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Monday, 3 November 2014

This bizarre, glittering cloud just appeared in the sky over Australia

Hole Punch Cloud

© Peter Fell/ABC News, Australia

The ABC is reporting an incredible sight in the skies over east Victoria, in the Gippsland area. It looks like a UFO, but it's entirely natural.

No, it's not chemtrails. Instead, it's a type of cloud called a Fallstreak Hole. You may recognize that it glimmers in a way that's similar to the contrails of jets. That's because a similar phenomenon causes it. That rainbow look is the result of water crystals in the clouds freezing and refracting the light. Those frozen crystals have also made one patch of the cloud slightly heavier, pulling it downward from the rest of the cloud layer, and giving it that odd, punch-out look.

I mentioned contrails earlier because they are also caused by frozen water droplets hanging in the air, gleaming in the sunlight. But contrails happen when warm air is released with jet exhaust and collides with supercooled water in the stratosphere. This causes the water to freeze instantly, and thus you can see a long trail of frozen vapor where a plane just flew overhead.

Meteor sighting reported over Japan

Fireball over Japan

© Kyodo/YouTube

A "brightly glistening object" moving across the sky was seen around 6 p.m. in Kyushu and the Chugoku region in western Japan, with witnesses reporting to local astronomical and weather observatories, prompting experts to suspect a meteor.

Some 10 witnesses reported seeing the fireball to the Fukuoka district weather observatory in the city of Fukuoka. They described it as a bright, shining object moving from east to west and "a bright object like something burning," according to an official.

A female visitor to Hoshi no Bunkakan, an astronomical observatory in Yame, Fukuoka Prefecture, saw a shining object in the southwestern sky and reported to the staff, the observatory representative said.

A witness reported seeing a "green shining object" to the Hiroshima regional weather observatory in the city of Hiroshima.

"It may have been what is known as a bolide, which is a meteor that emits strong light," said Takahiro Ikeda, a staffer at Hoshi no Bunkakan.

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Meteor sightings across Virginia, Eastern U.S.


© WJLA file photo

A meteor streaks across the night sky.

Lanham, Maryland - A green fireball was spotted in several states, including Virginia, Monday night.

WNEW received a call from a listener around 6:20 p.m. who said he saw what appeared to be a green and blue light larger than a shooting star cross the sky near I-66 W. He says it fell straight down and he was unsure at first if it was a plane that crashed.

Soon after the call, people in other parts of Va. and across the U.S. took to Twitter to describe their own meteor sightings.

Meteor sighting in #Reston area - greenish flash moments ago heading N to S over #Dulles Toll Road


(@Reston) November 03, 2014

I'm getting reports of the bright meteor i saw in Roanoke, VA....from Virginia to Ohio. It was incredibly bright.....#METEOR #SWVA


(@LeoHirsbrunner) November 03, 2014

Large green #Meteor falling straight down in the sky over Cincinnati just now I saw coming down Montana Across town hubby saw it on 5mile rd


Patricia R.U.N? (@PattyCincinnati) November 03, 2014

Saw the meteor in ky. Folks in Virginia say it was huge - it looked like a bottle rocket in lex ky fyi #meteor #green


(@DrewCurtis) November 03, 2014

@spann just saw something bright like a meteor come down onwards Talladega, coming home on Hwy 21 N... Anyone else see it?


Anna Williams (@angelanna81) November 03, 2014

The November 3 #meteor is clearly an omen that everyone needs to vote tomorrow.


Andrew Wilkins (@WillKey) November 03, 2014

The American Meteor Society received 21 reports about the fireball Monday evening from residents throughout the eastern portion of the country.

reports that Wednesday is the peak of the Taurid meteor shower.

Florida police threaten arrest under new 'homeless hate law'


© Reuters/Max Whittaker

Florida police handed out citations and threatened to arrest two priests and a 90-year-old veteran volunteer for feeding the homeless. A recently passed city ordinance makes sharing food a citable offense.

Fort Lauderdale police removed at least three volunteers, as well as the Sunday lunch they were serving to several dozen homeless people, citing a controversial new ordinance that prohibits food sharing. Passed in October, the measure was created to try to cut down the growing population of homeless people in Fort Lauderdale.

In video footage from Sunday, three police officers arrive and interrupt the feeding program by removing 90-year-old Arnold Abbott, the Rev. Canon Mark Sims of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church, and the Rev. Dwayne Black of the Sanctuary Church. A chorus of protest erupts from the crowd and follows the officers as they take the men to their patrol cards - "" someone in the crowd says.

"" says another.

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Then, a police officer explains to the men: "."

The ban on sharing food is part of city officials' recent efforts to cut down on the burgeoning downtown homeless population. The most recent law - passed by a 4-1 vote - limits where outdoor feeding can be located. It can't be situated near another feeding site; it has to be at least 500 feet from residential property; and feed program organizers must seek permission from property owners for sites in front of their buildings.

It's now illegal to feed the homeless in Fort Lauderdale. You could go to jail for up to 60 days if caught. SMFH

- Joel Franco (@OfficialJoelF) November 3, 2014

Officials describe the new laws as "" but opponents have labeled them "," according to The Sun-Sentinel.

"" Sims told The Sun Sentinel. "."

The program is run by Love Thy Neighbor. Its founder, 90 year-old Abbott, is a World War II veteran and has served food to homeless people for 20 years.

The latest ordinance follows others in Fort Lauderdale that banned the homeless from soliciting at the city's busiest intersections, outlawed sleeping on public property downtown, toughened laws against defecating in public, and made it illegal for people to store personal belongings on public property.

"," Mayor Jack Seiler told the Sun-Sentinal, defending the law and its intent. "."

EVERYTHING about Florida is despicable. Fort Lauderdale Passes Law That Restricts Feeding Homeless People http://t.co/v1Qiy3P55S

- Big Ol' TDs (@cindasmommy) November 4, 2014

City officials say they are working to assist the homeless by providing housing to 22 people identified as chronically homeless, creating an outreach program run through the police department. Also included in the city's new budget is $25,000 to give people a one-way bus ticket to reunite with their families.

However, homelessness and those who volunteer to help them is being criminalized in towns and cities across America. A report released by the National Coalition for the Homeless last month found that 21 cities have restricted sharing food with the homeless, and 10 other cities are in the process of doing so.

Russia's 6th aid convoy ready for Donetsk and Luhansk

© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry said on Tuesday a new humanitarian aid convoy for Ukraine's embattled Donetsk and Luhansk regions was formed and ready for delivery.

"We have completed forming a regular convoy of trucks with humanitarian aid, and it will leave for Donetsk and Luhansk soon," Oleg Voronov, deputy chief of the ministry's national crisis management center, told TASS.

More than 100 tonnes of humanitarian cargoes, including medicines and fuel, have been loaded to some 20 trucks in Rostov region.

This is the sixth humanitarian convoy for residents of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics. On Sunday, more than 100 trucks delivered over 1,000 tonnes of foodstuffs, fuel, construction materials and medicines to the regions.

Earlier, on October 31, about 100 trucks delivered about 1,000 tonnes of similar cargoes to Donetsk and Luhansk. Before at least 6,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid were dispatched to Donbass.

Psychopathic cop who brutally tortured innocent people into confessing, gets to keep retirement

tourture cop

© Unknown

Chicago, IL - The Illinois supreme court just dealt an insulting blow to the tax-payers of Chicago after their ruling to give a monstrous ex-cop his $4,000 monthly pension.

Former detective commander Jon Burge has already cost the tax-payers of Chicago over $100 million to settle claims stemming from brutality that included suffocation with plastic bags, electricity applied to genitals and guns forced into mouths during interrogations, according to . As many as 120 men, mostly African-American, were victims of Burge's torture tactics.

After Burge was fired in 1993, there was a groundswell of support to investigate his convictions. In 2002, a special prosecutor began investigating the accusations. The review, which cost $17 million, revealed improprieties that resulted in no action due to the statute of limitations.

Several convictions were reversed, remanded, or overturned. All Illinois death-row inmates received reductions in their sentences. Four of Burge's victims were pardoned by then-Governor Ryan and subsequently filed a consolidated suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the City of Chicago, various police officers, Cook County and various State's Attorneys.

Burge avoided being charged for any of his past sadistic torture of his victims because of the statute of limitations. However, in 2011 he was sentenced to 4½ years in federal prison for perjury after being caught lying about the torture under oath.

His lenient sentence sparked outrage in 2011 from individuals who had spent years in jail for crimes they did not commit after being tortured into confessing by this crazed sociopath.

Shortly after his sentence was handed down, a split decision from the police pension board granted him his pension. The four police officer members voted to keep Burge's pension in place and the four city-appointed board members voted to stop it. The split decision left his pension intact.

After the attorney general asked for the pension to be stopped, the case was brought to the Illinois state supreme court. Last month, the state supreme court voted 4-3 to keep Burge's pension.

The 'thin blue line' in Chicago has just chosen to give a man his retirement who's been convicted of a felony for lying about his horrific and violent past of torturing innocent people into confessing to crimes they did not commit.

If ever someone needed proof of the criminal ruling class separation in America, this is it.

Veterans in this country, who've lost limbs, gotten cancer, and suffer from PTSD, from fighting wars for the fat cats in DC, are homeless and unable to get treatment for their ills, while a torturous psychopath with a shiny badge gets to retire on your dime. Welcome to the land of the free.

Weather channel co-founder: 'Hello, everybody! There is no global warming!'

The idea that there is significant man-made global warming is "a whole lot of baloney," Weather Channel co-founder John Coleman insisted on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday morning.

"The government only gives money to scientists who will present their hypothesis," said Coleman, a meteorologist who helped found The Weather Channel 32 years ago. "They don't have any choice; if you are going to get the money, you have to present their position. Those are the ones the government pays for. That doesn't make it right, that only means it's bought and paid for."

But Coleman, who debunked climate change in a letter to UCLA last month , told show host Brian Stelter Sunday that he resented him introducing him as a climate change "denier."

"That is a word meant to put me down," he told him. "I'm a skeptic about climate change, and I want to make it darned clear that [Weather Channel CEO David] Kenny is not a scientist, I am."

He also told Stelter that CNN, like The Weather Channel, has come to a consensus on global warming.

"There is no consensus in science," said Coleman. "Science isn't a vote. Science is about facts. If you get down to the hard cold facts, climate change is not happening. There is no significant man-made global warming now."

The matter has "become a big political point of the Democratic Party," Coleman continued, and he regrets "that it has become political and not scientific, but science is on my side."

When Stelter attempted to tell Coleman that it was unlikely that there would be an agreement on his show, the former Weather Channel executive agreed.

"I know we're not, because you wouldn't allow it to happen on CNN," Coleman told him. "But I'm happy that I got on the air and got a chance to talk to your viewers. Hello, everybody! There is no global warming!"

Coleman said he and other scientists will "keep battling" but meanwhile, he hopes that people will research online and find websites that "present the papers that show that none of this alarmism about ice and heat waves and droughts, none of it is happening."

Coleman said he is "terribly disappointed" that his old network stands behind climate change, but he's not surprised.

"The Weather Channel has bought into it, they've drunk the Kool-Aid," he told Stelter. "But so has all the media. That's no big surprise."

After Coleman made similar statements on Fox News last week, his former network issued as statement that while Coleman has a place in the company's history, it still stands behind the idea of climate change.

"That's a reasonable statement, not full of the sky is falling," Coleman told Stelter. "The programming they put on the TV is not reasonable. They put on their climate geeks. Those aren't scientists, they're nuts."

And Coleman says he's "terribly disappointed" with what The Weather Channel has become over the years.

"I created a channel to give people their weather, tell them what the weather is now and what it's going to be where they live in their region and keep them posted on their weather and to serve a real purpose," he said. "That channel has become totally distorted and has become as strange as it can be."

Kenny, appearing after Coleman, told Stelter that "the science is pretty clear about climate change," and that The Weather Channel hasn't changed its position on the matter since 2007.

"Some people were confused to hear a statement from somebody who is noted as co-founder of The Weather Channel," said Kenny. "He hasn't been with us in 31 years, and he's not speaking for The Weather Channel in any way."

Further, said Kenny, he's concerned "whenever the subject veers from science."

"I would prefer people use the credentials they have today, not the credentials they had three decades ago," Kenny commented. "It's a free country, and people can use their resumes, and other people can put their titles on them. What I care more about is our viewers come to us and fully trust us. I care that the scientists of the world continue to take part with us."

And while his network has come under criticism that extreme storms are good for ratings, Kenny insisted that "we never like to see a loss of life, a loss of property. Safety is an important mission. It is true, there is more drought, more flood, more extreme weather as the science evolves."

Sarah Palin wrote a bunch of stupid words about some moronic thing for some dumb reason again

sarah palin

© facebook

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin - the recurrent infection given to America by John McCain during his presidential campaign that crashed and burned like it was just another plane given to him by the Navy - is flaring up again.

Haven't we suffered enough already for whatever it was that we did, particularly if we didn't mean to do it, whatever it was?

Apparently not.

Okay. Now what, Sarah?

When we last heard from the matriarch of the Rock-em Sock'em Drunk'en Palin Partycrashers, she was very upset at America for laughing at her daughters who are apparently easily tipped over after a Zima or nine. Having thoroughly harangued the American media for lamestream "reporting" so-called "police reports" and "transcripts" of her daughter drunk-babbling "word-like sounds" at police officers, Palin has turned her disapproving eye on that colored Obamerbola guy for talking shit about someone's mom.

According to Sarah - who is the mother of either four or five children depending upon whether you're Andrew Sullivan or not - Oebolabunglermomhater, "Declares Stay-at-Home Moms Aren't Worth a Hill of Beans; Says It's a Choice 'We Don't Want Americans to Make"

Apparently this is in reference to an Obama speech where he made a pitch for better pay and childcare for mothers in the workforce saying, "Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that's not a choice we want Americans to make."

This caught the attention of the preternaturally aggrieved tweet aggregators at Twitchy and from there it flowed downhill to Sarah who decided this was A BLOOD LIBEL against mothers who maybe want to stay home and take care of kids, did you ever think about that, Obama!!?!!?? Well. did'ja?

Bee firmly ensconced in her Bumpit, Palin wrote a scathing UNFRIEND -DO NOT LIKE post to Obama on her Facebook page that will undoubtedly make him very very sad when he checks his own Facebook feed.

What did she write? Oh, something about "women" and "respect" and "feminism" and how Obama is a hater; so it's kind of like GamerGate, but without the deeply serious discussion over journalistic ethics.

It's all very Palinesque stream-of-gibberish, so here are a few excerpts of words-she-strung-together-representing-pictures-of-things-she-saw-happening-in-her-head.

Enjoy, if you can:

Well that just takes the cake. Sure, Obama's latest shot across the bow in his own "War on Women" is easily deflected by women like my friends and me testifying to the most precious, irreplaceable seasons of our lives when we were BLESSED to be "stay-at-home moms" (though I don't remember any of us actually "staying home" in those busiest times of our children's lives), but Friday's jab deserves something right back nonetheless. On behalf of former and current stay-at-homers, including my girlfriends who still get together to bake cookies for the bake sale (see photos in my kitchen above), and volunteer to coach kids ball teams, and man the church's food bank, and entertain latchkey kids, and all that other obnoxiously "housewifey" stuff, the President needs to be spanked.


...your attempts to convince America that only guys in government should control birth control - since free women aren't capable in a free market of walking down the drug store aisle to find it ourselves. Add, too, your shameless silence on the deplorable human rights violations in countries you'd befriend even though women are treated mercilessly there. Seriously, not a peep from atop your soapbox about the common practice of radical Islamist men going all jihad, literally, on females who'd dare cross their male "masters"? And in that creepy way you prioritize your time and our resources, instead of using your Nobel peacenik creds to influence the misogynist crazies in some of these Islamic death cults, you're out playing hoops... with the guys. Oh, also add your good ol' boys club (aka the White House) that still pays women less than men, and I'll stop with the nonstop examples.

... and my favorite part:

You really are stuck in a contorted kind of '60s feminism where you obviously don't trust women to make their own decisions, so you're frustrated. Despite your view - and policies - that government must lord over women, in keeping with radical liberalism, you have to fake support for our equal rights; so you do it in a militant sort of way to compensate for your confusion. On pretending to know what's best for us you've got nothing but a silent scream demanding, "Hear me roar."

So, in conclusion:

Besides you proving the liberal double-standard in regards to choice and sexism, you demean some of the hardest working women on the planet. Perhaps you never witnessed the benefits a "full-time mom" provides a family, a community, our schools, our nation, but you're a big boy now so figure it out yourself without me lecturing you on the beauty of a homemaker. Suffice it to say "stay-at-home moms" make the world go 'round.

Shorter Sarah Palin:

"Hand that rocks the cradle, bitch. Hand that rocks the cradle..."

Another corrupt reconstruction project in Afghanistan has cost US taxpayers millions

corruption pol-i-chenkho prison

A corruption scandal which has cost US taxpayers millions has been exposed by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

A corruption scandal which has cost US taxpayers millions has been exposed by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR): after five years and $18.5 million spent on renovating Pol-i-Charkhi prison, the project remains incomplete. This is just the latest in a series of costly blunders that have characterized US humanitarian efforts in the country.

"The Department of State's (State) Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) paid Al-Watan Construction Company (AWCC) $18.5 million for work performed on a contract valued at $20.2 million, even though AWCC only completed about 50 percent of the required work," the SIGAR's report stated.

The US watchdog on Afghanistan's reconstruction has accused the contractor of "defective workmanship," and indicated several serious flaws, particularly, "failure to backfill trenches, improper roof flashing, soil settlement issues, and the failure to connect six back-up generators to the prison's power grid."

Not all of the contractor's work complied with the requirements of the contract, the SIGAR reveals. For instance, AWCC used wooden roof trusses instead of metal ones and simply "covered 30-year old wood trusses with new roofing material," breaching a contract which stipulated that the firm had to completely renovate the roof. The watchdog discovered that AWCC had bribed a corrupt State Department employee to let it use cheap, shoddy materials.

"A corrupt COR [contracting officer's representative] was a factor in the oversight breakdown of the renovation work, and another COR who resigned his position was a factor in the financial settlement for AWCC," the report underscored.

It is worth mentioning that although the notorious jail was designed to accommodate 5,000 of prisoners it is apparently overcrowded, housing about 7,000. Photographs released by the watchdog revealed the gruesome conditions detainees live in: the prison's inmates sleep on the floor in its hallways, the walls and the columns of the building are in disrepair, and shoddy wiring threatens the safety of prisoners and staff.

However, the US State Department has announced that it intends to accomplish the renovation project. Predictably, new work will require additional funding and US taxpayers are slated to foot the bill: "INL estimated it would cost $11 million to finish renovations and another $5 million to construct a wastewater treatment plant to remedy wastewater pooling on the surface of the two septic/leach fields." However, the plan does not include the planned connection of six back-up diesel generators to the prison's power grid.

It should be noted that Pol-i-Charkhi prison case is not the only example the SIGAR has disclosed of corruption and US tax dollars being wasted. Earlier this year, John Sopko, the inspector general, identified "potentially billions of dollars wasted in Afghanistan," pointing out deserted and aborted construction projects as well as "phantom" projects and buildings which don't comply with international building codes, in addition to "improperly awarded contracts," as well as a total lack of transparency.

"The Afghanistan reconstruction budget is separate from the estimated $105 billion annually the US spent at the peak of the 13-year war. Since 2002, Congress has appropriated approximately $103 billion to help rebuild Afghanistan, and the SIGAR's office has said that since March of this year, $17.9 billion of that remains to be doled out," Fox News reported in July 2014. For comparison's sake, this is higher than the total 2013 annual expenditures of Poland ($92.47 billion), Ireland ($91.3 billion), and Taiwan ($90.38 billion), according to America's Central Intelligence Agency.

In an interview with Fox, Sopko stressed that "neither Afghanistan's nor America's interests" were well served in Afghanistan: "Too often we've pushed taxpayer money out the door without considering if the Afghans need it and can sustain it."

The millions wasted on Pol-i-Charkhi prison renovation project makes it the latest casualty in America's failed efforts to "win the peace", which have only resulted in a string of frauds that violate the interests of American taxpayers.

Energy Wars: Saudi Arabia Cuts Oil Price to US

Crude oil came under renewed selling pressure on Monday after a move by Saudi Arabia to cut December selling prices to customers in the US rattled the market.

Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company, said in a statement on Monday that it would cut prices for all oil grades to customers in the US by between 45 to 50 cents.

The US oil boom continues to have its impact.

(via FT)


Curiously, while cutting the oil price to the US, it raised prices on Asia and Europe.

Psychopath Joran van der Sloot reportedly stabbed in Peruvian prison, critically injured

van der Sloot

© AP

Joran Van Der Sloot 2010

Joran van der Sloot, the 27-year-old Dutchman who is the prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of U.S. teen Natalee Holloway, has been stabbed and may be in critical condition, according to a Dutch website.

In an interview with a Dutch news outlet, van der Sloot's lawyer, Máximo Altez, said the convicted killer was stabbed in the shoulder and waist by fellow prisoners.

Van der Sloot is currently serving a 28-year sentence for killing a Peruvian business student, Stephany Flores, in 2010.

Van der Sloot was recently transferred to the Challapalca Penitentiary located in the Andean department of Puno, known for its harsh conditions - it sits at more than 12,500 feet, where temperatures range between minus 4 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit.

Van der Sloot, who married his Peruvian girlfriend Leidy Figueroa in a prison ceremony in July, became a father of a baby girl in September.

In the past few weeks, his 24-year-old wife has been repeatedly claiming van der Sloot is being abused in the new prison.

In a report issued Sunday night on the Peruvian TV show , Figueroa said he and other inmates are made ​​to perform exercises in the middle of the night and are routinely beaten on the knees and testicles for no reason.

"They make them walk on stools, they have no electricity, they are locked 24 hours. In his ward there are people with tuberculosis, others will suffer from bleeding and infection, and nobody does anything," she said.

However, also on Sunday, the head of the Peruvian system of prisons (INPE), José Luis Pérez Guadalupe, denied any wrongdoing and called the wife a "compulsive liar."

"Absolutely nothing has happened. That lady is lying and it is not the first time she does it. She has been giving false reports to the media for weeks now: that he has been beaten, tortured, that they submerge him in water. We are facing a compulsive liar. Unfortunately she is wasting all of our time," Pérez Guadalupe told Canal N.

The son of a judge who was serving in Aruba, van der Sloot was the last person seen with 18-year-old Natalee Holloway, who vanished while on a graduation trip to the Caribbean island.

Van der Sloot remains the chief suspect.

Once his sentence ends, he is to be extradited to the United States to face trial on charges he extorted and defrauded Holloway's mother shortly before traveling to Peru in 2010.

He allegedly took $25,000 from the mother, promising to lead her to Holloway's body.

Prophet Mani: Ancient seal provides insights from antiquity

When a personal artifact of a religious leader is discovered nearly 1,700 years after its use, the object provides invaluable historical insights. Zsuzsanna Gulacsi, professor of Comparative Cultural Studies, has been studying an ancient crystal seal used by prophet Mani, to provide new interpretations and prepare the seal for further research.

Mani, a Persian born in 216, established Manichaeism, a religion drawing from the era's dominant religions, including Zoroastrianism and Christianity. Mani stood out among religious leaders of the time, Gulacsi said, because he wrote his own doctrine, compared to Jesus, Mohammad and the historical Buddha who were not known to read or write. The engraved crystal seal was used to authenticate Mani's writings and correspondence.

According to Gulacsi, Mani believed other religious leaders had their teachings distorted because they could not write themselves. "Their disciples did not have the capacity of a prophet, whose clarity of religious insight was believed to surpass that of ordinary human beings," Gulacsi said.

Gulacsi thinks Mani wore his crystal seal as a pendant, a practice of that time. The prophet's only known surviving artifact is about the size of a quarter; the thin quartz seal was likely once encased in gold to facilitate its use.

The rock crystal is flat on one side and rounded on the other, with a sunken carving on one half creating a positive image on the opposite side. Mani is flanked by two people, possibly disciples, and an inscription reading 'Mani, apostle of Jesus Christ' forms the perimeter. "The drills of the time used wound strings to spin a point to create an even carving," Gulacsi said.

In 274, Mani died in prison after being persecuted for his religious teachings. His belongings were likely passed to his successor, but the fate of the crystal seal is not known until it turned up in Paris in 1896, where it was purchased and housed in the gemstone section of the National Library of France.

Despite its historical significance, Mani's engraved crystal seal had escaped attention until recently. Gulacsi has researched and written about the seal, including an article just published in the

Provided by Northern Arizona University

The 'plasmoelectric effect': New mechanism discovered to convert light into electricity

plasmoelectric effect

© Credits: Amolf/Tremani

Artist's impression of the plasmoelectric effect. An ultrasensitive needle measures the voltage that arises if a laser illuminates a metal nanocircuit consisting of a square matrix of miniscule holes in a thin gold film.

Researchers from FOM Institute AMOLF and the California Institute of Technology have discovered a new method for the generation of electrical potentials using light. With the help of minutely sculpted metal nanocircuits they could effectively capture light and convert it into an electrical potential of 100 millivolt. The research results are published on 30 October in the journal .

The AMOLF-Caltech team, which has worked together for many years, calls the newly discovered effect the 'plasmoelectric effect'. Albert Polman, leader of the AMOLF part of the team: "This is an entirely new way of converting light into electricity. We have now demonstrated that an electrical voltage can be generated; the next step is to see whether we can also collect electrical current and generate electrical power."

Small particles of precious metals such as copper, silver and gold are known to emit colourful spectrums if they are illuminated. A well-known example is stained-glass windows in old churches in which the colours are formed by small metal nanoparticles that have been enclosed in the glass. The light that shines on these particles is converted into plasmons: oscillations of the free electrons in the metal. That results in strong absorption and diffraction of certain colours of light.

The newly discovered plasmoelectric effect. (a) Schematic representation of a metal nanosphere that becomes electrically charged when illuminated with light. (b) Electron microscope image of the metal nanocircuit made up from a matrix of ultra-small holes in a thin gold film. (c) Optical absorption spectra measured for metal nanocircuits with varying distances between the holes (175, 225, 250 and 300 nanometres). (d) Electrical potential of the nanocircuits in (c), as a function of the wavelength of the incident light. The potential measured varies from -100 millivolt to +100 millivolt as the wavelength changes from blue to red light.

The AMOLF-Caltech team investigated this light absorption process in artificially created metal nanostructures. They manufactured these with the help of modern clean room techniques. They illuminated gold nanospheres with light and discovered that a negative electrical potential arose when these spheres were illuminated with blue light. Conversely, they discovered a positive potential in the case of red light. The researchers measured the electrical voltage using an ultrasensitive needle that they placed above the illuminated nanoparticles.

Inspired by this initial result the team manufactured metal nanocircuits, consisting of a square matrix with miniscule holes with a diameter of 100 nanometres in a thin gold film. Just like the nanoparticles, these matrixes exhibited clear plasmon resonances, for which the distance between the holes determined the colour. If the circuits were illuminated with a laser and the colour of the light was gradually changed from blue to red, first a negative potential arose (-100 millivolts, blue light) and subsequently a positive potential (+100 millivolt, red light).

The researchers subsequently developed a theoretical model with which the phenomena measured could be well described. The incident light elicits small temperature fluctuations that provide a thermodynamic force for the exchange of electrical charges on the switch. That results in the potentials measured.

More information: Plasmoelectric potentials in metal nanostructures Published Online October 30 2014 DOI: 10.1126/science.1258405

Ultracold disappearing act: 'Matter waves' move through one another but never share space

© Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Physicists (from left) De Luo, Jason Nguyen and Randy Hulet observed a strange disappearing act during collisions between forms of Bose Einstein condensates called solitons. In some cases, the colliding clumps of matter appear to keep their distance even as they pass through each other.

A disappearing act was the last thing Rice University physicist Randy Hulet expected to see in his ultracold atomic experiments, but that is what he and his students produced by colliding pairs of Bose Einstein condensates (BECs) that were prepared in special states called solitons.

Hulet's team documented the strange phenomenon in a new study published online this week in the journal .

BECs are clumps of a few hundred thousand lithium atoms that are cooled to within one-millionth of a degree above absolute zero, a temperature so cold that the atoms march in lockstep and act as a single "matter wave." Solitons are waves that do not diminish, flatten out or change shape as they move through space. To form solitons, Hulet's team coaxed the BECs into a configuration where the attractive forces between lithium atoms perfectly balance the quantum pressure that tends to spread them out..

The researchers expected to observe the property that a pair of colliding solitons would pass though one another without slowing down or changing shape. However, they found that in certain collisions, the solitons approached one another, maintained a minimum gap between themselves, and then appeared to bounce away from the collision.

"You never see them together," said Hulet, Rice's Fayez Sarofim Professor of Physics and Astronomy. "There is always a hole, a gap that they must jump over. They pass through one another, but they never occupy the same space while they're doing that.

"It happens because of 'wave packet' interference," he said. "Think of them as waves that can have a positive or negative amplitude. One of the solitons is positive and the other is negative, so they cancel one another. The probability of them being in the spot where they meet is zero. They pass through that spot, but you never see them there."

Hulet's team specializes in experiments on BECs and other ultracold matter. They use lasers to both trap and cool clouds of lithium gas to temperatures that are so cold that the matter's behavior is dictated by fundamental forces of nature that aren't observable at higher temperatures.

To create solitons, Hulet and postdoctoral research associate Jason Nguyen, the study's lead author, balanced the forces of attraction and repulsion in the BECs.

"First we make a Bose Einstein condensate and then we use a sheet of light to split the condensate in half and push the two halves apart," Nguyen said. "We hold them apart and turn each of them into solitons, and then we take the sheet away and let them fall back toward one another and collide."

Cameras captured images of the tiny BECs throughout the process. In the images, two solitons oscillate back and forth like pendulums swinging in opposite directions. Hulet's team, which also included graduate student De Luo and former postdoctoral researcher Paul Dyke, documented thousands of head-on collisions between soliton pairs and noticed a strange gap in some, but not all, of the experiments.

"One of the defining features of a soliton is that they are supposed to be able to pass through one another and emerge unfazed," Hulet said.

"Some of the collisions are consistent with that," he said, pointing to images of two solitons oscillating, meeting, emerging and continuing on their cycle. "These two solitons certainly appear to have passed through one another.

"In another set of collisions, there's always this gap between them," he said, pointing to a different set of images. "It doesn't look like they ever close that gap to be able to pass through. In fact, it looks like they've come together and then bounced off one another."

Hulet said the idea of solitons bouncing away from one another had been around for about 40 years, based on longstanding observations of optical solitons in fiber-optic cables. In this scenario, the gap is viewed as evidence of a force that is pushing the solitons apart.

To probe more deeply, Hulet's team needed to conduct a new set of experiments that focused on the one defining feature of a soliton that they couldn't control - its phase.

The first soliton was observed in a canal in Scotland in 1834 and they've since been observed in magnets, fiber-optic cables, atomic nuclei and even swimming pools. Hulet's team was among the first to report BEC "matter-wave bright solitons" in 2002.

Like a wave in the ocean or a light beam in a fiber-optic cable, solitons have a characteristic amplitude, frequency and phase. Hulet's team could control the amplitude but they could not control the soliton's phase.

"All waves oscillate in time," Hulet said. "They have a frequency at which their amplitude becomes positive, negative, positive, negative and so on. The rate of that oscillation, how often it switches, defines their frequency. Where they begin that cycle is something we refer to as 'the phase.' It's a kind of starting point."

The wave's phase is an angle that can vary between zero and 360 degrees. Waves that are "in-phase" have the same starting point, and waves that are "out-of-phase" are 180 degrees off, meaning that one begins at its peak while the other starts at its trough.

"When we saw the initial data we said, 'This doesn't make sense, because solitons are always supposed to pass through one another and these look like they're bouncing instead,'" Hulet said. "So we began thinking about how we could tag one of the solitons to make it distinct so that we could follow its trajectory in time and see what it did."

The team found a way to "tag" one soliton by making it larger than the other. In the next round of experiments, Nguyen and Luo captured pictures of collisions between different-sized solitons.

"We did that experiment over and over for many different relative phases, and we looked for two cases, one where the relative phase was zero, or in-phase, and another where it was 180 degrees, or completely out-of-phase," Hulet said.

For the in-phase case, the team saw the two solitons pass through one another and emerge, just as predicted by theory.

"In the out-of-phase case, the one with the gap, where it appeared that they had been bouncing off of each other, we still saw the gap but we also saw the larger soliton emerge unfazed on the other side of the gap. In other words, it jumped through the gap!"

Hulet said the experiment confirmed the theory that solitons do pass through one another, even in cases where they are out-of-phase and only appear to bounce away from each other.

Many of the events that Hulet's team measures occur in one-thousandth of a second or less. To confirm that the "disappearing act" wasn't causing a miniscule interaction between the soliton pairs - an interaction that might cause them to slowly dissipate over time - Hulet's team tracked one of the experiments for almost a full second.

The data showed the solitons oscillating back and fourth, winking in and out of view each time they crossed, without any measurable effect.

"This is great example of a case where experiments on ultracold matter can yield a fundamental new insight," Hulet said. "The phase-dependent effects had been seen in optical experiments, but there has been a misunderstanding about the interpretation of those observations."

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FLASHBACK: So wrong: Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past

© Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

According to our computer models, this wasn't supposed to happen: Snow falls on decorations in Oxford Street as shoppers do last-minute Christmas shopping in Central London

Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.

Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain's culture, as warmer winters - which scientists are attributing to global climate change - produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.

The first two months of 2000 were virtually free of significant snowfall in much of lowland Britain, and December brought only moderate snowfall in the South-east. It is the continuation of a trend that has been increasingly visible in the past 15 years: in the south of England, for instance, from 1970 to 1995 snow and sleet fell for an average of 3.7 days, while from 1988 to 1995 the average was 0.7 days. London's last substantial snowfall was in February 1991.

Global warming, the heating of the atmosphere by increased amounts of industrial gases, is now accepted as a reality by the international community. Average temperatures in Britain were nearly 0.6°C higher in the Nineties than in 1960-90, and it is estimated that they will increase by 0.2C every decade over the coming century. Eight of the 10 hottest years on record occurred in the Nineties.

However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event".

"Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.

The effects of snow-free winter in Britain are already becoming apparent. This year, for the first time ever, Hamleys, Britain's biggest toyshop, had no sledges on display in its Regent Street store. "It was a bit of a first," a spokesperson said.

Fen skating, once a popular sport on the fields of East Anglia, now takes place on indoor artificial rinks. Malcolm Robinson, of the Fenland Indoor Speed Skating Club in Peterborough, says they have not skated outside since 1997. "As a boy, I can remember being on ice most winters. Now it's few and far between," he said.

Michael Jeacock, a Cambridgeshire local historian, added that a generation was growing up "without experiencing one of the greatest joys and privileges of living in this part of the world - open-air skating".

Warmer winters have significant environmental and economic implications, and a wide range of research indicates that pests and plant diseases, usually killed back by sharp frosts, are likely to flourish. But very little research has been done on the cultural implications of climate change - into the possibility, for example, that our notion of Christmas might have to shift.

Professor Jarich Oosten, an anthropologist at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, says that even if we no longer see snow, it will remain culturally important.

"We don't really have wolves in Europe any more, but they are still an important part of our culture and everyone knows what they look like," he said.

David Parker, at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Berkshire, says ultimately, British children could have only virtual experience of snow. Via the internet, they might wonder at polar scenes - or eventually "feel" virtual cold.

Heavy snow will return occasionally, says Dr Viner, but when it does we will be unprepared. "We're really going to get caught out. Snow will probably cause chaos in 20 years time," he said.

The chances are certainly now stacked against the sort of heavy snowfall in cities that inspired Impressionist painters, such as Sisley, and the 19th century poet laureate Robert Bridges, who wrote in "London Snow" of it, "stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying".

Not any more, it seems.

Hurricane Vance moves toward Mexico's Pacific coast

© The Weather Channel

Hurricane Vance continues to strengthen over the eastern Pacific Ocean, about 500 miles southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico. It became a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale Sunday evening with winds of 105 mph.

Vance earlier became a Category 1 hurricane Sunday morning, making it the 14th hurricane of 2014 within the Eastern Pacific basin. (Genevieve, which started in the Eastern Pacific, became a hurricane in the Central Pacific basin -- if one counts Genevieve, there have been 15 hurricanes with Eastern Pacific origins this year.)

Hurricane Vance is tracking to the northwest, remaining well off the Mexican Pacific coast.

However, Vance is expected to take a northeast turn toward the southwest Mexican coast during the week, as a mid-level ridge near the southern Baja California peninsula shifts eastward and a trough approaches.

© The Weather Channel

Vance may peak as a major (Category 3 or higher) hurricane Monday. If so, it would be the ninth major hurricane of 2014 in the Eastern Pacific (10 if one counts Genevieve).

However, increasing wind shear after the system makes the northeast turn is likely to weaken Vance, so it may make landfall as a tropical storm, depression, or even remnant low in the week ahead. All these important details remain to be determined at this early stage.

Those along the southwest Mexican coast and the southern Baja Peninsula, including Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan should monitor the progress of this system for possible impacts this week. Given Vance's increasingly powerful winds, it's very likely that swells from Vance will churn up high surf and rip currents at Mexico's Pacific beaches, even if the storm itself loses steam before reaching land. The potentially dangerous conditions for swimmers may reach parts of Mexico's coast as early as Monday.

Vance is the 20th named storm of the Eastern Pacific hurricane season. The last time 20 or more named storms formed in that basin was 1992, when the entire list of 24 names was used, ending with Tropical Storm Zeke.

Zeke is also the "Z" storm on this year's list. Eastern Pacific names rotate every six years unless retired, except for names starting with X, Y, and Z. Those are rarely used, and thus just two names are on the list for each of those letters, one male and one female, alternating every other year.

First Afghan fanged deer seen in more than 60 years

© Julie Larsen Maher / WCS

The unusual fangs of a musk deer are used by males during the breeding season. A recent World Conservation Society study found a population of Kashmir musk deer living in Afghanistan. This photo shows a Siberian musk deer -- one of seven similar species found in Asia.

A fanged creature not seen in Afghanistan for more than 60 years has been spotted by a research team in the northeast part of the country.

The Kashmir musk deer was last seen in Afghanistan in 1948. But a team headed up by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) reports in the October 22 issue of the journal that it made five sightings in a range of land that included alpine meadows and steep, rocky outcrops.

The sightings featured a solitary male that was spotted three different times in the same area, as well as one female with a juvenile deer and one solitary female. The area where they were seen was scattered with dense bushes of juniper and rhododendron.

Unfortunately, the extremely skittish deer, already difficult to spot, did not remain in place long enough to be photographed, the team said.

The Kashmir musk deer is one of seven similar species in Asia and is considered endangered due to habitat loss and poaching. The deer's scent glands are a high-ticket black market item -- deer musk has been used for ages in perfume, incense, and medical applications -- and can be worth more than $20,000 per pound.

The male of the distinctive herbivores has telltale fangs used during mating season as weapons to joust for mates. For deer, they are small and a bit stocky, topping out at barely more than 2 feet tall at the shoulder.

"Musk deer are one of Afghanistan's living treasures," said Peter Zahler, co-author of the study and WCS deputy director of Asia programs. "This rare species, along with better known wildlife such as snow leopards, are the natural heritage of this struggling nation. We hope that conditions will stabilize soon to allow WCS and local partners to better evaluate conservation needs of this species."

How unconditional love helps kids with setbacks

© David Pereiras/Shutterstock

Teens who spend some time thinking about situations in which their peers thought well of them, no matter what they did, may have an easier time coping with setbacks, new findings show.

Adolescents in the study who wrote an essay about a time when they felt "unconditional regard" from their peers had fewer negative feelings about themselves after getting a bad report card than kids who wrote about a time when they felt their peers' regard was "conditional," the researchers found.

"We studied this in early adolescence - a time when negative self-feelings peak, and when children often experience conditional regard from peers," said Eddie Brummelman, who was a Ph.D. candidate in developmental psychology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands when he helped conduct the study. "Although we did not study the actual provision of unconditional regard, our findings do suggest that helping children feel accepted and valued without conditions (for example, by reminding them of unconditionally accepting others) might help them buffer their negative self-feelings."

"Unconditional regard" is similar to the more-familiar "unconditional love," and it means that others accept and value you without reservations or conditions. "Conditional regard refers to others making their regard conditional upon the participant's actions, performances or abilities," Brummelman said.

"Sometimes, even well-intended socialization messages can convey a sense of conditional regard, such as when people are warmer, more affectionate towards the child when he or she does well in school compared to when he or she doesn't do so well," said Brummelman, who is now a postdoc at the University of Amsterdam, Research Institute of Child Development and Education.

Feeling negative about oneself in adolescence is not only painful, but can also put a person at risk of psychological problems such as depression and anxiety, Brummelman and his colleagues wrote in their study, published today (Nov. 3) in the journal .

The researchers hypothesized that kids' feelings of shame, insecurity and powerlessness upon receiving a bad grade might be lessened if they had previously spent time thinking about times in their lives when they'd experienced unconditional regard. To investigate, the researchers recruited 247 children between ages 11 and 15 and randomly assigned them to write for 15 minutes about either experiences of unconditional regard, conditional regard, or other social experiences.

For example, one 14-year-old girl wrote about a time when she'd been working with a friend and made a lot of mistakes, but the friend still valued her. Another 14-year-old girl wrote about a time when she'd made mistakes during a handball match, and her teammates "looked away from me and started ignoring me."

Three weeks later, the study participants received their first report card of the year. Later that night, they filled out an online questionnaire about how they felt about their grades.

As the researchers had expected, among the adolescents whose grades were poor, those who'd written about their experiences of unconditional regard felt less negative about themselves than those who'd written about conditional regard, and those who had written about other experiences. But there was no difference among the three groups in their levels of negative feelings toward other people, the researchers noted.

"One question that sometimes comes up is, how can the unconditional-regard exercise exert its sustained effects," Brummelman told Live Science. "It doesn't seem likely that the exercise simply remains accessible in children's minds over long periods."

More likely, [it] is that the exercise creates a self-sustaining process: When children feel unconditionally accepted by others, they may express more welcoming social behavior, thereby eliciting more acceptance from others," he said.

10-year-old Florida girl is paralyzed with rare brain infection four days after receiving flu shot

© Facebook

Paralyzed: Marysue is almost completely nonverbal and can hardly move, remaining mainly in her bed or wheelchair

A 10-year-old girl in Florida has been paralyzed for almost a year with a rare inflammation of the brain and her family is blaming a flu vaccine.

According to Carla Grivna, her daughter Marysue was living a perfectly healthy and happy life until last year.

'She (used to) love school, she was running, playing, singing in the church choir,' Grivna told WTSP.

Last November, Grivna took Marysue for her seasonal flu shot. She was healthy for the next couple of days, playing freeze tag with friends a few days before Thanksgiving.

The next day, Grivna found her daughter paralyzed in her bed, able to open her eyes but unable to move her body or speak.

Grivna and her husband called an ambulance, and at the hospital received a sobering diagnosis - Marysue had a rare infection of the brain called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or ADEM.

© Facebook

Suddenly sick: Carla Grivna said that Marysue was a healthy nine year old when she got her annual flu shot and suddenly became sick

Almost a year later, Marysue still cannot speak and must be carried to the bathroom by her father.

Most of her day is spent in a hospital bed, which is kept in the Grivnas' living room because it is too big to fit in her bedroom, according to a GoFundMe page set up by the family.

Now the Grivnas are saying 'the doctors won't confirm it or deny it,' but they believe the flu shot was to blame.

'Her father Steven and I are certain,' she told Fox News, 'due to all of our research, that this was what caused Marysue's condition.'

Research by the National Institutes of Health found that in five percent of ADEM cases, the patient had received a vaccine in the month before symptoms started.

In 2008, a 75-year-old woman developed ADEM two days after being vaccinated against influenza, eventually experiencing numbness and paralysis, before dying shortly afterwards.

However, doctors do not recommend against the vaccine, as researchers report a much higher percentage of ADEM cases are preceded by infection than their respective vaccines.

'If I get the flu I'm far more likely to get ADEM than from the flu vaccine,' said Dr Juan Dumois, director of infectious diseases at All Children's Hospital.

Recovery is possible, according to Dr Dumois, but after six months the chances of getting better drop significantly.

The family is currently trying to raise money in order to renovate Marysue's room to make it more accessible, and have raised just under $3,000 in 11 days.

© Facebook

Healthy: Grivna said that Marysue loved singing and playing before her paralysis from acute disseminated encephalomyelitis

Study reveals startling decline in European bird populations

© Tomas Belka, birdphoto.eu

Around 90 percent of these losses were from the 36 most common and widespread species, including house sparrows, skylarks, grey partridges and starlings.

Bird populations across Europe have experienced sharp declines over the past 30 years, with the majority of losses from the most common species, say the University of Exeter, the RSPB and the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS) in a new study. However, numbers of some less common birds have risen.

The study, published today in the journal , reveals a decrease of 421 million individual birds over 30 years. Around 90 percent of these losses were from the 36 most common and widespread species, including house sparrows, skylarks, grey partridges and starlings, highlighting the need for greater efforts to halt the continent-wide declines of our most familiar countryside birds.

Richard Inger from the University of Exeter said: "It is very worrying that the most common species of bird are declining rapidly because it is this group of birds that people benefit from the most."

"It is becoming increasingly clear that interaction with the natural world and wildlife is central to human wellbeing and significant loss of common birds could be quite detrimental to human society."

Birds provide multiple benefits to society. They help to control agricultural pests, are important dispersers of seeds, and scavenging species play a key role in the removal of carcasses from the environment. In addition, for many people birds are the primary way in which they interact with wildlife, through listening to bird song, enjoying the sight of birds in their local environment, feeding garden birds and through the hobby of bird watching.

The majority of the declines can be attributed to considerable losses from relatively few common birds, but not all common species are declining. Numbers of great tits, robins, blue tits and blackbirds were all shown to be increasing. Populations of rarer species, including marsh harriers, ravens, buzzards and stone curlews have also shown increases in recent years: this is likely to be the result of direct conservation action and legal protection in Europe.

© Tomas Belka, birdphoto.eu

Head of Species Monitoring and Research at the RSPB's Centre for Conservation Science Richard Gregory said: "The rarer birds in this study, whose populations are increasing, have benefited from protection across Europe. For example, white storks and marsh harriers receive among the highest level of protection in the EU - this is why their numbers have increased. The conservation and legal protection of all birds and their habitats in tandem are essential to reverse declines.

"This is a warning from birds throughout Europe. It is clear that the way we are managing the environment is unsustainable for many of our most familiar species."

Petr Vorisek from the PECBMS said: "The study brings a very important message to conservation practice in Europe. This would not have been possible without thousands of skilled volunteer fieldworkers who count birds according to high scientific standards and contribute their data to the national monitoring schemes."

© Tomas Belka, birdphoto.eu

Conservation efforts tend to be focused on rarer species but the research suggests that conservationists should also address issues affecting common birds, for example those traditionally associated with farmland. The decline in bird populations can be linked to modern farming methods, deterioration of the quality of the environment and habitat fragmentation, although the relative importance of these pressures remains unclear.

The study brought together data on 144 species of European bird from many thousands of individual surveys in 25 different countries, highlighting the value of the different national monitoring schemes increasingly working together. The researchers suggest that greater conservation funding and effort should be directed to wider scale environmental improvement programmes. These could include urban green space projects, and effective agri-environment schemes, which, informed by lessons learned from past schemes, should aim to deliver real outcomes for declining bird species whether they are rare or common.

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China unveils "laser to shoot down low-flying drones"

© Phys.org

A remote controlled drone

China has developed a highly accurate laser weapon system that can shoot down light drones at low altitude, state media reported.

The machine has a two-kilometre range and can bring down "various small aircraft" within five seconds of locating its target, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing a statement by the China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP), one of the developers.

Xinhua showed pictures of large metal boxes in camouflage paint and the wreckage of a small drone, some of it burning.

It is expected to "play a key role in ensuring security during major events in urban areas" and address concerns on unlicensed mapping activities, according to Xinhua.

It is effective up to a maximum altitude of 500 metres and against aircraft flying at up to 50 metres per second (112 mph), Xinhua said.

It cited Yi Jinsong, a manager with China Jiuyuan Hi-Tech Equipment Corp., a firm under the academy, as saying that small-scale, unmanned drones were relatively cheap and easy to use, making them a likely choice for terrorists.

"Intercepting such drones is usually the work of snipers and helicopters, but their success rate is not as high and mistakes with accuracy can result in unwanted damage," he said.

The system, which can be installed on vehicles, shot down more than 30 drones in a recent test with a "100 percent success rate" said the CAEP statement.

The academy is developing similar laser security systems with greater power and range, Xinhua said in its report late Sunday.

China typically deploys tight security for domestic political meetings, international conferences and sports events, looking to prevent public protests over issues such as illegal land seizures and corruption as well as any threats to the participants.

Canada: Decoding Harper's terror game. Beneath the masks and diversions

Stephen Harper

© unknown

Stephen Harper is the most deeply reviled Prime Minister in Canada's history. On the world stage, he is the servant of Big Oil boiling oil out of tar-sands to destroy major river systems and pollute the planet with dirty oil, while his attack dog John Baird leads the warmongering and bullying of nations like Iran and Syria targeted by the US-Israeli axis.

He is the most despotic and toxic first minister in the life of our country. His administration defunds every social program and life protective system it can. It strips the country of its public information infrastructures at every level - including now the gagging of non-profit NGO's by eliminating their charitable status if they question any policy of his regime.

Just as his friend George Bush Jr., Harper holds government by big-money backing, continual lies, attack ads, and life-blind policies to enrich the already rich. Canada's neo-con political class may have its head on backwards, but Harper is very cunning in skirting, subverting and perverting the law to abuse power at every level. He is the poster boy of the global corporate agenda of wrecking society and its common life support systems.

Harper also owes his political life to the RCMP. After a after non-confidence vote triggered the 2006 election, RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli instructed his staff to include former Liberal finance minister Ralph Goodale's name in a news release announcing a criminal investigation. This reversed the stench of the Harper regime's continuous scandals and corruption onto the Liberals by a false RCMP smear. As a former top insider of the Tory party advised me, "the RCMP won the election for Harper". The elected Harper regime then surrounded the RCMP with blocks to silence all facts - the signature operation - so the truly deepest scandal of the era proceeded with impunity to the present day. So it is not surprising that CSIS, the RCMP and Harper are collaborating to get more secret powers for the police and spooks in return for serving Harper's underlying agenda.

How "Acts of Terrorism" Fit the Known M.O.

Harper certainly needs an accepted domestic enemy to save him from the rising revulsion of the thinking public against his rule. His regime's record of destroying the life substance of Canada piece by piece cannot be denied. One already knew what was coming when Harper immediately called the crazed run-over of soldiers in Quebec on October 20 "a terrorist act" about which he was "deeply worried". In fact, it was the act of a criminally insane loner run amok in a small Quebec town without any evident objective as required under the law's definition of terrorism. But with the foreknowledge of his addled Islam by the RCMP and CSIS, he seems to have been an ideal patsy for Harper's home "terrorism" claim. He had already been arrested and his passport cancelled in June. We can imagine how an effective undercover agent might have whipped him into a Jihad frenzy knowing he would soon be full of holes and unable to report what happened.

One can more clearly see such a scenario in the case of the clinically insane, drug-addicted petty criminal living in a homeless shelter in Ottawa who had warned a judge in front of the police back in 2011:"'If you can't keep me in, I'm going to do something". Who could have been a better tool for the events to come? On October 22 after the first "As a "radicalized terrorist" attack, a long-gun impossible to hide that no-one saw before ended up in the hands of Micheal Zebaf-Bibeau. The rest is history. He went on a killing spree with no known blood testing afterwards for the drugs he was evidently driven by in the video record of his frenzied and super-charged behaviour, just as there was no known test of the body of crazed drive-over killer, Martin Couture-Rouleau. How extraordinary. How unspoken in the lavish profusion of other details and official false connection to ISIS.

"Terrorist" stops the mind, and "jihadist" locks it in. Harper's first invocation of the mind-stopper was, as always, strategic. Although blood tests for a substance-abuse driving offense are automatic, none was reported although the videos show every sign of chemical possession. Bibeau too went crazy and was dead with countless bullets through him before any questions could be asked. All such strange coincidences are part of the now familiar covert-state MO.

Joining the Dots

Since Harper publicly claimed an "act of terrorism" two days before the sensational Ottawa murder and crashing of Parliament and as soon as the Quebec killing occurred, questions arise. The normally zipper-lip Harper did so long before any forensic facts were in, and before the idea even occurred to anyone else. Why? Revealingly the federal security state had been running war games exercises depicting just such attacks weeks before the crazed murders (Canadian Authorities Ran War Game Drills Depicting ISIS Attack Scenarios Brandon Martinez, Global Research, October 24, 2014). Lone-wolf nut cases, killings out of nowhere, unknown motivators and arming, and the state leader most profiting from mutation of the demented murders into "terrorist acts" before anyone else - - who joins the dots? It is taboo to think through such situations, and this too is known beforehand. Sure enough within the day, the RCMP and CSIS get the new extraordinary powers they sought, and for the first time in office the robotic Harper is behaving with a warmth not even extended to his young son with whom he shakes hands in farewell. He is hugging opposition leaders in Parliament to show a new human side to complete the image makeover in motion.

Harper is happy because he thinks his next election is saved. But the first forensic question in acts of murderous crimes is again never asked. The hypnotic trance of "terrorism" in sedate Ottawa holds the narrative unchallenged. Cui bono? Who benefits from these unbelievable closed-case murders in two days which have the media headlining "terrorism" and "anti-terrorist legislation" everywhere Canadians look, and Harper now as the strong hand in charge. The top banner headline of the weekend Globe screamed "How far should we go?"

Home-Grown Terror for Harper's Re-Election

The first function of the terrorist claim is the standard one - diversion from the ailing economy and the majority's growing revulsion of the leader and his party. Harper has made enemies of every thinking Canadian in the country by his stripping of the country's public life and knowledge bases, and reversing the country's global reputation as an agent of peace, social conscience and reverence for nature. Diversion to a constructed Enemy is the oldest strategy in the book of despised heads of state, and Harper is in unprecedented need for distraction to another target to uplift him at the same time. Bush Jr. ran on this formula for eight years.

If the stratagem is not seen through, the second big boost to Harper will be to justify the despotic rule and quasi-police state he has built with ever more prisons amidst declining crime, ever more ant-terrorist rhetoric and legislation, ever more cuts to life support systems and protections (the very ones which would have prevented these murderous rampages), and ever more war-mongering and war-criminal behaviours abroad. The evil regime of despotic control and life oppression he has instituted surpasses any ill rule in the nation's history. As the US prototype of the life-blind right wing has taught him, the greatest justification of one's rule is knee-jerk hatred of a safe Enemy. But in Canada, that does not work over time. So the domestic "acts of terrorism" in Quebec and Ottawa itself provide the needed Enemy within Canada to justify anything with ever new pomp, mandatory agreement of others, and ruling power at centre stage.

Diagnosing the Drive to Total Control

The rest follows. The "New Terrorist Laws" in execution were already the feature news headline on Oct 25, allowing for any new surveillance and control of citizens. Keep in mind our already-installed totalitarian airport regime that deprives people of water and hygiene products, dehumanizes all, and undresses millions with no questions allowed any step of the way. It is a synecdoche of the larger total rule advancing with the Harper gang in charge further than ever before. "Nothing can be the same again" cheer the corporate media in choral support.

More favours to the Harper regime from the RCMP and CSIS may be in store - for example, false allegations and naming of even the most honest opponents like Ralph Goodale who spent "the worst year of my life" recovering from the RCMP smear that kept Harper in power. It is a bit like the War Measures Act - new capacity to lock down any city at any time with armed-force control pervading the streets and police-army powers in the glory of mass-controlling armed command and kill license. It has already happened in Ottawa with a lone crazy, and the lock-down was infinitely more heavy-handed than in 1970 Montreal which I observed first hand. Keep in mind the trumped-up cause for it - one likely-drugged and managed murderous homeless mental case dead before any questions could be asked.

Observe too how the language changes to fit the agenda of total control. The keys are "terrorists" for lone individuals driven crazy with no more social supports for them, and "radicalization" with no modifier as the ultimate problem of thought behind the terror. What deprived group or oppositional rethinking cannot be so labelled? These psych-ops are already in full motion now. They have been minted into ruling group-mind by the mocked-up "terrorists attacks" at home, and Harper rule can only go further by such trances of normalized stupefaction now reinforced with Canadian blood.

Behind all the public psych-ops is the operation of reverse projection long perfected by the US war-machine. Blame the opposition for what you are doing as the reason for attacking them. At the Canada level, the reverse projections define the Harper regime. He is punitively and vindictively despotic, rigidly and vengefully doctrinaire, intolerant of deviation, shames and slanders at will, and overrides every democratic constraint to his insatiable drive to total control. Narrow and life-blind absolutism, indifference to others' suffering, and certitude of virtue while destroying people and common life support systems complete the unseen rule of terror at work. A coterie of mediocre and corrupt subordinates surround and serve him to allow no shard of light in on the ruling mission of society destruction.

With most people not yet suspecting it, Harper rule is an Americanada mirror image of the jihad-fascism he uses to multiply his and his corporate allies' rights and powers. Behind him lies the transnational money-sequence cancer he embodies in every policy line.

Man robs 4 Subways in 4 days because "Jared Diet" didn't work

© Hueytown Police

Zachary Torrance

A man who robbed four Subway restaurants in four days with a gun claims he did it because he was mad the "Jared Diet" didn't work for him.

Zachary Torrance, 18, was arrested Friday by Hueytown police after someone saw surveillance videos on the Hueytown Police Department's Facebook page and recognized Torrance from having witnessed him purchase a gun holster at a Walmart. Police say he was even wearing the same clothing and shoes as the suspect was the day of the robbery.

"He stated in the course of his interview he had tried the 'Jared Diet' and it hadn't worked for him like he thought it should have," Police Chief Chuck Hagler told WJBF. "He was trying to get his money back."

He has confessed to the crime and will face sentencing. He is currently being held with a $250,000 bail.

Ukraine's 'battalion' leader: We're ready to invade the Russian Federation, conduct bomb attacks inside Russia

© Unknown

Yuri Bereza, a Ukrainian lawmaker and leader of volunteer battalion Dnepr-1

A Ukrainian lawmaker, who is also the leader of a volunteer battalion, says brigades like his are ready to "intrude" into Russia to carry out attacks on Russian territory.

Yuri Bereza, the leader of the Dnepr-1 battalion, made the remarks during a televised interview with a Ukrainian broadcaster.

"Today, we are ready not just to defend [Ukraine], but to invade the Russian Federation, break into it with reconnaissance detachments and sabotage groups," said Bereza.

The Ukrainian MP also spoke about conducting bomb attacks inside Russia before he was cut off by the host of the program.

Bereza's volunteer battalion is one of the dozens of brigades set up this year by pro-EU protesters and members of right-wing party Right Sector following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych.

The battalions have been fighting along with Kiev's government forces against the pro-Russia forces in the country's restive eastern regions and have been accused of using fierce tactics.

The United Nations (UN) recently released a report on the human rights situation in Ukraine, accusing the volunteer battalions of violating international humanitarian laws.

Ukraine, along with Western powers, accuses Russia of having a hand in the Ukrainian crisis, but Moscow denies the allegation.

Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking eastern regions have witnessed deadly clashes between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia protesters after the Kiev government launched military operations in mid-April in a bid to crush protests.

According to latest figures by the UN, more than 4,000 people have been killed and around 10,000 others injured in the fighting.