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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Bárðarbunga volcano getting ready to erupt? 1000 earthquakes as magma moves into ice covered caldera

From the Icelandic Meteorological Office: A summary of seismic activity, written Tuesday evening 19th August 2014 at 20:00 Around 1.000 small earthquakes were detected in the Bárðarbunga region from midnight (18/19) until Tuesday evening 19th August at 20:00. All of them were smaller than magnitude 3 and most were located in the cluster east of Bárðarbunga. While the northern cluster close to Kistufell has calmed down significantly following the M4.5 earthquake on early Monday morning, event rates in the eastern cluster are still high. Similar to recent days, two pulses of comparably strong seismic activity have been measured between 04:00 and 08:00 this morning, as well as 16:00 and 18:30 in the afternoon. The cluster east of Bárðarbunga continued to slowly migrate northeastwards today. Events are still located at around 5-12 km depths, no signs of upwards migration has been seen so far. Below is a summary map of all manually revised earthquakes since the onset of the swarm, which illustrates the migration of earthquake activity during the last days. Earthquakes in the map are colour coded by time, dark blue dots show the onset of the swarm on Saturday, orange dots Tuesday's events until 19:00, light blue and yellow are the days in between. The time scale is days since the onset of the swarm.

Staged provocations ahead possible US-Syrian War

With the alleged brutal murder of American journalist James Wright Foley, a wave of anger and aggression across Western audiences has been generated. Upon that wave rides two objectives. One is to create plausible deniability for the West which created the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS), the other is to create a further pretext to justify a resurgence of direct US military intervention across the region. While the focus has been on ISIS in Iraq, there is still another war -linked directly to Iraq's current conflict - being waged across the border in Syria. Syrian forces have continued making gains across the country, routing NATO-backed terrorist forces and restoring order in cities and towns that have been ravaged by war for years. ISIS strongholds in the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, have until now long escaped the focus of Syrian forces occupied by more urgent campaigns around Hama, Homs, Damascus, Daraa, Idlib, and Aleppo. Now, the Syrian Army is shifting forces east.

Video of deadly St Louis police shooting raises questions: Kajieme Powell was mentally ill

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has released mobile phone footage that seems to be at odds with parts of its story surrounding the officer-involved shooting of Kajieme Powell in the weeks after Michael Brown's death. According to St. Louis Public Radio, the police released the video Wednesday evening as part of an effort to be more transparent when it comes to violent incidents involving law enforcement. In addition to the cell phone footage, the department also released security camera footage of the alleged robbery, as well as the two 911 calls made to police. Police were first called to the scene - less than four miles away from the spot Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, was killed - when a local store owner reported the 25-year-old Powell for stealing drinks and snacks. A separate woman, meanwhile, also reported Powell for allegedly having a knife in his pocket and acting strangely.

Series of five tornadoes sweep through northern Italy

A series of five tornadoes swept through northern Italy on Tuesday, prompting flights to be diverted and causing millions of euros worth of damage. The tornadoes hit around the port city of Genoa, with some eyewitnesses stating they came close to hitting the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship. Flights to the city's airport were diverted and those leaving delayed, while trains were also interrupted and roads closed, La Repubblica reported. Damage is said to amount to millions of euros, with roofs ripped off buildings in the Prà neighbourhood and the seafront strewn with sun loungers hit by the stormy weather.

U.S. journalist: Police militarization aggravated tensions in Ferguson

The increased militarization of local US police forces is an alarming trend in America that contributed to rising tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, according to Cheryl Chumley, author and news writer for The Washington Times. "Police are supposed to be tasked with serving and protecting the American public - not treating the streets of America as if they're military war zones," Chumley told RIA Novosti on Monday. Chumley, author of Police State USA: How Orwell's Nightmare is Becoming Our Reality, noted that "the trend in America is alarming." Chumley said, "Police in Ferguson came out with a level 10 response, when a level four, maybe five would have sufficed. By that I mean police rolled out the full-body armor, militarized gear and armored vehicles - equipped with what appeared to be a 50 cal[iber gun] mounted on top - prematurely, and in so doing, ratcheted tensions and quite possibly turmoil in the streets of Ferguson." Protests have continued in Ferguson for a week following the shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager by police on August 9. When protests erupted, Ferguson police responded by deploying heavily into the neighborhoods where they were centered. A state of emergency was declared on Saturday by Governor Jay Nixon and included a curfew imposed on the city from midnight until 5 am. When protesters refused to disperse and obey the curfew over the weekend, police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and other crowd control measures. On Monday morning, Governor Nixon announced the deployment of the National Guard to Ferguson.

Traces of marine plankton discovered attached to ISS outer hull

Russian scientists say they made a "unique" discovery while analyzing samples from the exterior of the International Space Station - traces of tiny sea creatures on the station's windows and walls. It remains unclear how marine plankton ended up in space.The results of the recent experiments prove that that some organisms are capable of living on the outer surface of the International Space Station (ISS), Vladimir Solovyev, head of the Russian segment of the ISS, has revealed. Some studies suggest that these organisms may even develop in the hostile conditions of spaceflight, which include vacuum, low temperatures, radiation and others, he added.

Illuminatus! Soviet-era Tesla Tower restarted with spectacular lightning bolts

A massive Soviet-built generator - once used for testing the resistance of aircraft to lightning, but now largely mothballed due to prohibitive costs - has staged a striking demonstration test at the behest of RT. The 6-Megavolt device, one of the most powerful in the world, is capable of generating 200 meter-long lightning bolts, and was constructed in the 1970s at a closed facility outside Moscow, but fell into disuse after the collapse of the USSR. The futuristic complex of entangled metal coils hidden in a secured virgin forest made it a cult object for urban explorers. Teams of camera-equipped youths navigated their way and documented the rusting coils and huge locks on their blogs.

Discredited global warming still kicking: Why global warming is taking a break?


© Trace Project / NASA

The number of sunspots (white area here) varies in multi-year cycles. As a result, solar irradiance, which influences the Earth's climate, also fluctuates. The photo shows a UV image of the sun. (Image: Trace Project / NASA) The number of sunspots (white area here) varies in multi-year cycles. As a result, solar irradiance, which influences the Earth's climate, also fluctuates. The photo shows a UV image of the sun.

The average temperature on Earth has barely risen over the past 16 years. ETH researchers have now found out why. And they believe that global warming is likely to continue again soon.

Comment: If the average temperatures has barely risen for last 16 years, does the entire scare show of "Himalayas melting", Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change( IPCC) meetings, Noble prize distributions, carbon tax proposals are another Ponzi Scheme?.

Global warming is currently taking a break: whereas global temperatures rose drastically into the late 1990s, the global

average temperature

has risen only slightly since 1998 - surprising, considering scientific

climate models

predicted considerable warming due to rising greenhouse gas emissions. Climate sceptics used this apparent contradiction to question climate change per se - or at least the harm potential caused by greenhouse gases - as well as the validity of the climate models. Meanwhile, the majority of climate researchers continued to emphasise that the short-term 'warming hiatus' could largely be explained on the basis of current scientific understanding and did not contradict longer term warming.

Researchers have been looking into the possible causes of the warming hiatus over the past few years. For the first time, Reto Knutti, Professor of Climate Physics at ETH Zurich, has systematically examined all current hypotheses together with a colleague. In a study published in the latest issue of the journal

Nature Geoscience

, the researchers conclude that two important factors are equally responsible for the hiatus.

El Niño warmed the Earth

One of the important reasons is natural climate fluctuations, of which the weather phenomena El Niño and La Niña in the Pacific are the most important and well known. "1998 was a strong El Niño year, which is why it was so warm that year," says Knutti. In contrast, the counter-phenomenon La Niña has made the past few years cooler than they would otherwise have been.

Although climate models generally take such fluctuations into account, it is impossible to predict the year in which these phenomena will emerge, says the climate physicist. To clarify, he uses the stock market as an analogy: "When pension funds invest the pension capital in shares, they expect to generate a profit in the long term." At the same time, they are aware that their investments are exposed to price fluctuations and that performance can also be negative in the short term. However, what finance specialists and climate scientists and their models are not able to predict is when exactly a short-term economic downturn or a La Niña year will occur.

Comment: It is unfortunate to see climate science which supposed to save human life on this planet became a 'gamble' like stock market.

Longer solar cycles

According to the study, the second important reason for the warming hiatus is that solar irradiance has been weaker than predicted in the past few years. This is because the identified fluctuations in the intensity of solar irradiance are unusual at present: whereas the so-called sunspot cycles each lasted eleven years in the past, for unknown reasons the last period of weak solar irradiance lasted 13 years. Furthermore, several volcanic eruptions, such as Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland in 2010, have increased the concentration of floating particles (aerosol) in the atmosphere, which has further weakened the

solar irradiance

arriving at the Earth's surface.

The scientists drew their conclusions from corrective calculations of climate models. In all climate simulations, they looked for periods in which the El Niño/La Niña patterns corresponded to the measured data from the years 1997 to 2012. With a combination of over 20 periods found, they were able to arrive at a realistic estimate of the influence of El Niño and La Niña. They also retroactively applied in the model calculations the actual measured values for solar activity and aerosol concentration in the Earth's atmosphere. Model calculations corrected in this way match the measured temperature data much more closely.

Incomplete measured data

The discrepancy between the climate models and measured data over the past 16 years cannot solely be attributed to the fact that these models predict too much warming, says Knutti. The interpretation of the official measured data should also be critically scrutinised. According to Knutti, measured data is likely to be too low, since the global average temperature is only estimated using values obtained from weather stations on the ground, and these do not exist everywhere on Earth. From satellite data, for example, scientists know that the Arctic region in particular has become warmer over the past years, but because there are no weather stations in that area, there are measurements that show strong upward fluctuations. As a result, the specified average temperature is too low.

Last year, British and Canadian researchers proposed an alternative temperature curve with higher values, in which they incorporated estimated temperatures from satellite data for regions with no weather stations. If the model data is corrected downwards, as suggested by the ETH researchers, and the measurement data is corrected upwards, as suggested by the British and Canadian researchers, then the model and actual observations are very similar.

Warming to recommence

Despite the warming hiatus, Knutti is convinced there is no reason to doubt either the existing calculations for the climate activity of greenhouse gases or the latest climate models. "Short-term climate fluctuations can easily be explained. They do not alter the fact that the


will become considerably warmer in the long term as a result of

greenhouse gas emissions

," says Knutti. He believes that

global warming

will recommence as soon as solar activity, aerosol concentrations in the atmosphere and weather phenomena such as El Niño naturally start returning to the values of previous decades.

Fighting the genocide: Lugansk self-defense fighters shoot down another Su-25 jet sent by Kiev


© MOD of Ukraine

DPR self-defense forces have downed a Ukrainian Air Force Su-25

Independence supporters have downed a Ukrainian Air Force Su-25 Frogfoot attack plane over the Luhansk region late on Wednesday, a spokesman for the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine said.

Earlier a number of media reports suggested that a war plane had been shot down in the region.

"Today a Su-25 attack aircraft has been

shot down while on a combat mission

. The fate of the pilot is unknown yet but hope remains that he will be alright," Andriy Lysenko told Ukrainian news channel 112.ua.

In early August,

independence supporters

in the self-proclaimed

Donetsk People's Republic

confirmed they had downed a Ukrainian Su-25 attack aircraft. Late last month, the militia shot down two Su-25 planes. Both pilots ejected.

Electrical sparking may alter evolution of lunar soil

© Credit: Image not to scale. Courtesy of Andrew Jordan.

This illustration shows a permanently shadowed region of the moon undergoing subsurface sparking (the "lightning bolts"), which ejects vaporized material (the "clouds") from the surface. Subsurface sparking occurs at a depth of about one millimeter.

The moon appears to be a tranquil place, but modeling done by University of New Hampshire and NASA scientists suggests that, over the eons, periodic storms of solar energetic particles may have significantly altered the properties of the soil in the moon's coldest craters through the process of sparking -- a finding that could change our understanding of the evolution of planetary surfaces in the solar system.

The study, published recently in the

Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets


proposes that high-energy particles from uncommon, large solar storms

penetrate the moon's frigid, polar regions and electrically charge the soil.

The charging may create sparking, or electrostatic breakdown

, and this "breakdown weathering" process has possibly changed the very nature of the moon's polar soil, suggesting that permanently shadowed regions, which hold clues to our solar system's past, may be more active than previously thought.

"Decoding the history recorded within these cold, dark craters requires understanding what processes affect their soil," says Andrew Jordan of the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, lead author of the paper. "To that end, we built a computer model to estimate how high-energy particles detected by the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) instrument on board NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) can create significant electric fields in the top layer of lunar soil."

The scientists also used data from the Electron, Proton, and Alpha Monitor (EPAM) on the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE). CRaTER, which is led by scientists from UNH, and EPAM both detect high-energy particles, including solar energetic particles (SEPs). SEPs, after being created by solar storms, stream through space and bombard the moon. These particles can build up electric charges faster than the soil can dissipate them and may cause sparking, particularly in the polar cold of permanently shadowed regions -- unique lunar sites as cold as minus 240 degrees Celsius and known to contain water ice.

Says Jordan, "

Sparking is a process in which electrons, released from the soil grains by strong electric fields, race through the material so quickly that they vaporize little channels

." Repeated sparking with each large solar storm could gradually grow these channels large enough to fragment the grains, disintegrating the soil into smaller particles of distinct minerals, Jordan and colleagues hypothesize.

The next phase of this research will involve investigating whether other instruments aboard LRO could detect evidence for sparking in lunar soil, as well as improving the model to better understand the process and its consequences.

"If breakdown weathering occurs on the moon, then it has important implications for our understanding of the evolution of planetary surfaces in the solar system, especially in extremely cold regions that are exposed to harsh radiation from space," says coauthor Timothy Stubbs of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New Hampshire. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


Sponsor of state terrorism: Hollande publicly says France recently armed Syria Takfiris which are the same as ISIL

French president Hollande

© Unknown

French president Hollande publicly admits sponsoring state terrorism.

France President Francois Hollande says his country has recently supplied weapons to the foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants operating against the Syrian government.

The French leader said on Thursday that Paris delivered weapons to the Takfiri terrorists in Syria "a few months ago," stressing, "We should not stop" supporting the anti-Damascus militants.

Hollande also called on the United States and European Union countries to join the campaign and said Paris cannot "go it alone."

In an interview with France's

Le Monde

daily published on Wednesday, the French president said the international community shoulders a "heavy responsibility" with regards to the turmoil in Syria, which has also spilled over into neighboring Iraq.

He also said the ISIL Takfiri militants would never have come into existence if the Syria crisis had been properly handled, adding that other armed militants operating in the country "deserve all our support."

France has been among the major supporters of the Takfiri extremists operating to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since March 2011.

In January, Hollande said some 700 French nationals had taken part in the fight against the Damascus government, adding that Paris needs to warn young people against joining the ranks of extremist groups in the Arab country.

According to some sources, more than 170,000 people have so far been killed and millions of others displaced due to the violence fueled by Western-backed militants in Syria.

Cop threatens to kill peaceful protestors with assault rifle in Ferguson

Ray Albers St. Ann PD

“I will f**ing kill you — get back!” says the officer (armed with an assault rifle), in the direction of a camera capturing the entire death threat. Asked for his name, the officer responds, “Go f### yourself.”

An officer who pointed a semi-automatic assault rifle at a Ferguson, Missouri, protester and threatened to kill him -- a tense episode caught on video and posted online -- is off the job, at least for now.

The St. Louis County Police Department announced Wednesday that a police officer from St. Ann, Missouri, "has been relieved of duty and suspended indefinitely" over the incident.

Police threatening to kill a citizen takes on special significance given what protesters are loudly, passionately demanding: charges against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for the August 9 fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teen.

The county police department laid out its version of the more recent incident, which happened shortly before midnight Tuesday. This account jibed with video later posted to YouTube.

In the video, an officer can be seen walking around with his assault rifle raised, then pointing it in the direction of protesters.

"I'm going to f--king kill you," he says. "Get back. Get back."

The St. Louis County Police described the protester involved in what it deemed "a verbal exchange" to be "peaceful."

Another man in the crowd then says out loud, "Did you threaten to kill him?"

The officer is asked for his name, to which he responds: "Go f--k yourself."

Protesters proceed to mock the officer before he's led away by another member of law enforcement.

A CNN crew also saw the officer point his weapon at those around him as he cursed, shouted and threatened people by saying he'd kill them unless they stayed away.

The St. Louis County Police said that one of its sergeants "walked over and immediately took action, forcing the officer to lower the weapon and escorting him away from the area."

"The unified command strongly feel these actions are inappropriate, and not indicative of the officers who have worked daily to keep the peace," the police department said.

The county police referred media to the St. Ann Police Department for updates on the unnamed suspended officer's status. Members of the law enforcement force charged with maintaining security have come from many communities, including St. Ann, which is just west of Ferguson.

This is not the first time unarmed protesters in Ferguson have accused police of pointing guns at them

. CNN staffers have seen some such incidents first-hand that weren't caught on tape.

Antonio French, a St. Louis city alderman who has been a fixture at the demonstrations, said he is not surprised by the video given what he's seen the past two weeks.

What is different -- in a good way, from his perspective -- is that authorities responded promptly in disciplining one of their own.

"In this case, we did see something happen to that officer immediately," French told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "And that sends a strong message that at least the folks at the top are getting it."

Neil Bruntrager -- general counsel for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, though he doesn't represent this specific accused officer -- conceded in an appearance on CNN that these kinds of things are probably happening in Ferguson, though he characterized them as "isolated incidents."

He defended the officers on the front lines of the protests, saying they have shown "admirable restraint" -- a view that's not shared by some activists -- despite being persistently egged on.

"You're asking them to stand there and stare into the faces of people who are spitting on them, who are yelling at them, who are screaming at them, ... who are touching them," Bruntrager told CNN's Erin Burnett.

"You're saying: Just take it. And ... by and large, they do."

Sometimes -- as in this particular cases, the lawyer conceded -- a police officer may act improperly. If they do, Bruntrager claimed that it is "a fatigue issue," not "a training issue," related to the psychological wear on being on the streets of Ferguson day after day.

"What happens in a situation like this is that a person is human, they respond, and that's what you saw (on the video)," Bruntrager said. "It's unfortunate, it's unpleasant, but it's a human response."

The man in charge of maintaining security in Ferguson, Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, considers this officer's actions an affront to all those who have doing things the right way.

Talking to CNN's Don Lemon about the video, Johnson said, "I was disturbed by it, I was bothered by it, and I was disrespected by it."

Water crisis can't get any worse? Wait until the aquifers are drained!

© Peter Essick, National Geographic

In ten years, the Colorado River Basin has lost the equivalent of two Lake Meads, the largest reservoir in the U.S., pictured here at dusk with Las Vegas in the background.

We're pumping irreplaceable groundwater to counter the drought. When it's gone, the real crisis begins.
Aquifers provide us freshwater that makes up for surface water lost from drought-depleted lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. We are drawing down these hidden, mostly nonrenewable groundwater supplies at unsustainable rates in the western United States and in several dry regions globally, threatening our future.

We are at our best when we can see a threat or challenge ahead. If flood waters are rising, an enemy is rushing at us, or a highway exit appears just ahead of a traffic jam, we see the looming crisis and respond.

We are not as adept when threats - or threatened resources - are invisible. Some of us have trouble realizing why

invisible carbon emissions

are changing the chemistry of the atmosphere and warming the planet. Because the surface of the sea is all we see, it's difficult to understand that we already have

taken most of the large fish from the ocean

, diminishing a major source of food. Neither of these crises are visible - they are largely out of sight, out of mind - so it's difficult to get excited and respond.

Disappearing groundwater is another out-of-sight crisis .

Groundwater comes from aquifers - spongelike gravel and sand-filled underground reservoirs - and we see this water only when it flows from springs and wells. In the United States

we rely on this hidden - and shrinking - water supply to meet half our needs

, and as drought shrinks surface water in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, we rely on groundwater from aquifers even more. Some shallow aquifers recharge from surface water, but deeper aquifers contain ancient water locked in the earth by changes in geology thousands or millions of years ago. These

aquifers typically cannot recharge

, and once this "fossil" water is gone, it is gone forever - potentially changing how and where we can live and grow food, among other things.

© Peter Essick, National Geographic

California's Central Valley has seen a dramatic rise in well-drilling this year to compensate for surface water lost from the drought.

A severe drought in California - now approaching four years long - has depleted snowpacks, rivers, and lakes, and groundwater use has soared to make up the shortfall.

A new report from Stanford University

says that

nearly 60 percent of the state's water needs are now met by groundwater,

up from

40 percent

in years when normal amounts of rain and snow fall.

Relying on groundwater to make up for shrinking surface water supplies comes at a rising price, and this hidden water found in California's Central Valley aquifers is the focus of what amounts to a new gold rush. Well-drillers are working overtime, and as

Brian Clark Howard reported here last week

, farmers and homeowners short of water now must wait in line more than a year for their new wells.

In most years, aquifers recharge as rainfall and streamflow seep into unpaved ground. But during drought the water table - the depth at which water is found below the surface - drops as water is pumped from the ground faster than it can recharge. As Howard reported, Central Valley

wells that used to strike water at 500 feet deep

must now be drilled down

1,000 feet or more

, at a cost of more than $300,000 for a single well. And as aquifers are depleted,

the land also begins to subside, or sink.

Unlike those in other western states, Californians know little about their groundwater supply because

well-drilling records are kept secret from public view

, and there is no statewide policy limiting groundwater use. State legislators are contemplating a

measure that would regulate and limit groundwater use,

but even if it passes, compliance plans wouldn't be required until 2020, and full restrictions wouldn't kick in until 2040. California property owners now can pump as much water as they want from under the ground they own.

California's Central Valley isn't the only place in the U.S. where groundwater supplies are declining. Aquifers in the Colorado River Basin and the southern Great Plains also suffer severe depletion. Studies show that about

half the groundwater depletion nationwide is from irrigation.

Agriculture is the

leading use of water in the U.S. and around the world

, and globally irrigated farming takes more than 60 percent of the available freshwater.


Colorado River

Basin, which supplies water to 40 million people in seven states, is losing water at dramatic rates, and most of the losses are groundwater. A new satellite study from the University of California, Irvine and NASA indicates that the

Colorado River Basin lost 65 cubic kilometers (15.6 cubic miles) of water from 2004 to 2013

. That is twice the amount stored in Lake Mead, the

largest reservoir in the U.S.

, which can hold two years' worth of Colorado River runoff.

As Jay Famiglietti, a NASA scientist and study co-author wrote here


groundwater made up 75 percent of the water lost in the basin


Farther east, the Ogallala Aquifer under the High Plains is also shrinking because of

too much demand.

When the

Dust Bowl

overtook the Great Plains in the 1930s, the Ogallala had been discovered only recently, and for the most part it wasn't tapped then to help ease the drought. But large-scale

center-pivot irrigation

transformed crop production on the plains after World War II, allowing water-thirsty crops like corn and alfalfa for feeding livestock.


severe drought threatens the southern plains again,

and water is being unsustainably drawn from the southern Ogallala Aquifer. The northern Ogallala, found near the surface in Nebraska, is replenished by surface runoff from rivers originating in the Rockies. But farther south in Texas and New Mexico, water lies hundreds of feet below the surface, and does not recharge.

Sandra Postel wrote here last month that the Ogallala Aquifer water

level in the Texas Panhandle has dropped by up to 15 feet in the past decade, with more than three-quarters of that loss having come during the drought of the past five years. A recent Kansas State University study said that if farmers in Kansas keep irrigating at present rates,

69 percent of the Ogallala Aquifer will be gone in 50 years.

© George Steinmetz, National Geographic Creative

The Ogallala Aquifer supplies the water for center-pivot irrigation on farms in western Kansas.

This coincides with a nationwide trend of groundwater declines. A

2013 study of 40 aquifers across the United States

by the U.S. Geological Survey reports that the

rate of groundwater depletion has increased dramatically since 2000

, with almost

25 cubic kilometers

(six cubic miles) of water per year being pumped from the ground. This compares to about

9.2 cubic kilometers

(1.48 cubic miles) average withdrawal per year from 1900 to 2008.

Scarce groundwater supplies also are being used for energy. A recent study from CERES, an organization that advocates sustainable business practices, indicated that competition for water by hydraulic fracturing - a water-intensive drilling process for oil and gas known as "fracking" - already occurs in dry regions of the United States. The

February report

said that more than half of all fracking wells in the U.S. are being drilled in regions experiencing drought, and that more than one-third of the wells are in regions suffering groundwater depletion.

Satellites have

allowed us to more accurately understand groundwater supplies and depletion rates.

Until these satellites, called


(Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), were launched by NASA, we couldn't see or measure this developing invisible crisis. GRACE has given us an improved picture of groundwater worldwide, revealing how

supplies are shrinking in several regions vulnerable to drought


northern India

, the

North China Plain,

and the

Middle East

among them.

As drought worsens groundwater depletion,

water supplies for people and farming shrink

, and this scarcity can

set the table for social unrest.

Saudi Arabia, which a few decades ago began

pumping deep underground aquifers to grow wheat in the desert,

has since abandoned the plan, in order to conserve what groundwater supplies remain, relying instead on imported wheat to feed the people of this arid land.

Managing and conserving groundwater supplies becomes an urgent challenge as drought depletes our surface supplies

. Because groundwater is a

common resource

- available to anyone with well - drilling equipment-cooperation and collaboration will be crucial as we try to protect this shrinking line of defense against a future of water scarcity.

Kiev's meeting with Putin will leave Ukraine with some tough choices

© Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

People stand inside a makeshift bomb shelter in Makiyivka Tuesday. Pro-Russia rebels said seven civilians died when the eastern Ukrainian town was shelled by Kiev forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart will meet next week for the first time in two months, officials in both countries said, intensifying a diplomatic push that could force Kiev to choose between

continuing its military campaign

against pro-Russia separatists or making concessions to Moscow to stop the



Calls for a cease-fire from both Russia and Europe are growing louder amid a deepening

humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine


But Ukrainian politicians and voters are skeptical of agreeing to a truce now, since doing so could give the rebels the chance to consolidate control over some territory and give Russia long-term influence over their country.

Officials in Kiev said the meeting in Minsk, Belarus, on Aug. 26 could lead toward a peace plan to end the four-month insurgency in eastern Ukraine. In the latest sign of Western support, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would visit Kiev on Saturday, the day before Ukrainian Independence Day.

The Minsk gathering, which will also involve senior European Union officials, will be the first time Mr. Putin has met Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko since a brief encounter in June before the latter took office.

Western and Ukrainian officials sounded hopeful about the new round of diplomacy despite the sizable differences to be bridged. Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said the meeting was "a good thing, because there needs to be a peaceful end to this." She repeated accusations that Russia is supplying weapons and fighters, calling on Moscow to de-escalate.

That view was echoed in Kiev. "I can cautiously say that it's a chance to start a real negotiating process, which won't finish in one day and will need further steps," said Valeriy Chaliy, an aide to the Ukrainian president.

© AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian soldiers walk in a trench as they guard their position in the Luhansk region on Monday.

The government in Kiev wants Russia to stop reinforcing the separatists, saying they should lay down their weapons before any talks. The rebels say they are ready to talk but won't put down their weapons, and they want Kiev to recognize their independence from Ukraine.

The Kremlin announced Mr. Putin's intention to attend the meeting in a brief statement, without saying what he hoped to achieve in Minsk. Russian officials have said Kiev should stop its military assault and negotiate with the insurgents.

Moscow says it has little influence on the separatists and, contrary to Western allegations, isn't supplying them with arms and fighters.

Mr. Putin has shown little sign of backing down from his main aim of keeping Ukraine in Russia's orbit. While he hasn't ordered a full-scale invasion by Russian troops massed on the border, he has shored up the rebels with large deliveries of arms and men, according to Western and Ukrainian officials.

At the same time, the Kremlin has tried to shift the public focus to the humanitarian crisis, calling for a halt in the fighting to let in a Russian aid convoy - just as advancing Kiev forces are pressing on the two main rebel strongholds.

Analysts and diplomats say permitting pro-Russia rebels to retain some territory in exchange for a cease-fire could create a frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine that would allow Mr. Putin to undermine attempts by Kiev to integrate with the West.

If Russia doesn't intervene in the fighting directly, "Moscow's strategy will focus on helping the rebels to fight Kiev's forces to a standstill - and negotiating a cease-fire making the rebels a party to an agreement," Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, wrote in a commentary.

The separatists have also shown some signs of being ready to talk as they have lost significant territory. In recent weeks, the two main rebel leaders - both Russian citizens - stepped down and were succeeded by Ukrainians in an apparent attempt to give the leadership more local legitimacy.

In Kiev, there is pressure not to make a deal. Mr. Poroshenko faces a parliamentary election in October and a public that wants to see the separatists defeated.

Time, however, could affect public sentiment. War fatigue could creep in as the death toll, which has already surpassed 2,000, mounts. Battling domestic political headwinds will only get tougher as parliamentary elections in October approach. And as winter draws closer, Russia's central role in providing Ukraine's gas supply will make a thaw in relations more pressing.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian army released videos showing what it said were survivors of a rebel attack on a refugee convoy on Monday.

Elderly men describe how they and others were evacuated in two army trucks with white flags attached to indicate civilians were inside. One of the trucks was hit by a mortar and destroyed, sending shrapnel flying into the second truck, killing two and injuring four, one of them says.

Col. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said that 17 bodies had been recovered on Monday, but that fighting at the site meant the search for others had to be stopped.

The rebels denied the attack ever took place. The army accused the rebels of trying to destroy evidence by blocking the area and of shooting at military experts and journalists to prevent them from getting a closer look at the scene. They said Tuesday seven civilians had been killed during shelling of the town of Makiyivka near the rebel's main center of Donetsk.

Western officials hope that amid the increasingly dire humanitarian situation, both Ukraine and Russia will look for an exit from the crisis.

"I have the feeling both are at the moment seeking ways to find a path to a cease-fire," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said as he made the case on German television Tuesday for his efforts to mediate the crisis. "The paths that such talks take are sometimes not easily discernible or explicable."

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said the EU's foreign-policy chief, Catherine Ashton, will attend the Minsk meeting, along with the bloc's trade and energy commissioners. The presidents of Belarus and Kazakhstan, which are part of a Russia-led Customs Union, are also expected to attend the meeting.

9 die in Panama after Chiriquí Viejo River flood

The flooding of the Chiriquí Viejo in the province of Chiriquí, western Panama, on Monday 18 August has left 9 people dead and several injured, according to local media reports. Many of the victims were children. Sistema Nacional de Protección Civil (SINAPROC) in Panama say that the flooding has destroyed 27 houses leaving 116 people homeless. The homesless are curently being housed in temporary accomodation, inclidung a local gym and hotel. Around 40 other homes have been damaged. The flooding left the village of Cerro Punta completely cut-off after bridges were damaged and roads blocked by flood and landslide debris. SINAPROC have been carrying out rescues in the area since Monday 18 August 2014. A state of emergency was declared for the flood hit areas in order to facilitate the rapid reconstruction of damaged infrastructure.

Missouri governor calls for "vigorous prosecution" of Darren Wilson

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon

Not content with a regular prosecution or a vigorous investigation, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said he hopes that Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson will receive a "vigorous prosecution" in the shooting death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

"A vigorous prosecution must now be pursued," Nixon said in a five minute video address posted to his website Tuesday.

"The democratically elected St. Louis county prosecutor and the attorney general of the United States each have a job to do," said Nixon, a Democrat.

"Their obligation to achieve justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly, and correctly," said Nixon of investigators.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder plans to visit Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with federal law enforcement officials and community leaders. Forty FBI investigators traveled to Ferguson over the weekend to interview witnesses.

Nixon has not directly justified his call for a strong prosecution. He has not indicated that he has any information on the shooting that has not been made public.

Wilson, a six-year police veteran with a clean disciplinary record, has not even been arrested or charged with a crime. A grand jury is set to convene on Wednesday to determine if he will be charged.

Wilson, who is on paid leave during the investigation, has reportedly claimed that he shot Brown after the man hit him in the face and struggled to gain control of his service weapon.

Several eye-witnesses who gave media interviews shortly after the shooting have said that Brown was surrendering with his hands up as Wilson shot him.

Wilson is reportedly claiming the Brown ran towards him before the fatal shots were fired. The interviewed witnesses have claimed that they did not see Brown running at Wilson. An unnamed witness unwittingly captured on video talking about what he saw unfold said that he saw Brown move towards Wilson.

A private autopsy commission by the Brown family determined that he was hit with at least six bullets, two in the head and four on the right arm.

An inconsistent release of information and a heavy-handed police response to demonstrations in Ferguson has led to heavy criticism for police, as well as Nixon.

He was perceived as failing to address the shooting soon enough.

"We have a responsibility to come together to do everything we can for this family, peace for this community, and have the courage to address the problems that have divided us for too long," Nixon said, citing the problems "of poverty, education, and race."

Nixon, who said he recently met and prayed with Brown's mother, called Ferguson "a test."

"So I ask that we continue to stand together as we work to achieve justice for Michael Brown, restore hope and peace to the streets of Ferguson, and march together toward a future of greater opportunity for all of us."

"This is hard," said Nixon. "Nothing about this is simple."


Ebola death toll hits 1350; CDC says there have been 68 scares in US in past three weeks

ebola testing

The World Health Organization says the death toll from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is now at least 1,350 people. The latest figures Wednesday show that the deaths are mounting fastest in Liberia, which now accounts for at least 576 of the deaths. The U.N. health agency also warned in its announcement that "countries are beginning to experience supply shortages, including fuel, food, and basic supplies." This comes after a number of airlines and shipping services have halted transport to the worst affected capitals of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

In a desperate bid to halt the disease's spread, authorities in Liberia have quarantined off a huge slum that is home to 50,000 people. Protests erupted in West Point on Wednesday, where residents threw rocks at police. At least four people were injured in clashes with Liberian soldiers and police after the government laid barbed wire barricades around a densely populated slum in an attempt to contain the spread of Ebola. Young men surged towards the barricades and hurled stones at troops, who responded by firing live rounds of ammunition, the

New York Times

reports. Agence France-Presse reports that at least four people were injured in the skirmish. -


Amid the news that

two patients - one in New Mexico and one in California - are currently being tested for Ebola in hospitals due to matching symptoms, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that there have been "at least 68 such scares in the past three weeks."

Nigeria reports 5 new suspected cases: Doctors in Lagos were assessing five new suspected cases of the Ebola virus, a top medical official said, a day after the health minister expressed confidence the outbreak in the country may soon end. The five people were admitted to a hospital in Nigeria's coastal commercial hub on Aug. 19 and are being monitored in isolation wards, the state's Commissioner for Health Jide Idris told reporters yesterday. Nigerian Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said that Africa's biggest economy may be Ebola-free within a week as the number of people being treated for the virus had dropped to two. "They are not exposed to the public and the public is in no danger from the two," Chukwu said in an interview with Bloomberg Television's Trish Regan and Shannon Pettypiece. -


Former Ebola expert alarmed by scale of outbreak: Imagine Tomislav Prvulovic's quandry. He has spent a lifetime fighting Ebola and other infectious diseases, and what he sees out of Africa has him frustrated. "He cannot sleep at night," said his wife, Zivka. When her husband, an infectious-disease expert who fought the virus in Central Africa in the late 1980s, watches the news about this latest outbreak, he gets so upset he nearly cries, she said. He has specific suggestions on ways the authorities can help contain the deadly virus. But so far the only person who has paid attention has been his 12-year-old neighbor, a budding newscaster who posted an interview with him on YouTube:

Hundreds gather outside CNN building in Atlanta to protest coverage of Michael Brown shooting

© A still from a video by YouTube user / Dekalb Kids

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the CNN center in Atlanta on Monday to march in memory of unarmed Missouri teenager Michael Brown who was gunned down by a police officer, many in protest of CNN's controversial coverage of the incident.

Demonstrators who had been urged to attend dressed in their "Sunday's best" marched under the slogan: "How good must we look to be considered innocent?" and used the



The protest was staged in response to CNN's Ferguson protests coverage, which had a strong emphasis on past actions by Brown which may have incriminated him. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, as many as 1,000 protesters marched. Participants and observers also took to Twitter to denounce CNN's lack of coverage of a protest directly outside its offices.

the people united will never be divided #ITSBIGGERTHANYOU #NotOneMore #ATLstandswithFerguson #Ferguson http://ift.tt/1rUFq05

- QuakerArmy (@QuakerArmy) August 18, 2014

"@Cnn nothing about the protest in front of your Building in Atlanta" one tweeter observed.

"Hey @CNN when were you guys going to report on the Ferguson protest at your Atlanta headquarters yesterday?" another user wrote.

Brown's shooting instigated a series of protests in Missouri which have been suppressed using tear gas and other


deemed excessive by critics. Those have led to accusations over the militarization of the police force and comparisons of the scenes of protests to a

"war zone".

In one photograph used by CNN, forces were clearly seen leveling their guns.

The killing of the likely unarmed Ferguson teenager, who was shot by white police officer Darren Wilson, has attracted thousands of protesters to the streets of Ferguson for days, despite an initial curfew and heavy tactical police and National Guard presence.

On Sunday evening, a confrontation between a police officer and a member of the media was caught on tape where the officer allegedly pointed a gun at the reporter, telling him to "

Get the f**k out of here


California highway patrol officer under investigation for beating mentally ill woman

© David Diaz, File/AP Photo

In this July 1, 2014 file image made from video provided by motorist David Diaz, a California Highway Patrol officer punches Marlene Pinnock, 51, on the shoulder of a Los Angeles freeway. The CHP announced Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, that it has forwarded its investigation into the beating of Pinnock to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, and the probe outlines "potentially serious charges'' against the officer.

A California Highway Patrol officer who was videotaped repeatedly striking a woman on the side of a Los Angeles freeway could face serious charges, the agency said Wednesday after forwarding its investigation to the district attorney.

Officer Daniel Andrew, who was put on a desk assignment after the incident, has been removed from duty and put on paid administrative leave, the CHP said.

The agency didn't reveal if it made a recommendation to prosecutors but said in a news release that its report outlined potentially serious charges he could face. It didn't specify possible charges.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office confirmed the case is under review. A separate, internal CHP investigation is ongoing.

The July 1 incident sparked outrage as video showed Andrew hitting Marlene Pinnock, 51, several times alongside Interstate 10.

Pinnock's attorney Caree Harper said District Attorney Jackie Lacey should file battery and attempted murder charges against the officer.

"I can't foresee any reason why she would not press felony charges against him," Harper said. "Our hope is that she acts swiftly."

Andrew's attorney James McGarry declined to comment on the case.

Andrew said in his report that Pinnock was a danger to herself and had tried to walk into traffic lanes. Drivers had called emergency dispatchers to report that a barefoot woman who appeared drunk or high was on the freeway shoulder.

Pinnock has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been off her medication for two to three months before the altercation with Andrew, Harper said.

In a previous interview with The Associated Press, Pinnock said she believed the officer was trying to kill her.

"He grabbed me, he threw me down, he started beating me," she said. "I felt like he was trying to kill me, beat me to death."

Pinnock filed a lawsuit against CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow and Andrew in federal court alleging civil rights violations.

The lawsuit claims excessive force, assault, battery and a violation of due-process rights.

Andrew joined the highway patrol as a cadet in April 2012 and became an officer six months later.

U.S. puppet regime Saudi Arabia executes four men for smuggling hashish

© Reuters / Andrew Biraj

Saudi Arabia has executed two sets of brothers for hashish-smuggling, bringing the number of those suffering capital punishment to 17 in a fortnight. The crackdown has provoked protest from human rights organizations.

"The recent increase in executions in Saudi Arabia is a deeply disturbing deterioration. The authorities must act immediately to halt this cruel practice," said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.

"The death penalty is always wrong, and it is against international law to use it in cases involving non-lethal crimes and where evidence used to convict the person is based on 'confessions' extracted as a result of torture."

The four men, two sets of brothers - Hadi bin Saleh Abdullah al-Mutlaq and Awad bin Saleh Abdullah al-Mutlaq, and Mufrih bin Jaber Zayd al-Yami and Ali bin Jaber Zayd al-Yami - were first detained back in 2007.

Their relatives contacted human rights groups, claiming that the accused were tortured, deprived of sleep and threatened when police failed to present concrete evidence against them. Within Saudi Arabia's Sharia legal system, which relies on religious texts and has no set code of laws, the confession obtained during incarceration was considered sufficient to sentence them to death.

The brothers' claims of torture - previously voiced by other inmates in Saudi jails - were roundly rejected by the authorities.

Amnesty says that the families of the condemned attempted to get in touch once more in days prior to the execution - carried out in the southwestern city of Najran - only to be warned off by the security forces.

"This apparent intimidation and surveillance of victims of human rights violations and activists adds another sinister layer to Saudi Arabia's use of the death penalty. It is clear evidence that the authorities are willing to go to extreme lengths to prevent reports of gross human rights violations in the country from reaching the outside world," said Boumedouha.

"The family in this case deserves full disclosure as to why their loved ones' allegations of torture were not investigated."

Saudi Arabia executed 79 people last year, more than any other country apart from China, Iran and strife-ravaged Iraq. This year 17 people were executed in the months up to July. But the end of Ramadan - a month-long ritual of strict religious observance - has brought on an unannounced wave of executions.

College friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev agrees to plead guilty to obstruction of justice charges

© AP/Bill Sikes

Kadyrbayev's Días's father (left) Murat Kadyrbayev and lawyer Robert Stahl (File)

A 20-year-old Kazakh citizen and a college


of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Dias Kadyrbayev, accused by the US authorities of hindering the investigation into the 2013 bombing, has agreed to plead guilty to a number of charges, The Boston Globe reported.

According to Kadyrbayev's lawyer Robert Stahl, the young man is expected to issue a statement in US District Court in Boston later on Thursday. The attorney also confirmed that Kadyrbayev had agreed to plead guilty, but refused, however, to provide further details on the issue before the hearing.

The move might allow for a more lenient sentence for the defendant.

Kadyrbayev is charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice for allegedly removing Tsarnaev's laptop computer and a backpack, filled with fireworks from his college dorm room and trying to dispose of them after learning that Tsarnaev was a suspect in the bombing. Kadyrbayev is scheduled to go on trial on September 8. He faces up to 25 years in prison and possible deportation if found guilty.

Three people were killed and over 260 wounded after two bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15 last year.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev

, ethnic Chechens, were identified as suspects in the blasts. Tamerlan was killed during the shootout and Dzhokhar was arrested as part of a special operation on April 19. Dzhokhar faces 30 charges, half of which are punishable by death. On his first public court appearance on July 10, 2013, the suspect pleaded not guilty to all 30 counts.

Kadyrbayev is among three college friends of


charged with interfering with the investigation.

Kadyrbayev's roommate, Azamat Tazhayakov, has been found guilty of obstructing the investigation last month and faces up to 25 years in federal prison as he is due to be sentenced on October 16.

Robel Phillipos, 19, was charged with two counts of lying to police and faces up to 16 years in prison. His trial is slated for September 29.

Man mauled by bear in Italian wood

© Hemis /Alamy

Brown bears are thriving in Northern Italy due to a successful reintroduction scheme known as Life Ursus.

Environmentalists angered by plan to capture bear who mauled a man foraging for mushrooms while it was nursing its cubs

Environmentalists in Italy have urged authorities in the northern province of Trentino not to capture or kill a brown bear that attacked a man on Friday.

Daniele Maturi, 38, was reportedly foraging for mushrooms in the woods near Pinzolo in the heart of the Dolomite mountains when he was set upon by Daniza, a female bear nursing her cubs. Maturi was bitten and scratched, and suffered injuries to his wrist, leg, knee and back during the attack.

"She seemed crazy," he told local television station TNN after being released from hospital. "She chased me. She took me with one paw on my back; she made a hole in my back. I was on the ground and then she jumped on top of me."

The vice-president of the autonomous province of Trentino, Alessandro Olivi, has signed an order for Daniza to be captured, a step the authorities believe is necessary to guarantee public safety. She is already reported to be under surveillance.

Olivi said the bear's life would only be at risk should she pose "an imminent, serious and not avoidable danger for the operators [of the capture] and third parties".

But as well as prompting a social media backlash, the proposal - accompanied by the hashtag


(#I'mwithDaniza) - sparked anger and concern among many environmentalists.

Caterina Rosa Marino of the League for the Abolition of Hunting (Lac) disputed the need for the capture, arguing that Maturi had stumbled across Daniza in "the only [situation] which is really dangerous: encountering a mother with her cubs".

Massimiliano Rocco of WWF Italia, meanwhile, was quoted as telling Il Messaggero: "Capturing Daniza now, preventing her from raising her cubs, would be an historic defeat."

Daniza is part of a reintroduction scheme known as Life Ursus, which is viewed as one of the most successful conservation efforts in Europe. Between 1999 and 2001 10 brown bears were brought from the Slovenian wilds to the Dolomites in northern Italy, where they have since thrived.

But the effort is far from being beloved by all. Among local farmers, in particular, it is loathed: livestock including sheep, goats and lambs have been killed by the roaming bears. The right-wing Northern League has repeatedly called for the scheme to be ended.

As he displayed his bandaged limbs, slashed trousers and damaged boots for the cameras, Maturi, from Pinzolo, said he thought the scheme was dangerous. "It only needs to happen once," he said. "With me it went OK. If it had been a woman or someone else ... I don't know if it would have been OK because it's really brutal."

Bank of America agrees to record $17bn settlement over mortgage fraud - amounting to a slap on the wrist

Bank of America

© AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm

America's second largest lender has reached a $16.65 billion settlement with US federal authorities for selling toxic mortgages misleading investors, the Justice Department said Thursday.

"This historic resolution - the largest such settlement on record - goes far beyond 'the cost of doing business,'"

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a


posted on the US Justice Department website on Thursday.

The bank will pay out $9.65 billion in cash and $7 billion for consumer relief - such as modified home loans and refinanced mortgages.

"Under the terms of this settlement, the bank has agreed to pay $7 billion in relief to struggling homeowners, borrowers, and communities affected by the bank's conduct. This is appropriate given the size and scope of the wrongdoing at issue,"

the statement says.

The bank has agreed to pay a $5 billion 'civil penalty' to settle claims under the Financial Institutions Reform and Recovery Enforcement Act (FIRREA), a federal law introduced after the loan crisis in the 1980s.

To date, President Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and its Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) Working Group, have collected $36.65 billion from banks to redistribute to consumers and investors misled by the country's leading financial institutions.

The fine is the largest single compensation settlement, beating out JPMorgan Chase & Co's

$13 billion

penalty paid in November 2013. Citigroup, another major US bank, had to pay $7 billion in July.

In March, the bank was ordered to pay

$9.5 billion

to the Federal Housing Finance Agency to resolve similar misconduct allegations. Since the financial crisis, the bank has been ordered to pay over $60 billion in fines, claims, and buying out mortgage bonds.

The bank admitted it misled investors about the quality of mortgage loan sale prior to the housing crash, when banks lent out too much money to homeowners who eventually could not pay off their loans.

This eventually resulted in the collapse of the housing bubble and the beginning of the recession in late 2007. The banks defrauded investors about the condition of the loans, which led to billions in losses while millions of Americans lost their homes to foreclosure.

Three quarters of the loans in question came from Countrywide Financial, which Bank of America acquired in 2009, along with Merrill Lynch. In total, between 2004 and 2008,

the groups sold more than $965 billion in bad loans.

"In the run-up to the financial crisis, Merrill Lynch bought more and more mortgage loans, packaged them together, and sold them off in securities - even when the bank knew a substantial number of those loans were defective," US Attorney Paul J. Fishman explained.

Who will stand up for Miriam Carey, executed by Capitol Hill police? Not Eric Holder

© WND.com

Justice ignores unarmed woman's slaying by police

Attorney General Eric Holder is in Ferguson, Missouri, ostensibly to investigate the shooting of an unarmed African-American by a white police officer.

What he is not investigating is the shooting of an unarmed African-American woman by his own federal officers, in his own jurisdiction, the District of Columbia.

And that has the family of the late Miriam Carey so outraged, they announced Wednesday they plan to double the amount of money in their lawsuit against the federal government to $150 million.

While the attorney general looks for the possibility of bad intentions and a wrongful death by an officer in the Midwest, Carey family attorney Eric Sanders believes he need look no further than under his nose in Washington, D.C., where an innocent, unarmed, suburban mother was gunned down in a barrage of bullets by Holder's officers, all because, he said, one off-duty U.S. Secret Service officer "wanted to make that b - -h pay."

© U.S. Attorney’s Office

Officer tries to block Miriam Carey from leaving White House entrance.

Officer tries to block Miriam Carey from leaving White House entrance. Photo provided by U.S. Attorney's Office.

Those were the exact words used in a claim filed Wednesday morning by the Carey family, which serves as a prerequisite before filing a mammoth civil lawsuit against the United States, the U.S Secret Service and the U.S. Capitol Police.

WND reported how the Carey family was outraged

when, on July 10, after a more than nine-month investigation, Holder's Department of Justice, or DOJ, declined to file any criminal charges against the federal officers who shot and killed Carey in the shadow of the nation's Capitol on Oct. 3, 2013.

That outrage was expressed Wednesday morning when the Carey family representative told WND they are now seeking $150 million for Miriam's estate, her mother and her infant child, who was in the car when police repeatedly shot her.

The Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department conducted the investigation into the high-speed chase and deadly shooting of Carey by U.S. Secret Service uniformed agents and U.S. Capitol Police officers. The report was then reviewed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for Washington, D.C., which is part of the Justice Department.

Not only did Holder's DOJ decide not to file criminal charges against any of the shooters, it has not responded to Sander's request to conduct its own investigation.

And, in a highly unusual move, the DOJ never released that final investigative report reviewed by its U.S. Attorney. Sanders believes that's because the facts would show the officers wrongfully killed Carey.

Authorities also did not release video of the incident at the White House gate, only still photos. Sanders believes that video would show both the negligence of the officers on duty and that the confrontation with Carey was provoked by the off-duty officer.

Greatly disappointed in the decision not to prosecute Carey's killers, Sanders told WND he is also deeply disturbed by new facts in the case he has uncovered.

He has learned that, following her autopsy, Carey's clothes disappeared. That means they can't be tested for gunpowder residue, an issue shown to be of such great importance in the Mike Brown shooting in Ferguson. Sanders appeared highly distressed by what could be the destruction of critical evidence in the Carey case.

He claims her wrongful death was caused by "the unidentified aggressive Caucasian male police officers, supervisors and managers assigned to the U.S. Secret Service Uniform Division and the U.S. Capitol Police" and that "their collective actions caused Carey's "'avoidable' wrongful death."

Sanders singled out the actions of one agent who was not in uniform, suggesting his bravado turned an innocent mistake into a deadly encounter.

The claim filed Wednesday stated Carey, unfamiliar with the area, mistakenly drove past a White House guard post near 15th and E Streets, with her infant in the backseat in a child safety seat.

It said she managed to get through the gate entrance only because it was "negligently maintained, covered and supervised by police officers."

© U.S. Attorney’s Office

Miriam Carey drives past two uniformed Secret Service agents while departing White House entrance.

Miriam Carey drives past two uniformed Secret Service agents while departing White House entrance. Photo provided by U.S. Attorney's Office.

The claim maintained Carey did not violate any Washington, D.C., or federal law because she "never intentionally entered the White House Complex" and never refused to leave. She did, in fact, try to leave but was stopped by officers.

That meant, Sanders emphasized to WND, there was no probable cause to detain her, and there would have been no grounds to convict her of any crime.

"After realizing her innocent mistake," the claim reads, "Carey made a U-turn to leave the area" but "for some inexplicable reason, instead of simply allowing" her to leave, "an unidentified aggressive Caucasian Male in dark clothed civilian attire, without provocation of legal justification, intentionally, negligently and recklessly grabbed a metal police barrier and threw himself in front of her vehicle."

The claim identified the man as an off-duty Secret Service officer.

It further stated, Carey then panicked because the officer startled her and endangered her safety, so she tried to go around him, but, because of the tight space, "he made contact with her vehicle."

The family's bottom line: "Carey had committed no crime, thus the police had no legal basis to stop her or use any amount of physical force against her."

But, making a damning accusation, the claim said the off-duty officer became so "completely agitated," he wanted to "make that b - h pay."

That combination of machismo and bruised ego is why, the family believes, the off-duty-officer and a parade of on-duty officers, supervisors and managers then began to pursue Carey "at high speeds, endangering their lives and the public."

Sanders, a former New York City Police Department officer himself, said in the claim the pursuers, "inconsistent with their police training, failed to terminate" their high-speed pursuit of the mother and child, "causing risk to them, the officers and the public" that "outweighed the benefit of investigating a harmless mistaken entrance through the White House Complex gate."

Once the pursuit stalled at the Garfield traffic circle, just below the Capitol, the off-duty officer approached the left side of Carey's car, got a clear view inside, but after police vehicles inexplicably failed to box-in her car, the officer, along with the on-duty officers, fired at her as she attempted to get out of danger, striking her in the left side of the head, the back of the head and the left arm.

That shooting by federal officers, the claim stated, was done "without establishing firearms control or legal justification" and was "inconsistent with their police training."

Sanders previously told WND

that supervisors claimed the officers fired because Carey was driving toward people on the sidewalk, but he blasted that as either unbelievable or insane, because it would mean officers were shooting in the direction of those very people they were supposedly attempting to protect.

According to the attorney, what authorities did reveal leaves more questions than answers. And he's apparently not the only one who feels that way.

Three days after authorities announced there would be no criminal charges filed, a

Washington Post editorial

, "Questions remain in the shooting death of Miriam Carey," stated the decision left a critical question unanswered:

"Was there a better, nonlethal means of dealing with the situation?"


Miriam Carey

In other words, did officers make the wrong call?

The answer may have to come from the now $150-million civil suit the Carey family plans to file, which could force the final investigative report on the shooting to be released as evidence.

The defendants may try to settle the case, but Miriam's sister, Valarie, a former NYPD sergeant, has told WND that

getting to the truth is more important to the family than money


Sanders said the refusal by the DOJ to release the official investigation, and an exhaustive review of all publicly available data, has convinced the Carey family the shooting was not justified.

The suit maintains Carey was still alive after she was shot numerous times by officers then taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Also, according to the suit, despite being mortally wounded by gunfire during the chase, she continued driving out of panic, until she finally came to a stop and was taken from her car, a few blocks away from the initial shooting and a block from the Capitol.

Our 'enemies' in Ukraine speak: People from the Donbass describe the atrocities there

WARNING: The following video and screenshots (visible at the original source) contain extremely violent images of the carnage resulting from Kiev's so-called anti-terrorist operation in eastern Ukraine. America's 'news' media do not let the victims of Ukraine's civil war - the people who are dying and being driven out from the southeastern regions of that country by the new Ukrainian Government - speak, and tell their story. Scenes will therefore be posted below from an admittedly overlong amateur video from southeastern Ukraine, in which they have been allowed to tell their story. This is being done here since U.S. 'news' media apparently don't consider it something that you would want to know, and since you should be allowed to judge for yourself whether it is or not, and to judge why it's not being reported on the 'news' sources that our 'democracy' offers to 'inform' America's public about public affairs. It is also being done because these still photos from the documentary summarize this over-long documentary's important narrative. You are welcomed to click onto the link above to see the entire 82-minute documentary. First, there will here be an introductory paragraph summary of the relevant background (not discussed in the documentary), if you want to know that: In February 2014, our State Department and CIA used 'false flag,' or engineered-so-as-to-be-misinterpreted, violence by our country's paid Ukrainian agents, in order to exploit the 'Maidan' demonstrations in Kiev, the desire of Ukrainians for a less-corrupt government than existed in Ukraine, and than has existed in Ukraine ever since the fall of communism there. Our Government, the Obama Administration, paid masked gunmen there to dress as if they were from the State Security Force of the corrupt Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and to shoot at and murder not just policemen but anti-Yanukovych or 'democracy' demonstrators. (However, Yanukovych had, in fact, himself been democratically elected in 2010, and still was the democratically elected President.) (NOTE: The complete key phone-transcript whose audio is briefly heard excerpted there is printed here.) And our gunmen also threatened some members of the Ukrainian Parliament at gunpoint, and engineered their approval of an emergency replacement of Yanukovych's government by one that was appointed by Obama's agent, Victoria Nuland, and that was headed by Nuland's friend "Yats," Arseniy Yatsenyuk. This new government was filled with people who stated their desire to exterminate the people in Ukraine's southeast, the people who had voted overwhelmingly for Yanukovych - to just get rid of them. Doing that would make Obama's regime in Ukraine become permanent. Then, Ukraine held a 'democratic' election in which voters everywhere but in the southeast voted, and essentially the same coup-installed people remained in power. The billionaire oligarch Petro Poroshenko was elected as the President of 'Ukraine'; and Victoria Nuland's chosen leader, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, continued on as the new country's Prime Minister. Yatsenyuk fired the previous Defense Minister and replaced him with Mikhail Koval, who on June 11th announced a program of ethnic cleansing in the southeast. This was actually a direct extension from the program that had already started with the extermination on May 2nd of hundreds of supporters of the previous government, who were trapped inside the Trade Unions Building in Odessa and burned alive there. This massacre was masterminded by people who were installed by the Obama Administration. That massacre started Ukraine's civil war, by demonstrating to people throughout the southeast, that the newly Obama-installed Ukrainian Government wanted to kill them. It was now official policy throughout the southeastern portion of Ukraine, to kill the Obama-installed regime's opponents. All of the residents there were being officially labelled by the Obama government as 'terrorists,' and their elimination was declared to be a patriotic necessity for Ukraine. However, this amateur documentary from Ukraine's southeast - the video from which the scenes below are taken - presents the resulting civil war not from the Obama Government's side, but from their regime's victims' side, which is hardly heard at all in the West.

Government-run internet battle heats up at FCC

A Republican aide claims the federal agency can't overturn state restrictions.

© Getty Images

If Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler wants to stop states from blocking city-run broadband, he'll likely have to override Republican opposition to do it.

In a


Wednesday, a top Republican FCC aide argued that the agency lacks the authority to overturn state laws on the issue. More than 20 states, at the behest of cable and telecom industry lobbyists, have restricted the ability of cities to build their own broadband networks.

Matthew Berry, the chief of staff to Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, argued that cities and towns are just "appendages" of state governments. States are free to restrict local policy-making as they see fit, Berry argued.

He acknowledged that the federal government can preempt state laws, but only through a "clear statement" from Congress. Without that congressional authorization, the FCC can't take action, Berry said.

The Republican aide implied that Wheeler is only contemplating action on the issue as a way to tamp down liberal outrage over his proposal for weaker net-neutrality regulations.

"We do not have the bandwidth to waste on a symbolic, feel-good effort that appears designed to appease a political constituency that is unhappy with where the FCC is headed on other issues," Berry said at a conference of state legislators in Minneapolis. He warned that the FCC will only lose in court if it tries to act against state laws.

In letters to members of Congress, Wheeler has said federal preemption is "not a step to be taken lightly" and that the agency would examine each state law individually.

But he has insisted that he has the authority to overturn the laws, which he argues restrict competition and leave consumers with slower Internet service.

Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 gives the FCC the authority to "promote the deployment" of high-speed Internet. State restrictions on local Internet projects may be in violation of that provision, according to Wheeler. The legal question is whether the provision gives the agency "clear" authority to strike down state laws.

The agency is considering petitions from Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C., to overturn state restrictions so they can expand their municipal projects.

Internet providers and many state lawmakers argue that the city-run projects can waste taxpayer money. But Wheeler and congressional Democrats argue the projects can boost economic development by providing high-speed Internet access to local businesses.

The projects are often built in areas without high-speed Internet service from commercial providers.

Cover-up? Plane crash that killed Brazilian presidential socialist candidate had black box that 'recorded data of different flight'

The black box recovered from the wreckage of the plane crash that killed Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos did not record his flight, Brazilian Air Force (FAB) says. It said the audio recording FAB experts had analysed was not related to the flight that crashed on Wednesday. A spokesman said they were trying to determine what the recording was. Mr Campos and six others died when his private jet crashed in bad weather in the port city of Santos near Sao Paulo. Experts from the Centre of Investigation and Prevention of Aeronautical Accidents in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, have been trying to reconstruct the audio files from the black box in search for more clues as to what happened in the lead up to the accident. "The two hours of audio, the maximum recording capacity of the equipment, which were received and validated by certified technicians, were not of the flight of 13 August," air force spokesman Pedro Luis Farcic said in a statement (in Portuguese). "It is not yet possible to determine the date of the dialogue recorded in the CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder), given that this equipment does not record this information," he continued, adding that an investigation would determine what may have happened.

Whales turn up in unusually high numbers in the seas around Ireland

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) reports upwards of 30 fin whales along a 50km stretch of the West Cork coastline in southern Ireland, between the Old Head of Kinsale and the Kedge area, which is unusual for this time of year. Colin Barnes from Cork Whale Watch, who has spent several weeks observing the build-up of this activity confirms there are huge 'fish clouds' comprising small sprat or larval herring in the area and these are likely to be what is attracting the fin whales in such numbers. Combined estimates from land and boat based sightings suggest there could also be 20 or more fin whales in the waters between Seven Heads and Galley Head, County Cork.

Minke whale washes ashore on Truro beach, Cape Cod

A minke whale spotted bleeding off the coast of Cape Cod on Sunday died and washed ashore at a Truro beach on Monday morning, The Cape Cod Times reported. According to the report, the whale, estimated to be between 20 and 25 feet long and weigh between three and five tons, was found when volunteers from the International Fund for Animal Welfare Marine Mammal Rescue and Research program went looking for it early on Monday. Researchers are planning to conduct a necropsy, but have not yet decided whether it will be performed at the scene or whether the whale will be moved to a separate site first. The report indicated that this is the third minke whale death this season. One died last week near Barnstable Harbor and another died in June near Provincetown. Source: The Cape Cod Times