Starfire

My short story, “Starfire”, about Eve Arnold, a disabled but determined farmer/aerospace engineer taking on the challenges of warfare in 2030, was a finalist in the US Army’s MadScientist speculative fiction contest. It was just published here by the Modern War Institute at West Point.

“The task : “Write about the following scenario – On March 17th, 2030, the country of Donovia, after months of strained relations and covert hostilities, invades neighboring country Otso. Donovia is a wealthy nation that is a near-peer competitor to the United States. Like the United States, Donovia has invested heavily in disruptive technologies such as robotics, AI, autonomy, quantum information sciences, bio enhancements and gene editing, space-based weapons and communications, drones, nanotechnology, and directed energy weapons. The United States is a close ally of Otso and is compelled to intervene due to treaty obligations and historical ties. The United States is about to engage Donovia in its first battle with a near-peer competitor in over 80 years…”

Skyhigh | Willpower Photo

A short clip from the story:

January 10, 2030

It was a slow day at the Sunnyside Diner so they turned on the news, which was far from sunny. Eve Arnold slouched as she listened, and when she did, the thin edges of her exoskeletal support brace pressed against her ribs. The AI embedded in the brace sent an auto-nag to her phone. “Stop slouching.” She ignored it and finished the dregs of her coffee as Oklahoma Today discussed America’s slow march towards war.”

So happy to be a part of such a creative project !

D.R.A.S.T.I.C. Research

Exposed!

How EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute of Virology Collaborated on a Dangerous Bat Coronavirus Project

“The DARPA DEFUSE Project”

DRASTIC was recently made aware of documents provided by a whistleblower, which show that EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) in concert wIth the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) attempted to carry out advanced and dangerous human pathogenicity Bat Coronavirus research that would clearly qualify as Gain of Function (GoF), in a grant proposal submitted to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2018.

Document 1. A brief DRASTIC Analysis of the EcoHealth Alliance DEFUSE Proposal

Document 2: The Reasons why the DEFUSE Proposal was Rejected by DARPA

Peter Daszak and the EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) proposed injecting deadly chimeric bat coronaviruses collected by the Wuhan Institute of Virology into humanised and “batified” mice.

The EHA / WIV proposal (named ‘DEFUSE’)…

View original post 268 more words

Chicken and Fennel Soup

I had a leftover roast chicken in the fridge and some fennel I’d forgotten about – and it’s fall! Chilly weather means it’s time for soup.

  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 jalepeno pepper, minced
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white cooking wine
  • Bones and meat from leftover roasted chicken (or 5 to 6 cups vegetable stock)
  • 2 large fennel stalks, chopped
  • 2 tsp. herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp. orange peel
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cashews
  • salt and pepper to taste

(if you’re using a leftover roast chicken) Place the chicken bones in a large pot and fill with enough cold water to just cover. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Let cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

In a medium-large pot or Dutch oven, cook the garlic and peppers in the olive oil. As the garlic browns, add the carrots and fennel. Season with herbs, orange peel a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add wine and some broth to keep it from sticking.

If you like pureed soup, puree the fennel/garlic mixture with the cashews. Then, strain the chicken meat and broth and add it to the fennel/garlic mixture. Serve with bread or mix in cooked faroe or rice.

Chicken Mole

I’ve never tried to make Chicken Mole from scratch, although there are plenty of good recipes for that out there. This version with Dona Maria Mole sauce is pretty close to what I’ve had in Mexican restaurants. Their version usually has more chocolate.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (mild)
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato paste
  • Dona Maria mole mix
  • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • sesame seeds (optional)
  • chopped cilantro (optional)

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown.

Add chicken thighs. Sprinkle with chili powder. Cover and sauté until chicken is lightly browned

Use orange juice or broth to deglaze the pan. Thin about 3 tablespoons of Mole mix with the orange juice. Mix the tomato paste and the rest of the orange juice and broth together. Add the Mole mix.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and add the unsweetened chocolate. Stir until melted. Add cinnamon. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender and just cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro (or have them on the side). Serve over quinoa or rice + peas.

If It Bleeds, It Leads: Understanding Fear-Based Media | Psychology Today

The success of fear-based news relies on presenting dramatic anecdotes in place of scientific evidence, promoting isolated events as trends, depicting categories of people as dangerous and replacing optimism with fatalistic thinking. News conglomerates who want to achieve this use media logic, by tweaking the rhythm, grammar, and presentation format of news stories to elicit the greatest impact. Did you know that some news stations work with consultants who offer fear-based topics that are pre-scripted, outlined with point-of-view shots, and have experts at-the-ready? This practice is known as stunting or just-add-water reporting. Often, these practices present misleading information and promote anxiety in the viewer. Another pattern in newscasts is that the breaking news story doesn’t go beyond a surface level. The need to get-the-story-to-get-the-ratings often causes reporters to bypass thorough fact-checking.

If It Bleeds, It Leads: Understanding Fear-Based Media | Psychology Today

Opinion: A neuroscientist explains how politicians and the media use fear to make us hate without thinking – MarketWatch

Tribalism has been an inherent part of the human history. There has always been competition between groups of humans in different ways and with different faces, from brutal wartime nationalism to a strong loyalty to a football team. Evidence from cultural neuroscience shows that our brains even respond differently at an unconscious level simply to the view of faces from other races or cultures. At a tribal level, people are more emotional and consequently less logical: Fans of both teams pray for their team to win, hoping God will take sides in a game. On the other hand, we regress to tribalism when afraid. This is an evolutionary advantage that would lead to the group cohesion and help us fight the other tribes to survive. Tribalism is the biological loophole that many politicians have banked on for a long time: tapping into our fears and tribal instincts. Some examples are Nazism, the Ku Klux Klan, religious wars and the Dark Ages.

Opinion: A neuroscientist explains how politicians and the media use fear to make us hate without thinking – MarketWatch

The Biggest Panic-Fueled Derp of the Millennium : A Timeline of the Lockdown

December 2019 – January 2020 : Looking at photographs from December 2019 is like looking at a long-lost world. We see people in crowds, celebrating. Elders smiling and hugging their grandchildren. Enjoying life.

In the Spectator, Matt Ridley wrote an article titled “We’ve just had the best decade in human history. Seriously

Extreme poverty fell below ten percent of the world’s population for the first time. Global inequality plunged as Africa and Asia experience faster economic growth than Europe and North America. Child mortality fell to record low levels. Famine became almost non-existent. Malaria, polio and heart disease were all in decline. Volunteers around the world were taking the elderly on rickshaw rides around nature. Because everyone knows, being isolated and locked indoors is not healthy.

But by November 2020, the UN was warning of an “Impending Famine With Millions in Danger of Starvation”

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 27 2020 (IPS) – The numbers are staggering— as reflected in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which has triggered a new round of food shortages, famine and starvation.

According to the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP) 690 million people do not have enough to eat. while130 million additional people risk being pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of the year.

“Hunger is an outrage in a world of plenty. An empty stomach is a gaping hole in the heart of a society,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last week pointing out that famine is looming in several countries.

Striking a personal note, Guterres said he could have never imagined that hunger would rise again during his time in office as Secretary-General.

We could blame this on the coronavirus pandemic, but during most of the 20th century, the world weathered numerous pandemics without mass starvation, social upheaval and economic destruction. Back then, we believed that the key to humanity’s survival was our ability to adapt to the various hardships nature threw our way. After all, trillions of viruses fall from the sky everyday, mutating, spreading. You can’t hide from them – trying to do so would be insane.

That was what we thought — before George W. Bush came up with the idea for a Lockdown in 2006, an idea that was condemned by doctors but embraced by politicians; before Xi decided to use this pandemic to distract the world from his actions in Hong Kong.

From Tablet’s “China’s Covid Lockdown Propaganda

Late December in Wuhan, Dr. Li Wenliang warned his friends that a new SARS-like illness had begun spreading rapidly. Li’s message inadvertently went viral on Chinese social media, causing widespread panic and anger at the Chinese Communist Party. On Jan. 7, Xi Jinping informed his inner circle that the situation in Wuhan would require their personal supervision.

Two weeks later, Xi personally authorized the lockdown of Hubei province based on his philosophy of fangkong, the same hybrid of health and security policy that inspired the reeducation and “quarantine” of over 1 million Uighur Muslims “infected with extremism” in Xinjiang. The World Health Organization’s representative in China noted that “trying to contain a city of 11 million people is new to science … The lockdown of 11 million people is unprecedented in public health history, so it is certainly not a recommendation the WHO has made.”

This article, published January 23, 2020 in IFL Science confirms, the WHO believed that a lockdown of millions of people was unprecedented and not recommended.

Three Cities In China Quarantined As Deadly Coronavirus Spreads | IFLScience

“The lockdown of 11 million people is unprecedented in public health history, so it is certainly not a recommendation the WHO has made,” the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) director of the Division of Noncommunicable Diseases, Dr Gauden Galea told Reuters, adding that sealing off Wuhan is “a very important indication of the commitment to contain the epidemic in the place where it is most concentrated”.

At this time, Xi had been dealing with a full year of protests in Hong Kong opposing an extradition treaty that would expose Hong Kong residents and visitors to the legal system of mainland China. Protesters feared that this would infringe on their civil liberties. Xi claimed that he was concerned for the protesters’ health and security. Just like he was concerned for the Uighur Muslims.

Via the Tablet

The CCP confined 57 million Hubei residents to their homes. At the time, human rights observers expressed concerns. As one expert told The New York Times, “the shutdown would almost certainly lead to human rights violations and would be patently unconstitutional in the United States.”

Regardless, on Jan. 29, WHO Director Tedros Adhanom said he was “very impressed and encouraged by the president [Xi Jinping]’s detailed knowledge of the outbreak” and the next day praised China for “setting a new standard for outbreak response.” Yet only six days in, the lockdown—“unprecedented in public health history”—had produced no results, so Tedros was praising human rights abuses with nothing to show for them.

International COVID-19 hysteria began around Jan. 23, when “leaked” videos from Wuhan began flooding international social media sites including FacebookTwitter, and YouTube—all of which are blocked in China—allegedly showing the horrors of Wuhan’s epidemic and the seriousness of its lockdown. 

Hysteria and panic are deadly. A drowning person will often beat and pull potential rescuers down with them. Before COVID-19 hysteria and the lockdown, one of the worst examples of mass panic leading to death was the Al-Aaimmah bridge stampede in Iraq. During a religious ceremony where more than a million people were gathered, rumors of an imminent suicide bomb attack broke out, panicking many pilgrims. One person pointed a finger at a man and said that he was carrying explosives.

The panicked crowd flocked away from the man, towards the Al-Aaimmah bridge, which had been closed. Somehow, the gate opened, and the pilgrims rushed through. Some people fell onto the concrete base and died instantly. The ensuing crush of people caused many to suffocate. The bridge’s iron railings failed dropping hundreds of people into the Tigris river below. People jumped in to rescue the drowning. Some were exhausted by the effort.

953 people died. There were no terrorists or explosives involved.

Pilots, firemen, first responders and other people who are responsible for the safety of others are taught to avoid panic. Lifeguards are trained to approach a drowning person from behind, and to put them in a sort of chokehold to avoid being hurt by the mindlessness of panic.

Politicians and media outlets are also responsible for maintaining public safety. But they don’t try to avoid stirring up panic. In many cases, they actively encourage it.

The Lockdown encouraged worldwide, mindless panic, the Al Aaimmah Bridge Stampede on a worldwide scale. And there were few voices encouraging calm.

Donald Trump and Saudi money, explained – Vox

Saudi Arabia does not have a formal treaty of alliance with the United States — meaning there is no piece of paper obligating the US to do anything whatsoever in response to an attack against Saudi Arabia. And while the US has been intimately involved in the Saudi oil industry going back to the 1930s, nobody has ever claimed there is a deep connection grounded in values between our two countries.

But the Saudi royal family does seem to have a special relationship with Trump, who has repeatedly bucked bipartisan congressional majorities to back the Kingdom on topics ranging from its disastrous war in Yemen to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

It’s a fishy situation that naturally raises questions about Trump’s personal financial relationships with Persian Gulf monarchies — questions he and his allies in Congress have been successfully stonewalling for years.

via Donald Trump and Saudi money, explained – Vox

Saudi Pensacoloa base shooting

Saudi Arabia is not really a nation, it’s a family business that profits from oil and religious tourism. It’s not even comparable to a mafia, because a mafia relies on the goodwill of its members to survive. The Saudi ‘royals’ have no such goodwill. Without the protection of various western governments, they would be overthrown and Khaddaffi’ed within a week.

There is no reason, aside from the fact that, as Trump said, ‘they pay cash’ for us to support them in any way. Our alliance with them is a net loss.

From SIX Saudi nationals arrested after Pensacola naval base shooting | Daily Mail Online

The Air Force trainee who killed three and injured eight when he opened fire at a naval base in Florida assailed the United States as ‘a nation of evil’ before he went on his shooting rampage, AFP reports.

The man, first identified by NBC News as Saudi national Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, opened fire inside a classroom at Naval Air Station in Pensacola early Friday morning. Police quickly responded to the scene and he was shot dead.

US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the suspect was a second lieutenant attending the aviation school at the base.

Meanwhile six other Saudi nationals were arrested near the base shortly after the attack, as investigators began to probe a terror link.

Three of the six were seen filming the entire incident as it unfolded, a source told The New York Times on Friday evening.

US arms sold to Saudi Arabia wind up in Al Qaeda’s hands

Hodeidah, Yemen (CNN) – Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners have transferred American-made weapons to al Qaeda-linked fighters, hardline Salafi militias, and other factions waging war in Yemen, in violation of their agreements with the United States, a CNN investigation has found.

The weapons have also made their way into the hands of Iranian-backed rebels battling the coalition for control of the country, exposing some of America’s sensitive military technology to Tehran and potentially endangering the lives of US troops in other conflict zones.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, its main partner in the war, have used the US-manufactured weapons as a form of currency to buy the loyalties of militias or tribes, bolster chosen armed actors, and influence the complex political landscape, according to local commanders on the ground and analysts who spoke to CNN.

via US arms sold to Saudi Arabia and UAE end up in wrong hands