deliver tiny doses (hundreds of nanoliters***) deep into the brains of rats — with very precise control over how much drug is given and where it goes.

In one experiment, they delivered a drug called muscimol to a rat brain region called the substantia nigra, which is located deep within the brain and helps to control movement. Previous studies have shown that muscimol induces symptoms similar to those seen in Parkinson’s disease. The researchers were able to stimulate the rats to continually turn in a clockwise direction. They also could also halt the Parkinsonian behavior by delivering a dose of saline through a different channel to wash the drug away.

“Since the device can be customizable, in the future we can have different channels for different chemicals, or for light, to target tumors or neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s,” says Canan Dagdeviren, the LG Electronics Career Development Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences and the lead author of the paper.

This device could also make it easier to deliver potential new treatments for behavioral neurological disorders such as addiction or obsessive compulsive disorder. (These may be caused by specific disruptions in how different parts of the brain communicate with each other.)

Measuring drug response

The researchers also showed that they could incorporate an electrode into the tip of the cannula, which can be used to monitor how neurons’ electrical activity changes after drug treatment. They are now working on adapting the device so it can also be used to measure chemical or mechanical changes that occur in the brain following drug treatment.

The cannulas can be fabricated in nearly any length or thickness, making it possible to adapt them for use in brains of different sizes, including the human brain, the researchers say.

“This study provides proof-of-concept experiments, in large animal models, that a small, miniaturized device can be safely implanted in the brain and provide miniaturized control of the electrical activity and function of single neurons or small groups of neurons. The impact of this could be significant in focal diseases of the brain, such as Parkinson’s disease,” says Antonio Chiocca, neurosurgeon-in-chief and chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who was not involved in the research.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

* To treat brain disorders, drugs (such as l-dopa, a dopamine precursor used to treat Parkinson’s disease, and Prozac, used to boost serotonin levels in patients with depression) often interact with brain chemicals called neurotransmitters (or the cell receptors interact with neurotransmitters) — creating side effects throughout the brain.

** Michael Cima, the David H. Koch Professor of Engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, is also a senior author of the paper.

*** It would take one billion nanoliter drops to fill 4 cups.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/mit-nanosystem-delivers-precise-amounts-of-drugs-directly-to-a-tiny-spot-in-the-brain

 

 

Superconducting ‘synapse’ could enable powerful future neuromorphic supercomputers

Fires 200 million times faster than human brain, uses one ten-thousandth as much energy
February 7, 2018

A superconducting “synapse” that “learns” like a biological system, operating like the human brain, has been built by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The NIST switch, described in an open-access paper in Science Advances, provides a missing link for neuromorphic (brain-like) computers, according to the researchers. Such “non-von Neumann architecture” future computers could significantly speed up analysis and decision-making for applications such as self-driving cars and cancer diagnosis.

The research is supported by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) Cryogenic Computing Complexity Program, which was launched in 2014 with the goal of paving the way to “a new generation of superconducting supercomputer development beyond the exascale.”*

NIST’s artificial synapse is a metallic cylinder 10 micrometers in diameter — about 10 times larger than a biological synapse. It simulates a real synapse by processing incoming electrical spikes (pulsed current from a neuron) and customizing spiking output signals. The more firing between cells (or processors), the stronger the connection. That process enables both biological and artificial synapses to maintain old circuits and create new ones.

Dramatically faster, lower-energy-required, compared to human synapses

But the NIST synapse has two unique features that the researchers say are superior to human synapses and to other artificial synapses:

  • Operating at 100 GHz, it can fire at a rate that is much faster than the human brain — 1 billion times per second, compared to a brain cell’s rate of about 50 times per second.
  • It uses only about one ten-thousandth as much energy as a human synapse. The spiking energy is less than 1 attojoule** — roughly equivalent to the miniscule chemical energy bonding two atoms in a molecule — compared to the roughly 10 femtojoules (10,000 attojoules) per synaptic event in the human brain. Current neuromorphic platforms are orders of magnitude less efficient than the human brain. “We don’t know of any other artificial synapse that uses less energy,” NIST physicist Mike Schneider said.

Superconducting devices mimicking brain cells and transmission lines have been developed, but until now, efficient synapses — a crucial piece — have been missing. The new Josephson junction-based artificial synapse would be used in neuromorphic computers made of superconducting components (which can transmit electricity without resistance), so they would be more efficient than designs based on semiconductors or software. Data would be transmitted, processed, and stored in units of magnetic flux.

The brain is especially powerful for tasks like image recognition because it processes data both in sequence and simultaneously and it stores memories in synapses all over the system. A conventional computer processes data only in sequence and stores memory in a separate unit.

The new NIST artificial synapses combine small size, superfast spiking signals, and low energy needs, and could be stacked into dense 3D circuits for creating large systems. They could provide a unique route to a far more complex and energy-efficient neuromorphic system than has been demonstrated with other technologies, according to the researchers.

Nature News does raise some concerns about the research, quoting neuromorphic-technology experts: “Millions of synapses would be necessary before a system based on the technology could be used for complex computing; it remains to be seen whether it will be possible to scale it to this level. … The synapses can only operate at temperatures close to absolute zero, and need to be cooled with liquid helium. That this might make the chips impractical for use in small devices, although a large data centre might be able to maintain them. … We don’t yet understand enough about the key properties of the [biological] synapse to know how to use them effectively.”


Inside a superconducting synapse 

The NIST synapse is a customized Josephson junction***, long used in NIST voltage standards. These junctions are a sandwich of superconducting materials with an insulator as a filling. When an electrical current through the junction exceeds a level called the critical current, voltage spikes are produced.

Each artificial synapse uses standard niobium electrodes but has a unique filling made of nanoscale clusters (“nanoclusters”) of manganese in a silicon matrix. The nanoclusters — about 20,000 per square micrometer — act like tiny bar magnets with “spins” that can be oriented either randomly or in a coordinated manner. The number of nanoclusters pointing in the same direction can be controlled, which affects the superconducting properties of the junction.

The synapse rests in a superconducting state, except when it’s activated by incoming current and starts producing voltage spikes. Researchers apply current pulses in a magnetic field to boost the magnetic ordering — that is, the number of nanoclusters pointing in the same direction.

This magnetic effect progressively reduces the critical current level, making it easier to create a normal conductor and produce voltage spikes. The critical current is the lowest when all the nanoclusters are aligned. The process is also reversible: Pulses are applied without a magnetic field to reduce the magnetic ordering and raise the critical current. This design, in which different inputs alter the spin alignment and resulting output signals, is similar to how the brain operates.

Synapse behavior can also be tuned by changing how the device is made and its operating temperature. By making the nanoclusters smaller, researchers can reduce the pulse energy needed to raise or lower the magnetic order of the device. Raising the operating temperature slightly from minus 271.15 degrees C (minus 456.07 degrees F) to minus 269.15 degrees C (minus 452.47 degrees F), for example, results in more and higher voltage spikes.


* Future exascale supercomputers would run at 1018 exaflops (“flops” = floating point operations per second) or more. The current fastest supercomputer — the Sunway TaihuLight — operates at about 0.1 exaflops; zettascale computers, the next step beyond exascale, would run 10,000 times faster than that.

** An attojoule is 10-18 joule, a unit of energy, and is one-thousandth of a femtojoule.

*** The Josephson effect is the phenomenon of supercurrent — i.e., a current that flows indefinitely long without any voltage applied — across a device known as a Josephson junction, which consists of two superconductors coupled by a weak link. — Wikipedia

http://www.kurzweilai.net/superconducting-synapse-could-enable-powerful-future-neuromorphic-supercomputers

 

Supporting universal basic income as step in world progress

People will benefit from social help, plus accelerating tech + science abundance.
May 28, 2017


column: letters from Ray
date: May 27, 2017

topic: Adopting a universal basic income for all people can help society think creatively with new ideas, develop new industries — and free-up people to work on important future projects.

This practical social support program can grow as science & technology rapidly evolve, becoming part of world abundance.

story by: Ray Kurzweil


Dear readers,

As you might have seen in the news, entrepreneur and renowned Facebook founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a commencement speech at Harvard University. He said in his talk:

To keep our society moving forward, we have a generational challenge — to create new jobs, a renewed sense of purpose, and to take on big meaningful projects.

Our generation will have to deal with tens of millions of jobs replaced by automation like self-driving cars & trucks. But we have the potential to do so much more together.

More than 300,000 people worked to put a man on the moon — including that janitor. Millions of volunteers immunized children around the world against polio. Millions of people built the Hoover dam and other great projects.

We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income — to give everyone a cushion to try new things.

We’re going to change jobs many times, so we need affordable child care — to get to work and health care that aren’t tied to one company. We’re all going to make mistakes, so we need a society that focuses less on locking us up or stigmatizing us. And as tech keeps changing, we need to focus more on continuous education throughout our lives.

Giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn’t free. People like me should pay for it. Many of you will do well and you should too. That’s why my wife Priscilla Chan and I started the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and committed our wealth to promoting equal opportunity. These are the values of our generation.

Mark Zuckerberg |  source

A universal basic income is a form of security for a society’s citizens in which all residents of a country regularly unconditionally receive a sum of money, either from a government or public institution, in addition to any income received from elsewhere.

I support something along these lines. We want to do it in a way that doesn’t destroy incentives to contribute to society. So the question is how we get there. We already have a muddle approximating UBI * in the form of food stamps, social security, Medicaid, Medicare, emergency rooms and other programs.

You can get most of your needs for basic sustenance from these programs today — with the important exception of housing. There are shelters but these are grim and dangerous.

We are clearly headed toward a situation where everyone can live very well, with the support that society will provide. The fantastic price-performance gains we’ve seen in information technology is coming to physical products, food, energy, and other material items as they all become information technologies — like 3D printing, vertical agriculture, and solar energy.

I plan to talk about these issues, and how they will affect — and ultimately improve our civilization — in my next book. I remain positive that people like Mark Zuckerberg are thinking creatively about the future. We will be able to enter an age of abundance, as technology & science progress makes a better world for all of us.

Ray Kurzweil

* UBI is universal basic income

 

http://www.kurzweilai.net/letter-from-ray-supporting-universal-basic-income-as-step-in-world-progress

 

Israel at war???

Israeli air strikes across Syria, countered by Syrian anti-air fire

Israeli air strikes are reported in Syria mid-morning Saturday, including the Damascus region, countered by Syrian anti-air systems. Warning sirens were triggered in the Golan and across Galilee up to Nahariya. These events follow a major cross-border incident, which began early Saturday with an Iranian drone intrusion of Israeli air space and its interception by an Apache helicopter and recovery intact. An Israeli air strike followed against the Iranian drone launch pad near Palmyra deep inside Syria and the downing of an IAF F-16 by Syrian anti-air fire. The plane came down over northern Israel after the two pilots ejected safely.

Israel intercepts Iranian drone, an IAF F-16 is hit while striking Iranian target in Syria. Pilots eject safely

An aerial clash occurring between, Syria and Iran early Saturday Feb. 10, is ongoing. An Iranian drone was downed after entering Israeli air space from Syria. An Israeli F-16 was hit while attacking the Iranian launch pad.

The Iranian drone was downed over the Golan heading towards Tiberias. The incident triggered sirens in the Bet Shean valley as an Israeli Patriot and aircraft were scrambled to shoot it down. According to the IDF communique, the Iranian drone was successfully intercepted by an Apache combat helicopter and The drone was downed by an Israeli Apache and recovered intact. The drone was quickly identified by Israel air defense systems and tracked all the way until it was brought down. Israel retaliated with an air strike against the Iranian launch pad near Palmyra in central Syria. The explosions heard in the Golan, causing another round of alerts, were caused by Syrian anti-air fire which hit one of the Israeli F-16 planes. The two pilots ejected safely in northern Israel and were taken to hospital in stable condition. Residents were advised to remain vigilant since the event is still ongoing.

This was the first direct military incident between Israel and Iran since the Syrian war broke out in 2011.DEBKAfile’s military sources reported on Wednesday, Feb. 7, that Iran had recently armed its military units in Syria and its Hizballah proxy with a supply of its newest drone, Mohajer 6 (Migrant) which carries smart precision bombs. The IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkot has convened an urgent meeting of the General Command and is managing the incident together with the Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amiram Nurkin.

https://www.debka.com/israel-intercepts-iranian-drone-iaf-f-16-hit-striking-iranian-target-syria-pilots-eject-safely/

Russian troops were involved in Iranian-Syrian clash with Israel

The Syrian anti-air missiles which hit an Israeli F-16 early Saturday, Feb. 10, are part of a system operated with and commanded by the Russians from their Kheimim air base. The F-16 was shot down during an Israeli air strike against the Iranian facility at the T-4 air base near Palmyra, which launched a UAV into Israeli airspace that morning. The ongoing clash has therefore gone way beyond an Israeli confrontation with Syria and Iran and marks a serious deterioration in the security situation on Israel’s northern border.
It is unlikely that Israel’s attempt through its diplomatic channels to calm the situation and “restore the status quo ante” will succeed. This situation underwent a fundamental strategic change when Iran sent a UAV over Israel from a Syrian base it shares also with the Russians. It may be assumed that the Russian command, which keeps a close eye on all Syria’s air facilities, was in the know about the Iranian operation and was not surprised when Israeli warplanes retaliated. One of those jets was shot down and its two pilots landed safely in northern Israel. One of them was badly injured.

Whether or not the Russians and Iranians discussed likely Israeli retaliation and decided to ambush one of the planes has yet to be investigated. But it is significant that the second, much broader wave of Israeli air strikes against a dozen Syrian and Iranian targets later Saturday morning, was also attacked by air defense missiles that were fired from Lebanon as well. This has brought Hizballah into the Syrian-Iranian-Russian equation, and even the Lebanese army. Civilian air traffic was consequently halted in northern Israel.
The parties involved in the incident don’t yet appear ready to call it a day. Each is holding out to have the last word, say DEBKAfile’s strategic analysts.

As matters stood at 11 a.m. Saturday morning, Israel and the IDF had come off worst, although another wave of Israeli air strikes was then launched against a broad range of Iranian and Syrian targets.  The downing of an air force jet by a Syrian anti-air weapon, mostly likely an SA-5 (whose range extends into northern Israel) has not been lightly dismissed. All the same, Jerusalem reportedly appealed to Washington and Moscow to use their good services for cutting the clash short. This set a tone in direct contrast to the recent, over-the-top rhetoric of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, especially his unnecessary comment that a two-front conflict is in store in both Syria and Lebanon; and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s warnings to hostile forces, “Don’t test us.”
That is exactly what Iran and Syria tried to do on Saturday morning. It is too soon to tell how this confrontation will play out.  It is still ongoing. As for Russia, DEBKAfile has repeatedly stressed that the regular dialogue Netanyahu conducts with President Vladimir Putin is of limited value. The two leaders have achieved a certain measure of understanding but, in any situation, Putin is sue to be guided solely by Moscow’s strategic interests – even at Israel’s expense.

https://www.debka.com/russian-troops-involved-iranian-syrian-clash-israel/

What’s up with AMTRAK trains?

Amtrak train breaks apart at 125 mph

Tragedy-prone Amtrak suffered another terrifying setback Tuesday — when a high-speed Acela train broke apart as it raced north toward Penn Station at 125 mph, sources said.

In the third wreck in just one week — and the fourth in two months — several cars of an Acela Express heading from Washington, DC, to the Big Apple decoupled at about 6:30 a.m. and were left held together only by their air hoses.

Sparks flew from dragging cables and the train jerked wildly, but none of the 52 terrified passengers aboard were injured, according to reports.

“Someone could have been walking through the train when that happened and fell to their death,” one source said.

A photo taken by an Amtrak worker shows the connector between two coupled trains broken and separated, with a six-foot gap between them.

“There was a lot of sparking and smoking at the head of the train and a lot of bouncing around,” a source said.

The train separated in Maryland about 50 miles north of Baltimore. One passenger was playing on his phone when he felt his car shake suddenly and then saw sparks outside his window.

“It felt almost like we were dragging something,” said Andrew Exum, 39, a journalist who lives in the Washington area and works in New York.

“I looked out the window and saw a shower of sparks coming out the side of the train,” Exum said. “Pretty quickly, the train came to a halt and the Amtrak folks rushed forward. I could tell by their faces that this was serious, and that we weren’t going anywhere.”

The crew first tried to fix the situation themselves, and then told passengers that they had to evacuate everyone from first class and the quiet car, which is where Exum was, the commuter shared.

“There were a lot of fumes and a little bit of smoke,” he said. “So we moved to the next car and just kind of waited. They powered down the train so we were literally in the dark for 30 minutes or so, maybe a little bit longer.”

Tuesday’s scare comes as a rash of wrecks plagues the passenger-rail service.

On Sunday, an Amtrak train traveling through South Carolina from New York City slammed into the back of a freight train, killing two workers.

Four days earlier, an Amtrak train carrying Republican members of Congress slammed into a garbage truck in Virginia, killing one person in the truck.

The worst recent incident happened in December, when an Amtrak train on an inaugural run in Washington state derailed on a turn, killing three people and injuring scores.

Some Amtrak regulars say they are now terrified to ride the trains.

“Seriously, how did riding the train get to be so hazardous?” mused Steve Rosen, 45, who had just arrived in Penn Station on an Amtrak train from Philadelphia.

“Every time I ride Amtrak now, I utter a silent prayer that this train or this car or this conductor or this track won’t be one of the defective ones that ends my life.”

 

 

Syria: Air defenses respond to Israeli strike near capital

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s official news agency says the military has responded to “a new Israeli aggression” near the capital.

SANA says air defenses confronted the Israeli planes, which targeted an outpost in the Damascus countryside. It did not provide details and there was no immediate comment from Israel.

Wednesday’s report was the second such accusation in less than a month.

Syria’s military on Jan. 9 accused Israel of launching missiles targeting military outposts in the area of Qutayfeh, in the Damascus countryside. The military said that attack caused material damage.

Israel has carried out dozens of airstrikes inside Syria in the course of Syria’s civil war, against what it says are suspected arms shipments believed to be bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which is fighting alongside Syrian government forces.

 

 

‘Clergy’ gather to bless DC area late-term abortion clinic

On the same day the United States Senate took up a bill that would have banned abortions for unborn infants who had reached the 20th week of development, a group of clergy gathered to pray for and bless the work of an abortion clinic in the DC area dedicated to killing those very same infants.

The Washington Post reports on the Christian and Jewish faith leaders who went out of their way to endorse, in the name of God, the clinic and it’s practice of performing late-term abortions.

Yet that was the Rev. Carlton Veazey’s task as he led a prayer in Bethesda on Monday. “God of grace and God of glory, in whom we move and live,” he said, as he opened a prayer for the well-being of the doctor and nurses who facilitate abortions at a clinic here and for their patients. “Keep them safe and keep them strong. And may they always know that all that they do is for Thy glory.”

Veazey was one of four Christian pastors and one rabbi who gathered to bless this Bethesda abortion clinic in an unusual interfaith ceremony. (A Hindu priest who was supposed to attend from a local temple, who has blessed an abortion clinic before, didn’t make it.)

 

 

Episcopal Church votes no masculine pronouns for God

Sunday, February 4, 2018

| https://www.onenewsnow.com/church/2018/02/04/episcopal-church-votes-no-masculine-pronouns-for-god

Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com)

Queen James BibleContinuing its freefall to the theological left, the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Washington, D.C., voted last week to pass a resolution that puts an end to the use of masculine pronouns for God as it prepares to update its Book of Common Prayer.

Episcopalian delegates to the Diocese’s 123rd Convention swiftly passed the resolution in the nation’s capital so that “gendered language for God” will no longer be used.

“If revision of the Book of Common Prayer is authorized, to utilize expansive language for God from the rich sources of feminine, masculine and non-binary imagery for God found in Scripture and tradition and, when possible, to avoid the use of gendered pronouns for God,” the diocese’s resolution reads. “Over the centuries, our language and our understanding of God has continued to change and adapt.”

Another gospel

Episcopalian leadership no longer recognizes the inerrancy of Scripture, indicating that Bible manuscripts preserved for thousands of years are no longer aligned with the social gospel it preaches to its congregations.

“[Referring to God using masculine pronouns is to] limit our understanding of God,” the drafters of the resolution argued. “By expanding our language for God, we will expand our image of God and the nature of God.”

St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church Clergy Delegate Rev. Linda R. Calkins urged the delegates to press for more liberal changes.

Calkins, who serves in Laytonsville, Maryland, attempted to emasculate God using Genesis 17:1, where God tells Abraham, ‘I am El Shaddai.”

“[If Episcopalians] are going to be true to what El Shaddai means, it means God with breasts,” Calkins told delegates, according to The Institute on Religion & Democracy. “Having studied much feminist theology in my masters’ degrees, I wrote a thesis on liberation and freedom and non-equality in feminist theology and existential counseling.”

The liberal Episcopalian appears to use The Inclusive Bible as a reference – a loose interpretation of the Bible that many leftists use in order to turn Scripture upside-down and give it meaning that was never intended by God and the authors who He chose to write down His direct revelations.

“The Inclusive Bible was published in 2004 and written by a group called Priests for Equality, which … is a project of the Quixote Center in Brentwood, Maryland, and is a ‘grass-roots organization committed to creating a culture where sexism and exclusion are left behind and equality and full participation are the order of the day.’” The Christian Post (CP) reported. “In Genesis 17, the passage of Scripture where God makes the Covenant of Circumcision with Abram, the Hebrew ‘El Shaddai’ is traditionally translated as ‘God Almighty;’ the Inclusive Bible renders it ‘the breasted one.’”

Calkins is looking to give Episcopalians the last push they need to join the feminist movement and use LGBT lingo when addressing God.

“And I am still waiting for the Episcopal Church to come to the place where all people feel that they can speak God’s name,” the leftist church leader continued. “Many, many women that I have spoken with over my past almost 20 years in ordained ministry have felt that they could not be a part of any church because of the male image of God that is systemic and that is sustained throughout our liturgies. Many of us are waiting and need to hear God in our language, in our words and in our pronouns.”

No room for interpretation

Flying in the face of Calkins’ teaching, seminaries have taught that terms used referring to God the Father and God the Son are indisputably and intentionally masculine.

“Christians – following the teachings of Jesus Christ – have prayed to God as ‘Our Father’ from the very beginning,” LifeSiteNews’ Mark Hodges pointed out. “Theologians explain that the masculine word ‘Father’ indicates a relationship.”

Dr. Paul Tarazi of St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary contends that there is no room for creative interpretation when it comes to the gender reference of God.

“Jesus did not call God ‘Imma’ (Mother), but always and exclusively ‘Abba’ (Father),” Tarazi impressed, according to the Orthodox Research Institute. “’Father’ is the only way Jesus ever referred to God, and the only way He taught His followers to do so.”

For centuries, theologians, have made it clear that deviating from the biblical titles reserved for God is inaccurate, misleading … and ultimately heretical.

“St. Gregory the Theologian explained the name ‘Father’ is proper to God, not a figurative concession to humanity,” Hodges informed. “St. Athanasius the Great stated that only the specific names ‘Father,’ ‘Son,’ and ‘Holy Spirit’ belong ‘to God’s own essence and being.’ St. Gregory of Nyssa taught that deviation from the names ‘Father,’ ‘Son,’ and ‘Holy Spirit’ causes deviations from the one true faith. Any other names, St. Gregory wrote, ‘serve as a starting point for the deflection of sound doctrine.’”

The Bible, according to the LGBT

In addition to the Episcopal Church’s lean toward a feminist agenda, it is also embracing LGBT propaganda, as outlined in another resolution that was passed – without discussion or debate – by delegates to the Episcopalian convention, who declared that “transgender people” will be woven into all aspects of “congregational life” in the church.

“[The diocese will] encourage all parishes to remove all obstacles to full participation in congregational life by making all gender-specific facilities and activities fully accessible – regardless of gender identity and expression,” the resolution states. “Fixed boundaries of gender identity are being challenged, and churches need to respond. This resolution is a clear response to the systematic oppression and violence that transgender people experience on a daily basis.”

 

 

UN Envoy Says North Korea Is Only “Months Away” From Striking US

A few weeks ago, we highlighted an interview given by CIA Director Mike Pompeo to “CBS This Morning” where he claimed that North Korea was “only a handful of months” from realizing the long-term goal of its nuclear weapons program: Developing a missile that could deliver a nuclear payload to the Continent US with a high degree of accuracy.

At the time, we cautioned that these remarks should be taken with a grain of salt, because Pompeo had repeated this same claim in the past.

NK

But today, the issue was raised again, when US disarmament ambassador Robert Wood told a UN-sponsored disarmament forum that, by all reasonable intelligence accounts, the rogue state is mere months away from building an ICBM capable of striking anywhere within the Continental US.

To the objections of North Korean representatives, Wood demanded that the committee support the total and complete de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

“North Korea has accelerated its provocative pursuit of nuclear weapons and missile capabilities, and expressed explicit threats to use nuclear weapons against the United States and its allies in the region,” U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood told the Geneva forum.

“North Korean officials insist that they will not give up nuclear weapons, and North Korea may now be only months away from the capability to strike the United States with nuclear-armed ballistic missiles,” he said.

A new U.S. nuclear policy review outlined last week “reaffirms that North Korea’s illicit nuclear program must be completely, verifiably, and irreversibly eliminated, resulting in a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons,” he said.

Predictably, the North Korean representatives at the meeting responded angrily, blaming Washington for escalating the conflict by holding military drills involving nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers in preparation for a preemptive strike.

“In view of the nature and scale of U.S. military reinforcements, they are designed to make a pre-emptive strike against the DPRK,” North Korean diplomat Ju Yong Chol told the talks, referring to his country’s official name the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“In view of the nature and scale of US military reinforcements, they are designed to make a pre-emptive strike against the DPRK,” North Korean diplomat Ju Yong Chol told the talks, referring to his country’s official name the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

When Woods was asked what the source was for his assessment, he said he had “no new information to share”.

Woods also accused the North of launching a deceptive “charm offensive” with their recent detente involving South Korea – including the two countries’ decision to draft an inter-Korean women’s ice hockey team.

Woods also pointed out that Russia, China and the North are all expanding their stockpiles, increasing the prominence of nuclear weapons in their security strategies.

“What I would call ‘the charm offensive’ frankly is fooling no one,” Wood told the talks.

He also said arsenals in China and Russia were expanding, drawing rebukes from their respective delegations.

“Russia, China and North Korea are growing their stockpiles, increasing the prominence of nuclear weapons in their security strategies, and – in some cases – pursuing the development of new nuclear capabilities to threaten other peaceful nations,” Wood said.

“We are not going to stick our head in the sand, we are going to respond to these growing challenges,” he later told reporters.

The US and the South have agreed to suspend their joint military exercises around the peninsula until after the Winter Games. Still, local security forces aren’t ruling out the possibility of a North-Korean sponsored cyber attack.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-06/un-envoy-says-north-korea-only-months-away-striking-us

 

 

State Dept. Embraces Islamic Cleric Who OK’d Killing Americans in Iraq, Called for Israel’s Destruction

Last Thursday, Sam Brownback was sworn in as the State Department’s new ambassador for religious liberty.

Today — in his first official speech as ambassador — Brownback openly embraced a hardline Islamic cleric who authorized a fatwa in 2004 justifying the killing of Americans in Iraq, and another fatwa in 2012 calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah’s past is no mystery to the State Department. For example, the Obama administration’s State Department had to repeatedly apologize in May 2014 for promoting Bin Bayyah as a moderate. However, the Obama administration then implemented a full-court press with the U.S. media and the D.C. foreign policy “Smart Set” to rehabilitate the image of the Mauritanian cleric.

The presence of multiple senior Trump State Department officials at an “interfaith” event in Washington, D.C. in support of Bin Bayyah’s efforts appears to confirm there will be no change. The Trump administration is continuing the engagement with Bin Bayyah they inherited from Obama — despite the fact that Bin Bayyah’s views on Israel are directly contrary to those of President Trump.

There is also an inherent contradiction in the Trump State Department embracing the interfaith efforts of an Islamic cleric who openly states on his website that Christians are going to hell. Bin Bayyah has also said that interfaith outreach to Jews in Arab lands should only be done with extreme caution — and only with Jews who oppose Israel.

The State Department is promoting Brownback’s speech at Bin Bayyah’s event earlier today:

An Obama administration holdover, State Department Special Advisor for Religious Minorities Knox Thames, gushed his praise of Bin Bayyah during the cleric’s opening keynote last night:

The Obama administration’s attempts to rehabilitate Bin Bayyah were not without controversy. Most embarrassing for the Obama White House was Bin Bayyah’s approval of a 2004 fatwa authorizing the killing of Americans in Iraq and endorsing the Iraqi “resistance.” This information was raised in June 2013 after it was reported Bin Bayyah had been escorted into the White House to meet with senior members of Obama’s National Security Council.

The 2004 fatwa was issued by the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) while Bin Bayyah was serving as vice president. It called for “resisting occupation forces,” stating this was a “duty” for all able-bodied Muslims inside and outside Iraq. The official Iraqi resistance site posted the IUMS fatwa.

Iraq launches new anti-ISIL offensive

Operations in a northeastern desert region are also targeting the mysterious ‘White Flag’ insurgent group

Iraqi forces launched fresh operations against ISIL fighters and other insurgents in a northeastern desert region on Wednesday, just two months after Baghdad declared victory over the extremist group.

Soldiers and pro-government militias retook several villages and stormed an ISIL camp, according to the military.

“With the goal of enforcing security and stability, destroying sleeper cells, and continuing clearing operations, an operation was launched in the early hours of Wednesday morning to search and clear areas east of Tuz Khurmato (50 kilometres from Kirkuk city),” the Iraqi armed forces said.

The offensive also aims to secure bridges, roads and junctions between Baghdad and Kirkuk, the statement added.

Baghdad wants to consolidate its control of a mountainous area near the Iranian border through which it plans to transport crude from the oil-rich city of Kirkuk to Iran’s Kermanshah refinery by truck.

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/iraq-launches-new-anti-isil-offensive-1.702505

 

 

UN probing suspected use of chlorine gas by Syrian regime

Recent raids in rebel-held areas have killed dozens

United Nations war crimes investigators are probing the suspected use of chemical weapons in the latest attacks by Syrian government forces on rebel-held areas the regime is pushing to reclaim.

The disclosure came after airstrikes from the Syrian Air Force killed at least 78 people on Monday and Tuesday in Eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb, and more than a dozen further north in Idlib.

The death toll led the UN to call for an immediate one-month ceasefire throughout Syria to allow delivery of humanitarian aid and ensure casualties be taken for treatment.

Idlib is the last province to largely remain outside government control, with deaths rising and thousands being displaced. President Bashar Al Assad’s forces have been on the offensive in Idlib in recent weeks but the effort intensified after militants shot down a Russian Su-25 fighter jet near the town of Saraqeb over the weekend.

The lead investigator of a UN mandated Commission of Inquiry on Syria said his team was looking into reports that bombs allegedly containing weaponised chlorine were recently used on two occasions in rebel-held zones.

“These reports are extremely troubling, and make a mockery of the so-called ‘de-escalation zones’ intended to protect civilians from such bombardment,” Paulo Pinheiro said.

The zones – meant to stabilise lines of conflict and open corridors for urgently needed humanitarian relief – were formed last autumn, in an agreement with the Syrian opposition that Russia, Iran and Turkey promised to guarantee.

Mr Pinherio described the Syrian government’s siege and indiscriminate bombardment of Eastern Ghouta as “international crimes.”

The French foreign ministry said it was concerned by the reports of chlorine being used on civilians, but that it was too soon to confirm them.

The UN also warned of “dire consequences” regarding the humanitarian crisis in Syria, identifying seven areas requiring urgent humanitarian relief.

Mr Pinherio stressed that the ongoing fighting and deliberate obstruction by forces at front lines was blocking aid organisations from reaching civilians.

The UN says it has a plan to reach 700,000 people in the next two months, if it can get access.

 

 

One Palestinian reported killed, 110 wounded in clashes with IDF

By JPOST.COM STAFF
February 6, 2018 22:11

IDF forces surrounded an area of Nablus on Tuesday on a manhunt for Abed al-Karim Adel Asi, suspected of killing Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal.

 

 

 

Report: China Moves 300,000 Troops Closer to North Korean Border

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2018/02/05/report-china-moves-300000-troops-closer-north-korean-border/

China is reportedly moving missile defense batteries and troops closer to its border with North Korea, a potential sign that Beijing anticipates either a large refugee wave north or a military disturbance triggered by the belligerence of communist dictator Kim Jong-un.

The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo cited Radio Free Asia (RFA) in a report Monday, stating that RFA had compiled evidence that China had “late last year deployed another missile defense battery at an armored division in Helong, west of Longjing in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture.”

The “North Korean source in China” speaking to RFA also noted that Pyongyang had observed the movement of 300,000 troops closer to the North Korean border and “missile defense batteries near North Korean reservoirs by the Apnok and Duman rivers.” The batteries would prevent the violent outpouring of those reservoirs into China in the event of an airstrike.

On Friday, China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper reported that Beijing was also investing in establishing nuclear monitoring stations throughout the world, but especially near North Korea, to more rapidly gather information about a potential airstrike. While carefully noting that “detection is not targeted at any particular country,” the newspaper noted that the planned 11 nuclear monitoring stations “are responsible for detecting nuclear activities in neighboring countries, including North Korea.”

The People’s Daily claims the monitor plan “shows China’s commitment to global nonproliferation.” Taken in tandem with reports of military movements near North Korea, however, this development indicates concern that a major military or political event in North Korea will impact China significantly.

Another state newspaper, the Global Times, remarked on U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address last week that “risks of US military action are growing.” Trump singled North Korea out as the world’s most egregious human rights abuser, celebrating the plight of North Korean refugees who risked their lives to escape.

In December, Chosun Ilbo reported that China is not only using its military assets to prepare for a potential catastrophe in North Korea; the newspaper cited Japanese media that had revealed evidence of China’s building massive refugee camps near the North Korean border, some that could welcome up to half-a-million refugees. Officials reportedly ordered the construction of such camps in Jilin, the same city where state media published a citizens’ guide to surviving a nuclear war triggered by North Korea.

The state-run Jilin Daily published an article in December suggesting citizens “close their windows and doors during an emergency and immediately take a shower and wash out their mouths and ears after being exposed to radiation.” It mentioned potential regional tensions without blaming North Korea directly.

While state media remained subtle about government fears regarding North Korea, communist academics made clear in December that they believed Kim Jong-un’s regime could not be trusted to keep China out of a major regional war.

“North Korea is a time bomb,” remarked Professor Shi Yinhong. “We can only delay the explosion, hoping that by delaying it, a time will come to remove the detonator.”

China, North Korea’s largest trade partner, almost single-handedly keeps Kim’s economy afloat. Through a tense year for Kim and President Trump, who has not shied away from challenging the autocrat, China stuck by North Korea, increasing trade to the fellow communist country. Beijing has abided by some United Nations sanctions, however, and forced businesses on North Korea’s border to limit their contact with the regime.

According to Radio Free Asia, businesses along the border “are now being severely hurt as wider customs controls are established along the border, sources working in the area say.” Many of these businesses traffic in goods that are not obvious candidates for sanctions, such as cosmetics and paper. RFA suggests that those impacted on the ground have soured on North Korea’s government, as its belligerence has triggered the sanctions.

Dictator Kim Jong-un has rejected all attempts by the global community to convince the country to abandon its illegal nuclear weapons program and has continued testing ballistic missiles and suggesting that their ultimate destination will be the United States.

On the other side of the border, RFA reported that Pyongyang is “stirring up anti-China sentiment among ordinary citizens through conferences and lecture sessions as the closed, authoritarian country’s economy bears the brunt of tough new economic sanctions supported by its longtime ally.” North Korea rarely confronts China on international platforms, but even this line was crossed in 2017, when the Korean Central News Agency accused China, without naming the country, of “dancing to the tune of the U.S.” by agreeing to abide by U.N. sanctions.

Florida Introduces New Law Making Vaccinations ‘Mandatory’ For ALL Students, HPV

Children will be expelled from class if they don’t receive vaccine By: Daniel Newton |@NeonNettle on 24th January 2018 @ 8.08pm the new law comes despite leading forensic investigators finding direct links to vaccines and increased death rates © press The new law comes despite leading forensic investigators finding direct links to Vaccines and increased death rates Flordia lawmakers have introduced a new bill forcing all public school students to receive ‘mandatory’ vaccinations or face expulsion from class. SB 1558: School Health Immunizations, otherwise known as the “Women’s Cancer Prevention Act” has revised child immunization requirements to include a vaccine for human papillomavirus. The new law comes despite leading forensic investigators finding direct links between the Dengvaxia vaccine and a “rapid death rate” in Children. According to Abcactionnews.com: “If we’re not given the choice to make our own health care decisions, then what are we given the choice to do,” asked parent England Davis. Davis tells ABC Action News, she is ready to uproot her daughter from school if she’s forced to get vaccinated for HPV. “If that legislation passes, I won’t be able to keep her in public school,” said Davis. “I will not, I refuse, I will home school her out.” Public school students in Florida are already required to get vaccinations for tetanus, mumps, and other communicable diseases. “HPV causes six different types of cancer in both men and women,” said Dr. Anna Giuliano, a cancer epidemiologist with Moffitt Cancer Center Tampa. “The vaccine is very safe, the benefits far outweigh any of the side effects.” Dr. Giuliano says vaccinating more young people will help eliminate cervical cancer, the most common disease caused by HPV. “In my lifetime, we would see in the state of Florida almost no new cases of cervical cancer,” said Dr. Giuliano. Some say deciding whether or not vaccinate should be left to the parent, not the state. “Home school would be an option right away,” said Rachel Nye. “I don’t believe that anyone should be forced to vaccinate their child.”

SB 1558: School Health Immunizations

GENERAL BILL by Rodriguez

School Health Immunizations; Citing this act as the “Women’s Cancer Prevention Act”; revising child immunization requirements to include a vaccine for human papillomavirus, etc.

Effective Date: 7/1/2018
Last Action: 1/17/2018 Senate – Introduced -SJ 177

Rare Blue Moon Total Eclipse Visibility on January 31, 2018 – Where and When!

 

https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/facts-lunar-eclipse.html

January 31, 2018 Total Eclipse of the Blue Moon: Facts

On Wednesday, January 31, 2018 the Moon will be totally eclipsed for 1 hour and 16 minutes. Here are some things you should know about this total lunar eclipse.

Different stages of Total Lunar Eclipse over Indianapolis, United States in February 2008.

Different stages of a total lunar eclipse.

©bigstockphoto.com/alexeys

Taking pictures? Share them with us!

1. A Super Blue Blood Moon

Any total lunar eclipse is a special occasion, but the eclipse on January 31, 2018 will be extra special due to the confluence of three celestial events:

  1. Supermoon: The Moon will be quite close to Earth during the eclipse, so it will look bigger in the sky compared to an ordinary Full Moon. Because of this, many sources are suggesting that the January 31 Full Moon is a Supermoon.
  2. Blue Moon: The Full Moon on January 31, 2018 will be the second Full Moon in January or, as many people call it, a Blue Moon. A Blue Moon has two distinct definitions: It can be the third Full Moon in a season of four Full Moons, or, like in this case, it can be the second Full Moon in a month.
  3. Blood Moon: Total lunar eclipses are sometimes called Blood Moons due to the red glow the Moon takes on during totality.

Because of these three events, many people are now calling this eclipse a Super Blue Blood Moon.

By the way, the January 31, 2018 Blue Moon is noteworthy on one more account: it is the first of two Blue Moons in 2018. Years with double Blue Moons, where two months have two Full Moons, are rare—they happen only about 3 to 5 times in a century. The next year that has two months with two Full Moons each will be 2037. The last time this occurred was in 1999.

2. First Eclipse of the Year

2018 will see five eclipses—three partial solar eclipses and two total lunar eclipses.

The January 31, 2018 total lunar eclipse is the 16th total lunar eclipse since 2001, the beginning of this century, which will see 85 total lunar eclipses.

3. Some People in the US Will Get Front Row Seats

People in parts of central and western United States and Canada will be able to see totality—from start to finish—in the early morning hours of January 31, 2018, weather permitting.

Those on the East Coast will miss most of the eclipse but will be able to see a partial lunar eclipse just before the Moon sets.

After this, the next opportunity for people in mainland USA to see a total lunar eclipse will be on January 20/21, 2019.

4. Early Morning, Evening, and Night Eclipse

While people in western North America will be able to see the eclipse in the early hours of January 31, 2018, before sunrise, those in Asia will be treated to an eclipsed Full Moon in the evening of January 31, 2018 after the Moon rises.

In Australia and New Zealand, the eclipse will be visible in the night. Those in locations following Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), Australian Central Daylight Time (ACDT), Australian Central Standard Time (ACST), and Australian Western Standard Time (AWST) will see the maximum eclipse take place before midnight on January 31.

The maximum eclipse will take place after midnight on February 1 in cities that have Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) and New Zealand Daylight Time (NZDT).

Illustration image
A partial solar eclipse looks like the Moon has taken a bite of the Sun.
©bigstockphoto.com/underworld1

5. No Need for Eye Protection

Total eclipses of the Moon are spectacular events and are easy to see with the naked eye. Unlike solar eclipses, which require protective eyewear, a lunar eclipse can be viewed without specialized eye protection. Just step outside, look up at the sky, and enjoy!

6. It Will Be Followed by a Partial Solar Eclipse

Solar and lunar eclipses tend to follow each other—a lunar eclipse always takes place two weeks before or after a solar eclipse. The January 31, 2018 total lunar eclipse will be followed by a partial solar eclipse on February 15, 2018.

7. It Is Part of Lunar Saros Series 124

Lunar eclipses tend to occur in 18-year long cycles called Saros cycles. In lunar month terms, a Saros cycle lasts for 223 synodic months. Lunar eclipses separated by a Saros cycle share similar features, including the time of the year and the distance of the Moon from the Earth. Eclipses that are separated by a Saros cycle are included in a Saros series.