Swiss voters say NO to Gripen fighter deal in nationwide referendum

Swiss voters have shot down a government plan to procure nearly two dozen Saab-made Gripen jet fighters from Sweden…

The Swiss government said 53.4 percent of those voting on Sunday were against funding the procurement, which would have cost $3.5 billion…

The Swiss air Force currently flies the F/A-18, due for retirement in 2025. The Federal Council planned to replace the U.S.-built planes with 22 Gripens…

Swiss opponents to their government’s Gripen deal argued the money spent to procure the planes could better be spent on other things.

NSS. The Minister of Defense said “This decision has the effect of creating security gaps.” He has gaposis of the brain. Sitting around worrying about someone invading Switzerland next week is like worrying about Canada’s great land army waging a major assault upon Yankee Stadium.

Now, here in the United States, we’re being asked to acquire 2,443 killer F-35 fighter aircraft at a cost of $125 million to $156 million a copy depending on options, radio, powered sub-woofers, Pandora, etc..

Good thing we have Congress to take care of unreasonable and outright stupid expenditures like this from falling on the shoulders of American taxpayers.

Oh.

Dear Obama — Tell the NSA to get an honest job and quit playing God

Warning of an erosion of confidence in the products of the U.S. technology industry, John Chambers, the CEO of networking giant Cisco Systems, has asked President Obama to intervene to curtail the surveillance activities of the National Security Agency.

In a letter dated May 15 (obtained by Re/code and reprinted in full below), Chambers asked Obama to create “new standards of conduct” regarding how the NSA carries out its spying operations around the world. The letter was first reported by The Financial Times.

The letter follows new revelations, including photos, published in a book based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden alleging that the NSA intercepted equipment from Cisco and other manufacturers and loaded them with surveillance software. The photos, which have not been independently verified, appear to show NSA technicians working with Cisco equipment. Cisco is not said to have cooperated in the NSA’s efforts.

Addressing the allegations of NSA interference with the delivery of his company’s products, Chambers wrote: “We ship our products globally from inside as well as outside the United States, and if these allegations are true, these actions will undermine confidence in our industry and in the ability of technology companies to deliver products globally.”

We simply cannot operate this way; our customers trust us to be able to deliver to their doorsteps products that meet the highest standards of integrity and security,” Chambers wrote. “We understand the real and significant threats that exist in this world, but we must also respect the industry’s relationship of trust with our customers…”

Here’s a link [.pdf] to the complete Chambers letter to President Obama.

Obama rolls over and plays dead for the State Department party line that’s unchanged since Truman. He rolls over and plays dead for the NSA crowd that’s been in charge since Ronald Reagan. No surprise to folks who study American foreign policy and domestic spying policies – as practiced.

The standard dicho on US spies was the CIA is liberals, the FBI is conservatives and the NSA is Nazis. That hasn’t changed. The roles they play internally has. The ultimate rat bastard bigot, J.Edgar Hoover, ran the FBI as his own personal Red Squad for decades. The CIA played the same role abroad – recruiting people who might have ended up in the Peace Corps otherwise. The my-country-right-or-wrong nursery rhyme still worked.

The NSA has always hoped for a dictator – conservative or fascist never made much of a difference. Reagan gave them every hope of success and an endless budget – which continues today.

No part of this process gives a damn about unemployed Americans, businesses dwindling down into a rusty crapper, the potential for trade in a globalized economy, education, healthcare, equal rights – for Americans or anyone else on the planet. American politicians, American corporations should rule the world and maximize profit at every level. Period.

I wish John Chambers well. His company played a significant role in building the Internet as we know it – and made money along the way. But, the rest of the world now indicts Cisco the way the NSA’s favorite pimp, Mike Rogers, tried to indict Huawei from the floor of Congress. The world has evidence for their opinion – courtesy of Edward Snowden.

I don’t think Obama will change the core tasks and policies of the NSA in the least. He’s drunk the KoolAid of Imperial America and it’s stronger than anything you can smoke on the South Side of Chicago. The propaganda may change. The lies to us – may change. Not the destiny they consider their right. God bless the United States of Amerika.

Americans say they go to church about 25% more often than they really do

The United States has long been unusually religious for an affluent, industrialized Western nation — in survey after survey, Americans report relatively high levels of belief in God, affiliation with religious institutions and participation in worship services.

But counting churchgoers has always been a bit tricky. Some congregations tend to over-report attendance, seeking to demonstrate vitality. Others are more scrupulous, especially in denominations where churches pay assessments based on size. And it’s been evident for years that Americans tend to overstate their own religiosity: There is a persistent gap between the number of people who claim to go to worship services and the number who can actually be counted in pews.

The gap grows more striking as America becomes more secular. In recent years, poll after poll has found more Americans who do not identify with a religious tradition, and many denominations show evidence of decline. And yet, Americans continue to report high levels of belief and participation — more than 90 percent of Americans say they believe in God or a universal spirit, and nearly 40 percent report weekly attendance at a worship service, numbers that have remained relatively unchanged for decades.

What’s going on? A new study, released Saturday, suggests that the gradual secularization of the nation has not eliminated the perceived social desirability of going to church, and the result is that Americans exaggerate their religious behavior. That exaggeration is more pronounced among some groups — Catholics, mainline Protestants and, strikingly, the unaffiliated, meaning that even people willing to say they don’t belong to a religious tradition still feel compelled to exaggerate their attendance at worship services…

People appear especially unwilling to say that they “seldom or never” go to worship services. In the phone interviews, only 30 percent described themselves that way, whereas in the online survey 43 percent acknowledged rare attendance. The effect continues even with the unaffiliated: In interviews, 73 percent say they seldom or never attend religious services, but online that number is 91 percent.

Yup. Take me back to the 1950’s. The important description of the corruption of conformity – is what people feel required to be the standard of conformity. The consistent best example in American history alongside going to war.

Consider not only the advertising job inflicted on the populace in general by virtually all politicians and pundits. As far as they’re concerned you’re not capable of providing leadership unless you say “God bless the United States of America” at the end of every speech. Look around at every institution and which are tax-free? Even if they offer no special impetus to the progress of the whole nation?

Little wonder that folks generally are embarrassed to tell the truth about their own conclusions on science, reality and some invisible white guy in the clouds.

Experiment will attempt to create matter from light

In what could be a landmark moment in the history of science, a team of physicists working at the Blackett Physics Laboratory in Imperial College London has designed an experiment to validate one of the most tantalizing hypotheses in quantum electrodynamics: the theory that matter could be created using nothing more than pure light.

Premised on a discussion that they had over one day and a few cups of coffee, the three physicists – two from Imperial College and one visiting from the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany – recognized that their work on fusion energy also offered possibilities in the theory of light to matter creation, suggested in a theory 80 years ago by two American physicists, Breit and Wheeler. These two physicists had premised the idea that because annihilating electron-positron pairs produce two or more photons, then colliding photons should, in turn, produce electron-positron or “Breit-Wheeler” pairs…

Given the potential to open up a relatively low-energy, simple way to investigate a cornerstone of quantum electrodynamics, this proposal should allow many more researchers access to this field. As a result, this could help add to our knowledge of the processes that took place in the first 100 seconds of the universe and possibly shed more light on those mysterious denizens of deep-space: gamma-ray bursts emanating from exploding massive stars.

Lastly, validating the Breit-Wheeler theory would also provide the seventh and final in the line theories describing the simplest ways in which light and matter interact. These include Dirac’s 1930 theory on the annihilation of electrons and positrons, Einstein’s 1905 theory on the photoelectric effect, and Blackett and Occhialini’s single-photon annihilation. Those theories are all associated with Nobel Prize-winning research.

A delightful comment on the expanding universe of scientific hardware and software in recent decades. Twenty years ago this experiment would have been a pipe dream. It still may come to nothing; but, the point is that we’re now capable of reaching out into this particular realm of darkness and literally attempt to bring light to our knowledge.

RTFA for the means these researchers intend to invoke for their experiment. Hang on. It could be a bumpy ride.