Tag Archives: disease

The Apocalypticon ~ Trumps inspires fascists, world heat, world problems


Trump inspires searches for definitions of Fascism — Donald Trump held another neo-fascist rally Thursday in North Carolina USA where the crowd chanted things like “treason,” “traitor” and “send her back,” while Trump talked about Democratic members of US Congress. Online dictionary searches in the US from just after the rally show just how bad things have become in the country. [Hey, Donald, how about setting up the Trump Youth? Fun for all the kids, right? Well, fun for the white ones, anyway.]
Trump’s ‘go back’ rhetoric is sign of a racially divisive and turbulent year to come, writes the NPR.
New documents reveal how Trump, Cohen, aides worked to seal hush money deals — Trump took part in phone calls with his then-personal lawyer Michael Cohen as the attorney and other aides scrambled to arrange hush payments.
US tests killing robotised vehicles — The US Army has already been testing robotic squad vehicles such as the Multi-Utility Tactical Transport (MUTT) and semi-autonomous targeting systems such as the Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System (ATLAS). It will soon conduct live-fire testing of a new Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) built on M113 armoured personnel carrier chassis next year. [When a machine kills someone, where sits the moral conundrum? Squarely with the regime deploying them, rather than soldiers charged to carry out murder.]
A journalist has been digging into years of corruption and disfunction at the US Border Protection Agency. Customs and Border Protection is the largest law enforcement agency in the US, with 45,000 gun-carrying officers and agents. It’s larger than the NYPD and larger than the US Coast Guard.
Oakland also bans fail recognition — The Oakland City Council in California has voted unanimously to ban the use of facial recognition technology by the city, including its police force. It’s the third ban of the tech by a US city since May.
Marshall Islands still radioactive after US tests — An analysis of soil samples, ocean sediment, and fruits from the Marshall Islands, the site of nearly 70 nuclear weapons tests during the 1940s and 1950s, has revealed alarmingly high levels of radiation, with some regions at levels exceeding areas affected by the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters.

Big Data — The European Union is planning an antitrust investigation into e-commerce giant Amazon over its treatment of third-party merchants that rely on the company’s marketplace to sell goods, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
US lawmakers want Amazon investigated — Over a dozen progressive US lawmakers have co-signed a letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to request a “comprehensive investigation into the workplace conditions” in Amazon and its subsidiary businesses’ warehouses.
App boss is a terrible master — US same-day grocery service Instacart has a checkered past when it comes to fair and dignified labour practices, and now dozens of its contract workers are claiming that the company app torments them into accepting shitty jobs or suffering the consequences. [Keep that in mind when considering a robotised fighting vehicle, as above.]
Google yanks dogs apps — Google has yanked several apps from its Play Store after cybersecurity firm Avast identified them as “all likely designed by a Russian developer to allow people to stalk employees, romantic partners, or kids.”
Now you can find out which Facebook advertisers get your data — The next time you see Facebook ads for, say, erectile dysfunction pills or egg freezing, you can check to see why you were targeted by those brands and where the companies got your data. [I deleted Facebook a few months back and it’s like being able to breathe again. I also got big time benefits.]
Data on all Bulgarians —Someone has stolen the personal and financial information of millions of Bulgarian taxpayers, likely the majority of the adult population.

Climate fears — Arctic on fire: Vast stretches of Earth’s northern latitudes are on fire right now. Hot weather has engulfed a huge portion of the Arctic, from Alaska to Greenland to Siberia. That’s helped create conditions ripe for wildfires, including some truly massive fires burning in remote parts of the region that are being seen by satellites.
Coral and poop — It’s no secret corals are dying at an alarming rate. While climate change heating up the oceans is understood to be screwing over corals, a new study points fingers at a different culprit: human poop.
Chennai gets rain but has no water — This city of nearly 10 million — India’s sixth largest — has almost run out of water. But why? Industry is diverting the water for its own use before it reaches the reservoirs.
Heatwaves to further engulf America — As the globe warms in the years ahead, days with extreme heat are forecast to skyrocket across hundreds of US cities, a new study suggests, perhaps even breaking the “heat index.”
Rome is sweltering and has trash everywhere — Flocks of cawing seagulls have replaced traffic roar as the soundtrack of Roman life.

While we’re out in the world — Ebola a health emergency: The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced this week that it has elected to declare the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo a “public health emergency of international concern,” a decision that comes nearly a year after the outbreak was first declared and after the infection of thousands of people.
Dutch complicity in Srebrenica — The Netherlands’ Supreme Court has affirmed the country’s troops are partly to blame for the deaths of 350 Muslim men and boys after the fall of the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica. But in a break with an earlier ruling, the court lowered the Dutch liability for the massacre to 10%, from 30%.
Insufficient fruit and vegetables — If everyone around the globe began to eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, there wouldn’t be enough to go around. That’s the conclusion of a new study published in The Lancet Planetary Health.

But there is some good news — The 20-50 metre asteroid 2006 QV8 will not hit the Earth on September 9th 2019.
Ace arsehole Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical CEO widely known as Pharma Bro, has lost his bid to overturn a seven-year prison sentence for fraud. Hurrah!

The Apocalypticon ~ Capitalism over, data, disease, climate, guns, funs and hell


How many days do Americans waste commuting? Too many! (Red is the worst, at 56-77 days!)

Another week, another slew of terrors — Capitalism as we know it is over, or so suggests a new report commissioned by a group of scientists appointed by the UN Secretary-General. [Bull, you say? Maybe we’re just over capitalism.] Climate change and species extinctions are accelerating even as societies are experiencing rising inequality, unemployment, slow economic growth, rising debt levels, and impotent governments. [I’m starting to wish I lived in uninteresting times.]
Just to get you in the mood: 9 movies about AI becoming self aware and killing us.

Talking about data — The voting records of some 14.8 million Texas residents were left exposed online and eventually got discovered by a data breach hunter in New Zealand. [Gotta love the ’net.]
MacAfee’s ‘unhackable’ storage was … hacked. Yep, computer programmer John McAfee released “the world’s first un-hackable storage for cryptocurrency & digital assets”, a US$120 device called the Bitfi wallet, that McAfee claimed contained no software or storage. McAfee was so sure of its security that it launched with a bug bounty inviting researchers to try and hack the wallet in return for a $250,000 award. Lo and behold, a researcher by the name of Andrew Tierney managed to hack the wallet, but … Bitfi declined to pay out!
Facebook and the Myanmar genocide — Facebook announced it has banned several members of the Myanmar military and organisations that were named by the United Nations as complicit in the genocide. Way too slowly to do any good, of course.
LinkedIn spying — The United States’ top spy catcher said Chinese espionage agencies are using fake LinkedIn accounts to try to recruit Americans with access to government and commercial secrets, and the company should shut them down. [How will this look on your resumé?]
India’s biometric database is creating a perfect surveillance state — And US tech companies are helping.
What’s Crap? Is OK, I will tell you: WhatsApp users on Android will be able to back up their messages to Google Drive for free and it won’t count towards Google Drive storage quotas … yay! But, as WhatsApp warns, those messages will no longer be protected by end-to-end encryption. Boo.
Trump spits Google dummy — President Trump says Google search results for ‘Trump News’ show only negative coverage about him. [Jeeze, can’t work out why … must be a plot.] A few hours later, Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the administration is “taking a look” at whether Google and its search engine should be regulated by the government. [Lol. Yeah, that’s exactly what Goebbels would have wanted.]

How many days do Americans waste commuting?  Educated Driver used Census Bureau data on average daily roundtrip commute times in hundreds of cities across the US to calculate how much time Americans spend traveling to and from work over the course of their lives, assuming a 45-year career working 250 days a year.
Speaking of Americans, who got Cohen’s $50-thou? Cohen seems to have been a very busy boy, with legal documents showing he made a $US50,000 ($68,560) payment to an unidentified “technology company during and in connection with the campaign.” The unknown payment suggests Cohen may have been doing more for Trump, and for the Trump campaign, than simply paying off people Trump had been bonking on the side.
Amid mounting acrimony with NATO, Russia’s military has announced plans to hold its “biggest exercises since 1981.” The country’s defence ministry says the massive exercise will involve some 300,000 Russian troops, more than 1000 aircraft plus the participation of some Chinese and Mongolian units.

On health — In a dangerous twist to Ebola, outbreaks are starting to crop up in distant areas. It could already be the worst outbreak to date.
Store-bought chicken could be causing UTIs — A new study published in mBio suggest urinary tract infections could be coming from Escherichia coli bacteria transmitted via poultry.
China withholds flu data — For over a year, the Chinese government has withheld lab samples of a rapidly evolving influenza virus from scientists in the United States. Specimens are needed to develop vaccines and treatments, according to federal health officials talking to The New York Times.
Pollution sapping our nutrients — According to new research, rising carbon dioxide levels will sap some of the nutrients from our crops and lead to dietary deficiencies in millions of humans. In 2014, field trials of common food crops including wheat, rice, corn and soybeans showed that as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased, the levels of iron, zinc and protein decreased in the dietary staples by 3 to 17%. This could have a big impact in poorer nations.

Climate — We’re living in hell. The image above, created by NASA’s Earth Observatory, has red representing soot, purple showing dust, and blue for sea salt. Central Africa is awash in smoke from farmers clearing land for crops. And those little glowing specks across China, the eastern US, India and Europe are cities where air pollution from cars and buildings is strong enough to create a clear signal to satellites.
Air pollution is making us stupid — Air pollution causes a ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence, according to new research, indicating that the damage to society of toxic air is far deeper than the well-known impacts on physical health. [Ah, weren’t we stupid to create air pollution in the first place?] High pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education.
Japan to get a ‘most powerful’ storm — A dangerous super typhoon currently packing 274km/h winds could make landfall in Japan shortly. [Jebi nights.]
Sea level rise may seem like a far-off threat — But a growing number of new studies, including one out this week, shows that real estate markets have already started responding to increased flooding risks by reducing prices of vulnerable homes. [Aw, sucks to be you, right?]

On the lighter side — Police officers in Paraguay found that at least 42 of their battle rifles had been stolen from their armoury and replaced with toy replicas. It’s unclear if a flag with the word BANG! written on it popped out of the barrels.
Adopting Mediterranean diet in old age can prolong life, a new study suggests. The diet is typically said to be rich in fish, nuts, fresh vegetables, olive oil and fruit. [So that’s my secret?]

Excerpt from my forthcoming book: “Water absorption by the human body happens pretty fast – within five minutes of entering your mouth, it’s starting to filter into your bloodstream, with peak absorption hitting at around 20 minutes – but water at body temperature is absorbed more slowly than cold water, in case you were wondering why we instinctively prefer cooler water when we’re thirsty. “

The Apocalypticon ~ US ‘justice’, old trauma, 91 Antarctic volcanoes, phone repairs contain hacks, medical emergencies, bees, solar eclipse myths, Miami flooding


US ‘Department of Justice’ demands data from anti-Trump sites — A web hosting provider has revealed the US Justice Department’s efforts to obtain records about an activist website established to coordinate “mass protests to shut down the inauguration of Donald Trump”. DreamHost said it was opposing a broadly-worded US federal warrant that seeks access to “all information available” about the website disruptj20.org. In other Trump news, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is leaving President Trump’s American Manufacturing Council, the latest executive to distance himself from the president following the weekend’s events in Virginia. In a blog post, Krzanich said that the decline in American manufacturing remains a serious issue, but said that “politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America’s manufacturing base. I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing.” Trump recently more or less validated – several times – the racist and thuggish ideologies hurled by white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
US voting machines have leaked 1.8 million Chicago voter records, and Wired has published a handy guide to Russian hacking attempts aimed at US democracy, all part of an increasingly digital intelligence playbook known as “active measures:” techniques and strategies that Russian military and intelligence services deploy to influence the affairs of nations across the globe.
~ And Americans thought they’d been specially singled out …

Can your great-great grandparents’ trauma be passed on to you? An affinity for Russian literature might be something your parents passed on via social influence, reading it to you before bedtime, just as their parents did for them. But life experiences such as trauma, researchers have recently found, can be passed on, too: children can inherit the changes that occur in how their parents genes are expressed due to environmental stressors.

91 volcanoes discovered under Antarctic ice — Scientists have uncovered the largest volcanic region on Earth, and it’s two kilometres below the surface of the vast ice sheet that covers west Antarctica.
~ We’d best uncover that as soon as possible, then … don’t worry, we’re working on it. 

Replacement phone parts can contain secret chips — Just when you were congratulating yourself on that cheap phone repair you found, there’s a possibility the replacement parts installed by repair shops contain secret hardware that completely hijacks the security of your device. The concern arises from research that shows how replacement screens, one put into a Huawei Nexus 6P and the other into an LG G Pad 7.0, can be used to surreptitiously log keyboard input and patterns, install malicious apps, and take pictures and email them to the attacker.

Medical emergencies: UK deadly fungus outbreak — More than 200 patients in 55 UK hospitals were discovered by healthcare workers to be infected or colonized by the multi-drug resistant fungus Candida auris, a globally emerging yeast pathogen that has experts nervous.
An alarming report from the World Health Organisation estimates that some 500,000 Yemenis have contracted cholera since April of this year, of which 2000 have died. It’s now the worst active cholera epidemic in the world, and one of the largest in decades.

Popular pesticides are stopping bumble bees laying eggs — Wild bees, such as bumblebees, play just as crucial a role in pollinating many fruits, vegetables and wildflowers, and compared to managed colonies of honeybees, they’re in much greater jeopardy. A group of scientists in the United Kingdom decided to look at how bumblebee queens are affected by some widely used and highly controversial pesticides known as neonicotinoids. What they found isn’t pretty.

Solar eclipse myths — Loads of evidence to the contrary won’t stop people from believing some pretty bizarre eclipse myths – mostly ones that involve sex and/or death.

Finally for this week why is the sea rising so fast in Miami? Sunny day flooding is occurring more often, and rising sea levels and climate change are to blame. But, as is often the case when you drill down into the inner workings of our planet, the full story is a bit more complicated. A combination of two naturally-occurring climate patterns (the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation) are associated with hot spots of sea level rise along the Eastern seaboard.
~ That was supposed to be the good news that ends this column … sorry!