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Mitch McConnell's Freighted Ties to a Shadowy Shipping Company After drugs were found aboard the Ping May, a vessel owned by his wife's family's company, Colombian authorities are investigating. - Before the Ping May, a rusty cargo vessel, could disembark from the port of Santa Marta en route to the Netherlands in late August, Colombian inspectors boarded the boat and made a discovery. Hidden in the ship’s chain locker, amidst its load of coal bound for Europe, were approximately 40 kilograms, or about ninety pounds, of cocaine. A Colombian Coast Guard official told The Nation that there is an ongoing investigation.
The seizure of the narcotics shipment in the Caribbean port occurred far away from Kentucky, the state in which Senator Mitch McConnell is now facing a career-defining election. But the Republican Senate minority leader has the closest of ties to the owner of the Ping May, the vessel containing the illicit materials: the Foremost Maritime Corporation, a firm founded and owned by McConnell’s in-laws, the Chao family. (The Nation)
Waterboarding, prolonged stress positions, placed in a box and subjected to extreme noise: CIA's rendition of two terror suspects in Polish jail revealed Two terror suspects 'were transferred to a prison in Poland and tortured' -- Both men say they were brought to the country in December 2002 -- Allegations include being told their families would be sexually abused -- Poland has been accused of human rights abuses - Lawyers for two terror suspects currently being held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay have accused Poland of human rights abuses.
They say they fell victim to the CIA's program to kidnap terror suspects and transfer them to other countries as they allege that they were tortured in a remote Polish prison.
The case marks the first time Europe's role in the CIA's 'extraordinary rendition' of terror suspects has reached European Court of Human Rights.
Lawyers for two terror suspects currently being held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay accuse Poland of human rights abuses
Lawyers for two terror suspects currently being held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay accuse Poland of human rights abuses
One of the cases concerns 48-year-old Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who currently faces terror charges in the U.S. for allegedly orchestrating the al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole in 2000, a bombing in the Yemeni port of Aden that killed 17 sailors and wounded 37. (UK Daily Mail)
Houston Anthropologist Reveals Irrefutable Proof That Recorded History Is Wrong Evidence Found Across the Globe of Highly Evolved Human Species from before the Ice Age, Demand Scientific Recognition of our Past that Depicts Societies of Advanced Technology and Culture
Houston anthropologist, Dr. Semir Osmanagich, founder of the Bosnian Archaeology Park, the most active archaeology site in the world, declares that irrefutable scientific evidence exists of ancient civilizations with advanced technology that leaves us no choice but to change our recorded history. An examination of the age of structures across the earth reveals conclusively that they were built by advanced civilizations from over 29,000 years ago.
“Acknowledging that we are witness to fundamental proof of advanced civilizations dating back over 29,000 years and an examination of their societal structures forces the World to reconsider its understanding of the development of civilization and history,” explains Dr. Semir Osmanagich. “Conclusive data at the Bosnian Pyramid site revealed in 2008 and confirmed this year by several independent labs who conducted radio carbon testing dates the site at 29,400 +/-400 years minimum.”
The radiocarbon dating tests of 29,200 years +/- 400 years was done by Radiocarbon Lab from Kiew, Ukraine, on organic material found at the Bosnian Pyramid site. Physicist Dr. Anna Pazdur of Poland’s Silesian University first announced the news at a Press Conference in Sarajevo in August of 2008. Professor of Classical Archaeology from the University of Alexandria Dr. Mona Haggag called this discovery “writing new pages in European and World history.” The C14 date of 29,000 years at the Bosnian Archaeological Park was obtained from a piece of organic material retrieved from a clay layer inside the outer casing to the pyramid. It follows a sample date obtained during the 2012 dig season on material located above the concrete at 24,800 years, meaning this structure has a construction profile stretching back almost 30,000 years. (Before It's News)
Comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions on mortality outcomes: metaepidemiological study Abstract
Objective To determine the comparative effectiveness of exercise versus drug interventions on mortality outcomes.
Design Metaepidemiological study.
Eligibility criteria Meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials with mortality outcomes comparing the effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions with each other or with control (placebo or usual care).
Data sources Medline and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, May 2013.
Main outcome measure Mortality.
Data synthesis We combined study level death outcomes from exercise and drug trials using random effects network meta-analysis.
Results We included 16 (four exercise and 12 drug) meta-analyses. Incorporating an additional three recent exercise trials, our review collectively included 305 randomised controlled trials with 339 274 participants. Across all four conditions with evidence on the effectiveness of exercise on mortality outcomes (secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, rehabilitation of stroke, treatment of heart failure, prevention of diabetes), 14 716 participants were randomised to physical activity interventions in 57 trials. No statistically detectable differences were evident between exercise and drug interventions in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and prediabetes. Physical activity interventions were more effective than drug treatment among patients with stroke (odds ratios, exercise v anticoagulants 0.09, 95% credible intervals 0.01 to 0.70 and exercise v antiplatelets 0.10, 0.01 to 0.62). Diuretics were more effective than exercise in heart failure (exercise v diuretics 4.11, 1.17 to 24.76). Inconsistency between direct and indirect comparisons was not significant.
Conclusions Although limited in quantity, existing randomised trial evidence on exercise interventions suggests that exercise and many drug interventions are often potentially similar in terms of their mortality benefits in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, rehabilitation after stroke, treatment of heart failure, and prevention of diabetes. (British Medical Journal)
Why the IPCC climate change report is flawed The following was written on Thursday, Sept. 26, as a post on Facebook, before the release of the IPCC report on Friday. It was edited and re-posted here on Sunday, Sept. 29.
Tomorrow you will likely hear about a new global warming report released from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It will claim that scientists are more certain than ever (95 per cent certainty) that humans are causing the Earth to warm.
The report will argue that the situation is becoming more and more dire and that failure to act will lead to a “point of no return” where the temperature train will race out of control and Earth’s ice caps will completely melt, and that hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and droughts will all become more frequent.
I hope you take the time to look at some of the facts and do your own research on the matter. (Global Research)
U.N. rights team aims to probe chemical weapons in Syria: del Ponte U.N. human rights investigators hope to get into Syria soon to try to find out who carried out apparent chemical attacks and other war crimes, Carla del Ponte, of the U.N. commission of inquiry on Syria, said on Monday.
Del Ponte gave no time frame for a visit but said that the team was in touch with U.N. chemical weapons inspectors and awaited their findings from the scene of an August 21 poison gas attack. She said the rights team's work would continue whether or not the United States carried out mooted punitive military strikes against the Syrian government over the attack.
"We are in touch with Syrian authorities to enter and we are on the right track," she told the Swiss Press Club in Geneva.
U.N. human rights officials declined to comment on how any air strike might affect a possible visit, but stressed the need for conditions to be right for the team to conduct their work.
The commission's confidential list of suspected Syrian war criminals was "getting longer", she said, but gave no details.
Del Ponte said Syria had sent a "positive signal" by letting U.N. chemical arms inspectors go to Damascus to collect samples in suburbs allegedly attacked with toxic substances on August 21, which are now being analyzed in European laboratories. The arms inspectors were not mandated to apportion blame for the attack.
That would be the job of the human rights investigators, said del Ponte, a former U.N. war crimes prosecutor. The Geneva-based team has more than 20 experts, some of them specialists in military and ballistics issues. (Reuters)
Kerry portrait of Syria rebels at odds with intelligence reports Secretary of State John Kerry's public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements.
At congressional hearings this week, while making the case for President Barack Obama's plan for limited military action in Syria, Kerry asserted that the armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership, and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution.
"And the opposition is getting stronger by the day," Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. (Reuters)
A Shuffle of Aluminum, but to Banks, Pure Gold Hundreds of millions of times a day, thirsty Americans open a can of soda, beer or juice. And every time they do it, they pay a fraction of a penny more because of a shrewd maneuver by Goldman Sachs and other financial players that ultimately costs consumers billions of dollars.
The story of how this works begins in 27 industrial warehouses in the Detroit area where a Goldman subsidiary stores customers’ aluminum. Each day, a fleet of trucks shuffles 1,500-pound bars of the metal among the warehouses. Two or three times a day, sometimes more, the drivers make the same circuits. They load in one warehouse. They unload in another. And then they do it again.
This industrial dance has been choreographed by Goldman to exploit pricing regulations set up by an overseas commodities exchange, an investigation by The New York Times has found. The back-and-forth lengthens the storage time. And that adds many millions a year to the coffers of Goldman, which owns the warehouses and charges rent to store the metal. It also increases prices paid by manufacturers and consumers across the country.
Tyler Clay, a forklift driver who worked at the Goldman warehouses until early this year, called the process “a merry-go-round of metal.”
Only a tenth of a cent or so of an aluminum can’s purchase price can be traced back to the strategy. But multiply that amount by the 90 billion aluminum cans consumed in the United States each year — and add the tons of aluminum used in things like cars, electronics and house siding — and the efforts by Goldman and other financial players has cost American consumers more than $5 billion over the last three years, say former industry executives, analysts and consultants.
The inflated aluminum pricing is just one way that Wall Street is flexing its financial muscle and capitalizing on loosened federal regulations to sway a variety of commodities markets, according to financial records, regulatory documents and interviews with people involved in the activities. (New York Times)
McDonald’s Restaurants Shut Down in Macedonia All the McDonald’s fast-food restaurants in Macedonia have closed because the local company that operated the franchise has lost its licence for reasons which are as yet unknown. - The European head office of the world’s biggest chain of fast food and hamburger restaurants confirmed the countywide closure on Wednesday.
“After the termination of the agreement, [Macedonia’s] SJ Company no longer has the right to work with the McDonald’s franchise,” Agnes Vadnai, the head of communications at McDonald’s Europe, was quoted as saying by NOVA TV.
It is not yet known why the company lost the licence and whether McDonald’s intends to continue operating in Macedonia. (CBS)
Manufacturing the Deadhead: A product of social engineering… In 2012 Jan Irvin made an important discovery. In the course of re-publishing The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross by the Dead Sea Scrolls scholar John Allegro, Irvin had been researching the letters of one of Allegro’s most prominent critics, Gordon Wasson, at various university archives (including Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, and the Hoover Institute at Stanford) when he came across primary documents–letters actually written by Wasson–showing that he had worked with the CIA.
Though Gordon Wasson was both chairman for the Council on Foreign Relations and the Vice President of Public Relations for J.P. Morgan Bank, he is most famous as the individual who “discovered”, or more accurately popularized, magic mushrooms. An article in Life magazine described fantastic visions and experiences Wasson claimed to have had while under their influence (see Life, May 13, 1957 – Seeking the Magic Mushroom). Wasson’s claims were the first description of the effects of psilocybin (“magic”) mushrooms presented to the general public.
Irvin saw troubling implications in his discovery. He was aware, of course, of the CIA’s infamous Project MK-ULTRA, in which the organization had given LSD to unsuspecting U.S. citizens. He also knew of the many conspiracy theories claiming that the government has been somehow involved with the creation of the “drug culture.” He was also aware of Dave McGowan’s research on the drug and music movement that had come out of Laurel Canyon in the 1960‘s, which showed that many of the “rock idols” who created it were the children of members of military intelligence.
So the fact that a member of the CIA had also been involved with the discovery of Psilocybe mushrooms fit into a large collection of troubling linkages between the American government and the drug culture that emerged during the 1960’s. Irvin decided to do further research into the government’s involvement with the “psychedelic movement”. An obvious question he hoped to answer was: Had Wasson been somehow involved with MK-ULTRA?
During this research, Irvin came in contact with another scholar, Joe Atwill, author of Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus. Atwill’s research into the origins of Christianity had led him to conclude that Rome had invented the religion. Further, he believed that the Caesars had deliberately brought about the Dark Ages. They had used Christianity as a mind control device to give slavery a religious context intended to make it difficult for serfs to rebel. Like Irvin, Atwill had become suspicious of the U.S. government’s many connections to the psychedelic movement, which reminded him of the Caesars’ intellectual debasing of their population to help bring on the Dark Ages. (Gnostic Media)
Gun Homicide Rate Down 49% Since 1993 Peak; Public Unaware -- Pace of Decline Slows in Past Decade National rates of gun homicide and other violent gun crimes are strikingly lower now than during their peak in the mid-1990s, paralleling a general decline in violent crime, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. Beneath the long-term trend, though, are big differences by decade: Violence plunged through the 1990s, but has declined less dramatically since 2000.
Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew. The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall (with or without a firearm) also is down markedly (72%) over two decades.
Nearly all the decline in the firearm homicide rate took place in the 1990s; the downward trend stopped in 2001 and resumed slowly in 2007. The victimization rate for other gun crimes plunged in the 1990s, then declined more slowly from 2000 to 2008. The rate appears to be higher in 2011 compared with 2008, but the increase is not statistically significant. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall also dropped in the 1990s before declining more slowly from 2000 to 2010, then ticked up in 2011.
Despite national attention to the issue of firearm violence, most Americans are unaware that gun crime is lower today than it was two decades ago. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, today 56% of Americans believe gun crime is higher than 20 years ago and only 12% think it is lower. (Pew Research Center)
Was Boston bomber inspired by Russia's Bin Laden? Mother claims FBI tracked older brother 'for FIVE YEARS' after being told by Moscow of links to Chechen terrorists
Russian intelligence services warned agency about Tamerlan Tsarnaev
~ Convinced he was in 'direct contact' with Islamist militants
~ May have been inspired by Chechen rebel leader man known as Russia's Bin Landen - Doku Umarov
~ Believed to be behind some of Russia's worst terrorist atrocities
~ But FBI later discounted Tamerlan as a threat, despite telling his mother he was an 'extremist leader' - One of the brothers suspected of the Boston Marathon bombings had direct contact with Chechen terrorists – and was ‘monitored’ by investigators for five years.
The Mail on Sunday has learned that the FBI put Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, under surveillance after receiving an explicit warning from the Russian intelligence services.
But despite apparently telling his mother that Tamerlan was an ‘extremist’ leader, the FBI eventually discounted the possibility that he was a threat.
Rebel: One theory is that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was inspired by Doku Umarov, a Chechen terrorist known as Russia's Bin Laden
Tamerlan was shot dead by police early on Friday while his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar was captured alive but seriously injured with neck and leg injuries on Friday night. He had been hiding in a boat in a suburban backyard.
Last night new details about Dzhokhar’s dramatic capture were released.
Police said he fired at them from his hiding place but, weak through loss of blood from the bullet wounds he had sustained in the shoot-out with police earlier, he eventually gave himself up. ‘He was so weak that we were able to just go in and scoop him up,’ said a police spokesman. (UK Daily Mail)
USA: The Creator & Sustainer of Chechen Terrorism ~ Boston Terror: Don’t Let the Media Fool You … Again- Climb Up the Chain and Meet the Real Masterminds of Global Terror. Here we go again- Déjà vu. Out of the blue we have a ‘terror event,’ a couple of pop-terrorists, and a new buzz-word nation-Chechnya. There they go again: USA Media tales made-in-government: Muslims, terrorists, fanatics, freedom-haters … this time from another exotic-sounding land-Chechnya.
They are going to tell you about the new frontiers in the so-called Islamic Terror Cells: The Caucasus and Central Asia. They’ve been planning this for a long time. In fact, the plans were in motion as early as the mid-1990s. Since 2002, despite the gag orders and attacks, I have been talking about: Central Asia & the Caucasus. I have been talking about our operations-grooming our very own terrorists in that region. I have been talking about Chechnya. In fact, just recently, I talked and talked and talked about it on record:
Sibel Edmonds on Operation Gladio Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V.
The government and its media will give you the tales. They will give you the roller-coaster-like spins. They will not give you what you need to know. Two years ago, we, at Boiling Frogs Post, provided you with the following article-analysis. Please read it: with the recent home-made terror incident and the new media buzz-word ‘Chechnya’, you need to arm yourself with facts. (Boiling Frogs Post)
What Happened The Last Time We Saw Gold Drop Like This? The rapidity of gold's drop is impressive, concerning, and disorderly. We have seen two other such instances of disorderly 'hurried' selling in the last five years. In July 2008, gold quickly dropped 21% - seemingly pre-empting the Lehman debacle and the collapse of the western banking system. In September 2011, gold fell 20% in a short period - as Europe's risks exploded and stocks slumped prompting a globally co-ordinated central bank intervention the likes of which we have not seen before. Given the almost-record-breaking drop in gold in the last few days, we wonder what is coming? (Zero Hedge)
First magic mushroom depression trial hits stumbling block The world's first clinical trial designed to explore using a hallucinogen from magic mushrooms to treat people with depression has stalled because of British and European rules on the use of illegal drugs in research.
David Nutt, president of the British Neuroscience Association and professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, said he had been granted an ethical green light and funding for the trial, but regulations were blocking it.
"We live in a world of insanity in terms of regulating drugs," he told a neuroscience conference in London on Sunday.
He has previously conducted small experiments on healthy volunteers and found that psilocybin, the psychedelic ingredient in magic mushrooms, has the potential to alleviate severe forms of depression in people who don't respond to other treatments.
Following these promising early results he was awarded a 550,000 pounds ($844,000) grant from the UK's Medical Research Council to conduct a full clinical trial in patients. (Reuters)
AKEL wastes no time in slamming PfP proposal COMMUNIST AKEL yesterday censured President-elect Nicos Anastasiades for his stated intent to apply for Cypriot membership of the NATO-affiliated Partnership for Peace.
A party spokesman warned such a move would backfire on the divided island.
It was the first skirmish between the soon-to-be opposition AKEL and the Anastasiades government which takes power in a few days.
In announcing plans to join the Partnership for Peace (PfP), Anastasiades has manifested a major foreign policy shift from the outgoing administration of President Christofias.
AKEL is strongly opposed to any links with NATO, holding it responsible for what it says was a conspiracy to split the island in 1974.
Through its spokesman, AKEL reiterated yesterday that joining PfP would constitute a major strategic and diplomatic blunder.
The move would cast doubt on the Greek Cypriot side’s commitment to demilitarising the island subsequent to a political settlement, Giorgos Loucaides said.
In addition to undermining Cyprus’ credibility, he said, the move would play into the hands of Turkish diplomacy by taking the spotlight off Ankara. (Cyprus Mail)
Quantum biology: Do weird physics effects abound in nature? Disappearing in one place and reappearing in another. Being in two places at once. Communicating information seemingly faster than the speed of light.
This kind of weird behaviour is commonplace in dark, still laboratories studying the branch of physics called quantum mechanics, but what might it have to do with fresh flowers, migrating birds, and the smell of rotten eggs?
Welcome to the frontier of what is called quantum biology.
It is still a tentative, even speculative discipline, but what scientists are learning from it might just spark revolutions in the development of new drugs, computers and perfumes - or even help in the fight against cancer.
Until recently, the delicate states of matter predicted by quantum mechanics have only been accessed with the most careful experiments: isolated particles at blisteringly low temperatures or pressures approaching that of deep space. (BBC)
Scientists to resume work with lab-bred bird flu International scientists who last year halted controversial research with the deadly bird flu say they are resuming their work as countries adopt new rules to ensure safety.
The outcry erupted when two labs — in the Netherlands and the U.S. — reported they had created easier-to-spread versions of bird flu. Amid fierce debate about the oversight of such research and whether it might aid terrorists, those scientists voluntarily halted further work last January — and more than three dozen of the world's leading flu researchers signed on as well.
On Wednesday, those scientists announced they were ending their moratorium because their pause in study worked: It gave the U.S. government and other world health authorities time to determine how they would oversee high-stakes research involving dangerous germs. (Associated Press)
'Privacy visor blocks facial recognition software' A pair of glasses dubbed a "privacy visor" has been developed to thwart hidden cameras using facial-recognition software.
The prototype spectacles have been designed by scientists at Tokyo's National Institute of Informatics.
The glasses are equipped with a near-infrared light source, which confuses the software without affecting vision.
Law enforcers, shops and social networks are increasingly using facial-recognition software.
Prof Isao Echizen said: "As a result of developments in facial recognition technology in Google images, Facebook et cetera and the popularisation of portable terminals that append photos with photographic information [geotags]... essential measures for preventing the invasion of privacy caused by photographs taken in secret and unintentional capture in camera images is now required." (BBC)
Insight: Evidence grows for narcolepsy link to GSK swine flu shot Emelie is plagued by hallucinations and nightmares. When she wakes up, she's often paralyzed, unable to breathe properly or call for help. During the day she can barely stay awake, and often misses school or having fun with friends. She is only 14, but at times she has wondered if her life is worth living.
Emelie is one of around 800 children in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe who developed narcolepsy, an incurable sleep disorder, after being immunized with the Pandemrix H1N1 swine flu vaccine made by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline in 2009.
Finland, Norway, Ireland and France have seen spikes in narcolepsy cases, too, and people familiar with the results of a soon-to-be-published study in Britain have told Reuters it will show a similar pattern in children there.
Their fate, coping with an illness that all but destroys normal life, is developing into what the health official who coordinated Sweden's vaccination campaign calls a "medical tragedy" that will demand rising scientific and medical attention. (Reuters)
TSA removes body scanners from airports ~ The TSA has finally abandoned the controversial practice of making passengers go through full-body X-rays The Transportation Security Administration will remove all X-ray body scanners from airports, Bloomberg News reports. The reason: Software couldn’t be developed by a congressionally mandated deadline to automatically detect suspicious items on the body. Instead, TSA officers viewed images of passengers’ naked bodies to see if they were carrying weapons or other contraband, a process that privacy advocates have dubbed a “virtual strip search.”
Privacy had not been the only concern dogging the scanners. A ProPublica investigation found that the TSA had glossed over the small cancer risk posed by even the low doses of radiation emitted by X-ray scanners. The stories also showed that the United States was almost alone in the world in X-raying passengers and that the Food and Drug Administration had gone against its own advisory panel, which recommended the agency set a federal safety standard for security X-rays. In addition, ProPublica reported that, outside airports, other security agencies are exposing people to radiation in more settings and in increasing doses. (Salon)
Militants Seize Americans and Other Hostages in Algeria The French military assault on Islamist extremists in Mali escalated into a potentially much broader North African conflict on Wednesday when, in retribution, armed attackers in unmarked trucks seized an internationally managed natural gas field in neighboring Algeria and took at least 20 foreign hostages, including Americans.
Algerian officials said at least two people, including a Briton, were killed in the assault, which began with a predawn ambush on a bus trying to ferry gas-field workers to an airport. Hundreds of Algerian security forces were sent to surround the gas-field compound, creating a tense standoff, and the country’s interior minister said there would be no negotiations.
Algeria’s official news agency said at least 20 fighters had carried out the attack and mass abduction. There were unconfirmed reports late on Wednesday that the security forces had tried to storm the compound and had retreated under gunfire from the hostage takers. (New York Times)
'Gates of Hell': France upping military presence in Mali conflict France is sending more troops to Mali to fight against al-Qaeda-linked militants. Paris claims the move is short-term, but delays to the deployment of an African security force have raised fears the conflict could spill over into neighboring nations.
The French government issued a statement that it would send 2,500 troops to support Malian government soldiers in the conflict against Islamist rebels. France has already deployed around 750 troops to Mali, and French carriers arrived in Bamako on Tuesday morning .
French president Francois Hollande hailed the latest overnight airstrikes on rebel targets as “achieving their goal,” but said that assembling an African force to reinforce French troops could take a “good week.” (Russia Today)
Panetta: No US Troops to Mali U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the United States is not considering sending ground troops to Mali to work with French forces that began an assault on militant Islamist rebels in the country last Friday. But during a visit to Portugal he said the U.S. military will help the French in other ways.
Panetta commended France for sending troops to try to prevent al-Qaida's North African affiliate from establishing a base of operations in Mali. But he indicated there is a limit to the help the United States will provide.
"There is no consideration of putting any American boots on the ground at this time," said Panetta.
Foreign Troop Commitments to Mali... (Voice of America)
Mali neighbours send troops to help French intervention ~ African states agree to send soldiers following French military intervention against Islamist rebels holding Mali's north Troops from Mali's neighbours are expected to join hundreds of French soldiers in the battle to push back Islamist extremists holding Mali's north, a fight that in its first two days has left at least 11 civilians dead, including three children who threw themselves into a river and drowned trying to avoid the bombs.
Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Nigeria agreed on Saturday to send soldiers, a day after France authorised air strikes, dispatching fighter jets from neighbouring Chad and bombing rebel positions north of Mopti, the last Malian government-controlled town in the north.
State television announced that the African troops, including up to 500 each from Burkina Faso and Niger, are expected to start arriving on Sunday. Britain has offered the use of its transport planes to help bring in the soldiers. (London Guardian)
3-D Printing: Technology May Bring New Industrial Revolution 3-D printing technology, used industrially for the last few decades, is poised to break into the mass market. Its endless and swiftly developing possibilities -- from entrepreneurial manufacturing to the potential sculpting of human organs -- could become the next industrial revolution. - When the TV series Star Trek first brought the starship Enterprise into German living rooms, the concept of a replicator was pure science fiction, a fantastical utopian vision we might experience one day centuries in the future. Replicators, something of a mixture between computer and miniature factory, were capable of creating food and replacement parts from next to nothing. They were highly practical devices, since Captain Kirk couldn't exactly take along a lot of supplies for his journeys through outer space. That futuristic vision, though, has receded far into the past -- overtaken by the present. (Der Spiegel)
Euros discarded as impoverished Greeks resort to bartering ~ Communities set up local currencies and exchange networks in attempt to beat the economic crisis It's been a busy day at the market in downtown Volos. Angeliki Ioanitou has sold a decent quantity of olive oil and soap, while her friend Maria has done good business with her fresh pies.
But not a single euro has changed hands – none of the customers on this drizzly Saturday morning has bothered carrying money at all. For many, browsing through the racks of second-hand clothes, electrical appliances and homemade jams, the need to survive means money has been usurped.
"It's all about exchange and solidarity, helping one another out in these very hard times," enthused Ioanitou, her hair tucked under a floppy felt cap. "You could say a lot of us have dreams of a utopia without the euro."
In this bustling port city at the foot of Mount Pelion, in the heart of Greece's most fertile plain, locals have come up with a novel way of dealing with austerity – adopting their own alternative currency, known as the Tem. As the country struggles with its worst crisis in modern times, with Greeks losing up to 40% of their disposable income as a result of policies imposed in exchange for international aid, the system has been a huge success. Organisers say some 1,300 people have signed up to the informal bartering network. (London Guardian)
EU Leader Calls For Global Governance With Russia In a recent EU-Russia summit Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European council has been outspoken about the cooperation between Russia and the EU further facilitating the push towards global and economic governance.
Pirate Bay Censorship Backfires as New Proxies Bloom After legal threats from the music industry the UK Pirate Party saw no other option than to shut down their Pirate Bay proxy service. However, as is usually the case with censorship, the Internet has found a way to route around it. Responding to the UK situation Pirate parties in Argentina and Luxembourg have decided to start fresh Pirate Bay proxies.
pirate bayAs reported earlier, the UK Pirate Party has taken the difficult decision to shut down their Pirate Bay proxy service.
Music industry group BPI threatened legal action against six members of the party, who would each have to risk bankruptcy to fight for their ideals. Understandably, the party chose to fight another day. (Torrent Freak)
3D printing and the future of warfare Imagine 20 years from now U.S. soldiers establish a combat outpost deep inside territory surrounded by people who are less than friendly. In past decades, resupplying this outpost would have meant risky and expensive flights or ground convoys escorted by troops or helicopter gunships. Now, however, unmanned, armored supply trucks and choppers run beans and bullets to the remote base while spare parts and other hardware is fabricated on site using a 3D printer.
As the United States shifts its military focus toward the Pacific while drawing troops back to the United States from bases in Europe, the Army recognizes that it will need to become lighter and more flexible in how it sustains itself due to the likely expeditionary nature of a conflict in the Pacific -- a region where distances are vast and American forces may find themselves fighting out of scattered facilities that are much more bare bones than it is used to.
To that end, Army officials are looking at a future where whole convoys of unmanned trucks (or possibly choppers) inspired by Google's self-driving cars replenish forward bases. What can't be, or doesn't need to be, shipped in will be made in the field by troops using 3D printers. (Foreign Policy)
Experts Argue to Keep Thimerosal in Some Vaccines The mercury component was removed from most childhood vaccines, but doctors say an international ban would put more youngsters at risk of infectious diseases.
The U.N. Environment Program is discussing ways to lower environmental exposure to mercury, a chemical linked to developmental problems. Part of the proposal involves removing thimerosal, a mercury-based compound used as a preservative to maintain vaccine quality, from immunizations given to children around the world.
The proposed ban could potentially create a situation in which thimerosal-containing immunizations, with their potential but still unknown health risks, are concentrated in lower-resource countries while developed nations rely on thimerosal-free shots, owing primarily to more robust health systems that allow better storage and preservation of the immunizations. (Time)
In Colombia, David Cameron's stance on drugs looks cynical -- The prime minister's belief that the war on drugs is working ignores Britain's complicity in the trade Twenty-six years ago, on 17 December 1986, my uncle, Guillermo Cano Isaza, editor of the Colombian daily newspaper, El Espectador, was killed by gunmen paid by Pablo Escobar and his drug trafficking cartel. He had led a journalistic crusade to denounce the corruptive and violent power of drug trafficking. He paid with his life. The newspaper he edited was bombed and became a target as we lived through the bloody years of the so-called "war on drugs".
Back then, and every year since, I've asked myself the same question: was it inevitable? Was there another way to fight the perverse effects of the illegal trade in drugs?
With few positive results to show from the "war", another way now seems possible. Throughout the world, a serious debate is gaining momentum on the inefficacy of prohibition. Prosecuting growers, distributors and consumers leaves a trail of violence and does nothing to curb the sky-high profits of the cartels from corrupting the body politic and police. We need to look at different ways of managing the terrible social effects of drug abuse, while also eliminating the enormous profits of the illegal drug traffic. (London Guardian)
Why should I be allowed to marry? I chose to be gay Our writer says that there's something to good-old English bigotry after all: being gay is a way of choosing strife instead of choosing life - and he should know - I remember the exact moment I chose to be gay. I was sitting at home contemplating my predictable life of automatic acceptance and uncomplicated social assimilation and procreation and I thought, ‘How dull.’ I whipped out my Manchester United biro from my Pamela Anderson pencil case and started brainstorming ways to inject some adversity into my future.
I thought about tattooing my face with satanic imagery or becoming a single mother on a forgotten council estate but I just didn’t have the qualifications. Clearly, I had the wrong approach! So I started sketching out a list of my tastes, traits and talents. Maybe that might point me in the right direction? I enjoyed the arts. I liked dressing up. I got erections when I thought about naked men. By cross-referencing these details with a number of different lifestyle choices, I came up with two options. I could either be a gay man or a Catholic priest. It was a tricky decision but in the end, I settled for option 1. (The Independent)
The US-Israeli Attack on Gaza The Western media in chorus has described the Israeli attack on Gaza as an ad hoc IDF-led counterterrorism operation, launched on the grounds of “self defense” in response to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel.
While reports acknowledge that president Obama, in the wake of the November 6 elections, had granted a “Green Light” to Tel Aviv, the central issue does not pertain to Washington’s support but rather to the direct involvement of the US government and military in the planning and implementation of the attack on Gaza.
There is evidence that Operation “Pillar of Cloud” was implemented in close liaison with Washington in the context of the broader process of allied military planning. Senior US military officials were on location in Israel working with their IDF counterparts in the days leading up to the attack.
Operation “Pillar of Cloud” was launched on the 14th of November, exactly one week after the US presidential elections. It was slated to be launched irrespective of the outcome of the US elections. The first action was the targeted assassination of the leader of Hamas’ military wing Ahmed Jabari. The operation has since evolved towards a generalized bombing campaign and ground invasion involving the announced deployment of some 75,000 Israeli troops. (Global Research)
Global warming talk heats up, revisits carbon tax Climate change is suddenly a hot topic again. The issue is resurfacing in talks about a once radical idea: a possible carbon tax.
On Tuesday, a conservative think tank held discussions about it while a more liberal think tank released a paper on it. And the Congressional Budget Office issued a 19-page report on the different ways to make a carbon tax less burdensome on lower income people.
A carbon tax works by making people pay more for using fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas that produce heat-trapping carbon dioxide.
The idea was considered so radical that in 2009, when President Barack Obama tried to pass a bill on global warming, that he instead opted for the more moderate approach of capping power plant emissions and trading credits that allowed utilities to pollute more. That idea, after passing the House, stalled in the Senate in 2010 and has been considered dead since. (Associated Press)
IDF and U.S. Army launch four Patriot missiles as part of mass joint drill
The drill, considered the largest ever carried out by the two countries, will be conducted over the course of three weeks, and will simulate an extensive Mideast war with U.S. intervention. - The Israel Defense Forces and the U.S. Army launched four Patriot missiles into the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, as part of a joint military exercise conducted by the two countries.
The missiles were launched from the Palmachim Air Force base in central Israel, near the cities of Rishon Letzion and Yavne.
The two militaries will carry out further similar launches as part of the drill, simulating the interception of aircraft or missiles penetrating Israeli air space. The ongoing drill is considered the largest joint exercise ever carried out by the two countries.
The drill is meant to simulate an extensive war in the Middle East that would require the United States to intervene and provide Israel with further defense to intercept missiles. (Haaretz)
Spain suspends house evictions for two years -- Spanish banks are suspending evictions for the next two years for the most vulnerable people. An estimated 350,000 families have been evicted from their homes since Spain's property market crashed in 2008.
It comes three days after Amaia Egana, who was 53, died after jumping from her fourth floor apartment in northern Spain, just before she was due to be evicted.
Her death has inflamed public anger at banks, accused of being heartless.
Another man in the city of Granada, whose house was also due to be repossessed, apparently committed suicide last month.
Spain's Finance Minister, Luis De Guindos, said it was important to find a bipartisan solution to the problem. (BBC)
Obama May Levy Carbon Tax to Cut U.S. Deficit, HSBC Says Barack Obama may consider introducing a tax on carbon emissions to help cut the U.S. budget deficit after winning a second term as president, according to HSBC Holdings Plc.
A tax starting at $20 a metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent and rising at about 6 percent a year could raise $154 billion by 2021, Nick Robins, an analyst at the bank in London, said today in an e-mailed research note, citing Congressional Research Service estimates. “Applied to the Congressional Budget Office’s 2012 baseline, this would halve the fiscal deficit by 2022,” Robins said.
Hurricane Sandy sparked discussion on climate protection in the election after presidential candidates focused on other debates, HSBC said. A continued Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives means Obama’s scope for action will be limited, Robins said. Cap-and-trade legislation stalled in the U.S. Senate after narrowly passing the house in 2009. (Bloomberg)
Looking back on the troubled wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many observers are content to lay blame on the Bush administration. But inept leadership by American generals was also responsible for the failure of those wars. A culture of mediocrity has taken hold within the Army’s leadership rank—if it is not uprooted, the country’s next war is unlikely to unfold any better than the last two. - On June 13, 1944, a few days after the 90th Infantry Division went into action against the Germans in Normandy under the command of Brigadier General Jay MacKelvie, MacKelvie’s superior officer, Major General J. Lawton Collins, went on foot to check on his men. “We could locate no regimental or battalion headquarters,” he recalled with dismay. “No shelling was going on, nor any fighting that we could observe.” This was an ominous sign, as the Battle of Normandy was far from decided, and the Wehrmacht was still trying to push the Americans, British, and Canadians, who had landed a week earlier, back into the sea.
Just a day earlier, the 90th’s assistant division commander, Brigadier General “Hanging Sam” Williams, had also been looking for the leader of his green division. He’d found MacKelvie sheltering from enemy fire, huddled in a drainage ditch along the base of a hedgerow. “Goddamn it, General, you can’t lead this division hiding in that goddamn hole,” Williams shouted. “Go back to the [command post]. Get the hell out of that hole and go to your vehicle. Walk to it, or you’ll have this goddamn division wading in the English Channel.” The message did not take. The division remained bogged down, veering close to passivity.
American troops were fighting to stay alive—no small feat in that summer’s bloody combat. One infantry company in the 90th began a day in July with 142 men and finished it with 32. Its battalion commander walked around babbling “I killed K Company, I killed K Company.” Later that summer, one of the 90th’s battalions, with 265 soldiers, surrendered to a German patrol of 50 men and two tanks. In six weeks of small advances, the division would use up all its infantrymen, requesting replacements of more than 100 percent. (The Atlantic)
Will Iran Weather the Economic Storm? -- The depreciation of the rial is unlikely to change Iran's foreign-policy calculations. The conventional wisdom that the collapse of the Iranian rial will have disastrous consequences for the Islamic Republic has it wrong: On the contrary, it could be the best thing that has happened to the Iranian economy in years.
Iran is a classic case of the resource curse. OPEC founder Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso, who served as Venezuela's oil minister, called oil "the devil's excrement" for the pernicious impact petroleum revenues had on his country's economy. The same is true for Iran, which faces the challenge of becoming a country that produces goods, not merely consumes them. Unfortunately, the current Iranian government shows few indications it will meet this challenge. Rather, history suggests that Tehran will instead persist in its populist policies, including its confrontation with the international community about its nuclear program. (Foreign Policy)
Drugs Live: the Ecstasy Trial, Channel 4, review -- Helen Brown reviews Drugs Live: the Ecstasy Trial, Channel 4's experiment in which volunteers, including actor Keith Allen and novelist Lionel Shriver took MDMA to see its effect on the brain. A quick glance at the TV listings gave the impression that Channel 4's groundbreaking two -part programme on the effects of MDMA would feature 25 volunteers (including actor Keith Allen) popping ecstasy pills for the cameras.
The dangled lure from the TV station that gave us Big Brother was that all hell might break loose and people would embarrass themselves.
In fact, only one pharmaceutically altered volunteer appeared on our screens: a psychiatric nurse, who sat rather calmly – less nervously, he suspected, than he might otherwise have been on national television – on the small stage before the live audience and told presenter Jon Snow that he hoped the clinical trial funded by Channel 4 would lead to a greater understanding of, and advances in treatment for, some of the debilitating mental health conditions suffered by his patients.
The hope is that the empathy, happiness and hyper articulacy promoted by the drug more commonly known as ecstasy – illegal in the UK since 1977 – might make it a powerful tool in the fight against depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (London Telegraph)
London on alert for terror attack ahead of Olympic Games Agents from Israel’s elite intelligence organisation, Mossad, are hunting Iranian-backed terrorists in Europe, who are allegedly planning an “anniversary” attack 40 years after the Munich massacre, Britain's The Sunday Times reports.
The fears come as tensions rise over the International Olympic Committee refusal to commemorate the killing of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches by Palestinian terrorists on September 5, 1972.
In preparation for an Olympic terror assault, panic rooms for VIPs and spectators have been set up beneath London’s Olympic Stadium to protect them from being taken hostage or killed, according to The Sunday Times. (Herald Sun)
Is Bilderberg a conference on world affairs or a powerful global cabal? Depends on who you ask. A dull office park near Dulles International Airport took on the sheen of a Hollywood thriller this week, when an invitation-only cadre of global leaders gathered for a secretive meeting known as the Bilderberg conference.
Henry Kissinger and Bill Gates were chauffeured in. Fairfax County police established a security perimeter around the Westfields Marriott and prohibited a Washington Post photographer from snapping pictures from a public street. (Washington Post)
Medieval warming WAS global -- new science contradicts IPCC -- 'It was consensual' claims looking shaky More peer-reviewed science contradicting the warming-alarmist "scientific consensus" was announced yesterday, as a new study shows that the well-documented warm period which took place in medieval times was not limited to Europe, or the northern hemisphere: it reached all the way to Antarctica.
The research involved the development of a new means of assessing past temperatures, to add to existing methods such as tree ring analysis and ice cores. In this study, scientists analysed samples of a crystal called ikaite, which forms in cold waters.
“Ikaite is an icy version of limestone,” explains earth-sciences prof Zunli Lu. “The crystals are only stable under cold conditions and actually melt at room temperature.”
Down in the Antarctic peninsula that isn't a problem, and Lu and his colleagues were able to take samples which had been present for hundreds of years and date their formation. The structure of Ikaite, it turns out, varies measurably depending on the temperature when it forms, allowing boffins to construct an accurate past temperature record. (The Register)
Scientists use rare mineral to correlate past climate events in Europe, Antarctica The first day of spring brought record high temperatures across the northern part of the United States, while much of the Southwest was digging out from a record-breaking spring snowstorm. The weather, it seems, has gone topsy-turvy. Are the phenomena related? Are climate changes in one part of the world felt half a world away?
To understand the present, scientists look for ways to unlock information about past climate hidden in the fossil record. A team of scientists led by Syracuse University geochemist Zunli Lu has found a new key in the form of ikaite, a rare mineral that forms in cold waters. Composed of calcium carbonate and water, ikaite crystals can be found off the coasts of Antarctica and Greenland.
“Ikaite is an icy version of limestone,” say Lu, assistant professor of earth sciences in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences. “The crystals are only stable under cold conditions and actually melt at room temperature.” (Syracuse University)
Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong The threat of climate change is an increasingly important environmental issue for the globe. Because the economic questions involved have received relatively little attention, I have been writing a nontechnical book for people who would like to see how market-based approaches could be used to formulate policy on climate change. When I showed an early draft to colleagues, their response was that I had left out the arguments of skeptics about climate change, and I accordingly addressed this at length.
But one of the difficulties I found in examining the views of climate skeptics is that they are scattered widely in blogs, talks, and pamphlets. Then, I saw an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal of January 27, 2012, by a group of sixteen scientists, entitled “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.” This is useful because it contains many of the standard criticisms in a succinct statement. The basic message of the article is that the globe is not warming, that dissident voices are being suppressed, and that delaying policies to slow climate change for fifty years will have no serious economic or environment consequences.
My response is primarily designed to correct their misleading description of my own research; but it also is directed more broadly at their attempt to discredit scientists and scientific research on climate change.1 I have identified six key issues that are raised in the article, and I provide commentary about their substance and accuracy. They are:
• Is the planet in fact warming?
• Are human influences an important contributor to warming?
• Is carbon dioxide a pollutant?
• Are we seeing a regime of fear for skeptical climate scientists?
• Are the views of mainstream climate scientists driven primarily by the desire for financial gain?
• Is it true that more carbon dioxide and additional warming will be beneficial?
As I will indicate below, on each of these questions, the sixteen scientists provide incorrect or misleading answers. At a time when we need to clarify public confusions about the science and economics of climate change, they have muddied the waters. I will describe their mistakes and explain the findings of current climate science and economics. (The New York Review of Books)
The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.
Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive. Membership has doubled since 1978—and the number of plural marriages has tripled—so the sect has recently been looking for ways to purchase more land and expand throughout the town.
But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive, a massive complex so large that it necessitated expanding the town’s boundaries. Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the US Capitol.
Rather than Bibles, prophets, and worshippers, this temple will be filled with servers, computer intelligence experts, and armed guards. And instead of listening for words flowing down from heaven, these newcomers will be secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks. In the little town of Bluffdale, Big Love and Big Brother have become uneasy neighbors.
The NSA has become the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever. (Wired)
Is This the End of Market Democracy? The 2012 election will offer voters a stark choice between right and left alternatives.
President Obama is calling for:
investing in things like education that gives everybody a chance to succeed. A tax code that makes sure everybody pays their fair share. And laws that make sure everybody follows the rules. That’s what will transform our economy. That’s what will grow our middle class again.
Republicans, in turn, are denouncing the expansion of a Democratic “entitlement society” and what they see as a trend toward European social democracy. They are calling for sharply reduced taxes, regulation and government spending to free market forces and revive private sector economic growth.
While Americans are going to be able to choose between two contrasting ideologies, what if both choices are off the mark? What if the legitimacy of free market capitalism in America is facing fundamental challenges that the candidates and their parties are not addressing?
Here are some of the issues that are making some politicians and political thinkers uneasy:
Are large segments of the American workforce — millions of people — at a structural disadvantage in the face of global competition, technological advance and ever more sophisticated forms of automation? Is this situation permanent?
Will the share of profits from improving corporate productivity flowing to capital and to high-earning C.E.O.s continue to grow, while the income of wage earners stagnates and their share of profits declines?
Has the surging wealth and income of the top one percent and of the top 0.1 percent reached a tipping point at which the political leverage of the very affluent decisively outweighs the influence of the electorate at large?
Is it possible that in the United States and Europe, democratic free market capitalism is no longer capable of providing broadly shared benefits to a solid majority of workers? (New York Times)
Tony Bennett Is Right That Legalizing Drugs Would Save Lives "First it was Michael Jackson, then it was Amy Winehouse and now the magnificent Whitney Houston. I'd like to have every gentleman and lady in this room commit themselves to get our government to legalize drugs. So they have to get it through a doctor, not just some gangsters that sell it under the table."
That's what Tony Bennett said at a pre-Grammy Awards party on Saturday night, shortly after learning of the tragic death of Whitney Houston, and he's exactly right. One of us (Neill) is a former police officer who fought -- and lost friends -- on the front lines of the failed "war on drugs." One of us (Katharine) learned about the commonality of human pain in another difficult way, spending two years in a residential facility ("rehab"). She wasn't there for drugs, but many of those struggling alongside her were.
There has been some confusion and criticism over Bennett's remarks and, because of our experience dealing with the pain and heartbreak of drug abuse and harmful drug laws, we feel compelled to expand upon his heartfelt remarks in the hopes that we can help break through some of the misunderstanding underlying the reaction to what Bennett said. (Huffington Post)
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