And I thought my idea of replacing the 1% with robots was crazy …

Slime molds, Keats says, excel at making decisions that benefit the whole superorganism. Humanity–or the population of the United States–is its own type of superorganism, Keats says, although we don’t often think of ourselves that way. “The implications of our actions ripple through the entire society,” he says, “and the individual interest is connected in a deep and essential way to the collective interest. Under those terms, setting slime molds the task of problem-solving for us makes a strange kind of sense. It’s just a matter of transcribing our issues into terms that slime molds can understand and organize around.

Take the issue of immigration, and Trump’s Mexican border wall proposal. Keats and Dobro laid out two scenarios in different Petri dishes. Each dish was divided in half, with a slime mold on either side, and half was coated with glucose and the other half with protein–two favorite nutrients of slime molds. An impenetrable barrier divided one dish, and the other featured an open border. After several days, the slime molds in the open dish had joined together and begun thriving in the open border zone, benefitting from the diversity of nutrients and shared resources, while the separated molds did not grow as quickly. “Borders are built on the principle that it’s better to protect what you have than allow for the free flow of resources,” Keats says. The slime molds seem to have disproved that theory.

via Let’s Just Replace Our Government With Slime Molds (No, Really)

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The Taliban and the Haqqani Network are one in the same

Although Treasury refers to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network as if they are separate entities, they are in fact one and the same. The Haqqanis’ operation is an integral part of the Taliban’s coalition, with Siraj Haqqani, overall head of the network, also serving as the Taliban’s deputy leader.

The evidence cited to justify the sanctions indicates that the Taliban operates a wide-reaching international network, extending from Afghanistan and Pakistan into Iran, Turkey, Syria, the Gulf States and elsewhere.

Yet, the designations also highlight, once again, the importance of Pakistan as a safe haven for the Taliban’s senior leadership. Five of the six men — including three senior Taliban finance officials and the “deputy leader” of the group’s military commission — have been based in Pakistan, according to Treasury’s identifying information.

via Analysis: US Treasury Department reveals new details about the Taliban’s network | FDD’s Long War Journal

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Pipistrel Electric Trainer Arrives in Canada


The Alpha Electro is powered by a 60 KW electric motor developed by Siemens AG, an engine equivalent to an 80-hp. gas motor. With a 34-foot wingspan and a 21-foot length, the Electro shares essentially the same external dimensions as a Cessna 150. The Alpha tips the scale at just 1,212 pounds at its maximum weight. At sea level, the aircraft cruises at 85 knots and can deliver an amazing 1,220 fpm climb at 65 knots.

The Alpha can handle an hour of touch and goes in the traffic pattern while remaining nearly silent, according to Jonas Boll, Pipistrel’s Canadian distributor, and this while creating zero-emissions. An hour flight allows the Alpha to also land with a half-hour battery reserve. A recharge on the ground takes just 45 minutes.

Although Electros have been delivered in the U.S., they’re not quite ready for prime time flying since FAA paperwork allowing the Alpha Electro to operate as an LSA in commercial operations has not yet been inked.

via Pipistrel’s First Electric Airplane Arrives in Canada | Flying Magazine


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King Abdullah knew how to play the game. These guys don’t.

via Saudis fail at their own conspiracy :

“For at least the last year, the Saudis have been trying to persuade Saleh to abandon the Houthis and flip sides. In October, the Saudi media reported that the Saudi coalition had allowed a Russian medical team to travel to Sanaa to perform a life-saving operation on Saleh, presumably linked to wounds suffered in the previous assassination attempt. It was a very open signal of Saudi interest for Saleh to jump ship. The Houthis certainly noticed and intensified their long-standing efforts to weaken support for the ex-president in the capital and the rest of northern Yemen.

Last week Saleh made his move and denounced the Houthis as Iranian agents, offered to turn “a new page” with the Saudi coalition and portrayed himself as the defender of Arabism. Bloody street battles rocked Sanaa. But Saleh had no support elsewhere in northern Yemen and the Houthis quickly gained the upper hand in the capital. Saleh died Dec. 4 apparently trying to escape from the city.

Aside from a few bombing missions by the Royal Saudi Air Force, the coalition did nothing to assist Saleh’s loyalists. Hadi announced that the pro-Saudi forces he has nominal control over would advance on Sanaa only after Saleh was dead. They have yet to even try.”

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Saudi vs. Qatar

Nervana Mahmoud criticizes the Western Media’s unbalanced portrayal of the Qatar crisis

The behaviour of those Western media outlets reminds me of a similar pattern in Arabic media that I have witnessed from a very young age. Whenever a crisis emerged in the region between Arab states, Arab pundits and newspaper editorial boards took sides and started to shower opponents with accusations. The result has always been a constant state of polarization and confusion in which public opinion is shaped by distorted truth. I grew up yearning for the day I could read Western editorials and opinion pieces, assuming (rather naively) that the level of depth and professionalism would be much better. And it was; when I first moved to England, reading the printed editions of most prominent American and British outlets was simply a pleasure. Depth and nuance and covering various angles of conflicts have always been the staples of Western journalism.

Not any more. Recently a new trend has emerged, in which liberal journalists seem to think that defending Islamism, particularly after the failure of the various Arab uprisings, is a moral duty against the various autocratic leaders in the Middle East. Editorials defending political Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and its patron nations like Qatar has become a recurring theme. Legitimate accusations against Islamists are downplayed, dismissed, or ignored altogether. Balance, nuance, and depth in covering the region’s complex crises have become a rarity these days; shallowness, instead, is now the journalistic neo-norm. The easy way to defend the Brotherhood Islamism and its patron Qatar is to write about Saudi Salafism and Egypt’s Sisi oppression. Both are indeed facts, but both are also part of a complex and intertwined net of events in which Islamists are not innocent victims.

Qatar’s support of the Brotherhood’s style of Islamism is problematic mainly because of its deceptive faux moderate veneer and its disingenuous support of democracy, while it is as autocratic and oppressive as the autocratic leadership they claim to oppose. If Qatar is truly moderate, it will not tolerate Al-Jazeera Arabic’s open sectarian tone, and it will not allow its Doha- based anchors and scholars to spread hatred and xenophobia. Since 2011, none of the Qatar-based activists, pundits, or scholars has once advocated harmony or reconciliation; instead they feed more anger, hatred, and division.

I despise Qatar and Saudi equally, so I don’t take sides. I’m just sitting here, eating popcorn, watching them pelt each other with their own filth.

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Saudi also Supports Terrorism

Thanks to

While Qatar has no doubt supported Islamist and extremist groups, Saudi Arabia is far from innocent. Therein lies the hypocrisy.
Riyadh, the capital, has itself faced accusations of tolerating or even supporting extremists, in particular after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

And in some cases there’s evidence to suggest Saudi Arabia has supported or co-sponsored some of the same figures it has accused its own neighbour of supporting.

Among Saudi’s biggest gripes is Qatar’s support for figures such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Islamist theologian and the “unofficial ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood”.

According to non-profit policy organisation the Counter Extremism Project, the Doha-based cleric — known for his extremist rhetoric and militant fatwas and is one of Sunni Islam’s most influential scholars.

He’s been offered a leadership role within the Brotherhood but has refused and doesn’t want to limit his reach by joining any organisation that might “constrain (his) actions”.

The Egyptian-born figure has been banned from visiting the US, UK and France due to his reputation as a violence-inciting Islamist, the CEP report.

Al-Qaradawi has been open about urging Muslims who are unable to fight jihad to financially support the mujahedeen, supported suicide bombings, and has called for the execution of Americans in Iraq, homosexuals and Jewish people.

Former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal is also on the list.

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Saudi says Qatar sponsors terrorism

The Saudis and their friends (United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain) have collectively designated 59 individuals and 12 institutions that have financed terrorist organizations and received support from Qatar.

Since I wish a pox on both of the Saud and Thani houses, I’m publishing it here for later reference.

List of designated individuals:
1. Khalifa Mohammed Turki al-Subaie – Qatari
2. Abdelmalek Mohammed Yousef Abdel Salam – Jordanian
3. Ashraf Mohammed Yusuf Othman Abdel Salam – Jordanian
4. Ibrahim Eissa Al-Hajji Mohammed Al-Baker – Qatari
5. Abdulaziz bin Khalifa al-Attiyah – Qatari
6. Salem Hassan Khalifa Rashid al-Kuwari – Qatari
7. Abdullah Ghanem Muslim al-Khawar – Qatari
8. Saad bin Saad Mohammed al-Kaabi – Qatari
9. Abdullatif bin Abdullah al-Kuwari – Qatari
10. Mohammed Saeed Bin Helwan al-Sakhtari – Qatari
11. Abdul Rahman bin Omair al-Nuaimi – Qatari
12. Abdul Wahab Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Hmeikani – Yemeni
13. Khalifa bin Mohammed al-Rabban – Qatari
14. Abdullah Bin Khalid al-Thani – Qatari
15. Abdul Rahim Ahmad al-Haram – Qatari
16. Hajjaj bin Fahad Hajjaj Mohammed al-Ajmi – Kuwaiti
17. Mubarak Mohammed al-Ajji – Qatari
18. Jaber bin Nasser al-Marri – Qatari
19. Yusuf Abdullah al-Qaradawi – Egyptian
20. Mohammed Jassim al-Sulaiti – Qatari
21. Ali bin Abdullah al-Suwaidi – Qatari
22. Hashem Saleh Abdullah al-Awadhi – Qatari
23. Ali Mohammed Mohammed al-Salabi – Libyan
24. Abdelhakim Belhadj – Libyan
25. Mahdi Harati – Libyan
26. Ismail Muhammad Mohammed al-Salabi – Libyan
27. Al-Sadiq Abdulrahman Ali al-Ghuraini – Libyan
28. Hamad Abdullah Al-Futtais al-Marri – Qatari
29. Mohamed Ahmed Shawky Islambouli – Egyptian
30. Tariq Abdelmagoud Ibrahim al-Zomor – Egyptian
31. Mohamed Abdelmaksoud Mohamed Afifi – Egyptian
32. Mohamed el-Saghir Abdel Rahim Mohamed – Egyptian
33. Wagdy Abdelhamid Ghoneim – Egyptian
34. Hassan Ahmed Hassan Mohammed Al Dokki Al Houti – UAE
35. Hakem al-Humaidi al-Mutairi – Saudi / Kuwaiti
36. Abdullah al-Muhaysini – Saudi
37. Hamed Abdullah Ahmed al-Ali – Kuwaiti
38. Ayman Ahmed Abdel Ghani Hassanein – Egyptian
39. Assem Abdel-Maged Mohamed Madi – Egyptian
40. Yahya Aqil Salman Aqeel – Egyptian
41. Mohamed Hamada el-Sayed Ibrahim – Egyptian
42. Abdel Rahman Mohamed Shokry Abdel Rahman – Egyptian
43. Hussein Mohamed Reza Ibrahim Youssef – Egyptian
44. Ahmed Abdelhafif Mahmoud Abdelhady – Egyptian
45. Muslim Fouad Tafran – Egyptian
46. Ayman Mahmoud Sadeq Rifat – Egyptian
47. Mohamed Saad Abdel-Naim Ahmed – Egyptian
48. Mohamed Saad Abdel Muttalib Abdo Al-Razaki – Egyptian
49. Ahmed Fouad Ahmed Gad Beltagy – Egyptian
50. Ahmed Ragab Ragab Soliman – Egyptian
51. Karim Mohamed Mohamed Abdel Aziz – Egyptian
52. Ali Zaki Mohammed Ali – Egyptian
53. Naji Ibrahim Ezzouli – Egyptian
54. Shehata Fathi Hafez Mohammed Suleiman – Egyptian
55. Muhammad Muharram Fahmi Abu Zeid – Egyptian
56. Amr Abdel Nasser Abdelhak Abdel-Barry – Egyptian
57. Ali Hassan Ibrahim Abdel-Zaher – Egyptian
58. Murtada Majeed al-Sindi – Bahraini
59. Ahmed Al-Hassan al-Daski – Bahraini

List of entities:
1. Qatar Volunteer Center – Qatar
2. Doha Apple Company (Internet and Technology Support Company) – Qatar
3. Qatar Charity – Qatar
4. Sheikh Eid al-Thani Charity Foundation (Eid Charity) – Qatar
5. Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services – Qatar
6. Saraya Defend Benghazi – Libya
7. Saraya al-Ashtar – Bahrain
8. February 14 Coalition – Bahrain
9. The Resistance Brigades – Bahrain
10. Hezbollah Bahrain – Bahrain
11. Saraya al-Mukhtar – Bahrain
12. Harakat Ahrar Bahrain – Bahrain Movement

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