Elon Musk wants to put chips in our brains. I’d prefer to stay human


Musk claims Neuralink will rescue humanity. But without our biological flaws, we lose an essential part of who we are

The announcement that a Chinese scientist, Dr He Jiankui, had used the gene-editing technique Crispr to engineer the world’s first genetically modified babies provoked a storm of protests. Though Dr He said he was motivated to help families struggling with genetic diseases, scientists around the world have warned that the experiment poses grave risks not only to the twins involved and their progeny but also to our entire species, and many ethicists have agreed.

On the same day the story broke, the entrepreneur Elon Musk announced that one of his companies, Neuralink, was planning to save the human race by building a hard drive to be implanted in the brain. The goal, Musk explained, was to wire a chip into your skull, giving you the digital intelligence that is poised to surge far ahead of mere biological intelligence. Without that chip – that is, without fully incorporating artificial intelligence into ourselves – our species, Musk argued, is doomed. In the robotic, algorithm-dominated universe that lies just ahead, we will be restricted, if we survive at all, to a few protected zones, comparable to the steadily shrinking territories, little more than big cages, where the last chimpanzees and mountain gorillas eke out their existence.

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Turkey masses troops near Kurdish-held town in northern Syria

Turkey can’t wait to start the Kurdish Genocide or Turk Genocide 2.0
First the Armenians and second the Kurds. 3.0 will be for anyone who opposes the leader.


Buildup comes despite Ankara saying it would delay offensive after US pullout announced

Turkey is massing troops near a town in northern Syria held by a Kurdish-led force backed by the US, a war monitor and Turkish media have said.

The buildup comes despite Ankara saying it would delay a promised offensive in eastern Syria in the wake of Donald Trump’s surprise announcement on Wednesday to withdraw US troops from the country, which it welcomed.

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Justices asked to intervene in grand jury dispute

Justices asked to intervene in grand jury dispute

This afternoon the Supreme Court was asked to step into a clash over a grand jury subpoena that is widely believed to be related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into interference in the 2016 election. In a filing made under seal, an unnamed corporation – owned by a foreign country identified in the lower court only as “Country A” – apparently asked the justices to block the subpoena after the lower courts refused to do so. The case had been kept under wraps when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral argument last week, with courthouse security officers not only closing the hearing to the public but also locking down an entire floor of the courthouse.

On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit upheld the district court’s order holding the corporation in contempt for failing to provide the information requested by the subpoena. The D.C. Circuit agreed with the district court that, although foreign countries are ordinarily shielded by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act from being sued in U.S. courts, the federal government (which is seeking the information) had shown that the case falls within an exception to the FSIA for commercial activities that have a direct effect in the United States. The D.C. Circuit also rejected the corporation’s argument that it should not have to comply with the subpoena because doing so would cause it to violate Country A’s laws, stressing that it was “unconvinced that Country A’s law truly prohibits the Corporation from complying with the subpoena.”

Tonight’s filing was under seal, so there is no way to know exactly what arguments are being made. However, the D.C. Circuit also rejected the corporation’s contention that the district court lacked power to hear criminal cases, such as this one, against foreign countries and the corporations that they own. In so doing, the court of appeals acknowledged that the Supreme Court’s earlier statements had not provided any “clear answer in this case” – which could also be the basis for the corporation’s plea.

Today’s filing went to Chief Justice John Roberts, who handles emergency appeals from the District of Columbia and can either act on the request himself or refer it to the full court. The next step will likely be to call for a response from the federal government, although that too will almost certainly be under seal.

The post Justices asked to intervene in grand jury dispute appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

US government shutdown: No end in sight | News | DW | 23.12.2018

US President Donald Trump canceled his holiday plans to stay in Washington as Democrats continue to reject his border wall funding demand. The US Senate will not meet until after Christmas.

Source: US government shutdown: No end in sight | News | DW | 23.12.2018

“I am proud to shut down the government…I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not gonna blame you for it.”—Donald Trump, December 11″

The US is on the edge of the economic precipice – and Trump may push it over | Robert Reich


Government shutdowns hurt millions. Great depressions hurt even more. History suggests real pain is round the corner

On Friday, Donald Trump said: “We are totally prepared for a very long shutdown.” It was one of his rare uses of the pronoun “we” instead of his preferred – and in this case far more appropriate – “I”.

Related: Chaos at home, fear abroad: Trump unleashed puts western world on edge

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Chaos at home, fear abroad: Trump unleashed puts western world on edge


While a government shutdown and a key resignation grabbed headlines, diplomats were stunned by US actions over Yemen

The US stumbled into the holiday season with a sense of unravelling, as a large chunk of the federal government ground to a halt, the stock market crashed and the last independently minded, globally respected, major figure left in the administration announced he could no longer work with the president.

Related: The US is on the edge of the economic precipice – Trump may push it over

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Putin and the Proxies – OCCRP

via aleksey godin



A Novaya Gazeta and OCCRP investigation looks into the wealth surrounding Russian President Vladimir Putin.

When it comes to distribution of wealth, Russia is one of the world’s most unequal major countries. In the quarter-century since the collapse of the Soviet Union, capitalism has arrived with a vengeance. Incomes rose substantially for most people — but dodgy privatization schemes, weak rule of law, dependence on natural resource extraction, and political manipulation has allowed a small class of oligarchs to gain control of a huge proportion of the country’s wealth.

Once beholden to no one but themselves, the oligarchs have been tamed since Vladimir Putin’s arrival to the presidency. The longtime leader has struck a mutually beneficial bargain: Leave the politics to me, chip in when I need you to — and you can keep, and even grow, your wealth.

But part of the story of Russia’s new wealth is missing: What about Putin himself?

In a recent interview, he replied to Oliver Stone’s questions about his assets with a chuckle and a sardonic smile: “I don’t have the wealth they attribute to me.”

Indeed, the Russian leader is notorious for keeping himself “officially” clean. But, sensing that there must be more to the story, OCCRP and its long-time partner Novaya Gazeta went digging to find out more — and pieced together the assets of some of President Putin’s friends, family, and inner circle.

Some of these people lead or have stakes in large companies, many connected to Russia’s lucrative natural resources sector. The one commonality in their financial success is their connection to the to the president.

A smaller, more mysterious group — the proxies — have no obvious explanation for the hidden wealth reporters have uncovered. They claim not to be businessmen, are not known to the public, and in some cases have little idea of the riches that are registered under their names. Again, they have one common attribute: they are all family or boyhood friends of Putin.

These proxies’ wealth may be accounted for by the simplest explanation: It may really be Putin’s money. But in Russia, nothing is simple.


Vladimir Putin has always denied having any serious wealth. But one of his relatives somehow amassed as much as $573 million in assets while working at an $8,500 per year job.

A former butcher worth US$ 550 million. A shipping company employee who amassed $573 million. A cellist whose offshore firms handled $2 billion.

According to OCCRP’s calculations and their 2017 Forbes ratings, the total wealth of Putin’s inner circle — a mix of family members, old friends, and friends who became family members — stands at nearly $24 billion. Their most successful businesses are either linked to the largely state-controlled oil and gas sector or connected to other state corporations.

Three of the people on this list — Mikhail Shelomov, Sergei Roldugin, and Pyotr Kolbin — form their own pattern. Though they hold enormous assets, they stay out of the public eye, seem largely unaware of their own companies, and are at pains to explain the origins of their wealth. This, along with their personal connections to the president, raise questions about whether their assets really belong to them — or if they are merely proxies.

Click on the names below to explore the members of this exclusive club and the connections between them.

Note: OCCRP did not include politicians and top state company managers among Putin’s friends. He also has other friends and relatives whose wealth is unknown.

President Doocy’s Shutdown

via Sophia, NOT Loren!

Donald Trump had a face-saving narrative put together to avoid a shutdown: 1)call any border security funding “the wall,” and 2)claim that the lightly renegotiated NAFTA constituted Mexico paying for it. Alas, the conservative media that would normally parrot Trump’s bullshit du jour decided to push back:

You could see the outline of a plan. Trump would wheedle some money out of Democrats, rebrand the tweaked NAFTA as Mexico “paying” for it, rebrand the fence as a wall, and say he won. Accordingly, Trump abandoned his previous threats to shut down the government over the lack of a wall.

But then right-wing media threw a fit. A backdrop here is that numerous right-wing infotainers build their audience by promoting irrational confrontational tactics. Figures like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and the cast of Fox & Friends don’t have serious, substantive policy disagreements with Republican leaders, but they do like to goad them into hopeless confrontations by pretending they will create leverage that does not exist. Under the Obama administration, conservative media promoted a series of government shutdown threats out of the belief that they could be used to make Obama give them policy concessions. For whatever reason, they’re not going along with the plan of pretending the wall is getting built, and instead they’re demanding Trump shut down the government to get the wall.

And when right-wing infotainers demanded this, Trump “alternately seethed and panicked about the stream of invective he’s hearing from allies on television,” as Politico reports.

The normal political strategy of a shutdown holds that the president will give up in the face of a shutdown because presidents care about the government looking competent and orderly. But this is an unusual situation — a shutdown being engineered by the president, rather than against him.

The situation is even worse that a closed wingnut media system echoing the president; the closed wingnut media system often pushes Trump (and many other Republican officials) to be even wingnuttier. In this case, a lot of working people will suffer as a result.