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11
YoNews Portal / Hizbullah: “You Don’t See Them…They See You!”
« Last post by YoNews on Today at 06:35:02 AM »
Hizbullah: “You Don’t See Them…They See You!”

[Author’s Note: This is Part Four of a multi-part expose direct from Istanbul and Lebanon. Please see Part One, Part Two, or Part Three for information not repeated here.]


*****


“This is not good!” cautions a new Lebanese friend in a stern tone of warning, clutching this reporter’s arm for emphasis. “This, where you are going.. it is their neighbourhood… Hizbullah’s neighbourhood. They control this completely!”


Protesting that this quest is well-intentioned, no secret and no threat, this friend provides probably the most important council, and most accurate statement, in properly understanding today’s modern Hizbullah.


“You do not understand well about Hizbullah,” he says, the seriousness of his face indicating his sincerity. “You do not see Hizbullah… they see you!”


His caution and commentary prove to be a very accurate description of today’s Hizbullah. The western media would have those reading about today’s Lebanon from a distance believe that Hizbullah is only a fighting force and therefore easily identifiable in a uniform such as with their invited presence in Syria. The reality is that today within Lebanon, Hizbullah is an army of the people, by the people, and for the people. These people are doctors, teachers, accountants, taxi drivers, shopkeepers, manual labourers and all other professions, but their common denominator is their love of their homeland. And defend it again they will, leaving their clinics, desks, chalkboards, cars, shops or shovels behind the moment Lebanon is attached again.


Almost exclusively western media minimizes the complete reality by reporting only on Hizbullah’s military wing, Al Moqawama al Islamia (The Islamic Resistance). Since the 2006 war, when Hizbullah (phonetically spelt ‘Hezbollah’ in the west) successfully defended the country from a third Israeli invasion of its southern border, much about the rise of this deliberately managed organization, now firmly entrenched in Lebanese society, has changed dramatically.


Information that belies the usual narrative about this Lebanese nationalist political, social and military group, Hizbullah, is as hard to obtain as is an interview with one of their soldiers. The western press, of course, routinely demonizes this organization’s defensive and socially important new political philosophy- one that in a post-war decade has increasingly provided much-needed benefits- beyond defence- to most of Lebanon and its people.


“Hello?” came the cryptic one-word text, suddenly appearing on this reporter’s phone after returning from a very long day gaining access to the highly militarized Lebanese/Israeli border.


“May I help you?” was typed back in cautious reply.


One minute…two, three. then, “We have mutual friends. Would you like to meet? 10:30 tomorrow? Electricite du Liban building.”


There are rare moments that one lives for when reporting on-scene in other countries, and… opportunity rarely knocks twice. Taking an educated guess at the origin of these texts- after a week of trying to meet with Hizbullah officials- and realizing the likely value of this offer, the unknown appointment is confirmed with a simple,“OK.”


Hizbullah was born of a need for a defence against invasion by foreign armies, its roots steeped in the social uprising of the Lebanese Shi’a community in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. This fight against internal turmoil in Lebanon was the inspiration for the religious cleric, Imam Musa Sadr, who “disappeared” under mysterious circumstances in Libya in 1978. Sadr accurately called his fledgeling resistance the Movement of the Deprived (Harakat al-Mahrumin). Divisive Lebanese politics and a 15-year (1975-1990) civil war spawned by the Israelis who pitted the Christian militias and the Syrians against the Muslim Lebanese, created, as intended, a fractured country fighting each other in the streets for more than a decade. During this incursion, the Israeli invasion of 1982 provided a catalyst for further Shiite radicalism manifesting in the form of a return to pure Lebanese nationalism. Thus, Hizbullah emerged with the aim of expelling the foreign combatants and alleviating the continued social sufferings of the Shi’a community.


These goals have greatly expanded since.


Hizbullah revealed: Of wars past…and future?


It’s 10:28 AM. The Electricite du Liban building takes up a whole city block, ringed by a ten-foot-tall yellow steel fence with military guards posted, standing armed on either side of their squad car blocking the one entrance. Approaching quickly down Gouraud street, apparently now having been recognized, a nearby car waves from the window. How I am recognized is a mystery. Waving back, I round the back end of a late model white Toyota SUV. Getting in I shake hands, identify myself with the driver who immediately pulls out and heads for a coffee shop by the bay just south of Beirut harbour. “See that spot?” asks the driver, pointing out the window as we pass a rather smallish  pristine mosque that sits on the edge of the bay, “That is the where [former Prime Minister, Rafic] Hariri was killed in a car bombing in 2004.” [DV Ed. Rafic al Hariri was killed in 2005] The mosque, not surprisingly, is called the Hariri Mosque.


Hizbullah Spiritual Leader Hassan Nasrallah


Twenty long minutes later, now sitting in the quiet back corner, sipping a coffee and a mocha respectively, I get to know the man who has asked me here to his company. He introduces himself as Hadi. Polished bald head, thick black drooping moustache over a cropped greying goatee and probing eyes inspect me as Hadi does all the talking. He has many points that he wants to make clear. I am listening … and scribbling furiously.


Indeed the military wing is now far more organized and prepared for defence than before the 2006 war; however, Hizbullah’s persona under the direction of their spiritual and political leader, Sheikh Sa’id Hassan Nasrallah, has also dramatically changed. There is a moral, disciplined side to the militia that comes from the overlying Shi’a religious doctrine espoused by Nasrallah, that now accepts all religions, but with a firm grasp on professional, ethical performance of its military duties…only when necessary.


Hadi fought in the 2006 war and has the scars to prove it. He points to an eight-inch semi-circular line on the right side of his head just above the ear. “An Israeli rocket…it barely missed. I was blown into some big trees over fifty feet away,” he explains. “I was unconscious for two weeks… in the hospital for two months.”


Like many involved with modern Hizbullah, Hadi is a businessman who is daily in the tourism business. He has a family. He wants peace. He wanted peace in 2006. He wants peace now. But, he is emphatic that war has been brought to Lebanon despite the peaceful desire of the nation. Hadi does not think Israel will attack again, which is a strange comment considering our discussion. He feels that a new generation of Israelis will reject new war and that Israel is slowly changing away from a focus on Lebanon. However, he is just as adamant that Lebanon and Hizbullah are ready to defend Lebanon once again.


Comparisons to ISIS/Daesh are ridiculous, which is almost exclusively a radical fringe element of the Sunni Muslims. Hizbullah is predominantly Shi’a but far more inclusive. Extrajudicial executions are forbidden and proper military protocol and respect for the authority of its commanders are mandated. Here, within a religion that values education and tolerance, this developing defensive militia wishes to showcase itself to all Lebanese, and a jaundiced western press, as an example worthy of additional participation and worldwide support. In a postwar decade, it has developed the tools to do so.


Hadi was living in a small town within 500 meters of the fenced-off Lebanon/Israeli border when the 2006 fighting started. Like every house in the area, his was completely destroyed as were those of his neighbours. Here he dispels the narrative that Hizbullah, as a separate Lebanese defensive force, was doing all the fighting. “We fought. I fought. Everybody fought! Children took up weapons… what choice did we have then?” Here, Hadi puts down his coffee, moving to the front of his chair to emphasize his point.  “You must understand,” and now he lowers his voice… “…within days we had lost everything. We were literally fighting only for country… our country… and our own lives!”


Hadi is direct and chooses his words carefully in perfect English. He repeats that the 2006 war could have been avoided. He expands on the July 12, 2006, kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev who were taken to effect a pre-negotiated prisoner swap to secure the release of 1050 Hizbullah soldiers and political prisoners from Israeli jails. Of particular interest to Hizbollah was Samim Al Kintar who had been arrested and in an Israeli prison since 1975. Hadi insists that in the many months before the war the Israeli Government of Ehud Olmert had approved the prisoner swap negotiations… and then stalled repeatedly. Hizbullah obviously had every reason to follow through with the agreement. “They stalled because the Olmert government was getting strong resistance [to the agreement] in the Knesset,” Hadi commented. “Hizbullah was ready for many months. The kidnapping was a result of these delays that violated a finalized agreement. The media ignored the agreement completely to blame Hizbullah without revealing this connection. This was not true!”


The Hizbullah Flag Lines The Highways Heading North into Sidon


In 2006 Hizbullah was an amalgam of area citizens using any weapon available and trained fighters using prepared defensive tactics and advanced weapons. Hadi talks about their only countering against military targets within Lebanon, particularly tanks. Not civilian targets. Using the Russian made 9M 133 Kornet anti-tank rocket to fight back, the Israelis lost 43 tanks the first day and 65 on the second; a reversal of fortune not anticipated by the IDF. By day twenty, Israel had no heavy armour operational north of their own border. This is when the Israeli tactics were changed to openly destroying as much of southern Lebanon’s public infrastructure as possible. And this they did, resulting in a huge loss of civilian life particularly women and children.


Then, the fortunes of war suddenly changed.


As the border clash continued, without the cover of their tanks the IDF infantry was reduced to a ground firefight on unfamiliar territory in the steep southern hills and the going was slow and rough… and deadly. Although casualty figures are highly propagandized, correctly Hadi notes that Israel lost approximately 400 IDF soldiers but few civilians because Hizbullah did not specifically target Israeli citizens. However, on the Lebanese side over 1300 were killed, mostly civilian, primarily due to the IDF shifting tactics to civilian targets once bogged down and taking heavy fire at the border.


Then the unthinkable happened… Israel began to run out of ammo.


Although Hizbullah does not reveal troop strength in numbers it is universally considered to be the  largest non-state military in the world and considerably stronger than the Lebanese army. Estimates indicate at least 20,000 professionally trained soldiers and 25,000 civilian militia fighters are maintained; however, this is a very low-ball estimate considering that US military estimates for the Syrian based Hizbullah units are currently 60,000 and that, with western Syria back under Assad’s control, most of these battle-hardened troops will be returning home soon. Whatever Hizbullah’s military may have been before the Syrian war, it is unquestionable that it is currently far better manned, armed, supplied, and trained than ever before.


Regarding new weapons, Hizbullah did not previously have heavy armour, tanks, anti-aircraft or anti-ship missiles. However, because of Syria being littered with American, British, Russian and Israeli made armaments, their current arsenal is projected to be extremely large and diverse. Although weapons depots are kept well stocked in many highly secret locations across Lebanon, intelligence sources say that other re-supply depots sit just across the Syrian border under joint protection with the Syrian army that, due to Hizbullah’s help in fighting the US-inspired invasion there, is firmly supportive. Further, the Assad government owes Hizbullah a debt of gratitude for helping turn the tide in Syria west of the Euphrates River. In doing this, it not only aided Assad but also created a defensive barrier in Syria that defends Lebanon to the east as well.


“Did you know that Assad was given three choices before the war started seven years ago?” asked Hadi, knowing that this is news. “First, he was offered $15 billion to leave Syria unconditionally. Second, he was offered $15 billion to stay if he would support the upcoming pipeline and release control of the one Russian navy base and two airports. But third was the threat…take either option or $15 billion will be spent to defeat you.”


This information has been difficult to confirm, but has the strong ring of truth applied to the US-backed overthrow of the Ukrainian government and its publicly stated assurance of $5 billion for that particular overthrow. Obviously, Assad did not choose the first two options. The results of that decision are indisputable and now matter of history.


Taking the conversation back to the 2006 war, Hadi correctly notes that, with Israel low on ammo, new supplies were flown in from the US using Qatar as an intermediary, thus providing the Americans cover for their resupply effort and the semblance of neutrality. At the same time, the IDF was taking a beating on the ground and in the press. The cost to date of the war on the Israeli side was also released: $3.5 billion, including losses in Gross Domestic Product, and in tourism and, a quarter of the businesses in northern Israel were at risk of bankruptcy. The Israeli Chamber of Commerce said their lost revenues totalled an additional $1.4 billion dollars.


At the same time, Israel had put in place a complete blockade of the Lebanese coastline, harbours, and air space to any airport, thus taking away all resupply of the Lebanese resistance. Unlike the military arrogance of the IDF, Hizbullah had marshalled its resources wisely, the main problem being a lack of medical supplies that were banned from delivery by the US allies and contributed directly to the rising death toll as doctors also fought just as valiantly to save lives with what little they had to work with.


Three weeks in and the IDF was still mired less than twenty miles from the original border. The cost-benefit ratio was rising directly proportionally to the Israeli public and world outrage at Olmert’s blunder and his IDF general’s poor planning.


Author’s Note: Next Up, Part Four: “Hizbullah Today: Of Power, Money, and… the People.”


Source: Hizbullah: “You Don’t See Them…They See You!”
12
YoNews Portal / Trouble in the Multiverse
« Last post by YoNews on Today at 06:00:04 AM »
Trouble in the Multiverse


The boundary between science and mere scientific speculation can be elusive. Albert Einstein famously performed only thought experiments, but those mere ideas yielded counterintuitive predictions leading to experiments conclusively confirming his revolutionary theory. Other thought experiments imagined by Einstein and his colleagues meant to demonstrate the impossibility of quantum theory actually turned out to be conductible. When performed, those experiments refuted Einstein’s arguments and help confirm the quantum.




I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics. —Richard Feynman




Recently, however, some much more troublesome (and troubling) ideas have been advanced by some astrophysicists and cosmologists: string theory and the multiverse. The motivation and justification of string theory is to bring order to the menagerie of subatomic particles. String theory posits that we live not in a four-dimensional universe of space-time (once a highly counterintuitive notion, but now firmly established) but in a universe of many more dimensions (10 or 11, at last count), most of which we ordinary humans fail to notice simply because we’re unable to move in or through them (and because they’re very, very small relative to the more familiar ones). The usual analogy is that of two-dimensional creatures living in a flatland—on a surface (either a plane extending infinitely in two dimensions or a bounded one such as the surface of a sphere)—who would be unable to perceive a third dimension (and perhaps even to conceive of it). With 10 or more spatial dimensions, we’re told, we can conceive of subatomic particles not as point-like entities but as string-like ones vibrating in modes that can account for the variety of particles actually observed. However, no testable predictions have yet been advanced to confirm or disprove the idea.



At several stages in the history of science, some theories and entities were posited only because they were useful, although many scientists working at the time doubted their physical reality. The heliocentric model of the solar system, for example, was initially accepted not as physically true but simply because its mathematics made it simpler to account for the apparent motion of the planets. Similarly, the atomic nucleus, the electron, and the photon were all at first considered useful concepts having no physical reality. It was sometimes not even clear that the theories could ever lead to experimentally testable predictions.



Of course, not all theories are successful, and not all hypothesized entities (for example, phlogiston and the élan vital) prove themselves to be real. As experiments (and, eventually, practical applications) proved the usefulness of some ideas, the concepts they embodied became accepted as part of physical reality. Right now, we’re at the familiar stage in which we can’t even conceive of a way to experimentally test the theory of hypermultidimensionality. However, if the history of science is any guide, scientists will eventually think of some observable implications and will perform the appropriate experiments. If the experiments succeed, the theory will become part of our scientific reality, and the previously paradoxical concepts will somehow become familiar and workable, even if not understandable; if those predictions fail, the theory will be rejected. However, if no one ever devises experimentally testable hypotheses, the theory will simply fade away as scientifically unproductive. (Or a competing theory without the extra dimensions will be devised that gives a better account of reality.)



The theory—or theories—of the multiverse, however, seems even more problematic than hypermultidimensionality. String theory hasn’t led to any testable predictions yet, but such predictions don’t seem to be intrinsically impossible. The notion of the multiverse, on the other hand, appears to be untestable in principle.



The notion of the multiverse, masquerading as scientific speculation, is equally entertaining and equally fictitious.



The notion that there can be more than one universe at first seems oxymoronic—after all, the word universe, with its prefix uni-, mean the whole of reality, all that exists. However, there is at least one striking parallel to this evolution of meaning: the word atom means, essentially, indivisible. Although we now know that what we still refer to as atoms are indeed further divisible and contain smaller entities, we now use the word to refer to the smallest unit of an element. Similarly, the word universe may be retained to point to its more-or-less original referent but with different implications: an entity that consists of everything that exists, of which there may be several.



Not all multiverses are created equal. One brand of multiverse, even if it may be untestable is, at least, scientifically unobjectionable. Our universe is currently understood to have originated in a Big Bang some 13.8 billion years ago. Given the limits of the speed of light, if some of the universe is already further away than 13.8 billion light-years (due to a period of hyperinflation), it is forever isolated from us. There may, then, be any number of island universes—initially parts of the same universe originating in a single Big Bang—each forever isolated from one another. Although this notion is in principle untestable, it appears at least consistent with our current understanding of reality.



The much more problematic notion of a multiverse arises from a highly speculative interpretation of quantum mechanics. At that level, we’re told, the universe is in principle indeterminate. Certain properties of a subatomic particle (for example, whether the spin of a particle is up or down) have no reality—only relative probabilities—until a measurement is taken. One interpretation of quantum theory is that, at the moment of measurement the indeterminacy collapses and the spin is determined one way or the other.



However, another interpretation is not that a quantum collapse simply takes the one path or the other, but that the universe actually bifurcates at that moment, taking both paths at once, each in a separate universe cleaved from the original one, and henceforth and forever isolated from all others.



Not being able to understand one aspect of reality however is no justification for an entertaining but equally incomprehensible one.



It is awe-inspiring to imagine that a simple experiment in subatomic physics performed in our little corner of the universe could have such a powerful effect as to cleave it into two separate realities. Has the universe been innocently going along all this time without bifurcating until quantum physics was discovered and these experiments were performed? (This is not entirely without precedent: after all, no nuclear explosion ever occurred on Earth until scientists discovered how to set one off.) Does it all depend on a physicist daring to disturb the universe? Or is it that quantum collapse intrinsically causes universe bifurcation? Since there are an awful lot of particles in the universe (and, under some interpretations, all particles are quantum particles), they’re presumably collapsing all the time, leading to an awful lot of universes.



In some interpretations, quantum collapse eventually leads to all possible universes. We’re invited to imagine universes in which the asteroid that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and so led to the evolution of Homo sapiens never hits Earth; in which Abraham Lincoln recovers from John Wilkes Booth’s bullet; in which Adolf Hitler was a successful painter and never becomes Führer; and of course a great many universes—in fact, almost all of them—in which nothing of interest to us happens at all. It’s like Borges’ near-infinite library of all possible books, The Library of Babel. Borges’ story, of course, is a thought experiment not meant to be taken literally. The notion of the multiverse, masquerading as scientific speculation, is equally entertaining and equally fictitious.



In its recent usage, the notion of the multiverse was motivated not by any compelling and inescapable implication of quantum mechanics itself but only by our difficulty making sense of it. This concept of the multiverse is entirely unlike, for example, the fact that light behaves sometimes like a wave and sometimes like a particle. We have been compelled to accept that duality as a demonstrated reality, even though it makes no intuitive sense. We don’t understand duality because we can think only in humanlevel terms: light isn’t really much like an ocean wave or a BB pellet—these are just the best we can do.



Skeptic 22.1 (cover) 


This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 22.1 (2017).
Buy this issue




The multiverse, on the other hand, is an idea some people apparently believe makes intuitive sense—perhaps because it’s such a familiar and appealing staple of science fiction—but we’re not being forced to accept it by experimental results. We may be permanently at the stage in which we accept the mathematical accuracy and usefulness of the theory of quantum mechanics without ever being able to digest and accept its physical reality—all interpretations may forever seem counterintuitive and paradoxical. Not being able to understand one aspect of reality however is no justification for an entertaining but equally incomprehensible one. The wonder of the human mind is not that we can’t understand all of reality—it’s that we can understand any of it.



This limitless proliferation of universes seems to violate the laws of the conservation of matter and energy. Worse, it violates William of Ockham’s Razor: Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitate—that is, Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily. Nor should universes be. END




About the Author


Peter Kassan, over the course of his long career in software, was a programer, a software technical writer, a manager of technical writers and programmers, and an executive at a software products company. He’s the author or co-author of several software patents. He’s been a skeptical observer of the pursuit of artificial intelligence for some time. His last piece for Skeptic was “I Am Not Living in a Computer Simulation, and Neither Are You,” in issue 21.4.



About the image at the top


Universum by Heikenwaelder Hugo, Austria [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons is a colorized version of The Flammarion (by Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons) — a wood engraving by an unknown artist that first appeared in Camille Flammarion’s L’atmosphère: météorologie populaire (1888). The image depicts a man crawling under the edge of the sky (as if it were a solid hemisphere) to look at the mysterious Empyrean beyond. The caption underneath the engraving (not shown here) translates to “A medieval missionary tells that he has found the point where heaven and Earth meet…”




Source: Trouble in the Multiverse
13
YoNews Portal / eSkeptic for February 21, 2018
« Last post by YoNews on Today at 06:00:04 AM »
eSkeptic for February 21, 2018



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Bart Ehrman: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World (Science Salon). Hosted by Michael Shermer



SCIENCE SALON # 18


Michael Shermer in conversation with Bart Ehrman: How a Forbidden Religion (Christianity) Swept the World



In this remote Science Salon (recorded on February 19, 2018), Dr. Shermer converses with the great bible scholar and historian Dr. Bart D. Ehrman, the Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Dr. Ehrman is a leading authority on the New Testament and the history of early Christianity and the author of 8 Teaching Company courses and a number of New York Times bestselling books, including Misquoting Jesus and How Jesus Became God. In his new book, The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World, Dr. Ehrman explores how a tiny sect of just 20 people at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion in 30 CE became 25 to 35 million Christians by 400 CE. Imagine if the couple of dozen Branch Davidians living near Waco, Texas in early 1990s, instead of being incinerated by Federal agents in a botched stand-off, went on to convert two billion people around the world to their religion. That is what early Christians did. How did they do that?


Shermer and Ehrman also discuss the modern atheism movement, how Jesus became a Republican in the second half of the 20th century, the intractable (for Christians) problem of evil, the problem of identity for Jesus (how could he be both man and God?), what pre-Christian pagans believed about the gods, what early Christians had to offer pagans that other religions didn’t, how religions invented the afterlife and what people believed before the rise of Christianity about what happens after you die, and other fascinating topics.


This interview was recorded on February 18, 2018 as part of the Science Salon series of dialogues hosted by Michael Shermer and presented by The Skeptics Society, in California. Support our work on Patreon, or by making a donation directly.


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Universum by Heikenwaelder Hugo, Austria, www.heikenwaelder.at [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons is a colorized version of The Flammarion wood engraving by an unknown artist that first appeared in Camille Flammarion’s L’atmosphère: météorologie populaire (1888).



ABOVE: Universum by Heikenwaelder Hugo, Austria [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons is a colorized version of The Flammarion (by Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons) — a wood engraving by an unknown artist that first appeared in Camille Flammarion’s L’atmosphère: météorologie populaire (1888). The image depicts a man crawling under the edge of the sky (as if it were a solid hemisphere) to look at the mysterious Empyrean beyond. The caption underneath the engraving (not shown here) translates to “A medieval missionary tells that he has found the point where heaven and Earth meet…”


The notion that there can be more than one universe at first seems oxymoronic. In this week’s eSkeptic, Peter Kassan discusses the problematic notion of a multiverse arising from a highly speculative interpretation of quantum mechanics. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 22.1 (2017). Buy this issue.





Trouble in the Multiverse


by Peter Kassan


The boundary between science and mere scientific speculation can be elusive. Albert Einstein famously performed only thought experiments, but those mere ideas yielded counterintuitive predictions leading to experiments conclusively confirming his revolutionary theory. Other thought experiments imagined by Einstein and his colleagues meant to demonstrate the impossibility of quantum theory actually turned out to be conductible. When performed, those experiments refuted Einstein’s arguments and help confirm the quantum.



I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics. —Richard Feynman



Recently, however, some much more troublesome (and troubling) ideas have been advanced by some astrophysicists and cosmologists: string theory and the multiverse. The motivation and justification of string theory is to bring order to the menagerie of subatomic particles. String theory posits that we live not in a four-dimensional universe of space-time (once a highly counterintuitive notion, but now firmly established) but in a universe of many more dimensions (10 or 11, at last count), most of which we ordinary humans fail to notice simply because we’re unable to move in or through them (and because they’re very, very small relative to the more familiar ones). The usual analogy is that of two-dimensional creatures living in a flatland—on a surface (either a plane extending infinitely in two dimensions or a bounded one such as the surface of a sphere)—who would be unable to perceive a third dimension (and perhaps even to conceive of it). With 10 or more spatial dimensions, we’re told, we can conceive of subatomic particles not as point-like entities but as string-like ones vibrating in modes that can account for the variety of particles actually observed. However, no testable predictions have yet been advanced to confirm or disprove the idea.


At several stages in the history of science, some theories and entities were posited only because they were useful, although many scientists working at the time doubted their physical reality. The heliocentric model of the solar system, for example, was initially accepted not as physically true but simply because its mathematics made it simpler to account for the apparent motion of the planets. Similarly, the atomic nucleus, the electron, and the photon were all at first considered useful concepts having no physical reality. It was sometimes not even clear that the theories could ever lead to experimentally testable predictions. […]


Read the full article







Watch the live stream of this Science Salon on March 25, 2018 at 2pm PST




Source: eSkeptic for February 21, 2018
14
'He Talked About Killing Our Parents, Our Friends': Shooting Suspect's Friend Says She Warned School

A friend of the Florida school shooting suspect told Good Morning America on Tuesday that Nikolaz Cruz talked about killing people regularly and she and others warned the school repeatedly about him.
 
From The Hill:
"He talked about killing our pa...
Source: 'He Talked About Killing Our Parents, Our Friends': Shooting Suspect's Friend Says She Warned School
15
One Ukrainian Soldier Killed In Conflict Zone, Defense Ministry Says

Ukraine says one of its soldiers was killed and seven others were wounded in clashes with Russia-backed separatists in the country's east.
Source: One Ukrainian Soldier Killed In Conflict Zone, Defense Ministry Says

From News Feed
16
Today's News / Satterfield shuttles back to Beirut from Israel
« Last post by News Bot on Today at 06:00:03 AM »
Satterfield shuttles back to Beirut from Israel

Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield arrived in Beirut on Wednesday from Israel, in the United States’ latest attempted mediation between the two sides in a bitter border dispute.
Source: Satterfield shuttles back to Beirut from Israel

From News Feed
17
'Russian Influence' Agency Indicted by Mueller Was Actually A Commercial Marketing Scheme: Report

The Russian "Internet Research Agency" indicted by Special Council Robert Mueller for taking part in a "conspiracy to defraud the United States" was actually a commercial marketing scheme to generate advertising revenue, a new report from the investi...
Source: 'Russian Influence' Agency Indicted by Mueller Was Actually A Commercial Marketing Scheme: Report
18
Merchants of Death: America’s Toxic Cult of Violence Turns Deadly…”We are being fed a steady diet of violence through our entertainment, news and politics.”

By John W. Whitehead
Rutherford.org

February 19, 2018


“Mass shootings have become routine in the United States and speak to a society that relies on violence to feed the coffers of the merchants of death. Given the profits made by arms manufacturers, the defense industry, gun dealers and the lobbyists who represent them in Congress, it comes as no surprise that the culture of violence cannot be abstracted from either the culture of business or the corruption of politics. Violence runs through US society like an electric current offering instant pleasure from all cultural sources, whether it be the nightly news or a television series that glorifies serial killers.”—Professor Henry A. Giroux


We are caught in a vicious cycle.


With alarming regularity, the nation is being subjected to a spate of violence that terrorizes the public, destabilizes the country’s fragile ecosystem, and gives the government greater justifications to crack down, lock down, and institute even more authoritarian policies for the so-called sake of national security without many objections from the citizenry.


Take the school shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine’s Day: 17 people, students and teachers alike, were killed by Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student armed with a gas mask, smoke grenades, magazines of ammunition, and an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle.


This shooting, which is being chalked up to mental illness by the 19-year-old assassin, came months after a series of mass shootings in late 2017, one at a church in Texas and the other at an outdoor country music concert in Las Vegas. In both the Texas and Las Vegas attacks, the shooters were dressed like a soldier or militarized police officer and armed with military-style weapons.


As usual following one of these shootings, there is a vocal outcry for enacting more strident gun control measures, more mental health checks, and heightened school security measures.


Also as usual, in the midst of the finger-pointing, no one is pointing a finger at the American police state or the war-drenched, violence-imbued, profit-driven military industrial complex, both of which have made violence America’s calling card.


Ask yourself: Why do these mass shootings keep happening? Who are these shooters modelling themselves after? Where are they finding the inspiration for their weaponry and tactics? Whose stance and techniques are they mirroring?


Mass shootings have taken place at churches, in nightclubs, on college campuses, on military bases, in elementary schools, in government offices, and at concerts. In almost every instance, you can connect the dots back to the military-industrial complex, which continues to dominate, dictate and shape almost every aspect of our lives.


We are a military culture engaged in continuous warfare.


We have been a nation at war for most of our existence.


We are a nation that makes a living from killing through defense contracts, weapons manufacturing and endless wars.


We are being fed a steady diet of violence through our entertainment, news and politics.


All of the military equipment featured in blockbuster movies is provided—at taxpayer expense—in exchange for carefully placed promotional spots.


The Rest…HERE




Source: Merchants of Death: America’s Toxic Cult of Violence Turns Deadly…”We are being fed a steady diet of violence through our entertainment, news and politics.”
19
Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg Donate $500K to Student March for Gun Control

by AWR HAWKINS
BreitBart.com

20 Feb 2018


Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg joined George and Amal Clooney on Tuesday in pledging $500,000 to the student gun control “March for Our Lives.”


That’s $2 million worth of pledges from some of Hollywood’s biggest power-players.


As Breitbart News reported, George Clooney told People magazine:


Amal and I are so inspired by the courage and eloquence of these young men and women from Stoneman Douglas High School. Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country, and in the name of our children Ella and Alexander, we’re donating $500,000 to help pay for this groundbreaking event.


According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Katzenberg’s, Spielberg, and Winfrey will join the Clooney’s and donate $500K each to the march for gun control as well.


Spielberg said in a statement:


The young students in Florida and now across the country are already demonstrating their leadership with a confidence and maturity that belies their ages. Kate and I applaud their efforts to take a stand for the benefit of this and future generations. They are an inspiration to us all, and we are joining in this movement with a donation of $500,000.


Oprah Winfrey tweeted on Tuesday, “George and Amal, I couldn’t agree with you more. I am joining forces with you and will match your $500,000 donation to ‘March For Our Lives.’ These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s who also said we’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard.”


The Rest…HERE




Source: Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg Donate $500K to Student March for Gun Control
20

Turkish forces shelled a column of pro-Assad regime fighters as they tried to join with Kurdish forces resisting a Turkish incursion into northern Syria, Turkey' resident Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

The regime has been saying for days that it would dispatch fighters to support the Kurds as they battle to keep Turkey from taking control of the Kurdish-held pocket of Afrin.
more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/20/turkey-opens-fire-syrian-regime-forces-coming-aid-kurds-afrin/
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