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Friday, 10 October 2014

Ebola false alarm: Plane quarantined in Las Vegas airport amidst Ebola panic

ebola vegas flight

© Twitter/@INTJerk

A plane was briefly quarantined at Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport Friday after a report that a passenger on the plane was showing symptoms similar to Ebola.

The Delta Airlines Flight left New York's JFK International Airport Friday morning, bound for Las Vegas. Six ambulances surrounded the plane at Terminal 1, according to Las Vegas station KSNV.

Shortly after landing, the plane was quarantined at the gate "after reports that a passenger who had recently traveled in Africa vomited on board the aircraft," according to a statement from airport officials.

"After a thorough assessment, it has been determined that the affected passenger does not meet the criteria for Ebola," according to the airport statement. All passenger were allowed to exit the plane after the medical assessment, according to Delta.

The response included representatives from the Clark County Fire Department, Centers for Disease Control and the Southern Nevada Health District.

The quarantine comes a day after travel plans were disrupted for passengers due to concerns about Ebola aboard another flight. Passengers were told to remain on the plane from Philadelphia after it landed in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic so crews in hazardous materials suits could check on a passenger who reportedly sneezed and said, "I have Ebola."

Earlier this week, federal authorities announced an additional layer of screening would begin at New York's JFK International and the international airports in Newark, Washington Dulles, Chicago and Atlanta as part of a response to the Ebola epidemic. The new steps would include taking temperatures and would begin Saturday at JFK, according to the White House.

A Liberian man who had come to the U.S. with Ebola died Wednesday. Forty-two-year-old Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed in the U.S. with the disease, had come to Dallas in late September.

Satellite data shows hot spot of methane in US Southwest

US methane leak hotspot

© AP Photo/NASA, JPL-Caltech, University of Michigan

This undated handout image provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan, shows The Four Corners area, in red, left, is the major US hot spot for methane emissions in this map showing how much emissions varied from average background concentrations from 2003-2009 (dark colors are lower than average; lighter colors are higher. Satellite data spotted a surprising hot spot of the potent heat-trapping gas methane over part of the American southwest. Those measurements hint that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considerably underestimates leaks of natural gas, also called methane. In a new look at methane from space, the four corners area of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah jump out in glowing red with about 1.3 million pounds of methane a year. That’s about 80 percent more than the EPA figured and traps more heat than all the carbon dioxide produced yearly in Sweden.

A surprising hot spot of the potent global-warming gas methane hovers over part of the southwestern U.S., according to satellite data.

That result hints that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies considerably underestimate leaks of methane, which is also called natural gas.

The higher level of methane is not a local safety or a health issue for residents, but factors in overall global warming. It is likely leakage from pumping methane out of coal mines. While methane isn't the most plentiful heat-trapping gas, scientists worry about its increasing amounts and have had difficulties tracking emissions.

A satellite image of atmospheric methane concentrations over the continental U.S. shows the hot spot as a bright red blip over the Four Corners area of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. The image used data from 2003 to 2009.

Within that hot spot, a European satellite found atmospheric methane concentrations equivalent to emissions of about 1.3 million pounds a year. That's about 80 percent more than the EPA figured. Other ground-based studies have calculated that EPA estimates were off by 50 percent.

The methane concentration in the hot spot was more than triple the amount previously estimated by European scientists.

The new study, done by NASA and the University of Michigan, was released Thursday by the .

The amount of methane in the Four Corners - an area covering about 2,500 square miles - would trap more heat in the atmosphere than all the carbon dioxide produced yearly in Sweden. That's because methane is 86 times more potent for trapping heat in the short-term than carbon dioxide.

"It's the largest signal we can see from the satellite," said study lead author Eric Kort, a University of Michigan atmospheric scientist. "It's hard to hide from space."

There could be some areas elsewhere in the country where more methane is emitted if it is dispersed by wind, Kort said.

Kort said the methane likely comes from leaks as workers extract natural gas from coal beds, and not from hydraulic fracturing, called fracking, because the data were collected before fracking really caught on.

The results were so initially surprising to the scientists that they waited several years and then used ground monitors to verify what they saw from space, Kort said.

Several methane experts said the research makes sense to them and that the detected methane amount is disturbing.

"That is immense," Terry Engelder, a scientist at Pennsylvania State University, wrote in an email.

Germany looks after itself - Russia's Gazprom buys Europe's biggest gas storage facility

Russia will acquire Europe's largest underground gas storage facility this autumn from Germany's BASF, continuing the development of its Nord Stream operations. In return, the Germans will get access to large gas reserves in Western Siberia.

russia gas storage germany

© Reuters/Christian Charisius

A technician walks between pipes at the gas dehydration of the WINGAS gas storage facility near the northern German town of Rehden January 7, 2009.

Gazprom and the Wintersall subsidiary of German chemical company BASF are putting the final touches to the asset swap, which will see Gazprom getting the facility in the small German town of Rehden, reported Wednesday.

The framework for the deal was signed in December 2013 and was approved by the European Commission. Both the EU and Russia say the deal will not be sidetracked by sanctions .

The storage facility in Rehden covers eight square kilometers, storing some gas at depths of 2,000 meters. It can hold 4.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas, or about 7 percent of Germany's 60 billion cubic meters of annual consumption.

russia gazprom german storage

© Google Maps

The location of Gazprom's new 4.2 bcm natural gas storage facility in Rehden, Gemany

In terms of sheer size the storage center is a crucial element in energy security both for Germany and the nearby Netherlands. In 2012, it represented about one fifth of the Germany's entire storage capacity.

The deal will help Gazprom get a footing in the gas market in Northern and Western Europe after opening its Nord Stream double pipeline that runs under the Baltic Sea to Germany. The twin pipes were launched separately, the first in 2011 and the second in 2012.

"As a result, the exchange will significantly strengthen Gazprom's position in the entire production chain, from raw materials, to realization, to final products for customers," Gazprom said, as quoted by .

BASFalso owns a 15 percent stake in Gazprom's South Stream pipeline, which will deliver Russian gas to central Europe via the Black Sea and the Balkans.

In 2013, Russian natural gas exports to Germany increased to 40.2 billion cubic meters (bcm) up from 33.3 bcm the previous year.

It is common practice for Gazprom to use European gas storage facilities. It currently stores gas in Austria, the UK, Germany, Serbia, Latvia, Belarus, and Armenia.

British telecom providers give police mobile call records at click of a mouse

privacy phone records RIPA

© Thinkstock

Privacy International, a transparency watchdog, said ‘providing communications data on automatic pilot is as good as giving police direct access’.

Three of the UK's four big mobile phone networks have made customers' call records available at the click of a mouse to police forces through automated systems, a investigation has revealed.

EE, Vodafone and Three operate automated systems that hand over customer data "like a cash machine", as one phone company employee described it.

Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, a transparency watchdog, said: "If companies are providing communications data to law enforcement on automatic pilot, it's as good as giving police direct access [to individual phone bills]."

O2, by contrast, is the only major phone network requiring staff to review all police information requests, the company said.

Mobile operators must by law store a year of call records of all of their customers, which police forces and other agencies can then access without a warrant using the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa).

Ripa is the interception law giving authority to much of GCHQ's mass surveillance. The law was again under the spotlight recently after it was used to identify sources of journalists from at least two national newspapers, the and the on Sunday.

Documents from software providers and conversations with mobile companies staff reveal how automatic this system has become, with the "vast majority" of records demanded by police delivered through automated systems, without the involvement of any phone company staff.

The Home Office argues communications data is "a critical tool" and its use of Ripa was "necessary and proportionate".

Despite politicians' assurances that the UK laws requiring phone companies to keep records would not create a state database of private communications, critics argue that the practice comes very close to doing so. King warned that "widespread, automatic access of this nature" meant the UK telecoms industry "essentially already provides law enforcement with the joined-up databases they claimed they didn't have when pushing for the 'snooper's charter'."

In the automated systems used by the phone companies, police officers seeking phone records must gain permission from another officer on the same force, who then enters the details into an online form. That mirrors the US Prism programme, revealed by Edward Snowden, which in effect created a backdoor into the products of US tech corporations. In the vast majority of cases, the information is then delivered without any further human role.

One document prepared by Charter Systems, which sells the type of software used by police forces to connect with mobile phone companies, explains the automated process saves "32 minutes" of human time per application.

"Charter Systems have worked in partnership with the Home Office and Detica [a firm providing data interception for security services and the police, now called BAE Systems Applied Intelligence].

to develop a solution that links directly to all CSPs [communication service providers, a term covering phone companies]," it states. The document explains the system produces "an automated solution for gathering electronic data information. The new solution saves time and effort for the authority in requesting and receiving ever increasing amounts of data."

The systems were so interconnected, a separate sales document produce by Charter reveals, that "[d]ata can be retrieved from multiple CSPs in one request".

Privacy groups reacted angrily to the details of how little day-to-day scrutiny records requests receive, warning that the automation of the system removes even the limited oversight ability - the right to refer requests to oversight agencies - phone networks have over Ripa requests.

"We urgently need clarity on just how unquestioning the relationship between telecommunications companies and law enforcement has become," said King. "It's crucial that each individual warrant for communications data is independently reviewed by the companies who receive them and challenged where appropriate to ensure the privacy of their customers is not being inappropriately invaded."

Privacy advocates are also concerned that the staff within phone companies who deal with Ripa and other requests are often in effect paid by the Home Office - a fact confirmed by several networks - and so may, in turn, be less willing to challenge use of surveillance powers.

Several mobile phone networks confirmed the bulk of their queries were handled without human intervention. "We do have an automated system," said a spokesman for EE, the UK's largest network, which also operates Orange and T-Mobile. "[T]he vast majority of Ripa requests are handled through the automated system." The spokesman added the system was subject to oversight, with monthly reports being sent to the law enforcement agency requesting the data, and annual reports going to the interception commissioner and the Home Office.

A spokesman for Vodafone said the company processed requests in a similar way. "The overwhelming majority of the Ripa notices we receive are processed automatically in accordance with the strict framework set out by Ripa and underpinned by the code of practice," he said. "Even with a manual process, we cannot look behind the demand to determine whether it is properly authorised."

A spokesman for Three, which is also understood to use a largely automated system, said the company was simply complying with legal requirements. "We take both our legal obligations and customer privacy seriously," he said. "Three works with the government and does no more or less than is required or allowed under the established legal framework."

Unlike the other networks, O2 said it did manually review all of its Ripa requests. "We have a request management system with which the law enforcement agencies can make their requests to us," said the O2 spokeswoman. "All O2 responses are validated by the disclosure team to ensure that each request is lawful and the data provided is commensurate with the request.

Mike Harris, director of the Don't Spy On Us campaign, said the automated systems posed a serious threat to UK freedom of expression. "How do we know that the police through new Home Office systems aren't making automated requests that reveal journalist's sources or even the private contacts of politicians?" he said.

"Edward Snowden showed that both the NSA and GCHQ had backdoor access to our private information stored on servers. Now potentially the police have access too, when will Parliament stand up and protect our fundamental civil liberties?"

A spokesman for the Home Office declined to respond to specific queries about the use of automatic systems to retrieve call records, but defended police forces' use of Ripa. "Communications data is an absolutely critical tool used by police and other agencies to investigate crime, preserve national security and protect the public," he said in a statement.

"This data is stored by communications service providers themselves and can only be acquired by public authorities under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 on a case by case basis, and where it is necessary and proportionate to do so.

"The acquisition of communications data under RIPA is subject to stringent safeguards in existing legislation and is independently overseen by the Interception of Communications Commissioner."

The sophisticated water technologies of the ancient Nabataeans

The Nabataeans were an ancient Semitic people dating back to 586 BC, who inhabited northern Arabia and the Southern Levant. The desert climate created agricultural difficulties for the Nabataeans, but they rose to the challenge, creating a sophisticated water collection system, which allowed them to build an impressive trade empire in the heart of Arabia.

The first records of the Nabataeans show that they lived in Edomite territory, although there is some dispute as to how and when the Nabataeans arrived there - some believe that they lived alongside the Edomites for hundreds of years, while others maintain that the Nabataeans migrated to the Edomite territory after the Edomites moved north. They eventually chose the site of Petra to build their city.

© BigStockPhoto

The spectacular ancient city of Petra.

The biggest challenge for the Nabataeans was the dry, arid climate of the canyon in which Petra was located. This made agriculture challenging, as they had to work towards ways to ensure that there would be an adequate water supply for the inhabitants and to support whatever they planted. One method for gathering water was to plant a single fruit tree in the middle of an area that had been contoured into a shallow funnel. When it rained, all water would flow down into the center of the funnel, and would be sealed in by the silt-sized sediment called loess, and the water would be preserved. But their impressive water channeling technology included many other processes, including the construction of aqueducts, terraces, dams, cisterns, and reservoirs, as well as methods for harvesting rainwater, flood water, groundwater, and natural springs.

© Larry W. Mays

Cisterns at the Nabataean city of Little Petra.

Using their sophisticated water technology, the Nabataeans were able to ensure a continuous water supply throughout the year. They had an intimate understanding of every possible source of water available to them, and of how to best monitor, harness, maintain, and utilize that water supply. They balanced their reservoir water storage capacity with their pipeline system, ensuring a constant water supply. The system design also utilized particle-settling basins to purify their potable water. The Nabataeans' extensive understanding of hydraulics allowed them to create a system that maximized water flow rates while minimizing leakage. It is not surprising that this highly-advanced technology was used first to benefit the civil elite, eventually filtering down to the lower levels of society

© Larry W. Mays

Aqueduct channel showing rock cover that once covered the aqueduct.

The Nabateans created their water collection structures so that they would be invisible to passers-by, and so that they could only be found by those who knew of their presence. The complex systems collected water from mountains. They shaped rocks into ledges to collect the initial flow of water from the mountain. They chiseled channels into the sides of the mountain, trailing the water flow into cisterns and dams for later usage. The Nabateans built stone walls and pillars to shade the water collection in the cisterns, keeping the water cool and preventing evaporation. They created underground cisterns that were lined with waterproof cement, to prevent the water from seeping into the earth. The cisterns were very well-constructed, and several of them are still in use to this day. All of these structures were created with the idea of secrecy in mind, so that few would realize the purpose and function of the structures. This protected the Nabatean water supply from invaders and strangers.

© Larry W. Mays

Inside large cistern at the Nabataean city of Little Petra.

In ancient times, one of the most important factors that civilizations had to take into consideration was the water supply. If they wanted to live any distance from a reliable source of potable water, they had to find other ways to collect water for agricultural and other purposes. The Nabataeans are a prime example of a culture that was highly advanced for its time, as they had to understand hydraulics to create their impressive system of water collection. Through ingenious methods, they were able to create a water collection distribution system that allowed their people and the city of Petra to thrive for many, many years.


Ancient Water Technologies of the Nabataeans - Ancient Water Technologies. Available from: http://ift.tt/1rm1j6q

The Water Supply and Distribution System of the Nabataean City of Petra (Jordan) - Cambridge Archaeological Journal. Available from: http://ift.tt/1sori3j

Solving the Enigma of Petra and the Nabataeans - Bible History Daily. Available from: http://ift.tt/1gz8Myx

The Nabataeans - Wikipedia. Available from: http://ift.tt/SwluVG

Who were the Nabataeans? - Nabataean History. Available from: http://ift.tt/1oJY9cn

Water collection - Nabataean History. Available from: http://ift.tt/1rm1kXZ

Incredible images of most powerful storm of the year, Super Typhoon Vongfong

Imagery from satellite (and astronauts) illustrates what a powerful storm Super Typhoon Vongfong became this week.


High resolution imagery of Vongfong’s eye on Wednesday.

Vongfong is churning north in the western Pacific on Thursday, with winds of 150 mph and a massive, well-defined eye. The super typhoon is not only powerful but large, with gale-force winds covering around 340,000 square miles - about 70,000 square miles larger than the state of Texas.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts Vongfong to continue north toward Japan over the next two to three days. The dangerous typhoon is expected to weaken as it tracks north, though it will still be packing winds around 115 mph - the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane - as it impacts Japan's Okinawa Prefecture, home of Kadena Air Base.

From there, Vongfong is forecast to move into southern Japan from Sunday into Monday with 90 mph, category 1 winds. While Vongfong is expected to make a quick departure from Japan as it transitions to a non-tropical system, it will still bring heavy rain to Japan. Eight to 12 inches of rain is possible from the typhoon in the far southeast prefectures, with widespread totals of three to five inches across the southern half of the country.

Additional images

'Big early-season snow' coming to Colorado right now

If it was January, meteorologist Joel Gratz would be calling for a powder day Friday in Colorado. It's still only October (although Silverton ski patrol is already skiing powder), but significant snow will fall over most of the state's mountains from Thursday midday through Friday.

Snow lovers can expect over 10 inches for elevations above 11,000 feet, and then after a dry Saturday, a colder storm will bring another 5-7 inches on Sunday. The precipitation should help Arapahoe Basin and Loveland in their race to open, as both resorts have the snow guns blazing and just need a little bump from mother nature. Head over to Open Snow for the full forecast.

Virginia Christian boarding school staff assaults teen for 'talking to a girl'

© Rawstory.com

Video obtained by CBS 6 shows four Christian boarding school workers chasing down and beating the trouble youths they were supposed to be helping.

In the video, which was taken in April, three life coaches and a program director at Abundant Life Academy in Caroline County, Virginia can be seen beating a 14-year-old in their charge. He attempted to run away, but the four employees chased him down and began assaulting him again.

According to , the teen was tackled and then violently restrained because he had been caught "talking to a girl."

The investigation into abuse at the Christian center began in April, when four teenagers escaped from the facility. When authorities captured them, they claimed that they had fled the facility because of rampant abuse.

The boarding school's mission, according to its website, is to "equip students and families to live a life of love, acceptance and forgiveness through modeling and training of biblical principles, bridging the gap between parents and children."

"These children were brought into a situation that supposed to improve their lives with guidance, Christian fellowship and involve their families," local resident Nina Fogg told CBS 6. "And to find out there's abuse - that's not what any child deserves."

Timothy Jordan, Jovanny Rivera, Carey Honea and Liam Galligan were charged with mob assault and simple assault. The state dropped the mob assault charges in exchange for all four pleading guilty to simple assault.

Galligan is also facing 12 counts of child endangerment for allegedly forcing teenage boys to stand in a swamp for long periods of time.

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RT launches nationwide broadcasting in Argentina

© RT

The "Russia-Argentina" video conference between Vladimir Putin and Cristina Kirchner (Screenshot from RT video)

RT Spanish started broadcasting in Argentina on Thursday, which makes it the first foreign TV channel on national television in the Latin America country. It will be available for over 80% of the country's 42 mln population.

A joint initiative of the two countries was made possible by the presidents of Russia and Argentina, Vladimir Putin and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who inaugurated the 24/7 broadcast during a video conference.

President Putin said he was sure that "the launch of a Spanish-language Russian channel in Argentina will make Russia much more understandable and will promote the further rapprochement between the peoples of our countries."

Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner said "We are really glad to welcome RT Spanish in Television Digital Terrestre (TDA), which is available all over the country."

"Harsh information wars and attempts of some countries to monopolize the truth and use it in their own interests have become a sign of modern times," Putin said stressing that "in these circumstances alternative sources of information are particularly in demand. RT is definitely one of them."

RT Spanish has become the first foreign channel to broadcast within the framework of Argentine's program of digital TV development - Television Digital Terrestre (TDA). The agreement to launch RT's Spanish-language channel was reached during the talks between Putin and Kirchner, which took place in July this year.

Being the first Russian channel to broadcast in the third most spoken language in the world, RT Spanish was launched in 2009. This event was marked by a nomination for a prestigious British award the Broadcast Digital Awards 2010 for Best channel launch.

In 2014 RT Spanish was unanimously called 'Best TV channel', 'Best information system' and 'Best multimedia platform' by the Mexican Press Club in the National and International Journalism Contest, one of the most prestigious and popular Latin American journalistic awards.

RT Spanish operates on more than 600 cable networks in Spain and Latin America.

That's why childhood psychological abuse should be as taboo as sexual or physical abuse: Large new study reveals how harmful psychological abuse in childhood can be

Children who are neglected and emotionally abused experience similar, if not worse, psychological problems than those who are sexually or physically abused.

Despite this, childhood victims of psychological mistreatment rarely receive treatment and their suffering frequently goes unidentified.

Those are the conclusions of a new study of 5,616 youths who had faced different types of childhood abuse (Spinazzola et al., 2014).

The study is published in the journal

The study looked at three different types of maltreatment:

  • Psychological maltreatment: this includes both emotional abuse or emotional neglect.

  • Physical abuse.

  • Sexual abuse.

Of the youths in the study, 62% had experienced psychological maltreatment, along with other types, while 24% of the children had suffered purely psychological abuse.

Psychological maltreatment included things like using threats, debasing children, ignoring them or bullying and terrorising them.

Children were between 10 and 12-years-old at the start of the study and were followed for around six years.

The results showed that psychological abuse led to similar rates of suicidality, stress, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem as did sexual and physical abuse - in some cases more.

The links found were strongest between psychological abuse and depression, social and general anxiety disorder and substance abuse.

Children who suffered both psychological and physical/sexual abuse had the worst outcomes.

Dr. Joseph Spinazzola, the Executive Director of the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute, and the study's lead author, said:

"Child protective service case workers may have a harder time recognizing and substantiating emotional neglect and abuse because there are no physical wounds.

Also, psychological abuse isn't considered a serious social taboo like physical and sexual child abuse.

We need public awareness initiatives to help people understand just how harmful psychological maltreatment is for children and adolescents."

Almost 3 million children in the US experience some kind of maltreatment each year.

Usually it is from a parent, family member or primary caregiver.

Large finback whale washes up on beach in Long Island, New York

Long Island finback whale

© CBS 2

A dead fin whale was found washed up on shore at Smith Point County Park on Oct. 9, 2014.

A large whale washed up dead Thursday morning at Smith Point County Park in Shirley, Long Island.

They say it is a male finback whale, about 58 feet long.

"It's just amazing to see things like this," a resident said.

It's not something you see often, a nearly 60-foot whale on the beach.

"I guess it was his time in life. It's big. It's wild. It's probably something I'll never see again. You never know," said Gary Sulz, a Holbrook resident.

Those with the Riverhead Foundation spent the day examining the carcass at Smith Point Park.

They believe it may be the same whale that was spotted floating off Jones Beach a few days ago.

They say initially it doesn't look as if physical trauma caused the whale's death.

"The internal examination will reveal hopefully any type of evidence to rule out ship strike any internal injuries, broken bones, anything like that," said Kimberly Durham, of the Riverhead Foundation.

"The animal has been dead for some time,"

"Is this all wear and tear from being deceased in the water for a long period of time?" Eyewitness News asked.

"Some of that is helped along scavengers. It may be consistent with sharks,"

Randy Ward says he was the first to spot the whale when he went for his walk on the beach at 6:30 Thursday morning. He told park police.

"It was the first time I ever saw this. I've been around a lot but I've never seen something like this no. It's very interesting," said Randy Ward, a Ridge resident.

A large sea turtle washed up in the same area earlier this week.

It does not appear to be related to the whale's death.

For people being this close to what once was such a majestic creature is awe inspiring.

"It's interesting right now to think how many more of them are in the water right now as we speak," said Paulina Drew, a Mastic Beach resident.

There is no word yet on the cause of death.

The Riverhead Foundation is working with Suffolk County Parks officials to determine how to dispose of the whale.

The foundation says finback whales frequently have been spotted off eastern Long Island in recent months.

Mechanism that repairs brain after stroke discovered

© Lund University

A stroke is caused by a blood clot blocking a blood vessel in the brain, which leads to an interruption of blood flow and therefore a shortage of oxygen. Many nerve cells die, resulting in motor, sensory and cognitive problems.

A previously unknown mechanism through which the brain produces new nerve cells after a stroke has been discovered at Lund University and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. The findings have been published in the journal .

A stroke is caused by a blood clot blocking a blood vessel in the brain, which leads to an interruption of blood flow and therefore a shortage of oxygen. Many nerve cells die, resulting in motor, sensory and cognitive problems.

The researchers have shown that following an induced stroke in mice, support cells, so-called astrocytes, start to form nerve cells in the injured part of the brain. Using genetic methods to map the fate of the cells, the scientists could demonstrate that astrocytes in this area formed immature nerve cells, which then developed into mature nerve cells.

"This is the first time that astrocytes have been shown to have the capacity to start a process that leads to the generation of new nerve cells after a stroke," says Zaal Kokaia, Professor of Experimental Medical Research at Lund University.

The scientists could also identify the signalling mechanism that regulates the conversion of the astrocytes to nerve cells. In a healthy brain, this signalling mechanism is active and inhibits the conversion, and, consequently, the astrocytes do not generate nerve cells. Following a stroke, the signalling mechanism is suppressed and astrocytes can start the process of generating new cells.

"Interestingly, even when we blocked the signalling mechanism in mice not subjected to a stroke, the astrocytes formed new nerve cells," says Zaal Kokaia.

"This indicates that it is not only a stroke that can activate the latent process in astrocytes. Therefore, the mechanism is a potentially useful target for the production of new nerve cells, when replacing dead cells following other brain diseases or damage."

The new nerve cells were found to form specialized contacts with other cells. It remains to be shown whether the nerve cells are functional and to what extent they contribute to the spontaneous recovery that is observed in a majority of experimental animals and patients after a stroke.

A decade ago, Kokaia's and Lindvall's research group was the first to show that stroke leads to the formation of new nerve cells from the adult brain's own neural stem cells. The new findings further underscore that when the adult brain suffers a major blow such as a stroke, it makes a strong effort to repair itself using a variety of mechanisms.

The major advancement with the new study is that it demonstrates for the first time that self-repair in the adult brain involves astrocytes entering a process by which they change their identity to nerve cells.

"One of the major tasks now is to explore whether astrocytes are also converted to neurons in the human brain following damage or disease. Interestingly, it is known that in the healthy human brain, new nerve cells are formed in the striatum. The new data raise the possibility that some of these nerve cells derive from local astrocytes. If the new mechanism also operates in the human brain and can be potentiated, this could become of clinical importance not only for stroke patients, but also for replacing neurons which have died, thus restoring function in patients with other disorders such as Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease," says Olle Lindvall, Senior Professor of Neurology.

Journal Reference:

J. P. Magnusson, C. Goritz, J. Tatarishvili, D. O. Dias, E. M. K. Smith, O. Lindvall, Z. Kokaia, J. Frisen. ''A latent neurogenic program in astrocytes regulated by Notch signaling in the mouse''. , 2014; 346 (6206): 237 DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6206.237

Floods in Nicaragua after over 14 inches of rain in 24 hours in some areas

Nicaragua record rain


Heavy rain in Nicaragua.

A slow moving low pressure system moving from the Caribbean dumped record amounts of heavy rain on north and south-western Nicaragua on 9 October 2014, causing floods and landslides in the departments of Rivas, Granada, Chinandega and Rio San Juan.

As many as 6,000 people (800 families) have been affected. More than 500 people had to be evacuated and are now being houses in temporary accommodation. SINAPRED (Sistema Nacional para la Prevención, Mitigación y Atención de Desastres) reports that 24 houses have been completely destroyed in the floods, with a further 890 damaged. There are unconfirmed reports that over 20 families have been completey cut off by flooding near the Ochomogo River.

A young girl, aged 5 years old, died when she was swept away in flood waters in the village of Santa Teresa, Ometepe Island.

Record Rainfall

According to a report by SINAPRED, the accumulated rainfall figures over 24 hours were above 60 mm in Masatepe, Masaya, Granada, and over 100 mm in Nandaime, Rivas Tola.

In Altagracia, Rivas Departmenr, 378 mm of rain fell in 24 hours between 08 and 09 October, breaking previous records.

Yesterday Nicaragua's Meteorology departmert, INETER, said that the heavy rain is expected to cintinue for 36 hours.

Heavy rain was also falling elsewhere in the region over the last 24 hours according to WMO. Over 77 mm fell in Belize, 101.6 mm in Puerto Lempra, Honduras, and 73 mm in Pereira, north Colombia.

Genoa, Italy and Nimes, France Swamped By Flash Flooding; One Dead

Genoa Italy flood

Flash floods in Genoa, Italy,

Heavy rainfall sent floodwaters rushing through parts of northern Italy and southern France Thursday into Friday, swamping buildings, trapping vehicles and killing at least one.

Flooding swamped city streets in the northern Italian coastal city of Genoa (population about 600,000) Thursday night. Numerous vehicles were trapped by water up to windshields, then floated, and piled into and on top of each other once the floodwaters subsided.

At least one person was killed in Genoa after being swept away in floodwaters, according to Reuters. Streets were left covered in mud after the water receded.

More than 7 inches of rain fell in Genoa in a three-day period ending Friday morning, local time. However, Thursday into early Friday, alone, 7-12 inches of rain had fallen in the Apennine Mountains north of the city, helping to push the Bisagno River well out of its banks.

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For the third time in just over a week, flash floods swamped parts of southeast France on Thursday and Friday. Particularly hard hit was the Gard department, including the city of Nimes.

Schools were closed and residents were urged to avoid travel due to rising water.

Meteo France issued a red alert for flooding in the Gard through Sunday.

According to Meteo France, roughly 2 feet (600 millimeters) of rain has fallen in the hills north of the flood-weary city of Montpellier, France since the beginning of September.

The recent flooding can be blamed on a stagnant weather pattern.

A southward dip in the jet stream, with its attendant upper-level lows has been stuck over Scotland, Ireland, and the eastern Atlantic Ocean off the Iberian Peninsula for several days.

This has allowed ample moisture to flow northward into Spain, Portugal, France and Italy, southern Germany, eastward even into the Baltics and western Russia.

Moisture values in the atmosphere in these areas were two to four standard deviations above the mid-October average.

Instead of cold fronts sweeping east across Europe, this humid atmosphere has remained in place. When a jet stream disturbance helps ignite thunderstorms, they have tended to form in slow-moving, bands with cells training like boxcars of a train over the same area.

Height of hypocrisy: Fracking company partners with breast cancer pinkwashing organization

frack for the cure

Happy Breast Cancer Industry Month! Bring On the Highly Questionable Profit-Driven Alliances!

In what's being touted as the most egregious example ever of the pinkwashing of cancer in the name of profit, Susan G. Komen, America's largest and sketchiest breast cancer organization, has partnered with Baker Hughes, one of the world's largest oilfield companies, to introduce a thousand hand-painted pink drill bits "for the cure," thus facilitating a thousand fracking operations emitting a host of toxic chemicals, including benzene and formaldehyde , known to lead to leukemia and - yes! - breast cancer.

The Frack-For-the Cure campaign by Baker Hughes, whose mission statement enthuses they are "looking forward to the next 100 years of working (to) continue expanding the limits" of oil and gas drilling, boasts the oil giant is "doing our bit" to end cancer "forever." Their bit! A pun! Get it? The best response to this surreal travesty comes from Breast Cancer Action, which has long fought a corporate pinkwashing effort producing everything from pink soup cans to pink NFL gear, by arguing that "cancer is not a color." They thanked both companies for "partnering on the most ludicrous piece of pink sh*t they've seen all year - 1,000 shiny pink drill bits" to be used to transmit their "special toxic mix" of chemicals into our drinking water.

"BCAction commended Baker Hughes and Komen for their ingenious pinkwashing profit cycle, whereby Baker Hughes helps fuel breast cancer while Komen raises millions of dollars to try to cure it."


Financial Times whitewashes fraudulent activity of Sergei Pugachev to demonize Putin

Sergei Pugachev

Sergei Pugachev, one of the greatest fraudsters ever. How could the FT not have known this?


The FT published a truly astounding, nay, embarrassing, article yesterday co-authored by Catherine Belton and Neil Buckley about bankrupted former oligarch Sergei Pugachev's legal battle with Russian prosecutors over the financial implosion of his business empire in 2012.

It betrays a stunning ignorance of the facts of the case, facts which are common knowledge to the financial community in Moscow.

In the 27 paragraph article, 17 of them were effectively a soapbox for Pugachev, with most of the rest drawing one false inference after another.

Only in the 15th paragraph does the article mention that the government charged Pugachev with massive and brazen fraud at the time, euphemizing it to the point where it seems trivial. It never mentions that Mr. Pugachev presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy in Russian history. That slim paragraph, and another minor mention, buried at the end of the article (paragraph #22), is the only space the FT gives to the other side of the story.

The FT grossly distorts the issue, painting Pugachev as another persecuted oligarch worthy of pity, when in fact, he is widely seen by most financial experts in Moscow, foreign and domestic, to be a died-in-the-wool fraudster, the Russian Bernie Madoff.

The intellectual bankruptcy of is truly breathtaking - not just Khodorkovsky but now criminal who claims to be a dissident receives accolades from this venerable broadsheet.

Mukhtar Ablyazov, who stole about $4 billion from Kazakstan, with a further billion each in Ukraine and Russia - was described by the FT in 2013 as a "political dissident", even though while he was stealing the money he showed not the slightest interest in politics.

And now Pugachev, whose totally criminal IIB bank he looted himself, leaving bond-holders with literally zero cents on the dollar, is the latest addition to their list of Brave Dissidents:

One of Vladimir Putin's former closest associates has said Russian businessmen were all now "serfs" who belonged to the president, with none of the country's companies beyond his reach. Sergei Pugachev, who was once so close to Mr Putin that he was known as the "Kremlin's banker", made the comments in his first interview since the state seized his multibillion-dollar ship building empire in 2012.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Pugachev warned there are no longer any "untouchables" in a Russian business landscape increasingly dominated by Mr Putin. The Russian economy, he argues, has been transformed into a feudal system where businessmen are only nominal owners of their assets. "Today in Russia there is no private property. There are only serfs who belong to Putin," he said.

I never had much respect for either Buckley or Belton - but in the old days they had some minimal decency and journalistic standards. Now, their shocking dishonesty is obviously being done on command from above. The Soviet press was clean and impartial by comparison.

The article reads as if Pugachev paid, and paid handsomely, for every word in it.

God knows there is little that amazes me anymore - but even I am amazed!


Businessmen are 'serfs' in Putin's Russia, warns Sergei Pugachev

A former close associate of Vladimir Putin has said Russian businessmen were all now "serfs" who belonged to the president, with none of the country's companies beyond his reach.

Sergei Pugachev, who was once so close to Mr Putin that he was known as the "Kremlin's banker", made the comments in his first interview since the state seized his multibillion-dollar ship building empire in 2012.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Pugachev warned that there were no longer any "untouchables" in a Russian business landscape increasingly dominated by Mr Putin. The Russian economy, he argued, had been transformed into a feudal system where businessmen were only nominal owners of their assets.

"Today in Russia there is no private property. There are only serfs who belong to Putin," he said.

Mr Pugachev's comments have fresh resonance amid the ongoing dispossession of another Moscow tycoon, Vladimir Yevtushenkov, whose arrest last month - and a subsequent court decision to seize shares in his Bashneft oil major - is still sending shudders through the country's business community.

That event has been interpreted by many observers as a shattering of the rules that have governed relations between the Kremlin and the country's oligarchs in the post-Soviet era.

Mr Pugachev - whose business interests once spanned banking, construction and shipbuilding - was a towering figure of those years. He was a member of former president Boris Yeltsin's inner circle and then became a close confidant of Mr Putin.

When the former KGB officer became president in 2000, powerful holdovers from the Yeltsin era managed to maintain some independence. But after Mr Putin embarked on a campaign to retake state control of key parts of the economy the borders between business and the Kremlin began to be erased.

That process, Mr Pugachev argued, had now accelerated as the strain of western sanctions against Russia over its intervention in Ukraine increases.

Vladimir Yevtushenkov, one of Russia's richest businessmen was arrested last month

"Now there is Putin and there are his lieutenants who carry out his orders - and all cash generated is put on the balance of Putin," he said. "The country is in a state of war. And therefore big business cannot live as before. It has to live under military rules."

Mr Pugachev's own problems began with the 2010 collapse of Mezhprombank, the top 30 lender he founded. He fled Russia in 2011 for exile in London as the state moved to take over his shipyards, as part of efforts to recover funds from the bank. Last year, a Moscow court issued a warrant for his arrest, blaming him for the bank's failure.

In his first public comments about the charges, Mr Pugachev denied any responsibility. Instead, he claimed Mezhprombank's bankruptcy was the result of a Kremlin campaign to seize the controlling stakes he held in Russia's two biggest and most modern shipyards at a knockdown price.

The businessman is preparing to present evidence in a London court that he said will prove the bankruptcy was part of a state "raid" on his empire, as he seeks to fend off a freezing order on his international assets issued in July by Russia's Deposit Insurance Agency.

Now there is Putin and there are his lieutenants who carry out his orders - and all cash generated is put on the balance of Putin. The country is in a state of war. And therefore big business cannot live as before. It has to live under military rules

At the heart of the case is some $2.1bn in unpaid debts owed by Mezhprombank, some of which resulted from emergency Central Bank liquidity support provided in late 2008 in the midst of the global financial crisis.

The government has alleged Mr Pugachev was behind a series of transactions that damaged the bank's balance sheet, including the transfer of $700m in Central Bank bailout funds to an account in Switzerland controlled by his son.

Mr Pugachev said the transaction did not involve the Central Bank funds and was related to a commercial investment.

He also claimed he had struck an agreement with the Central Bank to repay Mezhprombank's debt with the proceeds from the sale of two St Petersburg shipyards - Severnaya Verf and Baltiisky Zavod. Those assets had been valued by BDO, the international audit firm, at $3.5bn. Nomura, an investment bank, valued them at between $2.2bn and $4.2bn - more than enough to cover the roughly $1bn owed to the Central Bank.

But the Central Bank revoked the bank's licence when it missed an interest payment in October 2010. Soon afterward, it filed suit to seize Mr Pugachev's shipyard stakes, triggering a chain of events that ended in their forced sale in 2012.

They were sold to the state-controlled United Shipbuilding Corporation for $415m and $7.5m, respectively - a fraction of the BDO valuation. At the time, USC was chaired by Igor Sechin - a close Putin ally who now heads Rosneft, the state oil company that many analysts believe is now poised to scoop up Mr Yevtushenkov's Bashneft stake.

Russia's central bank declined to comment to the FT. But the then central bank governor, Sergei Ignatiev, told the FT's Russian sister paper, Vedomosti, earlier this year he had not given any guarantees that Mezhprombank would keep its licence.

"I never regarded the pledge of the shipbuilding assets as part of some planned deal to sell them," Mr Ignatiev said.

Dmitry Peskov, press spokesman for Mr Putin, denied that the central bank had been used to seize Mr Pugachev's shipbuilding assets. "The [shipyards] business was in ruins. Who is interested in such a devastated business? He built up huge amounts of debts and then ran away," Mr Peskov said.

Mr Pugachev disputed this, arguing that the shipyards were flourishing under his ownership after a decade of decay. The government, he said, later inflated their debts artificially by recording advance payments for ships as debts.

More broadly, though, he viewed the loss of his empire as part of a campaign that began with the state's attack in 2003 on Mikhail Khodorkovsky's Yukos oil business and has extended to today's seizure of Mr Yevtushenkov's assets. Driving it forward, he argued, is a Russian leader with a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of private property - as demonstrated during a visit to a nuclear icebreaker produced by his shipyards, the country's first in 35 years.

"I remember his amazement," Mr Pugachev recalled. "There were swimming pools, gardens, an orangery on board. This was an icebreaker worth more than $1bn. But for him, it was incomprehensible. In his view, a private owner can make buns but he can't make icebreakers and military ships.

Mr Putin, he said, still had the mentality of "a Soviet person, a ," - the Russian word for a secret policeman.

"There is no point in anyone looking for a mistake by Mr Yevtushenkov," he said. "This is just the system starting to eat itself."

Anti-Putin propaganda: The role of demons and psychological pressure

© Alexei Druzhinin, RIA Novosti

The demonization of Vladimir Putin fits in with the ideas voiced by US President Barack Obama, who has announced a new strategy of containing Russia, Cold War 2.0. This has set in motion Soviet-era mechanisms: instead of provoking "nationwide resentment" and "revolutions," the strategy has only strengthened public support for the president in Russia.

Acting in the spirit of the 20th century Cold War, foreign media and their masterminds disregarded the recent political and, most importantly, economic changes. As a result, their determination to push Russia into isolation has engendered a strong suspicion of the US administration's incompetence, including in the United States.

The examples of Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, which are often cited in connection with the demonization of Putin, are an element in the Western security services' game. More people are coming to believe that Gaddafi and Hussein were killed to create a precedent for using illegal methods to remove a legitimately elected leader of a sovereign state. In other words, the goal is to put psychological pressure on other leaders, including Vladimir Putin.

This practice needs to be considered seriously. Shocked by this disregard for law, Russian society is consolidating around the country's supreme authority, which is fresh evidence that society has not yet turned into a group of individual consumers who could give up their sovereignty for Parmesan cheese.

Putin assumed a liberal stand at the beginning of his political career. But February 2007, when he delivered his famous Munich speech, marked his transition to nationalism. The Russian president has since developed an image of an enlightened conservative, which is a win-win choice compared to other politicians who have put their stakes on the social aspects of the economy. In fact, this is the secret of Putin's popularity in Russia and in the countries where conservatism is deeply rooted in the national tradition.

The revival of the Soviet Union, an idea that is assigned to Putin, is a futile project politically and economically, as he has said more than once. It would be reasonable to create a fundamentally new state whose policy will be based on partner relations with neighboring countries. This idea is a thorn in the side for the advocates of a world order where national identity is reduced to a folkloric category.

Vladimir Putin and Russia have changed over the past 15 years. Judging by the results of voting at the latest presidential election, Russians seem to like these changes. The "unbelievable turn of events" and Putin's "unusual luck" are only cited by the experts who forget that the Russian president is working jointly with a team of likeminded people who have made Russia's revival possible after the thunderous 1990s, when every man was for himself.

Corporate media ignores facts showing costs of war deplete resources for infrastructure, science and education

military transport Afghanistan

© Vladimir Pirogov

American servicemen prepare to board a military aircraft bound for Afghanistan in Manas airport in Kyrgyzstan in 2011.

Tuesday, this week, marked 13 years since the start of the Afghan War, when on October 7, 2001 the US and its NATO allies launched Operation Enduring Freedom against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban movement in Afghanistan.

The war has already become America's longest-running campaign in history. When combined with the war in Iraq, the military campaign has cost taxpayers between $4 trillion and $6 trillion, according to research published last year by a Harvard researcher.

According to the website iCasualties, the US military has suffered 2,349 military fatalities, including 2,144 "in and around Afghanistan".

However, American political writer, peace activist and co-director of the New York-based International Action Center Sara Flounders said in interview with Radio VR that the Americans are largely unaware of all this, because the figures are not revealed to the general public.

"US corporate media works hand in hand with the military and oil corporations," she told Radio VR. "And then there is really a public relations [campaign] armed for these corporations. The consequences and even the fact that these wars are going on are taken out of the news, except for occasional and tiny casualty figures."

"People might know that the wars are continuing but the impact of them and the coverage of this is taken from the folks here in the US," she added.

"We are paying the cost in deteriorating homes and schools right here for these phenomenally expensive wars," she went on. "Taken right now from the pensions funds here, and robbed from schools and hospitals, but that connection is not made by the corporate media."

And this is the fact how low aware people are, she added. The United States differs from many countries in the developed world in that school costs are provided for by bi-annually-levied taxes on municipal real estate rather than income taxes. The United States maintains several federal payroll taxes, including the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes, a regressive pension tax and a flat medical tax which covers pensioners. A high proportion of the remaining federal taxes that Americans pay go to cover military expenses.

The information published by the United States government regarding its federal budget reflects expenses related to services funded by FICA taxes. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, FICA tax-funded expenses constituted 46% of America's 2013 national budget, whereas federal tax-funded military expenses constituted 19% of the budget, making the military the largest non-FICA funded expense. For comparison's sake, 3% of the budget was spent on transportation and infrastructure, 2% was spent on science and medical research, and a miniscule 1% was spent subsidizing America's mostly municipally-funded and state-funded education system.

Researchers discover remains of Alexander the Great's father


Unequal greaves and the Scynthian gorytus

A team of Greek researchers has confirmed that bones found in a two-chambered royal tomb at Vergina, a town some 100 miles away from Amphipolis's mysterious burial mound, indeed belong to the Macedonian King Philip II, Alexander the Great's father.

The anthropological investigation examined 350 bones and fragments found in two larnakes, or caskets, of the tomb. It uncovered pathologies, activity markers and trauma that helped identify the tomb's occupants.

Along with the cremated remains of Philip II, the burial, commonly known as Tomb II, also contained the bones of a woman warrior, possibly the daughter of the Skythian King Athea, Theodore Antikas, head of the Art-Anthropological research team of the Vergina excavation, told Discovery News.

The findings will be announced on Friday at the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. Accompanied by 3,000 digital color photographs and supported by X-ray computed tomography, scanning electron microscopy, and X-ray fluorescence, the research aims to settle a decades-old debate over the cremated skeleton.

Scholars have argued over those bones ever since Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos discovered the tomb in 1977-78. He excavated a large mound -- the Great Tumulus -- at Vergina on the advice of the English classicist Nicholas Hammond.

Among the monuments found within the tumulus were three tombs. One, called Tomb I, had been looted, but contained a stunning wall painting of the Rape of Persephone, along with fragmentary human remains.

Tomb II remained undisturbed and contained the almost complete cremated remains of a male skeleton in the main chamber and the cremated remains of a female in the antechamber. Grave goods included silver and bronze vessels, gold wreaths, weapons, armor and two gold larnakes.

Tomb III was also found unlooted, with a silver funerary urn that contained the bones of a young male, and a number of silver vessels and ivory reliefs.

Most of the scholarly debate concentrated on the occupants of Tomb II, with experts arguing that the occupants were either Philip II and Cleopatra or Meda, both his wives, or Philip III Arrhidaeus, Alexander's half-brother, who assumed the throne after Alexander's death, with his wife Eurydice.

Analyzed by Antikas' team since 2009, the male and female bones have revealed peculiarities not previously seen or recorded.

"The individual suffered from frontal and maxillary sinusitis that might have been caused by an old facial trauma," Antikas said.

Such trauma could be related to an arrow that hit and blinded Philip II's right eye at the siege of Methone in 354 B.C. The Macedonian king survived and ruled for another 18 years before he was assassinated at the celebration of his daughter's wedding.

The anthropologists found further bone evidence to support the identification with Philip II, who being a warrior, suffered many wounds, as historical accounts testify.

"He had signs of chronic pathology on the visceral surface of several low thoracic ribs, indicating pleuritis," Antikas said.

He noted that the pathology may have been the effect of Philip's trauma when his right clavicle was shattered with a lance in 345 or 344 B.C.

The anthropologist also found an old incised wound on Philip's left hand caused by a sharp-edged object, possibly a weapon.

Degenerative lesions and markers pointed to a middle-aged man who rode a horse frequently.

Examination of the bones revealed a fully-fleshed cremation, further disproving the theory that the remains belong to Philip III Arrhidaeus, who was buried, exhumed, cremated and finally reburied.

"Features such as cracking, color, warping, twisting seen on the bones indicate pyre-induced morphological alterations," Antikas said.

"A typical example is the 90-degree twisting of the left parietal bone of the man's cranium. This would never happen, if the skull were 'dry', coming from an ossuary," he added.

Additional composite material was also found on the bones. Antikas's team found traces of royal purple, huntite, textile, beeswax and clay belonging to an elaborately made object.

"It was placed on top of the bones after they were cleaned, wrapped and placed in the gold larnax. If they had been burned in the pyre, they would have dissappeared, as its temperature exceeded 800 degrees Celsius at times," Antikas said.

According to the researchers, further evidence for the dead being Philip II is the identity of the female buried in the antechamber, who died at 30-34.

"Her age was determined by examining a pelvis bone fragment not seen or identified by previous researchers," Antikas said.

The finding proved extremely important in the complex identification process.

"Basically her age excludes every other wife-concubine of Philip II and indirectly Arrhidaeus, whose wife was under 25," he said.

Morphological alterations in the bones indicate she was cremated just after her death, just like the deceased in the chamber, while equestrian activity indicators suggest she also rode for a long time.

A fracture in the upper end of her left leg caused shortening, atrophy, "and most probably disfiguration," according to Antikas.

"This leads to the conclusion that the pair of mismatched greaves -- the left is shorter -- the Scynthian gorytus and weaponry found in the antechamber belonged to her," he said.

The finding reinforces the assumption made by Hammond as early as 1978 that the spears, arrows, quiver and greaves belonged to a warrior queen in Philip's royal household. Among the candidates proposed by Hammond were Meda, Cynna (the offspring of Philip and Audata, an Illyrian warrior princess) and an unknown daughter of the Scythian king Ateas, defeated by Philip in 339 B.C.

The Scythian theory also strengthens Philip II's identification.

"No Macedonian King other than Philip is known to have had 'relations' with a Scythian," Antikas said.

According to Adrienne Mayor, a research scholar at Stanford University's Departments of Classics and History of Science, the new bio-archaeological analysis of the bones in Tomb II "is a truly exciting discovery, confirming without a doubt that the weapons and mismatched greaves belonged to a horsewoman-archer close to Philip II."

The author of "," Mayor, however, cautions about the Scynthian princess hypothesis.

"Hammond speculated that Ateas might have sent a daughter to Philip during their negotiations. But their dealings were hostile, not friendly, ending in war and the defeat of Ateas in 339 B.C.," Mayor told Discovery News.

"Moreover, as Hammond acknowledged, there is no mention of a daughter of Ateas in any ancient sources that describe Philip's interactions with Ateas or list the names of his wives," she added.

Mayor proposes another possibility -- that the mystery woman could have been a wife selected by Philip from the 20,000 Scythian women he took as prisoners after the defeat of Ateas. The sources report that these women and their horses all escaped when another Scythian tribe attacked Philip's army on its way back to Macedonia.

"Perhaps one of these women, traveling with Philip's entourage, did not escape and remained in the royal house for three years until his death in 336 B.C. When the king was assassinated, a captive Scythian bride from Ateas' coalition may well have felt compelled to commit suicide," Mayor said.

On another finding, Antikas' team shed new light on the remains in Tomb I. His team found in an old storage place with wood cases containing plastics bags filled with never-studied bones from the tomb, which was thought to contain the remains of a male, a female and an infant. This led some scholars to believe Tomb I contained the remains of Philip, his wife Cleopatra, and their few-week-old child.

"From three recently found plastic bags containing over one hundred bone fragments of inhumed individuals, our team analyzed and identified 70 bones," Antikas told Discovery News.

Surprisingly, it emerged that Tomb I contained the remains of at least seven individuals: an adult male, a female, a child, four babies aged 8-10 lunar months and one fetus of 6.5 lunar months.

"This find automatically disproves every previous hypothesis of historians and archaeologista alike that Tomb I was intended for Philip II and his last wife," Antikas said.

Spanish students eject bussed-in Ukraine nationalists protestors - 'Fascists, get out!'

no fascism

© Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis

Students at the Complutense University of Madrid kicked out several radical Ukrainians who stormed into a lecture, trying to provoke a fight. Posters reading, 'Ukraine besieged by fascism will not happen,' appeared in campus halls after the incident.

The university faculty of political sciences and sociology is currently hosting an exhibition titled, which features photographs from Odessa, and the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The display is part of a series of lectures and roundtables on the situation in Ukraine.

While students were gathering for one of the discussions, on the subject of the May 2 Odessa massacre, that left nearly 50 anti-government activists dead, several radicals carrying Ukrainian flags and banners of some of the country's nationalist parties stormed into the hall, not letting professors begin the lecture.

The skirmish was filmed and posted on YouTube.

[embedded content]

According to Spanish newspaper , the protest was carried out by a group of supporters of the neo-Nazi Svoboda (Freedom) party. Chanting the name of Stepan Bandera, leader of Ukrainian nationalist movement during World War 2, the protesters threatened and assaulted several students who had gathered to remember the victims of the events in Odessa.

"At first professors asked them to leave the room, but they wouldn't do so, saying they would not let the lecture begin. Students were outraged by that and started shouting 'Fascists, get out of here!' Almost half the faculty got involved," one of the exhibition's organizers, Sergey Markhel, told RIA Novosti news agency.

After the fight's instigators were kicked off of the campus, students put up posters against fascism in Ukraine.

Leaving the university premises, still waving Ukrainian flags, the offenders were seen by a van with the registration of the Diplomatic Corps of the Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid, La Republica reported.

The event was attended by a representative of the Ukrainian Embassy, the embassy confirmed to RIA Novosti.

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Spain has later met with the university rector, expressing his "deep concern" and asking him to cancel Ukraine-related conferences, which he claimed were being "used by Russian propaganda agents to give false information," reported.

The conference on the Ukrainian crisis is scheduled to run at the Complutense University until October 23.

Biden admits ISIS is a creation of U.S. foreign policy used to destabilize Middle East

Speaking to students at Harvard's John F. Kennedy Forum Thursday, US Vice President Joseph Biden committed what the US media characterizes as a "gaffe." In other words, he told an embarrassing truth about US government policy, one that is usually obfuscated in the remarks of government officials and the commentaries of media pundits.

Asked about US policy in Syria, Biden touched on the dirty secret of the current US-led war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ISIS (or ISIL as the Obama administration terms it) is essentially the creation of the United States and its allies who fomented civil war in Syria against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Referring to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Biden said, "They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad - except that the people who were being supplied were al Nusra and al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world."

"Now you think I'm exaggerating," he continued, to emphasize his point. "Take a look! Where did all of this go?" Biden claimed that the US opposed arming these al Qaeda-linked groups, which included ISIS, adding, "We could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them."

According to Biden's narrative, only in the summer of 2014 did these countries realize that ISIS was a threat to them as well as to Assad, and shifted, joining in the US campaign of air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria. He gave as an example the position of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, suggesting that he had admitted the error of a permissive policy towards the extremists: "President Erdogan told me, he is an old friend, said you were right, we let too many people through, now we are trying to seal the border."

It is testament to the degeneracy of the American political system that the circumstances behind ISIS's rise, alluded to in Biden's remarks, have not been the subject of any investigation. There have been no calls in Congress for hearings to examine the origins of an organization whose actions have been seized on to proclaim a new war in the Middle East.

As for the media, it merely serves as a government mouthpiece. Significantly, no US media source reported or commented on these portions of Biden's remarks at Harvard. But once the comments were publicized, first by the Russian-based RT network, then throughout the Middle East, Biden hastened to mend fences with the offended client states.

The US embassy in Ankara released a statement that Biden had called Erdogan personally to "clarify recent comments made at Harvard University." According to the embassy, "The Vice President apologized for any implication that Turkey or other Allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL or other violent extremists in Syria."

Whatever the level of "intentionality" involved, ISIS was the recipient of the US-supported arms aid to the Syrian rebels, routed by the CIA through Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey and other Mideast client states. The State Department and CIA were well aware that the Syrian rebels included many Islamic militants, including those linked to al-Qaeda, because it had previously employed many of these fighters in the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in Libya in 2011.

Originally established as Al Qaeda in Iraq during the eight years of warfare that followed the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the group only took the name ISIS in April 2013, long after it had built up significant strength in Syria as part of the US-backed rebel forces fighting the Assad regime.

In other words, as Biden admits, ISIS was created by the methods pursued by the US government and its allied reactionary regimes, both the Islamist government of Erdogan in Turkey and the Gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Another confirmation of this relationship came in the form of a report Sunday on the supposedly contradictory role of the sheikdom of Qatar, another of the Persian Gulf despotisms that is a client state of American imperialism. Qatar hosts the huge Al-Udeid Air Base, headquarters for US air operations in the region and the directing center of the air war in Syria and Iraq.

Only 20 miles from the base is the Grand Mosque in the Qatari capital, Doha, which "has served as a key outpost for al-Qaeda-linked rebels fighting the Syrian regime," the noted, including the al-Nusra Front, the official al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, which was formerly part of ISIS until a split last year.

Despite the presentation in the , there is nothing surprising in Qatar hosting the US Air Force and raising money for al-Qaeda militants in Syria. As long as ISIS gathered strength in Syria, as part of the US-backed "rebels" opposed to Assad, it was encouraged in its ambitions. It was only when ISIS moved its forces back across the border from Syria into Iraq - and in particular threatened oil-rich regions in northern Iraq - did the Obama administration move against it.

The contradictions in US policy persist. Even as it seeks to forestall ISIS's advance, the US is arming and promoting "moderate" forces within Syria that are openly allied with al-Nusra and other Islamic fundamentalist groups. The main target of American imperialism remains the Syrian government, which is also the reason why Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other countries that fostered ISIS and are hostile to the Assad regime are now supporting the operation.

The "war against ISIS," America's erstwhile ally against the Assad regime, is only the latest episode in the intervention of US imperialism in the Middle East, whose goal is not freedom, or democracy, or the struggle against "terrorism," but the domination of the oil-rich region and the preparation of new and even bloodier wars against Iran and against the main targets of Washington: Russia and China.

Closest link to our universal mitochondrial ancestor found

HE DIED later than Socrates and Aristotle, but a man who fished along the coast of southern Africa is the closest genetic match for our common female ancestor yet found.

If you trace back the DNA in the maternally inherited mitochondria within our cells, all humans have a theoretical common ancestor. This woman, known as "mitochondrial Eve", lived between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago in southern Africa. She was not the first human, but every other female lineage eventually had no female offspring, failing to pass on their mitochondrial DNA. As a result, all humans today can trace their mitochondrial DNA back to her.

Within her DNA, and that of her peers, existed almost all the genetic variation we see in contemporary humans. Since Eve's time, different populations of humans have drifted apart genetically, forming the distinct ethnic groups we see today.

Now a skeleton from around 315 BC, not long after the death of Alexander the Great, has been identified as a member of a previously unknown branch on the human family tree. It is the earliest group to diverge from all other modern humans ever identified (). The man was 50 years old when he died, and is the first ancient human from sub-Saharan Africa - the cradle of humanity - to have had its DNA sequenced.

"He belongs to the earliest diverged lineage - the oldest we know of," says Vanessa Hayes of the Garvan Institute in Sydney, Australia, who led the work. She says his ancestors diverged from other humans roughly 150,000 years ago.

How disease sneaked into genomes

There's a lot of information hidden in our genomes, if only we can figure out how to find it. Vanessa Hayes's work on early humans (see main story) may look like anthropology, but she is actually in the field of medical genomics. Her desire to understand the origins of humanity is largely about understanding human disease.

Working at the Garvan Institute in Sydney, Australia, she wants to combine this work with more sequencing of ancient and contemporary genomes, to find the basis of genetic diseases and disease susceptibility. To identify these, we need to go back to the origin, she says.

Ancient genomes can provide a baseline to help us understand modern diseases, Hayes says. It is difficult to hunt for the emergence of disease susceptibility genes in modern genomes alone, because recent travelling and mixing of different genetic lineages obscures this information.

"Prostate cancer is strikingly more common in African Americans [than white Americans]," says David Thomas, a cancer geneticist also at the Garvan Institute. "And the genetic basis of that is really not clear."

He says that by building a detailed evolutionary tree, we can start to find the point in our history at which such variations arose.

"Sampling an early branch is an insight into how populations evolve and have different susceptibility to diseases in our community," says Thomas.

"This is a very exciting paper," says geneticist David Reich at Harvard University. "It is the first old ancient DNA ever to be convincingly extracted from an African context."

The man was found at St Helena Bay in South Africa in 2010 by archaeologist Andrew Smith at the University of Cape Town, and examined by anthropologist Alan Morris at the same university.

Morris discovered that the man was a marine forager. A bony growth in his ear canal - known as "surfers' ear" - revealed he spent a lot of his time in the cold waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, gathering food.

A fisher's life

The "surfers' ear" ailment of mitochondrial Eve's closest known relative (see main story) suggests he spent a lot of time in the water. This adds to evidence of the importance of the marine environment in the success of modern human, says Rebecca Cann of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

"Archaeologists have argued that exploitation of the marine environment was an essential achievement in the incremental advance of modern human populations," she says. "These resources were important and allowed for exponential population expansion. They are predictable, defendable, nutritious."

"If you are going to move out of a known area, you follow a coastline or a river: You can always work your way back and, you have the refrigerator there at your feet," Cann adds.

But Hans-Peter Uerpmann, an archaeologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany doesn't think this necessarily means that fishing was particularly important in our prehistory.

"Humans are able to adapt to different niches and they did so all the time as a result of changes of environmental conditions," he says. "There is no obvious - or even obligatory - reason to believe that humans went through an 'aquatic phase' during their evolution."

The man was 1.5 metres tall and was buried in a grave with a large number of shells. That is unusual for African hunter-gatherers, who are not known to bury their dead, says Hayes.

By examining the similarities and differences between the man's mitochondrial genome and those of living Africans, Hayes confirmed that the man's group split from Eve's descendants earlier than the two oldest previously known groups, which have been found among living members of the click-speaking southern African peoples known as the Khoisan.

Old genes

"It is, so far, the oldest identified lineage," says Rebecca Cann of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a geneticist who helped develop the work that led to the idea of mitochondrial Eve.

Although he lived more than 100,000 years after mitochondrial Eve, he provides the closest insight yet into the genetic make-up of the link between all living humans. The DNA he carries is genetically "older" than ours, says Hayes.

Because mitochondrial DNA is inherited only from the mother, geneticists use it to trace how much it has changed over the years and identify branches in human evolution and our spread around the globe. It was part of what convinced scientists that anatomically modern humans originated in Africa.

Even though the specimen is only 2330 years old, other human lineages that were around at this time had diverged more from mitochondrial Eve. Genomes from remains in Europe - even if chronologically much older - have been changed by several large selection events - genetic bottlenecks that wipe out huge amounts of genetic diversity and create new lineages.

The age of the remains suggests that the fisherman lived in the region that is now South Africa before any of the known human migrations back into that area, in particular before the crucial arrival of herding groups from further north some 500 years later.

"We know very little about the more than 100,000 years of history within the continent, despite it being the cradle of mankind," says Wolfgang Haak, a palaeobiologist from the University of Adelaide in Australia.

Haak says this man's mitochondrial genome, especially if we find more like it, will help scientists develop a map of how early modern humans moved around Africa. And sequencing his nuclear genome - the genetic information inherited from both parents - and that of other ancient specimens could give a more complex picture of the way groups mixed with one another.

Hayes is particularly keen to see how the genomes of the earliest African agriculturalists differ from those of hunter-gatherers. "The most significant thing that changed the face of the planet is conversion from hunter-gatherer to farmer," she says. "Where did we start, and how did that change our genome?" She says this genome can provide a reference to which the genomes of herders in the region can be compared.

Hayes is now producing a better map of where early humans moved, using genomes she has sequenced from living people in Africa belonging to early human lineages. Step-by-step, Hayes says, she is homing in on the root of humanity.

This article appeared in print under the headline "Eve's closest relative found"

Mysterious giant megaliths discovered in remote Russia puzzle scientists

Mysterious stones on Mountain Shoriya (Kemerov region, Russia) have puzzled both scientists and ordinary men. The wall of rectangular stones piled up on top of each other is already being called the "Russian Stonehenge". According to one of the stories, they were found back in ancient times.

Though it aroused the interest of researchers in 1991, it was not explored then due to lack of financing. The research was just resumed in autumn 2013.

The granite blocks impress with their dimensions. They are making up walls in a polygonal masonry technique. Geologists compare them with Stonehenge and Egyptian pyramids.

The walls are 40 meters high, and they stretch for almost 200 meters. The length of some of the stones is about 20 meters, and their height is 5-7 meters. The weight of every block is more than 1000 tons.

Those who built them could have had technologies that we do not know of today. It still remains unclear why the walls were erected and how their builders managed to lift the blocks at the height of more than 1000 meters.

Another possible explanation is that the stones could have formed as a result of geological processes caused by strong weathering of the Mountain Shoriya rocks.

The geologists however, do not rush to make any conclusions, more proof is required.

Some events that were happening during the autumn expedition could probably be called mystical. The compasses of the geologists behaved very strangely, for some unknown reason their arrows were deviating from the megaliths. What could this mean? All that was clear was that they came across an inexplicable phenomenon of the negative geomagnetic field. Could this be a remnant of ancient antigravity technologies?

Maybe the location of the ruins will help scientists to discover their purpose.

No stone walls like these ones have ever been found in the territory of Russia.

Participants of the expedition suppose that these ruins are a material proof of the theory according to which Siberia could be the ancestral home of all humanity. It's the first time in the entire human history when walls made from 2-4 tonne (!) blocks were found.

Who created them and what for? It does not seem that they could be created by nature. Besides, according to the traces preserved until today, these structures were destroyed by a terribly powerful explosion. It could have been a catastrophic earthquake or a strike of a space meteorite...

At the same time, other scientists do not agree with such sensational assumptions. The proof is the following - the oldest of the ruins is not more than ten thousand years old. According to them it's not correct to call the object the "Russian Stonehenge" either, because no cultural remains have ever been found here, that is why it's quite unlikely the walls were created by humans.

Well, maybe archaeological excavations will bring some artifacts to life?

Yes, people can be really creative. But we have a lot of proof that nature is not less creative than people, and while we are still unsure about the origin of the ruins, we can give free rein to our imagination...