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Thursday, September 13, 2007

News of Interest 9/13/07

(1) "The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history."
-Buenaventura Durruti
Global Warming Impact Like 'Nuclear War'
Climate change could have global security implications on a par with nuclear war unless urgent action is taken, a report said on Wednesday.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) security think-tank said global warming would hit crop yields and water availability everywhere, causing great human suffering and leading to regional strife.
(2) They call it a singularity because it's the point from which humanity can never return.
Techies ponder computers smarter than us
At the center of a black hole there lies a point called a singularity where the laws of physics no longer make sense. In a similar way, according to futurists gathered Saturday for a weekend conference, information technology is hurtling toward a point where machines will become smarter than their makers. If that happens, it will alter what it means to be human in ways almost impossible to conceive, they say.

"The Singularity Summit: AI and the Future of Humanity" brought together hundreds of Silicon Valley techies and scientists to imagine a future of self-programming computers and brain implants that would allow humans to think at speeds nearing today's microprocessors.
Artificial intelligence researchers at the summit warned that now is the time to develop ethical guidelines for ensuring these advances help rather than harm.

"We and our world won't be us anymore," Rodney Brooks, a robotics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the audience. When it comes to computers, he said, "who is us and who is them is going to become a different sort of question."

Eliezer Yudkowsky, co-founder of the Palo Alto-based Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, which organized the summit, researches on the development of so-called "friendly artificial intelligence." His greatest fear, he said, is that a brilliant inventor creates a self-improving but amoral artificial intelligence that turns hostile.
(3) The extinction crisis continues to spread...
Threatened species Red List shows escalating 'global extinction crisis'
Corals and seaweed have joined the ranks of threatened species, and more apes and reptiles are now facing extinction according to the World Conservation Union, which warns of a "global extinction crisis".

The conservation group's annual Red List of threatened species, published today, found that the extinction crisis had escalated in the last year with 16,306 species now at the highest levels of extinction threat, equivalent to almost 40% of all species in the survey.

A quarter of all mammals, a third of all amphibians and one in eight birds on the 2007 IUCN Red List are in jeopardy.
(4) The elite continue their death-spiral with Iran. With the economy tanking, the dollar sinking and the population finally turning against their desperate adventures, what choice do the elite have but to expand their wars?
U.S. Officials Begin Crafting Iran Bombing Plan

Political and military officers, as well as weapons of mass destruction specialists at the State Department, are now advising Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the diplomatic approach favored by Burns has failed and the administration must actively prepare for military intervention of some kind.

Among those advising Rice along these lines are John Rood, the assistant secretary for the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation; and a number of Mideast experts, including Ambassador James Jeffrey, deputy White House national security adviser under Stephen Hadley and formerly the principal deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs.

Consequently, according to a well-placed Bush administration source, "everyone in town" is now participating in a broad discussion about the costs and benefits of military action against Iran, with the likely timeframe for any such course of action being over the next eight to 10 months, after the presidential primaries have probably been decided, but well before the November 2008 elections.

The discussions are now focused on two basic options: less invasive scenarios under which the U.S. might blockade Iranian imports of gasoline or exports of oil, actions generally thought to exact too high a cost on the Iranian people but not enough on the regime in Tehran; and full-scale aerial bombardment.
(5) The capitalists and their apologists may try turn global warming lemons into lemonade, but they'll never share that lemonade with us anyhow.
Warming May Trigger Agricultural Collapse
ndia could lose up to 40 percent of its agricultural output because of global warming even as it becomes the world's most populous country, warns a new study.

Global farm productivity faces "serious damage" this century, and poor countries will bear the worst of it, unless emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change are held in check, says veteran climate economist William Cline.

He further contradicts analysts who have said that global warming could boost yields.

"My work shows that while productivity may increase in a minority of mostly northern countries, the global impact of climate change on agriculture will be negative by the second half of this century," said Cline, who has studied the economic aspects of climate change since the early 1990s.

"There might be some initial overall benefit to warming for a decade or two but, because future warming depends on greenhouse gas emissions today, if we delay action it would put global agriculture on an inexorable trajectory to serious damage," he added.
(6) The guy this article is about made a presentation earlier in the year at a black hat hacker conference in which he declared that the private security firm that has been releasing al-Qaeda videos (they claim they intercept them) has been doctoring them. An article ran about it in CNET but, even though he saw the article and affirmed everything in it, he issued a retraction of that statement later, perhaps after being pressured (one assumes). Now he says it is AQ that is changing them. Six of one, half dozen the other...

Researcher: Bin Laden's beard is real, video is not
More important though are the edits. At roughly a minute and a half into the video there is a splice; bin Laden shifts from looking at the camera to looking down in less than 1/25th of a second. At 13:13 there is a second, less obvious splice. In all, Krawetz says there are at least six splices in the video. Of these, there are only two live bin Laden segments, the rest of the video composed of still images. The first live section opens the video and ends at 1:56. The second section begins at 12:29 and continues until 14:01. The two live sections appear to be from different recordings "because the desk is closer to the camera in the second section."

Then there are the audio edits. Krawetz says "the new audio has no accompanying 'live' video and consists of multiple audio recordings." References to current events are made only during the still frame sections and after splices within the audio track." And there are so many splices that I cannot help but wonder if someone spliced words and phrases together. I also cannot rule out a vocal imitator during the frozen-frame audio. The only way to prove that the audio is really bin Laden is to see him talking in the video," Krawetz says.
(7) Lest we get too depressed, a newly assertive Russia has deployed a new, gigantic conventional bomb.
Russia tests superstrength bomb, military says
The report said the new bomb was much stronger than the U.S.-built Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb -- MOAB, also known under its name "Mother of All Bombs." "So, Russian designers called the new weapon 'Father of All Bombs'," it said.

Showing the orange-painted U.S. prototype, the report said the Russian bomb was four times more powerful -- 44 metric tons of TNT equivalent -- and the temperature at the epicenter of its blast was two times higher.

In 1999 Russian generals threatened to use vacuum bombs to wipe out rebels from the mountains during the "anti-terrorist operation" in its restive Chechnya province.

New York-based Human Rights Watch then appealed to Putin to refrain from using fuel-air explosives. It remains unclear if weapons of this type were used during the Chechen war.

U.S. forces have used a "thermobaric" bomb, which works on similar principles, in their campaign against al Qaeda and Taliban forces in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan.

"It (the bomb) will allow us to safeguard our state's security and fight international terrorism in any circumstances and in any part of the world," Rukshin said.

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