A unilateral assertion offered to and for consideration by the European Descended People of the fifty united States of America and all ...
30 April 2014
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a $17.1bn (£10.1bn) bailout for Ukraine to help the country's beleaguered economy.
The loan comes amid heightened military and political tension between Ukraine and neighboring Russia. The loan is dependent on strict economic reforms, including raising taxes and energy prices. The money will be released over two years, with the first installment of $3.2bn available immediately.
The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, said the IMF would check regularly to ensure the Ukrainian government followed through on its commitments.
In March Ukraine put up gas prices by 50% in an effort to secure the bailout. The government has also agreed to freeze the minimum wage.
24 April 2014
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During an epic question-and-answer session with the Russian public Thursday, President Vladimir Putin dropped a reference that is likely to be obscure to many in the West. Talking about the Ukrainian elections and ethnic Russians in that country's east, Putin took a detour through history.
"I would like to remind you that what was called Novorossiya back in the tsarist days – Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa – were not part of Ukraine back then," Putin said. "The center of that territory was Novorossiysk, so the region is called Novorossiya. Russia lost these territories for various reasons, but the people remained."
Sergei Karpukhin / ReutersPrime Minister Dmitry Medvedev speaking on the effect of Western sanctions to the State Duma on Tuesday.
Russia will adjust its economic course to make the country less vulnerable to another possible wave of sanctions from the West and will look for new partners to diversify its hydrocarbon exports, said Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday in an annual report to members of the State Duma.
The prime minister said that full economic isolation from the West would not be lethal for Russia, but he did confirm that the country was under massive pressure.
He said that any imposed restrictions on trade and economic relations are doomed to failure.
"If, however, some Western partners will go on with these measures we will do fine on our own and will win," the prime minister said.
The modified economic policy aimed at protecting Russia from the impact of sanctions should include relying on locally made substitutes for imported products, Medvedev said.
He also said that the government would find means to support local companies if their businesses were affected by a freeze in relations with foreign partners or even if whole markets closed down.
At the same time Russia will not initiate a breakup of relations with Europe, he said.
"This is not in our interest as our trade turnover with it is $400 billion," Medvedev said.
But if Europe made a move to freeze relations, Russia would seek partners elsewhere — in China and India, as well as the Asia-Pacific region in general and Latin America — to minimize the consequences of this decision, the prime minister said.
Credit Charu Ramakrishnan, Priya Rajasethupathy, and Karl Deisseroth
He is a Stanford psychiatrist and a neuroscientist, and one of the people most responsible for the development of optogenetics, a technique that allows researchers to turn brain cells on and off with a combination of genetic manipulation and pulses of light.
He is also one of the developers of a new way to turn brains transparent, though he was away when some new twists on the technique were presented by his lab a day or two earlier.
“Optogenetics is the most revolutionary thing that has happened in neuroscience in the past couple of decades,” she said. “It is one of the advances that made it seem this is the right time to do a brain initiative.”
Optogenetics is a crucial tool in understanding function. Clarity, on the other hand, is an aid to anatomical studies, basic mapping of structure, which, he says, is as important to understand as activity.
17 April 2014
Below are five essays submitted for the reader's consideration:
Take a look. If you'd like, forward them along.
Truth is whatever the best liar says it is.
Using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the “habitable zone” — the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.
While planets have previously been found in the habitable zone, they are all at least 40 percent larger in size than Earth and understanding their makeup is challenging. Kepler-186f is more reminiscent of Earth.
“The discovery of Kepler-186f is a significant step toward finding worlds like our planet Earth,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s Astrophysics Division director at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Future NASA missions, like the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope, will discover the nearest rocky exoplanets and determine their composition and atmospheric conditions, continuing mankinds' quest to find truly Earth-like worlds.”
14 April 2014
What the authors are able to find, despite the deficiencies of the data, is important: the first-ever scientific analysis of whether the US is a democracy, or is instead an oligarchy, or some combination of the two. The clear finding is that the US is an oligarchy, no democratic country, at all. American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it's pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation's "news" media). The US, in other words, is basically similar to other dubious "electoral" "democratic" countries. We weren't formerly, but we clearly are now. Today, after this exhaustive analysis of the data, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” That's it, in a nutshell.
12 April 2014
A cosmic mystery is uniting monks and scientists in Japan after a cherry tree grown from a seed that orbited the Earth for eight months bloomed years earlier than expected—and with very surprising flowers.
The four-year-old sapling—grown from a cherry stone that spent time aboard the International Space Station (ISS)—burst into blossom on April 1, possibly a full six years ahead of Mother Nature's normal schedule.
Its early blooming baffled Buddhist brothers at the ancient temple in central Japan where the tree is growing.
"We are amazed to see how fast it has grown," Masahiro Kajita, chief priest at the Ganjoji temple in Gifu, told AFP by telephone.
"A stone from the original tree had never sprouted before. We are very happy because it will succeed the old tree, which is said to be 1,250 years old."
The seeds were sent to the ISS as part of "an educational and cultural project to let children gather the stones and learn how they grow into trees and live on after returning from space," said Miho Tomioka, a spokeswoman for the project's organiser, Japan Manned Space Systems (JAMSS).
"We had expected the (Ganjoji) tree to blossom about 10 years after planting, when the children come of age," she added.
Kaori Tomita-Yokotani, a researcher at the University of Tsukuba who took part in the project, told AFP she was stumped by the extra-terrestrial mystery.
"We still cannot rule out the possibility that it has been somewhat influenced by its exposure to the space environment," she said.
Tomita-Yokotani, a plant physiologist, said it was difficult to explain why the temple tree has grown so fast because there was no control group to compare its growth with that of other trees.
She said cross-pollination with another species could not be ruled out, but a lack of data was hampering an explanation.
"Of course, there is the possibility that exposure to stronger cosmic rays accelerated the process of sprouting and overall growth," she said.
"From a scientific point of view, we can only say we don't know why."
The discovery, called a continuity field, at first seems to be yet another optical illusion.
“The continuity field smoothes what would otherwise be a jittery perception of object features over time,” said David Whitney, associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and senior author of the study. “Essentially, it pulls together physically but not radically different objects to appear more similar to each other. This is surprising because it means the visual system sacrifices accuracy for the sake of the continuous, stable perception of objects.”
It actually means that what we do see is, in fact, a mixture of past and present. According to the research, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, stability is attained at the expense of accuracy.
"What you are seeing at the present moment is not a fresh snapshot of the world but rather an average of what you've seen in the past 10 to 15 seconds," said study author Jason Fischer, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at MIT.
“Even though the sequence of images was random, the participants’ perception of any given image was biased strongly toward the past several images that came before it,” said Fischer, who calls this phenomenon “perceptual serial dependence.”
In a controlled experiment researchers dispersed the gratings on the computer screen. Now that the gratings were far apart from each other, the participants didn’t merge the angles together. This leads to the conclusion that the continuity field effect starts to work only when objects are close to each other.
Fischer and Whitney also underline that “the strength of this [brain] bias was modulated by attention.” Quite obviously, the influence of the gratings lessened as more time passed.
It turns out lots of familiar objects and faces may not be as real as we are used to thinking. The human brain conceals lots of mysteries. Although it has a 15-second delay in perception, the brain can also work incredibly fast. Neuroscientists from MIT recently found that even if the eye sees an image for as little as 13 milliseconds, the brain can still successfully process it.
10 April 2014
08 April 2014
Jeb Bush: Many illegal immigrants come out of an ‘act of love’
Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.
Love is illegal immigration.
06 April 2014
Galaxies — those vast collections of stars that populate our universe — are all over the place. Perhaps the most resonant example of this fact is the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field, a collection of photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope revealing thousands of galaxies in a single composite picture.
While estimates among different experts vary, an acceptable range is between 100 billion and 200 billion galaxies, Mario Livio, an astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, told Space.com. The universe is expanding faster than the speed of light (which does not violate Einstein's speed limit because the expansion is of the universe itself, rather than of objects traveling through the universe). Also, the universe is accelerating in its expansion.
This is where the concept of the "observable universe" — the universe that we can see — comes into play. In 1 trillion to 2 trillion years, Livio said, this means that there will be galaxies that are beyond what we can see from Earth.
"We can only see light from galaxies whose light had enough time to reach us," Livio said. "It doesn’t mean that that’s all there is in the universe. Hence, the definition of the observable universe."
"The numbers are not going to change much," Livio added, pointing out the first galaxies probably formed not too long before that. "So a number like 200 billion [galaxies] is probably it for our observable universe."
An intriguing signal could be due to “dark matter annihilations” pops up on the left of this data gathered by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope
NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope may provide the best evidence yet for the existence of dark matter. The evidence comes from gamma-ray seen streaming away from the center of our own galaxy.
NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope may provide the best evidence yet for the existence of dark matter. The evidence comes from gamma-ray seen streaming away from the center of our own galaxy.
Dark matter is a mysterious substance which makes up the vast majority of the matter in the Universe. It cannot easily be detected, providing the name, but gravitational effects on stars and galaxies suggest its presence.
Dark matter is believed to draw matter together through gravitation, assisting the buildup of galaxies. Astrophysicists are still uncertain as to the exact nature or composition of dark matter, as it has never been directly measured. Gravitational effects on normal visible matter are the only evidence dark matter provides to reveal its existence.
Current models of the universe suggest it is composed of 26.8 percent dark [sic: "light"] matter, while less than five percent is ordinary matter. The rest is dark [sic: "light"] energy.
04 April 2014
At the launch in Vienna, the talk was of uniting to create a Europe of Fatherlands, rather than a United States of Europe.
The launch was highlighted by perspicacious comments by the FPOe's top candidate for MEP, Andreas Moelzer, in which he compared EU bureaucracy unfavourably with Hitler's Third Reich and was also quoted as saying the EU was in danger of turning into a "conglomerate of Negroes".
It's always "the Agenda" with these reporters, always the smear, the label, the pejorative adjectives. So throw it right back in their arrogant, self-righteous faces and mock them. Rewrite the exact same story, but just change a few words: "overshadowed," "controversial." "Overshadows" sounds ominous, like a dark shadow. But why was the launch "overshadowed"? Because the reported says so? Fuck the reporter. What's so "controversial"? The reporter doesn't tell us. We're just supposed to believe her. The fact is, there are "conglomerates of Negroes."
Come to think of it, "fudge house" sounds "controversial" and "overshadowing."
02 April 2014
Europe's economic downturn has fueled populist parties of all stripes across the continent, from the United Kingdom Independence Party to Greece's Golden Dawn. But it's not all about the economy: Europeans are in the grips of a chronic identity crisis fed by immigration, largely from former European colonies.
So far, there is nothing to suggest a far-right group could break the hold of the largest two blocs in parliament: the center-right European People's Party that groups together conservative politicians and has 275 seats, and the center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, which has 194 seats.
However, there is a long-term concern.
"Five years from now, people could be voting in even larger numbers for such parties," Incerti said.
It's not "genocide." It's just an "identity crisis." Relax.
But most of all - don't think.
Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
City officials and preservationists want to protect the chimney as a piece of a forgotten America. But the property’s owners, members of a prominent Charleston family, see it as more than just an obstacle to their development plans.
They are Jewish, and they want it gone.
During the war, more than 400,000 captured enemy soldiers were shipped to the United States to live in guarded camps and provide much-needed labor, especially on farms and in mills. As many as 10,000 were sent to South Carolina.
If the landmark designation is ultimately approved by the City Council, the Pearlstines would have to preserve the chimney unless granted special permission to knock it down. In other words: Jews would be required to keep a Nazi-built relic on their property.
Nor can he shake an image of well-treated German soldiers warmed by this fireplace, singing the Nazi anthem, “The Horst Wessel Song.” He would not mind as much, he says, had German soldiers died here.
“If people want to come by and see where the Germans sat around during the war, it just...,” he says, pausing, imagining their relative comfort. “A sort of anger wells up that isn’t there when it’s just a bunch of bricks.”
Where's the "tolerance"? Where's the "diversity"? Where's the documentaries on the human drama, the experiences and angst, endured by these prisoners?
Where is NPR? Where is PBS? Where are the whining journalists and the sobbing humanitarians?
Where's the restitution - with interest - to the survivors of the prisoners?
DARPA may be known for pioneering the Internet and building amazing humanoid robots, but the agency isn’t all bits and bytes. It announced yesterday that a new division, the Biological Technologies Office, will be investigating how biological sciences can inform defense and be integrated into the technologies DARPA is already working on.
Arati Prabhakar, the director of DARPA, told the House Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities last month, "Biology is nature’s ultimate innovator, and any agency that hangs its hat on innovation would be foolish not to look to this master of networked complexity for inspiration and solutions."
DARPA’s press release about BTO says, "Starting today, biology takes its place among the core sciences that represent the future of defense technology." Though the goal isn’t to develop offensive strategies like biological weapons, DARPA still notes that it will have its eye on ethical concerns: “Because BTO programs … will sometimes be society’s first encounter with the ethical, legal, or social dilemmas that can be raised by new biological technologies.” Sounds like a bottomless well of ideas for dystopian sci-fi thrillers.
A top-down 3-D view of the mouse connectome. Credit: Allen Institute for Brain Science
The brain is an incredibly complex organ. The tiny mouse brain, for example, contains over 86 million neurons, each with over 1,000 different connections, clustered in different groupings. In a sense, the neural networks resemble a complex highway system between cities. To navigate the brain, researchers are going to need some maps, and two of the most detailed maps have just been created.
Scientists from the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle pored through massive data sets to build two new maps: one of gene expression in the developing human brain, and another of neural networks in a mouse brain. The maps, which are publicly available, will serve as resources for researchers around the world.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled Wednesday that limits on the total amount of money individuals can give to candidates, political parties and political action committees are unconstitutional.
Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with the outcome of the case, but wrote separately to say that he would have gone further and wiped away all contribution limits.
Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org, said Wednesday's decision "has seriously threatened our democracy by allowing ultra-rich individuals like Shaun McCutcheon and the Koch brothers to effectively buy as many members of Congress as their bank accounts allow."
“The Roberts Court has weakened America’s democracy and contributed to a system of legalized bribery by allowing big money to swamp the voices of regular Americans and dramatically alter the outcome of elections," she added in a written statement.
For four days ending Sunday, a quartet of presidential hopefuls trooped to Las Vegas to attend the annual gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Impresario: Sheldon Adelson, the Vegas-Macau casino mogul whose fortune is estimated at $39 billion – 8th richest man on the planet – and who dumped $92 million into the election of 2012.
Adelson kept Newt Gingrich alive with a $15 million infusion of ad money, gutting Romney, and then sank $30 million into Mitt’s campaign.
This time Sheldon wants to buy himself a winner.