Sunday, March 12, 2023

12: Bakhmut

Front Line Shifts in Russia’s and Ukraine’s Battle for Bakhmut, Analysts Say Britain’s defense intelligence agency said that Russian forces had taken control of most of Bakhmut’s east, but advances farther west might be challenging....... Ukraine insisted on Saturday that its forces were fending off relentless Russian attacks in Bakhmut, even as Western analysts said that Moscow’s forces had captured most of the embattled city’s east and established a new front line cutting through its center. ...... Ukrainian officials say that Russian losses in Bakhmut are worse than their own, and they have signaled that they will pursue a strategy of bleeding the Russian Army before a planned Ukrainian counterattack. ....... Although Bakhmut’s strategic value is debatable, Moscow is looking for a victory after a series of setbacks. ....... The Bakhmutka River, which runs north to south through the city’s center, now marks the front line and could stymie further Russian advances west ...... the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, was at “the most important area” of the front line and taking the “necessary measures to keep Bakhmut under Ukrainian control.” ........ Both Ukrainian and Russian officials have suggested that the fall of Bakhmut could help pave the way for Moscow’s forces to make a broader push in eastern Ukraine. ....... Ukraine may try to approach the Russian-held port of Melitopol and drive a wedge between Moscow’s forces in the Crimean Peninsula and those in eastern Ukraine. ........ Each makes essentially the same assertion: that the fighting there is worth the cost because it is wearing down the opponent and depleting whatever resources might be available to push forward elsewhere. ....... Western officials estimate that up to 30,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in and around Bakhmut. Ukrainian casualties are also believed to be high ........ Kyiv’s forces are tearing through ammunition supplies — firing shells and rockets far faster than Western nations can supply them. .

Why Russia is afraid of Jehovah’s Witnesses as of now, Jehovah’s Witness gatherings and preaching are criminal offenses in Russia ........ The Russian government also has the legal authority to liquidate any property held by Jehovah’s Witnesses as an organization. ....... Russia, with a population of more than 150 million, has a total of 117,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses ........ The Russian Supreme Court maintains that the country needs to be protected from disloyal religious fanatics. ........ But given their commitment to God above all things, Jehovah’s Witnesses see themselves as being persecuted by those who value loyalty to country over any other principle. They also believe that the Russian government has “trampled on the guarantees of their own laws.” ....... April 20, the day the Russian Supreme Court first ruled against them, is also the birthday of Adolf Hitler. ....... Their memories of persecution have not faded with time. .

Francis is the first Jesuit pope – here’s how that has shaped his 10-year papacy “Who am I to judge?” he famously said about gay priests. “Nowadays there is an economy that kills,” he once declared – a comment that led critics to rather implausibly label the pontiff a Marxist. ........ The “Spiritual Exercises,” written by St. Ignatius, is a guide to spiritual development that Jesuits and others have used for centuries. It encourages participants to pay careful attention to the inner movements of the spirit or soul that shape their decisions and actions. ......... Without that more fundamental change, Francis wrote, codes and boards could merely be about meeting corporate-style “standards of functionalism and efficiency,” and the call to fundamentally mend relationships would go unheeded. Policies might indeed be necessary, but not before the bishops reminded themselves of their fundamental task to follow Jesus in building relationships with one another and laity. ......... “I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds.” ......... In 2015, he issued the first papal document dedicated exclusively to ecological degradation. It begins, said a key adviser to Francis, with “a spiritual listening to the results of the best scientific research on environmental matters available today,” which demonstrates that our environmental situation is bad and getting worse. ......... A superficial response is purely technological: Humans can gain ever greater control over the natural world and its changes. The structures resulting from that vision of domination stand at the root of environmental degradation because technology alone will always come up short, Francis argued . .............. the world needs an “ecological conversion,” he wrote – a spiritual shift so that people perceive how “everything is connected,” from honeybees and supply lines to compost and impoverishment. .......... because everything hangs together in Christ, the source of all creation, everything is interconnected. .

Jesuits as science missionaries for the Catholic Church A Catholic, a Jesuit and a scientist walk into a bar. What do they have to talk about? ....... This scenario is no joking matter. Conflict as well as collaboration have characterized the historical relations between these three parties since the founding of the Society of Jesus, nearly 500 years ago. How do these three interact today in an era of “War on Science” that tends to politicize so many scientific issues? .......... it is still the largest single Catholic religious order of men, with over 17,000 members worldwide in 2013. ........ When the Society was suppressed in 1773, some 700 educational institutions were under its supervision. Jesuits are still active in education today, with 28 colleges and universities in the United States alone. ........ And Riccioli examined 126 arguments that could be made about Copernicus’ sun-centered system: 49 for, 77 against. ....... An overarching institutional commitment to science is visible in the globe-spanning networks of seismological stations and the 74 observatories the Society of Jesus operated following its restoration in 1814. It continues to provide qualified personnel for the Vatican Observatory, staffing both its facility outside Rome as well as the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, the latter part of the Mount Graham International Observatory in southeastern Arizona. ........ But Jesuit investment in scientific work has not always been celebrated. Jesuit directors of the Imperial Astronomical Bureau in Beijing in the 17th and 18th centuries faced heavy criticism from Protestants, their co-religionists, and even their confreres for what many saw as a role incompatible with their apostolic duties and spiritual character. .......... Last year Consolmagno received the Carl Sagan Memorial Award for Public Understanding of Science from the American Astronomical Society, given for his work as a “voice of the juxtaposition of planetary science and astronomy with Christian belief, a rational spokesperson who can convey exceptionally well how religion and science can coexist for believers.” He’s even filled Stephen Colbert in on the Vatican position on extraterrestrial life..........

physics research was akin to the search for God.

......... “honesty” in “confronting data, even when they might contradict my previous experience and expectations” and in recognizing “the tentative quality of both our knowledge and our ignorance” was critical to “Ignatian discernment,” the process through which discoveries – scientific as well as spiritual – are made. ............ the Big Bang and evolution are settled issues for this pope ......... While this pope’s leadership on specific scientific issues will not suit everyone, it promises to give the world an illuminating example of how science and religion might progress together.

Pope Francis prioritises the poor, channels Marx in new ‘manifesto’ Pope Francis has openly attacked capitalism in his recently released Apostolic exhortation ........ While Francis has called for the radical decentralisation of the Vatican, and decided that gay people are not agents of Satan, it is his outcry against savage capitalism that creates the biggest interest. Much of it could have come from the hand of Karl Marx himself ......... Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. .......... “No to an economy of exclusion”, “No to the new idolatry of money”, “No to a financial system which rules rather than serves” and “No to the inequality which spawns violence”. ......... Not since the papacy of Paul VI in the 1960s has a pope openly declared the need to rebel against unjust capitalism. ......... Under Francis, European Church attendance is ever so slowly on the rise for the first time in decades. Two-thirds of Catholics seem to view Francis’ overall focus on human harmony as a positive thing. ......... a reading of the scripture that looks at sin in social problems, not individual ones. ....... Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. ........ Just like Marx wrote over 100 years ago, Francis understands capitalism’s manner of turning everything into a commodity, even humans. ........... The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us. ........ the Catholic Church has huge, undisclosed wealth that is closely tied with the global usury system of unethical loans that Jesus condemned .

The enzyme, dubbed Huc, was extracted from Mycobacterium smegmati, a fairly common — and wildly resilient — soil bacterium. According to the study, it was discovered through a series of advanced molecular-mapping techniques. .......... Huc is "astonishingly stable" and could one day be used as a tiny, sustainable, bacteria-powered battery for small devices. ......... "When you provide Huc with more concentrated hydrogen, it produces more electrical current," Grinter told LiveScience


. the existing links between traditional banks and crypto "show how easily a cryptocurrency crisis might spill over." ..... "Contrary to what its marketing wizards tell us, crypto is neither money nor a vehicle for finance," they expounded. "It’s an elaborate simulation of finance that produces gains and losses." ........ Comparing crypto to casino chips, the two experts argued that crypto is actually worse than gambling because, while people can pretty well guess the odds in a casino, "the odds in crypto are subject to gross manipulation." ........ Comparing crypto to casino chips, the two experts argued that crypto is actually worse than gambling because, while people can pretty well guess the odds in a casino, "the odds in crypto are subject to gross manipulation." ........ "Regulating crypto would encourage denser, deeper connections, generating systemic risks," the pair wrote — and as such, they think the entire industry needs to be kiboshed by the government. ......... likening crypto to ozone-depleting chemical compounds, antiquated trash bonds, and, well, the financial industry's recreational drug of choice in the 1980s. ....... "Crypto is part chlorofluorocarbon, part cocaine and part bearer bond" ....

"It isn’t the future of finance. More than malign neglect, the US needs policies that will eliminate cryptocurrencies and their metastases."

FLORIDA MAN PLOTTING TO BUILD WEB SERVERS ON THE MOON Lonestar Data Holdings announced that it had secured an additional $5 million in funding as it marches ever closer to its ambitious experiment of running data centers on the Moon. .

NOAM CHOMSKY: AI ISN'T COMING FOR US ALL, YOU IDIOTS "THAT DAY MAY COME, BUT ITS DAWN IS NOT YET BREAKING." ....... While currently available AI chatbots may seem to mimic human creativity and ingenuity, they are doing so only based on statistical probability, and not as a result of the kind of deeper knowledge and understanding that belies all human thought processes and are thusly "stuck in a prehuman or nonhuman phase of cognitive evolution," Chomsky argued. ......

machine learning systems can learn both that the earth is flat and that the earth is round

.......... mini-brains are already building blocks for a plug-and-play biocomputing system that readily connects with biological brains. So why not leverage them as processors for a computer?......... Microfluidic systems, which act as “nurseries,” also need to improve. These high-tech bubble baths provide nutrients and oxygen to keep burgeoning mini-brains alive and healthy while removing toxic waste, giving them time to mature. The same system can also pump neurotransmitters—molecules that bridge communication between neurons—into specific regions to modify their growth and behavior........ learning changes neural circuits on multiple levels.

5 tips for women to negotiate a higher salary women anticipating backlash from attempting to negotiate “hedge their assertiveness, using fewer competing tactics and obtaining lower outcomes.” ....... The fear of backlash is reasonable. Men and women alike say they are less willing to work with women who ask to be paid more. ......... You might start with a focus on a salary increase, but what you really want is an accelerated promotion track. ........... A positive mindset also means approaching negotiations with curiosity. Make it about trying to work out a problem, not winning a fight. .......... Small talk before the negotiation helps build the relationship and can have a positive effect on your negotiations.

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