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The Declaration of White Independence: Fourth Political Theory

A unilateral assertion offered to and for consideration by the European Descended People of the fifty united States of America and all ...

06 March 2017

Stephen McNallen: "The Existence of my People is not negotiable"

Stephen McNallen, of the Asatru Folk Assembly, shares his thoughts about race.

04 March 2017

Living cosmos: world’s oldest fossil discovered

How old is life on Earth, and how do we know?

The answer of course, is fossils. But what kind of fossil records do early life-forms – single-celled organisms with no shells or bones – leave behind? The answer may be: rust.

Researchers from NASA and the University of London announced that they discovered what may be the world’s oldest fossil to date: rust-colored tube-like structures similar to those created by single-celled organisms living near today’s deep-ocean vents. These newly-discovered ancient fossilized tubes are tiny – half the width of a human hair – and are hence called microfossils. The microfossils’ rusty color comes from the iron that these microscopic creatures used as an energy source when they lived near the ocean floor at least 3.77-billion years ago.

In their paper published in Nature, Dr. Dodd and his colleagues described how they used lasers to slice rocks from North Quebec into thin sections that finally revealed the organisms’ bent, reddish tubular structures. If their findings are correct, the age of the oldest life on earth is hundreds of millions of years older than the previously believed, and possibly much more ancient than that.

The life-forms that created these structures may have been born in a time not too long after, on the cosmic scale, the Earth itself formed. Prior to this discovery, the oldest record of life came from stromatolites – fossilized microbial mats – found on a rocky outcropping in Greenland, projected to be at most 3.7-billion years old.

From the perspective of astrobiology, this new finding is good evidence for how early life can emerge given the right environment. Currently, we believe that similar environments to the one where these fossils formed might be found deep under the oceans of Europa and Enceladus – and on many other bodies in our Solar System.

Hundreds of Companies Raise Their Hands to Build Trump’s Border Wall

Congress hasn’t figured out how to pay for it yet, but more than 375 companies have told the Trump administration they’re interested in working on the controversial border-wall project.

Responses to what’s called a presolicitation notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website on Feb. 24 have poured in from potential vendors around the world. Among them: Swiss cement giant LafargeHolcim Ltd.; British construction company Balfour Beatty Plc; and General Dynamics Corp., a U.S. defense contractor that makes submarines and tanks.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said it would likely put out a formal request on March 6 “for the design and build of several prototype wall structures.” That leaves the field wide open -- allowing companies to suggest what the structure should look like and be made of.

Those raising their hands by responding to the notice might not end up submitting tenders. But the early interest shows the enthusiasm for capitalizing on President Donald Trump’s plan to build a “great, great” wall, which he’d until recently repeatedly vowed to force Mexico to finance.

“We’re ramping up pretty fast,” said Ralph Hicks, senior vice president of governmental affairs at San Diego-based R.E. Staite Engineering Inc., which is working on a blueprint incorporating electronic-surveillance gear that would set off alarms if it sensed people approaching or tunneling underway.

The administration is moving fast too, considering Congress is just starting to plot out next fiscal year’s budget and determine how to carve out money for the edifice. Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference last week the wall is “way ahead of schedule” and is “going to start soon.”

‘Vague Process’

Potential bidders have been asked to submit prototypes by March 10. Those that are approved will be required to present full proposals, including prices, by March 24, according to the website. Awards are planned for mid-April.

For all that, it’s unclear how the undertaking will roll out. “It’s a fairly vague process right now,” said Hicks, whose company laid the foundation for the San Diego convention center.

It’s too soon, for example, to know how much cement might be required, LafargeHolcim Chief Executive Officer Eric Olsen said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. In fact, the wall might end up being a fence, at least in spots. Right now, fencing lines many of the 654 miles of the roughly 2,000-mile border where the U.S. already has erected barriers.

“We always welcome the opportunity to learn more about potential infrastructure projects,” Jocelyn Gerst, a spokeswoman for LafargeHolcim, said in an emailed statement. “Ultimately, we will evaluate our ability to provide superior products and leverage our extensive supply chain network to determine our involvement.”

U.S. Concrete Inc. put its name on the list of interested contenders. CEO Bill Sandbrook said the Euless, Texas-based company signed up on the Federal Business Opportunities site to gain the attention of the general contractors that might be hired. The endeavor is likely to be bid out in sections, he said, in the same way that large road construction jobs are.

“This is going to be a very fast-track job, so we want to make sure everyone involved knows of our interest to supply the concrete,” Sandbrook said.

General Dynamics might consider a proffer for “sensor elements, including cameras,” according to a spokeswoman. Other longtime government contractors responded to the notice include Caddell Construction Co.

The wall would cut through remote areas between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, creating challenges in places for delivering material and workers. Sandbrook said U.S. Concrete would be able to set up portable concrete-mixing plants in a week’s time and has 120 special trucks, known as volumetric mixers, that could also do the job. The company has had a border-wall contract in the past, he said, having supplied material for a section of an existing structure near El Paso, Texas.

Another cement maker that may want a piece of the project: Mexico’s Cemex SAB. Chairman Rogelio Zambrano said the company, which has plants on both sides of the border, would be willing to provide supplies.

A centerpiece of the Trump campaign, and part of a crackdown on immigration, the wall plan has roiled relations with Mexico. President Enrique Pena Nieto canceled a trip to Washington earlier this year after one of his U.S. counterpart’s declarations about making Mexico pay for construction.

02 March 2017

Scientists successfully store computer files in DNA

March 2 (UPI) -- DNA is nature's hard drive, capable of storing, replicating and transmitting massive amounts of information. Researchers in New York found a way to use DNA like an actual computer hard drive, successfully storing, replicating and retrieving several digital files.

A pair of scientists from Columbia University and the New York Genome Center selected five files -- including a computer operating system and computer virus -- and compressed them into a master file. They transcribed the master file into short strings of binary code, combinations of ones and zeros.

The researchers then randomly compiled the strings into so-called droplets using fountain codes. The droplets were translated into four DNA nucleotide bases -- A, G, C and T. The erasure-correcting algorithm ensured no letter combinations known to cause errors were used, and also assigned a barcode to each droplet to aid file retrieval and reassembly.

The coding process produced 72,000 DNA strands, each 200 bases long. Researchers sent the DNA file to Twist Bioscience, a startup in San Francisco that turns digital DNA into biological DNA. Two weeks later, the company sent the researchers a vial containing their DNA strands.

Researcher Yaniv Erlich and Dina Zielinski used standard DNA sequencing software to re-digitalize their DNA. A special program helped them translate the nucleotide sequences back into binary code. They found their files with zero coding errors.

According to the pair's calculations -- detailed in the journal Science -- they were able to store 215 petabytes of data in a single gram of DNA, a new record.

"We believe this is the highest-density data-storage device ever created," Erlich, a computer science professor at Columbia Engineering, said in a news release.

The scientists also proved the DNA strands -- and the embedded files -- could be infinitely replicated through a polymerase chain reaction without creating any coding errors.

Though DNA synthesis is currently quite pricey, the costs may shrink as technologies improve.

"We can do more of the heavy lifting on the computer to take the burden off time-intensive molecular coding," Erlich said.

First evidence of rocky planet formation in Tatooine system

Evidence of planetary debris surrounding a double sun, 'Tatooine-like' system has been found for the first time by a UCL-led team of researchers.

Published today in Nature Astronomy and funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the European Research Council, the study finds the remains of shattered asteroids orbiting a double sun consisting of a white dwarf and a brown dwarf roughly 1000 light-years away in a system called SDSS 1557.

The discovery is remarkable because the debris appears to be rocky and suggests that terrestrial planets like Tatooine - Luke Skywalker's home world in Star Wars - might exist in the system. To date, all exoplanets discovered in orbit around double stars are gas giants, similar to Jupiter, and are thought to form in the icy regions of their systems.

In contrast to the carbon-rich icy material found in other double star systems, the planetary material identified in the SDSS 1557 system has a high metal content, including silicon and magnesium. These elements were identified as the debris flowed from its orbit onto the surface of the star, polluting it temporarily with at least 1017 g (or 1.1 trillion US tons) of matter, equating it to an asteroid at least 4 km in size.

Lead author, Dr Jay Farihi (UCL Physics & Astronomy), said: "Building rocky planets around two suns is a challenge because the gravity of both stars can push and pull tremendously, preventing bits of rock and dust from sticking together and growing into full-fledged planets. With the discovery of asteroid debris in the SDSS 1557 system, we see clear signatures of rocky planet assembly via large asteroids that formed, helping us understand how rocky exoplanets are made in double star systems."

In the Solar System, the asteroid belt contains the leftover building blocks for the terrestrial planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars, so planetary scientists study the asteroids to gain a better understanding of how rocky, and potentially habitable planets are formed. The same approach was used by the team to study the SDSS 1557 system as any planets within it cannot yet be detected directly but the debris is spread in a large belt around the double stars, which is a much larger target for analysis.

The discovery came as a complete surprise, as the team assumed the dusty white dwarf was a single star but co-author Dr Steven Parsons (University of Valparaíso and University of Sheffield), an expert in double star (or binary) systems noticed the tell-tale signs. "We know of thousands of binaries similar to SDSS 1557 but this is the first time we've seen asteroid debris and pollution. The brown dwarf was effectively hidden by the dust until we looked with the right instrument", added Parsons, "but when we observed SDSS 1557 in detail we recognised the brown dwarf's subtle gravitational pull on the white dwarf."

The team studied the binary system and the chemical composition of the debris by measuring the absorption of different wavelengths of light or 'spectra', using the Gemini Observatory South telescope and the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope, both located in Chile.

Co-author Professor Boris Gänsicke (University of Warwick) analysed these data and found they all told a consistent and compelling story. "Any metals we see in the white dwarf will disappear within a few weeks, and sink down into the interior, unless the debris is continuously flowing onto the star. We'll be looking at SDSS 1557 next with Hubble, to conclusively show the dust is made of rock rather than ice."

01 March 2017

Cosmic Speciation: Will Mars Colonists Evolve Into This New Kind of Human?

Some of the biggest names in science and technology have called for the colonization of Mars, including physicist Stephen Hawking and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. They say that populating other planets would help ensure our species' survival should Earth be rendered uninhabitable by some disaster.

"The future of humanity is fundamentally going to bifurcate along one of two directions," Musk said last year. "Either we're going to become a multiplanet species and a spacefaring civilization, or we're going to be stuck on one planet until some eventual extinction event."

That sounds about right. Scientists and engineers are rapidly developing the technology needed for interplanetary travel, and humanity does seem all too vulnerable to existential threats. Think runaway climate change, global pandemics, nuclear war. And don't forget about asteroid strikes like the one believed to have killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

But the call to put Homo sapiens permanently on Mars seems to sidestep a perverse irony: experts say that a long period of isolation on the red planet — where gravity and sunlight are weaker than on Earth and mutation-causing radiation more intense — could eventually cause the bodies of Mars colonists to change. And at least one expert believes the colonists could evolve into a new species.

In other words, becoming a multiplanet species might lead us to become multiple species.

"This happens routinely to animals and plants isolated on islands — think of Darwin's finches," Dr. Scott Solomon, an evolutionary biologist at Rice University in Houston and the author of "Future Humans: Inside the Science of Our Continuing Evolution," wrote recently on the science site Nautilus. "But while speciation on islands can take thousand of years, the accelerated mutation rate on Mars and the stark contrasts between conditions on Mars and Earth would likely speed up the process. In just a few hundred generations — perhaps as little as 6,000 years — a new type of human might emerge."

New species — or not?

Six thousand years isn't long in evolutionary terms. After all, Homo sapiens has existed as a single species for more than 200,000 years. And some scientists have doubts about Solomon's timeline.

"Evolution to a new species by the classic definition of not being able to breed with humans would take a long time, probably thousands of generations and a hundred thousand years," University of Arizona astronomer Dr. Chris Impey told NBC News MACH in an email. On the other hand, he added, "changing enough to look physically distinct would be much quicker, tens or perhaps a hundred generations."

Dr. Philipp Mitteröcker, a theoretical biologist at the University of Vienna in Austria, said in an email to MACH that he, too, is dubious of rapid speciation.

"Speciation is a long-term process that usually requires reproductive isolation over millions of years," Mitteröcker said. "Some human populations had been isolated for thousands of years and are still far away from being a separate species. It is thus unlikely that humans who had colonized Mars [would] become a separate species."

Solomon acknowledged that the path of human evolution on Mars is speculative. But he told MACH in an email that "it follows from what we know about evolutionary biology" that Mars colonists might evolve faster than some think.

And the apparent absence of microbial life on Mars might play a key role.

Evidence suggests that Mars may be devoid of life, and that goes for pathogenic bacteria as well as other life forms. If humans were to establish and live within a germ-free Mars colony, Solomon said, the colonists' immune systems could eventually lose the ability to fight off infections that might be introduced to the colony by germ-carrying humans or animals visiting from Earth. That risk presumably would encourage the colonists to minimize contact — including sexual contact — with potentially infectious earthlings. That, in turn, could accelerate the pace at which the colonists' bodies would begin to adapt to their new world.

Surprising differences

How might these Martian people differ from their distant ancestors — in other words, from us? Whether or not they evolved into a new species, they might have anatomical as well as immunological and other physiological differences. Solomon said they might have notably thicker bones (including the skull bones), which might give them a more robust appearance — perhaps a bit like members of the extinct proto-human Paranthropus genus, including P. boisei.

Why would that be? Bones need to work against the force of gravity to stay strong. Gravity on Mars is about 38 percent of that on Earth. Consequently, Mars colonists who start life with beefier skeletons might have a leg up, evolutionarily speaking. The idea is that as their bone density gradually declined in the low-gravity environment, the colonists' bigger bones might retain enough strength to ward off dangerous fractures.

Evolutionary pressure for beefier skeletons might be especially strong for female Mars colonists, Solomon said, given the risk of pelvic fractures during childbirth. Beefier skeletons or not, Solomon said, female colonists might come to opt for cesarean section over natural childbirth. And since the size of the human head is constrained in part by the dimensions of the birth canal, the heads of Mars colonists might become larger than what is seen in humans on Earth.

If that sounds far-fetched, consider this: recent research by Mitteröcker and others suggests that the rising popularity of C-sections may be allowing an increase in the size of babies' heads here on Earth.

So Mars colonists might have beefy bones and big heads. Then there's the question of their eyes.

Mars is much farther from the sun than is the Earth, and the extra distance — and the lower levels of sunlight on the Martian surface — could cause changes in the colonists' eyes.

"During a good day, Mars looks like an overcast day on Earth," Dr. Nathalie Cabrol, a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., told NBC News MACH in an email. "Our eyes are accustomed to a certain amount of light on Earth. If there has to be some adaptation to these new ambient conditions, then either our optical system and brain will have to develop new ways of collecting more light on the retina, or we will develop new retinas or bigger eyes."

The need to protect those bigger eyes might be another reason the colonists' skulls might become more robust, Cabrol said, adding that it wasn't clear whether the changes she envisions would be evidence of a new species or simply a version of Homo sapiens adapted for life in a different environment.

Of course, evolutionary changes in humans on Mars would occur only if humans were able to reproduce and successfully raise their children in the low-gravity Martian environment. Cabrol said the colonists might need some sort of "gravity chamber" in which to reproduce and in which their offspring could spend their early developmental years in conditions closer to those on Earth.

Peculiar pigmentation

Another potential change for the Mars colonists would be their skin pigmentation.

"Because of less light," Cabrol said, "I would say that it is possible that the skin of these humans will become ... pale over time, and their hair light-toned."

Solomon sees things differently.

The Martian atmosphere is thinner than Earth's, and the red planet has essentially no protective magnetic field. Thus people living on Mars would be exposed to high levels of cancer-causing radiation even if they spent most of their lives indoors. Pigmentation helps block the effects of radiation. The deeper the color, the better the protection. Thus Solomon figures Mars people might evolve to have darker skin than anyone on Earth.

On the other hand, Solomon said, life on Mars might yield people whose skin is pigmented by carotenoids rather than our usual pigment, melanin. (Something similar has been seen in aphids.) Carotenoids are the same molecules that give carrots their characteristic color. And so their skin might be bright orange.

Cultural and technological changes

Is Solomon right, generally speaking, about the changing appearance of Mars colonists? That's impossible to say. But no matter what, experts agree that Mars colonists would likely drift away culturally and technologically from their terrestrial ancestors.

As Impey told MACH, "They will probably be aggressive in genetic engineering and self-modification (body part and organ enhancement and replacement), to the extent of embedding various monitoring and repair devices, and taking a cyborg path. This will be a very technology-forward cohort, advancing far beyond the average terrestrial society."

Impey said it was hard to predict the psychological effects of living on Mars. But as the colonists "are removed from human affairs," he continued, "they will probably develop their own cultural norms and dialects, and start to feel very distinct or post-human."

If the colonists do change dramatically from their ancestors back on Earth, how would we view them? Would we consider them alien beings — or just subtly different humans?

Solomon thinks the latter possibility is more likely.

"In the past, when there were multiple species of human around (i.e. Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Homo sapiens), we know they had sex with one another and had babies that survived," he said in an email. "That suggests to me that we view other humanlike species as being more human than animal."

22 February 2017

Stunning space discovery: 7 Earth-size planets found orbiting dwarf star

Astronomers have discovered seven roughly Earth-size planets very close to a cool dwarf star some 39 light-years from Earth, including three orbiting in the star’s habitable zone where liquid water, a key ingredient for life as it’s known on Earth, could be present, researchers announced Wednesday.

The record-setting star system is the first to feature three Earth analogues in the so-called “Goldilocks” zone of their parent star and the first to include seven such worlds overall. The discovery was announced Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Finding a second Earth is not just a matter of if, but when,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of science at NASA Headquarters. “Just imagine how many worlds are out there that have a shot at becoming a habitable system that we could explore.”

The intriguing star system was first studied by Belgium’s Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope, or TRAPPIST, observatory in Chile where observations in 2016 indicated the presence of two and possibly three planets.

NASA’s infrared-sensitive Spitzer Space Telescope, working with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, then spent 500 hours studying the star, confirming the existence of two planets and discovering five more, boosting the total to seven.

“Not one, not two, but seven Earth-size planets,” marveled Michael Gillon, an astronomer at the University of Liege in Belgium who led the study. “This is is the first time that so many Earth-size planets were found around the same star. Furthermore, with three of them in the habitable zone.

“The star itself is what is called an ultra-cool dwarf, which is the least massive kind of star that exists,” he told reporters. “These stars are much smaller, much cooler than our sun and still, they are very frequent at the scale of our galaxy, more frequent than solar-type stars.”

For comparison, he said, if Earth’s sun was the size of a basketball, TRAPPIST-1 would be roughly equivalent to a golf ball.

Some 229 trillion miles from Earth in the constellation Aquarius, the TRAPPIST-1 star is “so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system,” NASA said in a statement. “All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun.”

The innermost habitable zone planet is roughly the size of Earth and receives about the same amount of light, possibly resulting in surface temperatures very similar to our planet’s. The middle planet in the habitable zone receives about the same amount of light that Mars does, orbiting TRAPPIST-1 every nine days. The outermost planet receives the level of sunlight one would experience somewhere between Mars and the asteroid belt.

The planets may be “tidally locked” to their star, gravitationally held in place so only one side of the worlds face their sun. If so, the planets could host truly alien weather patterns, with strong winds and extreme changes in temperature.

The planets also are very close together. Researchers said an observer standing on one world likely could discern clouds and other features on neighboring worlds, which could appear larger in the sky than Earth’s moon.

But it is not yet known whether any of the planets host an atmosphere or liquid water and additional observations are planned, along with expanded studies to look for planets around other dwarf stars.

Spitzer detected the planets indirectly by studying how light from TRAPPIST-1 periodically dimmed as the worlds repeatedly passed in front of the star.

Using that data and others, astronomers were able to measure the sizes of the planets, allowing them to roughly calculate their masses, densities and orbital periods. It appears they likely are rocky planets, but additional observations are needed to determine if any have detectable atmospheres or liquid water.

“We’ve made a giant, accelerated leap forward in a search for habitable worlds and life on other worlds, potentially speaking,” said Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “With this amazing system, we know there must be many more potentially life-bearing worlds out there just waiting to be found.”

Additional observations are planned by Spitzer and the Hubble Space Telescope, which will focus on four of the seven planets, including the three now known to orbit within the habitable zone of TRAPPIST-1. Hubble observed the two innermost planets earlier, but found no evidence of the sort of hydrogen-dominated atmospheres that define worlds like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune in Earth’s solar system.

NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which was built to look for transiting exoplanets, also is studying the TRAPPIST-1 system, collecting high-precision data that will help researchers refine their knowledge of the worlds discovered so far while being on the lookout for additional planets.

And NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the $8.6 billion follow-on to Hubble that is scheduled for launch in 2018, also will study the TRAPPIST-1 system, spectroscopically studying atmospheric constituents and looking for telltale signs of biological indicators such as oxygen, methane and other chemicals.

Retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelley, who set a U.S. endurance record with a nearly year-long stay in space, greeted the discovery with enthusiasm. “This is awesome! Send me!” he tweeted. And he offered some idea of just how far away the TRAPPIST-1 system is — a distance of almost 40 light-years — when he added, “Be there in 800,000 years w our current propulsion technology. More work to do. Let’s get on it!”

21 February 2017

Germany pro-White leader Petry met with Putin allies in Russia

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Reuters) - The leader of Germany's far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) held talks with Russian officials during a visit to Moscow at the weekend, including with an ultra-nationalist ally of President Vladimir Putin, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Frauke Petry, whose party is expected to enter parliament for the first time after a federal election on Sept. 24, discussed possible cooperation between Russian and German regional assemblies with her hosts.

Her spokesman Oliver Lang said the two sides did not discuss possible financial assistance for the AfD and that there will be more meetings.

France's far-right National Front (FN) party in 2014 borrowed 9 million euros ($9.48 million) from Moscow-based First Czech-Russian bank. The bank has lost its license to operate and Russia has started legal proceedings to recover the loan.

FN leader Marine Le Pen said that, unlike mainstream parties, the FN had not managed to secure any loans from French banks.

Potential Russian influence over western elections has become a sensitive issue since U.S. intelligence agencies accused their Russian counterparts of seeking to disrupt the U.S. election through hacking and cyber attacks. Moscow has denied the allegations.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the ultra-nationalist leader of the pro-Kremlin Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and a fan of U.S. President Donald Trump, was present at the talks with Petry, a statement posted on the Russian parliament website said.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Duma lower house, and his deputy Pyotr Tolstoy were also there.

The Duma statement said Volodin and Petry discussed "cooperation of regional parliaments and parties as well as improving contacts between youth organizations".

Petry was invited to Russia by local authorities in Moscow, the statement said.

The AfD has seats in 10 of Germany's 16 regional parliaments and is expected to become the third-largest party in the Bundestag lower house after the federal election in seven months.

Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPO) in December offered to act as a go-between for Trump and Putin after signing a cooperation agreement with the Russian president's party.

NASA announces press conference over new exoplanet findings

NASA says it has some big news to tell the world

The leading space agency has announced a press conference to take place on Thursday morning AEST to present new findings on planets that orbit stars other than our sun, known as exoplanets.

NASA has been stingy with the details so far but the press conference is being touted as the biggest news related to exoplanets since the announcement last year of an earth-like planet orbiting our closest star, dubbed Proxima Centauri.

The information to be revealed by NASA will be simultaneously published in the journal Nature on Thursday and is embargoed until the start of the press conference.

However US tech publication CNET claims to have seen the findings and said; “Let’s just say it could very easily provide us with new settings for many future works of science fiction.”

Take from that what you will, but judging by the experts that will be in attendance for the conference, it’s probably going to be noteworthy.

Those giving the public briefing include Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Sean Carey, the manager of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center at Caltech and Sara Seager, a professor of planetary science and physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The foreshadowing of the event has led to intense speculation online.

The press release issued by NASA made it to the front page of reddit where at the time of writing it has attracted more than 1650 comments and sparked a lengthy debate about what NASA might reveal.

On the basis of the scientists scheduled to conduct the press conference, one reddit user speculated that the announcement could have something to do with the collection of atmospheric data from a potentially promising exoplanet.

“Here is my guess. They found exoplanets (maybe even earth like) and were able to get atmospheric data (maybe oxygen) from its observation,” they wrote.

Others wondered if it might have something to do with Proxima Centauri.

Thanks to NASA’s Kepler Telescope which has been busily scanning 150,000 stars for signs of orbiting bodies in recent years, we’ve discovered that on average every star has at least one planet if not many more circling it.

In May last year, the space agency revealed it had found a further 1284 new planets, more than doubling the number of known exoplanets in the universe. And the most important part: nine of them could theoretically be habitable.

The public will be able to ask questions during the NASA briefing later this week via Twitter by using the hashtag #askNASA and scientists will conduct an AMA (ask me anything) on reddit following the press conference.

The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

19 February 2017

White Patriots are Winning the Word War

Across the political spectrum, people talk about refugees as though they were a water mass, speaking of tidal waves of refugees, rising streams or even a tsunami

As EU heavyweights France and Germany gear up for national elections this year, (((local media, pollsters, and mainstream parties))) are scuffling❓ to understand the ever-growing support for their respective Pro-White parties, the National Front and Alternative for Germany.

Befuddled after a year with Donald Trump beating the political odds to take the Oval Office and the Brits voting to split from the European Union, (((observers))) seek an explanation for the recent slant towards the pro-White resistance. A post-factual era has been announced. Overnight, it seems, large portions of the global electorate lost acquired the capacity to think rationally about politics.

From a cognitive science perspective, this hurriedly devised explanation is off target. It rests on the premise that until recently, people derived their attitudes from rational, objective considerations of political facts. That is a myth. 😧

Facts per se have always played a secondary role in politics. When push comes to shove, they lose. Not against emotions. Not against lies. But against so-called frames—deep, cognitive structures that draw on world knowledge to attribute meaning to facts. A quick empirical example: Study participants decide for a medical surgery when informed of a 90% survival chance, but against it when warned of a 10% death risk. Same, simple facts. Two frames – one foregrounding life, the other death. The frames, not the facts, govern the decision.

It is due to findings like the above that we know: Elections are not won through purely factual arguments. They are won by setting the right frames as the backdrop against which facts are processed by voters. Right now, the French and German pro-White beat (((mainstream parties))) big time when it comes to promoting frames that interpret facts in favor of their political beliefs and goals.

The linguistic choices dominating current debates over refugees—the hot button issue in the 2017 European election year — brilliantly exemplify this trend. White patriots have been hugely successful in framing war refugees invaders as a deadly threat to Europeans by metaphorically construing them as a flood. Media, politicians, and citizens across the political spectrum use the frame that turns refugees into water masses, speaking of tidal waves of refugees, rising streams of refugees, or even a refugee tsunami.

The activated frame is anything but neutral. First, the metaphor hides the fact that refugees are actual people and, thus, the principal moral basis for humanitarian refugee policy: empathy with people seeking protection. Second, the frame defines refugees as a threat, not as victims. The victim-role gets instead assigned to European countries, like France and Germany. They are, per frame-inference, innocent victims of a natural disaster.

And what do you do when a flood is about to hit? You stack sandbags and enforce wells! Within the frame, protecting Frenchmen and Germans through enforced border control, walls, and even gunfire, as once implied by Alternative for Germany leader Frauke Petry, becomes the primary moral task of government. The proposal to distribute refugees across Europe and provide shelter, however, is nonsensical—when a flood hits, you do not busy yourself trying to decide how much water should go in which room. You keep the water out. And, not least, the flood metaphor discounts the cause of the situation. Floods do not hit because they escape danger. They just happen to hit.

Other linguistic choices similarly establish a frame that sets the focus on refugees as the chief problem of current events — like the phrase refugee crisis. It marks the people seeking shelter as the crisis. Depending on one’s political outlook, foregrounding the war crisis in Syria, a global shelter crisis for people escaping war, or a European solidarity crisis when it comes to sharing the responsibility to provide safety and care would be reasonable alternatives.

The fact that French and German media, citizens, and politicians across the spectrum get caught up in ideological frames that serve the nationalistic-authoritarian worldview and, in turn, the political goals of White patriots, is alarming invigorating. Election campaigns are a matter of words and language. The next few months will see a lot of public debate. Citizens will listen closely.

18 February 2017

Sen. McCain defends Judeo-corporate media after President Trump's insightful analyses

Sen. John McCain is defending the (((free press))) as an important part of a (((strong democracy))) in an exclusive interview on Meet the Press Fête the Whores airing Sunday.

The Republican Arizona senator admitted that the relationship between (((the media))) and elected officials can sometimes be tense — highlighted by the Trump administration's repeated sparring with (((reporters))) and the president calling (((news organizations))) "fake news."

Watch the interview with Sen. McCain on Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press

Half-jokingly😄, McCain said, "a fundamental part of that (((new world order))) was a (((free press))). I hate the press. I hate you especially. But the fact is (((we))) need (((you)))."

His defense of the (((fourth estate))) came in response to a Friday tweet from President Donald Trump in which he called the media "the enemy of the American People."

Speaking from (((Germany))), where he was attending the (((Munich Security Conference))), McCain said that without a (((free press))), "I am afraid that we would lose so much of our (((individual liberties))) over time. That's how dictators get started."

McCain clarified that he wasn't referring to the president as a dictator, but that attacks on (((journalists))) who are questioning those in power are usually a hallmark of autocratic governments.

"When you look at history," McCain said, "the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. And I'm not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I'm just saying we need to learn the lessons of history."

Pepe Le Pen: Can the alt-right really "meme" Marine Le Pen to victory?

Underneath the irony, is there any truth in the claims that memes can swing an election?

Betteridge’s law of headlines states that any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered succinctly by the word “no”. As an addition, I’d like to suggest that if you add the word “meme” into the very same headline, you’ll most likely get a few four letter words in response as well.

Memes aren’t taken very seriously – which is fair enough, because they’re memes. But over the last year, viral images have been “weaponised” by various internet fringes to become, whether you like it or not, a political tool. “We actually elected a meme as president,” wrote a user on the forum 4Chan’s controversial /pol/ board after Donald Trump’s election win. This was an example of what 4Channers call (somewhat ironically) “meme magic”– creating memes that rise up out of the internet to have real-life consequences.

These same fringes of the alt-right are now trying to use meme magic to secure the victory of National Front leader Marine Le Pen in the French presidential elections. And why wouldn’t they? Events in 2016 have made memes a valid political tool. When the Anti-Defamation League declared Pepe the Frog a hate symbol in September last year, meme magic got real. Fast.

Enter Pepe Le Pen (or, in some circles, Le PenPe). Alt-right groups are now memifying the presidential hopeful to resemble Pepe the Frog. “They’re trying to get the LePenPe squad ready, 100 per cent,” an insider of a right-wing Facebook group told me. “We’re gonna meme Marine Le Pen into office,” wrote a user on the group.

It’s undeniable that at first glance all of this falls on the high end of the “completely ridiculous” scale. Even those on 4Chan argue about whether they’re being ironic or not. Yet though memes can’t take sole responsibility for securing Trump’s place as the 45th leader of the free world, they undoubtedly had a part to play. Firstly, the left’s mockery of Trump via memes gave him far too much attention in the early days of his campaign, and then the right kicked off what they now call “The Great Meme War” – the use of viral images to sway popular opinion.

Images are funny, but memes become potent when they have a message too. As Buzzfeed News reported last month, online chatrooms are forming where Americans can learn about European culture in order to create more effective memes. By using different templates and giving one another advice, Buzzfeed argued the “trolls [could] appear French without actually needing to speak French".

Indeed, memes with messages – however flippant – are undeniably the new propaganda poster. Think of the right-wingers pasting images of refugees and terrorists side-by-side, and left-wingers using images to claim children were handcuffed because of Trump's "Muslim ban". There are no statistics for the number of people who get their political views from viral images but it’s safe to say – judging by Likes and Shares alone – that they have an effect. This kind of propaganda poster doesn't even require sellotape to stick. 

Many of these memes might not make their way out of the groups that contain them (such as 4Chan's /pol/ and Reddit's r/Le_Pen). But that doesn't make them any less significant. In the past, ex-4Channers have spoken out about using the forum slowly made them more racist and sexist. The radicalisation of the vulnerable, in turn, effects the political world.

The other danger, of course, is the media taking these ironic memes too seriously. The declaration that Pepe was a "white supremacist" symbol gave alt-right meme-makers both legitimacy and something to laugh about. It is foolish to lend "Pepe Le Pens" status they do not deserve. Such a premature response has its own consequences - even if Le Pen doesn't win in May, the trolls do.

These are the real ways, then, that memes can sway an election. Of course, there is some survivorship bias at work here. 4Chan can claim they helped Trump to win because, well, Trump won. The same will happen with Le Pen. If she wins, they can claim responsibility, if not, they can go back to adding MS Paint swastikas to frogs.

So can Le Pen really be memed to victory? Screw you, Betteridge. The answer is maybe”.

17 February 2017

Even a dead Robert Mugabe could stand in Zimbabwe election

The wife of Zimbabwe's 92-year-old President, Robert Mugabe, has said that he is so popular that if he died, he could run as a corpse in next year's election and still win votes.

Grace Mugabe, 51, was addressing a rally of the governing Zanu-PF party.

Mr Mugabe has governed Zimbabwe since the end of white-majority rule in 1980 following a bitterly fought war.

His wife, who has often professed her undying loyalty to her husband, has assumed an increasingly high profile.

"One day when God decides that Mugabe dies, we will have his corpse appear as a candidate on the ballot paper," Mrs Mugabe told the rally in Buhera, south-east of the capital Harare.

"You will see people voting for Mugabe as a corpse. I am seriously telling you - just to show people how people love their president."

President Mugabe has been backed by his party to stand again in next year's election, but recently cut back on his public engagements.

Grace Mugabe has warned contemporaries of Mr Mugabe from the guerrilla war era that they are not in a position to replace him because they likewise would be too old.

"Anyone who was with Mugabe in 1980 has no right to tell him he is old. If you want Mugabe to go, then you leave together. You also have to leave. Then we take over because we were not there in 1980," she said, gesticulating towards herself.

Last September, the president was rumoured to have died after he reportedly cut short his attendance of an AU summit to fly to Dubai for a health check.

Mr Mugabe later joked about the rumours, saying he indeed died but was only resurrected.