Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April 12, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

Today are some articles I found interesting, but on a variety of topics: health, world affairs (immigration and so on), and some science articles:
But does Russian intelligence play a more direct role in encouraging migrants to head for the EU? Several Western security services have hinted at this reality, but only recently have any European governments been willing to go on the record with their concerns. In mid-February, Finland’s defense minister bluntly stated that the flow of migrants into his country via Russia was “our most serious challenge.” Now, with refugees taking an Arctic route into the EU from Russia in unprecedented numbers, Helsinki is openly accusing the Kremlin and its intelligence services of flooding Finland, and therefore the EU, with refugees as a political weapon to destabilize Europe.

This notion, which may sound far-fetched to neophytes, is taken very seriously by leading EU and NATO members, particularly those unlucky enough to be located close to Russia. “This is all the FSB,” explained a senior security official from one of NATO’s border states, referring to Russia’s powerful Federal Security Service. “Migrants go where the FSB sends them, many of the human traffickers are FSB agents,” adding that for the Kremlin this is a “win-win since it gets the migrants out of their lap and drops them in ours.”

Western security services are also worried that the FSB and other Russian intelligence agencies are exploiting the refugee crisis for espionage purposes. A major concern is that the Kremlin has seeded the migrants with secret operatives who will be activated once they reach Europe. The use of deep cover spies, what the Russians term Illegals, was a specialty of the KGB that has continued to the present day, as revealed by the roll-up early last year of an Illegal of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, who was operating in New York City, spying on Wall Street.
    ... But [Christopher Lasch’s] 1995 book, The Revolt of the Elites—published the year after he died of cancer at 61—provides the backstory to the class wars underlying this year’s fractious election.
      In The Revolt of the Elites Lasch foresaw the disconnect between the nation’s political classes and the governed, as UCLA law professor Stephen Bainbridge has recently observed. America’s elites have devoted so much energy to building their collective moral system that they expect ideological obedience. When Trumpists say strong families in the 1950s were a positive, the cognoscenti respond: “So what. It was a terrible time for minorities and gays.”  
        Trump’s armies feel the sting of comfortable, upscale, post-industrial winners who can barely conceal their contempt for those they dismiss as Wal-Mart people. The disdain for yeoman America—which is overwhelmingly white—is visceral, longstanding, and profound.
          “Middle Americans, as they appear to the makers of educated opinion, are hopelessly shabby, unfashionable, and provincial, ill informed about changes in taste or intellectual trends, addicted to trashy novels of romance and adventure, and stupefied by prolonged exposure to television,” Lasch wrote in 1995, not yesterday. “They are at once absurd and vaguely menacing.”
            As Lasch anticipated, the nation’s ruling classes style themselves to be citizens of the world, living in “a global bazaar” to be savored indiscriminately, “with no questions asked and no commitments required.” From Pacific Palisades to Cambridge, far from the madding crowd, well-heeled transnational citizens of the world may hold assets in Singapore or the Cayman Islands. Their identities are post-national. Amid the affluence, obsequious Third World helpers work at minimum wage or off the books, doing the scut work and producing an exotic, multicultural vibe as a bonus.
              Abandoning the left’s original intent to protect the common man, Lasch observed, progressives chose instead to pursue diversity, secularism, and cultural revolution. Families, schools, and churches were left behind. For thought leaders, family values, mindless patriotism, religious fundamentalism, white racism, homophobia, and retrograde views of women stood in the way of progress.
                For progressive elites, delicate moral confections and debatable ethical positions became acts of faith. “It is no longer necessary to argue with opponents on intellectual grounds or to enter into their point of view,” Lasch pointed out. “It is enough to dismiss them as Eurocentric, racist, sexist, homophobic – in other words, as politically suspect.” When these novel moral systems are challenged, Lasch added, progressives react with “venomous hatred,” the toxic ill feeling that seems abundant in the 2016 election year.
                  Read the whole thing.
                  • Related: "Why Corporations Oppose Religious Liberty"--Andrew Klavan writing at PJ Media. He concludes: "What big corporations hate is freedom of the individual conscience, internally governed families, and churches powerful enough to stand up to the make-believe righteousness of government decrees. All of these things tend to generate independent action and thoughtful morality which can get in the way of profits. ..."
                  • "Will This Weapon Change Infantry Warfare Forever?"--The Diplomat. The author writes: "The XM25 will essentially destroy the value of cover and with it the necessity of long-drawn out firefights. It will also make the old infantry tactic of firing and maneuvering to eliminate an enemy hiding behind cover obsolete." Unless the enemy have overhead cover.
                  • "Scientists create metallic foam that shatters bullets"--Christian Science Monitor. "The armor's bullet-stopping capabilities are impressive, but the researchers working on these composite metal foams do not want them relegated to defense only. They insist the materials show potential in the areas of nuclear waste storage and protecting satellites from space debris."
                  • "Will La Niña Follow One of the Strongest Ever El Niños?"--Climate Central. "Called La Niña, this climate state comes with its own set of global impacts, including higher chances of a dry winter in drought-plagued California and warm, wet weather in Southeast Asia."
                  • "What Really Killed the Dinosaurs?"--Scientific American. From the article:
                    For years, the end-Cretaceous extinction was thought to have been set up by volcanic eruptions in India, then finished off by the Chicxulub asteroid impact in Mexico (the “Press-Pulse hypothesis”). The Indian Deccan Traps eruptions were considered too slow, and their effects too mild, to cause global species death on their own. But as the new dates for the end-Permian, end-Triassic and other extinctions have now shown, LIP [“Large Igneous Provinces”]eruptions can indeed cause extinctions without the help of an asteroid. In fact, no asteroid impact has been linked with any other mass extinction since complex animals evolved, despite the fact that there have been several other impacts almost as big as Chicxulub in that time.
                      In January 2015, geochronologist Blair Schoene of Princeton University and colleagues measured dates for the Deccan eruptions that showed they were at precisely the right time and duration to have triggered the end-Cretaceous extinction, in a pattern remarkably similar to that observed for the end-Permian and end-Triassic.
                        But the eruptions also appeared to coincide with the date for the Chicxulub impact.
                          "So, what is the universe?" Lloyd asked. "The universe is a physical system that contains and processes information in a systematic fashion and that can do everything a computer can do."

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