Futurist Annalee Newitz extrapolates predictions from current trends.
What really concerned me was Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said that we don’t want to see one country’s economy doing better than another. What? This is the U.S. Treasury Secretary? We don’t want to see Zimbabwe’s economy do better than the United States? Aren’t we supposed to be about the United States and making sure that our economy can be the greatest in the world. If you look at the G20, what they’re trying to do is bind together the world’s economies. Look how that played out in the European Union when they bound all of those nations economies together and one of the smallest economies, Greece, when they got into trouble, that one little nation is bringing down the entire EU. Well, President Obama is trying to bind the United States into a global economy where all of our nations come together in a global economy. I don’t want the United States to be in a global economy where, where our economic future is bound to that of Zimbabwe. I can’t, we can’t necessarily trust the decisions that are being made financially in other countries.
Um… isn’t a prerequesite of a “greatest economy,” to say nothing of a merely “good economy” or even “functional economy”…trade? With…you know…other countries?
Science Daily explains:
Researchers at Harvard and MIT have reshaped the landscape of programmable matter by devising self-folding sheets that rely on the ancient art of origami.
Called programmable matter by folding, the team demonstrated how a single thin sheet composed of interconnected triangular sections could transform itself into a boat- or plane-shape — all without the help of skilled fingers.
Published in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) during the week of June 28, lead authors Robert Wood, associate professor of electrical engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and Daniela Rus, a professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department at MIT and co-director of the CSAIL Center for Robotics, envision creating “smart” cups that could adjust based upon the amount of liquid needed or even a “Swiss army knife” that could form into tools ranging from wrenches to tripods.
“The process begins when we first create an algorithm for folding,” explains Wood. “Similar to a set of instructions in an origami book, we determine, based upon the desired end shapes, where to crease the sheet.”
The sheet, a thin composite of rigid tiles and elastomer joints, is studded with thin foil actuators (motorized switches) and flexible electronics. The demonstration material contains twenty-five total actuators, divided into five groupings. A shape is produced by triggering the proper actuator groups in sequence.
To initiate the on-demand folding, the team devised a series of stickers, thin materials that contain the circuitry able to prompt the actuators to make the folds. This can be done without a user having to access a computer, reducing “programming” to merely placing the stickers in the appropriate places. When the sheet receives the proper jolt of current, it begins to fold, staying in place thanks to magnetic closures.
“Smart sheets are Origami Robots that will make any shape on demand for their user,” says Rus. “A big achievement was discovering the theoretical foundations and universality of folding and fold planning, which provide the brain and the decision making system for the smart sheet.”
The fancy folding techniques were inspired in part by the work of co-author Erik Dermaine, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and one of the world’s most recognized experts on computational origami.
While the Harvard and MIT engineers only demonstrated two simple shapes, the proof of concept holds promise. The long-term aim is to make programmable matter more robust and practical, leading to materials that can perform multiple tasks, such as an entire dining utensil set derived from one piece of foldable material.
“The Shape-Shifting Sheets demonstrate an end-to-end process that is a first step towards making everyday objects whose mechanical properties can be programmed,” concludes Wood.
Wood and Rus’s co-authors included Elliot Hawkes and Hiroto Tanaka, both at Harvard, and Byoung Kwon An, Nadia Benbernou, Sangbae Kim, and Erik Dermaine, all at MIT.
The authors acknowledge funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
THE human foetus cannot feel pain before the age of 24 weeks, says an expert review that undermines calls to cut the time limit for abortion. Nerve connections in the foetal brain do not form fully enough to allow perception of pain until after the 24-week limit for terminating pregnancies, an expert report commissioned by Britain’s Department of Health concluded.The finding, by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, rebuts claims by anti-abortion activists that legal terminations can inflict pain on foetuses. It will undermine the efforts of MPs in Britain who have tried unsuccessfully to reduce the limit in the last parliament, to force another vote.
Professor Allan Templeton, president of the Royal College, who chaired the inquiry, said: “There’s nothing in the report that suggests any need to review the upper limit.”
The Royal College was asked by the Labour government to review the evidence for foetal pain and awareness after the Commons Science and Technology Committee criticised its last report into the issue, published in 1997, as out of date. The conclusions of a working party of doctors, scientists, midwives and ethicists were peer-reviewed by independent experts.
It found that nerve connections to the cortex, the part of the brain that deals with pain and higher mental functions, do not form properly before 24 weeks. “It can be concluded that the foetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation,” the report said.
Research claimed by anti-abortion campaigners to show that foetuses feel pain was based on evidence from premature babies that did not apply in the womb, Professor Templeton said.
Another finding was that even after 24 weeks, the foetus is naturally sedated and unconscious in the womb. This suggests that even late abortions, which are permitted for serious abnormalities or risks to the mother’s health, are unlikely to result in suffering. The panel also advised that this sedation meant that anaesthetics, which can be risky, are not required when a foetus undergoes surgery.
A second Royal College report, into abortion for foetal abnormalities, advised that it would be impractical to draw up a list of “serious handicaps” for which late abortions can be permitted.
Some campaigners had demanded greater clarity following reports of late abortions for correctable conditions such as cleft palate. Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said the issue of foetal pain had been politicised: “Women and doctors need to be able to make informed decisions based on what science says, not what advocates (whether pro-choice or anti-choice) wish it said.”
Anti-abortion groups said the report did not challenge other arguments for a lower limit. “Performing abortion humanely does not justify the fact that you are terminating a human life,” said Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics.
Via the Raw Story:
The US Supreme Court declined Monday to hear an appeal by the Vatican in a landmark case that opens the way for priests in the United States to stand trial for pedophilia. Allowing a federal appeals court ruling to stand, the decision means Vatican officials including theoretically Pope Benedict XVI could face questioning under oath related to a litany of child sex abuse cases.
The Supreme Court effectively confirmed the decision of an appellate court to lift the Vatican’s immunity in the case of an alleged pedophile priest in the northwestern state of Oregon. The Oregon case, which was filed in 2002, does not directly address questions raised in a separate lawsuit in Kentucky alleging that US bishops are employees of the Holy See.
In recent months, large-scale pedophilia scandals have rocked the Roman Catholic Church in a number of countries, including Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Pope Benedict XVI’s native Germany and the United States. Senior clerics have been accused of protecting the priests involved by moving them to other parishes — where they sometimes offended again — instead of handing them over to civil authorities for prosecution. The pope, who has himself faced allegations he covered up the scandal, has repeatedly said priests and religious workers guilty of child abuse should answer for their crimes in courts of law [ if and only if they are legally culpable in the localities in which abuse actually occurred.]
There’s been much said about the religious imbalance on the court when compared to the religious (and irreligious) makeup of the country. With Stevens’ impending retirement and Elena Kagan’s imminent confirmation, the Court will have no Protestants, but will be comprised of six Roman Catholics and three Jews. In the general population, 53 percent of all Americans are Protestants in some capacity, 22 percent are Catholic, 17 percent are unaffiliated with any religious tradition, and about 2 percent are Jewish.
However, it is comforting to see the Catholic bias of the court does not affect its ability to impartially decide on matters pertaining to the Roman church. Also, it is, of course, comforting to see it is not a legal impossibility that culpability might be poured onto the heads of the Vatican. I don’t foresee it ever happening; but I’ve been wrong before, and will be again.
Filed under: Catholic Church abuse and coverup, child abuse, international, judicial ruling, religion, religion: Judaism, religion: mainline Protestantism, religion: Roman Catholicism, Sexual Violence | Leave a Comment »
Via the NY Times. The Democratic Senator had represented West Virginia since 1959, marking the longest tenure to date of service in the higher chamber. Between 1952 and 1957, he also served in the House.
However, he’s been something of an embarrassment to non-Virginian Democrats and the Democratically inclined. Byrd started his political career in 1942 as a recruiter for the Klu Klux Klan. At some point between 1946 and 1947, he would write a Grand Wizard, saying
The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia and in every state in the nation.
Decades after the Civil Rights era, Byrd would disown the Klan and publically apologize for his associations. In recent years, he has been given 100 percent scores for his voting record by the NAACP and other African American lobbies. Not knowing Byrd’s heart, I can’t say whether this was resultant of a genuine turn-around or overcompensation for a lingering, secret, and politically inconvenient bigotry.
In any case, the era in which a former KKK Grand Cyclopes can be reelected to the United States Senate for five decades has passed. No matter what Byrd died believing, I count that as progress.
Sharon Angle, who is running against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), belonged to a far-right political party in the 1990′s which published a newspaper insert which repeatedly referred to homosexuals as “sodomites.” And that’s not the worst of it. Via TPM:
The far-right third party that Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle called home in the 1990s supported abolishing “the debt money system” and ran a vitriolic anti-gay insert in state newspapers that portrays LGBT people — or, as Angle’s party called them, “sodomites” — as child-molesting, HIV-carrying, Hell-bound freaks, according to documents obtained by TPM. As we reported earlier this month, Angle was a member of Nevada’s Independent American Party, a Christian conservative-cum-libertarian third party, for at least six years while she was getting her feet wet in politics in the 1990s. Independent American Party members told us that Angle switched to be a Republican in 1997 out of political expediency as she was preparing to make a run for state-level office.[snip]
In 1994, the party attracted considerable controversy by placing a 16-page advertising insert in Nevada newspapers promoting an amendment to the state constitution that would explicitly permit discrimination against LGBT people by businesses and government. Janine Hansen, the current executive director of the party and the editor of the ’94 insert, told TPM earlier this month that “in general [Angle] agreed with our position on the issues.” The ad insert, which approvingly cites an 1814 legal treatise titled “Consequences of Sodomy: Ruin of a Nation,” is a digest of articles that refer to LGBT people alternately as “homosexuals,” “sodomites,” and “brazen perverts.” The insert includes virtually every homophobic myth ever conceived. Sample headlines include: “Homosexual Curriculum In The First Grade” … “Flawed Science Nurtures Genetic Origin For Homosexuality” … “No Constitutional Right To Be A Sodomite.”
The ad insert, which approvingly cites an 1814 legal treatise titled “Consequences of Sodomy: Ruin of a Nation,” is a digest of articles that refer to LGBT people alternately as “homosexuals,” “sodomites,” and “brazen perverts.” The insert includes virtually every homophobic myth ever conceived.
Sample headlines include: “Homosexual Curriculum In The First Grade” … “Flawed Science Nurtures Genetic Origin For Homosexuality” … “No Constitutional Right To Be A Sodomite.” Here’s a passage from an item headlined “True Homosexual Character Revealed”:
Homosexuals argue that they are a peaceful and gay people. Yet … Dr. Paul Cameron of the Family Research Report writes “the top six U.S. male killers were all homosexuals.”
Probably the coup de grace of the insert is the article “Can the HIV Virus Survive in Water?”. Writer Lorraine Day, M.D., concluded that yes, the virus can survive in the water. Citing medical journal articles, she raised the specter of HIV infection through public pools, hot tubs, and municipal water supplies.
Independent American Party supporters could buy “Homophobia – No | Homonausea – Yes” bumper stickers for the special low price of $1.