A non-profit news blog, focused on providing independent journalism.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Blatant censorship: Kiev orders crackdown on Russian TV channels

© AFP Photo / Viktor Drachev

Ukrainian cable providers could face heavy fines or have their licenses revoked if they broadcast leading Russian channels - including RT - which were earlier "suspended" by a series of court orders.

"Ukraine is a sovereign state and must defend its media space from outside aggression from Russia, which is purposely inciting hatred between different groups of Ukrainians within the country," said interior ministry adviser Anton Geraschenko in a statement on his Facebook page.

Kiev has promised "total monitoring" of all outlets, including "hotels, sanatoriums and hospitals" which have been instructed to switch off their Russian feeds "before officers of the law pay a visit."

Major providers have not carried Russian channels since a ban that followed Crimea's vote to join the Russian Federation in March. Officials then claimed that the sanction was a result of Ukrainian channels being cut off on the peninsula.

A further order to curtail Moscow broadcasts was produced by a Kiev court in July, but many cable operators in the east have continued to show their audiences Russian broadcasts, in defiance of the law.

The ban encompasses all Russian national channels and large regional broadcasters that transmit news bulletins.

Banned Channels

1. Channel One, World Feed

2. RTR-Planeta

3. Rossiya 24

4. NTV-Mir


6. Rossiya 1

7. NTV

8. TNT

9. Peterburg 5

10. Zvezda

11. REN-TV

12. RT

13. Life News

14. RBK-TV

Geraschenko said that

if Russia attempted to install retransmitters that would allow its channels to be received in the border regions, Ukraine would activate its Soviet-era jammers, used decades ago to prevent Western media outlets such as BBC from reaching the USSR.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović criticized the initial bans as "repressive" and "a form of censorship without legal basis."

About a third of Ukrainians consider Russian their native language, including the majority of those in Donetsk and Lugansk regions, and while some Ukrainian channels broadcast in Russian, Moscow-based outlets have enjoyed enduring popularity in the country.

Semantic aphasia: Fighting continues during 'truce' in Gaza, IDF kills 5-year-old girl

Hamas rockets

© AFP Photo / David Buimovitch

Assuming these are really Hamas rocket launches (photo taken 19 August), it shows the fraudulence of the videos of Iron Dome shooting non-existent 'rockets' out of the air.

Israeli-Palestinian rocket fire resumed on Tuesday after Gaza truce talks broke down. A 5-year-old girl and a woman became the first victims of renewed Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. Hamas launched around 50 rockets at Israel, hitting as far as Tel Aviv.


50 rockets? According to whom? The notoriously mendacious Israeli government? Should we trust their numbers, especially when we know that

Iron Dome is a total fraud


Israel launched

at least 35 airstrikes

on targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. One of the strikes hit a house in Gaza City, killing a woman and a 5-year-old child, according to Palestinian Health Ministry.


, one of Israel's targets was Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif, Israeli Channel 10 said.

The three people killed during the Israeli airstrikes included

a wife and a child of the Hamas military wing's leader

Mohammed Deif, AP cited senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk as saying.

Comment: Chances are, Deif's wife and child were the intended targets.

Hamas rocket

© Twitter @Gr8_guy

Alleged 'intercepted' Hamas rocket. Scary!

Overall, Israel's Tuesday airstrikes killed three people and wounded 40 others.

Meanwhile, the armed wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the rockets fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, including one that hit Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area.

Israel confirmed that the rocket

landed in an open area, causing no casualties


Comment: Like 99.99% of the 'rockets'. A civilized country would not respond to such feeble attacks with barbarism and escalated aggression: they would work out sane, humane ways to make amends and avoid further conflict.

Hamas threatened to target Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv - the country's main international airport - and called on all the airlines to stay away from the area.

Comment: Compared to Israel, this can almost be called reasonable. If Hamas were to copy IDF techniques, they would warn the airport a minute or so before flattening it to the ground with ballistic missiles (if they had ballistic missiles).

Hamas "has decided to respond to the Israeli aggression" by signaling out the airport as a "target of attack" for the day, Reuters quoted Hamas commander as saying in a statement.

Earlier, the group said that it had already launched a rocket at the airport. Israel did not confirm the claim.

Twitter users uploaded a photo


showing an intercepted rocket launched from Gaza lying on a road in Tel Aviv.

IDF reported that around 50 rockets have been launched at Israel on Tuesday.

Israel's military called on all citizens living as far as 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Gaza border to open up bomb shelters.

The latest rocket fire marked the first escalation of violence since a truce calmed the fighting around ten days ago. The latest truce was set to expire at 21:00 GMT.

Hamas and Israel have exchanged blame for breaking the truce.

"Israel will not enjoy security so long as the Palestinian people do not, and

it started it

," senior Hamas official Ezzat al-Rishq said as quoted by AFP.

Earlier, Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed stated that Israel was responsible for putting an end to ceasefire talks after it recalled its negotiators from Egypt.

Israel rejected Palestinian claims that it was the one to blame for the breakdown in ceasefire talks in Cairo.

Rocket fire from Gaza "made continuation of talks impossible," Reuters quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesperson Mark Regev as saying.

"The Cairo process was built on a total and complete cessation of all hostilities and so when rockets were fired from Gaza, not only was it a clear violation of the ceasefire but it also destroyed the premise upon which the talks were based," Regev said.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly ordered his negotiators back from Egypt after new rocket strikes between Israel and Gaza took place on Tuesday.

Mystery humming noise is giving England residents sleepless nights

Humming Noise

© Herald Express, UK

Noise annoys.

Claims that Paignton residents are having their sleep disturbed by a humming or droning noise coming from the giraffe house have been denied by Paignton Zoo.

Peter Thorne, of Brantwood Drive, Paignton, has, along with 20 other residents, handed in a petition to Torbay Council asking them to ask the Zoo to soundproof a oil gas boiler in the giraffe house that they believe is causing the humming or droning sound.

This low frequency noise has been disturbing residents since the autumn of last year and it can apparently still be heard at present, but the Zoo have confirmed to the Herald Express that the boiler has been turned off for weeks.

However, Mr Thorne, who handed in the petition last Thursday, has said: "I am very tired. The noise is still there. I am being disturbed in the night and am being kept awake by this. It is a humming or droning noise that at times it can be quite loud. It has been going on since October/November since last year."

A low frequency noise is generally taken to mean noise below a frequency of about 100 to 150 Hz and can go down as far as 20 Hz, and Mr Thorne has stated that he is able to hear the noise at the lower end of the frequency.

"Whenever I am indoors at my home I can hear the noise, but I cannot hear it when I am not at home, so I know it is not just my hearing," he added.

"We are asking the council to ask to the Zoo to soundproof the boiler. I am happy for the zoo to use the boiler providing that the noise is kept to a minimum and the boiler is professionally soundproofed. It would be the civil and neighbourly thing to do."

A spokesperson for Paignton Zoo responded by adding: "Mr. Thorne came to us earlier this year with concerns about a persistent low-level sound that he alleged that he could hear.

"Being good neighbours we have worked with Mr Thorne to attempt to track down the source, with zoo staff going out of their way to check on things at different times of the day and night. Staff from both the Zoo and the Environmental Health Dept. of Torbay Council have been unable to hear or locate the sound.

"If it exists the sound does not come from Paignton Zoo's premises. We hope that Mr. Thorne is able to sort out his problem very soon."

Torbay Council have as of yet not commented.

Australian amateur Terry Lovejoy discovers new comet

C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)

© Alain Maury and Joaquin Fabrega

The fuzzy object at center is new comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) discovered by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy.

It's confirmed! Australian amateur astronomer

Terry Lovejoy

just discovered his fifth comet,

C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)

. He found it August 17th using a Celestron C8 fitted with a CCD camera at his roll-off roof observatory in Brisbane, Australia.

C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)_1

© Terry Lovejoy

Image triplet taken by Terry Lovejoy of his comet discovery. The comet moves slightly counterclockwise around the larger fuzzy spot over the time frame.

"I take large sets of image triplets, i.e 3 images per star field and use software to find moving objects," said Lovejoy. "The software I use outputs suspects that I check manually by eye."

Most of what pops up on the camera are asteroids, known comets, or false alarms but not this time. Lovejoy's latest find is a faint, fuzzy object in the constellation Puppis in the morning sky.

C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)_2

© Stellarium

Sky as seen from central South America showing the approximate location of the new comet (purple circle) on August 19 in Puppis near the bright star Canopus. The view shows the sky facing southeast just before the start of dawn.

Glowing a dim magnitude +15, the new comet will be a southern sky object until later this fall when it swings quickly northward soon around the time of perihelion or closest approach to the sun. Lovejoy's find needs more observations to better refine its orbit, but based on preliminary data,

Maik Meyer

, founder of the

Comets Mailing List

, calculates a January 2, 2015 perihelion.

C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)_3

© Jean-François and Alain Maury

Another photo of C/2014 Q2 taken on August 19, 2014.

On that date, it will be a healthy 84 million miles from the sun, but one month earlier on December 7, the comet could pass just 6.5 million miles from Earth and be well placed for viewing in amateur telescopes.

Everything's still a little up in the air right now, so these times and distances are likely to change as fresh observations pour in. Take all predictions with a major grain of salt for the moment.

C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)_4

You might remember some of Terry's earlier comets. Comet Lovejoy (C/2011 W3), a

Kreutz sungrazer

discovered in November 2011, passed just 87,000 miles above the sun's surface. Many astronomers thought it wouldn't survive the sun's heat, yet amazingly, although much of its nucleus burned off, enough material survived to produce a spectacular tail.

Terry Lovejoy

© LovejoySS

Terry Lovejoy

More recently, Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) thrilled observers as it climbed to naked eye brightness last November, managing to do the impossible at the time and draw our eyes away from Comet ISON.

Congratulations Terry on your new find! May it wax brightly this fall.

* Update

: The latest orbit calculation from the Minor Planet Center based on 24 observations now puts perihelion at 164.6 million miles (265 million km) on February 14, 2015. Closest approach to Earth of 93.2 million miles (150 million km) will occur in January.

What I did after police killed my son

After police in Kenosha, Wis., shot my 21-year-old son to death outside his house ten years ago - and then immediately cleared themselves of all wrongdoing - an African-American man approached me and said: "If they can shoot a white boy like a dog, imagine what we've been going through."

I could imagine it all too easily, just as the rest of the country has been seeing it all too clearly in the terrible images coming from Ferguson, Mo., in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown. On Friday, after a week of angry protests, the police in Ferguson finally identified the officer implicated in Brown's shooting, although the circumstances still remain unclear.

I have known the name of the policeman who killed my son, Michael, for ten years. And he is still working on the force in Kenosha.

Yes, there is good reason to think that many of these unjustifiable homicides by police across the country are racially motivated. But there is a lot more than that going on here. Our country is simply not paying enough attention to the terrible lack of accountability of police departments and the way it affects all of us - regardless of race or ethnicity. Because if a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy - that was my son, Michael - can be shot in the head under a street light with his hands cuffed behind his back, in front of five eyewitnesses (including his mother and sister), and his father was a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who flew in three wars for his country - that's me - and I still couldn't get anything done about it, then Joe the plumber and Javier the roofer aren't going to be able to do anything about it either.

I got the phone call at 2 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2004

. It was my oldest daughter. She said you need to come to the hospital right away, Michael's been shot by the police. My first gut reaction was, "Michael doesn't do anything serious enough to get shot by a police officer." I thought he'd gotten shot in the leg or whatever. When I arrived, I saw the district attorney huddled with about five police officers. The last time I saw my son alive he was on a gurney, with his head wrapped in a big towel and blood coming out of it. I learned that an officer had put his gun up directly to Michael's right temple and misfired, then did it again, and shot him.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Michael Bell shake hands after the former passed a bill into law mandating that investigations of police officers be turned over to an outside party. | Family of Michael Bell

From the beginning I cautioned patience, though Michael's mother and sister were in an uproar. They had watched him get shot. But as an Air Force officer and pilot I knew the way safety investigations are conducted, and I was thinking that this was going to be conducted this way. Yet within 48 hours I got the message: The police had cleared themselves of all wrongdoing. In 48 hours! They hadn't even taken statements from several eyewitnesses. Crime lab reports showed that my son's DNA or fingerprints were not on any gun or holster, even though one of the police officers involved in Michael's shooting had claimed that Michael had grabbed his gun.

The officer who killed my son, Albert Gonzalez, is not only still on the force ten years later, he is also a licensed concealed-gun instructor across the state line in Illinois - and

was identified by the Chicago Tribune in an Aug. 7 investigative story

as one of "multiple instructors [who] are police officers with documented histories of making questionable decisions about when to use force."

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Michael Bell shake hands after the former passed a bill into law mandating that investigations of police officers be turned over to an outside party. | Family of Michael Bell

From the beginning I allowed the investigation to proceed and didn't know it was a sham until many of the facts were discovered. But before long I realized a cover-up was under way.

I hadn't understood at first how closely related the DA and the police were - during his election campaign for judge, the DA had been endorsed in writing by every police agency in the county. Now he was investigating them. It was a clear conflict of interest.

The police claimed that one officer screamed that Michael grabbed his gun after they stopped him, for reasons that remain unclear though he was slightly intoxicated, and then Gonzalez shot him, sticking the gun so close against his temple that he left a muzzle imprint. Michael wasn't even driving his own car. He'd been out with a designated driver, but the designated driver drank and was younger, and so my son made the decision to drive.

Michael Bell is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force.

Emerging solar plants scorch birds in mid-air

array of mirrors

© AP Photo/John Locher

New estimates for the plant near the California-Nevada border say thousands of birds are dying yearly, roasted by the concentrated sun rays from the mirrors.

Ivanpah Dry Lake, Calif. - Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant's concentrated sun rays - "streamers," for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair.

Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one "streamer" every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator's application to build a still-bigger version.

The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.

The deaths are "alarming. It's hard to say whether that's the location or the technology," said Garry George, renewable-energy director for the California chapter of the Audubon Society. "There needs to be some caution."

The bird kills mark the latest instance in which the quest for clean energy sometimes has inadvertent environmental harm. Solar farms have been criticized for their impacts on desert tortoises, and wind farms have killed birds, including numerous raptors.

"We take this issue very seriously," said Jeff Holland, a spokesman for NRG Solar of Carlsbad, California, the second of the three companies behind the plant. The third, Google, deferred comment to its partners.

burned MacGillivray's Warbler

© AP Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A burned MacGillivray's Warbler that was found at the Ivanpah solar plant in the California Mojave Desert.

The $2.2 billion plant, which launched in February, is at Ivanpah Dry Lake near the California-Nevada border. The operator says it's the world's biggest plant to employ so-called power towers.

More than 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, reflect solar rays onto three boiler towers each looming up to 40 stories high. The water inside is heated to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes.

Sun rays sent up by the field of mirrors are bright enough to dazzle pilots flying in and out of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Federal wildlife officials said Ivanpah might act as a

"mega-trap" for wildlife

, with the bright light of the plant attracting insects, which in turn attract insect-eating birds that fly to their death in the intensely focused light rays.

Federal and state biologists call the number of deaths significant, based on sightings of birds getting singed and falling, and on retrieval of carcasses with feathers charred too severely for flight.

Ivanpah officials dispute the source of the so-called streamers, saying at least some of the puffs of smoke mark insects and bits of airborne trash being ignited by the solar rays.

Wildlife officials who witnessed the phenomena say many of the clouds of smoke were too big to come from anything but a bird, and they add that they saw "birds entering the solar flux and igniting, consequently become a streamer."

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials say they want a death toll for a full year of operation.

Given the apparent scale of bird deaths at Ivanpah, authorities should thoroughly track bird kills there for a year, including during annual migratory seasons, before granting any more permits for that kind of solar technology, said George, of the Audubon Society.

The toll on birds has been surprising, said Robert Weisenmiller, chairman of the California Energy Commission. "We didn't see a lot of impact" on birds at the first, smaller power towers in the U.S. and Europe, Weisenmiller said.

The commission is now considering the application from Oakland-based BrightSource to build a mirror field and a 75-story power tower that would reach above the sand dunes and creek washes between Joshua Tree National Park and the California-Arizona border.

The proposed plant is on a flight path for birds between the Colorado River and California's largest lake, the Salton Sea - an area, experts say, is richer in avian life than the Ivanpah plant, with protected golden eagles and peregrine falcons and more than 100 other species of birds recorded there.


© AP Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials warned California this month that the power-tower style of solar technology holds "the highest lethality potential" of the many solar projects burgeoning in the deserts of California.

The commission's staff estimates the proposed new tower would be almost four times as dangerous to birds as the Ivanpah plant. The agency is expected to decide this autumn on the proposal.

While biologists say there is

no known feasible way to curb the number of birds killed

, the companies behind the projects say they are hoping to find one - studying whether lights, sounds or some other technology would scare them away, said Joseph Desmond, senior vice president at BrightSource Energy.

BrightSource also is offering $1.8 million in compensation for anticipated bird deaths at Palen, Desmond said.

The company is proposing the money for programs such as those to spay and neuter domestic cats, which a government study found kill over 1.4 billion birds a year. Opponents say that would do nothing to help the desert birds at the proposed site.

Power-tower proponents are fighting to keep the deaths from forcing a pause in the building of new plants when they see the technology on the verge of becoming more affordable and accessible, said Thomas Conroy, a renewable-energy expert.

When it comes to powering the country's grids, "diversity of technology ... is critical," Conroy said. "Nobody should be arguing let's be all coal, all solar," all wind, or all nuclear. "And every one of those technologies has a long list of pros and cons."

County will not pay medical bills for toddler hurt in Habersham, Georgia raid

Habersham County officials say they do not plan to pay for the medical expenses of a toddler seriously injured during a police raid.

Bounkham Phonesavah

, affectionately known as "Baby Boo Boo," spent weeks in a burn unit after a SWAT team's flash grenade exploded near his face. The toddler was just 19-months-old and asleep in the early morning hours of May 28. SWAT officers threw the device into his home while

executing a search warrant for a drug suspect.

Habersham County officials are defending their decision not to pay, but the child's family isn't giving up.

After weeks of recovery at two different hospitals, Channel 2 Action News was there in July as the little boy walked out of a hospital with his family.

He is doing better, but late Friday afternoon, his family's attorney told said

the family's medical bills are mounting.

"But at this point, the county is refusing to pay," said attorney Muwali Davis.

Habersham County's attorney provided the following statement, saying: "The question before the board was whether it is legally permitted to pay these expenses. After consideration of this question following advice of counsel, the board of commissioners has concluded that it would be in violation of the law for it to do so."

The attorney for Boo Boo's family insists that is not good enough.

The Phonesavahs' attorney also says an independent investigation showed authorities used faulty information to get a search warrant.

In June, Habersham County's sheriff said a confidential informant told them he had bought drugs at the home. But they didn't think any children lived there.

The SWAT team did not find the person it was looking for in the home. An investigation is underway into the handling of the case. Meanwhile, Boo Boo and his family have moved back to Wisconsin. Supporters are planning a fundraiser for him in August.

Nigerian woman traveling to India dies in UAE: Ebola suspected

Nigerian woman suspected of Ebola dies in UAE on way to India

The national airline of the United Arab Emirates said Monday it has disinfected one of its planes after health authorities there announced that a Nigerian woman who died after flying in to the capital, Abu Dhabi, may have been infected with the Ebola virus.

The health authority in Abu Dhabi said in a statement carried by state news agency WAM that the 35-year-old woman was traveling from Nigeria to India for treatment of advanced metastatic cancer.

Her health deteriorated while in transit at Abu Dhabi International Airport. As medics were trying to resuscitate her, they found signs that suggested a possible Ebola virus infection. The health authority noted, however, that her preexisting medical condition also could have explained her death.

Medical staff treating the woman followed safety and precautionary measures in line with World Health Organization guidelines, the health authority statement added.

The woman's husband, who was the only person sitting next to her on the plane, as well as five medics who treated her are being isolated pending test results on the deceased woman. All are in good health and show no symptoms of the illness, according to health officials.

Etihad Airways, the UAE's national carrier, said the plane was disinfected in line with guidelines laid out by the airline industry's main trade group. It said it continues to monitor the situation and is working with health authorities "to ensure the implementation of any and all measures necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of its passengers and staff."

An Ebola outbreak has killed more than 1,100 people, mostly in the three West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to WHO figures. Four people have died after contracting the disease in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country.

The Ebola virus is typically transmitted through direct person-to-person contact or through contact with bodily secretions from an infected person. The WHO considers the risk to passengers traveling on a flight with an infected person to be very low.

Abu Dhabi is the capital and largest of seven sheikdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates. The country has grown into a major long-haul aviation hub. It is home to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad and Dubai-based Emirates, the Middle East's largest airline.

Emirates earlier this month became the first carrier to halt flights to Guinea because of concerns about the spread of the Ebola virus there.

Source: Associated Press

Jellyfish sting captured by microscope for the first time

You've heard of a jellyfish sting, maybe you've even experienced one. But have you ever



When a jellyfish actually stings someone or something, the action is often too small and too fast to see with the naked eye. This video, however, captures a real-life sting in slow motion!

Destin from


visited toxinologist Dr. Jamie Seymour, one of the team members present when Steve Irwin, "The Crocodile Hunter," was fatally stung by a stingray in 2006.

At James Cook University in Australia, researchers used a microscope and high-speed camera to discover what exactly happens when a jellyfish, or in this specific case, an anemone, stings you. They have wanted to capture the process on camera for years, but only now has the technology been able to do so.

Instead of thinking it's just tentacles dragging across your skin and leaving venom behind, what actually happens it that an organelle (a specific subunit within a cell with a special function) called a nematocyst takes the venom and shoves it into you. Think of if like a garden hose that is lax until water comes through. In this case, the nematocyst is limp until venom comes through, making it rigid.

While it's still not exactly clear what causes the nematocysts to fire, in this study, the researchers use two 9 volt batteries to randomly trigger the reaction in the anemone so they could record it.

An interesting thing that these guys discovered is the slight delay between when the nematocyst fires and when the venom actually comes out.

And if you're really into this and happen to want to study why the box jellyfish is the most venomous animal in the world, the folks at James Cook University want you to know that they are looking for undergrad and graduate students to join its



Masters of the internet: GCHQ scans entire countries for vulnerabilities


© he.wikipedia.org

Government Communications Headquarters

GCHQ is scanning servers in multiple foreign countries for vulnerable ports, according to German newspaper Heise. Using a tool called Hacienda, the intelligence agency seeks to 'master the internet' for sources of espionage.

Spanish for estate, Hacienda can

port scan

all of the servers in a country to provide information on user endpoints and scan for potential vulnerabilities. The ability to port scan is not new, but the scale of its use by government spies, with 27 countries scanned by 2009, has shocked many familiar with the software.

"In 2009, the British spy agency GCHQ made port scans a 'standard tool' to be applied against entire nations,"


reports. "Twenty-seven countries are listed as targets of the Hacienda [program]."

The process of scanning entire countries and looking for vulnerable network infrastructure to exploit is consistent with the meta-goal of "Mastering the Internet", which is also the name of a GCHQ cable-tapping program. Targeted protocols include SSH, HTTP and FTP, among others.

Systems may be attacked simply because they might eventually create a path towards a valuable espionage target, even without indications this will ever be the case.

Based on this logic, every device is a target.

The database resulting from the scans is shared with other spy agencies in the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. MAILORDER is described in the documents as a secure transport protocol used between the'Five Eyes' spy agencies to exchange collected data.

System and network administrators face the threat of industrial espionage, sabotage and human rights violations created by nation states indiscriminately attacking network infrastructure and breaking into services.

GCHQ says it will not comment on "intelligence matters" but reiterates that everything that it does is done within a strict legal framework. "It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters," a GCHQ spokesperson told The Inquirer.

"All of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate,

and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception of Communications and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee


All our operational processes rigorously support this position," they added.

Comment: Read...all these sources of "oversight" are happy recipients of GCHQ information. Legal? (wink, wink)

British intelligence is permitted to go further in surveillance than similar agencies in other Western countries, according to Edward Snowden. The former NSA contractor believes the powers of the British intelligence establishment are not restricted effectively enough by "law or policy". The lack of legal restrictions allows UK intelligence services to target more people than is necessary.

Police State USA: Dozens arrested, reporters detained, assembly rights restricted

© AFP Photo / Getty Images / Scott Olson

Police attempt to control demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 18, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

Confrontation resumed on Monday night in Ferguson, Missouri, as police used tear gas to disperse protesters. Live ammo was shot in the altercation, with two people injured. Over 70 people, including a journalist, were reportedly arrested.

Protests over the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 9 by a police officer continued into their ninth day. Police were telling people not to congregate unless they were in protest-designated areas, a policy needed to protect Ferguson from a "criminal element," it was explained.

Militarized US police face-off with Ferguson protesters LIVE UPDATES

"We are not going to let groups congregate and build into larger groups because that's what causes problems," Captain Ron Johnson, who is in charge of security in the neighborhood, told reporters in a press briefing Monday night.

"Because what happens is, the peaceful protesters gather, and the other element blends in. Now they blend in, and that's what's been causing us some issues. So by allowing them to walk, that's not going to let the other element blend in and define this group."

Police said they arrested at total of 31 people on Monday. However, jail records


by NBC News show that at least 78 people were seized.

Among them was Getty Images photographer Scott Olson, who was seen with cameras around his neck and hands bound behind him being walked out by the police.

Also a live report by CNN correspondent Don Lemon was somewhat disrupted by a police officer, who was ordering the journalists and a group of protesters around him to move along.

Several protesters just arrested downtown


including this woman for "blocking the entrance"


- Chris Stanford (@StanfordKMOV)

August 18, 2014

In neighboring St. Louis, Hedy Epstein, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor and political activist was arrested in front of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's office, where a rally of solidarity with Ferguson protesters was held.

The violence erupted after dark. Police fired tear gas canisters and bean bags to disperse protesting crowds. The demonstrators hurled projectiles at the officers.

There were also reports of live rounds shot from the protester side, with police saying two civilians were injured by gunfire and taken to hospital. Four officers were reported injured by stones thrown by protesters.

Rapper Nelly joins rally in riot-hit Missouri town of Ferguson


- ITV News (@itvnews)

August 19, 2014

By midnight police were telling people to clear the streets unless they had media clearance and for the media to go to an area allocated to them. This was despite Missouri Governor Jay Nixon lifting a curfew in Ferguson which had been in force in the previous days.

The authorities also banned low-flying aircraft over the neighborhood, which prevented news channels covering the events from sending their helicopters to the scene.

National Guard troops, which had been sent to Ferguson on Sunday, were keeping a distance from the protesters.

© AFP Photo / Getty Images / Joe Raedle

Police officers arrest a demonstrator on August 18, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

President Barack Obama announced that Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Missouri on Wednesday to investigate the situation.

"While I understand the passions and the anger that arise over the death of Michael Brown, giving in to that anger by looting or carrying guns, and even attacking the police, only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos,"

Obama told a news conference.

"It undermines, rather than advancing, justice."

Holder for his part said more than 40 FBI agents were involved into the investigation into the turmoil in Ferguson. And that additional medical examination of Michael Brown's body has been ordered.

© AFP Photo / Getty Images / Scott Olson

Police attempt to control demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 18, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

© AFP Photo / Getty Images / Michael B. Thomas

A demonstrator displays a sign during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri on August 18, 2014.

© AFP Photo / Getty Images / Scott Olson

Police attempt to control demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 18, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

© AFP Photo / Getty Images / Joe Raedle

Police officers arrest a demonstrator on August 18, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

Revision to 400-year sunspot record makes current solar cycle weakest in 200 years

Rare spotless day observed on July 18, 2014

© Spaceweather.com

Rare spotless day observed on July 18, 2014

A rare spotless day on the sun on July 17-18, 2014 triggered public speculation that an already stunted Cycle 24 was nearly over. Such is not the case. Defying the odds for so late in a sunspot cycle, another solar sunspot maximum was set last month. Another one is coming this month.

In other major news, a long needed revision to the 400-year sunspot record was proposed. It'll be the first change made to the sunspot record since it was first established by Rudolf Wolf back in 1849. The changes will affect long-term climate and other dependent scientific studies.

One effect of the proposal will be to reduce modern sunspot totals.

That will wipe out the so-called "Modern Maximum " and make the current sunspot cycle, Cycle 24, the weakest in 200 years.
cycle 24 solar sunspot progression

Cycle 24 solar sunspot progression

After four straight months of steep declines in monthly sunspot counts, July reversed the trend and increased slightly.

The Royal Observatory of Belgium released July's average monthly sunspot count on August 1, 2014. Despite the mid-month spotless day, the sunspot number increased and it grew solar maximum again for the sixth straight month.

Extended periods of inactivity - like the Spörer, Maunder and Dalton minimums - were all accompanied by cooler earth temperatures. Conditions today mimic Cycles 3, 4 and 5 which marked the beginning of the Dalton Minimum .
Revising the 400-year sunspot record

Revising the 400-year sunspot record

The 400-year sunspot record is the longest continuously recorded daily measurement made in science. It's used in many scientific disciplines, including climate science studies. It hasn't been adjusted since Rudolf Wolf created it over 160 years ago.

Over the centuries errors have crept into the record, degrading its value for long-term studies. New data and discoveries now allow scientists to detect and correct errors. The first serious look back at the long-term record since Wolf in 1849 came without even a press release last month. It's a modestly titled new paper called "

Revising the Sunspot Number

" by Frédéric Clette, et al., submitted for publication to the journal

Solar and Stellar Astrophysics

on July 11, 2014.

Some outcomes of the new paper include:

  • The so-called "Modern Maximum" disappears

  • Sunspot activity is steady over the last 250 years

  • Three detected "inhomogeneities" since 1880 are corrected

  • Cycle 24 will become the weakest in 200 years

The new paper describes the current state of understanding of the long term record. It isn't a complete revision of the entire record, but a first level recalibration going back to 1749. The Royal Observatory of Belgium plans to release this and other revisions incrementally over time.

Solar physicist, Dr. Leif Svalgaard of Stanford University, organized a series of four workshops beginning in 2011 designed to review and revise the long term record. This new paper is the first fruit of that labor. Primarily, it removes "inhomogeneities" and brings the International Sunspot Number and newer Group Count record and solar magnetic history in sync.

Ultimately, Svalgaard seeks to extend the official record back to the early 1600s, before the Maunder Minimum. The paper outlines what needs to occur to make that happen.

For now the proposed revision stops at Wolf's 1749 starting point.


The sun continues to confound observers. Albeit exceptionally weak, Cycle 24 continues to set solar maximums each month long after its forecast peak of activity should have passed.

Dr. Svalgaard's

landmark physics-based 2004 paper

forecasting 75±8 for the Cycle 24 peak is spot on. Everyone else predicted higher numbers, some as high as 144. Back in 2004 he also said solar max would come in "~2011″.

By 2009 NASA revised their forecast saying solar max would be in mid-2013. Both are wrong. It hasn't arrive yet.

The newly proposed revisions to the sunspot record going back to 1749 will have some effect on global warming predictions. Exactly what that effect will be remains to be seen. Based on reduced solar activity, the smart money says the current 14-year "pause" in global warming will last for many more years to come, perhaps accompanied by some cooling.

New solar power plant is scorching birds out of the sky

© Ethan Miller / Getty Images / AFP

A solar receiver and boiler on top of a tower is seen between the backs of heliostats reflecting sunlight towards it at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert in California near Primm, Nevada.

Next generation solar plants are generating more clean energy than ever before, but one in California is torching birds as they fly through the facility's powerful rays, raising concern over a new plant that could prove four times more dangerous to birds.

According to the

Associated Press

, workers at the BrightSource Energy plant in the Mojave Desert even have a nickname for the singed birds, which burn up into smoke when they fly into heavily concentrated sun rays: "Streamers." When US Fish and Wildlife officials observed the situation in 2013, they witnessed an average of one "streamer" every couple of minutes.

With estimates ranging from 1,000 dead birds a year to 28,000, the agency is seeking an official death toll for one year of operation at the plant. BrightSource is responsible for delivering the lower number, while the higher one was projected by the Center for Biological Diversity. For now, the agency is also calling on the committee in charge of approving new projects to delay BrightSource's latest application.

Opened in February, the plant has been powering 140,000 homes with the electricity it generates. The facility is composed of three 40-story towers, which produce steam and rotate turbines after the water contained inside is boiled by the solar rays reflected onto it by some 300,000 mirrors.

Speaking with the AP, Garry George of the California chapter of the Audubon Society called the bird deaths "alarming."

"It's hard to say whether that's the location or the technology," he added. "There needs to be some caution."

BrightSource is currently in the midst of trying to gain approval for an even larger plant, this time near the Joshua Tree National Park. The 75-story boiler tower would be located in an area where more than 100 kinds of birds - including the federally protected golden eagle and peregrine falcons - fly through regularly.

The California Energy Commission has already estimated that the plant would be four times more dangerous for birds than the one in the Mojave Desert, and a final decision on the application is expected this coming fall.

Although wildlife officials don't think these types of solar plants are directly luring birds to a fiery death, they do believe the reflected light might be attracting insects. Naturally, birds follow the insects hoping to feed, and end up flying into the powerful rays of light as they hunt.

Plant officials, meanwhile, have not been as concerned over the development, saying that some of the smoke comes from insects and various pieces of trash that are being lit up by the light rays. Wildlife officials, though, said they witnessed birds flying into the light, adding that some puffs of smoke were simply too big to be anything else.

BrightSource is hoping that some kind of solution can be reached without the need to halt construction. The company's senior vice president said that scientists are currently looking into whether various light schemes or sounds can be employed to keep birds at bay.

The company is also willing to spend $1.8 million on programs that would include spaying and neutering cats, which kill more than 1 billion birds every year. This alter proposal, at least, has been criticized for being unhelpful to birds in desert environments.

Still, renewable energy expert Thomas Conroy said as alternative energy source become cheaper, it's important to ensure a variety of them are being used to offset needs to fossil fuels.

"Diversity of technology ... is critical," Conroy said to AP. "Nobody should be arguing let's be all coal, all solar," all wind, or all nuclear. "And every one of those technologies has a long list of pros and cons."

Obama administration sued yet again, this time for stonewalling FOIA requests

© Unknown

The comparisons made between the Obama and Nixon administrations' drive for secrecy are actually a misnomer. Many believe that no administration comes even close to the amount of extreme control the Obama administration tries to exercise over the release of information that is even produced by other Federal agencies.

The administration that vowed to be the most transparent in history now must defend itself against a federal lawsuit accusing it of thwarting the release of public information. It's a case that could reveal just how much


influences the processing of Freedom of Information Act requests, especially when such releases could embarrass the president.



watchdog group

Cause of Action

on Monday sued the

Obama administration

, claiming that presidential attorneys have interfered improperly in the release of public documents under the landmark


law in an effort to curb the release of derogatory information about the

White House


The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the nonpartisan

Cause of Action

, names 12 federal agencies that the group says slowed the release of


so officials could consult with

White House

attorneys under a review process established in spring 2009.


analysts say this practice never occurred in prior administrations.

The process gave

White House

officials review authority over documents that mentioned the

White House

or presidential aides, and was based on an April 15, 2009, memo by

White House

Counsel Gregory Craig that instructed all federal agencies to consult with President Obama's attorneys on the release of documents containing "

White House equities


The lawsuit contends the term "

White House

equities" was never mentioned in the


law and has been used to delay the legitimate release of public information.


White House

is demanding access to records and otherwise influencing agencies'


obligations to produce responsive documents in a manner that is not countenanced by the law,"

Cause of Action

argued in its lawsuit. "Indeed, the 'most transparent administration in history' has injected itself into a process (


) presumably to self-regulate what agency records are produced to the public."

The lawsuit references a June 30 article in

The Washington Times

that reported on the impact of the "

White House

equities" memo and quoted


officers at federal agencies who said the review process had been used to prevent the release of information embarrassing to the

Obama administration


Cause of Action Executive


Daniel Epstein

said in an interview that the organization sued federal agencies that refused to disclose communications related to documents that the agencies had shared with the

White House

. Although the initial complaint was filed under


, he said, other claims could be added.

"We are


suing because we want the documents in these agencies that they have failed to produce," he said. "There is currently only one count in that there is a violation of


, but that is not to say that we may not later amend the complaint if we think other issues arise.

"We are statutorily entitled to documents that have not been produced," he added.


White House

, in a statement Sunday to

The Washington Post

, defended its record on openness, citing what it said was a huge number of


requests processed since Mr. Obama took office.

The president is "committed to a transparent and open


and has taken unprecedented steps to ensure that members of the public have access to information," the statement said, noting that administration agencies and departments processed almost 680,000


requests last year, the third consecutive year of processing increases. The

White House

also has argued, despite its critics, that it is simply following precedent set by previous administrations on


requests in which "

White House

equities" are involved.

Congressional interest?

Anne Weismann, chief counsel of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan watchdog group that has sued the

Obama administration


White House

visitor logs, said the

Cause of Action

lawsuit is a "bread-and-butter


case" but could force Congress to take greater notice.

"In this case, the lawsuit is trying to compel documents that could explain how the '

White House



is being implemented," she said. "If it turns out that the policy is being used to intentionally slow the process, ... it could lead to congressional oversight."

Cause of Action

sent 22


requests in 2013 and 2014 to various federal agencies concerning their reviews of records by the Office of

White House

Counsel and released a report in April about "

White House equities


Because the

White House

is exempt from



White House

review of such requests occurs only in rare circumstances in which a


originated in the

White House




officer who worked in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations claimed to be "personally aware of multiple cases" in which records were sent to the

White House



because they dealt with a politically hot topic."

"The records did not originate from or even mention the

White House

," the officer said in an interview.



officer referred to the


as "Nixonian," saying the Obama

White House

"not only wants to know what is sent out from the government, but also who's doing the asking."

'Tool of secrecy'

David Cuillier, president of the Society of


Journalists, said the lawsuit is important but does not come as a surprise.

"It's one of many lawsuits the White House has had to face and continues to face over the years, and rightfully so," Mr. Cuillier said. "It should face this lawsuit because our government is out of control when it comes to excessive secrecy. They're using the FOIA as a tool of secrecy, not of openness."

On July 8, the journalists group filed a letter urging President Obama to halt excessive management over information control. The letter targets Mr. Obama's media policies.

"We consider these restrictions a form of censorship - an attempt to control what the public is allowed to see and hear," the letter said.

Ginger McCall,


for the Electronic Privacy Information Center Open Government Project, said public pressure could be applied usefully to the Justice Department, which is reviewing agency


policy inconsistencies.

The Justice Department "has been tasked with crafting a uniform


rule for all federal agencies," she said. "Therefore, they could


add language to their new, proposed uniform standards that prohibit the

White House

from interfering this way."

Mr. Epstein

said he believes the

White House

equities policy is inconsistent with Mr. Obama's promises of transparency.

"The president has interjected himself into the


process, and record releases are being delayed as a result of that," he said. "It violates


because these


should have been forthcoming. It violates the spirit of


because transparency should not be delayed because of something the president or his

White House

staff does."


The administration's memo/directive referring to 'White House


' is an interesting use of language in and of itself.

First, as mentioned in the article and video, it has no legal meaning whatsoever and, as such, should not wield the power of compelling other Federal agencies and departments who have received FOIA requests to


forward the documents relating to the Obama administration to the administration itself for their approval. This process reeks of an effort towards totalitarian control.

Secondly, when we look up the definition of equities, which is used rather opaquely here, we come up with this from Investopedia:

Definition of 'Equity '

1. A stock or any other security representing an ownership interest.

2. On a company's balance sheet, the amount of the funds contributed by the owners (the stockholders) plus the retained earnings (or losses). Also referred to as "shareholders' equity".

3. In the context of margin trading, the value of securities in a margin account minus what has been borrowed from the brokerage.

4. In the context of real estate, the difference between the current market value of the property and the amount the owner still owes on the mortgage. It is the amount that the owner would receive after selling a property and paying off the mortgage.

5. In terms of investment strategies, equity (stocks) is one of the principal asset classes. The other two are fixed-income (bonds) and cash/cash-equivalents. These are used in asset allocation planning to structure a desired risk and return profile for an investor's portfolio.

So, what else can one surmise from the use of the word


except that the White House or Obama administration thinks it somehow 'owns' all the other Federal agencies and should therefore have complete control over them as their owner? Perhaps it shouldn't come as any surprise since Obama himself was put into office and is, himself, owned by the financial services/banking industry; he essentially being an equity of the financial elite.

See also:

Moore: "Wall Street Has Their Man And His Name Is Barack Obama"

California protesters prevent Israeli cargo ship from docking to unload its cargo over Gaza offensive

Picketers gathered at the Port of Oakland in California this weekend to prevent an Israeli shipping vessel from unloading its cargo in protest over the situation in Gaza, where the death toll has topped 2,000. In what was a community-wide effort, dock workers that showed up for the evening shift on Sunday did not disturb the integrity of the picket line, which was there in anticipation of the ship, operated by Zim Shipping Services Ltd. Because the line wasn't crossed, no unloading could take place. Organizer Lara Kiswani confirmed that"they're honoring our community picket and they haven't been crossing."

UK activists occupy govt building over excessively redacted fracking report

A group of campaigners from Reclaim the Power are currently occupying the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) headquarters in London, following the government's decision to censor a report on the potential impacts of fracking. Three anti-fracking and climate justice activists superglued themselves to DEFRA's main doors at approximately 8 am this morning, using reinforced arm tubes to prevent access. Another scaled the building and unfurled a large banner inscribed with the message: "What's to hide DEFRA? - Don't frack with our future." The activists wore black tape pasted across their mouths in an effort to convey the scale of censorship the government had recently employed prior to publishing its report. 'Shale Gas: Rural Economy Impacts,' which details the potential impacts of fracking on rural communities throughout Britain, was released following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request tendered to DEFRA. Want to know the findings of UK Govt report on the impacts of shale gas on rural communities? Me too. #http://ift.tt/VDvvBD - Sarah Merrick (@SpeakSarahSpeak) August 11, 2014

Russian MP: U.S. criticism of Bolotnaya case hypocritical in light of Ferguson police shooting

A Russian ruling party MP has reacted to Washington's criticism of the sentences given to participants of 2012 Moscow riots, saying that under similar circumstances the US police would use lethal force against protesters. Alyona Arshinova of the United Russia parliamentary caucus emphasized that the sentences in the so called Bolotnaya Square case had been given only to those who had attacked law enforcement officers, and US laws provide that police can use firearms in such circumstances. "US law enforcers can use firearms even in less straightforward situations. One example of this was the tragedy in the town of Ferguson." The lawmaker told the RIA Novosti news agency on Tuesday. Arshinova's reaction was prompted by US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf who on Monday started her press briefing with a statement that the US was "deeply concerned" about the sentences handed down to four Russians who had been found guilty of attacking police and participating in mass riots in Moscow in May 2012. The US officials called the whole Bolotnaya Square process "politically minded" and added that it had been "marked by a lack of due process," without going into details. MP Arshinova said the State Department officials should "start looking for the plank in their own eye."

British government lobbied U.S. politicians to hide their involvement in CIA torture and rendition program

Records published under Britain's Freedom of Information (FOI) Act have compounded concerns that the UK government lobbied US officials to keep Britain's role in CIA torture and rendition out of a soon-to-be published Senate report. Newly-released data reveals Britain's ambassador to the US, Peter Westmacott, engaged in at least 21 separate meetings with members of the US Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) prior to its publication of this report, heightening existing allegations that the British government may be seeking to sanitize the document. Westmacott met with key Democrats and Republicans on the SSCI throughout the body's investigation of the CIA program, records obtained by the UK legal charity Reprieve reveal. Of particular note are two separate meetings with Senator Feinstein in the immediate aftermath of the US government's decision to publish what is expected to be a damning report on CIA torture, interrogation and rendition.

The surprising impact of weight loss on the emotions

A new study of almost 2,000 overweight and obese adults in the UK has found that those who lost weight were unhappier than those who remained within 5% of their original weight (Jackson et al., 2014). Although they were physically healthier four years later - with lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease - those who lost weight were likely to be less happy.

Kiev refuses to talk; situation around missing Russian journalist Stenin "unprecedented"

With over two weeks since his disappearance in eastern Ukraine, the whereabouts of Russian photojournalist Andrey Stenin remain unknown. His colleagues suggest that he may soon be freed as part of a large exchange of captives. Stenin's employers at Rossiya Segodnya news agency (formerly RIA Novosti), said that they have so far failed to get any information on their journalist from the Kiev authorities.

Addicts' Symphony: Addiction 'rife' among classical musicians

Performance anxiety, odd hours, working weekends and post-concert socialising often leads classical musicians to use drugs and alcohol. Addiction is blighting the lives of many classical musicians as they grapple with performance anxiety and anti-social hours, a cellist has said. Rachael Lander features in a new British documentary which brings together classical musicians whose careers have been derailed by drug and drink problems. The cellist, who was addicted to alcohol and prescription pills, said the problem was rife in the classical music world.

What's in your gut? Certain bacteria may influence susceptibility to infection

The specific composition of bacterial species in a person's gut may protect against or increase susceptibility to Campylobacter, the most common cause of human bacterial intestinal inflammation, according research published this week in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. The study also found that Campylobacter infection can yield lasting changes to one's gut bacteria composition. "It has been known for a long time that the microbiota, or microorganisms in the gut, can protect a person from colonization by organisms that cause intestinal tract disease. However, very little is known about how human gut microbiota influences susceptibility to these organisms, and to Campylobacter in particular," said senior study author Hilpi Rautelin, MD, PhD, professor of clinical bacteriology at Uppsala University and Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden. "We wanted to see if the composition of the human gut microbiota plays a role in susceptibility to Campylobacter infection." Rautelin and colleagues followed 24 workers at three poultry slaughterhouses in Sweden. In 2010, they collected fecal samples from the workers once a month from June to September, during the summer peak of Campylobacter-positive chicken flocks, and again the following February. Fecal samples were cultured for Campylobacter and analyzed by sequencing for all bacteria. While all participants tested negative for Campylobacter at the beginning of the study, seven participants became culture positive for the organism during the study. Only one of the Campylobacter-positive participants experienced symptoms of illness.

Human-Cosmic connection? Siberian elders vote to bury 2,500 year-old mummy to stop quakes, floods

A council of elders in Russia's Altay Region voted to bury the mummy of a woman who lived in the region in the 5th century BC. Altay locals believe that her excavation from her tomb back in 1993 angered her spirit and causes natural disasters. The mummy, dubbed the Siberian Ice Maiden in English-language sources and the Princess of Ukok, the Altay Princess or Ochi-Bala domestically, was unearthed from a subterranean tomb at the Ukok Plateau, close to borders with Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia. The remains have spent most of the time thereafter at a research facility in Novosibirsk, as scientists conducted facial reconstruction, DNA tests and other research projects on the Maiden.

The Netherlands: Is this summer? This August is one of the coldest since 1980

This August is the second coldest in 34 years with an average afternoon temperature of 17 Celsius at the De Bilt weather station. In the average year, the temperature is around 22 Celsius in mid August, according to forecasting bureau Weerplaza.