October 22nd, 2014
"Facing new reports of corruption and insider deals, Kay Hagan skipped tonight’s North Carolina Senate debate, leaving an empty chair to represent her campaign.
After the last debate, America Rising trackers caught Hagan skipping the post-debate press conference because of her inability to answer questions about missing Armed Services hearings on ISIS," claims America Rising.
"This is not an image or video that conveys strength or confidence from Kay Hagan’s campaign 2 weeks out from Election Day."
Related Stories at Weekly Standard
October 21st, 2014
Of note in this story, is the fact that the Obama Regime has come out with fake talking points which seek to cover-up Obama Regime policy shortfalls.
Just as in Benghazi, where a video was erroneously blamed for the terrorist attack on a compound which killed four Americans, the same talking point set-up applies in this case, where lax Obama regime standards could mean an Ebola outbreak, but cannot actually be stated.
The simple fact is that both Spain and America were named as requiring additional screenings due to deaths from ebola in each of these nations as a result of an open border policy. Yet, the media has accepted the Regime talking points concerning "two Rwandan school children" being subjected to increased screening.
The simple fact is, there have been no ebola deaths in Rwanda--there has been a death and infected victims as a result in the US; the spin never stops.....
The East African nation of Rwanda is requiring all visitors from the United States and Spain to self-monitor, fill out an extensive questionnaire and report their medical condition for the first 21 days of their visits because of the Ebola cases that have surfaced in the two Western countries.
Coincidentally or not, the new screening follows an embarrassing uproar in a New Jersey school over the imminent enrollment of two Rwanda children that initially prompted their parents to keep them at home for 21 days.
The order by the Rwanda government to visiting Americans and Spaniards was posted Tuesday on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda:
"On October 19, the Rwandan Ministry of Health introduced new Ebola Virus Disease screening requirements. Visitors who have been in the United States or Spain during the last 22 days are now required to report their medical condition—regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms of Ebola—by telephone by dialing 114 between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. for the duration of their visit to Rwanda (if less than 21 days), or for the first 21 days of their visit to Rwanda. Rwandan authorities continue to deny entry to visitors who traveled to Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, or Sierra Leone within the past 22 days."
The U.S. and Spain have both recorded deaths from Ebola. In Dallas, a Liberian national died of the virus two weeks ago and two nurses who treated him tested positive for the virus. At least two Spanish missionaries died in Spain after contracting the disease in West Africa. One Spanish nurse also tested positive for the virus.
Rwanda is located in East Africa about 2,600 miles east of Liberia, the closest of the three West African countries with the Ebola outbreak. Rwanda has been unaffected by the Ebola outbreak on the other side of the continent and has reported no cases of the virus.
The dust-up in New Jersey involving two Rwanda children took a new turn Monday with an apology by the superintendent of the Maple Shade School District in Burlington County.
The children were supposed to begin classes Monday at Howard Yocum Elementary School in Maple Shade, N.J., but ran into a backlash from other parents, WTXF-TV in Philadelphia.com reports.
The uproar started after a school nurse sent a note to staff members saying that the school intended to take the temperature of the two students three times a day for the next 3 weeks, the normal incubation period for Ebola.
October 21st, 2014
The notion that human beings walk, talk, think, and do things because our brains control us is a fringe idea, easily refuted with a few moment's thought and rarely taken seriously. But it got a boost from an Op-ed piece in the New York Times last week under the title, "Are We Really Conscious?" Thousands of readers were exposed to an argument that has been around for decades, holding that the brain is a machine analogous to a computer, and its working parts (neurons) operate through strict cause and effect. Therefore, when we believe that we have free will, we are as mistaken as marionettes controlled by invisible strings.
The author of the Op-ed piece, a Princeton psychology professor named Michael S. A. Graziano, states the extreme case for brain-as-machine: We are fooling ourselves to believe we are conscious. He also states, quite falsely, that this mechanistic view is the only viable explanation for consciousness currently to be found in science. Actually, there are a number of annual conferences on the topic of science and consciousness, and it's fair to say that Graziano's strict materialistic view, although a pet theory in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), rarely comes up in these conferences. But with the name of a prestigious university attached, his Op-ed piece will start a discussion, so here's my contribution.
Here are five points made in the piece and why they're wrong:
"Biologically speaking, we're not a special act of creation. We're a twig on the tree of evolution."
Actually, human beings are neither of these. Our nervous system makes us unique on the evolutionary ladder, which is more than being a twig. Yet we are biological creatures, as if this needs stating.
Graziano points out that a camera attached to a computer can determine that grass is green, but we humans believe we experiencegreenness. "What is this mysterious aspect of ourselves? Many theories have been proposed, but none has passed scientific muster."
It's quite true that a scientific explanation for subjective experience has yet to be successfully formulated, but the very worst theory is the one Graziano favors, that consciousness is an illusion, the only reality being electrical and chemical activity in the brain.
It's obvious at face value that human beings have a mind while the molecules of water and organic chemicals that make up the brain do not. Creating a bridge from neural activity to mind is very difficult, but to say "Wait, I have the answer. The conscious mind isn't real," is nonsense. This is like solving the question of gender equality by saying that women don't exist.
Even the statement that a camera-plus-computer setup can determine that grass is green is flat wrong. The wavelength of light that falls into the spectrum of green doesn't become a color until processed by a nervous system. Photons have no color. Indeed, we have no idea if other creatures see green as green. What we do know for certain is that a camera and computer have no perceptual ability whatever.
"We don't actually have inner feelings in the way that most of us think we do."
To be accurate, all of us think we have inner feelings, not most of us, and this includes Prof. Graziano when he burns himself at the BBQ, finds out that a loved one has died, or got an appointment at Princeton. He calls the refutation of inner feelings "skeptical," but he might want to consult arch-skeptic Sam Harris, whose new book, Waking Up, is entirely devoted to the validity of subjective feelings.
"The brain builds up models (or complex bundles of information) about items in the world, and these models are often not accurate."
This point is flogged to death by similar thinkers like Daniel Dennett who somehow believe they can accuse the brain of being faulty, fallacious, and unreliable while with the other hand relying on the brain and nothing but the brain for the existence of mind. Leaving that aside, the brain doesn't build up models of anything.
Imagine a CD-ROM as it stores the symphonies of Mozart through the processing of digitized information. A mind has to create the storage, decided what to select, etc. The brain without instruction is as mindless as a CD-ROM, and to say that the world we perceive amounts to stored information is a sleight of hand-it skips the part where a mind actually understands and experiences the world. Again, neurons are made of molecules, and molecules don't create or listen to music. They don't create any experience of the world, any more than the wood and ivory in a piano experience music even though music is played on a piano.
When speaking of why subjectivity is false, Graziano says, ". . . there is only information in a data-processing device."
This notion that mind = information is at the heart of AI, but even if we throw out all counter-arguments and accept the premise, it falls apart immediately, because "information" as such requires a mind. Without a mind, zeros and ones have no meaning. Only mind can turn digits into a language. To take the position that the brain is all that's needed to build a model of the world would mean that zeros and ones figured themselves out and turned themselves into a mathematical language all on their own -absurd.
Prof. Graziano goes on to describe his own laboratory work in developing an "attention schema," which would make attention a process involved in the coding and decoding of information, while awareness is the brain's inaccurate version of attention, which a computer would do better because it can be built with better computing chips than the brain possesses.
The intellectual vacuity of this line of thinking would cause despair but for one thing. Neuroscience knows what it's doing technically, like a piano tuner called in to fix a piano. Many human ills and difficulties can be traced to brain processes gone awry. There is great good to be achieved by delving into the physiology of the brain.
If Graziano and other technical-minded types believe that human beings are brain puppets, no harm done. It's a bizarre, self-contradictory, empty notion. Meanwhile, the ability of the mind to alter the brain, create new neural pathways, break old conditioning, generate new brain cells, promote well-being, and even direct gene expression forms the true frontier of neuroscience. The mind-body connection has never been as promising as it is today. If Graziano is facing in the opposite direction, that's his right. One wishes that his brain cells would create a different and better illusion for him, though.
Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 80 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers including Super Brain, co-authored with Rudi Tanzi, PhD. He serves as the founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. Coming soon, The Future of God (Harmony, November 11, 2014)
October 21st, 2014
HELSINKI (AP) — NATO scrambled fighter jets twice in two days to intercept Russian military aircraft over the Baltic Sea, it said Tuesday amid reports that Russian military activity in the region is increasing.
Lt. Col. Robert Gericke said the Russian aircraft were flying in international airspace and had not violated the territory of alliance members.
Two Canadian F-18 Hornet jets were scrambled from the Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania on Monday to intercept a Russian Ilyushin-20 surveillance aircraft, which they shadowed for some 15 minutes, NATO said.
"Once identification was successful, the intercept mission was completed and the two Hornets returned to their base," a NATO statement said.
Earlier, the Latvian military tweeted that NATO F-16 jets were dispatched on Tuesday to intercept a Russian Ilyushin-20 surveillance aircraft over the Baltic Sea. Gericke confirmed that NATO jets had also intercepted a Russian aircraft that day, but could not immediately provide more details.
NATO, which has 16 fighter jets in the region monitoring Baltic airspace, said it regularly launches jets to identify "unknown or potentially hostile aircraft" in the proximity of national airspace.
There were two similar incidents in the region on Oct. 7 and Sept. 11, but on neither occasion did the Russian aircraft constitute a threat to NATO forces, the alliance said.
In the past five days, the Swedish Navy has been combing the Stockholm archipelago for signs of a foreign submarine that officials suspect entered its territorial waters illegally. It hasn't officially linked Russia to the suspected intrusion.
The Finnish military says that Russian military aircraft have violated the small Nordic country's airspace five times this year, and the Environment Institute said Russian military ships had twice intercepted one of its research vessels in international waters.
On Sept. 5 an Estonian security service officer was detained on the Russian border — Estonia and Russia disagree on which side of it — and is still in custody in Moscow.
October 21st, 2014
An Elitist Kay Hagan Claimed she was completely unaware of any connection....despite a multi-million dollar award on behalf of her husband's company.... at about the same exact time the case was settled & the recommendation was made to Obama.
But, nothing to see here, just move along....
(The big question might be --will you see this story in the Kay Hagan Loving Charlotte Observer?)
Washington Free Beacon
Just a week after Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) recommended a North Carolina judge to President Barack Obama for a seat in the U.S. District Court, the judge ruled in favor of a company partially owned by Hagan’s husband.
The senator’s husband, Charles T. “Chip” Hagan, was a managing member of Hydrodyne Industries LLC when it sued a regional water authority for drawing water out of a river that had one of its hydroelectric dams built on. The lawsuit sought millions of dollars in damages and was carried out by Chip Hagan’s legal firm.
Superior Court Judge Calvin E. Murphy ruled the case in favor of Hydrodyne, setting the table for the Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority to pay millions in damages to companies including Hydrodyne.
Murphy’s ruling was made on Oct. 23, 2009, just nine days after Sen. Hagan sent his name to Obama to be nominated for a lifetime seat on the U.S. District Court for Western North Carolina.
Hagan withdrew her recommendation to Obama after North Carolina’s News and Record contacted her office about the apparent conflict of interest, telling the paper that she “was not aware that Judge Murphy was hearing a case in which my husband had an interest.”
“To avoid any appearance of favoritism from my office, I am asking the White House to withdraw Judge Murphy’s name from consideration for U.S. District Court Judge for North Carolina’s western district,” Hagan said in a statement at the time.
The water authority appealed the ruling due to the connections between Hagan and Murphy.
During the appeal, Murphy testified that he was in Hagan’s Greensboro office for an interview with the senator just two days before he heard the final hearings for the case in question.
Murphy maintained, however, that he remained unaware of any connection between the Hagans and the case.
“At no point was it brought to my attention that Sen. Hagan’s husband had an interest in the suit or that his law firm had an interest in the case,” Murphy testified.
The Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority was not convinced that Hagan and Murphy were both oblivious to each other’s connections to the case....