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

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Threat of pyroclastic flows from Mt. Sinabung still overshadows Karo residents

© Volcano Alert @infoVolcano / Twitter

Large pyroclastic flow on Sinabung on 9 Oct 2014

It has been reported that Mount Sinabung in Karo regency in North Sumatra is still prone to emitting deadly pyroclastic flows that could occur at any time. During the past week, the active volcano repeatedly erupted, spewing hot clouds and showering the nearby city of Berastagi with volcanic ash.

Head of the Sinabung observation post, Armen Putra, said the pyroclastic flows were expected to continue as the volcano displayed intensifying activity. He said there was a good chance that Mt. Sinabung would keep erupting during the following days. "Based on our observations Mt. Sinabung is still emitting huge pyroclastic flows that could be discharged at any time in greater volumes than ever," he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

He said the pyroclastic flows currently travelled down the slopes to the south of several villages. On Oct. 5 they reached 4.5 kilometers to the south, which was deemed the longest descent so far. As of Sunday at 12 p.m., Mt. Sinabung emitted the hot flows on five occasions, reaching 3 km to the south.

"Residents living around the volcano should remain alert because the pyroclastic flows have been continuously released during recent days," Armen said.

In February this year, 14 people were killed while three others were severely injured after the volcano suddenly spewed hot ash.

On Oct. 5 they reached 4.5 kilometers to the south, which was deemed the longest descent so far. As of Sunday at 12 p.m., Mt. Sinabung emitted the hot flows on five occasions, reaching 3 km to the south.

"Residents living around the volcano should remain alert because the pyroclastic flows have been continuously released during recent days," Armen said.

In February this year, 14 people were killed while three others were severely injured after the volcano suddenly spewed hot ash.

Before the incident, the ongoing eruptions had claimed the lives of 31 evacuees, as a result of various illnesses such as breathing difficulties and medical problems related to living in the area of an active volcano.

Armen said the mountain continued to emit volcanic ash that was blown by the wind to the southwest.

Last week, the volcanic ash travelled to the east, blanketing Berastagi city, a renowned tourist destination located some 30 kilometers from Karo. Business and tourism activities in the city were badly affected as many stalls in the traditional markets were closed and events due to be held in the hotels were cancelled.

Last Thursday, the ash also covered the runway of Kualanamu International Airport in Deli Serdang, disrupting a number of flights.

Acting Karo regent Terkelin Brahmana said the administration had deployed dozens of water tankers from surrounding areas to wash off the volcanic ash from Berastagi.

He said he had directly requested his fellow regents and mayor from Pakpak regency, Langkat regency, Medan city and Dairi regency to help him with the water tankers.

"Thank God, Berastagi city has been cleared of the volcanic ash. We've cleaned up the streets, schools, offices, religious places and stores, so they can be beautiful again," he said.

On Sunday, a number of stores in Berastagi city began to resume their business activities although many still remained closed due to the volcanic ash. Several stalls in traditional markets also remained closed.

Several days ago, the ash also blanketed and destroyed several hectares of nearby farmland, which had been planted with vegetables, fruit and rice.

Antara news portal reported that on Friday and Saturday, the volcanic ash caused poor visibility in Parapat city and covered the surface of the popular Lake Toba.

Terkelin urged residents to remain calm and to wear masks while awaiting further instructions from the authorities. He said currently, there was no need for evacuation.

The volcano first erupted in September last year, displacing more than 33,000 residents.

As of Oct. 5, there were still 3,287 evacuees from 1,019 families in 16 evacuation centers.

The administration aims to have all evacuees back in their homes by the end of the year.

Riding your Flow: Enhancing creativity and productivity

Why is that we tend to be more successful at pursuits we are genuinely passionate about? Why does time seem to drag when you are completely bored and uninterested in a task? How come you can easily lose yourself in a task that really piques your interest?

According to positive psychology, doing things that you find genuinely interesting and stimulating can put you into a state Flow, which is defined as an '.' During flow, self-awareness and the ego can dissolve, meaning you become completely focused and immersed in the activity for its own sake. Flow has been linked to enhanced performance and creativity across a wide range of activities, such as sports, artistic pursuits, and even in the workplace. Perhaps you can visualize a time when you became so focused and passionate about something that time just dissipated?


Psychologically, riding a state of flow can feel incredibly pleasing and liberating. As we immerse ourselves in an activity that stimulates our passions, curiosity and interests, we lose track of the world around us and can enter unusual states of creativity and productivity.

According to psychologist Mikhal Csíkszentmihályi's landmark book , the feeling of flow is associated with these ten factors, although not all of them need to be present to experience it. Have you ever experienced some or all of these?

  1. You feel a complete focus of attention

  2. The activity is intrinsically rewarding

  3. You have clear, attainable (although still challenging) goals

  4. You have a feeling of peace and losing yourself

  5. There is an element of timelessness, or, losing track of time during the activity

  6. You receive immediate feedback

  7. You know that the task is doable, and you can strike a balance between skill level and the challenge presented.

  8. You feel a sense of personal control over your efforts

  9. You lose track of your physical needs.

  10. You experience an unusually high level of concentration


A variety of processes occur simultaneously in the brain when we enter a state of flow. Essentially, these processes are threefold and together they help explain why during flow, the brain is capable of enhanced creativity and productivity: Transitions in brainwaves, deactivation of the prefrontal cortex, and changes in neuro-chemistry.

  • Brain Wave Transitions:

While in a state of flow, our brainwaves transition from the more rapid beta waves of waking consciousness to slower alpha waves, and even to the border of much slower theta waves. Alpha waves are associated with relaxed and effortless alertness, peak performance and creativity, while theta waves are associated with the deeper dream-state consciousness and experienced predominately during REM sleep.

  • Pre-Frontal Cortex Deactivation:

During flow states, the Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC) becomes deactivated in a process called "." The PFC is the area of the brain that houses higher-level cognitions, including those that help us to cultivate our ego and sense of self. During a flow state this area becomes deactivated, helping us lose ourselves in the task at hand and silence our criticisms, fears and self-doubts.

  • Neuro-chemistry:

Flow states also trigger a release of many of the pleasurable and performance- inducing chemicals in the brain, including dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and endorphins. A recent study shows that when are intrinsically curious about an outcome and driven for answers, dopamine is released in the brain, helping to solidify our memories. These findings suggest why flow states are good for promoting learning and memory in addition to creativity.


In addition to being a pleasurable and productive experience, riding the flow also has a host of other benefits to well-being including increased self- esteem, self-confidence, life satisfaction and overall happiness. Here are eight steps for enhancing your state of flow:

Do something that interests you.

Flow comes most naturally when we are intrinsically motivated, excited and curios about the task. So if you are looking to get creative and productive, choose to focus on a task that you enjoy and already feel passionate about. If this is for work, or you don't have a choice of the task, try to identify elements of the tasks that excite you. Maybe there are certain parts of project or elements of an assignment that interest you? Pay special attention to those.

Set Clear Goals.

Be specific when you are getting started on a task. What is the goal you are aiming for? Are you trying to finish a painting? Write a new song? Complete a presentation? Or perfect a new yoga pose? This will help to hone your focus and keep you on task. If you try to do too much it could overwhelm you, and if you do too little you might not spend enough time in deep concentration to reach a flow state.

Find A Quiet and Productive Time.

Most people find that an environment of peace and quiet works best for inducing a state of flow, possibly because of how brainwave patterns shift into slower frequencies during flow. When you begin your work, try to cultivate a calm, quiet environment. Also, make sure to identify when you are most productive: For some, this is first thing in the morning, and for others it is afternoon. For me, it is late at night. Identify the right time for you to be creative and block it off to engage in your flow time.

Avoid Interruptions and Distractions

Interruptions are the nemesis of flow. Every time get distracted, whether it is a roommate speaking to us, our phone beeping, emails coming in, a distracting song, or a messy desk, it can pull us out of flow and quicken our brainwaves to beta state. When you decide it is time to get into flow, turn offthe phone, ask your friends, family or roommates not to disturb you, and tidy up your work space before you get started.

Focus as Long as you Can:

Once you are able to sit down during a quiet productive time without distractions, try to stay focused for as long as you can. At first, especially if you are new to the task, you may only be able to focus for five or ten minutes. This is OK: Just keep practicing! As you continue to direct your energies to focusing, you will train your brain to more easily and fluidly drop into the flow state and before long,hours will be passing by like minutes.

Match Your Skills to the Task

We can best enter flow when we are working on a task that is suited to our skill level. In other words, when we are well prepared for the task at hand, we are more likely to experience flow. Csíkszentmihályi gives the example of a runner experiencing flow during a marathon for which she has trained for several months.

But There is No Harm in Stretching Your Skills Slightly

Your skills should match the task at hand, but it is also possible to stretch your skills slightly past your comfort zone to maximize flow. A little bit of a challenge can be a great thing. So perhaps you are trying a new yoga move that is extra difficult. Or you are recording a song using new software. As long as the background skills are there, pushing yourself a little bit can be excellent for bringing you into a concentrated, productive state.

Emphasize Process, Not Outcome

Finally, please remember that the experience of flow is a PROCESS, not an outcome. In other words, working and creating from a place of flow is a life skill that you can strive to master with practice, and this usually does not happen overnight. Just keep trying and do not give up even if you don't nail it right away. Remember, flow is all abut and living in the If you become to wrapped up in the outcome, then it can take your enjoyment away. Who really cares what the painting looks like, so long as you enjoyed painting it right!? Just keep trying and continue to be open to the creativity flowing through your space


, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1998)

5 Ways to Find Flow

9 Steps to Achieving Flow (and Happiness) in Your Work

Flow States and Creativity

What is Flow?

About the author

Teaching Psychology Online.

Tend to your inner garden - Why your gut flora may be making you sick

Over the last 100 years, with the industrialization of our food supply, our diet has changed dramatically. This highly processed, high-sugar, high-fat, low-fiber diet has substantially altered our gut bacteria, contributing to the epidemic I call diabesity.

The food we eat not only feeds our fat cells, but also determines what kind of inner garden we are growing in our guts. This garden is filled with bugs that determine more about your health and your emotional and mental wellbeing than you ever imagined! Getting your gut bacteria healthy is one of the most important things you can do to get and stay healthy. If your bacteria are sick, so are you!

Your gut wall houses 70 percent of the cells that make up your immune system. You might not attribute digestive problems with allergies, arthritis, autoimmune diseases (irritable bowel syndrome, acne, chronic fatigue), mood disorders, autism, dementia, and cancer. Many diseases seemingly unrelated are actually caused by gut problems.

If you want to fix your health, start with your gut. Gut health literally affects your entire body.

Consider the important jobs your gut performs regularly, including breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, keeping out toxins, and producing nutrients. That's a lot of work! For optimal immunity, detoxification, and nourishment, your gut must function seamlessly.

Your Second Genome...

Healthy gut flora becomes crucial for optimal gut health. Your gut houses 500 species and three pounds of bacteria. A growing field of research focuses on the microbiome, which Michael Pollan calls your second genome, and how it contributes to weight, disease, and health.

Too many bad gut flora (including parasites, yeast, or bad flora) or not enough good ones can spell serious trouble for your health and your waistline.

In one study with 123 non-obese and 169 obese Danish individuals1, researchers found that people with low amounts of healthy bacteria had more marked overall adiposity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and inflammation compared with healthy-gut folks. They also noted the obese people with lower healthy bacteria gained more weight over time.

Gut bacteria thrive on what you feed them. Scientists are talking about fecal transplants (infusing someone else's poop into you) for weight loss. A much easier and appealing approach is to feed your bacteria the right food and learn how to fertilize your own healthy inner garden. Give them whole, fresh, real foods and good gut bacteria thrive. Feed them junk, and bad bugs flourish, resulting in leaky gut, toxic overload, and inflammation. Fat-regulating hormones like insulin become out of whack, leaving you craving more junk food. The good news is that your microbiome changes with every bite of food, so you can positively alter gut flora beginning with your very next meal.

... and Your Second Brain

Your gut nervous system also acts as a second brain. Researchers find the gut-brain connection plays an important part in gastrointestinal function but also states of feeling and intuitive decision-making.2

Besides your brain, your gut is the only organ with its own nervous system. Your small intestine alone has as many neurons as your spinal cord. Your gut nerve cells produce 95 percent of serotonin, and every class of neurotransmitter in your brain also resides in your gut.Your gut, in fact, contains more neurotransmitters than your brain.

You can understand, then, why the gut must be completely in balance for your brain to be in balance. Gut-brain disturbances manifest in a wide range of disorders, including functional and inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, and eating disorders.3

We all experience gut feelings. You've likely felt "butterflies in your stomach" when you're nervous or had a gut instinct about something. Japanese people view the gut as the seat of the mind and soul. When anything gets in the way of gut-brain communication, your health suffers.

What Imbalances Gut Health?

Even in a perfect world, our gut has a hard time keeping things balanced. But in our world there are many things that knock our digestive system off balance. Those include:

  1. A junk diet. This nutrient-poor diet makes all the wrong bacteria and yeast grow in the gut, leading to a damaged ecosystem.

  2. Medication overuse. Anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, acid blocking drugs, and steroids damage the gut or block normal digestive function.

  3. Infections and gut imbalances. These include small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO), yeast overgrowth, and parasites.

  4. Toxic overload. Including mercury and mold toxins.

  5. Inadequate digestive enzymes. Stress, acid-blocking medications, and zinc deficiencies can all contribute to lack of adequate digestive enzyme function.

  6. Stress. Chronic stress alters your gut nervous system, creating a leaky gut and changing the normal bacteria in the gut.

In this blog, I describe five steps to kill bad gut bugs that make you sick.

Rebalancing Your Gut

The foundation of good gut health begins with what you eat. Focus on fiber-rich vegetables, low-sugar fruits, non-gluten grain, and legumes.

You might also consider an elimination diet to address food sensitivities. Completely remove gluten, dairy, yeast, corn, soy and eggs for a week or two and see how your gut feels and what happens to your other symptoms. My newest book, provides specific instructions about how to eliminate these foods and replace them with whole, real, fresh foods.

I often follow a four-step strategy with patients to reduce inflammation and heal the gut. Many find when they employ these steps, they lose weight, feel better, and their symptoms improve:

  1. Remove the bad bugs, drugs, and food allergens.

  2. Replace needed enzymes, fiber, and prebiotic

  3. Reinoculate your gut with good bacteria (probiotics)

  4. Repair the gut lining with omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, glutamine, and other healing nutrients.

For more comprehensive strategies to heal your gut, visit this blog. If you've ever experienced leaky gut or other gut-related issues, did an elimination diet or certain nutrients help correct the problem? Share your story here or on my Facebook fan page.


1. E Le Chatelier et al., "Richness of human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers," 29, no 500 (2013): 541-6.

2. Adam Hadhazy, Think Twice: How the Gut's "Second Brain" Influences Mood and Well-Being, , a division of Nature America, Inc

3. Mayer EA, Gut feelings: the emerging biology of gut-brain communication., 2011 Jul 13;12(8):453-66. doi: 10.1038/nrn3071.

About the author

New York Times

Update: Tropical Storm Gonzalo nears Leeward Islands; Hurricane Watch for Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico

Hurricane watches and tropical storm warnings have been issued for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as Tropical Storm Gonzalo strengthens in the Atlantic Ocean just east of the Leeward Islands. Tropical Storm Gonzalo, the seventh named storm of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, formed early Sunday afternoon.

Gonzalo is moving toward the west at 10 to 15 mph, and is expected to steadily gain strength over the next few days. Hurricane watches and tropical storm warnings have been issued for Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.

Tropical storm warnings are also in effect for islands as far south as Guadeloupe in the Lesser Antilles. Gonzalo will spread showers with gusts of tropical storm force across the Leeward Islands through Monday, then into the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico later Monday into Tuesday.

Gonzalo may near hurricane strength by time it reaches Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Gonzalo is then expected to curl toward the northwest, then north around the periphery of subtropical high pressure in the central Atlantic Ocean.

A later such turn may place parts of the southeast Bahamas and Hispaniola in a risk of more significant impact by mid-week. Gonzalo is expected to be a hurricane by the time it begins its northwest curl.

It is not clear yet whether future Gonzalo will threaten Bermuda next weekend. All interests from the Leeward Islands to Hispaniola, the southeast Bahamas and Bermuda should monitor closely the progress of this system.

At this time, this system poses no threat to the mainland United States.

Below are the latest status maps, forecast maps, watch/warning maps, and satellite imagery.

Current Information

So, where exactly is Gonzalo's center located now? If you're plotting the storm along with us, the information depicted in the map above provides the latitude/longitude coordinates, distance away from the nearest land location, maximum sustained winds and central pressure (measured in millibars).

(FORECASTS: San Juan | St. Thomas | St. Croix )

Millions faced with severe weather across central U.S. - Multi-day severe outbreak begins tonight; three severe thunderstorm watches issued

The severe weather outbreak is set to begin Sunday night, continuing through Monday and Tuesday as a deep dip in the jet stream swings from the Great Plains into the South.

In addition, the flash flood threat will be in play from this same system as locally heavy rainfall is wrung out over areas that have been soaked in past days.

Below, we have more details on severe weather and flash flood threats across the country. You can scroll down the page, or click on these links to jump to your area of interest.

The Weather Channel TV network will pre-empt regular programming nationwide to bring you continuing live weather coverage from midnight Sunday night (Monday morning) until at least 11 p.m. EDT Monday to cover this severe weather outbreak, along with Tropical Storm Gonzalo as it threatens the Caribbean. We will cut into programming at other times if conditions warrant.

The radar maps above focus on the most likely areas for severe weather and/or flash flooding. Maps update every five minutes; refresh this page for the latest image.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has issued the following severe weather watches:

- A severe thunderstorm watch is valid until 11 p.m. CDT for portions of southern Kansas, western Oklahoma, and northwest Texas. The watch does not include any large metropolitan areas, but does include areas east of Amarillo, Texas, and west of Oklahoma City.

- A severe thunderstorm watch is valid until 3 a.m. CDT for portions of north and west Texas, including the cities of Wichita Falls and Abilene.

- A severe thunderstorm watch is valid until 3 a.m. CDT for parts of Oklahoma and south-central Kansas, including the cities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

BioSurveillance: Tracking your Preschooler's health

© activist post

There is growing trend toward the use of "biosurveillance" - Web-based systems to track public health, many times with an added predictive model . As you'll see in the University of Michigan press release below, a familiar sales pitch is employed to assert that the only way to keep the public safe is through pervasive surveillance ... now including preschoolers.

With Ebola taking center stage as the latest threat to humanity, along with new concerns over enterovirus EV-D68 which is afflicting children in increasing numbers, the surveillance state is not letting a single crisis go to waste.

Recent announcements by social media companies also indicate the arrival of full-scale health surveillance. Twitter's "ChatterGrabber" is a "machine-learning algorithm" that will harvest communications for "tickborne diseases, such as Lyme disease, public sentiment involving vaccines ...serving as an early warning system for public health officials through suspicious tweets or conversations." And Facebook is

" exploring creating online 'support communities' that would connect Facebook users suffering from various ailments...also considering new 'preventative care' applications that would help people improve their lifestyles."

Embedded in all of these missions, naturally, is a drive to ensure a wider adoption of vaccines, perhaps making them mandatory under medical martial law . As the climate of fear begins to hit a fever pitch, we would do well to consider which is more frightening: the virus of the week or the permanent solutions currently being offered.

Press Release:

A web-based system that allows preschools and child care centers to report illnesses to local public health departments could improve the detection of disease outbreaks and allow resources to be mobilized more quickly, according to University of Michigan research to be presented Saturday, Oct. 11 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition in San Diego.

Researchers who designed the biosurveillance system will describe how it can be used to track illness trends and improve public health response to outbreaks during a presentation at 2:09 p.m. PDT in Marina Ballroom Salon E at the San Diego Marriott Marquis.

"For example, if certain child care centers are reporting the beginning of stomach flu (vomiting and diarrhea), other centers can start taking steps to thoroughly clean to kill any viruses before symptoms occur or before a major outbreak takes place," says Andrew N. Hashikawa, M.D., F.A.A.P., a pediatric emergency physician at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

In addition, if child care providers see that larger centers in their community are reporting flu-like illness, they can use the data to emphasize to parents the need to have their children immunized against influenza sooner rather than later, says Hashikawa, who also is assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Children under age 5 generally become sick earlier and more frequently than school-aged children and adults because their immune systems are underdeveloped. Young children often are responsible for spreading viruses to the rest of the community.

Previously some public health departments have found that school absenteeism as a marker for illness was imprecise, delayed, and unavailable during summer and winter breaks.

"However, child care or preschool absences are typically more likely to be associated with illness and most young children continue to need child care for most of the year," says Hashikawa, a member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

Most public health departments do not electronically track influenza or stomach illnesses in preschools and child care centers settings.

"Most illness reporting methods used by many public health departments are slow, paper-based and inefficient," says Hashikawa.

To improve reporting, Hashikawa and his colleagues created a computerized system and tested it at four early learning centers in Michigan. Staff were trained to use the system daily to report any ill child. No confidential or identifying information was collected. They entered data on illness type and symptoms in seven categories commonly seen in preschoolers: fever, influenza-like illness, pink eye, stomach illnesses (gastroenteritis), cold or respiratory symptoms, ear infections and rash. They also entered the age range of the ill child (infant, 0-12 months), (toddler, 13-35 months) or (preschooler, 36-59 months), daily attendance at their center, and action taken (e.g., child brought to a physician).

Researchers sent data electronically to the public health department weekly or more frequently if spikes in illness cases were seen.

Results showed centers reported 188 individual episodes of illness from Dec. 10, 2013, through March 28, 2014. Nearly 15 percent were infants, 32 percent were toddlers and 54 percent were preschoolers. The most common illnesses reported were gastroenteritis (37 percent), fever (31 percent), cold (17 percent) and influenza (3 percent).

Data also revealed an unusually large increase in gastroenteritis cases during a two-day period, which was comparable to a countywide spike among schools reported three weeks later.

"Preliminary data suggest that using the online biosurveillance in child care centers and preschools gives us an earlier detection and warning system because the younger children appeared to become sick first compared to middle school and high school aged children within the community," says Hashikawa.

View the abstract here, .

About C.S. Mott Children's Hospital: here.

About the American Academy of Pediatrics:

USGS: Earthquake Magnitude 4.0 - Near Mammoth Lakes, California


Event Time

2014-10-13 00:13:50 UTC

2014-10-12 17:13:50 UTC-07:00 at epicenter

014-10-12 17:13:50 UTC-07:00 system time


37.475°N 118.783°W depth=7.1km (4.4mi)

Nearby Cities

25km (16mi) SE of Mammoth Lakes, California

108km (67mi) NE of Clovis, California

108km (67mi) NE of Sanger, California

113km (70mi) NNE of Reedley, California

206km (128mi) SSE of Carson City, Nevada

Scientific data

Israel, Palestine draft joint Ebola response plan


© Reuters/Baz Ratner

To draft a joint action plan to prevent Ebola, Israeli and Palestinian officials held a meeting over weekend, while Tel Aviv is introducing hospital drills and setting tighter border controls to curb the threat of the deadly virus.

In a series of efforts to prevent the Ebola virus from spreading into Israel, COGAT, the Defense Ministry unit responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, announced that Israeli and Palestinian officials met to discuss an action plan.

"During the meeting, updates were exchanged between the parties, and transfer of information was agreed upon by way of additional meetings to take place in order to further track the issue," said COGAT.

The discussion focused on a number of issues including special training in advanced epidemiology for Palestinian and Jordanian doctors, a source familiar with the matter told AFP.

"There are contacts with the Israeli side regarding this within the context of WHO's instructions on fighting this virus, which is a global task," Assad Ramlawi of the Palestinian health ministry told AFP. There are common crossings and we have contacts on this, nothing more or less."

Israel has also introduced questioning at the border for passengers arriving from Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, according to Prime Minister's Benjamin Netanyahu office. The announcement comes after the Israeli PM held an emergency meeting with government officials, the second high-level emergency meeting on the subject this week.

"The State of Israel is prepared to bar, as much as possible, the entry of Ebola patients into its borders, as part of the broader efforts to protect the borders from illegal infiltrators and terror," Netanyahu said in a statement following the session with health, military, police, border crossings officials.

"This is a global epidemic and we are cooperating with other countries, and in addition to protecting our borders, we are taking a series of steps to isolate patients, if they come, and of course to treat them in our healthcare systems."

The announcement was made despite the lack of an actual threat as no confirmed cases have surfaced either in Israel or Palestine. Yet the head of the country's largest air hub, Ben-Gurion Airport, Shmuel Zakai, said border control placed "a very large deployment" to prevent those with potential virus from entering undetected.

security officer leads a dog

© AFP Photo/Jack Guez

A security officer leads a dog as they patrol the entrance of Ben Gurion International airport.

Meanwhile, Professor Arnon Afek, director-general of the Health Ministry, said the ministry is working directly with the hospital staff to tackle the potential threat of an outbreak. Afek also stressed that his staff are working with experts around the world to track developments of the virus, which so far has claimed more than 4000 lives in West Africa, Israel National News reported.

"We want to see that the hospitals, which are entrusted with the treatment of such cases, are also prepared for scenarios of Ebola - from identification, hospitalization, laboratory examination and so on," Afek told , as representatives from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the World Health Organization met Saturday evening to discuss cooperation.

The Health Ministry is also planning to conduct hospital drills to help potential patients in need.

"We have contacted some hospitals and instructed them to hold internal drills. In two weeks we intend to hold more drills of our own to check their preparedness because we believe we should be prepared for any eventuality," Afek said. "We should remember that Ebola is not a very contagious disease, and not many Israelis visit those countries."

While not too many Israeli's travel to Africa, on the receiving end some 43,000 African Christians have visited the country since the start of the year, according to the tourism ministry.

As of Wednesday, a total 4,033 people have died, out of a total of 8,399 registered cases in seven countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. For now, Liberia is the worst-hit of all the affected countries, with 4,076 cases and 2,316 deaths. It is followed by Sierra Leone, where there are 2,950 cases and 930 deaths.

11 Colombian Indians killed by lightning strike

© Reuters

A building in Colombia, where an indian tribe held a ritual, was hit by ligthing leaving 11 people dead and another 15 injured.

Bogota (AFP) - Eleven Wiwa Indians killed by lightning during a tribal ceremony in Colombia's Sierra Nevada mountains will be left unburied where they died according to their traditions, an official said Sunday.

The community of about 60 families will abandon their remote village in the wake of Monday's tragedy, but it was not yet clear where they would go, said Jose Gregorio Rodriguez, an advisor on the Wiwas at the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, which represents the country's 800,000 indigenous people.

"The bodies will stay in the 'uguma' (ceremonial hut) where they died and the community will leave the site, as their customs and traditions dictate," Rodriguez told AFP.

The 11 men were killed on Monday when lightning struck the hut during a ceremony, also injuring another 20 participants who suffered second and third degree burns.

The Wiwas, a tribe that retreated into the Sierra Nevada of northern Colombia after the Spanish conquest, revere all aspects of nature and believe they are called to keep the world in balance.

Some villagers saw the devastating lightning strike as a spiritual blow in response to "man's turning his back on nature," Lorenzo Gil, a survivor, told AFP this week.

After the tragedy, the villagers held a long funeral ritual, whose first part concluded on Friday. A 10-day healing ceremony will follow.

"This rite is a healing for the people but also for the affected territories," said Rodriguez.

A day after the lightning strike that killed the Wiwas, another indigenous community in the Sierra Nevada, the Arhuacas, were hit by a landslide that killed six people, including five children.

"When the indigenous die as a result of tragic acts of nature, the community abandons the place to avoid other dangerous natural phenomena," said Rodriguez.

Russian scientists have created three Ebola vaccines according to Health Ministry

Russian virologist

© www.theheraldng.com

Laboratory tests for Ebola vaccines.

Russian scientists are working on three potential Ebola vaccines which they expect to introduce as soon as in the next six months. "One of the vaccines is "already ready for clinical trials," Russia's health minister Veronika Skvortsova has announced. "We have created three vaccines," Skvortsova announced in an interview with Rossiya-1 TV. "One vaccine is based on a strain of Ebola, and the other two have been created by means of genetic engineering."

Russian virologists have also created an anti-virus drug that, they believe, could be successfully used for treating Ebola as tests have showed that that it is effective in curing Ebola-related diseases.

So far, there is now no licensed treatment or vaccine for the highly contagious disease that has killed over 4,000 people in western Africa since the start of the year and has recently started spreading beyond the region.

Now several countries are trying to develop an effective treatment. The first-ever human trials for an Ebola vaccine started in Mali earlier this week. On October 8, the first health worker received the drug. Over the course of the trial, which is being organized by the University of Maryland and Mali's Health Ministry, a total of 40 volunteers will be given the vaccine.

In Russia it's impossible to contract the Ebola virus, Skvortsova said, adding that the country has still implemented a protection plan against the virus, which it stepped up in July.

"We are now carrying out a sanitary inspection of 7,500 flights per month, which is almost half a million people," she said. "Everybody coming from West Africa is under special control, especially 450 students who study in Russian universities. Sixteen of them had viral illnesses and were hospitalized, but they were not relevant to the [virus]."

Skvortsova said that 71 of Russia's airports have upgraded their security and now have thermal cameras to detect the first signs of the virus. "Both portable and stationary thermal scanners are being used at many airports, and we are monitoring all direct and indirect flights that arrive," she said.

Texas health care worker tests positive for Ebola

As of Oct. 8, a total 4,033 people have died, out of a total of 8,399 registered cases in seven countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. For now, Liberia is the worst-hit of all the affected countries, with 4,076 cases and 2,316 deaths. It is followed by Sierra Leone, where there are 2,950 cases and 930 deaths.

Despite all international efforts to combat the disease, the WHO said that Ebola's spread is"entrenched" and "accelerating."

"The disease is entrenched in the [countries'] capitals, 70 percent of the people affected are definitely dying from this disease, and it is accelerating in almost all of the settings," WHO deputy head Bruce Aylward said on Friday.

Democracy thrives on Neptune

Pyramid of Capitalism

© http://ift.tt/1n6HvTv

Following the news coming out of the US and its concubine states can sometimes be very disorienting. What do you publish when so much is being violated simultaneously?

Running a blog means a constant source of information from around the world of the so many violations of sovereignty, genocides, terrorism and lies that the west has undertaken in its quest to rule supreme against the people of this planet.

As is the case with the dogs of war, they bark and compete to outdo each other in an effort to please their masters. Be it the demonic joint venture of the US/Gulf Arabs/Israel/EU, also commonly known as IS, or be it the wholesale murder of civilians in Pakistan, the story is the same: We, the people, are under attack from the Empire.

The delusion of unicorn democracy perpetuates only among the masses that subscribe to the sewage masquerading as news. For the rest of us democracy died a long time ago. Make no mistake, we do not live free and will not live free until a multi-polar world emerges. Until then there will be an illusion of "freedom" as long as you get along and voice the official narrative.

Many of you have either asked or hinted at some coverage of Oceania. While we will highlight what we see as critical, we will not talk about domestic politics just as we will never talk about US domestic politics. It is an exercise in human stupidity. We have no desire to engage in a thriving expression of freedom on a strictly controlled spectrum of opinion. Once again Noam Chomsky's quote comes to mind:

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum..."

The recent statements from Cameron and May in the UK have made it clear that even those who are clearly not associated with the boogeyman of terrorism will be hunted down and burned at the stake.

Nick Kollerstrom, author of 'Terror on the Tube, Behind the Veil of 7/7′, hands himself in to Scotland Yard, after David Cameron's speech to the UN regarding 9/11 and 7/7 "truthers" being as dangerous as ISIS.

[embedded content]

Dallas health worker who tested positive for Ebola wore 'full' protective gear

A Texas health worker who provided care for the first

person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. has tested positive

for the deadly virus in a preliminary examination. (Reuters)

In the first apparent case of Ebola transmission in the United States, a Texas hospital worker who treated an Ebola-stricken Liberian man has tested positive for the deadly virus.

The preliminary test result was announced early Sunday, four days after the death of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas.

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital worker reported "a low-grade fever" Friday, the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement. This person "was isolated and referred for testing." The preliminary test result was received late Saturday.

In the first case of Ebola transmission in the United States, a Texas nurse who treated an Ebola-stricken Liberian man has tested positive for the deadly virus.

The diagnosis was confirmed Sunday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four days after the death of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas.

Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said that an unknown breach in protocol led to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital worker being infected and that federal officials are investigating. He said additional CDC staff are heading to Texas.

Frieden also said more cases may be likely.

"We are deeply concerned by the news," he said during a news conference Sunday. Frieden said the worker, whom other officials identified as a female nurse, provided care for Duncan on "multiple occasions" that included "extensive contacts with him."

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins spoke at a news conference Sunday about the Dallas health worker who has been tested positive for Ebola. "That health care worker is a heroic person who helped provide care to Mr. Duncan," said Jenkins. (AP)

Frieden also said the CDC is considering having Ebola patients be treated at one of the four facilities in the United States that have special isolation units. Three of them - the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.; Emory University Hospital in Atlanta; and the University of Nebraska Medical Center - have treated confirmed or suspected Ebola cases. The fourth place is St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Mont.

He outlined several steps that were being taken to care for the health-care worker and prevent the infection of others. Every effort is being made to care for the patient safely and effectively, he said.

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital worker reported "a low-grade fever" Friday,according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. She "was isolated and referred for testing," and the preliminary test result was received late Saturday. The CDC confirmed the test on Sunday afternoon.

The CDC did not consider the nurse to be "high risk," said Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer for Texas Health Resources, which operates Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. She treated Duncan, the Ebola patient, after his second visit to the emergency room, on Sept. 28, and was "following full CDC precautions," including wearing a gown, gloves, a mask and a protective face shield.

"We're very concerned," Varga said, though he added that the hospital is "confident that the precautions that we have in place are protecting our health-care workers."

Taking off personal protective equipment - gowns, gloves, face masks, goggles - is also one of the biggest areas of contamination and risk, Frieden said. According to CDC guidelines, protective equipment must be removed in a particular order, without any of the material touching the wearer's skin, mucus membranes or the exterior of the clothing.

One version of the process begins with removing infected gloves, then the goggles or face shield, followed by the protective gown, which must be removed from the inside out, and finally the face mask or respirator. If hands become contaminated by touching the outside of the equipment, they must be washed after each step in the process of removing the personal protective gear.

"It's not easy to do right," Frieden said. CDC and state officials will be investigating how hospital workers followed recommended protocols for doing so.

Officials are also assessing all possible contacts the health-care worker may have had from the moment she developed symptoms on Friday. A CDC epidemiologist has interviewed her, and, so far, there is only one other person who may have had contact with the worker since the symptoms developed, and that individual is under active monitoring, Frieden said.

State, local and federal officials are trying to identify the number of other health-care workers who may potentially have been at risk of exposure, he said. Earlier Sunday, a hospital official said the hospital is tracking the condition of 18 hospital employees. Frieden clarified that the 48 other people who have been monitored - and are not showing symptoms - were people who may have come into contact with Duncan before Sept. 28, when he was admitted to the hospital. Now that the health-care worker is being treated, officials are determining how many other health-care workers may have been exposed after Sept. 28.

PET scans reveal psychopathic markers


In the USA, our current system of government is not working; not unusual, since there has never been a lasting system of governance that has worked. All 'ocracies' and 'isms' currently in place will in time be thrown upon the refuse pile, to join a heap of other failed systems throughout history. Why can't we get it right? After thousands of years spent in refinement of dozens of systems, we are no closer to fair governance today than we were in the times of Sumeria.

The reason for this is simple. If we are to compare a Political System to a clock, we can envision that there are cogs, all turning in harmony, that produce a desired result. For a clock, the desired result is the correct time to be displayed. For a Political System, the goal would be to have a fair, transparent system constructed to maintain aspects of society that cannot be handled at a family level. Township, town, city, county, state, federal; all doing only what is required at that level, and no more. All levels would report to the people of problems, progress and major decisions.

The reason the Utopian vision just described can't take place is that one of the cogs is not engineered correctly; one bad cog will render the entire system dysfunctional. If you were a baker, and had to make all of your bread from scratch, the first thing to do would be to get your ingredients together. You've made your bread, and when you tasted, knew something was wrong. What would you do first? Check the ingredients is what I would do. If one ingredient is bad, then it spoils the whole batch of dough.

We used to drain a person's blood unto death for a head cold. (To much Iron in the blood!)

We used to think if you sailed far enough on the ocean, you would fall of the edge of the earth.

We used to think the sun revolved around the earth.

As a species, we've thought the silliest things, but we only know they are silly because the sciences have proven otherwise. In examination then, if the 'ocracies' and 'isms' that have been attempted over several millennia have all failed, then perhaps the problem lies in another direction?

When discussing systems of governance, the label is the 'Political System'. The primary roles are filled by Politicians. It doesn't matter how the system came into being; what does matter is that at some point in its evolutionary cycle, it becomes permeated with a group of people concerned with two things: Money and Power.

At a certain level, regardless of the initial intentions of anyone running for public office, the system in place either corrupts that person (if successful in his/her bid) or they do not function in that environment and they are run out or get out of politics. That's because the system is populated with psychopaths, and you can only go so far in a psychopathic environment if you are not one. Get Hitchcock out of your head. Get Dianne Feinstein in.

Science has made great leaps in mapping the human brain through the use of PET scans and the MRI machine. (1) We can now look at pictures of a brain and visually gauge levels of compassion and empathy found within. By studying thousands of these scans and cross-referencing them with the histories of the subjects scanned, irrefutable conclusions have been arrived at. Brains showing a lower than average development in the frontal cortex link to a patient history of psychopathic behavior. Studies indicate these diminished brain areas in individuals are markers for what we call psychopaths; manifestations of psychopaths include a lust for power and control, desire wealth and unearned respect and a marked lack compassion for others, or empathy.

At a certain political level, from second-term politician and up, as well, one must be a clinical psychopath to function and thrive.

Being a psychopath is not a choice, any more than contracting Polio would be. The point is, that psychopathy is an illness of the brain. Anyone can be a psychopath. Anyone can have the Parkinson's time bomb ticking inside. No difference.

A brain showing psychopathic tendencies manifest a variant gene called the MAO-A gene, that has been linked to aggression, violence and low empathy. (2) The area of the brain lacking development in psychopaths is the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. This is displayed here:

Brain Scan

© Activist Post

The arrow shows a healthy brain on top and the brain of a psychopath below. There is clearly a difference. There is a great deal of science supporting this from top universities and scientific institutions. Interestingly, though, the APA (American Psychiatric Association) does not list 'psychopathy' as a mental condition in its definitive manual DSM-V , though they have 'identified' over 400 neuroses since climbing in bed with Big Pharma. The first thing a psychopath would do is squash any attempts to identify psychopathy in a medical diagnosis.

A psychologist from Stalinist Russia, Andrew M. Lobaczewski, was part of a team (the only one to make it out alive and be able to report their findings) that approximately 4% of the human population displays psychopathic markers. (3)

"..... a lust for power and control. They desire wealth and unearned respect. They lack compassion for others." Does this line from above describe, more or less, what we've come to know as our average politician? Most, I believe, would find this to be an accurate reflection.

Many jobs require a physical prior to hiring. They can include a psychological profile as well. Any psychopath worth their salt can answer on paper what he or she knows is required for approval, so any written test should be dismissed as wholly unreliable. What is impossible to hide are the results of a PET scan. If a person has psychopathic tendencies, no amount of lies or coercion or blustering or threatening can alter the results. It's there or it isn't.

If a potential senator has a congenital heart defect or exhibits per-Alzheimer symptoms, that person would be ruled out as a potential candidate as being physically or mentally incapable of carrying out the duties of office.

What is needed is greater awareness of psychopathy and the prevalence of psychopathic persons in office. If, as it has been scientifically established, there is a genetic marker for psychopathy, then that condition should be a precursor to running for office, then we as a society would be able to 'filter' out the psychopaths, leaving room for mentally healthy, non-psychotic persons to function as administrators of the public trust.

If, as it is now, a person cannot hold office for a long list of physical conditions, both present and potential, then this condition, this genetic marker, should be placed on that list. There is no shame in it, any more than one can or should view Parkinson's, or Lou Gehrig's disease as a personal shortcoming or flaw.

This has a small chance for success, unfortunately. Who controls newspapers, television, Hollywood, Business, government and virtually every aspect of our existence to a lesser or greater degree? Psychopaths. The system is set up, designed, and maintained by them.

But, if you really want to test this theory out, (and watch a politician say no in a hundred different ways), ask one of them if they would be willing to submit to a PET scan to check for psychopathic markers. There will be no takers.


  1. Magnetic resonance imaging

  2. The Neuroscientist Who Discovered He Was a Psychopath

West Antarctic glacier likely melting from geothermal heat below, not from Global warming

A paper published today in finds evidence that one of the largest glaciers in West Antarctica, the Thwaites Glacier, is primarily melting from below due to geothermal heat flux from volcanoes located along the West Antarctic Volcanic Rift System, i.e. not due to man-made CO2.

antarctic Volcano

© JoNova

CAGW proponents have alleged that West Antarctic glaciers such as such as the Thwaites Glacier and the neighboring Pine Island Glacier are rapidly melting due to man-made greenhouse gases and/or ocean heating, despite observations showing the air temperature in the Antarctic hasn't risen since 1979, Antarctic sea surface temperatures have fallen since 2006, and ARGO ocean heat content of the Southern Ocean shows no increase at any level of the top 2000 meters since the system was put in place in 2004. The authors find the neighboring Pine Island Glacier also overlies the same volcanic rift system and thus may also be melting from geothermal heat below.

The West Antarctic Volcanic Rift System is illustrated by JoNova below, and just so happens to correspond to the areas of notable glacier melt and alleged warming. In contrast, East Antarctica, which holds > 80% of Antarctic ice mass and does not have any known underlying volcanoes, is significantly increasing in ice mass.

The paper joins several others finding geothermal heat largely if not entirely responsible for glacier melt in multiple regions in both Antarctica and Greenland, i.e. not anthropogenic.

Variable crustal thickness beneath Thwaites Glacier revealed from airborne gravimetry, possible implications for geothermal heat flux in West Antarctica

Theresa M. Damiani, Tom A. Jordan, Fausto Ferraccioli, Duncan A. Young, Donald D. Blankenship

The Byrd Subglacial Basin beneath Thwaites Glacier is part of Mesozoic widespread rifting.

Thin crust (18 - 24 km) exists in eastern Marie Byrd Land and beneath Thwaites Glacier.

Gravity evidence supports hypothesis of warm mantle beneath Marie Byrd Land.

Supports the use of thin crust and higher heat flux values in Western Antarctica.


Thwaites Glacier has one of the largest glacial catchments in West Antarctica. The future stability of Thwaites Glacier's catchment is of great concern, as this part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has recently been hypothesized to already be en route towards collapse. Although an oceanic trigger is thought to be responsible for current change at the grounding line of Thwaites Glacier, in order to determine the effects of this coastal change further in the interior of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet it is essential to also better constrain basal conditions that control the dynamics of fast glacial flow within the catchment itself. One major contributor to fast glacial flow is the presence of subglacial water, the production of which is a result of both glaciological shear heating and geothermal heat flux. The primary goal of our study is to investigate the crustal thickness beneath Thwaites Glacier, which is an important contributor to regional-scale geothermal heat flux patterns. Crustal structure is an indicator of past tectonic events and hence provides a geophysical proxy for the thermal status of the crust and mantle. Terrain-corrected Bouguer gravity disturbances are used here to estimate depths to the Moho and mid-crustal boundary. The thin continental crust we reveal beneath Thwaites Glacier supports the hypothesis that the West Antarctic Rift System underlies the region and is expressed topographically as the Byrd Subglacial Basin. This rifted crust is of similar thickness to that calculated from airborne gravity data beneath neighboring Pine Island Glacier, and is more extended than crust in the adjacent Siple Coast sector of the Ross Sea Embayment. A zone of thinner crust is also identified near the area's subaerial volcanoes lending support to a recent interpretation predicting that this part of Marie Byrd Land is a major volcanic dome, likely within the West Antarctic Rift System itself. Near-zero Bouguer gravity disturbances for the subglacial highlands and subaerial volcanoes indicate the absence of supporting crustal roots, suggesting either (1) thermal support from a warm lithosphere or alternatively, and arguably less likely; (2) flexural support of the topography by a cool and rigid lithosphere, or (3) Pratt-like compensation. Although forward modeling of gravity data is non-unique in respect to these alternative possibilities, we prefer the hypothesis that Marie Byrd Land volcanoes are thermally-supported by warmer upper mantle. The presence of such inferred warm upper mantle also suggests regionally elevated geothermal heat flux in this sector of the West Antarctic Rift System and consequently the potential for enhanced meltwater production beneath parts of Thwaites Glacier itself. Our new crustal thickness estimates and geothermal heat flux inferences in the Thwaites Glacier region are significant both for studies of the structure of the broader West Antarctic Rift System and for assessments of geological influences on West Antarctic Ice Sheet dynamics and glacial isostatic adjustment models.

West Antarctic volcano region

© Unknown

Fig 1 from the paper illustrating West Antarctic region studied in red box

Geothermal heat flux West antarctic

© Unknown

Fig 2. Geothermal heat flux within box in Fig 1.

Mouse study reveals part of the brain that reacts to the 'love hormone'

Love Hormone

© Thinkstock.com

According to researchers, "Oxytocin, the body’s natural love potion, helps couples fall in love, makes mothers bond with their babies, and encourages teams to work together. Now new research at Rockefeller University reveals a mechanism by which this prosocial hormone has its effect on interactions between the sexes, at least in certain situations."

The discovery of a small group of neurons that respond to oxytocin in mice has shed new light on how the so-called "love hormone" actually causes females to become sexually interested in a potential mate, claims a new study appearing in the October 9 edition of .

The discovery was made by researchers from Rockefeller University, who had initially set out to locate a new type of interneuron, a neuron that relays messages to other neurons across relatively short distances. The study authors started creating profiles of the genes expressed in interneurons using a technique known as translating ribosome affinity purification (TRAP) when they found receptors that respond to oxytocin in the prefrontal cortex.

According to BBC News science reporter Melissa Hogenboom, the neurons control sexual behavior in mice. When the scientists switched off the neurons, meaning that they were no longer receptive to oxytocin, the female mice lost interest in mating during their sexually-active period and were "no more attracted to a mate than to a block of Lego," Hogenboom added.

Co-author Dr. Nathaniel Heintz told BBC News that the results were "pretty fascinating because it was a small population of cells that had such a specific effect." He explained that the researchers used toxins that block the ability of cells to transmit signals to other neurons in order to observe the impact it had on the female mice.

"This internal hormone gets regulated in many different contexts; in this particular context, it works through the prefrontal cortex to help modulate social and sexual behavior in female mice," Dr. Heintz added. "It doesn't mean it's uniquely responsible because the hormone acts in several important places in the brain but it does show that this particular cell type is required for this aspect of female social behavior."

[embedded content]

The Rockefeller University research team, led by doctoral student Miho Nakajima, dubbed the neurons "oxytocin receptor interneurons" (OxtrINs). In one experiment, she and her colleagues blocked the receptor's ability to detect the hormone in some females, then gave the rodents a choice between exploring a room containing a male mouse or one containing an inanimate object - which, in this case, was the aforementioned Lego block.

Surprisingly, sometimes the mice with silenced OxtrINs demonstrated an abnormally high interest in the building block, while sometimes they responded normally. This caused Nakajima to suspect that the female reproductive cycle played a role, so she began recording whether or not the mice were in their sexually receptive phase (estrus) or their period of sexual inactivity (diestrus).

"Estrus, it turned out, was key," the university explained in a statement. "Female mice in this phase showed an unusual lack of interest in the males when their receptors were inactivated. They mostly just sniffed at the Lego. There was no effect on mice is diestrus, and there was no effect if the male love interest was replaced with a female."

When the experiments were repeated in male mice, there was no effect, the researchers noted. While oxytocin has similar effects for humans as for mice, the authors are not yet certain if the hormone would influence the human equivalent of this behavior, or if it functions through a similar network of interneurons.

"We don't yet understand how, but we think oxytocin prompts mice in estrus [heat] to become interested in investigating their potential mates," Nakajima explained, according to Victoria Woollaston of the . "This suggests that the social computation going on in a female mouse's brain differs depending on the stage of her reproductive cycle."

"Oxytocin responses have been studied in many parts of the brain, and it is clear that it, or other hormones like it, can impact behavior in different ways, in different contexts and in response to different physiological cues," added Dr. Heintz. "In a general sense, this new research helps explain why social behavior depends on context as well as physiology."

Former NSA director had thousands personally invested in obscure tech firms

General Keith Alexander


Army General Keith Alexander

New financial disclosure documents released this month by the National Security Agency (NSA) show that Keith Alexander, who served as its director from August 2005 until March 2014, had thousands of dollars of investments during his tenure in a handful of technology firms.

Each year disclosed has a checked box next to this statement: "Reported financial interests or affiliations are unrelated to assigned or prospective duties, and no conflicts appear to exist."

Alexander repeatedly made the public case that the American public is at "greater risk" from a terrorist attack in the wake of the Snowden disclosures.

Statements such as those could have a positive impact on the companies he was invested in, which could have eventually helped his personal bottom line.

The NSA did not immediately respond to Ars' requests for further comment.

The documents were obtained and published Friday by Vice News as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent lawsuit against the NSA brought by Vice News reporter Jason Leopold.

The 60 released pages, which cover a period from 2008 through 2013, document that as of 2008, Alexander had as much as $50,000 invested in Synchronoss, a cloud storage firm. Synchronoss provides services to major mobile phone providers, including AT&T, Verizon and others.

He also had as much as $15,000 invested in Datascension, a "data gathering and research company." Public trades in the firm were suspended by the Securities and Exchange Commission in August 2014 due to "a lack of current and accurate information" about it.

Pericom, a semiconductor company that also has made hardware for "DVR solutions for the CCTV security and surveillance markets," also appears in his portfolio, with investments up to $15,000 appearing as of 2008.

The former NSA director also had investments as recently as 2013 up to $15,000 in RF Micro Devices, a company that makes "high-performance semiconductor components" for "aerospace and defense markets," among others. Federal records show that RF Micro Devices has done $10.5 million worth of business with the government, including $9.5 million of the Department of Defense (which could include the NSA).

Alexander's other financial disclosures include investments in mainstream mutual funds (such as Vanguard Small Cap), but also show that he took out a 10-year loan (at 4.86 percent interest) between $15,001 and $50,000 with the College Loan Corporation beginning in 2003.

Since leaving the NSA, Alexander has founded a company called IronNet Cybersecurity, which offers protection services to banks for up to $1 million per month.

In June 2014, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) wrote a letter to Wall Street's largest lobby group, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, in which he questioned Alexander's financial ethics.

Disclosing or misusing classified information for profit is, as Mr. Alexander well knows, a felony. I question how Mr. Alexander can provide any of the services he is offering unless he discloses or misuses classified information, including extremely sensitive sources and methods. Without the classified information that he acquired in his former position, he literally would have nothing to offer to you.

Explosion at Saskatchewan gas facility prompts evacuation

An explosion and fire at a gas pumping station in Saskatchewan on Saturday prompted an evacuation.

RCMP said the blast occurred at a TransGas facility near this small community, northeast of Saskatoon.

Police say there have been no injuries reported.

The area around the facility that was being evacuated is just over three kilometres.

TransGas is a subsidiary of Crown-owned SaskEnergy, and company spokesman Dave Burdeniuk said several buildings at the site were damaged but there were no employees there when the incident happened.

Burdeniuk said automated equipment shut the facility down and vented off any remaining natural gas that was in the pipes, which he said isn't toxic.

The fire, however, continues to burn at the wellhead for an underground storage cavern.

"I don't know what kind of resources at this point we're going to mobilize yet to get the fire out. Right now, we need to keep any flames from spreading and that's what we're doing with the first-responders that are on-scene with us at this point," Burdeniuk said.

RCMP couldn't immediately say how many people were affected by the evacuation, but said it's a rural area and that no major highways or roads are affected. They say they've barricaded roads leading to the site to keep people away.

Burdeniuk said it appears the flames were sparked when there was a release of gas at the wellhead from one of seven underground caverns at the site. The caverns, he explained, are used to store natural gas for the winter when demand for heating is greater.

The caverns are about a kilometre-and-a-half down and are carved with water in underground salt deposits. Each cavern is about as tall as a 12-storey office building.

Burdeniuk was unsure about whether there was a risk of the gas igniting underground.

"We don't know what might happen but it should just burn at the wellhead. That's usually how these things happen when they do occur," he said.

Burdeniuk said the facility would normally be staffed during a weekday, but was designed to be automated on evenings and weekends when demand for natural gas is low. When extremely low temperatures occur, however, he said a staff member sleeps at the site to make sure everything goes smoothly.

"We work very hard on maintenance at these facilities and they are designed to operate in all conditions in Saskatchewan. It's too early to say what happened and how this occurred," he said.

"We've been operating these facilities since the mid-1960s and have never had a serious injury out at a facility. And incidents like this are rare."

No customers have lost service, he said.

Nature's pain killers

Are you in pain? You don't have to reach for over-the -counter pain killers, or even the heavy pharmaceutical hitters prescribed by your doctor; there are literally hundreds of natural pain killers waiting for you in the abundance of nature. You can count on plants and herbs to alleviate everything from arthritis pain, to headaches, to burns - read on to find out more.

Many pharmaceutical pain medications, while effective and useful at times, can be downright dangerous, but there is another solution to your pain problem. "Almost always, if we find pharmaceuticals doing the trick, we'll find a plant doing the same trick - and doing it more safely," remarks botanist James A. Duke, PhD, author of .

James N. Dillard, MD, author of says:

Before you do anything else though, you have to 'quit the junk food that riles up the body's pain system.' The modern Western diet comprised of highly refined foods, sugars, and refined carbohydrates, while devoid of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc., is going to block the ability of other non-pharmaceutical remedies to halt pain.

Once you've done that, you can turn to the many herbs that truly deliver. There are also over 60 different essential oils for pain that have analgesic properties. Analgesic means that a substance has shown to relieve or reduce pain. So many plants have pain-relieving properties.

Here are just a few natural pain killers.

Natural Pain Killers

  • Ginger, Turmeric, & Holy Basil - This set of herbs forms a sort of trinity in Ayurvedic medicine. All of them have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric (a curry ingredient) contains curcumins which ease inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritisand psoriasis, according to the Methodist Research Institute in Indianapolis. "Each herb has its own scientific database of evidence," says James Dillard, MD, author of .

  • Devil's Claw () - This ominous sounding herb is actually great for treating numerous health conditions, among them are liver problems and heart burn. It also has anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce pain from arthritis, headaches, and low back discomfort. The University of Maryland Medical Center has published several studies that had great success treating Osteoarthritis with Devil's Claw.

  • Birch Leaf (Betula Lenta) - The leaves from the Birch tree act much like cortisone, a prescription drug used to treat endocrine disorders, arthritis, lupus, skin disease, autoimmunedisorders, and more. A main chemical compound found in Birch leaves is methyl salicylate, similar to salicylic acid used in aspirin. It is anti-spasmodic, analgesic, astringent, antifungal, diuretic, detoxifying, reduces oxidative damage to skin (stopping wrinkles), and enhances circulation. It also promotes enzymatic secretions in the body. It is truly one of the first powerful pain-relievers ever used.

  • White Willow Bark (Salix alba) - The active ingredient in white willow is salicin, which the body converts into salicylic acid. This tree's covering lowers the body's levels of prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds that can cause aches, pain, and inflammation. What's more, white willow bark doesn't upset the stomach or cause internal bleeding like many over-the-counter aspirins. Turn to this herb for relief from menstrual cramps, muscle pains, arthritis, or after knee or hip surgery as it promotes blood flow and reduces swelling.

  • Capsaicin () - Found in hot chile peppers, this natural remedy does wonders for pain. Capsaicin, the active pain-reducing ingredient, temporarily desensitizes nerve receptors called C-fibers which cause the pain response. Capsaicin also diminishes soreness for 3 to 5 weeks while the C-fibers regain sensation. A single 60-min application in patients with neuropathic pain produced effective pain relief for up to 12 weeks. Patients at the New England Center for Headache decreased their migraine and cluster headache intensity by applying capsaicin cream to their nasal passages.

  • Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) - GLA can be found in numerous seed oils. According to University of Maryland, people who consume these essential fatty acids are able to reduce nerve pain associated with diabetic conditions.

  • Cherries - Due to the presence of compounds called anthocyanins - the same phytonutrients that give cherries their rich ruby hue - you can count on cherries to tamp down pain. Muraleedharan Nair, PhD, says, Cherries are said to have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food, making them great for remedying issues such as arthritis.

  • Aquamin - Derived from red seaweed, aquamin is a powerful pain reducer, too. In a study published in , of 70 volunteers, Aquamin users reduced arthritis pain by 20% in a month and had less stiffness than patients taking a placebo. Helping to diminish inflammation and helps to build bone, aquamin is rich in both calcium and magnesium, too.

  • Arnica - An excellent herbal rub to use after intense sports, an acute injury, or even post surgery, arnica is a well-known natural pain killer among athletes and yogis. It is derived from a European flower, and has anti-inflammatory properties, although the true nature of its healing action is still unknown.

  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita) - Peppermint is most often used as a natural remedy for toothaches, discomfort from bloating and gas, joint conditions, skin irritations, headaches and muscle pain.

  • Boswellia - This herb is sourced from the frankincense tree. Its resin is used to thwart chemical reactions that cause inflammation, and thus pain. Ayurvedic scientists have used Boswellia for centuries to treat arthritic conditions, as well as inflammatory bowel disease.

  • Bromelain - This natural pain-reducer comes from the enzymes present in pineapple stems. Research shows that it reduces levels of prostaglandins, which are hormones that induce inflammation. Bromelain may benefit people with arthritis and conditions marked by musculoskeletal tension (like TMJ syndrome), in addition to those suffering trauma-related inflammation. The enzyme also promotes healing in muscles and connective tissues.

  • Cranberry Juice - Having a bout of ulceritis? Ulcers usually result from a pathogen called which attacks the lining of the stomach and small intestines, but cranberry juice can kill it - reducing pain. Instead of turning to antibiotics, destroy the bacteria causing your ulcers and urinary tract infections with cranberries.


NBC News

Natural Society

Leading Neuroscientist: "ADHD is not a real disease"

One of the world's leading pediatric neuroscientists, Dr. Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D, recently stated publicly that Attention Deficit/Hyper-Activity Disorder (ADHD) is not 'a real disease,' and warned of the dangers of giving psycho-stimulant medications to children.

Speaking to the Observer, Dr. Perry noted that the disorder known as ADHD should be considered a description of a wide range of symptoms that many children and adults exhibit, most of which are factors that everyone of us displays at some point during our lives.

"It is best thought of as a description. If you look at how you end up with that label, it is remarkable because any one of us at any given time would fit at least a couple of those criteria," he said.

Dr. Perry is a senior fellow of the ChildTrauma Academy in Houston, Texas, a highly respected member of the pediatric community, and author of several books on child psychology including, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook - What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing, andBorn for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential - and Endangered.

His comments are quite refreshing at a time when diagnoses for ADHD in the UK and the US are sky-rocketing and prescriptions of stimulant medications to children are also rising rapidly, with many parents and concerned activists growing suspicious of the pharmaceutical industry's motivations in promoting drugs to children. Ritalin, Adderall, Vyvanse and other mind-altering stimulant medications are increasingly prescribed to children between the ages of 4 and 17.

Dr. Perry noted that the use of medications like these may be dangerous to the overall physical and mental development of the child, remarking on studies where these medications were given to animals and were proven detrimental to health.

"If you give psychostimulants to animals when they are young, their rewards systems change. They require much more stimulation to get the same level of pleasure.

"So on a very concrete level they need to eat more food to get the same sensation of satiation. They need to do more high-risk things to get that little buzz from doing something. It is not a benign phenomenon.

"Taking a medication influences systems in ways we don't always understand. I tend to be pretty cautious about this stuff, particularly when the research shows you that other interventions are equally effective and over time more effective and have none of the adverse effects. For me it's a no-brainer."

Given that the problem of ADHD is complex and the term is more of a blanket term used to describe a wide range of behavioral symptoms, it is important to consider what the root causes of many of the symptoms may be before pharmaceutical intervention should be considered. Citing potential remedies, Dr. Perry suggested an approach that focuses attention on the parents and the child's environment, while also recommending natural remedies like Yoga, and improved diet.

"There are number of non-pharmacological therapies which have been pretty effective. A lot of them involve helping the adults that are around children," he said.

"Part of what happens is if you have an anxious, overwhelmed parent, that is contagious. When a child is struggling, the adults around them are easily disregulated too. This negative feedback process between the frustrated teacher or parent and dis-regulated child can escalate out of control.

"You can teach the adults how to regulate themselves, how to have realistic expectations of the children, how to give them opportunities that are achievable and have success and coach them through the process of helping children who are struggling.

"There are a lot of therapeutic approaches. Some would use somato-sensory therapies like yoga, some use motor activity like drumming.

"All have some efficacy. If you can put together a package of those things: keep the adults more mannered, give the children achievable goals, give them opportunities to regulate themselves, then you are going to minimise a huge percentage of the problems I have seen with children who have the problem labelled as ADHD."

Many people may disagree with the assertion that ADD/ADHD should not be considered a disease, however, the fact remains that the myriad symptoms that are associated with these increasingly common 'disorders' can often be addressed and relieved without creating an addiction and dependency on pharmaceutical medications, which disrupt the mind and body in ways that are not fully understood or even researched.