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Decarboxylation: What It Is, & Why You Should Decarb Your Weed

Decarboxylation: What It Is, & Why You Should Decarb Your Weed

decarbing

Have you ever wondered why you need to heat cannabis to feel the psychoactive effects? In order to get high from cannabis, you need to decarboxylate it first. But, what is decarboxylation and why should you decarb your weed? We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about getting the most out of your herb. 

What is decarboxylation?

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Did you know that raw cannabis is non-psychoactive? The herb only becomes psychoactive when two things happen. First, when the bud dries and ages. Second, when the cannabis is heated. More psychoactive compounds are created by heating the plant than via ageing. In order to release the full potential of marijuana’s psychoactive effects, you must first go through a process called decarboxylation.

 

“Decarboxylation” is a long word for a simple process. To decarboxylate your herb, you just need to heat it. Applying a little heat to dried bud inspires some fascinating chemical reactions in the plant. Namely, you transform compounds called cannabinoid acids into a form that is readily usable by the body.

Cannabinoids are chemicals found in the cannabis plant that bind to cells in the body to produce effects. Sometimes decarboxylation is called “activating” or “decarbing”.

You probably have already heard that the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis is delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is what gets you high when you smoke a little flower or eat an edible. But, you won’t find much THC on a live, growing marijuana plant, if any at all. What you find instead is another compound called THCA, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid.

THCA is not psychoactive. That’s right, this acid compound won’t get you high. In order to feel the mind-altering effects of cannabis, you need to transform THCA into psychoactive THC. So, you apply a little heat.

Each time you take a lighter to a joint or place your cannabis in the oven, you are acting the part of an amateur chemist. You are converting one compound into another. You’re turning an otherwise non-psychoactive plant into a psychoactive one. To get specific, you are removing a “carboxyl group” from the acid form of THC. Hence the term “De-carboxylation“. Without that carboxyl group, THC is able to freely bind to cell receptors in your brain and body.

Are there benefits to raw cannabis?

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If you want a high, you need to decarb first. However, there are some benefits to leaving your cannabis raw. Keep in mind that “raw” does not mean dried and cured. When you dry and cure your cannabis, a little decarboxylation happens as the herb ages.

Raw, uncured cannabis has a variety of health benefits. Cannabinoid acids are potent anti-inflammatories. The herb is also packed full of vitamins and nutrients found in other healthy greens.

To use the herb raw, you’ll need to use freshly picked buds or fan leaves. You can also store raw cannabis in the refrigerator for a day or two like you would any other leafy green herb. Though, be mindful of mould and wilting. Densely packed cannabis flowers can become mouldy quite quickly when they’re exposed to moisture. You really want to use them as quickly as possible. They also begin to lose potency and denature the longer they sit.

Many medical cannabis patients have success by simply drinking raw cannabis juices or smoothies. You can find more information on raw, dietary cannabis here.

If you’re hoping for some psychoactive edibles, however, it’s best to decarboxylate your cannabis before you begin the cooking process.

Why do I decarb before cooking?

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If you’re cooking with cannabis, it is highly recommended you decarboxylate before you begin making your edible. If you ingest cannabis and want the full psychoactive effect, you need to first decarboxylate before cooking with the herb. Activating your cannabis prior to cooking ensures that THC’s psychoactive potential is not wasted.

If you don’t decarb before cooking, you risk losing potency and are not making the most out of your cannabis.

Do I need to decarb CBD strains?

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The short answer? Yes. CBD is short for cannabidiol, another common cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive. Just like THC, CBD is found in its acid form in raw cannabis. This raw form (CBDA) has health-promoting properties on its own. But, activating CBD makes it more readily available for the body to use.

To use the proper term, activated CBD is more bioavailable. This means that the compound can be put to use by your body right away. When left in its raw form, your body has to do some extra work to break down the molecule and it may use the acid form in a slightly different way.

The same goes for other cannabinoids as well. Their raw form is the acid from. To make them more bioavailable, you need to decarboxylate. Bioavailability is why you need to decarb your weed.

Temperature and terpenes

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When it comes to decarboxylating, the lower the temperature you use, the longer the decarboxylation process is it’s going to take. However, this is not a bad thing! When using a lower temperature, you to lose fewer terpenes throughout the decarboxylation process.

Have you ever wondered why buds of even the same strain can have different tastes and smells? The answer is hidden in terpenes. Simply put, terpenes are the oils that give cannabis plants and flowers their unique smell such as berry, mint, citrus, and pine. There are many medicinal benefits to terpenes; some will successfully relieve your stress while others will promote focus and awareness.

Terpenes also work in tandem with THC and other cannabinoids to amplify the medical benefits of certain strains. For example, one common terpene is linalool. Linalool is the compound that gives lavender its unique scent. Strains like L.A. Confidential and Lavender tend to have high levels of linalool. Research suggests that this may amplify the sedative effects of THC.

The max temperature for terpene expression is 310 to 400°F (154 – 204.4°C). Anything above that will burn off the terpenes, altering flavor and lessening medical effects.

How to decarb before cooking

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Decarboxylation is a super simple process. Before you throw some cannabis into your pasta sauce or some “herbal seasoning” to your next pizza, make sure you follow these easy steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 240° F. / 115° C.
  2. Break up cannabis flowers and buds into smaller pieces with your hands. We use one ounce, but you can elect to do more or less.
  3. Put the pieces in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Make sure the pan is the correct size so there is not empty space on the pan.
  4. Bake the cannabis for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes so that it toasts evenly.
  5. When the cannabis is darker in color, a light to medium brown, and has dried out, remove the baking sheet and allow the cannabis to cool. It should be quite crumbly when handled.
  6. In a food processor, pulse the cannabis until it is coarsely ground (you don’t want a superfine powder). Store it in an airtight container and use as needed to make extractions

Watch the video

Fortunately, we’ve created this easy step-by-step video to walk you through the decarboxylation process. It really is not complicated, and taking a little time to properly activate your herb will produce amazing results. Watch the video below to see how it’s done:

 

 

This image of Putin is illegal in Russia, so don’t distribute it. FUCK #PUTIN, and #RUSSIA

Since 2013, Russia has enforced “internet extremism” laws that forbid the dissemination of online content that the government finds offensive. Newly added to that list is an image that depicts Vladimir Putin as, in the words of the Washington Post, “a potentially gay clown.” As such, the above image is now illegal in Russia to share the above photo. It’s not illegal here, though.

This registry of “extremist materials” features the photo at number 4071, and the Post describes it thusly: “a picture of a Putin-like person ’with eyes and lips made up,’ captioned with an implicit anti-gay slur, implying ’the supposed nonstandard sexual orientation of the president of the Russian Federation.’”

Here it is again, should you need a reminder:

Do not distribute it in Russia.

CNN reports that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the photo: “You know how such things might hurt somebody’s feelings, but the President is quite resistant to such obscenity and learned how to not pay attention.”

That much is obvious, what with the 15-day prison sentence and fine of 3,000 rubles that hits anyone in Russia who would venture to go so far as to even retweet the image.

The image’s origins date back to as early as 2011, though it became common among those who would protest Putin’s 2013 “gay propaganda” law, which aims to protect children from the views of those with “nontraditional sexual relations.” Protests often found those arguing in favor of gay rights to be beaten or arrested.

Of course, there are plenty of other memes out there that might offend people who can’t bear the thought of Putin being associated with “nontraditional sexual relations.” Here’s a few below:

В РФ признали экстремистским плакат с накрашенными Путиным и Медведевым http://gordonua.com/news/worldnews/v-rf-priznali-ekstremistskim-plakat-s-nakrashennymi-putinym-i-medvedevym-181824.html 

Photo published for В РФ признали экстремистским плакат с накрашенными Путиным и Медведевым

В РФ признали экстремистским плакат с накрашенными Путиным и Медведевым

Картинка, на которой были изображены люди, похожие на президента РФ Владимира Путина и премьер-министра Дмитрия…

gordonua.com

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Iraq Starts Offensive to Retake Western Mosul From ISIS

Iraqi forces advanced toward western Mosul on Sunday. CreditKhalid Al-Mousily/Reuters

 

 

ERBIL, Iraq — Iraq opened the next chapter in its offensive to drive the Islamic State out of Mosul on Sunday, preparing an assault on the western half of the city. Overnight, planes carpeted the ground with leaflets, directly appealing to the group’s fighters to surrender.

“To those of you who were intrigued by the ISIS ideology,” one of the leaflets said, “this is your last opportunity to quit your work with ISIS and to leave those foreigners who are in your homeland. Stay at home, raising the white flags as the forces approach.”

On state-run television, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq announced the beginning of the offensive, describing it as “a new dawn” and calling on his troops “to move bravely forward to liberate what is left of the city.”

The assault is taking place amid new concerns about the condition of hundreds of thousands of civilians still trapped in the western part of the city. Food, water and cooking fuel have all been reported to be in short supply, and residents have described increased harassment from Islamic State fighters preparing for the attack.

Continue reading the main story

The overall push to free Mosul, once Iraq’s second-largest city, began in October, with local troops pushing from the east into the city’s geographically larger but more sparsely populated eastern half. In late January, they reached the banks of the Tigris River, which bisects Mosul, and declared the city’s eastern section liberated.

The operation took longer than expected and took a high toll on civilians and the Iraqi forces, but much of the city’s infrastructure was preserved and a sense of daily life has returned. That is in contrast to the operations to take back other cities from the Islamic State, including Ramadi and Sinjar, which were laid waste by airstrikes. More than a year since Sinjar was freed, even its mayor has not been able to return.

The fight for Mosul’s western half could be even more protracted than for its east. The west is home to neighborhoods of narrow streets, some so small that it will not be possible for Iraqi troops to enter in their fortified Humvees. That may make the Islamic State’s signature suicide bomb attacks even more effective.

Because all five of the bridges spanning the Tigris have been bombed, Iraqi troops will trace a circuitous path to western Mosul, initially approaching it from the city’s south.

Officials said the first objective would be Mosul International Airport, just south of the city. By midday on Sunday, Iraqi forces had captured a string of nearby villages, advancing within six miles of the airfield, officers from the troops said.

American forces are supporting the operation. “The U.S. forces continue in the same role as they did in East Mosul,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters traveling with him on Sunday, adding that the rules of engagement for American troops in Iraq had not changed: “We are very close to, if not already engaged in, that fight.”

He said that the American-backed coalition fighting the Islamic State would “continue with the accelerated effort to destroy” the group.

Anticipating the offensive, the Islamic State damaged the Mosul airport, carving wide trenches onto the runways and adjacent taxiways and aprons, leaving no paved portion of the airport usable by aircraft, according to an analysis of satellite imagery by Stratfor, a global intelligence company.

While the airport may be unusable, taking it would be a milestone for the offensive, as would taking the adjacent hilltop village of Abu Saif, which sits at a higher elevation than Mosul. Because of the Islamic State’s heavy use of snipers, securing high ground is crucial, and Iraqi forces were nearing the base of the hill by Sunday afternoon.

The troops’ push into western Mosul will be further complicated by the Islamic State’s vast network of tunnels throughout the city, allowing fighters to hide from overhead surveillance. And the group is also increasingly using armed drones, allowing them to spot and remotely bomb advancing Iraqi troops.

Yahya Salah, whose neighborhood in eastern Mosul was liberated in November, described how Iraqi troops were just streets away when Islamic State fighters forced their way into his home, armed with a jackhammer. They herded Mr. Salah’s family into one of the bedrooms. From behind the closed door, Mr. Salah said, he then heard a deafening sound and realized the fighters were drilling a hole.

“They worked without stopping — when one got tired, another took over, and they dug a hole that was 1.5 meters wide,” said Mr. Salah, who said his family was locked in the bedroom for three days. “When we said we were thirsty, they threw water bottles at us,” he said.

He said the fighters had left at noon on the final day. The Iraqi Army arrived at sunset, unlocking the door. When the family stepped into the rest of their house, they found ceiling-high piles of dirt in three of their four bedrooms and a hole in the living room floor. The tunnel the fighters had dug stretched for dozens of yards, allowing the terrorist group’s foot soldiers to slip away.

Residents have shown reporters similar tunnels throughout the eastern part of the city, and officials expect the same in western Mosul. A photo essay published this weekend by the Islamic State titled “Life of Fighters South of Mosul” shows their soldiers cooking a meal on a kerosene stove, reading the Quran and praying inside a tunnel wide enough for five men to stand side by side.

At the same time, the Islamic State has become better at the use of small drones, which are available off-the-shelf in malls across the region, including in Erbil, the nearest major city to Mosul. They use the drones to pinpoint army positions and to target them, and recently recovered Islamic State documents show how the group has cobbled together its own drone program. Iraqi forces describe how they frequently see the twoto-four-foot-long aircraft overhead, whining like a lawn mower. Then 30 minutes later, they will take incoming fire at that location.

“Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world, and the Iraqi forces have risen to the challenge,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of the American-led effort against the Islamic State, said in a news release from United States Central Command announcing the beginning of the operation. Some of the 450 American advisers on the ground in Iraq are helping Iraqi officers plan and execute the offensive.

Reached by telephone, residents in western Mosul described the elation they felt at the approach of government troops. “All we have left to eat is tomato paste. We are eating it with salt,” said Umm Anwar, 41, who asked to be identified only by her nickname. “We are ready to kill ISIS ourselves with knives, or by biting them, because we are in so much pain.”

A Jewish Reporter Got to Ask Trump a Question. It Didn’t Go Well.

Jake Turx, an Orthodox Jewish reporter for Ami Magazine, a weekly published in Brooklyn, began to ask President Trump a question regarding bomb threats at Jewish centers. Mr. Trump, apparently believing he was being accused of anti-Semitism, reprimanded the reporter.

Jake Turx is a newly minted White House correspondent for a publication that has never before had a seat in the White House press corps: Ami Magazine, an Orthodox Jewish weekly based in Brooklyn. He is a singular presence in the briefing room: a young Hasidic Jew with side curls tucked behind his ears and a skullcap embroidered with his Twitter handle.

Dear @PressSec @seanspicer,
Please call on me at the next press briefing. I’m the guy w/ the words “Jake Turx” on my kippa.
(RT this y’all!)

When President Trump called on him at a news conference on Thursday, saying he was looking for a “friendly reporter,” Mr. Turx was prepared. He had spent an hour crafting a question about a recent surge of anti-Semitism, with a preamble that he hoped would convey his supportive disposition toward Mr. Trump.

But the exchange did not go the way he expected. A few hours later, with the clip replaying on social media and Jewish groups issuing news releases, Mr. Turx, 30, was still reeling. He said in a telephone interview, “Regretfully, today was a day I wish we could have done over.”

His editor, Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter, watched aghast from the magazine’s offices as his young correspondent received a tongue-lashing from the president: “It was a very disheartening moment for us, to watch him being berated.”

Continue reading the main story

The exchange began with Mr. Turx standing up from his third-row seat and gesturing slightly toward his fellow reporters:

“Despite what some of my colleagues may have been reporting, I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren. You are their zayde,” which is Yiddish for “grandfather” and often a word of great affection.

At that Mr. Trump nodded slightly, and said, “thank you.”

“However,” Mr. Turx continued, “what we are concerned about and what we haven’t really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it. There’s been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to——”

At that, Mr. Trump interrupted, saying it was “not a fair question.”

“Sit down,” the president commanded. “I understand the rest of your question.”

As Mr. Turx took his seat, Mr. Trump said, “So here’s the story, folks. No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person.”

Mr. Turx tried to interject, realizing how the encounter had turned. He said he had wanted to clarify that he in no way meant to accuse Mr. Trump of anti-Semitism but instead intended to ask what his administration could do to stop the anti-Semitic incidents.

But Mr. Trump would not let him speak again, saying, “Quiet, quiet, quiet.” As Mr. Turx shook his head with an incredulous look on his face, Mr. Trump accused him of having lied that his question would be straight and simple.

Mr. Trump said, “I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people that know me. …”

He went on to say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, during his visit to the United States on Wednesday, had vouched for Mr. Trump as a good friend of Israel and the Jewish people and no anti-Semite.

Mr. Trump concluded that Mr. Turx should have relied on Mr. Netanyahu’s endorsement, “instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that.”

“Just shows you about the press, but that’s the way the press is,” Mr. Trump said.

At the news conference, Mr. Turx was referring to a rash of incidents that have shaken many American Jews since Mr. Trump was elected. On three separate days in January, Jewish synagogues, community centers and schools across the country received what seemed to be a coordinated wave of telephone bomb threats that led to evacuations and F.B.I. investigations. Other Jewish institutions have seen an uptick in vandalism and graffiti in the last few months.

The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement on Thursday that said, “It is mind-boggling why President Trump prefers to shout down a reporter or brush this off as a political distraction.”

David Harris, chief executive of the American Jewish Committee, said, “Respectfully, Mr. President, please use your bully pulpit not to bully reporters asking questions potentially affecting millions of fellow Americans, but rather to help solve a problem that, for many, is real and menacing.”

Surveys show that Mr. Trump was not the choice of the majority of American Jews, who tend to vote for Democrats and came out in force for Hillary Clinton. Many Jews have been critical of Mr. Trump for not more forcefully denouncing anti-Semites and racists like David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan who endorsed Mr. Trump during the campaign. Many Jewish leaders are also wary of Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s White House strategist, because of the close affinity between Breitbart News, which he once ran, and the white supremacists in the movement known as the alt-right.

But Mr. Trump was popular among many Orthodox Jews. They were reassured to see the Orthodox Jews in his family and attracted to his hawkish line on Israel, his support of vouchers for religious schools and his promise to ban Muslim immigrants from entering the country.

Rechy Frankfurter and her husband, Rabbi Frankfurter, founded Ami Magazine more than six years ago to serve a conservative Jewish audience. It circulates in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia and is one of several English-language news publications serving the ultra-Orthodox community. Ami Magazine comes out weekly and has three sister publications: one for women, one for teens and a cooking magazine called Whisk.

The magazine interviewed Mr. Trump before he declared he was running for president and did so again during the campaign.

“We didn’t do a political endorsement of him, but I really wanted the president to be elected, and I do want him to succeed,” said Rabbi Frankfurter, the editor in chief.

Mrs. Frankfurter, the magazine’s senior editor, said it was clear that Mr. Trump was not an anti-Semite and that Mr. Trump “must have misheard the question” from the magazine’s reporter. “The president is very sensitive to such an accusation, and we find the fact that he’s sensitive to it reassuring,” she said, because it means he understands how awful it is to be thought of as an anti-Semite.

Rabbi Frankfurter, whose parents survived the Holocaust, said, “Perhaps the president should speak out more vigorously than he has. He’s got a bully pulpit, and he should use it for good reasons.”

After the news conference, Mr. Turx, a pen name, said that he had had conversations on Thursday evening with White House staff members and that he and members of the Orthodox Jewish community were “extremely confident” that the White House would give “the proper help, guidance and collaboration” on anti-Semitism.

 

Your Electricity Company Fears This Man

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As we documented in a previous article, electricity is the key to unleash world democracy and freedom,

“It’s well known that many wars are fought over resources, many times oil and other energy bases. Electricity is arguably the most essential staple for human survival; because with enough electricity, water can literally be extracted from thin air, which can then be used to plant and water crops.

With enough electricity, nearly all of humanity’s needs can be met.

Centralized energy, like most of us have now, is inherently dangerous to a free society. It can fluctuate, prices can be raised, and grids can be shut down or get damaged by natural disasters. The move toward localized production of electricity, then, is a move towards freedom, security, and democracy. Autonomous energy production is the precursor to an autonomous free society. The secondary effect of increased use of renewable energy is, of course, cleaner air and less pollution. We have all the reasons in the world to support this exciting new development.”

Our previous article pointed out the strides that some countries are taking to make the move toward solar and other sustainable energies. Now, an even more exciting development has been made in the most unlikely of places: an obscure home work shop in Virginia known privately as the “box full of creative chaos”.

Doug Coulter of Floyd, Virginia, lives in the woods in what he calls a “libertarian communism”community where he spends much of his life inventing and innovation in his home work shop.

What Doug has developed can be a game changer when it comes to providing the world’s electricity. He claims that,

“If this works, I’m about to anger several trillion dollar a year businesses.”

These businesses include gas and electric utilities and Big Oil companies.

Doug claims to be on the verge of cracking what has stumped scientists for decades: nuclear fusion. Doug runs an open source forum for scientists and engineers, where he got much of the research needed to crack this priceless problem. He says that once his nuclear fusion reactor is complete, it too will be open source so that anyone living anywhere will have access to the technology. Watch this video to see what he is up to:

 

Bill To Pre-Emptively Attack Iran Introduced In Congress

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) recently introduced a bill that would enable to US to invade Iran for the stated purpose of preventing it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

 

During the 2016 election, Donald Trump seemed to be the “anti-war” candidate compared to his then-opponent Hillary Clinton, especially when he spoke out against US interventionism and pledged to heal ties with Russia. Though ties with Russia have smoothed over since Trump took office, Trump has taken a more militaristic tone with some other foreign powers as evidenced by his recent statements and actions regarding both Iran and China. While the rise of antagonism between the US and these regional powers is troubling for a variety of reasons, just as troubling is the gusto with which some US congressmen are working to advance the “inevitability” of a military conflict between them.

Earlier this month, Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) introduced H.J.Res. 10 or the “Authorization of Use of Force Against Iran Resolution.” Taken at face value, the bill appears to allow the President to authorize military force against Iran, which is bad enough. Yet, the text of the bill goes further – it authorizes the president to launch a “pre-emptive” war with the Middle Eastern nation without requiring Congressional approval and without the necessity of Iran having actually committed any action that would warrant a full-scale invasion. Specifically, the text of the bill states that: “The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as the President determines necessary and appropriate in order to achieve the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”

Considering Trump and his national security team’s hostility towards Iran, it seems likely that – if passed – the bill could be used as a “blank check” to realize many of the threats that have already been made. As soon as Trump was officially inaugurated, his administration announced its plans to develop a “state of the art” missile defense system intended to prevent attacks launched specifically from North Korea or Iran. While the inclusion of North Korea is more easily justified, the Iranian defense shield is a hawkish move given that Iran has not acted aggressively towards the U.S. In addition, both the CIA and Israeli intelligence have confirmed that Iran has no nuclear weapons program nor has it ever been interested in one.

However, Trump’s stance on Iran, as well as that of many other US politicians, is not influenced by Iran’s actions, but by Israel’s. Trump’s ties to Israel have become decidedly closer in the months since his election, likely owing to Trump’s chief strategist – Steve Bannon – being a “passionate Zionist” and Vice President Mike Pence’s strongly pro-Israel views. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said, the state of Israel’s “supreme goal” is the containment of Iran, suggesting that the US politicians who have aligned themselves with Israel also share this vision.

Though Iran’s disdain for Israel is clear, Israel has pursued its goal of “containment” in militaristic fashion, with over 200 Israeli nuclear weapons currently pointed at Iran’s capital Tehran. Israel’s government expects the same tactics from those U.S. politicians most sympathetic to its cause. It should also come as no surprise, then, that the same author of this “pre-emptive war” with Iran resolution, Congressman Alcee Hastings, received over $70,000 from the Pro-Israel lobby last election cycle. This bill and the militant posturing against Iran within US politics is a clear sign that Israel’s influence continues to overpower the national interest.

Has the EU Just Outlawed ‘Fully-Loaded’ Kodi Boxes?

Image result for raspberry pi

Android devices with modified Kodi software installed continue to prove popular among the pirating masses. However, a ruling from the EU Court this week will make life more difficult for suppliers. That’s the opinion of Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN, who say that sellers will now have to verify if the links contained in such devices are infringing.

kodiWhile millions of people around the globe share files using BitTorrent every day, there are some who prefer to stream their content instead.

These users can easily visit any one of thousands of streaming portals via a desktop web browser but for those looking for complete convenience, set-top boxes offer a perfect solution.

These devices, often Android-based, regularly come with the Kodi media center already installed. However, Kodi provides no illegal content – custom addons do – and it’s their inclusion in the package that provides users with what they want – free (or cost reduced) movies, TV, and sports.

One of the groups trying to crack down on so-called “fully loaded” boxes is Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN. The organization has threatened legal action against several local suppliers and has had one case referred to the European Court. However, a decision in a separate case last week could have big implications for “fully loaded” box supply across Europe, BREIN says.

The case, which involved Dutch blog GeenStijl.nl and Playboy, resulted in an important ruling from the European Court of Justice.

The Court found that when “hyperlinks are posted for profit, it may be expected that the person who posted such a link should carry out the checks necessary to ensure that the work concerned is not illegally published.” In other words, posting links to infringing content in a commercial environment amounts to a communication to the public, and is therefore illegal.

For groups like BREIN, the ruling opens up new avenues for anti-piracy action. For sellers of piracy-capable boxes and related IPTV subscriptions across the EU, trouble could lie in wait.

“Copyright protection organization BREIN holds suppliers of IPTV devices responsible for verifying whether their sources for internet TV channels are legal or not. In general, this is not the case,” BREIN said in a statement this week.

“Suppliers advertise that when buying their service you do not have to pay separately for pay-channels for films, TV shows, and sports. Such a compilation costs a fraction of the total sum of subscriptions to the individual channels.”

BREIN says that following the decision of the European Court of Justice last week, commercial suppliers of IPTV boxes are now obliged to verify whether the sources being linked in their devices are authorized by the content providers. If they are not, the seller could be held liable for infringement.

If BREIN’s interpretation of the decision proves correct, sellers of “fully-loaded” Kodi and other IPTV boxes face a minefield of uncertainty.

There is absolutely no way vendors can check every single link contained in the software present in the boxes they sell. Furthermore, those links are often updated automatically, meaning that what is legal on the day they are sold might not be legal when the software updates tomorrow.

But while it’s certainly possible that BREIN’s take on the decision will prove to be correct, actually enforcing the law against hundreds or even thousands of suppliers is likely to prove impossible. Big suppliers are easily targeted though, which may send out a warning.

“BREIN has written letters to suppliers of IPTV subscriptions to warn them that they are required to verify beforehand whether the sources for the IPTV channels they use are legal. If the suppliers are not willing to do so, then BREIN will institute court proceedings,” BREIN says.

However, more often that not “fully loaded” boxes are offered for sale on eBay and Amazon by regular people out to make a few bucks. Taking action against every single one is not realistic.

But even if all infringing boxes were wiped from sale, that wouldn’t stop people selling blank devices. These can be easily setup by the user to stream all of the latest movies, sports and TV shows with a few clicks, rendering a smart supplier immune from liability.

And of course, anyone with VLC Media Player and the ability to Google can find plenty of dedicated IPTV streams available online, without paying anyone a penny.

If You Change a Baby’s Diaper in Arizona, You Can Now Be Convicted of Child Molestation

thinkstockphotos587523840

This could be a crime in Arizona.

iStock/Thinkstock

The Arizona Supreme Court issued a stunning and horrifying decision on Tuesday, interpreting a state law to criminalize any contact between an adult and a child’s genitals. According to the court, the law’s sweep encompasses wholly innocent conduct, such as changing a diaper or bathing a baby. As the stinging dissent notes, “parents and other caregivers” in the state are now considered to be “child molesters or sex abusers under Arizona law.” Those convicted under the statute may be imprisoned for five years.

How did this happen? A combination of bad legislating and terrible judging. Start with the
legislature, which passed laws forbidding any person from “intentionally or knowingly … touching
… any part of the genitals, anus or female breast” of a child “under fifteen years of age.” Notice
something odd about that? Although the laws call such contact “child molestation” or “sexual
abuse,” the statutes themselves do not require the “touching” to be sexual in nature. (No other
state’s law excludes this element of improper sexual intent.) Indeed, read literally, the statutes
would seem to prohibit parents from changing their child’s diaper. And the measures forbid both
“direct and indirect touching,” meaning parents cannot even bathe their child without becoming
sexual abusers under the law.

 

Arizona’s Supreme Court had an opportunity to remedy this glaring problem. A man convicted under these laws urged the justices to limit the statutes’ scope by interpreting the “touching” element to require some sexual intent. But by a 3-2 vote, the court refused and declared that the law criminalized the completely innocent touching of a child. The majority declined to “rewrite the statutes to require the state to prove sexual motivation, when the statutes clearly contain no such requirement.” Moreover, the court held that the laws posed no due process problem, because those prosecuted under the statute could still assert “lack of sexual motivation” as an “affirmative defense” at trial—one the defendant himself must prove to the jury “by a preponderance of the evidence.” As to the risk that the law criminalizes typical parental tasks, the majority shrugs that “prosecutors are unlikely to charge parents” engaged in innocent conduct. (This “just trust the prosecutors” dodge doesn’t always work out so well in Arizona.)

In a searing dissent, two justices pointed out the most obvious flaw of this logic: It renders the laws unconstitutional. “No one thinks that the legislature really intended to criminalize every knowing or intentional act of touching a child in the prohibited areas,” the dissent explains. “Reading the statutes as doing so creates a constitutional vagueness problem, as it would mean both that people do not have fair notice of what is actually prohibited and that the laws do not adequately constrain prosecutorial discretion”—a requirement under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The majority responds that any potential vagueness problem is remedied by the fact that defendants can attempt to prove their innocent state of mind as an affirmative defense. Not so, the dissent retorts: By requiring the defendant to prove his innocence (instead of requiring the state to prove his guilt), Arizona has “shifted to the accused the burden of proving the absence of the very fact—sexual motivation—that distinguishes criminal from innocent conduct.” That, too, runs afoul of due processby “criminalizing a broad swath of indisputably innocent conduct but assigning to defendants the burden of proving their conduct was not criminally motivated.”

Bizarrely, the majority insists that if prosecutors did charge parents for changing their child’s diaper, they could argue that they were exercising “their fundamental, constitutional right to manage and care for their children.” This alleged defense is cold comfort. As Matt Brown notes at Mimesis Law, Arizona’s sentencing laws are so stringent—and state courts are “so unwilling to dismiss sex charges based on as-applied constitutional challenges” before trial and conviction—that innocent parents will “sit in prison for quite some time” before a higher court vacates their sentence on constitutional grounds.

Equally puzzling is the majority’s assertion that parents can still present their innocence as an “affirmative defense” in court. Even if this strategy works, the Arizona laws will still have arguably intruded upon their fundamental right to “care for their children” without state interference. After all, as the dissent notes, such a defense “does not mean that a crime has not occurred, but instead that the miscreant may avoid ‘culpability’ by persuading the factfinder that the ‘criminal conduct’ should be excused.” And this relief would likely only come after a lengthy, expensive, and reputation-tarnishing trial.

As Fordham law professor John Pfaff explains, the majority’s logic has one final defect: It utterly ignores the reality of plea bargaining, which is how more than 90 percent of criminal cases in America are resolved. Given the immense expense and hassle of a trial, many defendants are pressured into striking a deal with a prosecutor, trading a lighter sentence for an admission of guilt. Arizona prosecutors can now dangle the threat of a probable child molestation conviction to coerce any parent of a young child into taking a plea deal on unrelated charges. With the state Supreme Court’s help, Arizona’s child molestation laws have been weaponized into a tool for prosecutorial harassment, allowing the state to target any parent or caregiver—out of spite or malice, or simply to boost their conviction rates. This terrible decision has gutted constitutional rights and turned many of the state’s residents into unknowing criminals. Barring intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, due process has now been suspended for Arizona’s parents and caregivers.

This physicist says consciousness could be a new state of matter

‘Perceptronium’.

BEC CREW
16 SEP 2016

Consciousness isn’t something scientists like to talk about much. You can’t see it, you can’t touch it, and despite the best efforts of certain researchers, you can’t quantify it. And in science, if you can’t measure something, you’re going to have a tough time explaining it.

But consciousness exists, and it’s one of the most fundamental aspects of what makes us human. And just like dark matter and dark energy have been used to fill some otherwise gaping holes in the standard model of physics, researchers have also proposed that it’s possible to consider consciousness as a new state of matter.

To be clear, this is just a hypothesis, and one to be taken with a huge grain of salt, because we’re squarely in the realm of the hypothetical here, and there’s plenty of room for holes to be poked.

But it’s part of a quietly bubbling movement within theoretical physics and neuroscience to try and attach certain basic principles to consciousness in order to make it more observable.

The hypothesis was first put forward in 2014 by cosmologist and theoretical physicist Max Tegmark from MIT, who proposed that there’s a state of matter – just like a solid, liquid, or gas – in which atoms are arranged to process information and give rise to subjectivity, and ultimately, consciousness.

The name of this proposed state of matter? Perceptronium, of course.

As Tegmark explains in his pre-print paper:

“Generations of physicists and chemists have studied what happens when you group together vast numbers of atoms, finding that their collective behaviour depends on the pattern in which they are arranged: the key difference between a solid, a liquid, and a gas lies not in the types of atoms, but in their arrangement.

In this paper, I conjecture that consciousness can be understood as yet another state of matter. Just as there are many types of liquids, there are many types of consciousness.

However, this should not preclude us from identifying, quantifying, modelling, and ultimately understanding the characteristic properties that all liquid forms of matter (or all conscious forms of matter) share.”

In other words, Tegmark isn’t suggesting that there are physical clumps of perceptronium sitting somewhere in your brain and coursing through your veins to impart a sense of self-awareness.

Rather, he proposes that consciousness can be interpreted as a mathematical pattern – the result of a particular set of mathematical conditions.

Just as there are certain conditions under which various states of matter – such as steam, water, and ice – can arise, so too can various forms of consciousness, he argues.

Figuring out what it takes to produce these various states of consciousness according to observable and measurable conditions could help us get a grip on what it actually is, and what that means for a human, a monkey, a flea, or a supercomputer.

The idea was inspired by the work of neuroscientist Giulio Tononi from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, who proposed in 2008 that if you wanted to prove that something had consciousness, you had to demonstrate two specific traits.

According to his integrated information theory (IIT), the first of these traits is that a conscious being must be capable of storing, processing, and recalling large amounts of information.

“And second,” explains the arXiv.org blog, “this information must be integrated in a unified whole, so that it is impossible to divide into independent parts.”

This means that consciousness has to be taken as a whole, and cannot be broken down into separate components. A conscious being or system has to not only be able to store and process information, but it must do so in a way that forms a complete, indivisible whole, Tononi argued.

If it occurred to you that a supercomputer could potentially have these traits, that’s sort of what Tononi was getting at.

As George Johnson writes for The New York Times, Tononi’s hypothesis predicted – with a whole lot of maths – that “devices as simple as a thermostat or a photoelectric diode might have glimmers of consciousness – a subjective self”.

In Tononi’s calculations, those “glimmers of consciousness” do not necessarily equal a conscious system, and he even came up with a unit, called phi or Φ, which he said could be used to measure how conscious a particular entity is.

Six years later, Tegmark proposed that there are two types of matter that could be considered according to the integrated information theory.

The first is ‘computronium’, which meets the requirements of the first trait of being able to store, process, and recall large amounts of information. And the second is ‘perceptronium’, which does all of the above, but in a way that forms the indivisible whole Tononi described.

In his 2014 paper, Tegmark explores what he identifies as the five basic principles that could be used to distinguish conscious matter from other physical systems such as solids, liquids, and gases – “the information, integration, independence, dynamics, and utility principles”.

He then spends 30 pages or so trying to explain how his new way of thinking about consciousness could explain the unique human perspective on the Universe.

As the arXiv.org blog explains, “When we look at a glass of iced water, we perceive the liquid and the solid ice cubes as independent things even though they are intimately linked as part of the same system. How does this happen? Out of all possible outcomes, why do we perceive this solution?”

It’s an incomplete thought, because Tegmark doesn’t have a solution. And as you might have guessed, it’s not something that his peers have been eager to take up and run with. Tegmark himself might have even hit a brick wall with it, because he’s never managed to take it beyond his pre-print, non-peer-reviewed paper.

That’s the problem with something like consciousness – if you can’t measure your attempts to measure it, how can you be sure you’ve measured it at all?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

More recently, scientists have attempted to explain how human consciousness could be transferred into an artificial body – seriously, there’s a start-up that wants to do this – and one group of Swiss physicists have suggested consciousness occurs in ‘time slices’ that are hundreds of milliseconds apart.

As Matthew Davidson, who studies the neuroscience of consciousness at Monash University in Australia, explains over at The Conversation, we still don’t know much about what consciousness actually is, but it’s looking more and more likely that it’s something we need to consider outside the realm of humans.

“If consciousness is indeed an emergent feature of a highly integrated network, as IIT suggests, then probably all complex systems – certainly all creatures with brains – have some minimal form of consciousness,” he says.

“By extension, if consciousness is defined by the amount of integrated information in a system, then we may also need to move away from any form of human exceptionalism that says consciousness is exclusive to us.”

Here’s Tegmark’s TED talk on consciousness as a mathematical pattern:

 

 

 

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