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John W. Whitehead, Rutherford
Waking Times

“You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”—George Orwell, 1984

Tread cautiously: the fiction of George Orwell has become an operation manual for the omnipresent, modern-day surveillance state.

It’s been 70 years since Orwell—dying, beset by fever and bloody coughing fits, and driven to warn against the rise of a society in which rampant abuse of power and mass manipulation are the norm—depicted the ominous rise of ubiquitous technology, fascism and totalitarianism in 1984.

Who could have predicted that 70 years after Orwell typed the final words to his dystopian novel, “He loved Big Brother,” we would fail to heed his warning and come to love Big Brother.

“To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone— to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink — greetings!”—George Orwell

1984 portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. People are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. The government, or “Party,” is headed by Big Brother who appears on posters everywhere with the words: “Big Brother is watching you.”

We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by not only Orwell but also such fiction writers as Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick.

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”―George Orwell

Much like Orwell’s Big Brother in 1984, the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move. Much like Huxley’s A Brave New World, we are churning out a society of watchers who “have their liberties taken away from them, but … rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing.” Much like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the populace is now taught to “know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away.”

And in keeping with Philip K. Dick’s darkly prophetic vision of a dystopian police state—which became the basis for Steven Spielberg’s futuristic thriller Minority Report—we are now trapped in a world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful, and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams and pre-crime units will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.

What once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction.

Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike—facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on—are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, the dystopian visions of past writers is fast becoming our reality.

Our world is characterized by widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, fusion centers, driverless cars, voice-controlled homes, facial recognition systems, cybugs and drones, and predictive policing (pre-crime) aimed at capturing would-be criminals before they can do any damage.

Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Government agents listen in on our telephone calls and read our emails. Political correctness—a philosophy that discourages diversity—has become a guiding principle of modern society.

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”―George Orwell

The courts have shredded the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. In fact, SWAT teams battering down doors without search warrants and FBI agents acting as a secret police that investigate dissenting citizens are common occurrences in contemporary America. And bodily privacy and integrity have been utterly eviscerated by a prevailing view that Americans have no rights over what happens to their bodies during an encounter with government officials, who are allowed to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”―George Orwell, Animal Farm

We are increasingly ruled by multi-corporations wedded to the police state.

What many fail to realize is that the government is not operating alone. It cannot. The government requires an accomplice. Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of the massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental overreach.

In fact, Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother, and we are now ruled by the Corporate Elite whose tentacles have spread worldwide. For example, USA Today reports that five years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the homeland security business was booming to such an extent that it eclipsed mature enterprises like movie-making and the music industry in annual revenue. This security spending to private corporations such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others is forecast to exceed $1 trillion in the near future.

The government now has at its disposal technological arsenals so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void. Spearheaded by the NSA, which has shown itself to care little to nothing for constitutional limits or privacy, the “security/industrial complex”—a marriage of government, military and corporate interests aimed at keeping Americans under constant surveillance—has come to dominate the government and our lives. At three times the size of the CIA, constituting one third of the intelligence budget and with its own global spy network to boot, the NSA has a long history of spying on Americans, whether or not it has always had the authorization to do so.

Money, power, control. There is no shortage of motives fueling the convergence of mega-corporations and government. But who is paying the price? The American people, of course.

Orwell understood what many Americans, caught up in their partisan flag-waving, are still struggling to come to terms with: that there is no such thing as a government organized for the good of the people. Even the best intentions among those in government inevitably give way to the desire to maintain power and control over the citizenry at all costs. As Orwell explains:

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.

“The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” ― George Orwell

How do you change the way people think? You start by changing the words they use.

In totalitarian regimes—a.k.a. police states—where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.

Dystopian literature shows what happens when the populace is transformed into mindless automatons. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, reading is banned and books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted and controlled.

In Huxley’s Brave New World, serious literature, scientific thinking and experimentation are banned as subversive, while critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning, social taboos and inferior education. Likewise, expressions of individuality, independence and morality are viewed as vulgar and abnormal.

And in Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish “thoughtcrimes.” In this dystopian vision of the future, the Thought Police serve as the eyes and ears of Big Brother, while the Ministry of Peace deals with war and defense, the Ministry of Plenty deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation), the Ministry of Love deals with law and order (torture and brainwashing), and the Ministry of Truth deals with news, entertainment, education and art (propaganda). The mottos of Oceania: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

All three—Bradbury, Huxley and Orwell—had an uncanny knack for realizing the future, yet it is Orwell who best understood the power of language to manipulate the masses. Orwell’s Big Brother relied on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings and make independent, non-government-approved thought altogether unnecessary. To give a single example, as psychologist Erich Fromm illustrates in his afterword to 1984:

The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as “This dog is free from lice” or “This field is free from weeds.” It could not be used in its old sense of “politically free” or “intellectually free,” since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed as concepts….

Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is “safe” and “accepted” by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.

This is the final link in the police state chain.

“Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”—George Orwell

Americans have been conditioned to accept routine incursions on their privacy rights. In fact, the addiction to screen devices—especially cell phones—has created a hive effect where the populace not only watched but is controlled by AI bots. However, at one time, the idea of a total surveillance state tracking one’s every move would have been abhorrent to most Americans. That all changed with the 9/11 attacks. As professor Jeffrey Rosen observes, “Before Sept. 11, the idea that Americans would voluntarily agree to live their lives under the gaze of a network of biometric surveillance cameras, peering at them in government buildings, shopping malls, subways and stadiums, would have seemed unthinkable, a dystopian fantasy of a society that had surrendered privacy and anonymity.”

Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry—mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all—we have nowhere left to go.

We have, so to speak, gone from being a nation where privacy is king to one where nothing is safe from the prying eyes of government. In search of so-called terrorists and extremists hiding amongst us—the proverbial “needle in a haystack,” as one official termed it—the Corporate State has taken to monitoring all aspects of our lives, from cell phone calls and emails to Internet activity and credit card transactions. Much of this data is being fed through fusion centers across the country, which work with the Department of Homeland Security to make threat assessments on every citizen, including school children. These are state and regional intelligence centers that collect data on you.

“Big Brother is Watching You.”―George Orwell

Wherever you go and whatever you do, you are now being watched, especially if you leave behind an electronic footprint. When you use your cell phone, you leave a record of when the call was placed, who you called, how long it lasted and even where you were at the time. When you use your ATM card, you leave a record of where and when you used the card. There is even a video camera at most locations equipped with facial recognition software. When you use a cell phone or drive a car enabled with GPS, you can be tracked by satellite. Such information is shared with government agents, including local police. And all of this once-private information about your consumer habits, your whereabouts and your activities is now being fed to the U.S. government.

The government has nearly inexhaustible resources when it comes to tracking our movements, from electronic wiretapping devices, traffic cameras and biometrics to radio-frequency identification cards, satellites and Internet surveillance.

Speech recognition technology now makes it possible for the government to carry out massive eavesdropping by way of sophisticated computer systems. Phone calls can be monitored, the audio converted to text files and stored in computer databases indefinitely. And if any “threatening” words are detected—no matter how inane or silly—the record can be flagged and assigned to a government agent for further investigation. Federal and state governments, again working with private corporations, monitor your Internet content. Users are profiled and tracked in order to identify, target and even prosecute them.

In such a climate, everyone is a suspect. And you’re guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. To underscore this shift in how the government now views its citizens, the FBI uses its wide-ranging authority to investigate individuals or groups, regardless of whether they are suspected of criminal activity.

“Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.” ― George Orwell

Here’s what a lot of people fail to understand, however: it’s not just what you say or do that is being monitored, but how you think that is being tracked and targeted. We’ve already seen this play out on the state and federal level with hate crime legislation that cracks down on so-called “hateful” thoughts and expression, encourages self-censoring and reduces free debate on various subject matter.

Say hello to the new Thought Police.

Total Internet surveillance by the Corporate State, as omnipresent as God, is used by the government to predict and, more importantly, control the populace, and it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. For example, the NSA is now designing an artificial intelligence system that is designed to anticipate your every move. In a nutshell, the NSA will feed vast amounts of the information it collects to a computer system known as Aquaint (the acronym stands for Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence), which the computer can then use to detect patterns and predict behavior.

No information is sacred or spared.

Everything from cell phone recordings and logs, to emails, to text messages, to personal information posted on social networking sites, to credit card statements, to library circulation records, to credit card histories, etc., is collected by the NSA and shared freely with its agents in crime: the CIA, FBI and DHS. One NSA researcher actually quit the Aquaint program, “citing concerns over the dangers in placing such a powerful weapon in the hands of a top-secret agency with little accountability.”

Thus, what we are witnessing, in the so-called name of security and efficiency, is the creation of a new class system comprised of the watched (average Americans such as you and me) and the watchers (government bureaucrats, technicians and private corporations).

Clearly, the age of privacy in America is at an end.

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”—Orwell

So where does that leave us?

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers. This is the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction lesson that is being pounded into us on a daily basis.

It won’t be long before we find ourselves looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, buy what we wanted, think what we wanted without those thoughts, words and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies.

To be an individual today, to not conform, to have even a shred of privacy, and to live beyond the reach of the government’s roaming eyes and technological spies, one must not only be a rebel but rebel.

Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw.

So how do you survive in the American surveillance state?

We’re running out of options.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we’ll soon have to choose between self-indulgence (the bread-and-circus distractions offered up by the news media, politicians, sports conglomerates, entertainment industry, etc.) and self-preservation in the form of renewed vigilance about threats to our freedoms and active engagement in self-governance.

Yet as Aldous Huxley acknowledged in Brave New World Revisited: “Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in their calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those would manipulate and control it.”

About the Author

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute, where this article (The Omnipresent Surveillance State: Orwell’s 1984 Is No Longer Fiction) was originally published. He is the author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State and The Change Manifesto.

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Underworld

Designing people: GMO generation

Many of us are born with qualities that help us better compete in society: beauty, intelligence, spectacular appearance or physical strength. Due to the success of genetics, it begins to seem that soon we will become available to something that was not previously subject to – to “design” people even before they were born. 

To ask the necessary qualities, if they are not given by nature, predetermining the opportunities so necessary in life. We do this with cars and other inanimate objects, but now that the human genome has been decoded and we are already learning to edit it, it seems that we are getting closer to the emergence of so-called “designer”, “designed” children. Does it seem that way or will it soon become reality?

Lulu and Nana from Pandora’s Box

The birth of the first children with a modified genome at the end of 2019 caused a serious resonance in the scientific community and among the public. He Jiankui, a biologist at the Southern University of Science and Technology, China  (SUSTech)   – On November 19, 2018, on the eve of the second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong, in an interview with the Associated Press,  announced the birth of the first children in history with an edited genome.

The twin girls were born in China. Their names, as well as the names of their parents, were not disclosed: the first “GMO children” on the planet are known as Lulu and Nana. According to the scientist, the girls are healthy, and interference with their genome has made the twins immune to HIV.

The event, which may seem like a new step in the development of mankind, or at least medicine, as already mentioned, did not cause positive emotions among the scientist’s colleagues. On the contrary, he was condemned. Government agencies in China began an investigation, and all experiments with the human genome in the country were temporarily banned.

He Jiankui /  ©  apnews.com/Mark Schiefelbein

The experiment, not appreciated by the public, was as follows. The scientist took sperm and eggs from the future parents, carried out in vitro fertilization with them, he edited the genomes of the resulting embryos using the CRISPR / Cas9 method  . After the embryos were implanted into the lining of the woman’s uterus, the girls’ expectant mother was not infected with HIV – unlike the father, who was a carrier of the virus.

The CCR5 gene , which encodes a membrane protein used by the human immunodeficiency virus to enter cells, was edited  . If it is modified, a person with such an artificial mutation will be resistant to infection with the virus.

Lulu and Nana /  ©  burcualem.com

The mutation that He Jiankui tried to create artificially is called  CCR5 Δ32 : it is also found in nature, but only in a few people, and has long attracted the attention of scientists. Experiments in mice in 2016 showed that  CCR5 Δ32  affects the functioning of the hippocampus, significantly improving memory. Its carriers are not only immune to HIV, but also recover faster after a stroke or traumatic brain injury, have better memory and learning abilities than “ordinary” people.

However, so far no scientist can guarantee that  CCR5 Δ32  does not carry any unknown risks and that such manipulations with the CCR5 gene   will not cause negative consequences for the carrier of the mutation. Now the only negative consequence of such a mutation is known: the organism of its owners is more susceptible to West Nile fever, but this disease is quite rare.

Meanwhile, the university where the Chinese scientist worked disowned its employee. The alma mater stated that they did not know about He Jiankui’s experiments, which they called a gross violation of ethical principles and scientific practice, and he was engaged in them outside the walls of the institution.

It should be noted that the project itself did not receive independent confirmation and did not pass peer review, and its results were not published in scientific publications. All we have is just a scientist’s statements.

He Jiankui’s work violated the international moratorium on such experiments. The ban is established at the legislative level in almost all countries. Colleagues of the geneticist agree that the use of CRISPR / Cas9 genomic editing  technology  in humans carries enormous risks.

But the key point of criticism is that the work of the Chinese geneticist has nothing innovative: no one has undertaken such experiments before due to fear of unpredictable consequences, because we do not know what problems modified genes can create for their carriers and descendants.

As the British geneticist Maryam Khosravi said on her Twitter account: “If we can do something, it does not mean that we have to do it.”

By the way, in October 2018, even before the shocking statement of the Chinese scientist, Russian geneticists from the Kulakov National Medical Research Center of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Perinatology also announced the successful change of the CCR5  gene  using the CRISPR / Cas9 genomic editor   and obtaining embryos that are not subject to the effects of HIV. Naturally, they were destroyed, so that it did not come to the birth of children.

40 years before

Fast forward four decades. In July 1978, Louise Brown was born in the UK – the first child born as a result of in vitro fertilization. Then her birth caused a lot of noise and indignation, and went to the parents of the “test-tube baby”, and the scientists, who were nicknamed “doctors of Frankenstein.”

Louise Brown. In childhood and now /  ©  dailymail.co.uk

But if that success frightened some, it gave others hope. So, today on the planet there are more than eight million people who owe their birth to the IVF technique, and many of the prejudices that were popular then have been dispelled.

True, there was one more concern: since the IVF method assumes that a “ready” human embryo is placed in the uterus, it may be genetically modified before implantation. As we can see, after a few decades, this is exactly what happened.

IVF procedure /  ©  freepik.com

So can a parallel be drawn between the two events – the birth of Louise Brown and the Chinese twins Lula and Nana? Is it worth arguing that Pandora’s box is open and very soon it will be possible to “order” a child created according to a project, that is, a designer one. And most importantly – will the attitude of society towards such children change, as it has practically changed towards children “from a test tube” today?

Embryo selection or genetic modification?

However, it’s not just genome editing that brings us closer to a future where children will have pre-planned qualities. Lulu and Nana owe their birth not only to CRISPR / Cas9 gene editing  technologies  and IVF, but also to preimplantation genetic diagnosis of embryos (PGD). During his experiment, He Jiankui used PGD of edited embryos to detect chimerism and off-target errors.

And if editing human embryos is prohibited, then preimplantation genetic diagnostics, which consists in sequencing the genome of embryos for some hereditary genetic diseases, and the subsequent selection of healthy embryos, is not. PGD ​​is a kind of alternative to prenatal diagnostics, only without the need to terminate pregnancy in case of genetic abnormalities.

Experts point out that the first “legitimate” designer children will be obtained precisely through the selection of embryos, and not as a result of genetic manipulation.

In the process of PGD, embryos obtained using in vitro fertilization are subjected to genetic screening. The procedure involves removing cells from embryos at a very early stage of development and “reading” their genomes. All or part of the DNA is read to determine which variants of genes it carries. Afterwards, the parents-to-be will be able to choose which embryos to implant in the hope of pregnancy.

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) /  © vmede.org

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis is already being used by couples who believe they carry genes for certain inherited diseases to identify embryos that lack those genes. In the United States, such testing is used in about 5% of IVF cases. It is usually performed on three to five day old embryos. Such tests can detect genes that carry about 250 diseases, including thalassemia, early Alzheimer’s disease and cystic fibrosis.

However, today PGD is not very attractive as a technology for designing children. The procedure for obtaining eggs is unpleasant, carries risks and does not provide the required number of cells for selection. But everything will change as soon as it becomes possible to obtain more eggs for fertilization (for example, from skin cells), and at the same time, the speed and cost of genome sequencing will increase.

Bioethicist Henry Greeley of Stanford University in California states, “Almost everything you can do with gene editing, you can do with embryo selection.”

Is DNA Destiny?

According to experts, in the coming decades in developed countries, progress in technologies for reading the genetic code recorded in our chromosomes will give an increasing number of people the opportunity to sequence their genes. But using genetic data to predict what kind of person an embryo will become is harder than it sounds.

Research into the genetic basis of human health is certainly important. Still, geneticists have done little to dispel simplistic ideas about how genes affect us.

Many people believe that there is a direct and unambiguous connection between their genes and traits. The idea of ​​the existence of genes directly responsible for intelligence, homosexuality, or, for example, musical abilities, is widespread. But even using the example of the aforementioned CCR5 gene  , a change in which affects the brain, we saw that everything is not so simple.

There are many – mostly rare – genetic diseases that can be accurately recognized by a specific gene mutation. As a rule, there really is a direct connection between such a gene breakdown and the disease.

The most common diseases or medical predispositions – diabetes, heart disease, or certain cancers – are associated with several or even many genes and cannot be predicted with any certainty. In addition, they depend on many environmental factors – for example, on a person’s diet.

But when it comes to more complex things like personality and intelligence, we don’t know much here about which genes are involved. However, scientists do not lose their positive attitude. As the number of people whose genomes have been sequenced increases, we will be able to learn more about this area.

Meanwhile, Euan Birney, director of the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, hinting that decoding the genome will not answer all questions, notes: “We must get away from the idea that your DNA is your destiny.”

Conductor and orchestra

However, this is not all. Not only genes are responsible for our intelligence, character, physique and appearance, but also epigens – specific tags that determine the activity of genes, but do not affect the primary structure of DNA.

If the genome is a set of genes in our body, then the epigenome is a set of tags that determine the activity of genes, a kind of regulatory layer located, as it were, on top of the genome. In response to external factors, he commands which genes should work and which should sleep. The epigenome is the conductor, the genome is the orchestra, in which each musician has his own part.

Such commands do not affect DNA sequences, they simply turn on (express) some genes and turn off (repress) others. Thus, not all genes that are on our chromosomes work. The manifestation of a particular phenotypic trait, the ability to interact with the environment, and even the rate of aging depend on which gene is blocked or unblocked.

The most famous and, as it is believed, the most important epigenetic mechanism is DNA methylation, the addition of CH3 group by DNA enzymes – methyltransferases to cytosine – one of the four nitrogenous bases in DNA.

Epigenome /  ©  celgene.com

When a methyl group is attached to the cytosine of a gene, the gene is turned off. But, surprisingly, in such a “dormant” state, the gene is passed on to the offspring. Such a transfer of characters acquired by living things during life is called epigenetic inheritance, which persists for several generations.

Epigenetics – the science called the little sister of genetics – studies how turning genes on and off affects our phenotypic traits. According to many experts, it is in the development of epigenetics that the future success of the technology for creating designer children lies.

By adding or removing epigenetic “tags”, we can, without affecting the DNA sequence, fight both diseases that have arisen under the influence of unfavorable factors, and expand the “catalog” of the planned child’s design characteristics.

Is the Gattaki scenario and other fears real?

Many fear that from editing the genome – in order to avoid serious genetic diseases – we will move on to improving people, and there it is not far before the emergence of a superman or the ramification of humanity into biological castes, as Yuval Noah Harari predicts.

Bioethicist Ronald Greene of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire believes technological advances can make “human design” more accessible. In the next 40-50 years, he says:

“we will see the use of gene editing and reproductive technologies to improve humans; we can choose the color of eyes and hair for our child, we want improved athletic ability, reading or numeracy skills, and so on.”

However, the emergence of designer children is fraught with not only unpredictable medical consequences, but also deepening social inequality.

As bioethical scientist Henry Greeley points out, a 10% to 20% achievable health improvement through PGD that complements the benefits already generated by wealth could lead to a widening gap in the health status of rich and poor, both in society and between countries.

And now, terrible images of a genetic elite, like the one depicted in the dystopian thriller Gattaca, arise in the imagination: the progress of technology has led to the fact that eugenics has ceased to be considered a violation of moral and ethical norms, and the production of ideal people is put on stream. 

In this world of humanity is divided into two social classes – “fit»  (the valid)  and “worthless»  (in-the valid) . The former, as a rule, are the result of the parents’ visit to the doctor, and the latter are the result of natural fertilization. All doors are open to “good”, and “unfit”, as a rule, are overboard.

Still from the film “Gattaca” (1997, USA)

Let’s return to our reality. We noted that it is not yet possible to predict the consequences of interference with the DNA sequence: genetics does not provide answers to many questions, and epigenetics is actually at an early stage of development. Each experiment with the birth of children with a modified genome is a significant risk that in the long term can turn into a problem for such children, their descendants and, possibly, the entire human species.

But the progress of technology in this area, having saved us, probably from some problems, will add new ones. The emergence of perfect in all respects designer children who, having matured, become members of society, can create a serious problem in the form of deepening social inequality already at the genetic level.

There is another problem: we did not look at the topic under consideration through the eyes of a child. People sometimes tend to overestimate the capabilities of science, and the temptation to replace the need for painstaking care of their child, his upbringing and study with paying bills in a specialized clinic can be great. What if the designer kid, in whom so much money has been invested and who has so many expectations, falls short of those hopes? If, despite the intelligence programmed in the genes and a spectacular appearance, he does not become what they wanted to do? Genes are not destiny yet.

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Underworld

In the US, there is a detainee on suspicion of the largest hacker attack on Twitter. He is 17

Graham Clark / © WFLA

On the night of July 16, Twitter was massively hacked. Fraudsters gained access to the accounts of celebrities and large companies and published records on them with a proposal to transfer bitcoins. Now the police have detained a group of hackers, whose “brain” was a 17-year-old teenager.

Graham Clark is now in the Hillsborough County Jail in Oregon, USA. He was the mastermind and brain behind the attack, reported on the WFLA , citing District Attorney Andrew Warren. The teenager faced 30 criminal charges, including for organized fraud and illegal use of personal data. Despite his age, he is going to be tried as an adult.

Shortly after Clark’s arrest, the US Department of Justice announced that he worked as part of the group, and told about the arrest of two more suspects. They were 22-year-old Nima Faseli and 19-year-old Mason Sheppard, who operated under the nicknames “Rolex” and “Chevon”, respectively. Faselli was charged with burglary, she faces up to 5 years in prison, and Sheppard – up to 20 for burglary and conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering. Both will also have to pay a $ 250,000 fine if the charges are confirmed.

The group hacked Twitter accounts of large companies and famous personalities. Among the victims are Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Kanye West, as well as Apple and Uber. From their names, the attackers posted ads asking them to transfer bitcoins to a teenager’s account in Tampa. 

They also gained access to internal network administration tools. It is reported that in the course of their actions several hundred people were injured, and they received 400 transfers totaling $ 100,000 in just one day. Warren described their actions as “an intricately organized attack of unprecedented magnitude.”

Examples of posts published by scammers / © tjournal
Examples of posts published by scammers / © tjournal

́After the attack, Twitter deleted posts and temporarily restricted the ability to publish for verified accounts. Later, the company said that the hacker attack was carried out using social engineering, and also noted that after the hack, their access to the network’s internal tools was limited.

Shortly after the arrest of the hackers, Twitter issued a statement thanking the local police, the IRS, the Secret Service and the FBI for their investigation. 

“We appreciate the prompt actions of law enforcement agencies and will continue to cooperate with them as the case develops,” the company said. 

They also talked about being transparent and regularly updating information about the investigation. In addition, the network has removed restrictions on the publication of posts by popular accounts and on changing passwords for some users.

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Underworld

The case of pedophiles among the Anglo-Saxon elite continues to kill

Pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein was friends with the world’s most influential people and paid off with business partners with orgies involving teenage girls. A year ago, he passed away under suspicious circumstances, but now his case – one of the most scandalous in the history of the United States, Britain and the largest bank of the Federal Republic of Germany – has received a second wind and continued to grow overgrown with corpses.

It is well known that the United States is a country with a heavily armed population, so killings are not infrequent, five to ten times more than in Western Europe. However, there is a category of citizens whose lives, in spite of Hollywood films, are extremely rarely attempted in America – these are federal judges.

Since Harry Truman’s time, only four of them have been killed, and the last time this happened was over 30 years ago. This is easy to explain: the point is not even that such people are well guarded, but that such an attempt would be very expensive – the entire life spent in prison, and in states where the death penalty has not been abolished, it is even more expensive.

In other words, to take up arms against a federal judge, you have to be either a psycho, or someone who has nothing to lose, or someone who, on the contrary, risks losing too much.

A few days ago, such a man knocked on the door of Judge Esther Salas’ home in New Jersey, disguised as a delivery officer. A few minutes later, Salas’s son was killed, her husband was seriously wounded, and the judge herself escaped because she was in the basement at the time of the attack.

Despite the fact that all this happened during the day, the killer managed to escape. But the FBI soon identified the main suspect – Roy Dan Hollander. He is a well-known man in his own way – he periodically participated in TV shows from the standpoint of an anti-feminist and “public defender of men.” It is not known what claims he had against the judge, but it will not be so easy to find out.

Hollander’s body was found in a remote area north of New York. The official version of the cause of his death is suicide.

Esther Salas

The version with a lone psychopath, of course, has a right to exist. But there is another circumstance that turns this whole story into a continuous stream of conspiracy theories – Salas was engaged in the case of the pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, who, according to an equally official version, committed suicide while awaiting trial in his cell.

This case, dealt an incomparable blow to the reputation of the American political elite and the British monarchy. Let’s remember the main thing.

The secular lion and millionaire Epstein managed the assets of world famous brands and personified ostentatious wealth – the largest residence in Manhattan, private jet flights, regular parties on remote islands, friendship with the “cream of society”. He was one of the prominent sponsors of the Democratic Party, for which its top officials showered him with gratitude, as if not noticing one strange feature of the financier – he preferred to communicate with very young girls.

In 2005, part of the truth was revealed: Epstein was accused of having ties with minors and of persuading them to have sex. However, the millionaire got out – he made a deal with the investigation and served a little more than a year in exchange for forgiveness for all possible episodes and compensation for three dozen victims in civil suits.

The prosecutor who agreed to the deal was named Alexander Acosta. In 2019, when he was the Minister of Labor in the Trump administration, this deal “caught up” with him – against the background of a new scandal related to Epstein, he was forced to resign, and the agreement with the pedophile was deemed illegal since the victims knew nothing about him.

By this time, the Epstein case was not at all what it initially appeared to be. The lover of sex with minors “has grown” to a seasoned pimp who supplied “live goods” as part of lobbying activities. Parties, suites, islands, teenage prostitutes – all of this turned out to be not only the nouveau riche’s vacation, but also his business. Bribes for lucrative contracts and specific services.

How many businessmen and high-ranking politicians were involved in these orgies, only Epstein himself knew, but he had no shortage of rich and powerful friends. Among them, for example, former US President Bill Clinton, who regularly used Epstein’s plane and was once spotted on one of his two islands used for meetings with teenagers.

Two victims testified directly against Prince Andrew – the youngest son of Elizabeth II, who is now confused in his memories and refuses to cooperate with the investigation (but at the same time he is lying that he is meeting the American prosecutors).

A well-founded accusation of these two is enough to shake the political foundations of the Anglo-Saxon world.

But the list of Epstein’s close friends is not limited to them – it includes ex-Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak, and ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain Tony Blair, and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed (the most influential Saudi in the world after his 84-year-old father, the king), and even Donald Trump.

True, the friendship with the latter fell on a period when the influence of the developer Trump was not as powerful (and suitable) as Clinton’s. After the very first case against Epstein, the current president stopped all communication with him, but even before that he was among those who publicly drew attention to the financier’s love for young people. The media that hate Trump do not care about this, so the documentary series “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich” is sometimes edited in the spirit of a propaganda video – the revelations of the victims are given against the background of Epstein’s photographs with Trump, not Clinton or Andrew.

Be that as it may, Epstein is dead, and that he passed away of his own free will, there are reasonable doubts. And everyone in the United States (even if he himself never admits it) understands that the Democratic Party, opposition to Trump, and, especially, the Clintons, around which a full-fledged necropolis of people who died under suspicious circumstances, has already formed, is more interested in the silence of a pedophile.

Now the case of a super-influential pedophile has been closed, but cases of fraud remain – underage girls, as mentioned above, were part of dirty deals. One of them concerns the largest financial conglomerate in Germany – Deutsche Bank, which Epstein used to launder money thanks to connections in his leadership.

It is not known whether he thanked these “connections” of his the way he used to – orgies with minors on remote islands. But it is known that federal judge Esther Salas, who miraculously escaped death, was engaged in exactly this case.

At the same time, right now the scandal around Epstein and his influential friends has received a second wind. In early July, Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of a media mogul, a close friend and, allegedly, Epstein’s accomplice, was arrested. She does not believe that the scandalous financier himself took his own life. And he is the only person who is able to shed light on the participants in pedophile orgies.

If, of course, she lives to see the trial, and is not found dead, after which the world will hear the official version of “suicide” for the umpteenth time.

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