Saturday, November 28, 2020

Tech Talk

      World’s First Electrified Wingsuit Reached 186 MPH On First Flight

      World's First Electrified Wingsuit Reached 186 MPH On First Flight   Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 02:45

      BMW has developed a zero-emission, chest-mounted all-electric wingsuit that can soar through the air at nearly 200 mph, roughly twice the speed of the average wingsuit. 

      The e-wingsuit, built by BMW, has been in development for three years. 

      Base jumper and wingsuit pilot Peter Salzman, a 33-year-old Austrian, was recently outfitted with the suit and leaped from a helicopter. The 15 kW battery pack, powering two carbon impellers, spinning at 25,000 rpm, allowed Salzman to reach 186 mph. 

      Salzmann's first flight was a wild success. Next, it appears the daredevil wants to fly the wingsuit between skyscrapers. 

      There's no word if the wingsuit will be commercially available from BMW. Powered wingsuits and jetpacks could be the future of private flight, or perhaps quickly adopted by the military for the modern battlefield. Either way, these alternative forms of flight appear to be maturing in a way that could be commercially available by the midpoint of the decade. 

      ‘EcoHealth Alliance’ Orchestrated Key Scientists’ Statement On “Natural Origin” Of SARS-CoV-2

      'EcoHealth Alliance' Orchestrated Key Scientists' Statement On "Natural Origin" Of SARS-CoV-2 Tyler Durden Wed, 11/18/2020 - 23:10

      Authored by Sainath Suryanarayanan via USRTK.org,

      Emails obtained by U.S. Right to Know show that a statement in The Lancet authored by 27 prominent public health scientists condemning “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin” was organized by employees of EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit group that has received millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer funding to genetically manipulate coronaviruses with scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

      The emails obtained via public records requests show that EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak drafted the Lancet statement, and that he intended it to “not be identifiable as coming from any one organization or person” but rather to be seen as “simply a letter from leading scientists”.

      Daszak wrote that he wanted “to avoid the appearance of a political statement”.

      The scientists’ letter appeared in The Lancet on February 18, just one week after the World Health Organization announced that the disease caused by the novel coronavirus would be named COVID-19.

      The 27 authors “strongly condemn[ed] conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” and reported that scientists from multiple countries “overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife.” The letter included no scientific references to refute a lab-origin theory of the virus.

      One scientist, Linda Saif, asked via email whether it would be useful “to add just one or 2 statements in support of why nCOV is not a lab generated virus and is naturally occuring? Seems critical to scientifically refute such claims!”

      Daszak responded, “I think we should probably stick to a broad statement.”

      Growing calls to investigate the Wuhan Institute of Virology as a potential source of SARS-CoV-2 have led to increased scrutiny of EcoHealth Alliance.

      The emails show how members of EcoHealth Alliance played an early role in framing questions about possible lab origin of SARS-CoV-2 as “crackpot theories that need to be addressed,” as Daszak told The Guardian.

      Although the phrase “EcoHealth Alliance” appeared only once in The Lancet statement, in association with co-author Daszak, several other co-authors also have direct ties to the group that were not disclosed as conflicts of interest. Rita Colwell and James Hughes are members of the Board of Directors of EcoHealth Alliance, William Karesh is the group’s Executive Vice President for Health and Policy, and Hume Field is Science and Policy Advisor.

      The statement’s authors also claimed that the “rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins.” Today, however, little is known about the origins of SARS-CoV-2, and investigations into its origins by the World Health Organization and The Lancet COVID-19 commission have been shrouded in secrecy and mired by conflicts of interests.

      Peter Daszak, Rita Colwell, and The Lancet Editor Richard Horton did not provide comments in response to our requests for this story.

      *  *  *

      A link to the entire batch of EcoHealth Alliance emails can be found here: EcoHealth Alliance emails: University of Maryland (466 pages)

      U.S. Right to Know is posting documents obtained through public freedom of information (FOI) requests for our Biohazards investigation in our post: FOI documents on origins of SARS-CoV-2, hazards of gain-of-function research and biosafety labs.

      Air Force Wants To Arm Stealth Jets With Laser Cannons By 2025

      Air Force Wants To Arm Stealth Jets With Laser Cannons By 2025 Tyler Durden Fri, 11/13/2020 - 23:20

      National Defense reports Lockheed Martin is developing a directed energy weapon for stealth fighter jets with deployment expected around the mid-2020s.

      "We're committing to putting a laser pod equipped with a high-energy laser in the air within five years," said Mark Stephen, business development lead for strategic technology development at Lockheed Martin's missiles and fire control division.

      Stephen said Lockheed is a "core" member of an industry team working the Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) program, to develop a directed energy weapon that will eventually be molded into an aircraft pod.

      The laser pods will be a game-changer for stealth aircraft and or drones, able to zap threatening surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles with laser beams. Readers may recall (see: here & here), we've covered AFRL's program to design, develop, test, and eventually deploy laser pods on fighter jets. 

      Stephen said the new jet-mounted laser gun would likely be deployed around 2025. Stealth fighter jets, such as the F-35 or F-22, will probably be the first aircraft to receive the new weapon. In 2019, US Air Force officials revealed ground-based laser tests of the new weapon successfully downed "several missiles."

      By 2025, the projected year of laser cannons entering the modern battlefield - the Air Force will likely have a new sixth-generation prototype stealth fighter - with operational timelines around 2030. Air combat's future is rapidly changing as stealth fighter jets in the next 5-8 years will likely be armed with not just laser cannons but also hypersonic missiles

      Besides the Air Force, Lockheed has also patterned with the Navy and Army to develop other directed energy capabilities.

      Stephen said the defense company "established a new directed energy system integration lab in Orlando, Florida, to test high-energy lasers and beam directors as it integrates them into pods." 

      "By 2021, this lab will be certified to test high-energy laser outfits up to 50 kilowatts and will allow firing of 150-kilowatt class lasers by 2024," Stephen noted.

      The world is becoming a scary place - a top UK military commander warned this week how the coronavirus pandemic is a "real risk" of sparking another world war. 

      DOJ Seizes 27 Domains As ‘Iranian Disinformation’ Including Popular Indy News Site

      DOJ Seizes 27 Domains As 'Iranian Disinformation' Including Popular Indy News Site Tyler Durden Thu, 11/05/2020 - 13:39

      The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it had seized 27 online domains on strong suspicion there were set up as media influence campaigns by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). 

      At least four of them were described by the DOJ as targeting an American audience, and one of them was a somewhat popular independent geopolitical news site, called American Herald Tribune:

      According to the Department of Justice (DoJ), four of the 27 domain names - "rpfront.com", "ahtribune.com", "awdnews.com", and "criticalstudies.org" - were seized as they breached the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires website holders to submit periodic registration statements containing truthful information about their activities and the income earned from them. 

      The DOJ statement said they purported to be news sites, with in some instances genuine news reporting and analysis, but that ultimately they were fronts for "Iranian propaganda" and "disinformation".

      "Here, the four domains purported to be independent news outlets, but they were actually operated by or on behalf of the IRGC to target the United States with pro-Iranian propaganda in an attempt to covertly influence the American people to change United States policy concerning Iran and the Middle East," the DOJ said.

      In the case of American Herald Tribune (AHT), the editor in chief, Anthony Hall, is based in Canada and the details proving Iranian affiliation have not been revealed. The online newspaper was known for its critical stance toward US foreign policy and was often linked to by other independent media and anti-war activist sites.

      Interestingly the DOJ and FBI sought the cooperation of American big tech firms in the seizure: "Thanks to our ongoing collaboration with Google, Facebook, and Twitter, the FBI was able to disrupt this Iranian propaganda campaign and we will continue to pursue any attempts by foreign actors to spread disinformation in our country," FBI Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair announced in a statement.

      Screenshot of American Herald Tribune page before it was taken offline:

      In October there had been a prior major seizure of 92 domains dubbed by the DOJ as Iranian disinformation outlets. Like in this latest case, US authorities didn't reveal any particular evidence to the public, but in some cases cited allegations by third parties.

      Last month federal agencies also said the caught US adversaries, particularly Iran and China, attempting infiltrate and meddle in US election and voter registration data. 

      Pennsylvania Reports Record COVID-19 Cases; World Suffers Most Deaths In A Day: Live Updates

      Pennsylvania Reports Record COVID-19 Cases; World Suffers Most Deaths In A Day: Live Updates Tyler Durden Thu, 11/05/2020 - 14:56

      Summary:

      • PA suffers daily covid record
      • Italy sees new record
      • Global cases top 48 million
      • Regeneron working on to distribute antibody drug to the poor
      • New record or near-record numbers seen in Greece, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic
      • World suffers record daily deaths, cases
      • 7-day average for 5 main European countries hits new record
      • Greece expands lockdown nationwide
      • Germany cases come roaring back
      • Poland, Czech Republic see record numbers
      • AstraZeneca preparing to toll our vaccine supplies
      • India reports just 50k new infections

      * * *

      Update (1430ET): Pennsylvania just reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases, as the world focuses on the state as the potential "tipping point" in the US presidential race.

      The 2,900 new cases bring the state total to 220,566, while 47 more deaths brought the death toll to 8,937. The news comes as the US just topped 100,000 daily cases for the first time.

      "As we have entered a fall resurgence in Pennsylvania, we see case counts on the rise in our counties," Gov. Tom Wolf said, according to PennLive. "We cannot relax our mitigation efforts."

      Of more than 1,500 hospitalized coronavirus patients in Pennsylvania, most are 65 or over. About 22% of hospitalized patients are in intensive care.

      Meanwhile, Romania will impose more stringent restrictions starting Monday, including a nighttime curfew to try to limit a significant surge in new virus cases.

      More than 85% of French hospitals’ initial intensive-care capacity is now taken by severely ill Covid-19 patients, Health Minister Olivier Veran said in a briefing on Thursday.

      The UK will tell people arriving from Germany and Sweden to self-isolate upon arrival, according to a tweet from Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps. Those arriving from 4 am Nov. 7 will need to self-isolate.

      Italy reported a record daily 34,505 cases a few hours before latest restrictions, including a night-time curfew from 10 p.m., become effective. Daily fatalities rose to 445, the highest since early May, according to the health ministry.

      * * *

      Update (1300ET): It's Thursday afternoon on the East Coast, and by the look of it, Europe has notched another near-record day in terms of cases and deaths, as Greece, Italy, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic have reported record deaths.

      In France, more than 85% of the country's ICU beds were filled with seriously ill COVID-19 patients

      Some scientists in the US warned that a lockdown might be inevitable, perhaps even before the Thanksgiving Day holiday, if the country continues to report roughly 100k new cases a day.

      The global tracker from JHU surpassed 48.3 million cases as deaths worldwide also topped 1.22 million. In Arizona, the site of one of the most tense battles for the presidential vote, more than 2,000 new cases were reported Thursday for the first time since August.

      Finally, the FT reports that Regeneron on Thursday said it is working to address questions about how the company will distribute badly needed doses of the medication in time to save some seriously ill patients. The drug works best on patients who can't produce a strong enough immune response.

      Regeneron CEO Dr. Schleifer said Regeneron is working with its partner Roche, which has a large diagnostics business, to see if they could use their Covid-19 antibody tests to discover whether patients are struggling to produce their own. 

      The antibody drug's makers are seeking permission to distribute directly to patients, allowing them to administer the rug has no

      * * *

      After locking down Athens, and then Thessaloniki (Greece's"second city"), the Greek government, led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has extended the Greek lockdown country-wide as cases continue to hit records.

      Greece recorded a new daily record high of 2,646 cases on Wednesday, while the occupancy rate of ICUs currently stands at 69%. The total number of infections in Greece (a country of 11 million) is now 46,892.

      "If we continued to see the same rate of increase in cases as in the past week we’d have thousands in our hospitals," Mitsotakis said in a nationally televised address.

      The national lockdown is expected to begin on Saturday.

      Elsewhere in Europe, cases in Germany came roaring back on Thursday after a brief respite for Europe's biggest economy economy. The Czech Republic and Poland also saw record highs. In Belgium, ICU beds are filling at an unprecedented rate.

      A similar pattern played out in the US, where hospital beds are filling up at the fastest pace in months.

      As we first reported last night, new COVID cases in the US hit a record 103,090 yesterday, boosting the 7-day average to 88,970, more than double the 34,000 in mid-September. Growth remains exponential at about 20% per week for several weeks now. State health officials have projected that Colorado is on course to exceed ICU bed capacity by December, with overall hospitalizations in Denver and surrounding areas expected to reach maximum capacity within days.

      18 states, including most of the Midwest, reported record numbers of new COVID-19 infections yesterday. Nationwide, daily hospitalizations have doubled since mid-September to 2,200, while daily COVID-related deaths have risen from a low of 670 a month ago to 922.

      The 7-day average of new cases in the five major European countries - the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain - also hit a new high of 133,000 yesterday. The weekly growth rate is slowing from an extremely high 50% a week ago to 18% this week. At least in the UK, cases have stabilized over the past week.

      The 7-day average of COVID-linked deaths across the EU-5 has doubled over the past ten days from 750 to 1,460. Globally, the 7-day average of new cases stood at over 518,900, a 12% increase from a week ago. Meanwhile, the 7-day average of COVID-related fatalities across the globe was 7.3k yesterday.

      While daily coronavirus deaths worldwide set a new record of more than 10,000 on Thursday, while global infections passed 600,000 in a day for the first time as the pandemic worsened, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

      Meanwhile, here's more COVID-19 news from overnight and Thursday morning:

      Infections in Japan’s northern-most prefecture Hokkaido, where cases have spiked since October, may break through 100 for the first time today, according to local broadcaster FNN (Source: Nikkei).

      China will temporarily suspend entry by non-Chinese U.K. nationals who hold valid visas or residence permits, the Chinese Embassy in the U.K. said in a statement (Source: Bloomberg)

      Sweden’s economy grew less than expected in the third quarter, when a lull in the virus during the summer months allowed businesses and households to return to near normal levels. Its GDP grew 4.3% from the previous quarter, Statistics Sweden said on Thursday, less than economists’ predictions of 5% (Source: Bloomberg).

      AstraZeneca Plc is poised to unveil coronavirus vaccine test results by year-end and to begin supplying the world with hundreds of millions of doses shortly afterwards if it gains approval from regulators, Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot said on Thursday. Soriot dismissed reports of delays and manufacturing snags (Source: Bloomberg).

      All residents of two counties in China’s far western region of Xinjiang are being tested for Covid-19 for a fourth time in just 12 days after a fresh outbreak was reported last month. Authorities made the decision after 116 people tested positive without symptoms in the previous round of testing, which ended on Tuesday night. All of those infections were linked to the township where the first case was reported on October 24. By Tuesday, Xinjiang had recorded 64 cases in the latest outbreak, with 330 people testing positive who have yet to show any symptoms (Source: SCMP).

      India reported 50,210 new infections Thursday, the first time in 10 days that cases have topped 50,000. Daily infections have dropped from a peak of more than 97,000 in mid-September, but a rise in cases is expected as India kicks off its festival season - culminating in Diwali on Nov. 14 (Source: Bloomberg).

      RQ-180? Next-Gen Spy Drone Spotted Over California 

      RQ-180? Next-Gen Spy Drone Spotted Over California  Tyler Durden Tue, 11/03/2020 - 23:25

      A mysterious military drone, operating near Edwards AFB, California, was photographed in broad daylight and recently uploaded to social media. 

      Instagram user Rob Kolinsky of Sundowner Studios uploaded the photograph on Nov. 1 of the drone but has since replaced the image with a graphic that reads, "[REDACTED]", according to The Aviationist

      In the original post, Kolinsky wrote, "this [military drone] flew over my house several weeks ago and I still have yet to identify it! It's shaped like a B-21 (in illustrations) but was painted white. Mystery!" 

      He continued: "I was not going to post it but I thought that if it were really classified, they wouldn't be flying it in broad daylight like this. Can anyone lend a hand in identifying her?" 

      While Kolinsky mentioned the photograph is from "several weeks ago," there was no mention of the exact date, time, or specific location. Nevertheless, there was no mention of the camera used to take the photo. 

      After Kolinsky removed the photo, Aviation Week reporters Steve Trimble and Guy Norris wrote an article describing the "new aircraft generally matching Aerospace DAILY's understanding of the shape of what is commonly known as the RQ-180 unmanned aircraft system (UAS)."

      "Quick review of the image. there is some JPG artifacting going on around the subject but could be the compression as well. The subject it self looks pretty legit I put some similar drones aside it for comparison. B2 is out of the question because it has a double 'saw tooth' tail," said on Twitter user. 

      Not too long ago, we reported a combat stealth drone also known as "loyal wingman" for fourth and fifth-generation aircraft was spotted in Australia. 

      Who knows if the mysterious drone was an actual RQ-180, but what this all suggests is that the US military is quickly advancing autonomous war machines as geopolitical tensions rise with China

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