TBR News February 21, 2020

Feb 21 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. February 21, 2020:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for February 21: “It is instructive to note subject which are being carefully buried by the American media or deliberately hyped to draw public attention away from unpleasant truths. Among the latter is the enormous motgage swindle known as MERS which coveres the fact that many millions of American mortgage holders can never own their homes or that overpopulation bids fair to wreck living on the planet or that it is highly probable that a new ice age is coming upon us. It is fairly evident that the Russians support the bizarre behavior of Donald Trump because the results are very beneficial to them but this subject, like others, is glossed over, concealed and laughingly rejected. But if you stop up the spout of a boiling tea kettle, the lid always blows off.”

The Table of Contents
US intelligence warned House members Russia is working to get Trump re-elected – reports
• Trump and Russian Political Support: Facts, not Fictions
• The FBI Is Investigating Erik Prince for Trying to Weaponize Crop Dusters
• The Grand Canyon Lunacy
• 2020 World Population by Country
• Behavioral sink
• A New Study of Modern Bigotry
• US military intelligence unit unveils ‘Atlas’ humanoid robot test bed
• The Season of Evil
• The Encyclopedia of American Loons

US intelligence warned House members Russia is working to get Trump re-elected – reports
Briefing to members of Congress is said to have led to abrupt removal of acting director of national intelligence
February 20, 2020
by Julian Borger in Washington
The Guardian
US intelligence officials are reported to have warned members of Congress last week that Russia was trying to interfere in the 2020 election campaign in favour of Donald Trump, in a briefing that led to the abrupt removal of the acting director of national intelligence.
When Trump heard about the briefing, he railed at the acting DNI, Joseph Maguire, in the Oval Office, over what the president saw as disloyalty, the Washington Post reported. Until then, Maguire had been a leading candidate to become permanent DNI and is understood to have told colleagues he expected to stay on in the position.
But in the wake of the briefing and Oval Office confrontation, Trump announced the appointment of a hardline loyalist, the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, in an acting capacity, which does not require Senate confirmation.
According to the New York Times, the briefing last Thursday to the House intelligence committee was delivered by an aide to Maguire, Shelby Pierson, described as having “a reputation for delivering intelligence in somewhat blunt terms”.
The Washington Post reported that Trump had been under the false impression that the briefing had been provided exclusively to the House intelligence committee chair, Adam Schiff, who had acted as chief prosecutor in the president’s impeachment trial. Trump is said to have become convinced that the briefing would be used against him in the election.
Unlike Maguire, a retired vice-admiral who ran the National Counterterrorism Center, Grenell has no intelligence experience (he was a spokesman for the US mission at the UN before being named ambassador) and is an outspoken partisan, particularly on social media.
“So the Grenell appointment is exactly what it looks like – a bid to politicize intelligence and hide information from Congress in an election year where Russia is again helping Trump,” said Matthew Miller, a former justice department spokesman, in a tweet.
According to the New York Times account, last week’s briefing was contentious, with Trump’s allies on the intelligence committee challenging the conclusions, arguing that the administration had been tough on Russia.
As Grenell was confirmed in his ambassadorial job, the president has the authority to install him as acting DNI under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, but under the same act, he can only serve until 11 March, unless the president formally nominates a candidate for the permanent position. If a nomination is being reviewed by the Senate, the acting director could stay in the post for a few more months during the confirmation process.
Grenell said on Twitter that “the president will announce the nominee (not me) sometime soon”.

Trump and Russian Political Support: Facts, not Fictions

• Trump was heavily involved with the Deutsche Bank’s laundering of Russian drug money through various “hotel and real estate” fronts
• Because of this Russian intelligence had a handle on him and has blackmailed him into cooperating with their programs
• President Trump was jobbed into his office with the full cooperation of Russian intelligence.
• They own Wikileaks entirely and released the damning, and authentic, “Podesta papers” concurrent with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. This did damage to her campaign and was a major contributory factor to her narrow defeat and Trump’s election.
• Trump is not an honest man by any stretch of imagination.
• Trump has constantly engaged in bribing and manipulations and does this through second parties such as Cohen his former lawyer or Manafort, his campaign manager during the election.
• Trump and his entourage have made a number of trips to Russia (I have a listing of all of these along with Russian personages he was in contact with), seeking financing and permission to build luxury hotels in that country
• Trump’s actions, as President, are deliberate efforts to alienate both the putative allies of the US such as Germany, France, Canada and, to a lesser degree, Mexico.
• Trump has deliberately launched pointless, and destructive, attacks against blacks, Mexican and Muslim immigrants, as well as Canadian, Chinese and German imports. All this has done is to create a highly negative image of his persona primarily and secondarily, the global image of the United States.
• Trump’s tariffs, and threats of tariffs, have engendered counter-tariffs that will, when implemented, create serious economic problems for American businessmen and, eventually, the public.
• Trump’s foolish support of the Israeli far right has done, and is doing, serious damage to the US image in the Middle East. It should be noted that Russian influence in the Shiite areas of the Middle East, is growing. Also note that Iran, and parts of Iraq, both Shiite, have extensive oil reserves and that Saudi Arabia, a Sunni state, once America’s primary source of badly-need oil, is running dry.
• Ergo, the Middle East areas where Russia is having growing influence have oil and if Russia sets itself up as major oil merchandizing source, this will give them tremendous economic leverage vis a vis the United States which is the world’s largest consumer of oil and its by products.
• By alienating America’s allies and disrupting that country’s social structure, Trump benefits only Russia and its interests.
• The concept of Trump taking bribes from the Russians (or the PRC) is completely understandable if one applies the concept of Occam’s Razor to the tumult and disruption he is deliberately causing both domestically and in foreign areas.
• If he is caught at this, and I understand the FBI was deeply interested in his Russian connections long before he ran for President, either we will have to deal with another Dallas or Trump will suffer a fatal heart attack.Vice-President Pence, a Christian fanatic, would then have to be told to mind his manners or suffer similar terminal problems.
• Trump is aware of the FBI investigation, aware of what they can find, and probably have already uncovered, so he fired the head of the FBI and even now, according to a very reliable source, is determined to replace the FBI with the cooperative CIA (their former head, Pompeo, is now Secretary of State) as the sole foreign and domestic intelligence agency. He, and his handlers, want to nip any FBI revelations in the bud so that Trump can continue on his course of castrating the United States as a global power.
• It is quite evident that Trump is unbalanced to a dangerous degree and that even his senior staff view him as both dangerous and totally unpredictable. The problem that arises from the strong and growing opposition to Trump is the polarization of the voter base in the United States and if it becomes a wide-spread belief that the president of the US is an agent, willing or unwilling of a foreign power, it would be the worst political scandal in American history

The FBI Is Investigating Erik Prince for Trying to Weaponize Crop Dusters
February 20 2020
by Matthew Cole
The Intercept
Last May, shortly after Congress accused Erik Prince of lying under oath and referred criminal charges to the Justice Department, an associate approached the Blackwater founder to offer help and commiserate about Prince’s potential legal jeopardy.
Prince, who once moved to the United Arab Emirates to avoid being caught up in a federal prosecution, immediately dismissed the associate’s concerns. He was untouchable, he bragged, and would face no legal troubles.
“Not under this guy,” Prince said referring to President Donald Trump, according to a person with direct knowledge of the exchange.
hat assumption is about to be tested.
Prince, an heir to a billion-dollar fortune who is widely viewed as a shadow adviser to the president, is under federal investigation for his 2015 attempt to modify two American-made crop-dusting planes into attack aircraft — a violation of arms trafficking regulations — two people familiar with the investigation told The Intercept. The planes became part of private military services Prince proposed to sell or use in mercenary operations in Africa and Azerbaijan, as The Intercept has previously reported.
The investigation into the modified crop dusters is one of several ongoing probes targeting Prince. Another focuses on the allegations that he lied to Congress during the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 presidential election interference; a third concerns a 2017 armed aviation proposal to the UAE, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The investigation of Prince coincides with heightened scrutiny of Attorney General William Barr, who has been heavily criticized for intervening in two other prominent criminal cases involving friends and associates of Trump. The Prince investigations, and decisions about whether or not to charge him, are perhaps the most politically charged of all.
That Prince’s efforts to arm and sell the two American-made crop dusters are part of the FBI’s investigation into his activities has not been previously reported.
The FBI did not respond to a request for comment. A lawyer for Prince also did not respond to a request for comment.
Prince’s connections to Trump reflect the netherworld of deniability in which he operates: He has no official role with the White House or Trump campaign, but appears to benefit from the association. Prince donated $250,000 to help elect the president and worked to help his campaign dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton, according to the Mueller report. Prince also worked closely with Steve Bannon, then Trump’s campaign manager, trying to shape Trump’s foreign policy and national security positions throughout the campaign.
After the election, Trump appointed Betsy DeVos, Prince’s sister, as his secretary of education. Prince then met with a Russian banker in the Seychelles in an apparent effort to establish a backchannel between the incoming Trump administration and the Russian government, according to the Mueller report. That meeting later became the focus of Prince’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. The Mueller report described details of the meeting that appeared to contradict Prince’s sworn testimony and triggered the committee’s criminal referral to the Justice Department.
Prince has also visited the White House several times to pitch privatizing wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, as well as how to confront Iran, according to two people familiar with Prince’s efforts.
Barr, the nation’s top law enforcement official, has faced extensive criticism for his efforts to oversee cases involving Trump’s advisers and associates. Last week, after career prosecutors requested seven to nine years in prison for Roger Stone, a longtime Trump associate, Trump tweeted his disgust, calling the sentence “a miscarriage of justice.” Stone was convicted of seven felony counts of lying, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering related to a congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election; the sentence prosecutors had requested was in line with federal guidelines.
A few hours later, Barr overruled his line prosecutors, seeking a lesser prison sentence for Stone. The move led the four career federal lawyers handling the Stone case to quit the prosecution, and one of them resigned from the Justice Department altogether. More than 2,400 former Justice Department employees have since called for Barr’s resignation.
On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced Stone to three years and four months in prison.

The Grand Canyon Lunacy
February 21, 2020
by Benjamin Dova
The great majority of Pentecostal Christians believe that the world is only 6,000 years old; was created, literally, in six days; that dinosaurs and men occupied the earth at the same time; that all species originated within the six-day period.
Paleontology is considered a sacrilegious invention of what Pentecostals call Secular Humanists and the dinosaur and fossil remains on display in major museums around the world are only plastic fabrications made up by a firm in Los Angeles (Skullduggery) by other Secular Humanists.
President Donald Trump is a firm believer in what is called Creationism and supports it completely.
Pentecostals have been attempting for years to remove the teachings of Darwin, and geneticist Gregor Mendel, from all public schools and force their replacement by Creationism.
Although Darwin’s theories have minor flaws, nevertheless, they are paragons of commonsense compared with the religious beliefs of the Pentecostals, most of whom believe in such entertaining and novel fictions as ‘Rapture’ or the physical elevation to what Pentecostals believe is Heaven, the great flood of Noah which deposited his ark on Mt. Ararat at 5000 feet (but cannot explain where all the water disappeared to), the second coming of Jesus Christ and the subsequent destruction of any and all global occupants who are not Pentecostals.
The following discussion represents the views of the Pentecostals about objections to one of their “early earth” legends as portrayed in a book by one of their number that claims, among other strange things, that the famous Grand Canyon was caused by Noah’s Flood! This weird conglomeration of various beliefs was added to the science section of a Federally controlled book store at the Canyon, certainly with support from “faith based” elements in Washington.
The second part of this study is a response by a legitimate scientist with an analysis of the background of the book’s producer.
This book was produced by a Pentecostal group calling itself the “Institute for Creation Research” which has the following article on its website. Unfortunately for those who enjoy such things, the ICR has forbidden any copying of their publications so the following article is only quoted briefly.
Reviewing a published work and including a number of quotes is entirely legal but considering the amount of noise Pentecostals make in forcing their unsupportable theses on everyone in sight, it is strange that they do not want their opinions better broadcast. Or perhaps they are dimly aware that their extreme and eccentric views are very often held in amused contempt by the more rational of the reading public.
This subject and the websites that support it are so entertaining that we plan to make it a regular feature of tbrnews.
This will replace the usual Humor page in the future.
In an article appearing on the ICR (Institute for Creation Research, “A Christ-Focused Creation Ministry”) website, Bill Hoesch who holds an ICR MS in Geology, comments on a new Pentecostal book, also published by the ICR, entitled Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail. The review is entitled A Clash of Worldviews and begins:
“Naturalistic science makes certain truth claims about earth history. Holy Scripture also makes truth claims about earth history. At times they clash in a way that is highly visible. A case in point is the paroxysm of outrage over the book, Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail.”
The work in question consists of brief studies from 23 Christian scientists (an oxymoronic statement if there ever was one) who present their views on the origin of the rocks and the gorge of the Grand Canyon. Many of these studies question, based entirely on their own brand of science, the “validity of ‘isotopically-derived ages” currently credited to Grand Canyon geological formations. Some studies claim that the canyon was formed by a “global flood” a la Noah and other views argue for “a recent and sudden formation of the canyon itself.” All of these studies are openly expressed creationist beliefs about the geological history of the earth.
Mr. Hoesch comments on the fact that a number of prominent scientific organizations have protested the inclusion of this book in the Grand Canyon book shop and especially its placement in the science area. A Washington, DC non-profit group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility have stated that this book is part of a Presidential program to make the National Park System faith based.

2020 World Population by Country
World Population Review
The current US Census Bureau world population estimate in June 2019 shows that the current global population is 7,577,130,400 people on earth, which far exceeds the world population of 7.2 billion from 2015. Our own estimate based on UN data shows the world’s population surpassing 7.7 billion.
China is the most populous country in the world with a population exceeding 1.4 billion. It is one of just two countries with a population of more than 1 billion, with India being the second. As of 2018, India has a population of over 1.355 billion people, and its population growth is expected to continue through at least 2050. By the year 2030, the country of India is expected to become the most populous country in the world. This is because India’s population will grow, while China is projected to see a loss in population.
The next 11 countries that are the most populous in the world each have populations exceeding 100 million. These include the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia, Mexico, Japan, Ethiopia, and the Philippines. Of these nations, all are expected to continue to grow except Russia and Japan, which will see their populations drop by 2030 before falling again significantly by 2050.
Many other nations have populations of at least one million, while there are also countries that have just thousands. The smallest population in the world can be found in Vatican City, where only 801 people reside.
In 2018, the world’s population growth rate was 1.12%. Every five years since the 1970s, the population growth rate has continued to fall. The world’s population is expected to continue to grow larger but at a much slower pace. By 2030, the population will exceed 8 billion. In 2040, this number will grow to more than 9 billion. In 2055, the number will rise to over 10 billion, and another billion people won’t be added until near the end of the century. The current annual population growth estimates from the United Nations are in the millions – estimating that over 80 million new lives are added each year.
This population growth will be significantly impacted by nine specific countries which are situated to contribute to the population growth more quickly than other nations. These nations include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the United States of America. Particularly of interest, India is on track to overtake China’s position as the most populous country by the year 2030. Additionally, multiple nations within Africa are expected to double their populations before fertility rates begin to slow entirely.
Global life expectancy has also improved in recent years, increasing the overall population life expectancy at birth to just over 70 years of age. The projected global life expectancy is only expected to continue to improve – reaching nearly 77 years of age by the year 2050. Significant factors impacting the data on life expectancy include the projections of the ability to reduce AIDS/HIV impact, as well as reducing the rates of infectious and non-communicable diseases.
Population aging has a massive impact on the ability of the population to maintain what is called a support ratio. One key finding from 2017 is that the majority of the world is going to face considerable growth in the 60 plus age bracket. This will put enormous strain on the younger age groups as the elderly population is becoming so vast without the number of births to maintain a healthy support ratio.
Although the number given above seems very precise, it is important to remember that it is just an estimate. It simply isn’t possible to be sure exactly how many people there are on the earth at any one time, and there are conflicting estimates of the global population in 2016.
Some, including the UN, believe that a population of 7 billion was reached in October 2011. Others, including the US Census Bureau and World Bank, believe that the total population of the world reached 7 billion in 2012, around March or April.
World Population Clock
World Population (as of 2/21/2020)
Last UN Estimate (July 1, 2020)
Births Per Day
Deaths Per Day
Net Change Per Day
Population Change Since January 1st
Net Increase of 1 person every 0.39 seconds

Behavioral sink
Behavioral sink” is a term invented by ethologist John B. Calhoun to describe a collapse in behavior which can result from overcrowding. The term and concept derive from a series of over-population experiments Calhoun conducted on Norway rats between 1958 and 1962. In the experiments, Calhoun and his researchers created a series of “rat utopias” – enclosed spaces in which rats were given unlimited access to food and water, enabling unfettered population growth. Calhoun coined the term “behavioral sink” in his February 1, 1962 report in an article titled “Population Density and Social Pathology” in Scientific American on the rat experiment He would later perform similar experiments on mice, from 1968 to 1972.
Calhoun’s work became used as an animal model of societal collapse, and his study has become a touchstone of urban sociology and psychology in general.
In the 1962 study, Calhoun described the behavior as follows:
Many [female rats] were unable to carry pregnancy to full term or to survive delivery of their litters if they did. An even greater number, after successfully giving birth, fell short in their maternal functions. Among the males the behavior disturbances ranged from sexual deviation to cannibalism and from frenetic overactivity to a pathological withdrawal from which individuals would emerge to eat, drink and move about only when other members of the community were asleep. The social organization of the animals showed equal disruption. …
The common source of these disturbances became most dramatically apparent in the populations of our first series of three experiments, in which we observed the development of what we called a behavioral sink. The animals would crowd together in greatest number in one of the four interconnecting pens in which the colony was maintained. As many as 60 of the 80 rats in each experimental population would assemble in one pen during periods of feeding. Individual rats would rarely eat except in the company of other rats. As a result extreme population densities developed in the pen adopted for eating, leaving the others with sparse populations.
… In the experiments in which the behavioral sink developed, infant mortality ran as high as 96 percent among the most disoriented groups in the population.

A New Study of Modern Bigotry
Different…but the same!
by Christian Jürs
In this article, a preview of his coming book, the author draws strong parallels between the Evangelical Christians and the Holocaust Jewish religious/political movements.
And these parallels are most certainly there.
Both are oriented to gaining political and economic power.
Both have made extensive use of fictional writings. In the case of the Evangelical Christians, the Rapture and the Battle of Armageddon which are recent inventions (ca 1910) by a Charles Parham Fox and are not in the Bible. Parham Fox was a convicted thief and child molester.
Also, note that none of the Gospels were contemporary with the purported career of Jesus and in the ensuing centuries, have been constantly rewritten to suit current political needs. Further, the mainstay of Evangelical Christians is the so-called ‘Book of Revelations’ purported to have been written by John the Devine, Jesus’ most intimate friend. This was certainly not written by someone living at the time of Jesus’ alleged ministry but over fifty years later. The actual author was one John of Patmos who was resident at the Roman lunatic colony located on the island of Patmos. This particular work is beloved of Evangelicals because it is so muddled, obscure and bizarre that any meaning can, and is, attributed to it.
I refer the reader to “Foundations of Christianity” by Karl Kautsky (a Jewish German early Communist and secretary to Engels)
The nationalistic Zionist movement does not have a great body of historical supportive material so, like the early Christians, they have simply invented it. These fictions include, but certainly are not limited to, “The Painted Bird” by Kosinski, (later admitted by its author to be an invented fraud before his suicide, ) and “Fragments” by “Binjimin Wilkomersky” ( A Swiss Protestant named Bruno Dossecker who was born in 1944) that is mostly copied from the Kosinski book and consists of ‘recovered memory,’ and of course the highly-propagandized favorite “Anne Frank Diary” which was proven, beyond a doubt, by the German BKA(Bundes Kriminal Amt, an official German forensic agency) as a forgery, made circa 1949 (ball point ink was used on paper made after 1948 and the handwriting completely different from the original Frank girl’s school papers still extant) All of these frauds have been, and still are, considered as seminal truths by the Holocaust supporters and the discovery of fakery loudly denied by them, and questioners accused of being ‘Nazis.’ This closely parallels the same anger expressed by the Evangelicals when their stories about the Rapture or the Battle of Armageddon are questioned by anyone. Here, doubters are accused of being ‘Satanists’ and ‘Secular Humanists.’
I refer the reader to “The Holocaust Industry” by Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish academic and the son of genuine survivors of the German Concentration Camp system.
When confronted with period and very authentic evidence that the death toll among Jewish prisoners never approached even a million, or that there were no gas chambers in use at any prison camp, the standard, and badly flawed counter argument is that while the accuracy of the period German documents is not in question, as everyone knows that 6 millions of Jews perished, therefore the names are on so-called ‘secret lists.’
When asked where a researcher could view these documents (the actual German SS records, complete, are located in the Russian Central Archives in Moscow) the ludicrous response is that because these lists are secret, no one has ever seen them! This rationale does not even bear comment.
The Christians have their Passion of the Christ, which may or may not have happened, (it was in direct opposition to Roman law which governed Judea at the time,) and the Jews have their long agony of the Holocaust, which is an elaborate and fictional construction based on fragmentary facts. A Jewish supporter, Deborah Lipstadt ( a well-known academic) has said repeatedly that the word holocaust must be capitalized and can only be used to discuss the enormous suffering of the Jewish people. The huge genocidal programs practiced by the Turks against Armenian Christians in 1916 and the even larger massacres by Pol Pot in Southeast Asia may never be likened to the absolutely unique Jewish suffering, according to current Zionist-Holocaust Jewish dogma.
Both stress the suffering and death of their icons, in the former case, the leader of their cult, which initially consisted entirely of very poor Jews, and in the second, an entire people. Both sides have enormous public relations machinery in place which is used constantly to promulgate both faiths and both are hysterically opposed to any questioning or debate on any aspects of their faith.
The issues of suffering, death and prosecution are both used to fortify their positions in society and render it difficult for anyone to attack them. These issues are also used to gain political power (for the Evangelicals) and money (for the Zionist-Holocausters)
Both of these groups seek a high moral ground from which to attack any questioning of their faith and because many of the adherents to both beliefs are aware that their houses are based on sand, fight fiercely lest a storm arise, beat upon both houses and thereby cause a great fall (to be Biblical in expression.

US military intelligence unit unveils ‘Atlas’ humanoid robot test bed
So far, Atlas has only been put through its paces in a lab
A humanoid robot called Atlas could pave the way for intelligent machines to help in the wake of natural disasters.
The two-metre tall robot was created as a test bed for a US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) challenge.
The DARPA challenge demands Atlas completes eight tasks that it might have to perform in an emergency.
Six teams have until December to develop software that will help Atlas complete the tasks.
Atlas has been developed by the Boston Dynamics robotics firm which has been working on robots that can aid the military.
Like a human, Atlas has two arms and legs and gets around by walking. It sees using a stereo laser scanning system and has gripping hands developed by two separate robotics companies. Unlike humans, it has a high speed networking system built-in so it can communicate with its creators and pipe data back from disaster areas.
Before now, the teams taking part in the robotic challenge have only worked with virtual versions of Atlas. In the next stage of the competition, algorithms and control programs for the virtual Atlas will be transferred to the real thing.
The teams will then have five months to refine Atlas’s abilities before taking part in a series of trials. During those, a tethered version of Atlas will be expected to complete tasks which include driving a car, removing debris blocking doors. climbing a ladder, finding and closing a valve and connecting a fire hose.
The best performing teams in the trials will win funding to continue refining Atlas so it can perform all eight tasks autonomously during the challenge finals .
“We have dramatically raised the expectations for robotic capabilities with this challenge,” said Gill Pratt, programme manager for the challenge in a statement.
Darpa kicked off the competition in a bid to help drive breakthroughs in robotics. Current autonomous machines tended to be highly specialised and limited in their ability to cope with the real world.
The teams taking part include researchers from Carnegie Mellon, Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Virginia Tech and hi-tech firm Schaft.
Researchers at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich are creating one of the most advanced humanoid robots ever.
Roboy, a tendon-driven robot modeled on human beings, had the help of over 40 engineers and scientists to help bring it to life. The robot is expected to be able to move almost as elegantly as a human.
Roboy will be a “service robot,” capable of executing services independently for the convenience of human beings.
Roboy is based on another, older anthropomorphic robot with a tendon system known as Ecce. Unlike Ecce, Roboy will be more comfortable looking to humans, as Ecce looked like a scary Cyclops robot.
“Soft robots” like Roboy are important because it makes them more appealing when interacting with humans, giving them the appearance that they are safer and more pleasant.
Service robots are already being used in a variety of areas, including household chores, surveillance work and cleaning. Eventually, these robots could be used to help out the aging population in the U.S.
“Our aging population is making it necessary to keep older people as autonomous as possible for as long as possible, which means caring for aged people is likely to be an important area for the deployment of service robots,” the researchers wrote on their website.
“We can very safely assume that service robots will become part of our environment in the future, as is already the case today for technologies such as smartphones and laptops,” the team continued.
Artificial Intelligence lab researchers set a goal to build Roboy in just 9 months.
The team decided to finance the first grassroots robotics project through crowd-funding in order to make the robot’s quick turnaround possible.
“Financing the project through sponsorship and crowd funding enables us to implement an extremely ambitious project in an academic environment,” Professor Rolf Pfeifer, who is leading the project, said in a statement.
The researchers said that creating humanoid robots presents scientists with great challengers. The robots have to be quick, with smooth movements, but have flexible soft skin.
“Fundamental new findings are needed for this purpose. It is precisely through projects like Roboy that innovation is possible,” the researchers say.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccuratre.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 93

The doors opened into the basement, the limousine was waiting and as they came out into the cool, damp garage, there was the sudden roar of motorcycle engines.
The procession screamed its way through the canyons of Chicago, turning left on Michigan Avenue, and then sweeping up Lake Shore Drive. While Chuck helped himself to some excellent cognac he found in a cabinet, Alex flipped through the pages of the computer printout. He looked up to see noontime crowds on the sidewalks, staring at the cavalcade as it roared past.
There was a rumor that the new President was in town and some irreverent watchers believed that the Mayor was late for lunch.
The next day had been set aside by an act of Congress as an official day of mourning for the late President whose state funeral would be held in the rotunda of the Capitol building. All flags were at half-staff and in the show windows of exclusive stores appeared a number of black-draped pictures of the late leader.
Alex saw one that must have been five feet high and smiled privately as he ran a finger down the lists.
“Hey, Chuck, do you own RMA Music?”
“I don’t have any idea, kid. You have the lists.”
“I think we do. Oh great! They have the best selection of Bach keyboard stuff. Can I get free samples?”
“I would imagine so.”
“There are about a hundred CDs I want. Is that OK?”
“Why not? Talk to me about this later, Alex, right now I am enjoying myself doing nothing at all.”
In Evanston, they turned onto Sheridan Road and Alex looked at the large mansions fronting the lake.
“This is a nice town. Chuck, is our house as big as that one there?”
“That? That’s the size of the guest house, Alex.”
“No shit!”
They passed through the campus of Northwestern and the town of Wilmette.
There were expensive homes set in leafy grandeur and then suddenly, off to the left was a huge, white fretted marble building that looked like an enormous wedding cake.
“What’s that place, Chuck?”
“Oh, that’s the Indian temple. A bit out of place here but a landmark.”
“Any other landmarks?”
“Dyche Stadium.”
“Really? They have a football team? My Aunt Reba’s a dyke and if she ever got on a football field, she’d flatten a boxcar.”
“No, Alex, not a dyke in the sense of a lesbian. It’s a proper name.”
“Hah! It sounds like an improper name to me.”
There was a small marina on the right and a few minutes later, they passed the sandstone gates to the exclusive enclave of Kenilworth.
Soon, the homes on the lakeside grew much larger and further away from Sheridan Road.
By now, Alex had finished with the family firm list and was staring at the huge estates.
“Man, look at the size of some of those places! Is our place around here?”
“A few more miles, Alex.”
They passed the Winnetka water tower on the right, the road began to wind around through a hilly area and then the lead police car slowed, turning into a wide, cobbled driveway. Alex stood up in the back of the limousine and slid the sunroof open.
He looked out, resting his elbows on the edges of the roof, and watched as they drove past two stone pillars topped with ferocious, lichen-mottled griffins and then straight ahead down an entrance road flanked with high stone walls.
They came to a clearing and directly in front of them were a set of immense, wrought iron gates set in massive stone pillars. To the left was a stone house with a red tile roof and as they approached, the double gates swung slowly open.
The cobbled road widened as they drove through a thick woods and Alex noticed the stone curbing and neat brick paths on both side of the roadway. In a few minutes, they emerged from the darkness of the woods, passed another set of griffin-topped posts and headed straight for what was the biggest house that Alex had ever seen.
It was more of a palace than a house, surrounded on three sides by heavy woods and on the east side was an open vista of the lake. Its pale yellow walls were pierced with tall, white-framed French windows and the mansard roof was blue-gray slate.
The large central block was topped with a dome, crowned with an ornate finial and there were two large wings stretching to the right and left. A forest of stone chimneys sprouted from the slate roofs and there were ornate carvings over the entrance doorway.
With balustraded stone terraces flanked with two large bronze statues and seemingly endless steps rising to the main entrance, the house resembled the French chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte, Foquet’s prototype for Louis XIV’s palace of Versailles.
It was magnificent in its setting but cold and forbidding and Alex found little comfort in looking at it. There were, however, some points of interest for him.
“Hey Chuck, there’s a couple of old cannon there!”
“Yes, I know,” came the muffled response from beneath him
Alex felt someone pulling on his leg.
“Get down here and act dignified for once!”
He pulled back and slid the roof closed.
“This is one huge place, Chuck. There are a whole bunch of people lined up on the steps. Who are they?”
The sirens stopped as they came to a halt at the bottom of the wide staircase.
“Staff, Alex. The staff is here to welcome us. Now try to be civilized and I tell you very seriously, no shit from you in front of the servants or I will smack the hell out of you later. Got it? This is my house and you will behave here.”
“Christ, don’t get into an uproar, Chuck. I know how to behave when I have to.”
“Then have to. Now all of you attend to me for a minute. This house is run on very strict protocol. In fact everything here is run on strict protocol. When we get out of the car, we have to do so in order of precedence. I will go first, Gwen second, Alex third and Claude last. That’s family and no offense Claude. Look up now, here we go.”
The footman opened the door to the rear compartment and everyone got out in the correct order.
A thin, elderly man with neatly trimmed gray hair, a black jacket and gray striped trousers was waiting several feet from the door. A stout woman in a gray dress with black trim was standing to one side and slightly to the rear. Next to them was the Chicago police captain with his gold braided cap.
Chuck shook his hand.
“Thank you so much for your assistance, Captain. It made our trip much more pleasant without having to bother with traffic. And please thank your men on behalf of my family and myself. Perhaps we will meet again and thank you once more.”
There were smiles, Alex shook his hand and soon the sputtering of the motorcycles was heard only faintly as the escort moved back towards the gates.
“Mr. Rush, sir! What a pleasure to have you back with us again! Do you remember me?”
“Of course. Frederick, isn’t it?”
“Oh yes, sir. I was the second man here when your late grandfather was alive but I do remember you.” He turned, “and this is Mrs. Krause, the housekeeper…”
She smiled and inclined her head.
Alex, who was not aware that one did not shake hands with servants, offered both of them his hand as Chuck made introductions.
“My wife Gwen and my son Alex. And Mr. Duplessis, my associate. Frederick, I will be occupying my grandfather’s rooms and my wife will be in my grandmother’s rooms. Alex will take the lake suite my late uncle used to use and Mr. Duplessis the suite across the hall.”
Luggage was being removed from the trunk by servants.
“We can sort out the luggage upstairs.”
Alex heard a snapping noise and looked up in time to see a white flag emblazoned with ornate heraldry rising up a flagstaff on the top of the building.
“Chuck, what’s the flag?”
Chuck looked up.
“That’s the house flag, Alex. It’s only flown when the head of the family is in residence.”
The butler smiled.
“That flag, sir, has never flown since your grandfather passed away. Mr. Charles never lived in this house nor even came here once. It’s really a pleasure, sir, to see it up there again. Oh yes, sir. The clothing store people have called and they will be arriving here shortly with a selection of clothing. I have notified the front gate to pass them in. I understand they are coming at your request?”
“Yes, Frederick, thank you. Shall we review the troops?”
The butler smiled again.
“Of course, sir. It is rather cold out here but you know what your grandfather wanted.”
“Better than most.”
The moved up along the line of assembled servants, the butler and housekeeper on Chuck’s right, Gwen on his left and Alex next to her. Claude, who was amused by the pomp, walked along behind them.
The various household departments were formally introduced and Chuck nodded and smiled to them as he slowly worked his way towards the main entrance. He was annoyed that Alex insisted in shaking hands with everyone, regardless of rank but said nothing.
When he chose to display it, Alex had a beautiful smile. His eyes crinkled and he showed his even teeth with an expression of obvious pleasure. Also, Chuck noted, he would shake hands like an accomplished politician. A firm grip with the right hand, the smile and then the left hand clasping the back of the greeted one. Alex repeated this almost endlessly and Chuck decided to let him continue since it was obvious that he was making a strong impact on the staff.
A sharp, cold wind blew in from the west and a maid’s small white hat lifted off of her head. Alex reached up and snatched it mid-air and gave it back.
“Chuck, it’s going to rain in about a minute. Don’t you think we could move all this inside?”
They were almost at the end of the receiving line and Chuck nodded.
“Frederick, it will probably start to rain…in fact it is raining now…so I suggest we dismiss everyone and move inside.”
There was an undignified stampede for the main doors as a sudden spring deluge began, heralded by smashing bursts of thunder and high winds.


This is also an e-book, available from Amazon:

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Andrew Saul
A.k.a. the MegaVitaminMan

Andrew Saul is a self-proclaimed expert in nutrition and proud holder of a PhD from a “non-traditional PhD program”, the non-accredited diploma mill mail order program Greenwich University. (It never ceases to surprise us that those who defend people like Saul so rarely stop to consider why he would feel the need to mislead his audience by claiming such expertise.) Saul has written several books with titles like Doctor Yourself and Fire Your Doctor; his website takes its name from the title of the former, whereas Fire Your Doctor refers to how important it is that you, his reader, doesn’t consult anyone except him about the contents his advice, and especially not anyone who might have any real competence in any of it, since they’ll only disagree with him and tell you things he doesn’t want you to know. On his website – which Saul refers to as “his peer-reviewed website” and claims to be “one of the largest non-commercial natural health resources on the internet” – and in his books, Saul will tell you what they don’t want you to know and why “a grandmother is worth two doctors” (probably relevant to understanding his claim about his website being “peer-reviewed”), and he promotes a range of demonstrably useless dietary supplements. One reason you need supplements is apparently that much of today’s food is crappy and much of it GMO. No, Saul really doesn’t like doctors: “Doctors command far more respect than they’ve earned. It amounts to a religion, almost a perverse opposite of Christian Science, when we have so much faith in people.” Moreover, medical science was wrong about much in the past, so it is clearly not to be trusted. Instead, you should trust him, whose degree is at least not from a real medical school.
Also known as the MegaVitamin Man, Saul is best known for promoting huge doses (at least 15,000 mg, but he has also mentioned “½ million to 2 million milligrams”) of Vitamin C as a miracle cure; “[n]ow, I don’t believe in ‘miracle cures’ or silver bullets,” says Saul, “but high-dose Vitamins sure come close”: apparently megadoses of vitamin C are effective for anything from scorpion bites (according entirely to himself, Saul detoxed himself from a venomous scorpion bite using vitamin C, “which acts as a potent anti-toxin;” it most assuredly does not) to chronic disease to compromised immune systems to the flu; vitamin C ostensibly works as an “antibiotic, antihistamine, antitoxin, antipyretic, antidepressant and will even curb your appetite.” Indeed, Saul “personally worked with a woman who had HIV, drug addiction, alcoholism, you name it. I told her to consider really shoveling in the Vitamin C, quit drugs and drinking, and clean up her diet. Well, she got off of drugs and eventually the alcohol. She tried to clean up her diet, and she took an awful lot of vitamin C. I ran into her 20 years later and she told me that the last three times she was tested for HIV they couldn’t find any.” In short, C vitamins clearly fits the definition of “miracle cure”, but for marketing purposes it is probably strategically advantageous to give a more modest first impression lest people think Saul is as ridiculous as he is. “Wouldn’t it be great if your doctor would teach you how to use common Vitamins for healing chronic illness, reversing disease and injury, or just for maintaining health? But most can’t … or won’t – and there’s a surprising reason why.” It is not very surprising. The reason is of course that Vitamin C demonstrably does none of what Saul claims it does. This is not the answer Saul gives.
Indeed, according to Saul, “medical doctors have been using high doses of vitamins to cure disease for over 70 years”; in fact, they “have been stopping and curing Polio with high doses of Vitamin C since the 1930’s. In the 1860’s and 70’s they were curing pneumonia with Vitamin C therapy” (it probably doesn’t need to be pointed out that these claims have nothing to do with reality). Elsewhere he claims that doctors don’t use vitamins to cure disease because “doctors are pretty indoctrinated by the time they finish med school” and will never even consider any alternatives, even though researchers according to him constantly publish on the almost magical efficacy of vitamins; in any case “[i]t could have something to do with money” because doctors are “basically funded by the pharmaceutical industry from the moment they enter med school to the moment they hang up their stethoscope”, and the pharmaceutical – unlike himself and the supplement industry – cannot make money off of vitamins.
Of course, the evidence Saul is talking about is studies published in things like the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. Orthomolecular medicine is of course one of the more deranged branches of dangerous pseudoscience out there. In fact, Saul has managed to become one of the more, uh, recognized figures in orthomolecular medicine – he is editor of the “peer-reviewed” Orthomolecular Medicine News Service (he keeps using that expression; I do not think it means what he thinks it means) and was “inducted into the Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of Fame in 2013” – and according to the grand old man of orthomolecular medicine, Abram Hoffer: “Andrew Saul’s website is great. And it’s accurate. I read it all and it’s very accurate.” Hoffer, who died in 2009, was also Saul’s co-author on the book The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism, one in a series of books that also include The Vitamin Cure for Depression (with one Bo Jonsson), The Vitamin Cure for Children’s Health Problemsand The Vitamin Cure for Infant and Toddler Health Problems (both with Ralph Campbell). Saul’s website, which is certainly not accurate by any stretch of the imagination (you should, for instance, emphatically not trust Saul’s advice on niacin), is mostly a series of links to various articles from a wide variety of quacks and crackpots claiming things that fit Saul’s narrative.
Saul has also branched out a bit and written Vegetable Juicing for Everyone (with Helen Saul Case) and I have cancer, What should I do: Your orthomolecular guide for cancer management (with Michael González & Jorge Miranda-Massari). What you should is to listen to your doctor and stay as far away as possible from Saul’s book.
Diagnosis: Certainly a crackpot and pseudoscientist, but his own promotion of his fake degree makes it hard to maintain the position that he is merely a true believer. Dangerous.

Jeffrey Satinover

Crank magnetism is the tendency of cranks to be attracted to multiple independent crank ideas at the same time. The prevalence of crank magnetism is not particularly surprising insofar as the crank ideas are rooted in the same errors of thinking, such as an inability to distinguish science from pseudoscience. Jeffrey Satinover is a spectacular illustration of crank magnetism at work. Satinover is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and physicist, and has written pseudoscientific books on a range of subjects within and beyond his own field characterized by being consistently wrong on every major issue. Topics range from brain neurophysiology to the psychology of narcissism to the breakdown of modern society, but he is probably most famous for his writings (and public-policy efforts) relating to homosexuality, same-sex marriage and the ex-gay movement – indeed, Satinover is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), in addition to being a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Math and Science at King’s College, New York (during Marvin Olasky’s tenure as provost), a fundamentalist Christian college affiliated with Campus Crusade for Christ that envisions itself as a counterweight to secular universities “[t]rafficking in the assumptions of atheism and Darwinian evolution”. Satinover is also lecturer at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zürich and Managing Director of Quintium Analytics, LLC, an investment advisory company he founded in 2007.
Satinover is a longtime and ardent critic of homosexuality and gay rights. In his 1996 book Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth(published by the evangelical and certainly not academic publisher Baker Books) he argues, against the evidence, that homosexuality is a condition that can and should be treated, that it can be compared to pathologies like alcoholism and pedophilia, and that homosexuality, although “not a true illness,” may “be thought an illness in the spiritual sense of ‘soul sickness,’ innate to fallen human nature”; it is definitely psychologically unhealthy “as evidenced by the higher associated suicide rate.” Moreover, “gay activism distorts the truth and harms not only society, but homosexuals themselves.” The book has little scientific merit of course, but Satinover isa psychologist, and credentials like that make him useful to certain groups. He has frequently been called to testify in court cases regarding his views on same sex marriage (though in fairness not always providing the kind of testimony his side wished for), and his research is frequently cited by hate groups combatting gay rights and marriage equality.
Numerology and Quantum pseudoscience
Satinover’s other writings include The Truth Behind the BibleCode and Cracking the Bible Code, in defense of – yup – the Bible Code, the idea that the Hebrew text of the Old Testament contains hidden codes which reveal prophesies. Needless to say, neither book was published by an academic publisher. It is probably because Big Science hates open-mindedness.
Satinover has also written several books that speculate on quantum mechanics as he applies it to conscious thought, includingThe Quantum Brain, which ostensibly explores current developments at the interface of physics, computation, artificial intelligence and neuroscience. He was also a witness for the side of New Age lunacy in the “documentary” What the Bleep Do We Know, as well as its sequel What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole. Apparently, according to Satinover, quantum mechanics can offer a blistering critique of modern psychiatry: “In general, the field of psychiatry strips people of the need to feel responsible. And, often enough, so does religion. But if you take quantum mechanics seriously enough, it puts the responsibility squarely back in your lap. And it doesn’t give answers that are clearcut, or comforting. It says, ‘Yes, the world is a very mysterious place. Mechanism is not the answer, but I’m not going to tell you what the answer is. Because you’re old enough to decide for yourself.” This is not remotely how anything works. Note that Satinover doesn’t suggest that you take quantum mechanics seriously, but that you take it “seriously enough”. We suspect a lot hinges on that “enough”.
Diagnosis: A spectacular illustration of how it is possible to get through a real and thorough education yet be completely defenseless against all forms of deranged pseudoscience. Being a brave maverick doctor doesn’t warrant much respect when you only distinguish yourself from the establishment by being wrong in the dumbest possible ways.

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