Re: Our Generation Ships Will Sink

[Note: This comment comes from friend Steve Schear.  DLH]

Subject: Re: [Dewayne-Net] Our Generation Ships Will Sink
Date: Sat, 21 Nov 2015 07:31:50 +0000
From: Steven Schear <>


I think the article minimizes the economic and physics challenges. I suggest reading M.G. Mills’ (Tau Zero Foundation) Energy, incessant obsolescence, and the first interstellar missions

Projections for the earliest interstellar mission possibilities are calculated based on 27 years of data on historic energy trends, societal priorities, required mission energy, and the implications of the Incessant Obsolescence Postulate (Where newer probes pass prior probes). Two sample missions are considered: launching a minimal colony ship where destination is irrelevant, and sending a minimal probe to Alpha Centauri with a 75 year mission duration. The colony ship is assumed to have a mass of 10^7 kg, and the probe 10^4 kg. It is found that the earliest interstellar missions could not begin for roughly another 2 centuries, or 1 century at best. Even when considering only the kinetic energy of the vehicles without any regard for propellant, the colony ship cannot launch until around the year 2200, and the probe cannot launch until around 2500. Examination of the Incessant Obsolesce Postulate shows that it becomes irrelevant under several conditions.


Antibiotic resistance: World on cusp of ‘post-antibiotic era’

[Note:  This item comes from reader Randall Head.  DLH]

Antibiotic resistance: World on cusp of ‘post-antibiotic era’
The world is on the cusp of a “post-antibiotic era”, scientists have warned after finding bacteria resistant to drugs used when all other treatments have failed.
By James Gallagher, Health editor, BBC News website
Nov 19 2015

They identified bacteria able to shrug off the drug of last resort – colistin – in patients and livestock in China.

They said that resistance would spread around the world and raised the spectre of untreatable infections.

It is likely resistance emerged after colistin was overused in farm animals.

Bacteria becoming completely resistant to treatment – also known as the antibiotic apocalypse – could plunge medicine back into the dark ages.

Common infections would kill once again, while surgery and cancer therapies, which are reliant on antibiotics, would be under threat.

Key players

Chinese scientists identified a new mutation, dubbed the MCR-1 gene, that prevented colistin from killing bacteria.

The report in the Lancet Infectious Diseases showed resistance in a fifth of animals tested, 15% of raw meat samples and in 16 patients.

And the resistance had spread between a range of bacterial strains and species, including E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

There is also evidence that it has spread to Laos and Malaysia.

Prof Timothy Walsh, who collaborated on the study, from the University of Cardiff, told the BBC News website: “All the key players are now in place to make the post-antibiotic world a reality.

“If MCR-1 becomes global, which is a case of when not if, and the gene aligns itself with other antibiotic resistance genes, which is inevitable, then we will have very likely reached the start of the post-antibiotic era.

“At that point if a patient is seriously ill, say with E. coli, then there is virtually nothing you can do.”


Two Clintons. 41 Years. $3 Billion.

Two Clintons. 41 Years. $3 Billion.
A Washington Post investigation reveals how Bill and Hillary Clinton have methodically cultivated donors over 40 years, from Little Rock to Washington and then across the globe. Their fundraising methods have created a new blueprint for politicians and their donors.
By Matea Gold, Tom Hamburger and Anu Narayanswamy
Nov 19 2015

LITTLE ROCK — Over four decades of public life, Bill and Hillary Clinton have built an unrivaled global network of donors while pioneering fundraising techniques that have transformed modern politics and paved the way for them to potentially become the first husband and wife to win the White House.

The grand total raised for all of their political campaigns and their family’s charitable foundation reaches at least $3 billion, according to a Washington Post investigation.

Their fundraising haul, which began with $178,000 that Bill Clinton raised for his long-shot 1974 congressional bid, is on track to expand substantially with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 White House run, which has already drawn $110 million in support.

The Post identified donations from roughly 336,000 individuals, corporations, unions and foreign governments in support of their political or philanthropic endeavors — a list that includes top patrons such as Steven Spielberg and George Soros, as well as lesser-known backers who have given smaller amounts dozens of times. Not included in the count are an untold number of small donors whose names are not identified in campaign finance reports but together have given millions to the Clintons over the years.

The majority of the money — $2 billion — has gone to the Clinton Foundation, one of the world’s fastest-growing charities, which supports health, education and economic development initiatives around the globe. A handful of elite givers have contributed more than $25 million to the foundation, including Canadian mining magnate Frank Giustra, who is among the wealthy foreign donors who have given tens of millions.

Separately, donors have given $1 billion to support the Clintons’ political races and legal defense fund, making capped contributions to their campaigns and writing six-figure checks to the Democratic National Committee and allied super PACs.

The Post investigation found that many top Clinton patrons supported them in multiple ways, helping finance their political causes, their legal needs, their philanthropy and their personal bank accounts. In some cases, companies connected to their donors hired the Clintons as paid speakers, helping them collect more than $150 million on the lecture circuit in the past 15 years.

The couple’s biggest individual political benefactors are Univision chairman Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl, who have made 39 contributions totaling $2.4 million to support the Clintons’ races since 1992. The Sabans have also donated at least $10 million to the foundation.

The Clintons kept big contributors in their orbit for decades by methodically wooing competing interest groups — toggling between their liberal base and powerful constituencies, according to donors, friends and aides who have known the couple since their Arkansas days.

They made historic inroads on Wall Street, pulling in at least $69 million in political contributions from the employees and PACs of banks, insurance companies, and securities and investment firms. Wealthy hedge fund managers S. Donald Sussman and David E. Shaw are among their top campaign supporters, having given more than $1 million each.

The Clintons’ ties to the financial sector strained their bonds with the left, particularly organized labor. But unions repeatedly shook off their disappointment, giving at least $21 million to support their races. The public employees union AFSCME has been their top labor backer, giving nearly $1.7 million for their campaigns.

The Clintons’ fundraising operation — $3 billion amassed by one couple, working in tandem for more than four decades — has no equal.

By comparison, three generations of the Bush family, America’s other contemporaneous political dynasty, have raised about $2.4 billion for their state and federal campaigns and half a dozen charitable foundations, according to a Post tally of their fundraising from 1988 through 2015 — even though the family has collectively held the presidency longer than the Clintons.

The Clintons have raised $3 billion in support of their political and philanthropic efforts over four decades. Nearly all the funds went to support six federal campaigns and their family foundation.

NOTE: Bill Clinton’s totals include donations to the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s totals include donations to allied PACs.


Federal privacy law lags far behind personal-health technologies

Federal privacy law lags far behind personal-health technologies
By Charles Ornstein, Pro Publica
Nov 17 2015

Jacqueline Stokes discovered the limitations of the federal health-privacy law after her curiosity prompted her to try out an over-the-counter paternity test. (William Widmer for The Washington Post)
Jacqueline Stokes spotted the home paternity test at her local drugstore in Florida and knew she had to try it. She had no doubts about the paternity of her daughter, but as someone with an interest in genetics, she couldn’t resist.

At home, she carefully followed the instructions, swabbing inside the mouths of her husband and their child, placing the samples in the pouch provided and mailing them to a lab. A few days later, the cybersecurity consultant went online to get the results. Part of the lab’s Web site address caught her attention, and her professional instincts kicked in. By tweaking the URL slightly, a sprawling directory appeared that gave her access to the test results of 6,000 people.

The site was taken down after Stokes complained on Twitter. But when she contacted the Department of Health and Human Services about the seemingly obvious violation of patient privacy, she got a surprising response: Officials couldn’t do anything about the breach.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a landmark 1996 patient-privacy law, only covers patient information kept by health providers, insurers and data clearinghouses, as well as their business partners. At-home paternity tests fall outside the law’s purview. For that matter, so do wearables like Fitbit that measure steps and sleep, gene testing companies like 23andMe, and online repositories where individuals can store their health records.

In several instances, the privacy of people using these newer services has been jeopardized, causing embarrassment or legal repercussions.

In 2011, for instance, an Australian company didn’t properly secure details of hundreds of paternity and drug tests, making them accessible through a Google search. The company said that it quickly fixed the problem.

That same year, some users of the Fitbit tracker found that data they entered in their online profiles about their sexual activity and its intensity — to help calculate calories burned — was accessible to anyone because the company’s default setting made profiles public. Saying it took all users’ privacy “very seriously,” Fitbit quickly hid the information.

And last year, a publicly accessible genealogy database was used by police to look for possible suspects in a 1996 Idaho murder. After finding a “very good match” with the DNA of semen found at the crime scene, police obtained a search warrant to get the person’s name. Another warrant ordered his son to provide a DNA sample, which cleared the younger man of involvement.

The incident spooked genealogy aficionados; AncestryDNA, which ran the online database, pulled it this spring. “It has come to our attention that the site has been used for purposes other than that which it was intended, forcing us to cease operations,” a statement on the site noted.

“When you publicly make available your genetic information, you essentially are signing a waiver to your past and future medical records,” said Erin Murphy, a professor at New York University School of Law.


Why it’s hard to draw a line between Snowden and the Paris attacks

Why it’s hard to draw a line between Snowden and the Paris attacks
By Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller
Nov 19 2015

In a pair of public appearances this week, CIA Director John O. Brennan made clear that he blames leaks by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden for enabling terrorists to evade detection.

“Because of a number of unauthorized disclosures, and a lot of hand-wringing over the government’s role in the effort to try to uncover these terrorists,” Brennan said, the CIA and other agencies have lost the use of critical tools needed “to find these terrorists.”

Brennan’s assertion has become a refrain in the two years since Snowden exposed details about a range of U.S. surveillance programs. And former CIA director R. James Woolsey went further, saying on Sunday, “I think Snowden has blood on his hands from these killings in France.”

But drawing a line from Snowden to the Paris tragedy is problematic, according to some analysts, because even two years after the leaks it is difficult to discern the extent to which they prompted terrorist networks to change the way they communicate.

The revelations that were the source of greatest controversy involved programs that would probably have been of little value in disrupting the Paris plot, experts said. The National Security Agency’s collection of data about the times and durations of billions of domestic phone calls was not designed to pick up calls entirely outside the United States.

A second program that relied heavily on cooperation from companies including AOL, Microsoft and Google was aimed at intercepting e-mail and phone calls between foreign operatives and individuals in the United States. Nothing has changed since that revelation to restrict the NSA’s ability to sweep up communications exclusively among foreigners, as was apparently the case for the plot in France.

Other subsequent disclosures undoubtedly gave adversaries, including terrorist groups, a deeper understanding of the scale of U.S. surveillance capabilities, as well as specific programs that enabled, for example, the NSA and its counterpart in Britain to tap into Google and Yahoo data centers overseas.

But to conclude that those revelations caused enough damage to make the United States and its allies, including France, substantially more vulnerable assumes that terrorist cells would not otherwise have taken precautions that to some seem inevitable, some analysts said.

“Aspiring terrorists already knew the U.S. government was doing everything it could to track and monitor their communications,” said Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “What Snowden disclosed was the astonishing extent to which the government’s surveillance power had been turned on ordinary citizens. The CIA director knows this. He’d just rather we talk about Snowden’s disclosures than about the intelligence community’s failures.”

But others say the tremendous publicity surrounding Snowden’s disclosures probably prompted militants to take even greater precautions in their communications than they already were.

“I think you can recognize that the leaks did damage to the United States’ ability to monitor some of their communications, while also acknowledging that the jihadists were pretty security-conscious anyway,” said William McCants, a Brookings Institution terrorism expert and author of “The ISIS Apocalypse.”

Investigators are still piecing together details on how the Paris plotters communicated with one another, including whether they were in touch with senior Islamic State operatives in Syria in the days or weeks leading up to the attacks. Paris prosecutor François Molins said that one of the suspects’ cellphones was retrieved and that it contained an unencrypted text message related to the attack.

U.S. officials have not established whether those involved in the plot also used encrypted communications tools. Any attempt by the plotters to communicate with handlers in Syria would have raised the risk of exposure significantly, officials said, because of the surveillance assets that the United States and its allies have mobilized against the Islamic State.


What’s really at stake at the Paris climate conference now marches are banned

What’s really at stake at the Paris climate conference now marches are banned
By banning protest at COP21, Hollande is silencing those facing the worst impacts of climate change and its monstrous violence
By Naomi Klein
Nov 20 2015

Whose security gets protected by any means necessary? Whose security is casually sacrificed, despite the means to do so much better? Those are the questions at the heart of the climate crisis, and the answers are the reason climate summits so often end in acrimony and tears.

The French government’s decision to ban protests, marches and other “outdoor activities” during the Paris climate summit is disturbing on many levels. The one that preoccupies me most has to do with the way it reflects the fundamental inequity of the climate crisis itself – and that core question of whose security is ultimately valued in our lopsided world.

Here is the first thing to understand. The people facing the worst impacts of climate change have virtually no voice in western debates about whether to do anything serious to prevent catastrophic global warming. Huge climate summits like the one coming up in Paris are rare exceptions. For just two weeks every few years, the voices of the people who are getting hit first and worst get a little bit of space to be heard at the place where fateful decisions are made. That’s why Pacific islanders and Inuit hunters and low-income people of colour from places like New Orleans travel for thousands of miles to attend. The expense is enormous, in both dollars and carbon, but being at the summit is a precious chance to speak about climate change in moral terms and to put a human face to this unfolding catastrophe.

The next thing to understand is that even in these rare moments, frontline voices do not have enough of a platform in the official climate meetings, in which the microphone is dominated by governments and large, well-funded green groups. The voices of ordinary people are primarily heard in grassroots gatherings parallel to the summit, as well as in marches and protests, which in turn attract media coverage. Now the French government has decided to take away the loudest of these megaphones, claiming that securing marches would compromise its ability to secure the official summit zone where politicians will meet.

Some say this is all fair game against the backdrop of terror. But a UN climate summit is not like a meeting of the G8 or the World Trade Organisation, where the powerful meet and the powerless try to crash their party. Parallel “civil society” events are not an addendum to, or distractions from, the main event. They are integral to the process. Which is why the French government should never have been allowed to decide which parts of the summit it would cancel and which it would still hold.

Rather, after the horrific attacks of 13 November, it needed to determine whether it had the will and capacity to host the whole summit – with full participation from civil society, including in the streets. If it could not, it should have delayed and asked another country to step in. Instead the Hollande government has made a series of decisions that reflect a very particular set of values and priorities about who and what will get the full security protection of the state. Yes to world leaders, football matches and Christmas markets; no to climate marches and protests pointing out that the negotiations, with the current level of emission targets, endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions if not billions of people.


EU plans crackdown on Bitcoin and other anonymous online payment methods after Paris

EU plans crackdown on Bitcoin and other anonymous online payment methods after Paris
By John Bensalhia
Nov 19 2015

A week after the attacks in Paris, home affairs ministers from European Union countries are due to gather in Brussels on Friday 20th November for a crisis meeting to discuss methods of strengthening the region’s response to terrorism.

One crucial item on the agenda is a planned crackdown on virtual currencies and anonymous payments made online and through pre-paid cards.

According to draft conclusions of the meeting, European interior and justice ministers will urge the European Commission (the EU executive arm) to propose measures to strengthen the controls of non-banking payment methods. These include electronic/anonymous payments, virtual currencies and the transfers of gold and precious metals by pre-paid cards.

The most common virtual currency, Bitcoin, is used as an online method of making money anonymously and quickly around the world without the need for third-party verification. In addition, anonymous electronic payments can be made via pre-paid debit cards bought as gift cards in stores.

Tomorrow’s meeting will also concentrate on the Europe-wide database of online passengers, firearms security and the reinforcement of controls at external borders. Draft documents have also said that the ministers also plan “to curb more effectively the illicit trade in cultural goods.”

The plans for the meeting were issued in an official declaration by the European Commission. In the statement issued by Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg’s internal security minister and deputy prime minister, French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve and European commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, the following comment was declared: “The barbaric attacks of 13 November 2015 are an attack against Europe as a whole. Europe has an historic responsibility to defend its fundamental values and not to succumb to terror. Europe remains united in solidarity against violence and hatred.”