Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Change human DNA or computers will take over the world...

Stephen Hawking, the acclaimed scientist and writer, reignited the debate over genetic engineering yesterday by recommending that humans change their DNA through genetic modification to keep ahead of advances in computer technology and stop intelligent machines from 'taking over the world'.

He made the remarks in an interview with the German magazine Focus. Because technology is advancing so quickly, Hawking said, 'computers double their performance every month'. Humans, in contrast, are developing much more slowly, and so must change their DNA make-up or be left behind. 'The danger is real,' he said, 'that this [computer] intelligence will develop and take over the world.'

Hawking, author of the best-selling A Brief History Of Time and a professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, recommended 'well-aimed manipulation' of human genes. Through this humans could 'raise the complexity of... the DNA [they are born with], thereby improving people'. He conceded the road to genetic modification would be a long one but said: 'We should follow this road if we want biological systems to remain superior to electronic ones.'

He also advocated cyber-technology - direct links between human brains and computers. 'We must develop as quickly as possible technologies that make possible a direct connection between brain and computer, so that artificial brains contribute to human intelligence rather than opposing it.'

While scientists are excited by the huge possibilities of genetic engineering and human interaction with machines, ethicists urge caution as the experiments could go wrong.

Sue Mayer, director of policy research group Genewatch, rounded on Hawking's remarks. 'He is trying to take the debate about genetic engineering in the wrong direction,' she said. 'It is naive to think that genetic engineering will help us stay ahead of computers.

Acknowledgements: The Observer

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Pavlopetri - and the lost sunken city with no name...

Was the secrets of a lost sunken southern Greek city the inspiration for the fabled "Atlantis"? An interesting thought I would suggest.

Exploration by an Anglo-Greek archaelogical and marine geological team, known as PAVLOPETRI, has revealed a sunken settlement dating back 5000 years to the period of Mycenaean society and Homer's heroes. In terms of size and wealth of detail, it is unprecedented, experts maintain.

The site, straddling some 30,000 square meters of ocean floor off southern Laconia, is believed to have been consumed by the sea around 10,000 BC.

Due to shifting sends and the settlements enclosure in a protected bay, the team's exploration has revealed a world of buildings, courtyards, main streets, rock cut tombs and religious structures - everything we would imagine Atlantis could be. The seabed was replete with thousands of shards of broken pottery from the stoneage, suggesting the settlement was occupied at least 1200 years earlier than originally thought.

Marine geologists have not yet discovered why the settlement sunk. Many theories abound - sea level changes, earthquakes, or even tsunamis.

It is the first time a sunken city has been discovered in Greece that predates the time that Plato penned his allegorical tale of Atlantis, the sunken city.

Read more about the sunken city here

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NZ needs a gang taskforce says Aussie detective...

The head of Victoria police's Purana Taskforce says New Zealand needs to set up a similar group to fight organised crime

An Australian detective says New Zealand police need to crack down on organised crime or face a situation similar to Victoria's bloody gangland killings.

Detective Inspector Bernie Edwards heads Victoria's Purana Taskforce, formed in 2003 following a series of bloody gangland killings in the state. In six years they have seized $80 million worth of assets and caught 24 offenders for 37 murders.

Mr Edwards spoke this morning at the Police Association conference and says we can learn from what has happened in Australia to prevent similar violence here.

"Our crisis was the gangland killings that woke us up to the fact that organised crime is here. The more we delve the more drugs, money - you name it they're into. New Zealand, you don't need your crisis, you've realised you've got a problem, because the world's got a problem."

Mr Edwards says hopefully New Zealand police can learn from the mistakes of their Australian counterparts, to stop organised crime before the shootings and killings start.

"One of my main messages I want to get across to New Zealand - organised crime isn't coming, it's here. And it's here to stay and it's globally - it's not just people committing single crimes, they just commit whatever crimes are possible."

Mr Edwards says it is also up to the Government to address the issue. He says New Zealand needs a group similar to the Purana Taskforce.

"If New Zealand got a heavily resourced and supported organised crime squad . . . then people start listening and hearing all your successes in the media - then you can start building up a credibility to ask for legislation changes."

Mr Edwards says if the nation does not do anything, the next generation of criminals is going to be unstoppable.

Acknowledgements: 2009 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Parents nightmare - two year old Auckland toddler now missing for five days...

Police hunting for missing toddler Aisling Symes have not ruled out she could have been stolen to order.

Nothing has been seen of the bright and bubbly two-year-old since Monday night when she was last seen with an Asian woman who was holding a dog on a lead.

Aisling's disappearance from her deceased grandparents' Longburn Rd home in Henderson has sparked one of the biggest police hunts for years.

But after three days of searching police have found no sign of the toddler and investigation head Inspector Gary Davey said today it was looking increasingly likely she had been kidnapped.

He could not rule out that she may have been stolen to order.

"That is a possibility. What I am trying to do is to convince the public to keep an open mind."

He said if she was taken to order it would be a very, very rare occurrence.

"We don't have any evidence to suggest any scenario. Some are more likely than others.

"For example abduction is more likely than her wandering off, given the thoroughness of our search."

It was also a possibility she had been a hit-and-run victim where the driver had panicked and taken her away.

Mr Davey said search and rescue experts believed after studying the creek near her family's house, the rainfall, and the water flows, it was "highly unlikely" she would have been swept down the creek before the police began their intense search of the area.

He said the mystery Asian woman seen with Aisling about 5.30pm on Monday had still to be identified and there was still a possibility she had no idea of the search or the grief of the parents, Alan and Angela Symes.

Davey said at a press conference yesterday that despite a comprehensive search of the area: "We cannot locate Aisling."

Sitting alongside the parents, he made a direct appeal to anyone who might have snatched Aisling.

"Police are still hopeful that she is alive and being cared for and I'm talking to that person ... I just would like to say to whomever may have Aisling out there, the sole focus of the police at the moment is to have Aisling returned safely ... We hope that you come forward and leave her in a safe place so that she can be found."

Mr Davey said officers were also continuing to profile "people of concern" in the area. More police were joining the inquiry to work on this.

Police had also received 111 calls of sightings of Asian women with babies, after police appeals to the woman in her 30s who was walking her dog when she spoke to Aisling in Longburn Rd.

As police struggle for leads, fear of more snatches is beginning to haunt other parents.

"It will have a tremendous impact ... everything you do now you will be holding on to your children tightly," said the head of the local community board, Elizabeth Grimmer, a grandmother of two. "Children just aren't going to be able to run freely and us feel safe ..."

Ad Feedback In the parents' first public appeal, Mr Symes, a former search and rescue worker and security guard, described the past four days as "the most harrowing of our lives" and said the couple had not slept.

He read from a prepared statement, pausing midway to compose himself, while his wife buried her head in his shoulder.

"We feel like we're barely existing, surviving every moment not knowing where Aisling is," he said. "Is she near us or has she been moved far away? Is she being treated well, things like has her nappy been changed ... these thoughts churn through us as we huddle close as a family and we try to wait to find out if there is anything."

As the couple left the briefing room, police hurriedly shut the door as Mrs Symes broke into wracking sobs.

A child psychology expert said Aisling would now be distressed if she had been abducted.

Canterbury University associate professor Lianne Woodward, said: "She could be very unsettled and irritated, her sleep might not be very good, there might be some crying."

The effects of such a trauma would depend on how long it took for her to be returned, she said. "If she's reunited with her parents soon, there's much less concern. But if it goes on, or there's been abuse, then the concern grows."

An abductor could care for Aisling by doing "the basics" – feeding and cleaning her – but she needed her parents for her emotional wellbeing.

A families commissioner, Christine Rankin, said parents needed to take extra care.

"Until we know if someone is out there that is a danger, absolutely, the more vigilant they are the better. I don't think there's any room to be casual about this at all."

But Waitemata police communications manager Kevin Loughlin said: "There is no additional reason for parents to be concerned with their children at this time.

"We are dealing with a missing persons inquiry. We haven't even identified any individual or person or factors around that."

Prime Minister John Key urged anyone with information to come forward. "Our hearts go out to the family, we are very concerned about her welfare and we hope for a speedy and successful return of the little girl."

Acknowledgements: The Dominion Post with NZPA

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

John Trudell - Native American activist the FBI couldn't stop speaking out...

Concerning John Trudell - The Native American activist the FBI couldn't stop speaking out.

"Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself...and I will obey every law or submit to the penalty."

Chief Joseph

"When I go around in America and I see the bulk of the white people, they do not feel oppressed; they feel powerless. When I go amongst my people, we do not feel powerless,we feel oppressed."

John Trudell

Recent discussion's re John Trudell noted that he is a "charismatic" speaker. The comment reminded me that, inasmuch as he has passed through the fire, Trudell's charisma is well founded. Accordingly, it is important to keep the following specifics in mind. When you see the man...listen to his music, remember; what we are is where we have been. No one can take that from us.

Trudell and the FBI:

The Peltier assassination effort appears to be only one of several abortive but deadly FBI counterintelligence operations directed at the remnants of AIM during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Another, even grimmer example concerns the death of the family of AIM's last national chairman, John Trudell:
In February 1979, Trudell led a march in Washington, D.C. to draw attention to the difficulties the Indians were having. Although he received a warning against speaking out, he delivered an address from the steps of the FBI building on the subject of the agency's harassment of Indians...Less than 12 hours later, Trudell's wife, Tina, his three children, and his wife's mother were burned alive in the family home in Duck Valley, Nevada - the apparent work of an arsonist.
Further detail:

On the Shoshone-Paiute Reservation of Duck Valley, straddling the Nevada-Idaho border, at 1:30 a.m., February 12, 1979, a fire ripped through the house of Arthur Manning and his family. Manning was a member of the Duck Valley Tribal Council who was actively working for Shoshone-Paiute treaty rights. Opposition to Manning included the local tribal police chief, Benny Richards, a former member of the Wilson goon squad on Pine Ridge [and brother of intended Peltier assassi Chuck Richards; both are of the Pine Ridge 'Manson Family'], and the local BIA Director John Artichoker, also from Pine Ridge. Manning's wife, Leah, was a coordinator for social services on the reservation. Their daughter, Tina, had been working actively in a local campaign to preserve the tribe's water riights at Wildhorse Resorvoir; she was opposed by the local BIA, Elko County [and] Nevada officials, the water recreation industry, and local white ranchers. Tina's husband was John Trudell, national chairman of AIM [from approximately 1974-80]. The Trudell's had three children: Ricarda Star [age five], Sunshine Karma [three], and Eli Changin Sun [one]...The fire [caught] the entire family asleep. Dead were Leah Hicks-Manning, her daughter Tina, and the three young children. Arthur Manning survived the blaze. The BIA issued a statement saying the fire was an accident. Trudell believes his family was murdered.

The basis for Trudell's belief rested in his AIM activities in general, and with regard to the Peltier case in particular.

During the Peltier trial in Fargo, North Dakota, Trudell had returned to the courtroom one day when a marshall informed him that he would not be allowed inside. An argument ensued, and Trudell was evicted. He was later arrested for the incident, charged with contempt of court, convicted before [U.S. District] Judge Ronald Davies, and sentenced to sixty days in jail. He served his time in five institutions in three states [a matter clearly reminiscent of the handling of Leonard Crow Dog]. While in Springfield Prison in Missouri, he was told by a fellow inmate that if he did not stop his Indian rights work his family would be killed.

Of course, as is indicated above, the Mannings had no shortage of enemies at Duck Valley, any one or group of which might have perpetrated the fatal arson (assuming it was arson - despitte the obvious basis for suspicion, and Trudell's repeated allegations in this regard, no formal investigation of the fire was ever conducted by the FBI). However, given the overall contect of apparent illegalities involved in the FBI's anti-AIM operations, and the concomitantly high stakes which would be involved in their disclosure, more than usual heed should be paid to Trudell's contentions:

When I got sent up for sixty days, that time in Fargo, I was approached by another inmate, a guy I didn't know, and he started talking about my public statements. You can't go around talking that shit, he says, you better get out of the country. You don't know these crazy bastards [the FBI] - they could kill your wife and children. Well, I was suspicious of the guy's so-called warning at the time; that was a message John Trudell was supposed to receive. I knwo who did it. What I still don't understand is why; it was so unnecessary. But it was arson, and it was deliberate - an assassination. Those people did a terrible thing; they should think a long, long time about what they did.

Trudell has explained that, in essence, he believes the death of his family was 'set up' by the FBI as part of its strategy to silence his and other AIM members' attempts to draw broad public attention to the Bureau's pattern of abuses concerning AIM in general and Pine Ridge in particular [see earlier post entitled AIM, Pine Ridge, and the FBI]. He attributes the emphasis placed upon himself and his family in this regard not only to his high position within AIM, but to the FBI's assessment of his special talents as a speaker/organizer, repeated over and over in the investigatory documents amassed on him between 1969 and 1979 (some 17,000 pages of which were released in a FOIA suit in 1986):

Trudell is an intelligent individual and loquent speaker who has the ability to stimulate people into action. TRUDELL is a known hardliner who openly advocates and encourages the use of violence [i.e., armed self-defense] although he himself never becomes involved in the fighting...TRUDELL has the ability to meet with a group of pacifists and in a short time have them yelling and screaming 'right-on!' In short, he is an extremely effective agitator.
Said by Trudell in 1980:

When I go around in America and I see the bulk of the white people, they do not feel oppressed; they feel powerless. When I go amongst my people, we do not feel powerless; we feel oppressed. We do not want to make the trade...we must be willing in our lifetime to deal with reality. It's not revolution; it's liberation. We want to be free of a value system that's being imposed upon us. We do not want to participate in that value system. We don't want change in the value system. We want to remove it from our lives forever...We have to assume our responsibilities as power, as individuals, as spirit, as people...

We are the people. We have the potential for power. We must not fool ourselves. We must not mislead ourselves. It takes more than good intentions. It takes commitment. It takes recognizing that at some point in our lives we are going to have to decide that we have a way of life that we follow, and we are going to have to live that way of life...That is the only solution there is for us.

John Trudell biography